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Old 03-09-2014, 04:18 PM   #1
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2004 19' Bambi
Missoula , Montana
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Need help picking solar panels

Hello all...we are the new kids on the block here in Montana. After a wonderful conversation that my husband had with another Montana AS owner, we would love to do most of our travels dry camping (or boondocking as we have now come to learn) in all the lovely, isolated places that Montana and Alberta, Canada have to offer.

We are electrical frugal after living on a sailboat for over 4 years up in remote areas of British Columbia and Alaska. That said, we would like to know what experiences AS folks have had, pro or con, with Go Power portable solar units just to keep the batteries topped off without having to use a generator. Now, we are on a budget (nearing that retirement age) but want panels that will work well, store well, won't need a lot of attention and will last long so don't want to go too cheap but definitely don't want the most expensive!

Look forward to all the advise you can give!

Jo & David
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:04 PM   #2
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If I was out that far West I'd setup with AM Solar and get their package. I would even consider taking their class on the installation. I would tow out, buy the products, attend the class and learn the whole process. I know it's more money but you wouldn't question the install work. Not to mention having a better understanding of the system operation/configuration.

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Old 04-05-2014, 06:39 PM   #3
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I would suggest you check out "solar panel upgrades" under the Motorhome/Sprinter forum. I just upgraded my Sprinter last month with AM Solar products, installed by a forum Member, Lewster. Unless you really know your electrical stuff, I would strongly suggest you consider someone like Lewster to install a solar upgrade. There's a significant amount of information specifically pertaining to my upgraded system. The upgrade is awesome and extremely well thought out. I don't need to worry about running out of power while dry camping. My upgrade was around $9,500, but it was well worth it.
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:41 PM   #4
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Forgot to add that Lewster is in Portland, OR beginning the end of AprilClick image for larger version

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Old 04-05-2014, 07:18 PM   #5
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Sweet setup!!!!
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:24 PM   #6
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HeavyAssault, thank you!!!
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:39 PM   #7
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I was going to say it's just nice to get a technical/spec'd out review. I just read that post you linked. Thanks again!
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:18 AM   #8
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We camp off the grid in Colorado in the fall during bow hunting season. We will camp a month with no shore power when temps get down into the teens. We sleep in sleeping bags and maintain the nighttime temps in our 25 foot trailer in the 50's. A higher temp means the furnace is on much of the night which is disturbing. We have the stock setup, two group 24 flooded cell 12 volt batteries.
We have a 200 watt solar charger that came with our unit when we purchased it. It does have a regulator, but I don't know much about it.
We had problems with short battery life but this is much improved since we upgraded our converter charger to a three stage unit. We are in the third year on our batteries, but they are getting a little tired and will be replaced before the next hunting season. We ask a lot of the batteries and when they are even a little off capacity, they won't get us through a 17 degree night.
When it is cold and cloudy out, the solar doesn't do the job and we top up the batteries with a small Honda generator. It usually takes about 2 hours running time to top up the batteries.
With a similar setup, you will have no difficulty boondocking in the mountains of Montana and Canada all you want during the summer and fall.
We have a sport fishing boat in the Sea of Cortez and see many sailboats with wind chargers. We are considering getting one of those as we often have afternoon breezes.
If someone knows more about wind chargers than I do, an informative post would be appreciated
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:52 PM   #9
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Solar questions for new 25'

I see all the threads in this post, but not that helpful. We are "newbies" also and will pick up our new 25' Flying Cloud shortly. We had an older model which came with 2000 W solar and inverter and could run everything; even air....now we are trying to figure out what we need to use for 3-4 days boon docking with new model. Electrical use would include coffee pot, occasional TV/DVD, computer, and battery charging...unit comes with stock batteries, but no inverter. What do we need, and is there a kit for this type set up? Appreciate input.
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:19 PM   #10
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To get a better idea of your old system are you saying you had 2000watts of solar panels or 2000watt inverter, because 2000watts of solar panels you will never mount them on your 25 foot airstream,there is no room on the roof unless you had a portable stand with solar panels on them,or if you meant you had a 2000watt inverter even a 2000watt inverter would have a hard time to run your a.c. ,the surge on start up of a.c could be three to four times the rating of a.c and most inverters can supply double there rating for 5 seconds. Anyways to give you a idea on solar panels I need to know are they just mounted on the roof of the trailer, how long do you want to run a.c. etc...

Don
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Old 04-22-2014, 10:34 PM   #11
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Solar on new 25'

the unit had 2 panels; It was 2000 W with inverter (size?) selling person we purchased form in AZ said she ran the AC for 3 hours(not knowing better), till batteries died; \...batteries were 1x1x 2feet...we were not ever going to do that, just thought it was interesting that unit had all that capability...batteries were mounted inside, by the way... As I said, we are just looking to avoid a generator/ and gas if we can with basic things....coffee, computer, charging batteries, TV/DVD/ IPod...
I am looking for roof mounted, I think? 4-6 days typical use at a time?> Do I need new batteries also?
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:42 AM   #12
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the unit had 2 panels; It was 2000 W with inverter (size?) selling person we purchased form in AZ said she ran the AC for 3 hours(not knowing better), till batteries died; \...batteries were 1x1x 2feet...we were not ever going to do that, just thought it was interesting that unit had all that capability...batteries were mounted inside, by the way... As I said, we are just looking to avoid a generator/ and gas if we can with basic things....coffee, computer, charging batteries, TV/DVD/ IPod...
I am looking for roof mounted, I think? 4-6 days typical use at a time?> Do I need new batteries also?
Ok so what your saying is you had two solar panels on the roof of your old airstream ( you didn't say what the wattage was),your old inverter was 2000watts, ( I'm assuming this because 2000 watts of solar panels would be aprox 10 feet x 20 feet and you had larger then normal batteries , ok what do you want to run with the inverter? (Need wattages marked on appliance and for how long) Number 1 you want solar panels on the roof of the trailer,put the biggest panels you can fit on the roof usually this is around 100 watts x2, ok next inline is a charge controller you should install a m.p.p.t. Multi stage (3) with equalization stage, morning star,midnite solar are some brands ,then you need a inverter once I no what you want to power I can recommend a size ( wattage) most go with around 1000 watts to 1500 watts, make sure it's a pure sine wave inverter the modified sine is useless it will cause overheating of some electrical devices and noise interference on radios and t.v. And as for batteries if there inside trailer with no venting I would go with (AGM)the largest amp hour batteries that could fit in the batterie storage tray. And if batteries are outside trailer in batterie tray you can go with flooded acid batteries ( normal) always the biggest most amp hours batterie that fits, absorb glass mat( Agm) batteries have the advantage of not getting damaged from freezing ,will take a charge of higher amps faster,no explosive gas while charging,and don't leak acid ,safer ,disadvantage cost.

Don
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