Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-27-2012, 01:59 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1975 31' Sovereign
brewster , New York
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 70
Images: 4
Is Solar worth it?

The restoration work on my 73 Soverign is almost complete. The Battery/inverter needs to be squared away. I was thinking about Solar since I might be boondocking but the person doing my work was not sold on the practicality of it. He seems to feel that to be useful the panels would have to be large?

blumob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 02:09 PM   #2
Rivet Master
AWCHIEF's Avatar
2006 23' Safari SE
Biloxi , Mississippi
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 8,283
Images: 33
Newer technology is producing less costly, smaller and more efficient panels. Solar panels may not be the answer for everyone. It would depend on your electric needs, part of country you plan on spending most of your time in, etc. For many a 2000amp or so generator run an hour or less daily is all they need. No need for costly and possible complex rewiring, simply plug and play.


Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
AWCHIEF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 02:11 PM   #3
4 Rivet Member
Mike91208's Avatar
2009 27' FB International
LA LA Land... , California
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 290
I installed 2 panels (200 watts) with an inverter and so long as we're conservative in our energy use and there's a little sun, we can go indefinitely with two batteries. In other words, we're happy campers and think it's well worth it - but that's obviously very subjective. Increasingly, many camp sites won't allow generators to be used at all, but if you're out in the boon docks, then it doesn't matter.
Mike91208 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 02:39 PM   #4
Rivet Master
Lily&Me's Avatar

2006 22' Interstate
Normal , Illinois
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 14,002
We don't have solar, but have friends who picked up a portable set at Costco that they love.

They plug them into their battery, set them in the sun and are good to go.

Nice little carrying case, compact and efficient. All the important things.

If you are camping any extended period without electricity, might be worth it. Depends on what you plan to do.

We can do 3-4 days, max, on a tank of water, and our batteries will last that long, so no need for the expense or carrying space of solar panels.

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
Lily&Me is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 02:52 PM   #5
Rivet Master
2006 22' International CCD
2007 Base Camp
Elk Valley , British Columbia
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 657
For modest power requirements like lights, your 12v for fridge, water and furnace... it can extend your stay a lot longer... You'd have to consider your power requirements and see if it would work for you.

As far as the cost... it's getting cheaper all the time, but to me the value is in being able to stay silent and leave no footprint... for a nice 200W system could be $1000 to $1500... where a 1500W generator (a good one) could be $1000. A generator can top you up in an hour or so... and run a small A/C if needed...

To me that would be the deciding factor... if I was going to run the A/C anyway...
Friday is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 05:31 PM   #6
2 Rivet Member
1975 31' Sovereign
brewster , New York
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 70
Images: 4

Thank you. As always plenty of great advice. I have to reflect on this.
blumob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 05:52 PM   #7
Rivet Master
Wingeezer's Avatar
2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,732
I considered solar very briefly when we first bought our AS, but for us, it just didn't come close to making economic sense. So I bought a Honda gennie - even that hasn't been used much, but in addition to using it with the trailer I can use it for other things as well.

It would seem to me that the biggest factor might be how much boondocking you plan to do and how long at a stretch.

You say that you "might" be boondocking - with the high cost of solar I'd be inclined to bide my time a bit and see how much boondocking I would actually do.

You might consider buying a gennie in the meanwhile. If you bought something like the Honda EU2000i, they seem to hold their value quite well - if you decided later to get a solar system, you could sell the gennie easily ..... or keep it as a backup.

Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
Wingeezer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 05:55 PM   #8
HiHoAgRV's Avatar

1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
1961 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 5,448
Images: 29
Blog Entries: 49
On our 34'er, the one electrical draw that drives me nutz is the fridge. it's .7 amps, 24 hours a day...doesn't seem like much but it's almost 10% of our battery capacity on a daily basis...

I've been using a bunch of absolute junk panels that all combined, overcome the fridge and add .5 Amps baack into the system. It sure is nice to arrive at the camper after a day of hiking to see 100% on the trimetric. Much better than 90% and I haven't even been there all day...

