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Old 10-28-2010, 10:18 AM   #1
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Portable solar power

I travel with a 1998 Airstream Safari. We normally camp during the summer in parks that supply 110 volt. We usually stay in one place for a couple of days to one week, then move on. However we often stay in Canadian provincial parks and State parks that do not supply 110v. We rely on the single 12 vol battery in the Safari. Needless to say that we use the available power sparingly (1 or lights, no AC, no TV, no Fantastic fan etc. - don't worry, we don't mind the bare necessities!)

I would like to extend the use of my battery and be able to stay in non-electric sites more than 2-3 before having to recharge the battery. I do not want to set up a permanent solar panel on the trailer. I would prefer having a protable solar panel that I can stow away when I don't need it.

When storing the trailer I take the battery out and put it on a trickle charger.

What suggestions do you have?
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:44 AM   #2
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Before getting to far down the solar road I would maximize the battery bank. Adding a second battery is really a good idea: more power, redundancy if one battery goes bad, cheap. Then I would look at a generator, you might find an old Honda 1000 out there. Again fairly cheap. Then and only then would I work up to solar.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:54 AM   #3
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Thanks. The 1998 Safari does not have any room for a 2nd battery. I should have also specified that I do not want to use a generator. My boondocking is usually done in a park with neighbors on either side. I do not want to invade their air space with the rattling of a generator -even if some say that they have one that barely makes noise. I'm not particuralarily fond when one camps next to me.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:19 AM   #4
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Have you gone to LED's? I changed out the Gr24 battery to a Gr27 and am pleased with the extra service.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:41 AM   #5
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John, if your '98 is like the '97 Safari I used to have, your battery is behind a door at the center of the front of the trailer. I considered mounting a battery box just in front of that, on the a-frame; it is a stock part from Airstream. Perhaps that would help.

Boondocker is right in that another battery would provide you much more power more cheaply. Then, later, you could add some solar.

Pat
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Old 11-05-2010, 01:19 PM   #6
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Thank you all

Decided to install a box in front of original door for battery and add a second battery. I'll keep the solar panels on the backburner for now.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:08 PM   #7
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John,

I did what you just did, installed a second battery. I also bought from Costco, solar power consisting of four 15 watt panels to equal 60 watts. It was an online purchase, very reasonable, very satisfied. Greatly increased my staying power. I do have a generator, Honda 2000 for emergency and deep woodsing-it, away from peeps. Most of all fellow campers are very courtious when it comes to noise pollution during quiet times.
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:01 PM   #8
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Solar, Generator, Battery Capacity,

Even with solar, you will need the largest battery storage capacity that you can install. (when the battery is low and no sun, you are in trouble).
I think a small generator, combined with increased battery capacity, and solar, fixed or portable, would be necessary for peace of mind.
If the battery does run down, the generator can be run at a convenient time to refresh the battery.
Why not install the solar??? We all have to much portable stuff to store now, and the solar is fragile when handled often.
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Old 11-09-2010, 02:18 AM   #9
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John, I picked up a large panel and a diverter at Canadain tire for a about 200 bucks, it keeps my battery fully charged, easy to hook up, went 2 weeks without hookups this last summer no problems. I have kepted it portable and usually just lean against the AS on the south side. My reasons for not installing it is the trailer is that no matter how shadded of a campsite I am in I can always find some sunshine, also I use it to keep the boat battery charged up. The less generators out there the better! Just my opinion.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:48 PM   #10
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AMSolar portable unit

Anyone heard of this product: AM Solar - Portable solar battery charging system for RVs ? It's a non-mounted foldable unit that comes in 80 watt and 120 watt models. I've already got a Honda 2000i genset and enough room for two 12 volt batteries (my originals are not holding their charge as much lately) on my '07 Bambi. I would like to keep the batteries fully charged to minimize relying on the generator (I'd still keep it in the tow vehicle as back-up). I don't run A/C, and we're almost 100% boondockers, with a lot of desert camping. I've converted interior lights to LED's, and the only "appliances" we would run during daytime are a laptop computer, fantastic fan, and maybe a portable secondary fan. Would the 120 watt package from AMSolar do the trick?

Thanks for your input!

Cheers,
Jerry
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:11 PM   #11
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hi jerry

the short answer is it depends.
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until real experts post, here's a laytake on it....

120 watts of panel produces ~5-8 amps max...

this depends on the voltage of the panels and efficiency and temperature and other things...

for example IF the 120w of panels is at 18 volts, that's 120/18 or 6.7 amps,

BEFORE subtracting the many losses and fudge factors.

so with 10 hours of perfect sun exposure and mythical max efficiency,

perhaps 60 amps would be collected.

use less than that per day and it will be ~ a wash.

use more,

or collect less (very likely) and there will be a net loss.

many threads on this topic,

many ways to sort out need vs use vs sizing a system.

read here and see the S calculator within that link.

Solar Tutorial

one simple 2remember formula is 100 w of panel per battery (100 amp/hours)

so 2x100w panels for 2 batteries, and so on...

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:23 PM   #12
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Portable or fixed solar?

I'm also interested in the feasibility of installing enough solar on my 19' Bambi. I don't think there's enough real estate on the roof for a solar system of 120-200 watts. Anyone had good results with a portable set-up, or had success with a fixed install on a Bambi?

Cheers,
Jerry
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