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Old 03-20-2006, 10:07 AM   #1
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a solar question

i have a 19' CCD with the solar option.
No matter how conservative we are with power the 53 watt panel can't quite keep up with usage, esp in the winter months. After 'bout 4 days we are down to 40% power, even with mostly full sun.

i am thinking about adding an additional panel. What i am thinking is a panel on the ground that i plug into the airstream solar system.

My questions are many:
Has anyone done this yet?
is it even possible, how much trouble?
How large will the control allow? Will an 80w work?
Should i use a BP as came on the Bambi?
Where to purchase.
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Old 03-20-2006, 10:39 AM   #2
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To be honest, if your demand is outpacing supply, you might be better off with one of these:

http://www.yamaha-propane-natural-ga...m/ef1000is.htm

Solar is great, but you have to have great sunlight to get the full power it can produce. If you already have that and need to load up with more panels due to demand...........

The generators can charge your batteries and/or be used as realtime power. All of which would feed right off the LP gas you haul with you anyway....no gasoline spills, smells, etc.....also no mounting additional hardware to the coach.

Just an idea.
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:55 AM   #3
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I have the 19' with the 53 watt solar panel also. I never had any expectations of it doing anything other than maintaining the batteries, and slightly extending the time that I can boondock. I am at work and don't have access to the specs on the charge controller, but I do believe it is capable of accomodating additional panels. I am considering adding on to my system as well, and also believe Airstream used some kind of plug & play arrangement to make this easy. Because there is no more room on the roof, I was also thinking about a panel on the ground. That way, it could be directed at the sun.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:39 PM   #4
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Johnnie,
We had a similar problem with our 2003 22' CCD (also with solar). We went with a small quiet generator like Silvertwinkie recommends (and that is a very nice generator, if they had a 2000 I might consider switching). If you only have one battery consider upgrading to two. And I would also go to an AGM glassmat type battery.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:51 PM   #5
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Ken, here is a link to the 2000 unit. It has similar power specs as the Honda, but it is heavier as it has a larger engine.

One thing to mention that Pick has a Honda and installed the LP carb and parts on his own. This company does the whole package.

http://www.yamaha-propane-natural-ga...m/ef2400is.htm

....and if you are looking for other sizes......

http://www.yamaha-propane-natural-gas-generators.com/
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:52 PM   #6
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i am really torn between staying with solar and adding another panel, or going with the propane EF1000i.
i know this is impossible to answer, but. Approx how long would you run the generator to pull the 2 Glassmat batteries from say 75% to 100%?
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Old 03-20-2006, 01:10 PM   #7
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We have a 110 Watt panel with 2 6V golf cart batteries wired in series and can go for 5 days with a family of 4 (kids = 11 & 6). I like the solar because it is quiet and unobtrusive.
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Old 03-20-2006, 01:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnieWinon
i am really torn between staying with solar and adding another panel, or going with the propane EF1000i.
i know this is impossible to answer, but. Approx how long would you run the generator to pull the 2 Glassmat batteries from say 75% to 100%?
hi johnnie and welcome...

i've got the factory solar...2 panels.....with 2 agm batteries.....

and a gas powered honda 2000.....

first.....
i think the 2000 is a better value than the 1000 and has greater utility....
it will supply more ac directly when needed and can be combined with a 2nd unit...again if needs grow....and it will charge the batteries in less time...which means it isn't running as often....

i don't think the propane upgrade is worth cost.......while it sounds sexy......
first buy a genset, use it awhile.....and think about the lp conversion.....after you sort out your usage needs....

yes a second or 3rd solar panel can be added....i'm gonna do this too.....
since i do like parking in the shade....
and i'd like to experiment with a freestanding panel....that i can position....
i also realize that this added solar is lots of bucks.....for little kick...but i want to fool around with it....

on the classics with solar, the wiring can be accessed from the fridge outside panel....it's not plug and play...but close....essentially 2 aligator clips from the solar panel will connect it...

i don't know on the international models if the outer fridge door gets to the solar stuff....this info should be in your owners manual....or just look....or email the factory...

now as for how long it takes to fully charge the batteries......i'm not an juice expert......but......

the agm batteriers can be safely used down to 40%...and some say 20%...so you have a deeper draw advantage.....more amps can be drained without harming the batteries....

my genset will take the 2 agms to 85% in about 60-90 minutes or so....depending on temps and other current draws in use while charging.....

going from 85-100% takes a long time..........using the genset and the factory charging set up....you will need to install a better (3 stage) inverter? to shorten full charge times.......and fully charging is a lota effort for so little real amps gained...in that last 10-15%...

using a propane 1000 to fully charge 2 agms.....might take 8 hours....or more i would guess.

hope this helps...the honda 2000 can be purchased right now for under 900$ with free shipping and full factory warrant....

and that is the most cost effective energy extra...by far....

cheers
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:40 PM   #9
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Jace,
How do you keep the tanks from over flowing after 4 days? Nevermind. I can't speak about the new Yamahas but the Honda EU2000i is very quiet on low power mode. You can't hear it inside the trailer. There is a recent thread about the Hondas not storing well (with gas left in the tank). Extra maintenance is required to make them happy again after a 6 month sleep. That is why the propane conversions are gaining popularity.
-Ken
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Old 03-20-2006, 03:23 PM   #10
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If you go here: http://store.solar-electric.com/bpso125wasop.html you will be able to get specs. on a BP 125 watt panel. They come in outputs up to 200 watts per panel, but above about 125 watts, tend to go to 24 or 48 volt outputs ... easier to stick with 12 volt for trailer applications.

