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Old 07-14-2019, 01:30 PM   #1
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Power, Inverters and Solar

I have a 100 Watt solar panel and it seems to do just fine keeping our camper batteries powered up. We havenít gone on long excursions without power, but over the course of a weekend our batteries seem to get enough power during the day to recover what little we use at night.

Iím considering adding an inverter, though. There are a couple of things I would like from it. First of all, I took my computer this weekend and tried to watch a couple of movies. It ran out of power during the second movie. Since it is a gaming laptop it has a larger 160 watt power supply. I tried pugging a battery into the USB-C port and it didnít charge, so it must only charge via AC.

Second, I would like to use a larger, maybe 2000 watt inverter so we can run a Keurig to make coffee in the mornings. Iím usually fine with a percolator, but Keurigs are just so convenient.

First question, would I need to upgrade the panel to just use an inverter for maybe a couple of hours a day?

Second question, what is the best way to wire that up? I was thinking maybe add a dedicated outlet for the inverter, and wire a light switch next to it to disconnect power to the inverter. If you need AC power, you turn on the switch then plug into the outlet. That way the inverter could be hidden but still easily accessible.
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Old 07-14-2019, 01:59 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Myron625 View Post
I have a 100 Watt solar panel and it seems to do just fine keeping our camper batteries powered up. We haven’t gone on long excursions without power, but over the course of a weekend our batteries seem to get enough power during the day to recover what little we use at night.

I’m considering adding an inverter, though. There are a couple of things I would like from it. First of all, I took my computer this weekend and tried to watch a couple of movies. It ran out of power during the second movie. Since it is a gaming laptop it has a larger 160 watt power supply. I tried pugging a battery into the USB-C port and it didn’t charge, so it must only charge via AC.

Second, I would like to use a larger, maybe 2000 watt inverter so we can run a Keurig to make coffee in the mornings. I’m usually fine with a percolator, but Keurigs are just so convenient.

First question, would I need to upgrade the panel to just use an inverter for maybe a couple of hours a day?

Second question, what is the best way to wire that up? I was thinking maybe add a dedicated outlet for the inverter, and wire a light switch next to it to disconnect power to the inverter. If you need AC power, you turn on the switch then plug into the outlet. That way the inverter could be hidden but still easily accessible.
I've done similar to what you're thinking of in my TT.

Some thoughts:

100 watts may be enough for charging a battery just powering lights, pump, and other low current items. You may consider adding one or two more panels if you're planning on using a 2000 watt inverter just to keep up with the added "daily amp hour consumption. Also, charging a laptop with a 160W charger could consume as many as 13 amp to power the inverter. Depending on charge time that could equal or exceed what you are currently using for just lights, pump, etc.

I chose to install two inverters in my TT not by design but because I put too small a one in at first. I only wanted one to run my TV and charge my laptop. I needed another one for heavier loads so I installed a second, 2000 watt, inverter. I use the smaller one when I only want to run the TV. Only fire up the bigger one when I need more power for a coffee pot or maybe the microwave if I choose to.

Both Inverters came with wired Remote Controls so I only had to run the supplied cord (much like a telephone cord) from switch to inverter. Each have a light showing the status of the Inverter (on/off) and one also has a battery meter similar to those on cell phones. I decided to keep the smaller one as it has less "Overhead" when power is not being drawn. Larger one draws more when "idling".

As for wiring, inverters work best when mounted close to batteries. (with BIG wires). To power my TV I installed a separate outlet and to avoid fishing wires through the wall I just used some plastic wire conduit that fit into the corner where wall meets wall or wall meets roof. Then dropped the channel to the outlet where I installed it right behind the TV. When on shore power I plug into the regular AC outlet and when boondocking I plug into the new "Inverter Outlet". Simple.

If you install a large Inverter and want to minimize wiring, then just install a transfer switch that will switch input to your power panel from Shore to Inverter, whichever has 120V AC. Just remember to turn off the converter so you don't create a circular drain. This will provide power to all outlets.

Last item, the bigger the Inverter, the larger the battery bank you'll need.

At least two, maybe more 12 V Deep Cycle;
4 6V Golf Cart Deep Cycle;

OR

two LiFePo "Lithium" batteries.

