Originally Posted by 5456Mich
Thanks Ramblin. From your signature I see you have 640 watts of solar on your 5th. Do you have a res. fridg.? Does the set up you have run everything except the a.c. ?What brand of panels did you buy ? Thanks again for any info.
To start with, I'm not an electrician, just a typical DIY guy that doesn't mind work, and enjoys a challenge. I did have the benefit of a Solar "expert" to help guide me along the planning and design stages.
I designed and installed this 640w system consisting of 4 Grape 160w panels, TriStar 60 MPPT solar controller, Magnum 2000w inverter, ac sub-panel, along with 4 Trojan T-145 batteries for a 520a battery bank. This system powers everything but the ac units, and typically I'm fully charged by noon.
We do not have res fridge (but it would be no problem with my system), and the decision to invest in solar was to provide flexibility in our travels. Yes, you can use a generator (I have a Honda 2000), but then you have the logistics of gasoline, noise, run times, etc. My battery bank charges while I'm driving (if the sun is out), so I don't have to hear a genset running where ever we stop.
You should first know your energy usage, so you can determine what size system you will need. This takes some thought about what appliances are used, how often, and together with what other dc appliances. Install a trimetric meter, and perform an energy audit over a 24 hour period. Each dc appliance we used and its duration was logged into a spreadsheet and calculated our total amp hour usage. Much discussion with my DW to make sure she understood that a hairdryer used at 7am may not be a good bet, but if she waited to 1pm, the batteries would be charged and we would have "free' electricity.
Basically, once you know your total amp usage multiple it by 2 and that would be your minimum battery bank amperage. This is because you never want to discharge your battery bank by more than 50%. Now you can size your solar panels. Rule of thumb is one watt of solar to every battery amp. I slightly over sized my panels to compensate for not tilting my panels for maximum sun tracking. Then you need to decide on what AC appliances you will power so you can determine your other components and wiring size calculations. Last but not least, you have to find physical space for everything, roof, basement, and wire routing. There are many options for solar controllers and inverters/chargers.
We enjoy the freedom of solar, but IMO there is no return on investment, we don't use it because we want to be "green", basically we want flexibility in our energy sources. Now if I could "catch" rain and and recycle my waste water I could solve my water flexibility issues too!
There is lot of information on solar systems, and it be wise to read all you can before you start. One very good source is http://http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm
. I can share more of what I learned if you like. PM me if needed. Good luck.
2012 Dodge 3500, SLT Big Horn,CC,DRW,Cummins HO, EB, 4x4, 3:73, Retrax Pro, Q20, TST507, Garmin RV760, Sleek 4g
2014 Cedar Creek, 36CKTS, 640w Solar, TriStar MPPT 60, Magnum 2000w, PI EMS, WiFi Ranger Elite, Sleek 4g, Wingard DTV Traveler
Retired Army in 1995, and now retired in 2016