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Old 01-05-2016, 10:44 AM   #1
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How Many Solar Panels do I need?

I'm wanting to make my 1973 31' a/s Excella fully solar. right now it has the original gas/electric fridge, gas oven and range, and the regular electricity. The heater runs off of propane and we have the A/C (although I'd rather not run it). I plan to have a TV in there and small appliances (but not all plugged in at once, of course).

I'm just trying to figure out how many solar panels/amps I'll need to get to be sustainable.

Has anyone made their airstream fully solar? I saw some people online who put five 500 watt flexible solar panels on their Fleetwood Excursion RV.. I feel like that would draw more power than the airstream for some reason, but I may be wrong. Here's the link to the page I saw the info (Powerful and Flexible RV Solar Panels)

Any ideas/thoughts?
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:06 AM   #2
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You might search the Generator and Solar forum for info, and post your questions there. Lots of knowledgeable and helpful folks. Also check out AM Solar and their tutorial.

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Old 01-06-2016, 11:35 AM   #3
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For my needs, I have settled in at 260 watts. A 100 watt panel permanently mounted rooftop and a 160 watt portable unit, as I camp in the shade mostly.
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:39 AM   #4
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I guess it all comes down to your power needs and your budget. You need to calculate what is your typical daily power draw will be and then plan for the appropriate battery capacity to cover that need. Then you can determine the amount of solar that is needed to charge the batteries on a daily basis. The costs will add up fast.

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Old 01-06-2016, 11:49 AM   #5
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We typically use 28 - 30 Ah per day. That's with LED lighting, water pump, charge a phone or two, fridge, and water heater on propane, a bit of music, and not much LED TV.
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Old 01-06-2016, 03:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
We typically use 28 - 30 Ah per day. That's with LED lighting, water pump, charge a phone or two, fridge, and water heater on propane, a bit of music, and not much LED TV.
Amps X volts = watts so it is important to know if that is 30 AH @ 12 V or 30 AH @ 120 V. The 12 volt scenario is 360 watt hours so a 40 watt unit with 9 hours of sun has you covered. 120 volts is 10 X more.
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:05 PM   #7
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Isn't the amount of Solar watts only as good as how many batteries you have to take in the power? More watts, more batteries needed? Could be totally wrong here. I have one panel I put out, portable style since I find the shade is a huge help in an Airstream, and I have two deep cycle batteries. Any more solar and I would have to get different batteries. It suits my needs, but my needs are small.
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:15 PM   #8
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More solar means more amps so if you have 600 watts of solar and only 200ah battery bank the panels will charge the batteries faster than if you only had a 200w solar. 200w puts out about 11amps so 600watts would put out over 30amps. Also helps on cloudy days. The solar charge controller also has to have the correct charging characteristics to match the battery type; flooded, AGM, Lithium.

I'm thinking the solar system that would work for me is 200 watts on the roof and 200 watts of portable solar. I'd have this matched to a 200ah battery system. Our energy needs are basic too.

The roof panels could charge the batteries while towing. When at a campsite we could park in the shade and use portable or if in the sun would have 400w of solar if deploying the portable.

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Old 01-06-2016, 05:14 PM   #9
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I have a 200 watt solar panel on my roof, 300amps of 2x 6volt AGM batteries.
In two years of traveling twice a year (spring and fall - don't like the crowds in summer), I've never used the 2000i Honda I bought (I take it just in case).
We boondock mostly. The batteries never get below 50% when we camp and are charged up by noon when we travel (both solar and TV).
We run an inverter for microwave, tv and coffee grinder - all else is 12volt. We don't 'watch' our electrical use. I just watch our battery level and haven't had a problem yet.
This may help you with real world use verses calculated use.
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Old 01-06-2016, 05:35 PM   #10
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What brand and model of battery are you using? What solar controller, inverter/charger?

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Old 01-06-2016, 06:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gearheart View Post
Amps X volts = watts so it is important to know if that is 30 AH @ 12 V or 30 AH @ 120 V. The 12 volt scenario is 360 watt hours so a 40 watt unit with 9 hours of sun has you covered. 120 volts is 10 X more.
That's 12 v. But....at my latitude, count on 7 hours a day and 5 hours at anything close to maximizing the panels. Add to that cloudy 0r partly cloudy days, and 40 watts is woefully inadequate.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:42 PM   #12
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I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to sola, but think for my needs 2-150 watt panels with a Solar Boost Controller serves me well. Run everything moderately but the A/C. n Full battery charge most sunny days by noon. Battery storage is two #27 group.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APevtPV View Post
I'm wanting to make my 1973 31' a/s Excella fully solar. right now it has the original gas/electric fridge, gas oven and range, and the regular electricity. The heater runs off of propane and we have the A/C (although I'd rather not run it). I plan to have a TV in there and small appliances (but not all plugged in at once, of course).

I'm just trying to figure out how many solar panels/amps I'll need to get to be sustainable.

Has anyone made their airstream fully solar? I saw some people online who put five 500 watt flexible solar panels on their Fleetwood Excursion RV.. I feel like that would draw more power than the airstream for some reason, but I may be wrong. Here's the link to the page I saw the info (Powerful and Flexible RV Solar Panels)

Any ideas/thoughts?
Just a few comments from one who installs RV solar for a living:

The Winns were sponsored by Go-Power, the company that sells the supposedly wonderful flex panels. THEY ARE NOT THAT POWERFUL when compared to solid 100 watt monocrystaline panels. I have written several times about my personal experience with flex panels in direct comparison to hard panels. AM Solar was selling them last year when all of the hype about them hit the market. They soon realized that their output was a fraction of what it could be using hard panels and discontinued them after discovering other problems from their design and construction.

The rat's nest of connectors on their roof is also a definite source for voltage drop (an unwanted side effect that will decrease the efficiency of your solar array) from these panels, making them far more inefficient than they already are.

Start your solar education here: AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems

There are many ways to cobble together a system that will 'work' from available solar components. There are only a few reliable sources that have been in the RV solar business for a long time that can design a system for you using fully compatible, proven components that will provide you with the maximum output and return for your investment dollars.

Choose wisely!!!!
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Old 01-07-2016, 11:24 AM   #14
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I guess it all comes down to your power needs and your budget. You need to calculate what is your typical daily power draw will be and then plan for the appropriate battery capacity to cover that need. Then you can determine the amount of solar that is needed to charge the batteries on a daily basis. The costs will add up fast.

Kelvin
How does one calculate or measure power needs? I'm thinking of solar down the road a bit, and would love to actually measure on a daily basis, what I use until then. Is that possible?
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