Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-05-2015, 01:39 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 3
Batteries, solar and dry camping!

Hello, I am looking to set up my camper for dry camping.

I have a 2003 Shamrock 21 ft hybride.

I have read so much that I have confused myself!

Initially I was looking at adding a second 12 v battery. One would be in use on the trailer while the other would be charging on a portable solar array of 100 watts (was looking at the Renogy 100 watt suitcase system). Portable so it could be move to the sunniest spot on the site. I have since learned that a 100 watt solar array may not be enough. So I kept reading....

Started looking at doing a 300 watt portable set up.

Than I changed over to two 6v Trojan batteries (the 105's) as it seemed I would get more dry time with the 6's. But how would I charge them! Don't think I want to buy 4 of those!

No really interested in the generator option as the noise frustrates the heck out of me when I am camping.

Money is a factor too, I want to keep it reasonable.

Would be running a few lights (led's), fridge on LP, water pump, water heater, and probably a radio.

How do you folks set up to stay dry!
__________________

MarkMtl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 02:09 PM   #2
Site Team
 
bikendan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Camano Island, Washington
Posts: 21,652
We almost exclusively dry camp in our hybrid.
I didn't want the limitations of solar (useless in forested campgrounds, can't run microwave or a/c, having to attach to roof by drilling), so we have a quiet Honda inverter generator.
We only have to run it for a couple of hours, every 3 or 4 days.
I can almost always place it where it doesn't disturb us or our neighbors.
__________________

__________________
Dan-Retired California Firefighter/EMT
Shawn-Musician/Entrepreneur/Wine Expert
and Zoe the Wonder Dog(R.I.P.)
2016 PrimeTime TracerAIR 255, pushing a 2014 Ford F150 SCREW XTR 4x4 3.5 Ecoboost w/Max Tow Package
Equalizer WDH
bikendan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 02:50 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Cornelius's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 253
I use solar panels on the roof of my Georgetown to keep the batteries charged when we are boondocking. You are correct that 100 watts will likely not be sufficient. Solar works very well, but there are a few problems, and I don't just mean rainy days. Solar panels on an RV roof will probably be installed flat on the roof, so they are not aimed at the sun. Also, solar panel output decreases as the temperature goes up. Since most of us camp in warmer weather, the panels are at a higher temperature than the 72 degree (panel temp, not air temp) standard test condition that panels are rated at. On a hot sunny day, a 100 watt panel might only put out 75 watts, and that's assuming it's aimed properly at the sun, which ours are not. The reverse is also true for winter camping, where a 100 watt panel can put out 120 watts on a cold clear day.

To get solar on an RV to work well, you will need additional panels. The good news is that the cost of solar panels has plunged in the last few years, so this minimizes the price problem.

The remaining issues are that the panels must not be shaded even a little bit. People think that if 90% of the panel is in the sun, it's putting out 90% of its rated power. Wrong. Most solar panels are made of individual cells wired in series. If one cell on the panel is shaded, it can take out the entire panel. It's just like the old Christmas lights where if one bulb burned out, the whole string of lights didn't work. The panels must not be shaded at all by a roof vent, air conditioner, TV antenna, etc.

You also need to install the solar charge controller as close as possible (but never in the same compartment) as the batteries. The solar panels will probably use 10 gauge wire (UL 4703 photovoltaic) to connect them to a junction box on the roof. From the junction box to the charge controller you want to use 4 or 6 gauge wire to minimize voltage drop.

You are correct that there is a lot of information on the internet concerning RV solar, some good, and some not so good. The Renogy panels at amazon get good reviews and are reasonably priced. I purchased my panels from Solar Cells, Solar Panels, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy, Charge Controllers, Solar Trackers - Solarblvd If you purchase a charge controller that allows for additional amps, you can start with one or two panels and add more in the future if needed.
__________________
2010 Georgetown 373
2013 Jeep Wrangler
Cornelius is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 03:24 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
KMP44's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Central New York
Posts: 1,042
Step one - for sure - have 2 batteries. 12 or 6 volt - pros & cons of each, but you want 2 matched, identical batteries and wire them as one bank. Connections are a little different depending on 6v or 12v.


Your solar setup can charge the batteries while you are using them. You need to estimate the amount of panels you need based on usage, sun availability, etc... And you need a charge controller. This will send the proper voltage to your batteries and prevent over-charging. A basic $30 model will do the job for a basic system.


Now, if you camp in the woods, portable is the way to go. If you camp at the beach or in the dessert, roof mounted is much more convenient.


