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Old 09-23-2014, 04:36 PM   #1
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Solar

I'm thinking about buying solar panels for our 36CKTS. But I have no idea where to start! If any of you with solar panels have some suggestions, I'd like to hear from you.
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Old 09-23-2014, 05:32 PM   #2
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Just starting out, it can be really overwhelming researching full solar systems right out of the gate. My best advice would be to just take each step one at a time until you're confident, then move on.

First off you need to determine what your actual energy requirements are. Decide what it is you want to be able to power with solar. I would break it down into 2 categories... the must haves and the it would be nice to's.

There are a lot of solar companies that will have calculators that will give you a general idea, but best would be to purchase an inexpensive voltmeter and test each component you would like to power for actual energy consumption. Most important will be the amp draw, but check voltages as well.

Read up on voltage/watts/amps/DC/AC and how they relate to each other.
Without a good understanding of all that it will be extremely difficult to design a solar system that you'll be happy with.

From there you'll have a better idea of what size of battery bank you'll need. You can start researching the various battery types, sizes, capacities, and costs.

That should keep you busy for awhile. :-) Don't sweat the other stuff so much at this point. Once you have a core understanding of your needs and how everything works together the other stuff will just fall into place.

Have Fun!!
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Old 09-23-2014, 06:20 PM   #3
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goggle handy bobs rv charging puzzle
you will find all the info you need
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Old 09-23-2014, 06:29 PM   #4
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X2 But a lot to take in at once :-)

The RV Battery Charging Puzzle « HandyBob's Blog
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:48 AM   #5
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Good advice. While you are reading up, start reducing your usage..get LED lights in your fixtures! Oh, buy a good multimeter with a DC clamp-on ammeter.
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:25 PM   #6
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I know it has been said, but I will ask, what do you want the solar panels to do, or should I say why do you want them?
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:20 PM   #7
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I mounted 2 90 watt solar panels from RV Solar Electric and 3 deep cycle batteries on my TrailManor when I purchased it in 2000. Back then we did not have good LED lighting like we do now.
The whole setup cost me over $1,000 but that is not the only drawback to solar. For one thing you need to find a camping spot that gets at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight. That cool spot under all the tress will not work.
You also need to periodically clean the panels and I had my charge controller go out which cost me another $90.
Since we purchased our new Rockwood 2109S with LED lights and a low draw LED TV we have dry camped for up to 5 days with the battery indicator not going below "GOOD". This is with daily showers for the 2 of us, using the lights & radio in the evening and some light usage of the furnace and vent fans. I did install a 2nd class 27 LifeLine absorbed gas mat battery on the rear bumper.
I am happy not to have the expense & finding the right campsite hassle of solar and since we are usually ready for a new camp ground after 4 or 5 days this has been working fine for us so far. It seems that driving 100 miles or so charges the batteries up again or sometimes we are ready for a site with hookups after 5 days of boon docking. An over night with electric will fully charge the batteries.
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Old 10-06-2014, 08:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OL Creeker View Post
I'm thinking about buying solar panels for our 36CKTS. But I have no idea where to start! If any of you with solar panels have some suggestions, I'd like to hear from you.
I have just finished my planning stage for installing a solar system, with the help from forum members and Jack Mayer .

A handful of us Rvers are going to Mayo, Fl for a week this January for a solar installation rally.

I have learned a bunch over the last four months. I have conducted an energy audit to determine our daily usage, and from there I decided to go with 500 watts of solar and 550ah of batteries. I'm going to use a 1000w Magnum inverter, as we have no need to use a microwave while boondocking.

If you haven't read Jack's website, check out this link.

Below is the results of my energy audit
RV Electrical
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ramblin Recks View Post
I have just finished my planning stage for installing a solar system, with the help from forum members and Jack Mayer .
Looks pretty good! You've been generous with your estimates, so that's always a good idea. I'm not sure what rig you have, but the parasitic draw seems a bit high. You might see if you could lean that out a bit.

My only suggestion would be to see if you could maybe get 700watts of panel for that much of a daily load. You have, effectively, 250ah or so available, but the less you run down your battery bank between charge cycles, the longer your batteries will last. Also, with the additional wattage, your solar will help pick off some of those daytime ah expenditures.

What charge controller are you looking at? Feels good finally getting it all laid on don't it.
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:21 PM   #10
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Yes, the planning part has been a good exercise in understanding the system. I want to stay on a budget, but not build the system cheaply..if that makes sense, plus build in expansion if needed. Also for the DW, as I wanted to be sure she was onboard for any "electrical restrictions" and why........So now I need to figure out where to put all this stuff. Below is the setup I'm going to purchase.

Trojan T-145- 260ah x 4ea ----- 520AH
Morningstar TriStar MPPT 60
Solar World 275w PV - 2 ea ----- 550W
Magnum MMS-1012 - 1000W PSW inverter, 20A passthru, 50A-4 stage charger, w/temp sensor
Magnum Energy ME-ARC Inverter Remote
SubPanel -
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