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Old 11-21-2020, 06:01 PM   #1
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2021 25' Flying Cloud
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Portable Solar Panel Capabilities

This isnít a question about what is the best portable solar panel product, itís about what I can operate in my RV with portable solar power. I will soon have a 28FC with 2 ACís. I opted not to include the factory roof solar panels. Can I get a reasonably simple portable solar panel to operate the ACís, refrigerator/freezer, microwave/convection oven, the lights etc.? Do I need different batteries than the standard issue batteries? I donít want to jury rig a bunch of panels together. I would like a plug and play solution if itís even possible. Obviously, I am a rookie when it comes to solar power solutions so give me some slack for my ignorance. I sincerely appreciate your inputs. I have a learned a lot from this forum and at the moment, I am a learning sponge with the wealth of the information that people are willing to share.
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Old 11-21-2020, 06:08 PM   #2
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A typical 13500 btu rv air conditioner will consume 1250 watts of power when running. Plus a lot more to get it started. That is a lot of solar power just to run the AC.
The microwave will consume 500 to 1200 watts when running.
I believe you will find there is a slim to none chance of using portable panels for this purpose.
When using solar power to power 120 volt alternating current (A/C) devices. An INVERTER is required to convert the DC power generated by the solar panel(s) to useable 120 volt A/C. There are losses of 10% to 20% depending on what INVERTER is used.
Solar is not a practical solution to your requirements. IMHO
You are looking at shore power, 50amp service or a sizable generator.
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Old 11-21-2020, 06:26 PM   #3
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yeah, as Twinkle indicates (actually closer to 1700 watts and 2200 to start), it would take about a $10,000 investment in batteries and inverter to run the AC for any length of time. Everything else except microwave and water heater? 400 Watts will do it with a nice of a cushion if you don't park under the trees. AOC and CNN have oversold solar. Me? I bring a generator and 20gal of gas. Propane is less smelly but it costs more and is 30% less energy. Too bad you can't get unodorized gasoline, it smells wonderful.
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Old 11-21-2020, 06:59 PM   #4
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As part of the learning experience, get a power monitor. Many surge protectors have one built in, some with Bluetooth to allow you to monitor usage from inside your trailer. You’ll get firsthand experience about managing your trailer’s power usage.
The above posts are right on. You’ll need softstarts for the A/C’s and a sizable generator to accomplish your stated intentions.
Ask yourself, how important is it to camp off grid with the A/C blasting? There are so many campgrounds, of all types, that have good utilities.
And there is so much good information already up on this forum that it’s pointless to repeat it all every week. Have fun browsing!
Happy camping!
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:32 AM   #5
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A basic RV solar/Lithium set-up will run your 12volt systems for as long as you have sun. To run anything that requires the wattage (i.e., 110volt systems for a sustained length of time for AC-Microwave-etc.) you would require more solar than an RV can carry. You're now into fixed station systems found in dwellings.
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappy3393 View Post
This isnít a question about what is the best portable solar panel product, itís about what I can operate in my RV with portable solar power. I will soon have a 28FC with 2 ACís. I opted not to include the factory roof solar panels. Can I get a reasonably simple portable solar panel to operate the ACís, refrigerator/freezer, microwave/convection oven, the lights etc.? Do I need different batteries than the standard issue batteries? I donít want to jury rig a bunch of panels together. I would like a plug and play solution if itís even possible. Obviously, I am a rookie when it comes to solar power solutions so give me some slack for my ignorance. I sincerely appreciate your inputs. I have a learned a lot from this forum and at the moment, I am a learning sponge with the wealth of the information that people are willing to share.
I think Brian (BayouBiker) said it best. So...

I will share this video with you FYI.

Will Prowse is a wealth of knowledge on solar and has many videos for you to filter though for your own edification.

