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Old 01-02-2015, 11:27 AM   #1
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Smile Solar panels vs portable generators

I plan on doing some good docking of 2-10 days, like things easy and trouble free/dependable. Assume a quality install of solar and proper products vs buying portable generators to top of batteies during the day. Needs for both AC and heat.

Assuming I am ok with cost of the right solution....what would you choose to use.
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Old 01-02-2015, 11:33 AM   #2
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Depends on a lot of factors; what devices and appliances are you going to operate while off-grid?

Existing batteries or new/larger battery bank?

Need 120VAC available?

What size is your trailer???

These types of questions will go a long way towards designing a proper solar charging system to meet your needs.


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Old 01-02-2015, 01:09 PM   #3
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I plan on doing some good docking of 2-10 days, like things easy and trouble free/dependable. Assume a quality install of solar and proper products vs buying portable generators to top of batteies during the day. Needs for both AC and heat.

Assuming I am ok with cost of the right solution....what would you choose to use.
N
If that "AC" means air conditioner, you are limited to the generator only, and you need at least 3600 watts, 4000 would be better.
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Old 01-02-2015, 01:15 PM   #4
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It also depends are where you are camping. I have both a generator and solar panels. When I am at the beach (Assateague) my solar panels keep my batteries charged. I use the 3 fans, radio lights (LED bulbs) etc. I don't run the AC and I currently don't have a microwave (mine bit the dust and I haven't found that I miss it - if I had one I would just run the gen when using that). When I am camping in the mountains, usually under a pretty good tree cover, then I need the generator. I never use my AC when boondocking, but if I did, I would have another Honda EU2000 to pair with my existing one. As stated above, you won't be able to run your AC off of solar. My solar panels are 150W and are more than a enough to keep me charged up at the beach. I may add another 100W to give me more charging on cloudier days etc. BTW, I purchased my solar system from AM Solar. They are RV specialist and put together a kit with everything you need.
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Old 01-03-2015, 03:50 AM   #5
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OK, this is helpful folks. I am not as concerned about AC (would be nice), most of my camping is in going to be in the US and Canadain Rockies and national parks in the west. Some on the East coast and Appalacahain mtns.
Trialer is 25 ft flying cloud rear bedroom and not inside space for extra battery bank unless I re do sitting and table area. I gues I could put under table on front wall and loose that sittine space.
My main concern is that I am not technical person and do not know how trouble free systems are if properly installed.
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:11 AM   #6
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How about a portable solar system?
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Old 01-03-2015, 06:21 AM   #7
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We 'dock a lot in the Adirondacks'....


My limited knowledge of solaria tells me you need light to make 'lectric.

I started with one 2000i Honda when we got the Classic, knowing we could pair-up in the future if needed. It hasn't been needed and we have all the 'lectric we require, (no AC or hi-use items), just a joe bean grinder.

I converted to dual use LPG after a year its been putting away in it's little tent ever since.


Before wiring our home pad I used 30w of flexible panels on the roof to keep the batt's up. Worked ok but not real consistant.


It really depends on how & where you camp and if you can successfully rationalize the cost/benefit.

FWIW.....the simple principal has worked for me, it's been pretty darn 'trouble free'.

Good Luck

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Old 01-03-2015, 07:22 PM   #8
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batteries/solar

I used a small Koeller generator for the extended camping trips;it wasn't quiet like a Honda so I set it 20-30 feet away after dark and only ran it for an hour or less to charge up the battery.
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Old 01-03-2015, 08:34 PM   #9
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We travel all over the country camping in the boonies, National Parks, rv parks, rv resorts, and sometimes truck stops and Walmarts. I like the simplicity of solar, so that's what we use whenever shore power is not available. We have a Honda 2000i but seldom bring it along, it's a nuisance.
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Old 01-13-2015, 06:48 PM   #10
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Has any tried out the GoalZero portable solar panels? Plan to do lots of California coast camping and thinking about getting one... thoughts?
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Old 01-17-2015, 11:35 PM   #11
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Has any tried out the GoalZero portable solar panels? Plan to do lots of California coast camping and thinking about getting one... thoughts?

They seem overly expensive to me. You can get a 100 watt panel for $100-$200 from lots of places, but goal zero wants $400 for a 90 watt panel.


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Old 01-18-2015, 12:11 AM   #12
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If that "AC" means air conditioner, you are limited to the generator only, and you need at least 3600 watts, 4000 would be better.

