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Old 07-18-2016, 07:23 PM   #31
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Solar is not for every one. I can see a need and not a need for it. In my case not worth the money for what it does which is not much except to charge batteries. My Gen works just fine and probably cost less in the long run than a bunch of panels to operate my camper. Later RJD
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Old 07-18-2016, 09:09 PM   #32
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Solar with all the stuff (PV panels, controller and wiring) is simply a way to recharge your batteries; so solar and inverter(ing) are two different things and you might need one or the other, or neither.

IMO all RVs should have a good and properly installed battery monitor. I prefer Trimetric. In fact, if you are considering solar, you can install a monitor to figure out what you will need in regards to batteries, PV panels, controller, etc., before spending money needlessly. Since the things is to get as much as you will need but not overdo it.

Many people confuse "converter" that comes with virtually all RVs ... a source for 12volt and charging when on shore power ... with "inverter", which usually don't come with an RV. However, many new RVs now come with residential refrigerators (for example) and do come with an inverter; usually with a dedicated battery as well. Don't expect the factory to give more than the minimum which can usually get you from one campground with power to another if your trip is short.

The old adage that you get what you pay for is certainly true for inverters as well as converters; with China producing poor performing but nice looking (and cheap) products that should be avoided.

Sizing them is very important. The rule of thumb is for every Ah of battery you should have that amount of wattage in panels. For example I have 460Ah in four GC-2 6 volt batteries and 450W in three Renogy 150W panels. Your need might be similar or completely different.

If a shadow falls on one panel the other two keep on truckin'; at less output, but still are working. A shadow falling even on one cell of a panel shuts down that panel. Partial sun can greatly reduces output, as well.

On a sunny day while traveling I can run my refrigerator on 120vac (saving propane) via the inverter. If it isn't sunny I will have to keep an eye on the monitor occasionally and will have to switch back to propane if travel takes me into the night.

What is often done poorly is trying to get away with wire that is too small; keeping voltage drop to within the manufacturers recommendations (read the manual) must be observed. In fact, In the case of Trimetric (solar charger and monitor) their manuals is a lesson in itself.

As well as Magnum's manuals in the case of knowing how to set up their inverter properly. You don't have to guess.

WW
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:40 PM   #33
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I'm getting mixed answers. I have FR3 and looking to install 200 Watts of Solar. Do I need an inverter ? Some say as long as I keep batteries charged I'm Ok/ Confused
No, but you do need a solar charge controller....
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:57 AM   #34
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Solar all the way

It sounds like you're interested in getting a system that will run everything but the AC. That does cost some money, but so did your rig, right? I got my lights upgraded to LED and added a 100 watt panel and charge controller for under $300. Later I got fancy and added the Trimetric charge controller and monitor for another $300.

Read https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/
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Old 07-25-2016, 05:25 PM   #35
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I have a pair of 5 year old 6V golf cart batteries, still in great shape. This year I bought a single 100W Renogy solar panel and a small charge controller, tethered with 25 feet of 10 gauge wires, works wonderfully to keep them fully charged. I move the panel to sunny spots as needed. Under $250. I only use 12V, for the water pump, fridge, heater and lights, and a little 400W inverter (cigarette lighter adapter) to connect my CPAP machine. Could not be happier. I do need or want to use 110V appliances while I camp in these circumstances. Worth every penny. W
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Old 07-26-2016, 04:17 PM   #36
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:14 AM   #37
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I do not live in the desert and will likely never frequent it with my tt so i guess based on the OPs opening statement I should remove my panels which allows me to camp without hook ups in complete freedom away from busy parks and rv parking lots right! Lol.

Solar isn't a perfect solution. It has its draw backs. Someone mentioned solar doesn't work at night, but it does! I have seen my controller come on into charging status during moon limit nights. Not very useful but it does work.

Anyhow, we love our solar set up. Wouldn't have it any other way.


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Old 07-31-2016, 07:35 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Bearister View Post
Your the best ! Well, I need my coffee, microwave and thus need inverter. What is amazing is the cost spread in systems. Looks like I can get 200 watt system with inverter, etc, for between 750 to 2000 / go figure.

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VertaMax 1500 watt inverter (Windy Nation) $129

400 watt (4X100) Solar panels, charge controller, 40 ft tether cable, hardware (Windy Nation) $597.98 (added an additional 30 ft cable later for $10)

Energizer 2200 Peak, 2000 continuous Generator/converter $533.45

Amazon.com, I'm set for everything except the wind for under 1500 bucks.

I will be upgrading to 2 X 6v deep cycle 400 amp batteries this winter when I'm in southern AZ, mainly because they charge faster/easier and can be run down as much as 75% and still get back to 100. Will rarely drain them that far, but just in case.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:21 AM   #39
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So, I am basically still a bit confused why a video about solar on a sailboat deems solar useless for us (?). Last time I looked at my toyhauler there is no boom, lines and halyards overhead; and it isn't bobbing, weaving and turning.

I won't get into their choice of using NoPower components.

If you are boondocking and pick a shady campground, why not use your head and find a site that has less shade or partial shade?

But, not only boondocking; it is the way to go to fully charge batteries (it takes many hours!) or to keep batteries full and happy while in storage.

Solar is just another way to provide charging and is silent, cheaper, cleaner and better than a generator ... other than when AC is needed; even with a generator, it has its place.

I love it when traveling, I can run my fridge on the inverter (120vac), which I think is safer than propane, and get to the other end with full batteries to start the evening. This without burning a drop of dinosaur juice. Its also fun to see the batteries go back to full as if by magic.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:36 AM   #40
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In my mind, solar is not a replacement for a generator, although a good installation can vastly reduce your genny run times. Solar and a monstrous inverter won't run your AC and I wouldn't recommend running heavy load AC devices (coffee makers, microwaves, etc) off an inverter for any length of time unless you are running the engine in an RV and continuously charging your batteries.

Solar is a nice replacement for not being plugged into shore power for days or months at a time. It will silently keep your batteries at 100% in storage and getting your batteries to 100% with a generator will take longer than you want to run it. You will start every trip at 100% without shore power and also let you boondock without the generator for quite a while if you are frugal with loads.

It ain't perfect, but with all that roof area for panels, not having it is a mistake if you spend a lot of time disconnected from the grid.

Multiple panels connected in parallel are the way to go, otherwise a small area of shade on a single panel will drop the output to virtually nothing. Bigger wire for the parallel installation is a lot cheaper in the long run.
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