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Old 03-19-2017, 11:53 AM   #1
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Solar + inverter: where to start?

Just bought a new Sunseeker 2290 S yesterday. I will be spending a lot of time in National Park campgrounds & boondocking on National Forest land this Summer without a hookup. I do have a Cummins Onan RV QG 4000kw generator, but the campgrounds have limited hours of use in morning and evening, so I do want to have solar and an inverter installed.

For a non-techy person who doesn't understand much about electricity and how all this stuff works, is there a magic calculation somewhere to help me figure out what I need?

I'm thinking I might need 200-300w solar to be safe but not sure on the inverter. I have a lot of gear that needs charging or to run for extended periods - camera batteries, laptop, drone batteries, RAID / hard drives, air purifier, maybe a portable electric heater and fan, etc.

Any guidance (or links to previous posts) would be really helpful.
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:06 PM   #2
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Forget the electric heater , that alone would require maybe 1500 watts . Every thing else on your list would run on a small inverter , say 1500 watts or even less !
Battery requirements will be an issue , two or 4 six volts might be required to store that energy that your generator and panels will supply .
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:16 PM   #3
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before you spend the money on solar or changing batteries you may want to try some different setups while camping at you house you might find you have everything you need. I use a catalytic wave6 for heat when boon docking or durning generator hours at state parks and a percolator coffee pot (no electrical use).
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:31 PM   #4
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Forget the electric heater , that alone would require maybe 1500 watts . Every thing else on your list would run on a small inverter , say 1500 watts or even less !
Battery requirements will be an issue , two or 4 six volts might be required to store that energy that your generator and panels will supply .
but what if it's cold?
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:33 PM   #5
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Thats what you have a furnace or catalytic heater for
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:38 PM   #6
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before you spend the money on solar or changing batteries you may want to try some different setups while camping at you house you might find you have everything you need. I use a catalytic wave6 for heat when boon docking or durning generator hours at state parks and a percolator coffee pot (no electrical use).
Hm, I don't really see how I can make this work without an inverter because I need my laptop and hard drive equipment pretty much constantly and I already know that 70% of the time I won't have shore power. Having those things available at all times is a priority for me, so I'm ok spending the cash for it.

I like the LP heater. Hadn't thought of going that route.
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:42 PM   #7
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There are a few sites with guides to how much you need check out this one and the attachment as to power requirements. Also check the library section of the forum.
https://www.solar-electric.com/solar...ormation.html/

If it is cold you can run the propane heater but still the fan uses significant power. To run just your 1500W "small heater for 6 hours, you would need 2000W worth of panels and a bank of batteries in 6-8 hours of sun. Just for reference a 1500W ceramic heater run on an inverter after dark for one hour will require 300Ahr battery capacity
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File Type: txt Power requirements.txt (1.5 KB, 23 views)
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Old 03-19-2017, 01:15 PM   #8
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Hm, I don't really see how I can make this work without an inverter because I need my laptop and hard drive equipment pretty much constantly and I already know that 70% of the time I won't have shore power. Having those things available at all times is a priority for me, so I'm ok spending the cash for it.

I like the LP heater. Hadn't thought of going that route.
I didn't mean to imply don't get an inverter what I was trying to say you may not need to install a bunch of extra equipment. A little experimenting will tell you how long what ever inverter you get will last, plus you have a generator for those time when not plugged in. There are allot of options
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Old 03-19-2017, 02:06 PM   #9
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I think that you will find it pretty straightforward. Fortunately solar has not only given rise to reasonable controllers and panels, but also to a whole line of pretty good inverters. You seem to need charging and other low to medium loads like drones, hard drives and the like. I think that 2 150 watt panels, a good controller, a 1000 Watt pure sine wave inverter, an automatic transfer switch and a remote on-off switch would do the trick. I would also recommend a good battery monitor so that you always know what is going on and when to run some generator time to keep up.

Personally I am partial to Xantrex inverters, transfer switches and remote controls and to Bogart's Trimetric monitor and SC2030 PWM solar charge charge controllers. I would recommend wiring the transfer switch directly into your breaker panel so that all of your non-GFI outlets are usable when the inverter is turned on. The Xantrex ProWatt 1000 watt unit should do you well. I use mind to power all of my TVs, computers and chargers virtually all of the time. Of course, when you are running the engine it will charge the battery(s) anyway.

Couple of (12 volt) 150 watt panels at the best price is ideal. PWM controllers are fine for just a few of these panels anyway.

That is what I have and I love knowing that everything always works no matter if the genny is on, I am connected to shore power, or I am driving down the road. No extension cords, no manual switches...clean and reliable.
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:44 PM   #10
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I think that you will find it pretty straightforward. Fortunately solar has not only given rise to reasonable controllers and panels, but also to a whole line of pretty good inverters. You seem to need charging and other low to medium loads like drones, hard drives and the like. I think that 2 150 watt panels, a good controller, a 1000 Watt pure sine wave inverter, an automatic transfer switch and a remote on-off switch would do the trick. I would also recommend a good battery monitor so that you always know what is going on and when to run some generator time to keep up.

Personally I am partial to Xantrex inverters, transfer switches and remote controls and to Bogart's Trimetric monitor and SC2030 PWM solar charge charge controllers. I would recommend wiring the transfer switch directly into your breaker panel so that all of your non-GFI outlets are usable when the inverter is turned on. The Xantrex ProWatt 1000 watt unit should do you well. I use mind to power all of my TVs, computers and chargers virtually all of the time. Of course, when you are running the engine it will charge the battery(s) anyway.

Couple of (12 volt) 150 watt panels at the best price is ideal. PWM controllers are fine for just a few of these panels anyway.

That is what I have and I love knowing that everything always works no matter if the genny is on, I am connected to shore power, or I am driving down the road. No extension cords, no manual switches...clean and reliable.
Sounds like you know your stuff. My biggest downfall is that I have zero DIY skills, so would probably have to pay someone a small fortune to install something like this. My dealer is going to price up an inverter set-up like you mention, so I'd be able to use all the outlets and have the microwave run on a separate inverter. I'm probably going to choke when they give me the price.

I'm considering going easier with the solar and just buying a portable kit. I'm pre-wired for Zamp but their kits are $$$. Might want to switch out their plug so I can use less expensive panels.
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