I just bought a DIY kit rated at 180 W and will be installing it over the winter.
Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
and a 26' '63 Overlander, Dolly
HiHoAgRV is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #9
WBCCI 1024,4CU
shivtik's Avatar
1985 31' Excella
Lake Havasu , Arizona
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 53
Images: 84
Have gone solar

We have recently installed 200 watts for $549.00. Granted I did the install and it was hardware costs - But we are extremely happy with the system. I would of looked at doing this years ago if the price was decent then. Ours are mounted as a permanent system as you would see in the newer units from the factory.
shivtik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 06:53 PM   #10
Rivet Master
2011 23' Flying Cloud
Durango , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 510
Blumob, you pose a very subjective question over which people have different (and some strong) opinions. You must consider your own power needs, your travel/camping style, your environmental inclinations. Many think that a generator is just fine. Others, like myself, would prefer not to camp near one. I do own a Yamaha 2400i, and have used it for the A/C in certain circumstances. I wouldn't use it for routine battery charging - I just don't like introducing noise pollution in the quiet natural settings that we prefer for camping. We have two 85 watt solar panels permanently installed, and a MPPT controller charging two GP24 AGM batteries that provide all of the 12v power that we need.

You have a lot of rooftop surface area on a 31' trailer. Large panels aren't necessarily the best arrangement. Smaller panels well-separated can provide a system that would be less influenced by a bit of tree shading in camp. We had a single 85 watt panel for a year, and then I added our second 85 watt panel, well-separated, for just that reason. I had started with a 25 amp controller to allow for expansion, which made adding the second panel easy. I have space for one more panel should our needs grow.
Safe Travels,
Joe & Joan Donnaway
Durango, CO
JamuJoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 07:07 PM   #11
Rivet Master
Jim Foster's Avatar
1965 17' Caravel
1983 27' Excella
Walnut Grove/Laguna Woods , California
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,616
Send a message via Yahoo to Jim Foster
I have a 55w panel on each of our trailers. It doesn't cover all of out requirements when we dry camp, so I use a Honda 2000 to make up the deficiency, and to run the coffee maker and microwave.

Since we only use one trailer at a time, the biggest benefit for us is that when the trailers are not in use, the batteries are maintained. We may leave one or the other trailer for six months or more, in the heat or cold, and the batteries are always ready. I seldom have to add water to the batteries in either trailer. At one point we left the Caravel outside in the sun with two Trojan deep cycle batteries, for 8 months and when we returned the batteries were charged and took very little water.

Never having to worry, for me, is worth a lot.
Past President, El Camino Real Unit WBCCI#6620
Street Rod Builder (see avatar)
Kite flier (check out links below)
Jim Foster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 07:38 PM   #12
Rivet Master
pappy19's Avatar
2002 30' Classic S/O
Garden Valley , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,459
We installed a 180 watt unit on top of our 3-' Classic and it has really worked nice. Keeps the batteries up and with the converter, we can run our computer and small TV. One of the best options we have installed IMHO.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	2002 Airstream 30' Classic-5.18.11- 002 (Small).jpg
Views:	310
Size:	57.2 KB
ID:	173465  
2008 F-250 4X4 Lariat V-10
2002 Airstream Classic 30' w/SO #2074
2007 Kubota 900 RTV
1996 Ford Bronco
2007 Lincoln LT
pappy19 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2012, 07:14 PM   #13
3 Rivet Member
2003 25' Safari
Riverside , California
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 234
Camping in the desert is our favorite place,listening to a generator run spoils it.200 Watts of solar so far has worked pretty good at keeping up with our needs
Bob4x4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2012, 07:42 PM   #14
Rivet Master
TBRich's Avatar

2006 19' Safari SE
Tucson , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,509
Images: 64
We wouldn't be without solar....

TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Prez & Membership Chair, 4CU/WBCCI
Travel Log: AZBambi...On the Road Again
TBRich is online now   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:25 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.