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Old 01-30-2008, 04:33 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Girl in need of sage solar advice

Hi- I am a relatively new Airstreamer- I bought a 2006 22' International CCD..and really love all those fun places..like Rincon in CA all of which are dry campsites. I am at a loss as to where to start in the solar quest..I have read many of the posts..generator vs solar..which one works best- etc. I am not a scientist- nor can I get my mind around the the amp discussion-
So here is my question- I do not think a generator is an option..as they are BIG and would be difficult for me to maneuver-
I want to find a Solar system that does not have to be installed, but that would have enough umph to run a tv..or laptop..is that possible- I would love sone advise..in laywoman's terms
Joy
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Old 01-30-2008, 05:18 PM   #2
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hi joy and welcome to the forums!

i think u r selling yourself short...

ne1 who can handle nursing can handle amps...

1. panels collect the energy...
2. batteries store the energy...
3. doodads use the energy...

-your doodads (tele and computer) can be powered by the rv batteries...
-just get a small inverter (90-175 watts) and plug it into the round 12 outlet in your rv, then plug the tele into it...
-your doodads use a given amount of energy per hour defined as amp/hours...
-your batteries have a given amount of energy available as defined in amp/hours...

so even without SOLAR panels you can use the doodads for a given time with the current rv batteries...

the lap top has a battery right? and u understand how long it will provide power?

well it's the same basic thing with the rv batteries.

you just need a small inverter to watch tv or recharge the laptop, like these...

small inverters

now the issue is REPLACING/RESTORING the battery charge, in the laptop and in the rv...

-this can be done by plugging in to an 'outlet' in the rv park or at home...
-this can be done by running a generator, plugged into your rv...
-this can be done by collecting sunshine! via the solar panels...

so the solar panels need to be large enough to replace what is used from the batteries...

panels have a 'rating' for this concept, and basically '100 watts' of solar panel is a typical setup...

as little as 50 watts might be enough and as much as 200 watts might be better...

depending on how much quality sunshine they are exposed too, and for how many hours of exposure...

it also depends on how many hours the tele and computer are used, or how much the rv batteries are 'drained'.

so again in simple terms, 100 watts of solar panels and 2 deep cycle batteries are typical...

agm batteries cost more but are easier to use and require less care by users...

Lifeline Batteries - Marine & RV Deep Cycle Batteries

usually '200 amps' of battery, with provides about 100 amps TO USE is adequate and that's basically 2 deep cycle rv batteries...

so that's the basics solar panels and batteries, what's left?

a 'charge controller' and metering device.

basically the c.c. is responsible for channeling the solar energy captured by the panels INTO the storage area (batteries)

and the metering device reports how much juice you are using...

i'm sure this all is clear now right!

IF you google 'rv solar basics' several good sites will explain this more and try to sell ya stuff...

of course u can also just find a solar vendor in your area and give them money...

hopefully they will set you up right.

cheers
2air'

now back to your ORIGINAL question..

YES you can get a single portable panel and use it to 'charge' the rv batteries...

then use the rv batteries to power the tv or laptop...

but it will be annoying to set up, plug in, and power up when needed.

just google 'portable solar power systems'...

there are also complete 'portable solar packs' that can be used to recharge the laptop battery...

but these tend to be EXPENSIVE and capture/provide VERY LITTLE real power, in amps...

oh no! there is that word again

-and a eu1000i honda generator is about the size/weight of a carry on suit case...

and easier to start than most lawn mowers or cardiac defibrillators...

so don't ignore the easiest and least expensive approach to recharging the rv batteries...
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Old 01-30-2008, 05:26 PM   #3
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eu1000i = 33 pounds. Don't plan on running a convection microwave on it. Never, never, never the A/C. I like to bare camp and your small 22-footer will allow you to slip into state or small national forest campgrounds. I rarely use commercial campgrounds and their hookups. I tend to use state park campgrounds a lot and find something over 50% of the time I still have a campground electric connection.

A genset is reliable, produces guaranteed output for a cheap price. Nothing is more reliable than a Honda. Yamaha also well spoken for. Solar is expensive and the surface on the roof of your 22 is limited. Good advice 2air'.
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Old 01-30-2008, 06:23 PM   #4
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Whew- I do get the basic!

Thanks 2airishuman- love that username- I think I am on the right track..was at local camping world yesterday- was told the 80 watt kit would be great- I wasn't sure if he saw "sucker" and suggested a set up that would cost around 1000 bucks or not..and he did suggest 2 batteries as you did that system is mounted on top- I dont want to do that..hence my portable idea..Is there an alternate to screwing it on top of Betty?? I hate it when that happens!
CanoeStream - I really like the natural route..sound like you do as well!! I don't really want to lug gas and a generator around- maybe I am visualizing it wrong
I will check out the websites- thanks- I work on the road- sometimes 5-6 hours a day on my computer..so that is a real concern- I checked out the portable solar panels- I agree- not much bang for the buck!
Oh- I live in California- LOTS AND LOTS OF SUN AND UV rays!!
JOY
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:18 PM   #5
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Hi Joy,

There are lots of 'junk' solar systems out there. There is no reason that you can't mount a panel on a tripod in the direct sunlight away from your trailer. Security might be an issue, but if you are out in the boonies...maybe not. I would still run a long cable around the base of the tripod.

