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Old 01-07-2016, 11:33 AM   #15
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Do some reading from the link in post 13.


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Old 01-07-2016, 01:24 PM   #16
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More than the minimal number of panels means the batteries get charged quicker when clouds interrupt the sunshine during the day.
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:33 PM   #17
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how to meet your power requirements when off the grid

You will never be able to really run AC off of any conceivable installation of panels and batteries on your trailer, or other high draw devices. From experience the best bet is a portable 140-160 watt solar panel that you can move a couple of times a day to get it in the sun and a couple of good house batteries. You start out fully charged, you use up 30-40 amps a day, you get an "average" of 30 solar amps a day, you run an "average" deficit of 5- amps per day for a week of boon docking. You'll be OK.

The above arrangement will cost you less than $500, and the work to move the panels around. $500 might be less than what it would cost you just for labor to mount panels and install a solar charging system in your trailer.

On really sunny days when you can keep your panels exposed to the direct sun for 6 plus hours a day, you will run a surplus, on crummy days a deficit. Rather than running the furnace all the time, wear a sweater. Read or play games rather than watching TV. You'll be OK.

If you want to go really crazy you could get a second panel of the same size, about $350, assuming the charge controller you bought for the first panel can handle the load. You wire them together, but now it's a more time consuming or a two man job to move and store them. They only weigh about 25 pounds, but with all the wiring it is more complicated. With this extra panel you will now pick up a lot more amps. Use the micro wave with an inverter a little to reheat your coffee or maybe even prepare your TV dinners. Use your hair dryer for a few minutes. Fat City!

More direct and productive of a lot more amps is a generator. One small, quiet, economical Honda generator will easily keep your battery's topped up if you limit your amp draw. You would probably need to run it 1-2 hr.s per day. The solar panels don't need to be run, just moved to produce quiet power See how your neighbors like it?
A couple of big, snarling Honda generators can be run together with your AC, the noise of each canceling out the noise of the other and viola! AC.
These kinds of generators, however, have a weigh penalty (80b.s each) for you to manage and store, and require you maintain a good supply of gas on hand to feed them.

Cheers
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:53 PM   #18
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AM Solar at Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 is a great resource. They sell kits for DYI and can also recommend installers around the country that use their product.

They installed 325 watts plus two Lifeline 6V AGM batteries on our 23D. We can go out almost indefinitely with this setup. We could have gone with 200 watts but wanted a quicker recovery time for the batteries.
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Old 01-07-2016, 02:23 PM   #19
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Like asking how much beer to put in a glass

Well…How big is the glass, and how thirsty are you ?
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Old 01-07-2016, 02:24 PM   #20
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Look at the power consumption for each appliance in the trailer to estimate how many amps you will use per day. The labels on the appliances usually show power in watts and current in amps. You need batterys that provide at least more than twice the amps consumed per day. So if you use 75 amps per day you need more than 150 amps of battery capacity per day. If you have 300 amos then theoretically you should be able to go 2 days without charging the batteries. As a rule of thumb you need 100 watts of solar for every 100 amp hrs of battery capacity. For example I have 3 105 amp agm batteries so I need at least 315 watts of solar power. I have 340 watts of solar and on a clear day my batteries are charged in 5 hours.
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Old 01-07-2016, 03:12 PM   #21
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FWIW, we settled on a system with 300 watts (3 x 100 watt Grape Solar monocrystalline panels of the type Lewster references) to start with and may add a fourth later depending on the results we see. You can "calculate" your needs but realize that there will be many variables affecting the system, some of which are uncontrollable (like weather and tree canopy at your destinations) and some of which may remain unknown (like parasitic draws). In the research we did, nobody seemed to complain about having over-designed their systems. In fact they needed to, in order to get where they wanted to be.

The general guidelines are: Listen to Lew, listen to Handy Bob (he has a blog), and over-design.

We are not yet finished with our installation but if you are interested, you can read more in these first two descriptive blog posts, although some of our physical installation challenges will not apply to a trailer:

THE INTERSTATE BLOG: SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATION, PART 1: PREAMBLE
THE INTERSTATE BLOG: SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATION, PART 2: EXTERIOR COMPONENTS
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Old 01-07-2016, 04:01 PM   #22
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Once you get into wanting to run stuff off an inverter then things get more complicated and costly; more battery capacity, more solar capacity, more installation issues, inverter equipment to purchase. I'm thinking for some items I need to run occasionally that require AC I'll just get a 2000w generator to run for the few minutes the wife needs to use a hair dryer or the microwave when boondocking in the middle of no where.

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Old 01-07-2016, 04:14 PM   #23
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I bought a post ice storm generator, 3500 watt, for $250 Canadian. That's about $180 US. It had less than 15 hours on it. By comparison a 40W solar panel is around $200 CDN. I didn't need to think long nor hard to figure it out.
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Old 01-07-2016, 05:46 PM   #24
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We have happier camping neighbors now that we've gone solar.
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Old 01-07-2016, 06:01 PM   #25
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"You will never be able to really run AC off of any conceivable installation of panels and batteries on your trailer, or other high draw devices. From experience the best bet is a portable 140-160 watt solar panel that you can move a couple of times a day to get it in the sun and a couple of good house batteries. You start out fully charged, you use up 30-40 amps a day, you get an "average" of 30 solar amps a day, you run an "average" deficit of 5- amps per day for a week of boon docking. You'll be OK." ……….Clipper2014

NEVER say never!!!!

I'm sure that the 20 or so folks that have large lithium battery packs with 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverters that I have recently installed would be VERY INTERESTED in your 'experiences'. They seem to have NO PROBLEMS running a roof A/C unit from 2.5-5 hours simply from the battery alone. They also have no problems running that same roof A/C ALL DAY if they add a single 2000 watt generator into the mix.

Will that put a pretty large dent in the battery's capacity…..sure. Will their ample solar charging systems replenish that capacity in very short order….you bet! Can a single Honda or Yamaha 2000 watt almost silent generator bring those same batteries up to full charge (although it's not really necessary with lithium batteries) in a matter of a few hours if necessary at a charge rate of 125 amps per hour thru their Magnum inverter/charger….. ABSOLUTELY !!

Please do a little research before making statements that have no basis in fact!!!
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Old 01-07-2016, 06:22 PM   #26
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I'd be SOL up a creek if I just had a "140-160 watt portable panel" - everyone's power consumption needs are different.

+1 what Lew said about the A/C. Totally possible.
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Old 01-07-2016, 06:48 PM   #27
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All it takes is money.
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:35 PM   #28
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Solar and Batteries

I've been looking to install maximum solar capacity on my AS as well so I have followed the postings with interest. Go Power's top of the line kit (hard not flexible panels) has total wattage of 480 watts ( 160 watt panels) which is capable of generating 27 amps per hour depending on sun exposure. Eventually, however no matter how much juice you can generate from solar it doesn't matter if you don't have the capacity to store it. New AS (25 foot and above) come equipped with two group 27 Lifeline batteries which have an amp capacity of 100 each (200 when wired in parallel). I have been thinking of switching to 6 volts but two six volts wired in series (to make 12 volts) don't double the amps. I also have considered adding
4 6 volts wired in series/parallel which I think would give me about 800 amps. Couple of questions to the group:

1. Is is possible to wire two 6 volts in series parallel?

2. Has anyone had any experience in modifying the AS battery box to accommodate 4 6 volts,

3. AS wiring from panels to controller and from battery box to solar controller is I believe 10 gauge. I'm thinking of replacing with 6 or even 4 gauge.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
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