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Old 02-20-2014, 09:11 AM   #41
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Dry Camping and Power Usage Questions

I purchased the 2 panels online at Costco.ca, on sale for $750 from $1000 which includes the 30 amp Coleman controller and the mounts. I had the panels installed at the dealer at the same time I purchased the trailer last spring. I was told by the installer they came with the best mounts he's seen so far. He fastened the panels flat on the roof and fished the cables down the fridge vent to the converter. I installed a 650 watt pure sine inverter inside the trailer, at the front, as close to the batteries and fished #8 cables through an existing hole in the floor by the water filter, directly to the batteries. I made a box to hold the two 6 volt batteries with 3/8" plywood and painted it black. On a sunny day, the panels are able to power the lights and fans even without the batteries being connected. So on a sunny warm day, I can used both fans to circulate the air without depleting the batteries.

We are changing our trailer so they are switching the panels to the new trailer at the moment, from the 233S to a 23RS. Can't wait to try it out.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:13 AM   #42
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One thing to watch when adding batteries is the weight. Many light weight campers have limited Payload available. Adding 2 or 3 hundred pounds of batteries and wiring may reduce your safe payload too much.

Big battery banks have another limitation not thought much about is the recharge time required for a big capacity bank.

Careful thought is required before leaping.
There may be unintended consequences.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:22 AM   #43
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I didn't weigh the batteries but I would guess they weigh about 50 to 60 pounds each. So it might be an extra 80 lbs after removing the 12 volt one. I agree it's something to watch but I have to say I didn't have any problems with my RAM 1500 and weight distribution system.
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:30 AM   #44
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I put together a similar setup to what 2gocamp has. Since the weather has been so miserable, I spent a lot of time searching around - nothing better to do.

I started by looking at these folding panels at solarblvd

Solarblvd

They are a simple setup and the charge controller is built into the panels.

Then I got thinking about maybe going a little more sophisticated, so I settled on a 200W kit:

12 Volt 200 Watt Solar Panel Kit Solarblvd

But, I found solarblvd also has an e-Bay store and sells the same kit for $60 less on there??

Complete Kit 200 w Watt 200W 200WATTS Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel 12V RV Boat | eBay

This kit is (2) 100W monocrystalline panels and all the brackets, wire, and charge controller for $399. If you check out Windynation's website and e-Bay store, you can find a similar setup with polycrystalline panels for $299 or a little less.

The monocrystalline panels give more output per square foot, and I liked the charge controller in that package becasue it comes with the remote panel. I figure the controller will be in the front storage compartment, so the panel can go in the side of the nightstand to be able to monitor the panel output.

We camp in a lot of wooded areas so I want to roof mount one panel, and keep the other as a portable panel so I can chase the sun when needed.

I like the idea of the mounted panel to be a permanent battery maintainer at home.

Right now, we can go 4-5 days on our 2 gr24 12v batteries. I just want to give it a boost so I'm not sweating it on the last day or two, and the kids can turn on the tv if they want, or I can charge the laptop. And most importantly, we can use the awning lights. I have been doing that with a converted set of LED awning lights and a cheap 400W inverter clipped to the battery.

2gocamp disn't mention how the inverter was setup, but I wanted everything to be hardwired and operate automatically, so I got an inverter with a transfer switch built in. I found a really good deal on e-Bay for a Xantrex XM 1800 inverter.

Power Inverters Comparison Chart

It has the transfer switch, remote panel, and can be hardwired. The trade-off is its modified sine wave, but I got for $215 shipped. My PC and phone charger worked fine on the cheap 400W modified sine wave, so I figured I would give this a shot.

In bigger RV's, the typical hardwire install is a sub-panel with 2-3 circuits relocated from the main panel to power the outlets and TV, etc. Since the Roo has a fairly small electrical system, I plan to just disconnect the one 110V outlet circuit wiring at the breaker panel, run those wires it the inverter input, and then run the inverter output back to the breaker. This gives the same function as a sub-panel if you only need to power one circuit. If the camper is plugged in, everything works as usual. When shore power is unplugged, the inverter automatically starts powering the 110V circuit. And the inverter has an on/off switch on the remote panel to shut it off when not needed.

I figure if I do all the install myself, except the roof mounted panel (leave that one to the dealer) we'll have a permanent charge maintainer, a portable panel for partially shaded spots, and an automatic switching system for around $750 - $800 total which is less than a good generator.

And we get the freedom to dry camp (with only giving up the micorwave and AC) where ever we want, which gives us more options, and can save $20-25 a night in a S.P. over a private C.G, so I can get some return on the investment.

Now if it will ever warm up I get all these boxes out of the dining room and onto to the camper to actually try it out!
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Old 02-20-2014, 02:14 PM   #45
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2gokamp and kmp44,

Thank you much for the details!!

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Old 02-20-2014, 02:22 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herk7769 View Post
One thing to watch when adding batteries is the weight. Many light weight campers have limited Payload available. Adding 2 or 3 hundred pounds of batteries and wiring may reduce your safe payload too much.

Big battery banks have another limitation not thought much about is the recharge time required for a big capacity bank.

Careful thought is required before leaping.
There may be unintended consequences.
I agree, Lou. Prior to buying them a few years ago, I had to dust off my thinking cap when calculating the effect to the tongue weight that would occur with adding two Trojan T-145 6-volts at 72lbs each to my light weight 233S. Lucky for me, my DW is an engineer as she double-checked my math and approved .
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Old 02-20-2014, 03:34 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2gocamp View Post
I didn't weigh the batteries but I would guess they weigh about 50 to 60 pounds each. So it might be an extra 80 lbs after removing the 12 volt one. I agree it's something to watch but I have to say I didn't have any problems with my RAM 1500 and weight distribution system.
A decent deep cycle battery will weigh in the neighborhood of 75-100 pounds each. Less weight means less lead; less lead means less capacity.

A 50 pound battery is not much battery (IMO).

I was referring to the available payload in the camper; not so much the truck tow capacity.
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Old 02-20-2014, 03:37 PM   #48
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Solar Blvd has GREAT prices; just watch the shipping charges. They can be a real eye opener. My buddy Val ordered one panel and had it shipped to Key West and the shipping was almost the same as the panel. It WAS packed securely in a wood frame and arrived flawlessly, however.
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:57 PM   #49
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My battery box
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My panels
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My inverter
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