I bought two 100W panels last year. Hard wired the controller and the inverter into the front storage compartment, and set the panels up on 30 feet of wire. Had good results keeping the batteries charged with this setup. I have been debating whether I want to roof mount one or not.


To get started, a 20 or 30 amp controller and one or two portable panels is a good start. As you test / play with it you'll get a feel for how it performs in your conditions. If its not enough, you can add a panel. If you find your roof is always located in a sunny spot, you could go roof mounted.


For less than $500, I've been pretty happy with the 200 watt system for our Roo. And I like not having a generator - but the prices keep coming down. The Champion's and some of the other mid-level brands of inverter generators are pretty reasonable if you go that route.
__________________


2017 F-250
2013 Rockwood Roo 23 IKSS
KMP44 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 04:10 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
DanM-AZ's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 143
Since I bought my A-frame for hunting purposes, the first thing I did was to upgrade my system for living off the grid. You can see the details of how I outfitted my A-Frame here:
http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...rum-81229.html

Right now, I've only got 60 watts of panels and 200 amp-hours of battery. If you followed the link, you can see that I only have one battery, but what a battery! I lucked into a great deal on what would normally be a $500 battery - I paid only $100. The battery was new, never put into service, but it had been sitting around for three years, neglected. I took it home, did a little reconditioning, and it is working great for me. Advice: Get as much battery as you can afford and fit. To make mine fit, I built a custom battery box. I stopped at only one battery because I was worried about too much tongue weight. (Yes, I bought more than one of those monster batteries!)

As for only 60 watts of solar panel, right now that suits my power consumption needs. Also, living and camping in Arizona, I can sometimes actually get more than 60 watts at peak sun, even in warm temperatures. Where you live and camp greatly affects how much "insolation" your panels will receive, and how much power your panels will push.

Your trailer is a little bigger than mine, so your power consumption requirements may be higher. But from what you mentioned wanting to run, I think that 100 watts will do you just fine. I eventually plan on permanent mounting at least one 100 watt panel on the front roof slope of my A-Frame. Since I camp in the wild, I can always pick my spot and point my front roof slope due south into the sun. But I will still keep the portable corded set because that can be moved throughout the day to keep direct sun on the panels (but only while I am in-camp, not when I'm out roaming the hills with rifle in-hand).
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	SolarCamping6.jpg
Views:	238
Size:	360.7 KB
ID:	79145  
__________________
Dan

2012 Rockwood A128 (no S)
2016 Ram Power Wagon 6.4L Hemi 4x4
DanM-AZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 07:34 PM   #6
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 3
Thank you.


How long would it take to charge one 12 v or two 6v with a 2000 watt (1600 watt nominal output) inverter generator?


what will allow me the most dry time....two 6v or two 12v batteries?


thanks again
MarkMtl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 09:13 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
DanM-AZ's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 143
Can't answer the generator question - too many unstated variables. I thought you were trying to avoid a generator?

As to your other question, what you need to know is how many amp-hours of battery capacity you have, not how many batteries will give you the most dry camping time. Either could give you the same, depending on the battery or batteries chosen. Two 6V golf cart batteries, like the popular Trojan T105s, will give you 225 amp-hours. One battery like mine, will give you 200 to 212. Pretty close to the same.

Getting back to your charging time question, what you need to know is how many amp-hours you used since the last charge, and how much charging current your chosen method of charging (solar or generator) can put out. That wiil answer the question of how long you need to charge. That's the meaning of amp-hours. You are trying to put back the amount you have used.
__________________
Dan