-Dennis
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:12 AM   #7
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To run AC only, you need lithium batteries, a 3000 watt inverter, and lots of solar panels - the more capacity the better. 400 amp hours of Li battery capacity should get you maybe 2 hours of AC on battery power only. Ideally you would have at least 1000W of solar panels. Plus, you need a way to charge the batteries in absence of sun such as a generator and/or DCDC charger from tow vehicle alternator.

Given your question and the magnitude of the installation, this is not a DIY job. Figure that the labor cost is equal to the equipment cost for a professional installation. I would say this would be $20,000 minimum for a few hours of AC per day.
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappy3393 View Post
Can I get a reasonably simple portable solar panel to operate the ACís, refrigerator/freezer, microwave/convection oven, the lights etc.?
The answer is no. Your camper as equipped cannot and will not run the AC and microwave off its batteries. If you decide to go camping tomorrow someplace without hookups, you'll have lights, fans, USB plugs, water pump, and power to the fridge and water heater circuit boards for operation off propane. The propane furnace will also run. After two or three days of regular campimg the batteries will run out of juice and you'll have to go home.

A portable solar panel will recharge the batteries allowing you to stay camping longer. That's all.

As others noted, to modify the trailer to run the microwave and AC off batteries is a massive and hugely expensive undertaking.
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:24 PM   #9
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Hi

A practical portable solar panel will give you 100 to 200W (depending on the model) in full sun under ideal conditions. Twenty of them will get you to 2 to 4 KW (under ideal conditions) .

To be reasonably sure of starting / running an AC unit under "normal" conditions, you likely would need 40 or more portable panels. That's fine at high noon and for a couple hours after that. If you want to keep running the AC after about 4 pm, there is no "solar only" setup that will do the job.

Batteries are your friends once the sun is no longer doing it's thing. A dozen or so 100AH lithium's (at $500 to $1000) probably is the minimum to keep an AC running well into the evening.

=======

What *can* you do with a portable solar panel at ~ 100W? You can keep your battery charged up when the trailer is un-used. You *might* keep up with the ~ 1A drain a propane fridge puts on the battery..... maybe.

Bob
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Old 11-22-2020, 06:45 PM   #10
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You need to understand that your RV is 2 very different machines in one shell. One with shore power and one without.

Without shore power you pretty much can not run the AC, or the microwave, or high output things like hair dryers and coffee makers. You pretty much can't run the furnace either as it will totally drain your batteries overnight. Your inverter will use a lot of power (relatively speaking). You probably can't watch much TV either and your stereo is a vampire appliance.

Whey dry camping you can use your fans, lights, the water pump (parsimoniously) your fridge on propane, and you can keep going like this pretty much indefinitely with a good solar panel if you keep shifting it around the camp site to gather maximum sun, time your showers for mid-day to allow batteries to refill in the afternoon etc.

If you add a single generator you can run the furnace some (while running the generator) or the microwave some, adding a second generator will allow you to run one AC - but the generators are noisy, and often face restrictions of "generator hours" and in any case are heavy to shlep in and out the TV and use plenty of gas. You will probably run them sparingly - if you have them.

So decide what kind of camping you enjoy - all the features requires hookups, beautiful dry sites may be worth the adjustment of minimising your power and water use. No need to stick to one type of camping, learn to enjoy both, and the flexibility that comes with it. Being flexible in your power (and water) use will give you many options in choosing sites.
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:01 AM   #11
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Portable Solar Panel Capabilities

Toasterlife is correct- your Airstream really is two machines in one. While you canít operate your air conditioners without shore power (or a large generator), it is possible to operate your microwave, other 120v appliances and the power needed to run the furnace fan while not connected to shore power. However this will require a 1,500-2,000 watt inverter, two lithium batteries and 200-400 watts of portable solar.



Start your RV electrical education by watching Will Prowse videos then read the appropriate threads in AirForums.



The photo is the power plant in our 66 Tradewind. We can operate all appliances and run the furnace fan as needed.



DanClick image for larger version

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