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Old 01-07-2015, 09:30 PM   #1
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Solar Install, Worth it?

I'm giving some thought to getting a solar panel installed on my AS. I have a new one that I understand is pre-wired in some way. Does anyone have any real world data on the usefulness and efficiency of the system? Obviously the output isn't high enough to run an AC unit for very long if at all, but is it enough to sustain the vent fan(s)? Any sort of offset is great in my opinion but curious to know if the technology is really there yet. Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:04 PM   #2
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No ac,might slowly charge the batteries, I like my 2000 watt honda for charging the batteries and my wife can use the curling iron and hair dryer..
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:51 PM   #3
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We have the factory two 53 watt panels and two group 24 AGM batteries. Forget heating (that's for propane) and cooling but provides the basic daily needs when managed well. We have a Honda 2000i but no longer bring it along on our cross-country wanderings, it's a nuisance. I would like to add a third AGM battery or have two group 27 AGMs, the solar is sufficient as it is for our needs.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:25 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
I'm giving some thought to getting a solar panel installed on my AS. I have a new one that I understand is pre-wired in some way. Does anyone have any real world data on the usefulness and efficiency of the system? Obviously the output isn't high enough to run an AC unit for very long if at all, but is it enough to sustain the vent fan(s)? Any sort of offset is great in my opinion but curious to know if the technology is really there yet. Thanks in advance!
It might very well be, if your in the Sol a lot.

For us....not so much.


Look close our Flamingo can barely get off the ground.

One dual fuel Honda 2000i does a very nice job, we boondock almost exclusively.

Bob



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Old 01-08-2015, 06:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
I'm giving some thought to getting a solar panel installed on my AS. I have a new one that I understand is pre-wired in some way. Does anyone have any real world data on the usefulness and efficiency of the system? Obviously the output isn't high enough to run an AC unit for very long if at all, but is it enough to sustain the vent fan(s)? Any sort of offset is great in my opinion but curious to know if the technology is really there yet. Thanks in advance!
I think you should start your 'solar education' here: AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:19 AM   #6
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Bought my Eddie Bauer gently used (or never used, one year old) and it had the factory solar package on it. I find it's nice to keep the batteries topped off but I must agree that you'll probably find yourself in the deep dark woods when you need it most. Even the smallest generator can recharge your batteries AND you can use it for a coffee maker, induction burner, curling iron, or whatever else is a heavy draw when you are not hooked up to power.

Paula
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:31 AM   #7
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We have the factory solar and find it very useful for keeping the batteries topped off for worry free travel and also for providing power to the coach provided the sun shines! We also like the maintenance free AGM batteries that came with the factory package. In one year of ownership and over 150 nights on the road, I have yet to open the battery compartment.

But, we want to do extensive boon-docking and are concerned that the stock Airstream battery capacity (160 AH) and approximately 100 watts of solar panels are insufficient in less than ideal conditions. Accordingly, we are upgrading (work being done by Lew Farber by the way) to 600 watts of panels on the roof and 440 AH batteries bank consisting of four 6 volt AGM golf cart batteries. With that setup, we should be able to remain electrically independent as long as we want.

We are also getting a hybrid Magnum converter/controller that will allow us to run our AC with a single 2000 watt generator. That piece of equipment uses the batteries to supplement the generator when the AC compressor kicks on which is why the use of AC generally requires 3,000 watts of generator power.

Coincidentally, we are taking our Airstream down to Lew in Naples this very morning for the retrofit. I am looking forward to using the new system at Alumaflamingo in February.
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:00 AM   #8
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Hey Bob,

That's a Magnum inverter/charger. You had better study up on the terminology as I give a test after every installation!!! :-D


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Old 01-08-2015, 09:01 AM   #9
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Solar is a necessity if you plan to camp where there are no services, not needed if your camping is limited to full service campgrounds.
To us, camping is about being in beautiful places off the grid and we could not get along without our solar system and a small backup generator for cloudy days and cold temps.
Solar is just the start, we have upgraded to "smart" three stage chargers, group 27 batteries, radiant propane heaters and LED lighting. Being able to camp indefinitely in total comfort where there are no services is a turn on for us.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:33 AM   #10
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I'm planning a trip this summer to a few western national parks in the southwest that do not have hook ups in their campgrounds. I'm planning on getting a 160w portable solar panel to keep the batteries charged. The only thing I need an inverter for is the TV if I feel I need to watch it and it only takes less than 100 watts so a portable inverter that I can plug into the 12v outlet next to the TV will work. I don't need the microwave or any small appliance on this trip.

That may be all you need too. It just depends on how you want to use your electrical system when off the grid.

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Old 01-08-2015, 10:21 AM   #11
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IF your going to boondock you need solar power.
DO NOT mount on trailer since you now have to park trailer to get the sun not where you want it like under the trees in the shade.
I would not start with less than 180 watt 18 V DC panel.
Here is mine
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:45 AM   #12
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"Solar is a necessity if you plan to camp where there are no services, not needed if your camping is limited to full service campgrounds."

NOT....we 'dock fine without Sol.

Believe it or not many folks 'dock really well without Airstreams.
Amazing eh.

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Old 01-08-2015, 03:44 PM   #13
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Chaseav... obviously people survived for decades without Solar attached or not attached to their trailers. We found that the small factory solar panel on our 2006 did a decent job keeping a charge for the minimal amount of 12v power we used. But we used so little battery on our camping, even Solar may not have been a need. Now we have two factory installed televisions where Solar provides no return on the cost. Our "roughing it" may change our idea of camping off the grid. Since I am a Craps Player and a risk taker... the generator was a sure bet that should pay off well.

I might find myself like Robert Cross that the Honda takes care of ALL my needs.

You do not say what trailer you are working with.

I went to the Honda 2000 generator on this new Airstream to see how that works out. Our first trip breaking the trailer in worked well with running the Honda for television outside Buffalo, Wyoming... first time we ever had television and current weather reports!

Leaving for the Southwest soon until we are ready to return home and am seeing how this works using a generator. Solar may be nice, but maybe redundant with a generator. I can sell the trailer and keep the generator...
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:19 PM   #14
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Hi all. I'd love to do some real boon docking at some point but I have a wife that loves 20 mins showers and a five year old. We have yet to actually go Airstreaming but we've only had it a month. Big plans one it warms up a bit though. I'm thinking the solar panels would only serve us in the capacity that we would use less of someone else's power. Call it a "green" choice rather than a necessity.

What I'm most curious about is what the installation costs. I'm sure the dealer can quote me but I'd have no idea if it were good or bad, just whether or not I'd want to pay it. Do they have to change out the existing battery system? It sounds like they do and they have to add a bunch of other widgetry that I'm sure isn't weightless. And if you're "solar" can you still plug in like normal and charge?

To whomever provided the link, thank you! I will go read up and stop asking stupid questions!
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