2012 Rockwood A128 (no S)
2016 Ram Power Wagon 6.4L Hemi 4x4
DanM-AZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 09:39 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Cypressloser's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Alberta - East of the Rockies, West of the Rest
Posts: 1,730
I can't make specific recommendations but choose your wiring and charge controller wisely and leave plenty of room for future upgrades. A 100 Watt panel would be a good starting point, it worked for us to keep the fridge running on propane and for conservative other uses.
You should also invest in 2 preferably 6 Volt GC or AGM true deep cycle batteries, this is important because every time you drain the batteries below 50% SOC that severely shortens the life of the batteries. This is the part where you have to invest your money wisely.
The batteries in an optimized setup should be fully recharged before noon.
__________________
2018 RAM 5500 Laramie CC
Riverstone Legacy 38RE, 960 Watt Solar, 6x6 Volt AGM Battery Bank, Freedom SW 3012 Inv/Charger
Cypressloser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 10:03 PM   #9
Explorer
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 342
I run a portable 80watt solar with two 6vy. In the summer, while watching my power consumption, I have never run out of power. I do rotate the panel every few hours(when I can), I do have LEDs, I do keep track of family’s usage and occasionally I do turn off my fridge at night mostly for noise but also for power. I have no tv, no compute, no electric coffee pot and I don’t knowingly let my children charge D/C items though I do run the house radio often/always. The biggest issue I find that matters is, set the solar up quickly, don’t wait tell you need it; it’s hard to catch-up.
Now, in the winter while needing the heater(blower/motor) I can never keep up with solar only.
I carry a 2000wt generator but very rarely need it, 3 times in 2 years and I camp 120+++days a year(full hook-ups ?35-50days a yr) Genis are nice to have if you need them.
John
__________________
John
2011 Wildwood T26BHXL
2004 Yukon XL Denali
43yrs of camping; one lucky guy
YoungKopernik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 10:15 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Cypressloser's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Alberta - East of the Rockies, West of the Rest
Posts: 1,730
Quote:
Originally Posted by YoungKopernik View Post
I run a portable 80watt solar with two 6vy. In the summer, while watching my power consumption, I have never run out of power. I do rotate the panel every few hours(when I can), I do have LEDs, I do keep track of familyís usage and occasionally I do turn off my fridge at night mostly for noise but also for power. I have no tv, no compute, no electric coffee pot and I donít knowingly let my children charge D/C items though I do run the house radio often/always. The biggest issue I find that matters is, set the solar up quickly, donít wait tell you need it; itís hard to catch-up.

Now, in the winter while needing the heater(blower/motor) I can never keep up with solar only.
I carry a 2000wt generator but very rarely need it, 3 times in 2 years and I camp 120+++days a year(full hook-ups ?35-50days a yr) Genis are nice to have if you need them.
John
John, I agree with you reg. the generator. We burned $60 worth of propane in all of 2014 incl. furnace and generator, hot water is mostly solar - we do boondock.
__________________
2018 RAM 5500 Laramie CC
Riverstone Legacy 38RE, 960 Watt Solar, 6x6 Volt AGM Battery Bank, Freedom SW 3012 Inv/Charger
Cypressloser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2015, 04:38 PM   #11
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 64
100 watt

We use a 100watt renology solar panel with two trojan 6 volt batteries. The solar panel is hooked to the controller by about 20 feet of #10 wire. We don't use the microwave or furnace but we do have a dc tv, 100 watt sewing machine, 100 watt iron, (my wife is a quilter) led lights, computers, printer, and phone. The panel puts out about 6 amps in full sunshine and we move the panel every couple hours. We keep the shadows of the panel square with the sun and tilt the panel so the shadow is as short as possible. When the panel is not aligned with the sun the output drops drastically. We don't have any problem with the solar keeping up if we are in the southwest United States but the southeast has a lot of trees and a lot more cloudy days. We have a generator backup but it takes us several hours to recharge the batteries that way.
fander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2015, 10:38 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 523
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...arging-puzzle-

I run 100 watt panel with 200 ah of battery. With the right inverter, it will run everything but the A/C, which I don't need in the woods.
mnoland30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2015, 11:42 AM   #13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 764
To get the most out of solar panels, the best single improvement you can make to any system is to use one of the newer style MPPT charge controllers. These controllers will operate the solar panel at its optimum power production point and, with the very newest ones (lots more $$$), adjust the charging voltage to further increase the charge rate.

Another advantage of the MPPT controllers is that multiple similar panels can be wired in series. This increases voltage instead of current which allows the standard #10 wire to deliver more power to the controller because the power loss in the wire is proportional to the current squared. This means that pushing 10A through the wire will have 4x the losses that 5A has.

The other end of solar is to minimize your load on the batteries. If you aren't using your furnace, it's likely that the largest load on the battery is your fridge. Many RV fridges have an anti condensation heater around the door seals. This heater draws around 1A all the time and is a big drain on the batteries. On my Dometic fridge, I can unplug the power for the heater and light at the control board. Others have removed the light to get access to the wiring behind it and installed a shutoff switch for the heating strip.

My Georgetown 327DS has a solenoid valve on the gas line wired into the manufacturer installed propane/CO detector. The original solenoid also drew 1A whenever the house batteries were connected. That solenoid burned out and the replacement now draws only 0.5A. I also installed a switch on the power line to the solenoid that allows me to shut it off if I don't want propane available in the RV.

LED lights draw a fraction of the power that incandescent bulbs require. When I removed one of the ceiling fixtures to rewire it for the LED panels I installed in it, I discovered that the ceiling had turned brown under the fixture. This was a heat burn from the standard bulbs.

Phil
pmsherman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2015, 12:25 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: West Jordan, UT
Posts: 877
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkMtl View Post
Thank you.