Hi, this generator has no problem running my air conditioner.
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Old 01-18-2015, 03:58 AM   #13
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Hi, this generator has no problem running my air conditioner.
Bob, What size is your air conditioner....how many BTU's?
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Old 01-18-2015, 04:39 AM   #14
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I think a combination of fixed and portable solar panels is the way to go as long as you don't need a.c. ( I have two solar panel set ups ) one on my house ,it provides aprox 35-40% of my electricity about 5-10 kilowatts hours per day (,depends on how much sun) that's from 1320 watts of panels and 12 (AGM)solar extender batteries made by concorde wired in series parallel conbo for a 48 volt system and a total amp hour capacity of 387 , and a second system totally off grid cabin it has 190watts in solar panels and about 200amp hour batterry capacity , its also a 12 volt system , so this would be a good comparison to a R.V. System , 200watts of solar panels is lots of power for us in the cabin as most of the time were outside enjoying nature , we. Run all our lights ,cell phone chargers ,camera charging, ipad charging, toaster, kettle, frying pan,we have a propane fridge, propane hot water heater, the well pump is powered by our 2000 watt generator and is a back up if we get several days of no sun, (you will have no problem running your R.v. Water pump on solar ) when using solar you must think ahead , charge all cell phones ,cameras,iPad durring the day when the sun is shining,this is to make sure you have lots of power for at night, because of the lower battery storage capacity ,like in a R.V. ( most are limited to two batteries unless you modify. Now to answer the question portable or fixed solar panels , a combination is the best , fixed panels charge the batteries any time the sun shines on them, so they will charge them on the road ,in outdoor storage, in the campground if parked in the sun , if the panels don't get sun they will charge the batteries but a lot less as much as a 90% less it all depends .so a portable panel is fantastic as you can move it into the sun and get full charging capacity out of it and park your trailer in the shade to keep it cooler . I would drill a hole in the solar panel frame so I could put a cable lock on it to lock the panel to a tree ,trailer ,etc so the expensive panel doesn't get stolen .

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Old 01-19-2015, 12:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
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I plan on doing some good docking of 2-10 days, like things easy and trouble free/dependable. Assume a quality install of solar and proper products vs buying portable generators to top of batteies during the day. Needs for both AC and heat.

Assuming I am ok with cost of the right solution....what would you choose to use.
N
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
If that "AC" means air conditioner, you are limited to the generator only, and you need at least 3600 watts, 4000 would be better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
Bob, What size is your air conditioner....how many BTU's?

Hi, Steve; Unless I missed it the OP didn't say what size air conditioner that he has nor did you mention any air conditioner size in your statement. For the record my Yamaha 2400 generator with a constant 2000 watts output ran my air conditioner, my converter, my refrigerator, and a small television all at the same time and at high altitude. My air conditioner is the small 11,000 BTU model. Others who have the same generator, or the newer improved model, can run their larger air conditioners, but have to shut everything else off.
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Old 01-19-2015, 04:32 AM   #16
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Yes, Bob, at 11,000 btu I suppose the smaller generator would work. I am surprised they put that small of a unit in a 25 footer. Mine were all at least 13,500, and now this trailer has a 15,000 in front with a "small" 13,500 in the rear.

Even with all this capacity, if we stop for the evening in the summer in West Texas, it's at least 9PM before it cools down in there. I know it's a lot different on the West Coast.
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Old 01-19-2015, 04:55 AM   #17
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If that "AC" means air conditioner, you are limited to the generator only, and you need at least 3600 watts, 4000 would be better.
I think you mean 2600 watts, 3000 would be better. My 1985 air conditioner I would guess needs 2800 watts because when the compressor cycles my eu3000i get loaded down pretty hard.
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Old 01-19-2015, 05:02 AM   #18
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No, actually I meant 3600, and that's what I would get one for myself. 30amps X 120volts=3600 watts, and if you buy a 3600 watt generator, that rating is peak, and it will not sustain that level of power output for very long.

The OP has a late model 30ft trailer, so I'm sure he has the big air conditioner.
If you have a 15,000btu air conditioner, run the converter, and the wife turns on her hair dryer, well, there you go.
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:01 AM   #19
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Consider the other purpose of having solar, specifically keeping a charge on your batteries when in storage. Just like others have pointed out that camping under a canopy of trees regularly cuts down on the efficiency and utility of your panels, so too when you store under cover.

I bought my RT van without solar because I knew I would be storing under cover and even though there might be times I could benefit from having solar charge the batteries while parked elsewhere, its a marginal advantage. When I camp, I am usually having hookups. Interestingly, I use my ONAN propane generator to keep a charge on the batteries when in storage for prolonged periods. I could, but would not remove the batteries as I do with my trailer, so its nice to have the generator to maintain the batteries, and yes, it also meets the ONAN warranty requirements for monthly running.

So It seems to me that a generator has much more utility than panels. I have a similar 2400is for my trailer, and like it. I also like having it for times when my home power goes out, and while I have a 7.8 kW system on my roof of my house, I do not have battery backup yet, so if the grid goes down, I am SOL, but I still have my trusty Yamaha to keep the deep freeze and fridge going. I am waiting for the TESLA home backup system to mature and will likely add that on to my home system, and possibly my van. In the interim, I am considering dropping the ONAN on my van (too noisy to use), and adding the engine generator. Its 3500 watts and burns diesel. Adding more batteries in the space to where the ONAN sits is also in the plan. Depending on your TV, you might be able to do the same... Engine generators are much quieter than stand alone units and probably can be used when sites prohibit regular generator use...
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:18 AM   #20
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No, actually I meant 3600, and that's what I would get one for myself. 30amps X 120volts=3600 watts, and if you buy a 3600 watt generator, that rating is peak, and it will not sustain that level of power output for very long.

The OP has a late model 30ft trailer, so I'm sure he has the big air conditioner.
If you have a 15,000btu air conditioner, run the converter, and the wife turns on her hair dryer, well, there you go.
I thought you were talking about what was needed to run just the air. Now to give the camper 30amps 2 Honda eu2000is would match.
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