Remember, Lead Acid batteries should only be discharged to 50% depth of discharge (DOD) while the Lithium's can be discharged up to 100% of their capacity (and weigh half as much PER BATTERY).

This is based on what I did, others will surely share what they did.

Good Luck.
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:12 PM   #3
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adding solar, more batteries, and inverter(s) are easy 'upgrades' to most any camping experience, yet the ability to perk your coffee in the morning will not be one of whether your inverter can handle it, but more of whether you'll have enough 'storage' of power in your battery bank for the duration of the unit's heating element cycle... which is typically why most of us operate our generator when making coffee, even with our large battery banks, solar, and very large inverters.
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:47 PM   #4
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Myron, this is what I use for Keurig cups. It's kind of a French press for k-cups:

https://www.amazon.com/Presto-02835-.../dp/B00HIXSAXQ

No need for electricity and takes up way less space.
Having owned two Popups, I can't imagine having to haul a full size Keurig brewer.
But we dry camp a lot and a Keurig is a high power demand device, like a hair dryer.
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:54 PM   #5
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adding solar, more batteries, and inverter(s) are easy 'upgrades' to most any camping experience, yet the ability to perk your coffee in the morning will not be one of whether your inverter can handle it, but more of whether you'll have enough 'storage' of power in your battery bank for the duration of the unit's heating element cycle... which is typically why most of us operate our generator when making coffee, even with our large battery banks, solar, and very large inverters.

I make my morning coffee using Keurig pods but I leave the power hungry machine home. Someone mentioned in a thread a while ago that this device was available:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1




For only $14 I jumped all over it. I buy my K-cup pods by the case and just take some along with me when camping. Heat water on the stove in a 40 year old coffee pot. pour hot water in top section, then force through pod into coffee cup. Takes about the same time as pre-heating and pumping on the machine. (I only heat enough for one cup at a time so it heats quick).
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
Myron, this is what I use for Keurig cups. It's kind of a French press for k-cups:

https://www.amazon.com/Presto-02835-.../dp/B00HIXSAXQ

No need for electricity and takes up way less space.
Having owned two Popups, I can't imagine having to haul a full size Keurig brewer.
But we dry camp a lot and a Keurig is a high power demand device, like a hair dryer.
You beat me to the punch
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Old 07-14-2019, 03:40 PM   #7
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I was going to do this as well.

I planned to install a quality 2000 watt inverter near the batteries.

0/2 or 0/4 wire to a 200 amp fuse. Minimum wire length. 3 feet.

Then run an extension cord too an area near the ac input.

Simply use the 50amp to 15 amp dogbone to plug into. Easy, cheap.

Then turn all breakers off. Turn on a circuit as necessary. I could power anything. Being careful.

What I did was install a 12 volt outlet in the bedroom. We have a cheap 400 watt inverter. Which we never use. And use a extension cord to reach anything in the fiver I wanted to power. No coffee maker. French press coffee.
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:40 PM   #8
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I like the idea of the press, sounds cheap and easy to use. Maybe I will get one of those. Two people responding, they must work well enough. I havenít had much luck with non-Keurig k-cup makers, though.

For my current Keurig, we have the smaller single-brew version that has a reservoir big enough for one cup. It doesnít take much space, but still requires 1500 or more watts. However, I am wondering if I really want to run an inverter if that is my only use for it.
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:48 PM   #9
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I was starting to pick out stuff for an inverter when my kid did the really?

Do you really need that?

Answer was no.

Same for solar.

Happy as we are. Got the Honda 2200 just in case.
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:28 PM   #10
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I donít even own a generator. The way I see it, if you donít have AC, you donít use enough power to need a generator.

In our pup, most days the biggest power drain is when we plug our phones and tablets in at night to charge. We have LED lighting, so very little power usage from that. When it is cold enough we run the furnace. When it is hot enough we run fans. Thatís why we get away with a 100 watt panel, the Colorado sun takes care of charging the batteries during the day.

If I do hook up the 400 watt power inverter like Iím thinking, I may want to add a second panel just to make sure I have enough charging capacity. I wouldnít expect to use it for more than a couple of hours a day at most.
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