How long would it take to charge one 12 v or two 6v with a 2000 watt (1600 watt nominal output) inverter generator?


what will allow me the most dry time....two 6v or two 12v batteries?


thanks again
I cant say for 6v but I have dual 12 v batteries in parallel, I charge them every afternoon, on my gauge they show 1/3 to 2/3 depleted from the nights and days activities. I use a Yamaha 2k (inverter, quiet, .... all that jazz) and it takes about 1-3 hours to get them back to full (depending on how depleted they were). I use about 1 gallon of gas in the generator every 2-3 days for charging. Hope this answers some questions and helps.
__________________
2018 XLR Nitro 36T15
2015 GMC 3500 6.6/Allison

Nights Camped (2018-16) (2017-16) (2016-13) (2015-13)
SuicideSaints is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2017, 09:24 PM   #15
Wrench Turnin Fool
 
Arctic Wolf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Pike and Montgomery counties PA
Posts: 688
X2 on the recommendation for handy Bob solar, lots of good information there
__________________
Not all who wander are lost...
But I usually am

2001 Coleman SantaFe pop up
Excited new owner of 2018 Arctic Wolf 315TBH8
Towing with a 2005 F-250 5.4 GASSER
Arctic Wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2017, 09:07 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 1,502
For years I relied on a quiet inverter generator to recharge my battery banks. I used a 3k one so I had air conditioning on the rare days it was needed. I now have solar and could have bought 4 to 5 3,000 watt inverter generators for what I have "invested" in my solar power system.

New inverter generators are fairly quiet especially if you put them 25-50 feet away and running them several hours a day isn't a big deal especially if you are hiking, biking, or atv riding when it is running. I personally like the hum of a generator form my Army days when a 30kw generator set was the best sleep aid.
Skyliner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2017, 04:33 PM   #17
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Colorado
Posts: 10
I had a 100 watt panel mounted on the roof of out 14í fun finder. Boondocked for over a week and still had a full battery. We donít use much power. Just heater at night, a few lights and the water pump. I just picked up a 200 watt panel that I will mount on the roof of our 22fb. Should be all we need. May look into 2 battery setup once this battery dies or if we need more backup. Handy Bob was a big help on my first system.
__________________
Larry and Roxie
Lakewood, Colorado
Pieguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2017, 04:41 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 604
Nice.
johnbryanpeters is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2017, 08:32 PM   #19
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 63
Technically, if you had a 100Ah battery (@12V, that's 1200Wh), in ideal conditions, a 100W solar panel would fully charge that in 12 hours. 100W x 12h = 1200Wh.

Nothing's perfect, though. A 100W panel won't produce 100W all the time. My plan is to get 2x100W panels on my a-frame (mounted on the roof), then maybe supplement with a couple free standing panels I can position wherever to get the best sun. I already have a 100W panel that I will use for this.

As far as how long things will run things... you've got to know how much power you're consuming.

Taking our 100Ah battery into account, if your furnace uses 6A of current, the battery will run it for 16 hours. Chances are if you're running it overnight, it won't be running at 100% duty cycle, so 8 hours of sleeping may result in the furnace only running for 2 or 3 hours total.

As far as generators, you need to look at the generator's starting (peak) output and it's running output. Of course that's how much it will generate.

Using a 2000W generator and our 100Ah battery, one could do simple math and find that the generator could charge that battery in a bit over half an hour.... but that depends on the charger. If you had a 10A charger plugged into your generator, it's gonna take 10 hours to charge that battery!

So figuring it all out is a bit of math... There are numbers out there for current draw of most major RV/Camper equipment. Use the capacity of your battery or batteries, the capacity of your solar (considering it won't get 100% power all the time), the output of your generator and the output of the converter/charger you're using. As someone put it, I don't think it can hurt to 'buy as much battery as you can'. It's going to be better to have too much capacity than not enough. Plus, most batteries will stay healthier with less discharge.
FrayAdjacent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2017, 08:29 AM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 523
Don't Fully Discharge your Battery

Remember that when you go below 50% on your battery, you shorten its life dramatically. I seldom go below 70% on my two batteries. Here in the southwest, they are fully recharged before noon on most days. In Montana, I had to add an auxiliary panel to get a little more charge. I can stay out indefinitely without a generator, so I quit carrying mine.

The biggest electricity hog in my trailer is the heater. The fan wakes me up at night, so I turn it off. I sleep in a sleeping bag, and turn the heater on when I wake up.
__________________

__________________
2009 Roo 21ss + 2007 Superduty 6.0
mnoland30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
camping, dry camping, solar, battery

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Forest River, Inc. or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:22 AM.


×