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Old 01-08-2014, 09:55 AM   #1
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Questions on Solar !!!

So, we have a year under our belt testing some solar options. I will do my best to get something put on the table as an option some day. My question would be, is there a "one size fits all"?

I know a small handful would want a system big enough they can live off the grid...but realistically speaking, what (if any) system are you running now? What size panel? Are you running one controller (house batteries) or two (house and chassis)?


I need a main stream package that would be acceptable to the majority of the people looking for solar options.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:13 AM   #2
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I'm not a motorhome guy, but I think there are a lot of tt owners that would have similar objectives. I think a factory solar option would be a super idea. Seems like the technology is becoming pretty mainstream. We love camping at several parks with no electric. We don't need AC or even the TV - just looking to be able to keep a charge on our 2 house batteries for the fridge, gas detector, a few lights for 5-7 days. Right now, we can stretch to 4 days just on battery, but after the 3rd day we start to get a little nervous.

Something like a good 150 watt panel would do the job at a reasonable price. Being able to get that in a factory package would be super. it could maintain the batteries in storage, and keep the essential systems going as long as needed if camping without electric.

And one other thought - if it is possible to size the wire and the controller large enough and leave a connection point, that factory package could have the added feature of being easily upgradable after the sale if a customer wanted a bigger system to live off-grid and run a bunch of appliances. Just mount and connect another pannel or two as opposed to having to run wire, upgrade the controller and inverter, etc.

Something smaller, like 60 watts, seems like it would really only be for maintaining the charge - not enough to extend your camping time significantly.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:44 AM   #3
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Hi BC,
We are living in Florida this winter with 260 watts in 3025 W (with all led lights) and lot's of sun & no generator & no grid. Works great without having to heat more than an hour or two per day. Temps in Keys are normally 70 degrees + .
We have just traded an 06 cardinal with 180 watts....
We keep two computers going 12+ hrs,pump water,run fridge,etc. Use LED TV for 1-2 hours (or not per day if super cloudy).
This set up works great all summer in New England.
Did you see this post?
3025 Windjammer dual battery mod.

What works for us:
2 - 6 volt golf cart deep cycle battery
1 - 24 volt 260 watt panel leave flat on roof.
1- Morningstar charge control MPPT control
1 - Prowatt SW 15 amp transfer switch for main cabin circuit.
1 - 1000 watt inverter without noisy cooling fan running all the time.
1- Forget the micro wave, Toaster,coffee maker....... Use the propane.

Enjoy living off the grid comfortably with out driving the neighbors crazy with your generator!
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:05 AM   #4
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I think that a 150 or even a 60 watt would be great, however most of us would have this issue.... When we camp I usually setup in a forest setting for shade. If the panels are mounted to the roof, the likelihood that you will be getting a good charge would be slim to none. Would a portable option be a better way to go with a plug on the outside of the camper?
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osgood View Post
I think that a 150 or even a 60 watt would be great, however most of us would have this issue.... When we camp I usually setup in a forest setting for shade. If the panels are mounted to the roof, the likelihood that you will be getting a good charge would be slim to none. Would a portable option be a better way to go with a plug on the outside of the camper?

That is an issue, so I mounted my panels on the roof of my truck and can transfer them to a tripod if I am in one place.

Relative to a solar option I would think that a 150w panel set up with 2 deepcycle bats, a controller and 1000 ish watt inverter would be a good mfg installer option. This way one could run the basic systems (lights, TV, water pump, etc.) without depleting the bats to much, using propane for everything else.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osgood View Post
I think that a 150 or even a 60 watt would be great, however most of us would have this issue.... When we camp I usually setup in a forest setting for shade. If the panels are mounted to the roof, the likelihood that you will be getting a good charge would be slim to none. Would a portable option be a better way to go with a plug on the outside of the camper?
We've debated roof mounted or portable with no real winner. Roof mounted is at the mercy of where you park it - they do no good if they aren't in the sun. Portable is much more work to store, transport, setup, they aren't secure so they would be more vulnerable to theft, and they don't help for maintaining charge in storage.

For a factory installed option, I would still vote roof mounted - and then leave a plug available on the tongue or someplace so the buyer could purchase a portable panel and tripod to plug in if they choose too. Not perfect, but flexible and you get the big benefit of charging while in storage.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:58 AM   #7
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I'm beginning to remember why we don't have a single solar option.
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:34 PM   #8
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Right!
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:44 PM   #9
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I like camping in the woods so sometimes the trees cause problems with the 155 watts of solar on the roof. I added a portable 45 watt for those situations and chase the sun... Usually it keeps the 4 batteries charged but I have replaced the bulbs with LEDs which really helped.
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:50 PM   #10
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The closest thing to one size fits all is to have a prep package for a roof mount.
The basic requirements are:
1- to have or to be able to run good sized cables from the roof to the batteries, in as short of a run as practical;
2- simple junction box on roof for same;
3- protected location next to batteries but not in battery box, for the solar charge controller. The controller needs to be close to batteries for best results. This space could also be used for the converter-charger, and for any inverter that the owner might add. For the inverter, there needs to be a path to connect to 120v system.

If you provide the routings and spaces I described, solar people will be delighted. Those things make the hard stuff easy. While owners are understandably afraid about installing panels on the roof, that is the easy part of a solar job. If you do end up offering installed panels, use a rule of thumb that the panel should be as far away from any roof object as the object is tall. This includes a raised TV antenna. Because shadows, even small ones, kill the output from a panel.

My personal take on it is to let the panel selection and mounting be handled downstream of the factory. But give us a good prep package, and you'll be miles ahead of the competition.

PS: I can't say strongly enough how impressed I am with your and Sunseeker's passion for improvement.
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