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Old 01-16-2006, 03:23 PM   #1
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Solar on a 19' Bambi

I am looking at getting a Solar panel for my TT. My question is whether to go with the 50 watt unit that the dealer can install on the AC unit housing. Or get an 80 watt stand alone unit. Right now I am leaning toward the 80 watt stand alone. With this I don't have to worry about parking in the sun. Any advice or comment would be appriciated.

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Old 01-16-2006, 03:32 PM   #2
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Hi zugbug, and welcome to the forums! You can find TONS of information in old post without waiting for a response from members. On the top blue band running across the page toward the right you will find a search tool. There is all kinds of information on solar, including lots of thoughts on if it is worthwhile /adequate for most users. Good luck!
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Old 01-16-2006, 03:41 PM   #3
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Zugbug,
I've been looking at the www.amsolar.com site and will probably order the Sunrunner 100 system next year. Each 100 watt panel measures 57.25 by 21.25 which will just fit to each side of my Winegard antenna. I've looked at other sites such as www.rvsolarelectric.com which have a number of panels to choose from in their systems.
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Old 01-16-2006, 03:43 PM   #4
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To better answer your question, what do you plan on using the solar charger for, in other words, what do you plan on using in the coach that the solar will be needed to charge? Knowing that helps understand the draw you'll be taking out of the electrical system.

I know it sounds like an odd question, but I wrestled with this one a while back and came to the conclusion that what I was trying to do might have been in vein if I had gone the solar route.
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Old 01-16-2006, 03:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zugbug
I am leaning toward the 80 watt stand alone. With this I don't have to worry about parking in the sun.
what? 80w is minimal to start with and not getting good direct sunlight will make it suitable for barely more than just battery maintenance.

Twinkie hit the nail on the head: where, when, and how you need electrical power are the big questions.

A good rule of thumb is that each 100 AH battery needs 100 watts of solar panel to keep it charged in light duty situations where there is good sunlight. A lot of trailers these days have 2 batteries so need 200 watts to start talking about a solar system of good utility.
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Old 01-16-2006, 03:58 PM   #6
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Solar

Zugbug I have a 19' CCD and placed a 50 watt Solar Pro plug and play on top of it. That was the largest size I could put up there. It keeps my batteries fully charged. I have not yet boon docked with it though. I don't think I could go very long with just the 50 watt. With the plug and play you can plug in another solar panel to the existing one so I plan to eventually buy a 100 watt panel and plug it in when I boondock placing it probably on the ground somewhere and leave the 50 watt goinng all the time up top for the batteries.
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Old 01-16-2006, 04:03 PM   #7
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Get up top and measure what roof space you have available that won't be shaded by something else on the roof. Keep in mind that monocrystaline (most efficient but most expensive) and multicrystaline (aka polycrystaline, best bargain) panels can suffer significant loss of output from a shadow as insignificant as that of a power line. In other words, the 50W panel higher up on the air-conditioner may outperform the 80W panel down on the roof if it gets shaded by the air-conditioner or TV antenna, for example. Amporphous (thin film) cells are less susceptible to this, but are roughly twice the size for the same wattage.
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Old 01-16-2006, 05:33 PM   #8
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The 55 watt system that came on my Bambi performs admirably for battery maintenance of the glass mat batteries. I had no expectations that it could sustain heavy usage while boondocking. I may consider a plug n' play panel to supplement.
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Old 01-18-2006, 07:02 PM   #9
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My usage is for battery maintainance on the single battery that I have on the Bambi. I expect this to be light duty, lights in the evening and maybe the water pump if I can't get a water connection. Most times I will be in a developed campground with water but no hook ups ( at least when I go without the wife)

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Old 01-18-2006, 07:21 PM   #10
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With a single battery unit, I'm not sure solar is going to cut it, particularly on longer hauls. I had 2 batteries in our Bambi and now in our Safari and the best I've been able to get using similar power consumption was a bit over a week. These were with brand new batteries too. Older batteries will most likely being to deteriorate as they age, so they might not be 100% efficent.

Add to the fact that you'll have to be in near full sunlight to get the full perks of solar, I'd be leaning toward a very small inverter generator. Maybe even one that runs of propane and let that recharge your battery.

Now consider the cost of the solar system (install, gear, etc) and then look at what a generator can put out vs. the solar, and you may find that the generator might be a better way to go.

Of course solar is silent, and there is something to be said for that.
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Old 01-18-2006, 07:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zugbug
Most times I will be in a developed campground with water but no hook ups ( at least when I go without the wife)
oh...be careful....be very careful.......
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Old 01-22-2006, 10:23 AM   #12
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If I go with the dealer installed 50 watt unit mounted on the AC housing can I them connect a stand alone 80 to that panel? Has anyone tried this. ( And when the wife and I both go out we generraly find a place with full hookups)

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Old 01-22-2006, 10:53 AM   #13
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We had the AS dealer install an 80 watt unit on our 19' CCD. Being larger than the 50 watt unit the dealer had a time fitting it, but he succeeded. We understood the 50 watt unit was a constant trickle charger while the 80 watt unit has a relay to cut off charging when the batteries are full. We have boondocked often with this unit and the solar unit has kept up with our needs, including running the furnace throughout below freezing nights. We had a Honda portable generator for the first AS, but the hastle of using it, and diminished output at high altitue prompted the change.
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Old 01-22-2006, 04:11 PM   #14
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dealer installed vs factory installed......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zugbug
If I go with the dealer installed 50 watt unit mounted on the AC housing can I them connect a stand alone 80 to that panel? Has anyone tried this. ( And when the wife and I both go out we generraly find a place with full hookups)

Zugbug
zugbug.....

depends on how the dealer does the work. on factory solar packages there is access to the board inside the curb side fridge cover. stand alone solar panels can be quickly connected in this location; positioned for best function and disconnected for travel.

this is covered in the owners manual or by contacting the factory..

i haven't done this yet but may this spring.

cheers
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