Check out the systems from at Welcome to AM Solar - Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987. IMHO, they are tops!
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:27 PM   #6
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not solar, but a lot of 120v power

this would go under 'alternative 120v sources':

AlienBees: Vagabond Portable Power System

you charge these up on a regular household 120 (at home or shore power) and they provide quite a lot of long-lasting power. we use them in the photo world to provide portable studio lighting out on location..

best,
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:23 PM   #7
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I can muddy the water more, and really set your head spinning...
Around here we have many boats, as in sailboats, that are wind powered (duh), and most of them have a small wind-powered generator on board. Last time I was in the Bakersfield area, there was quite a stiff breeze. Sooo....Maybe you can look into wind generators as well as solar power. Just don't walk into that propeller when it's spinning....
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:26 PM   #8
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Wind power

I use to use a 5 watt Solargizer solar charger to keep the batteries in my Excella topped off and it worked fine since I was an electrical mizer, turning on only one light at a time. The fridge was manual and drew no power for the control panel. I stepped on top of the 40 lb. aluminum propane tanks and placed the 5 watt panel near the front vent cover and it stayed this way sometimes for a month at a time. I wanted to use more battery power so I bought a 30 watt panel and charger to use more lighting as well as the radio when boondocking. I connected it to the battery along with the Solargizer but set it on the ground propped up next to a 5 gallon collapsible water bladder. I would just point it toward the sun. They did a good job but I didn't want to leave both of them out when I left on Sunday to go back home. I disconnected the 30 watt and stored it inside but left the 5 watt unit up on the roof because it was mounted to a heavy plate and wind would not blow it off. When towing the trailer, I just placed the 5 watt unit in the bed of the truck so that it could keep charging.

I sold that trailer after buying an '86 Sovereign 25' and decided that I did not want to fool with moving panels around. I bought several 100 watt panels from Welcome to AM Solar - Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 in their 100/22 SunRunner kit which came with charge controller, wiring, directions, connections, the works. I only needed help from one of my sons to carefully set each panel into position after peeling the 3M tape off the rocker foot mounts. I did the rest of the work myself. It really took more time to plan each step than it did to do the actual installation. A couple months later I added a used 65 watt panel from AMSolar and will probably add another 65 watt panel from them when someone trades one of those in (they aren't available right now). Lewster is installing this unit just North of you and he is happy with their quality.

Now, since you said you did not want to fool with mounting them on your roof, how about this option. Buy one or two large panels, 100-120 watt, mount a charge controller either in the trailer or externally and place each panel in a cradle made from pvc pipe? Some people connect a chain to the panels and lean them up against an object. You will also have to position the panels from time to time to get optimal sun exposure. Heck, if you own a pickup, you could build a lazy Susan contraption to mount on the bedrails of the truck and position the panels by tilting them slightly with tilt bars and rotating the lazy Susan base. These methods require you to secure the panels before leaving the trailer to prevent theft. Whether this will become a pain in the rear for you is up to you to decide.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
I can muddy the water more, and really set your head spinning...
Around here we have many boats, as in sailboats, that are wind powered (duh), and most of them have a small wind-powered generator on board. Last time I was in the Bakersfield area, there was quite a stiff breeze. Sooo....Maybe you can look into wind generators as well as solar power. Just don't walk into that propeller when it's spinning....
overlander63,
A buddy of mine went the solar option of buying 6 of those 15 watt panels and hooking them together. I am not big on the amorphous type panels but they are working out for him. He called me last week and said he ran across a website featuring a wind powered generator but the blades were not like those of the AirX and other units. These were shaped more like the wind speed units you see advertised for weather stations. The cups spun horizontal to the ground and did not have to be mounted very high above the trailer like the other units. He was to send me the site but he hasn't had time to do so yet. Have you heard anything like this? Solar and wind power during the day and wind power at night (maybe).
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:13 AM   #10
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Joy, welcome!

All good advice.
I vote for the Honda 1000IU, STAT.
The least hassle and less expensive.

Michael
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:15 AM   #11
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I now own a 23 ft Safari, but started with a 19 ft Bambi. My solar solution that has worked very well for me. I purchased an 80 watt Kyocera (spelling) solar panel, built a very basic folding stand for it, so I could set it out in the sun if the trailer wasn't. Bought a charge controler. Solar panel connect to charge control, controler connects to battery or batteries. Using this I have yet to see my battery go low on me.
I also added a 200 watt full sine inverter for my LCD tv and DVD player.
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:22 AM   #12
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hey Zug
I'm wantin to check out your solar system, I'm hoping you're bringin it to Casini.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:12 PM   #13
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what about noise

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtStream
Joy, welcome!

All good advice.
I vote for the Honda 1000IU, STAT.
The least hassle and less expensive.

Michael
I get the STAT part But how noisy is it??
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:15 PM   #14
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How heavy..remember I am a girl-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zugbug
I now own a 23 ft Safari, but started with a 19 ft Bambi. My solar solution that has worked very well for me. I purchased an 80 watt Kyocera (spelling) solar panel, built a very basic folding stand for it, so I could set it out in the sun if the trailer wasn't. Bought a charge controler. Solar panel connect to charge control, controler connects to battery or batteries. Using this I have yet to see my battery go low on me.
I also added a 200 watt full sine inverter for my LCD tv and DVD player.
How heavy is the 80 watt beast?? Do you carry it in trailer when moving, or back of vehicle??
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