There are really four big issues: a) how big is your battery bank capacity; b) how much charge you need to "fill up" the energy storage buckets your batteries represent (regardless of whether the charge flow comes from shore power, a genset or solar panels (or a wind turbine!); c) how much draw you have (which sounds pretty minimal, based on your description; and d) how to tie it all together with appropriate charge controller, etc. There are a host of "smaller" problems, like: do you have enough sun to get the advantage of solar panels (!!??) will increased capacity lure you into increased use, etc. Home Power magazine http://www.homepower.com has a raft of information on this general topic.

Good luck: please do report in as to what progress you make!
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Old 03-20-2006, 03:38 PM   #11
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I like the fact that since you already have approx 60lbs of propane, you can use that and not have to bring gasoline cans with you or siphon the gas out of the tow vehicle's tank to run the generator.

In our case, we have a Suburban, not a pickup, and the last thing I want to do is haul a generator inside the truck with even a hint of gasoline fumes...nor do I want to transport it in the Safari. The LP option (either on a Honda- self installed or a Yamaha- pre-installed) keeps it fairly clean and allows the unit to be transported in an enclosed area with few if any side effects. This is one of the main reasons why I would consider an LP over a gas powered unit (though the Yamaha can be a bi or tri fuel unit if one desired).

I'm all for earth day every day, but when it comes to running both fantastic vents on hot days, stereo, etc, I know that clearly I can last about 5 good days, then, no portable solar is gonna suit *my* needs without a fair amount of solar cells all over the roof.....your mileage may vary.

I'm not advocating that one choose a generator over solar, I'm just pointing out the fact that one needs to carefully consider their needs vs. what's out there. In some cases solar is clearly it. In others, it might not be.

Ken, not sure about your situation, but with 4 of us, we never filled the 18 gallon black tank. Guess that means we're not full of.....'er I mean use the facilities all that much when we boondock as there are alternatives/options for certain needs, at least for the guys and the brave women (woods, outhouses, etc). I don't have a Yamaha or Honda (yet), but by the white sheets, they look fairly similar, though the Yamaha 2000 has a bigger engine, is larger and heavier than the Honda (but the Yamaha has up to tri-fuel options).
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Old 03-20-2006, 04:15 PM   #12
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ahhhhhhhhh fumes......

ya don't mind snortin.....walbernize......why not gasoline......

i carry and use the gen set at least once a week.......all of the time.

nothing to do with camping.....no propane nearby and no gas can...250 hours on this one since last april.....it's always in the truck.....full.

i also use it at home during power outs....where lawn mower gas is handy...

the unit seals remarkably well.....just close the vent/cap a minute before shut down....this creates a little vacumn inside...

i carry the gen set inside a rubbermaid tub.....i've left it inside the trailer while camping and in the truck cab occasionally.....virtually no fumes....to my nose......none really except during fill up....

i've got a ventless 2 gal can and it goes along on trips inside the tub too....again no fumes.....sure i can spill gas...i can break wind too...

the later produces far more fumes in my case.....

it seems anyone not using a gen set at all....might benefit from the experience......and then decide if propane is a useful upgrade.....after getting a little olfactory experience....

since i drive a diesel....carrying one item that uses gasoline...was an issue....but it isn't now....i was hot to do propane....till i actually purchased and used the genset.....

anyone considering solar INSTEAD of a gen set.......
should read some of roadkingmoe's excellent, detailed posts on each system....
lots of facts....no hot air....no lp....no bs.....no bvds.....

your gas may vary.....

2air'
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Old 03-20-2006, 04:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnieWinon
i am really torn between staying with solar and adding another panel, or going with the propane EF1000i.
i know this is impossible to answer, but. Approx how long would you run the generator to pull the 2 Glassmat batteries from say 75% to 100%?
The answer is it's "not practical". First, you need to understand batteries and how they work. I recommend the following book "Managing 12 Volts":
http://www.campingworld.com/browse/s...=SRCH&tcode=37

Batteries take bulk charges from 50% up to about 80% State of Charge. This is the efficient range for using a generator and your trailer's charger. If you have 2 Group 27 Glassmats at say 100 Ah each that would mean 30% of 200 Ah or 60 Ah. If your charger works at 55 Ah, thats 60/55 = 1.09 hours approx. Glassmats accept charges more efficiently than flooded cell batteries, so that's a good move. But they're expensive, so know how to take care of them.

From 80% up to about 90-95%, the battery is in the absorption phase, and the rate of charge that the battery accepts drops dramatically. This is where a solar panel works the best. I agree with Silvertwinkie, use the generator from 50%-80% and the solar panel to top things off, up to 100%. Also, I recommend a Power Pulse Desulfator to maintain your battery and protect it from sulfation buildup. This is a battery killer.
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Old 03-20-2006, 04:25 PM   #14
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the generator from 50%-80% and the solar panel to top things off, up to 100%. Also, I recommend a Power Pulse Desulfator to maintain your battery and protect it from sulfation buildup. This is a battery killer.
hi rseagle......

i didn't think sulfonation was an issue with agms....? for those who have them or are considering them....

the airstream factory solar system isn't set up to "top things off" up to 100%.

i agree keeping the batteries in the useful range is the best approach...

cheers
2air'
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