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Old 02-27-2016, 07:56 PM   #15
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"alano : There are many different ways to approach your questions. Since you're "B" van might be rather limited on top, why don't you take a look at AM Solar's panels and tell us how many panels you think you could fit on the roof? From there we can help with selecting the solar charger, sizing the wire, etc."

Have you ever done this before?
Why would anyone put panels on the roof?
One would have to park in the sun with the exact, correct angle on the panels. Angle of the panel and keeping them clean also shadowing is critical with any solar install.
Why not have a portable system and park where ever and have movable panels, park anywhere, with extension cables to a sunny location, say 50 feet away from the van/trailer/converter?
As I suggested earlier. Contact a professional.

-Dennis
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:06 PM   #16
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Have you ever done this before?
Why would anyone put panels on the roof?
One would have to park in the sun with the exact, correct angle on the panels. Angle of the panel and keeping them clean also shadowing is critical with any solar install.
Why not have a portable system and park where ever and have movable panels, park anywhere, with extension cables to a sunny location, say 50 feet away from the van/trailer/converter?
As I suggested earlier. Contact a professional.

-Dennis
Yes. Because they don't want the hassle of portable systems. No, you don't need to park in the sun with an exact angle. No, keeping them clean is not a huge concern.

We're here to share experiences. Plenty of folks successfully mount rooftop panels. There's plenty of expertise on these forums to do it yourself if that's your intention. You'll find a range of opinions. It's all good. If you're not comfortable, seek a professional.
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:23 PM   #17
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Some utilize a combination of both. I have 100 watts rooftop and 160 watts of portable.
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Old 02-28-2016, 01:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batman View Post
"alano : There are many different ways to approach your questions. Since you're "B" van might be rather limited on top, why don't you take a look at AM Solar's panels and tell us how many panels you think you could fit on the roof? From there we can help with selecting the solar charger, sizing the wire, etc."

Have you ever done this before?
Why would anyone put panels on the roof?
One would have to park in the sun with the exact, correct angle on the panels. Angle of the panel and keeping them clean also shadowing is critical with any solar install.
Why not have a portable system and park where ever and have movable panels, park anywhere, with extension cables to a sunny location, say 50 feet away from the van/trailer/converter?
As I suggested earlier. Contact a professional.

-Dennis
Thanks for the idea, however the goal is to do as little maintaining as possible. I would not enjoy setting up solar panels every day. Also, i generally park in random parking lots and would not be comfortable leaving my solar pabels out in the parking space next to me. Even if that was not a problem for me, i have very little storage space inside the van. I am definetly going to i stall the panels on The roof. Positioning the van is not a huge burden as i am reparking it often.

This is what im thinking, tear the shower out of the back of the van and converting that into a storae area in which partially holds 4 glass batteries. I am leanibg towards renogy's 3ft by 2 ft 100 watt solar panel. Perhaps 2? I am having no luck getting actual advice for this project and am doing as much research as i can understand.

Until airstream or anyone can tell me exactly how this van is wired physically than this seems like just a dream. I really dont want to pay anyone to i stall this for me.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:06 AM   #19
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CzZito,
I am not sure about the exact wiring of your van. That shouldn't be a problem to get.
My suggestion to you would be to contact AM Solar http://www.amsolar.com/
and even Lewster for some free advice. Lew is a profesional and has been more than helpful, AM solar has just about ever thing you need and the customer service/advice is good also. They are both very good sources of information.
I would get as much free advice as you can stand, but don't forget free advice is often times worth just what you paid for it.

-Dennis
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:06 PM   #20
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CzZito,

By all means seek a professional if you want. But also, if you're wanting to take the time and learn about the installation yourself, you'll find a bunch of folks willing to share their knowledge and experience and will gladly help steer you in the direction you want to.

You started out thinking you would need to size your system to power an electric heater and you've since backed off this requirement. So know that we know that you might fit two 100 W panels on your roof, we can start a conversation about your energy requirements and how to size your batteries and inverter.

