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Old 04-03-2012, 12:20 AM   #1
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My electrical mods and solar conversion.

Okay kids, here we go.

I thought I'd start a thread so I can keep track of everything.

My primary goal is to run everything off grid. I bought my trailer to go camping out in the desert with no hookups, and so far, the my SK2112 has treated me well... Other than we run the generator an awful lot.

My electrical usage is probably on the low side. Watching a couple of movies in the evening, general light usage for the drinking games and... mood? lighting, lots of radio throughout the day and night, a little water pump and bathroom fan. We do crank up the furnace at night, that furnace fan runs quite a bit. Using the just the group 24 battery that came with the trailer, we were running the generator for about 2 hours in the morning to charge batteries and make breakfast. Then again midday because of the radio usage, and for several hours in the evening to make dinner, shower, and watch movies.

We don't really use the microwave, other than some popcorn once in awhile, and I bring a propane grill for cooking. And so far we haven't had a need for the A/C. It would be really nice if I could also run the fridge on electricity instead of propane, but thats not really a requirement.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:20 AM   #2
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Well, conservation is probably the cheapest way to reach my goals.

I started by going to LED's where possible. I replaced all of the roof mounted, wall switched fixtures with these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI...E:L:OC:US:1123

At under $4 each, they seemed like a good deal.



I went with the cool white ones, but they also have a yellow/soft white style. I prefer the cleaner look. These are not as bright as the standard incandescent bulbs but they are pretty close. My girlfriend isn't as fond of them as I am...





I do plan to replace all of the under cabinet bulbs as well. I'm not entirely sure about the 'kitchen' fixture yet, as keeping the girlfriend happy is pretty important.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:21 AM   #3
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The next step was figuring out how to run my 110V AC 'must haves' without shore power or generator.

I picked up a small Wagan 400W pure sine wave inverter.

I kind of got lucky, both the living room TV and bedroom TV (and fridge) are all on the same AC circuit. This should play out nicely later...

I tucked my inverter out of sight behind my furnace grill. I was able to tap into the AC line from the circuit breaker panel. I used a DPDT 30A AC rated switch. The poles are connected to either leg of the AC wiring that runs through the trailer and out to the various outlets. One set of 'throws' goes over to the breaker panel for shore power, and the other set of 'throws' is connected the AC output of my inverter.

I also used a twist timer to turn on my inverter. I figure this will help save electricity by switching off the inverter if I fall asleep while watching movies at night... I was only able to find a basic 1 hour timer at Home Depot, but I see Global Industries carries several different types, 1hr, 2hr, 6hr, and even timers with a constant on. Looks like I'll be switching mine out.







You can see the switch and timer there on the left.


I would eventually like to add a PSW inverter large enough to handle the fridge as well. This whole circuit is on a 15A breaker, but I have no idea how much my TV/DVD player and the fridge would all draw while running together.

Many thanks to Fire Instructor, ohcnda, shooted, and herk7769 for getting me this far.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:22 AM   #4
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Okay, next step is electron storage.

I ditched the single Group 24 for a pair of 12V group 27s. I looked at dual 6V and quad 6V and all sorts of combinations. These batteries from Walmart fit the bill. $ per AH was better than all the others, and coupled with the best warranty compared to everything else I looked at, picking these up was an easy choice.

I couldn't find a pair of group 27/29 boxes that would fit the battery rack, so I ended up using a pair of Group 24 battery box lids to keep the batts covered.




Future mods will include bigger and more batteries, a bigger rack, and better storage.

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Old 04-03-2012, 12:22 AM   #5
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Solar = free electricity generation...

Well, at least after the initial purchase, anyways.

I couldn't find a kit that had everything I wanted, so I pieced together a system. The eventual goal is to match the charging capabilities of the built in converter, 55A.

I started by installing a 30A Sunforce charge controller. Through some research, I found that multiples of these can be paralleled to the same battery bank.

I installed the charge controller in that empty panel under the fridge and furnace.

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Old 04-03-2012, 05:48 AM   #6
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you're lucky...

to have all that space near the converter for the inverter, charge controller and such.... I had to run 30' of #4 just to keep voltage drop from the charge controller to the batteries at a minimum and that was a basic straight line. How close are the batteries to that area?
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:01 AM   #7
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Outstanding thread! Keep going!!! Keep going!!!! It's amazing just how addictive achieving that "just right" combination is. And the right combination is slightly different for each of us. I started with just wanting to reduce load and recharge batteries, so that I wouldn't have to run the generator every day.... then decided to utilize 12v as a primary power source (hence all the 12v outlets that I installed). THEN, I finally figurred out that 12v appliances, while available, were much more expensive, and offered fewer options than similar 120v appliances.... So I went the rest of the way and added the 2000w 120v inverter....

Sounds like you did more research than me (or read my post and learned from my progression of learning), and you are doing it right the first time!

It's an amazing feeling, the first time that you camp for multipile days off grid, where the lights don't dim, and the water pump still pumps as strong on the last day as it did on the first! And you didn't have to tend and run a generator for a couple of hours to make it happen!
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:05 AM   #8
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Nice Job!
I will move this thread to "Mods and Updates" as it was started in the wrong Forum. Lou
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:35 AM   #9
Drinkin beer on the beach
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPAspey View Post
to have all that space near the converter for the inverter, charge controller and such.... I had to run 30' of #4 just to keep voltage drop from the charge controller to the batteries at a minimum and that was a basic straight line. How close are the batteries to that area?
Hmmm, My batteries are on the tongue and this stuff is right in the middle of the trailer, so probably 10 or 12 feet away. I hope the stock wiring will be adequate... I'm bringing my solar power straight in to the breaker box, right on the same lug the battery is connected to.
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:33 PM   #10
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if you don't mind my observations, the stock wire in mine was #8. if yours is the same, you'll have over 4% drop at 25 amps. use one of the free on line calculators to determine your voltage drop.standard recommendations are to keep it less than 3% but lower is better. 25 amps dc is only a reference that I used as that's all my solar charge controller will allow. the #4 wire I installed is only ok for now because I have a small 200 watt inverter only used for a small led tv. any more draw and I'll have to go alot bigger wire. I ran conduit under the camper to make the future upgrade easy.
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