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Old 05-16-2009, 02:31 PM   #1
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Cool 53 watts

I have been looking into solar power, and the indications are that 53 watts of collectors is about the maximum I can fit on my 23ft. Safari SE. I like to spend time in Nat. Parks, National Forest, state and local parks and the freedom of not having electrical hook up is what I am looking for. Can anyone give me an idea of what sort of power I will get out of 53 watts in Wisconsin, or traveling elsewhere? Currently, if I do not run my refrig on DC, and don't use the music or TV the batteries last about four days, but are pretty much gone by then. Any input would be appreciated, I do not want to haul along a generator, but am willing to spend what I need to on the solar system.
Thanks for your wisdom, and sharing it with me.

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Old 05-16-2009, 05:34 PM   #2
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53 watts will give you around 4 amps under ideal conditions, i.e. sun directly overhead. If the panel is mounted flat, it's more likely going to put out closer to 3 amps with maybe 5 or 6 hours a day of usable sun, or 15 total amps a day.

That's not a lot, but it helps, particularly if you're not using 12 volt systems much. Lighting is probably the biggest use you've got as it's on quite awhile at night. Water pump is pretty high draw, but it's not used much. Your heater fan will just kill you. If you think about what you use normally and for how long, you can come up with a total number of amps you use on an average day.

I've got 210 watts on our boat and that will be moving to the Airstream. That's enough for me to pretty well run whatever I want, but my power needs are pretty small too.

I love solar. You put it up and it just works. More wattage is always better and energy saving stuff like LED lighting helps a bunch.


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Old 05-17-2009, 01:20 AM   #3
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What kind of solar panels are you basing your wattage on?

Have you considered mounting additional solar on the TV?

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Old 05-17-2009, 07:30 AM   #4
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53 Watts??!!

Can't imagine that you're somehow limited to that small a system. Now, I don't know what your roof looks like (whether you've got terribly limited space), but for my '99 Safari 23', it appears to me that I can get one of these systems up there: SunRunner 100-30 System and I think that with good sunlight, reasonably clean panels, moderate ambient temp, etc., it'll charge at a rate comparable to 225-250 watt systems ...

In all but winter, if I'm judicious about eletrical usage, that ought to give me all the amp. hours I'm likely to need (esp. if I convert the most-used lighting fixtures to LEDs). Of course, I'm not running refrig. on 12v. nor do I run an electric coffee pot, etc., and likewise, such a system will not power an air conditioner, etc.

So, if I were you, I'd shop around a bit more and talk to some aftermarket folks who specialize in RV photovoltaics.

Disclaimer: no relationship to AM Solar, etc.

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Old 05-18-2009, 09:48 AM   #5
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Cool 53 watts- woops

I appologize, it was two 53 watt panels on the estimate. I have been told by others, that AM systems tend to be more efficient. The trailer is 07- so most lights are LED, other than reading spots. The refrig runs best on AC, quite good on gas, and so-so on DC, so I suspect I would use gas in the situations where I am going totally without shore power for any length of time.
I live in Madison, so will be checking out all that I can at the international this summer. I am headed out to Oregon this fall, so if I decide on AM system, I can just route out to Eugene. I want a trouble free, strong running system that will allow us to use our great national and state and local parks to the best advantage. We have only had the trailer for about 90 days, and have spent about 50 nights in it. We think about sleeping in it when it is in the driveway. Not quite ready to go to full timing, but the discussion is getting more intense.
Additional feedback is appreciated. I want to know as much as possible prior to installing any system.
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:26 AM   #6
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Unless you have replaced your incandescents with LED's, NONE of your lights are LED and will eat a bunch of power. Do you have two batteries or one?
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Old 05-18-2009, 12:47 PM   #7
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I have one 85 watt BP Solar solar panel on my 23. It is usually enough to recharge the batteries each day while boondocking. It was less than half the cost of one 53 watt Airstream factory installation. It was installed by the Airstream dealer.
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Old 05-18-2009, 01:00 PM   #8
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53 watts is just fine


We have a single 53 watt factory solar panel/system on our 19' Bambi and it basically provides all the power we want/need. We are fairly frugal (stingy) with our power useage, no A/C of course and limit use of lights, but on a normal day/weekend it charges up and it to 100% by noon and provides plenty in the evening for some TV, DVDs etc.

Even if there were a couple cloudy days we would still be ok, for maybe 2 or 3 days. Longer than that you would either need some some or start up the tow vehicle for a while.

We also have two of the AGM batteries which are designed for use with solar type charging which I think helps.

All in all the solar system is one of the best options on our AS. If you can fit two of the panels on your roof I think you would be set just fine.

regards Dave
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:04 AM   #9
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Cool Thanks for the feedback

I am glad to hear that small units can be successful. I want to insure trouble free travel, so I think I will try to get a little more than 53 watts. I need to read and study to figure it all out. I have two standard Marine batteries, and think I will exchange them for the AGM batteries when I need new ones. I expect that will be within the year since the trailer has two years use already.
I need to check out BP information, AM has a very educational site for their solar systems, especially for RVs.
TThanks again.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:08 AM   #10
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you are right, no interior lights are LED, the tail lights are. what a pain to get set up for with the new tow vehicle. No one knew the system and the simple solution of an adapter cord to be ordered. Thanks

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solar, boondocking

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