Want to continue the discussion?
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:14 PM   #21
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I believe i can fit two 150 watt panels at 3 ft by 3 ft on my roof. Renogoy seems to have a decent deal and claims to be top of the line.
So 300 watts should power a tv, laptop, various charging devices, lamps/lights/fans and a Playstation 4 gaming console(if i so choose to get one). What do you think? Im sold on 300 watts.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:43 PM   #22
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Two 150 W panels will supply maximum power in direct sunlight to charge your batteries. This only affects how quickly your batteries will recharge. The inverter that you choose will limit the maximum power that you can deliver to your appliances. The batteries that you select will determine how long you'll be able to run those appliances.

So perhaps the next question for you is what appliances will you run from an inverter? TV, Playstation, computer and phone charger at the same time? If that's the case a 600 W inverter should be sufficient. Are there any other appliances that you must run that might take more than 600 W?

Also, I just wanted to ask if your house battery is in good shape? I took at look at a 1994 manual but it didn't say where the house battery is located. Where is yours?
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:18 PM   #23
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The solar panels are 39in by 39in each. I thought id need at least a 2000 watt inverter. Not sure why. Hair dryer, and any just incases.

Renigy recommended i get (4) 125AH AGM batteries for the two 150 watt solar panels. They also suggested a 40amp charge controller. What do you think? Are they fishing for money or is this accurate?
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:56 AM   #24
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Check out handy bob's blog for more good info. It's at handybobsolar.wordpress.com
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:58 AM   #25
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A 1000 W inverter can support surges to 1500 W and even 2000 W, so I would recommend no more than 1000 W. Even better would be a 600 W inverter as it would consume less energy when enabled.

You only have 300 W of solar. If you buy four 125 AHr batteries, you'll have a total of 500 AHr, but only 250 AHr will be usable since you shouldn't deplete your batteries more than 50%. With your solar it will take you 250 AHr / (300 W / 12 V) = 10 Hr assuming the sun is bright and your panels are optimally positioned. This will take at least two days to recharge your batteries. A more realistic configuration would be two 125 Ah batteries, allowing you to fully recharge your system in 5 hours on a good day.

Two batteries will give you 125 AH of usable capacity. If you're running a TV, computer, Playstation and perhaps even some LED lights, perhaps the total will be around 200 W. So you'll be able to power all that for 125 AHr / (200 W / 12 V) = 7.5 Hr.

For all the calculations above, I neglected the losses in the inverter, solar charger and charging the battery, so you might assume everything I said is 10-20% worse than I calculated.

As for the solar charger, I would look at the BlueSky Solar Boost 3000i or the 2512i. Either would work just fine. I would add the IPN Pro remote so you have a battery monitor. I can't stress enough how important it is to understand the state-of-charge of your batteries so that they will last a long time. A battery monitor continuously measures the energy in and out of the battery and is extremely important if you're going to be boondocking with this system. Measuring only the battery voltage to predict state-of-charge is fraught with problems for most folks.

So what is the condition of your existing coach batteries. How many do you have and what state are they? Where are they? Does your converter work? Do you intend to connect to shore power once in awhile. Do you expect to bring along an external generator to charge your batteries when there's no sun for 3 days?

AM Solar (www.amsolar.com) has a nice education page that you should read to learn more about solar panels and how to size your system. They are a good resource for purchasing the Blue Sky chargers and will also answer questions.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:03 AM   #26
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Alano, although I find no fault with your reasoning, I wonder how many people use that much 12V power per day. I know some do, but we only use 28 - 50 Ah per day. Our 260 watts of panels are more than adequate for us.
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:29 AM   #27
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Rich, I agree that 500 AHr of total capacity seems an indulgence considering the size of the solar array and the expected loads. Two type 31 batteries should more than adequate.

In the Winter months, I've been using about 75 AHr of capacity each night when the furnace is running with my 30' classic. Even then, the thermostat is set to a cool 55 deg F.

Some general guidelines are necessary to get the most out of the available battery capacity like, convert to LED lighting, use propane to heat water, make toast and heat-up food rather than a kettle, coffee pot or microwave. Turn off your inverter at night when you go to bed, etc.
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:34 AM   #28
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Yeah, I don't camp much after Halloween and don't start up till April. Furnace makes a big difference. Of course, there's always a generator, when solar gets behind.
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