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Old 04-23-2012, 01:32 PM   #1
MikeInColo's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lafayette, Colorado
Posts: 98
Additional Battery power vs. Solar power Question

I have been struggling with wanting to upgrade my battery system in my MH (Sunseeker 3100SS) but I am confused by the solar argument. Most people I camp with have an 80w-100w solar panel that they claim works great for trickle charging their battery throughout the day. My current system is very simple, 2 6volt Interstate GC2 batteries wired together resulting in a 12v system with 225 amps available (stock converter, no inverter) with a battery disconnect switch.

The obvious question people will ask is "what do you primarily use your batteries for?" The answer is, not much. We use them for the basics: lights, shower, furnace, water pump. We boondock exclusively (maybe 10 times a season) and I'd like to be able to watch a movie occasionally but will probably never bring along my satellite dish to watch TV. We have a generator and I use it to make cofee and "recharge" the batteries (which is terribly inefficient--because of the stock converter).

I'm thinking about upgrading my battery system to four 6volt batteries which would result in a 12v system with 450 amps. The alternative is to add a solar panel/controller to try and capture back *some* amps throughout the day. There are differing opinions on how many amps will be collected through solar panels (which adds to my confusion).

Here's a high-level cost breakdown:
Additional Batteries:
- (2) 6volt Interstate batteries (GC2) $300/pair (added to my existing two batteries).

Solar Power:
- (2) Solar Cynergy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel $270/pair
- (1) Morning Star SSD-25RM controller $150

Basically, it appears that the solar cost is roughly $420 vs. battery cost of $300. I'm not sure that cost of solar power can be justified if I'm capturing back, say 10 amps/day (that is a total guess?) while the additional batteries will double my amps.

Note: I would have to make significant modifications to my battery tray in order to accommodate four 6volt batteries. I am not including the cost of that for comparison since I intend to upgrade that part of my RV regardless of this debate. There would be additional cost to upgrade my compartment from a two battery system to a four battery system but I don't know how much.

Any thoughts/comments would be much appreciated.

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Old 04-23-2012, 04:55 PM   #2
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ronhanson's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 322
Since you're not really a heavy power consumer I'd lean to the solar route. You'll probably get more than 4-5amps/hr out of a single panel so it may be better than you think. Colorado is great for solar with all the sun we get. Plus solar setups make great battery maintainers when you're not camping.
Ron Hanson
2009 Georgetown 350TS (bunks)
400W solar, 440AH 6V GC2
2009 Ford Edge AWD Ltd towed
2011 Honda Fit Sport towed
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battery, solar

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