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Old 03-06-2014, 07:58 PM   #1
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1975 25' Tradewind
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Talking Need Solar Advice and Help!!

I am a new airstream owner who wants to keep it solar from day one on my '76 25' Studio on Wheels...

I am looking for a airstream solar installation person in the Philadelphia area that can help me get this right.

If you know of any one please help them find me here.

Thanks
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:01 PM   #2
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Why not do it yourself? There's more than enough information here and in various places on the web to make you much more of an expert than most RV dealers.

RV Solar Rule Number 1: Always use heavier wire than you think any reasonable person would even consider.

Rule Number 2: Don't buy solar stuff at Harbor Freight.
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:58 PM   #3
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Go Power stuff is good.
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:05 PM   #4
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Check with Lewster for excellent advice, per his suggestions about 3M tape in this thread.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:31 PM   #5
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Talk to AM Solar in Oregon, they'll sell you what you need and are always available to help you with your installation!
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:18 PM   #6
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Solar Panel Installation

I want it done right and not have to worry about it. I am looking for a professional installation.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:20 PM   #7
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How many panels do i need? i want to be completely off grid. With a fridge. and heat in the winter.
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:21 PM   #8
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I suggest a call to AM Solar to see if they know of any installers in the Phili area.

Dan
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallredboned View Post
How many panels do i need? i want to be completely off grid. With a fridge. and heat in the winter.
You will need something more than solar to heat in winter or air condition in summer. As well as serious cooking.
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:50 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by tallredboned View Post
How many panels do i need? i want to be completely off grid. With a fridge. and heat in the winter.
Please don't think I'm trying to discourage you with this post, but there's a lot more to consider than just "How many panels do I need?" The obvious answers are, "As many as will fit on the roof" and "As many as you can afford." But some things to consider:
1 - "Off-grid" doesn't mean "solar only." It just means, "no shore power." So when you use a generator, you're still off-grid. When you heat with propane, you're still off-grid. In fact, a portable generator should be kept handy for those days when you have more rain than sun and still need to charge your batteries.
2 - Where you camp makes a big difference. In West Texas (I see you're from Texas) the nearest tree might be over the horizon somewhere, and you'll have plenty of sunlight dawn to dusk. In the East Texas Piney Woods, you may not even see direct sunlight for all the trees in the way. The amount of solar you need obviously will vary from one campsite to the next.
3 - Even if you have dawn-to-dusk sunlight, the time period from dawn to dusk is shorter in winter. Plus, the sun is lower in the sky even at high noon. So in winter you'll need more panels than you would in summer to create the same amp-hours of electricity from solar.
4 - Solar panels work best when they're clean. So unless you're able to keep the snow off, and the dust, and the bird droppings, and the dead leaves, and all the other detritus that can collect on your panels, you'll need more panels to generate the same electricity as they get dirty.
5 - How many amp-hours do you need to generate with solar? You need to have a good idea of your daily electricity usage. Someone who routinely lights up their trailer like a Christmas tree will need more than someone who lights up their trailer like a nightlight.
6 - Good rule of thumb, if you want to use 100% solar battery recharging, take your total daily amp-hour usage and multiply by 4 to determine the required amp-hour rating of your solar panels for winter battery recharging. That will account for most of the less-than ideal conditions I've mentioned above. In summer, total usage times three is probably adequate instead.
7 - Since your summer and winter requirements will be different, you could set up your rooftop panels for summer boondocking, and supplement them with portable panels to make up the difference in winter.
8 - While you're doing solar electric, don't forget that as long as the temperature is above freezing, you can do solar water heating, too. A Solar Shower is relatively cheap, and can be heated outside and then carried inside to use in your shower stall, to save on water heater usage.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:02 AM   #11
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" Go Power stuff is good.
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I chose America "

Bigventure,

While I don't usually split hairs, you have a conflicting statement in the quote above that I have to take issue with. I too 'chose America', but not just politically. I choose to BUY AMERICAN at every opportunity, even if I have to spend more for a similar product than supporting the billionaires at Wal*Mart and the Chinese!

