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Old 02-25-2012, 10:05 AM   #1
2005 Fleetwood Pride 38RL
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Apopka, Fl
Posts: 50
Ok, You installed a Solar Sys, How is it now?

I'm looking for Campers who have installed a Solar System on their RV's and have been using it for a while. I'd like to hear your experience so far.
Is it working out for you?
What would you do differently if you did it again?

I have 3 - 200 watt panels with all the connecting parts on my home set to a 4 bank set of batteries for emergency use. I am CONSIDERING, moving the system to my NTU TT but thought I'd see what others may have experienced before I begin.
I have read a number of installation "how to's" but I am looking for actual running experience and not theoretical operation..
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:15 AM   #2
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Have had one panel on my trailer since new and the second one since 2006. Other than having to replace a bad controller things work just like they did when new.
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:30 AM   #3
2005 Fleetwood Pride 38RL
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Apopka, Fl
Posts: 50
Great, now tell me about your usage. How are you using it and you mention adding a 2nd panel, would 2,3 5 more panels be of use to you? Would you do it again? If you had to spend $2k, would it be worth it to you (not that it does cost that much but, do you have a value recommendation?)

I'm just trying to wrap my arms around what a good system would be in normal usage. My current home set up is great when the power goes out as I can run my refrigerator/freezer, some lights and a fan or two for weeks on end during good weather. (I even keep a 2nd frige plugged into the system continuously.) The run time diminishes significantly with diminished weather and I can assume from that, life in a TT would be much the same, but I'd like to hear others experience before I make the transfer.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:40 PM   #4
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Location: Upstate (Albany Area) NY
Posts: 772
You can read all about my system at the pinned thread at the top of the "Modifications" forum, but I will tell you that the only change to that system that I plan (probably this year) is to add a second pair of the 6v golf cart batteries. We use the system for everything other than the microwave use. The single pair of batteries doesn't do well with the microwave draw.

We dry-camped for 10 days last summer on the beach, and my 2400w Yamaha generator ran for less than 60 minutes the entire trip. Just fired it up to use the microwave or the Margaritta maker. Added the whole-house inverter after that trip, and now the Margaritta maker runs fine off of 120v inverted from 12v.

When my TT is parked in the driveway, I keep it plugged in, to keep the fridge cold and not burn propane, but I keep the converter charger breaker turned off, so all of the 12v draw; smoke detector, gas detector, control circuit for fridge, and any water pump or light use; all are supplied by the solar panels. Most days, my converter switches from charge to float by mid-morning. Takes 'til about noon or a little after while camping, and experiencing heavier use.
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2014 RAM 2500 Laramie 4x4 Quad Cab w/Cummins Turbo Diesel, 2009 Rockwood 2607, and 3 'yaks!
300W of Suntech Solar, a Rogue MPT-3024 Controller, and a Xantrex PW2000 Inverter
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBDAWG View Post
Great, now tell me about your usage. How are you using it and you mention adding a 2nd panel, would 2,3 5 more panels be of use to you? Would you do it again? If you had to spend $2k, would it be worth it to you (not that it does cost that much but, do you have a value recommendation?)

I'm just trying to wrap my arms around what a good system would be in normal usage. My current home set up is great when the power goes out as I can run my refrigerator/freezer, some lights and a fan or two for weeks on end during good weather. (I even keep a 2nd frige plugged into the system continuously.) The run time diminishes significantly with diminished weather and I can assume from that, life in a TT would be much the same, but I'd like to hear others experience before I make the transfer.

We boon dock probably 75 percent of the time. We also carry a Yamaha 2800 watt generator. Last year on Memorial day weekend for example we were out for 4 days. In that time it was cloudy, cool and some rain. So, panels were not putting out much power. furnace was on the whole time. But in that 4 days I also only ran the generator for about three hours. Would I do it again? In a heart beat as long as I spend a lot of time boon docking.
When we bought our trailer new I had one panel installed. At that time I was not real savvy and soon discovered that one 125 watt panel was not sufficient for our needs. We could run the batteries down and they did not recharge fast enough. So the installation of the second panel. If I was doing it again, I would probably install three panels, a better controller and two more batteries, for a total of 6-6VDC golf cart batteries. We do run a radio all day and watch a few hours of TV in the evening. Coffee maker is a stove top drip. We rarely use the microwave. DW uses her hair dryer, but that is normally in the morning and I usually fire up the generator for that. I do watch my power consumption carefully, turn lights off when not needed etc. There is way more to this game then simply adding a bunch of solar panels on the roof and sitting back. You need the proper ratio of panels/batteries to make it work and work efficiently.
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:57 PM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Shiremanstown PA
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Like many things in life it is pretty simple:
Money: Spend less than you make.
Weight: Eat less than you burn.
Solar power: Uses less energy than your solar panels generate.

If you run out of power, either get more solar panels or use less electricity. Things like LED lights (the "real" kind with a constant current circuit are the most effecient) and unplugging unused things do make a big difference.

My camper has three light fixtures, each with two bulbs. I replaced all six bulbs with constant current LED bulb and now all six use the same power as one of the filament bulbs.

A large battery bank will keep you going longer, and will typically allow you to use less solar panels (when I small battery bank is fully charged the solar power is all wasted).

Also a MPPT charge controller helps get the most watts into the batteries. They are well worth the cost unless the solar system is small.

Good luck and keep us updated.

Bean
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:49 AM   #7
2005 Fleetwood Pride 38RL
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Apopka, Fl
Posts: 50
I just had a friend send me a link to a terrific article on Solar/Wind for RV's. I did a quick search but did not find any other reference so I thought I would post it here. Just more information on my question of "How is your solar system working today".
Brian Brawdy | RV Business
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:50 PM   #8
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: IL
Posts: 9
I too have recently started looking into Solar... While we only go for short stints (typical trip is 2-3 night), we are off grid in a state park somewhere. My Pop-up never had issues just running off one battery (only died once on us and it was a bunk battery), but now that we've purchased a larger trailer (s-238), I'm wondering how that will effect battery consumption vs. what I experienced with the pup. Essentially we aren't going to change our power useage, however there's a built in stereo now and I imagine we'll be using that. We will be taking it on 1-2 week long trips this year to places where there is no hookup (Smoky Mtns) and I'm very eager to understand how solar panels could help us if out on a 7 day trip... Or, if it's even worth it. If one battery in our pup lasted 2-3 nights with no issues, then I have to assume 2 batteries in the new trailer should last 6-7 days... Thoughts? I'm wondering if any of you have already gone down this path already and ultimately ended up here, looking for solar power systems.
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:54 PM   #9
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and for the record our power useage is:
Lights - Sparingly - very sparingly - we might leave the outside light on for a few hours at night, but we mostly rely on lanterns and flashlights
Water pump - on when we're there, I shut it off during daytime
Fridge - gas
Fans - barely used unless cooking - maybe 25-30 min day/tops
toilet flushes - only night useage mainly (there's typically a bath house in state parks for poopage )
Stereo (now part of the new trailer)
Slider? and power awning? Does it draw from battery even if hooked to truck?

I think that sums it up...
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