Just to clarify, Go Power is sold by Carmannagh, a Canadian company that uses components exclusively manufactured in China. While their stuff 'works', it is definitely not in the top tier for solar equipment nor is it close to be cutting edge. I remove a lot of their components when I upgrade their systems higher quality or larger capacity.

As a contrast, while AM Solar uses Chinese panels assembled from solar cells made internationally (NOT in China) because there are no reliable US manufacturers remaining in the manufacturing end who make panels suitable for RV use, the rest of their equipment, from cable to solar controllers to mounting feet are made in the USA!

If you truly 'choose America', then please show your support by economically supporting this country and it's small businesses over other foreign interests.

Thanks for your attention!
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:59 AM   #12
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I ordered our solar system kit from AM Solar and it is being drop shipped to the installer.

The initial plan is for six 100 watt panels, a Magnum MS2812 inverter/charger, a TrStar 60 MPPT solar charge controller, four Lifeline GPL-6CT 6Vdc 300 amp-hour batteries, two display meters and all the appropriately sized cables.

The shipping weight for all the components but the batteries was 245 pounds and the batteries are each 90 pounds.

Every 120Vac power outlet in the trailer will be powered through the Magnum MS2812 by either shore power (or generator(s)) or the four batteries.

Getting the components from a single experienced vendor gives the purchaser confidence that all these parts will play well together.
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Old 03-16-2014, 04:53 PM   #13
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Cool Still Confused!!

Ok. I appreciate everyones reply but i am no closer to the answer to my questions.

i have a 1976 trade winds 26 foot and i am desperately trying to get it solar powered.

115 Volts, 60 Hertz
120 Watts
3.1 Cubic Feet

is my fridge and i need to know how many panels i need. i am thinking about 300w total. With about 4 batteries.

I keep getting crazy information and prices but i think i need a good charger and a 1000w inverter to do the job. I am a starch conservationist and plan not to be in the cold when it is cold and not in the heat when it is too hot.

I will be a full time minimalist boondocker, who would like to park and watch my shows on my tv via wifi netflix, keep my phone charged, sleep somewhere around 70 degrees and enjoy my LED lighting.

All the technical talk is becoming a blurb. I am not trying to be a full time electrician, just trying to live as close to off grid as i can.

I DO NOT INTEND ON BUYING A GENERATOR UNLESS IT IS COMPLETELY NECESSARY. And so far it is not.

Any english advise would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-16-2014, 05:19 PM   #14
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OK, your refrigerator will use 120 watts when the compressor is running. Given that it cycles 50% of the time (that's a guess, but I can't be off more than 50% ), that's 1440 watt-hours a day. We'll be conservative and say your inverter is 80% efficient, so now you need 1800 watt-hours a day at 12VDC into the inverter.

Given that some of that will be going into and coming out of the battery - we have some more losses. Let's say an average of 90% for the 24-hour run of charge controller and battery efficiency. So now you're at 2000 watt-hours a day that you need generated by the panels. A typical solar estimate is that you get 5 full-sun-equivalent hours a day out of fixed panels. That puts you with 400 watts of panels to run the fridge. And you'd need to store 1000 watt hours in your batteries, more or less. At 12 volts DC, that's 83 amp-hours. If you use really good AGM batteries down to 50-60% charge, that's two big batteries.

So, now we have (4) panels at $150, a charge controller at $250, (2) AGM batteries at $200 ea, and a bunch of labor. We're at $1250, buying the stuff pretty hard, before a couple days of laborl.

Note that this is all just to run your refrigerator; we haven't even started on your TV and lights and water pump and heater blower.

At this point, I am obliged to point out that the cheapest thing to do is to sell your refrigerator on Craigslist and buy a good used propane fridge for $750.

If that's not the information you wanted, let me know. I don't install panels, but I do energy analysis (among other things) for a living, if that makes you feel better.
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