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Old 05-07-2021, 09:43 AM   #1
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Does solar have any use at home?

As we're considering cost / benefit to solar, I'm wondering if people use it at home for anything? I would love the flexibility of having solar on the camper but here in Ohio, boondocking isn't as easy or common so I wouldn't get as much use out of it until those couple of times we go out west, camp at a purely primative site or stay at a friend's farm.

So my question is, does anyone use their solar when not camping? It seems wasteful to me to have a passive energy source that's not being used to offset home consumption, but I can't image how that would work in the real world.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:10 AM   #2
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I have thought the same and here in the mid-west obviously solar is spotty at best...

at this juncture I am of the opinion that a little solar is nice to have on the camper, but as to augmenting my at home electrical usage is not worth the effort.

If we have a Shi* hit the fan day, well I am better off having a little then none at all.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:12 AM   #3
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Depending upon how it it set up, it could be used to keep your camper's battery charged. That's all I can thnk of right now, but bear in mind the solar charginbg must exceed the current draw from the batteries.

Solar stuff (polycrystalline and monocrystalline) has become less expensive during the past few years, so maybe the dollars will be well spent.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:14 AM   #4
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I pull out a panel and charge the batteries about once a month in my TT.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:14 AM   #5
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"Solar" power is DC. Off grid houses use it all the time but they have a shed full of dozens of batteries and high wattage inverters to supply AC current to the house. Solar panels suitable for a camper are tiny compared to these off-grid setups. Your camper will need several batteries to operate effectively "dry" camping

As noted solar is a bad joke in much of Ohio. Friends had a cabin in Holmes county and used a small water generator in a constant stream on the property to supplement solar. They were happy when real utility power became available. Other friends have a natural gas well on the property to power a motor driven generator but just use it during power outages. Neither is a solution for a camper though.

This commercial site "intro" shows solar panels on houses. Vast difference to what we may use with our campers. (Link only for the aerial shot of roof top panels.)

My camper is stored off-site and the little portable solar panel keeps the battery charged when the camper is not in use.

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Old 05-07-2021, 10:23 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. I know that the panels are no match for everything happening in my home, and it would probably require a second set of batteries and all new wiring. Seems like a lot of effort for little return, even if it's just powering lights and the garage door opener in my detached garage, or running an extension cord from the camper to a device charging station in the house.
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:24 AM   #7
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MY OEM rooftop solar setup (100W) keeps battery at 100% without having to keep it plugged in (when it is uncovered of course!)
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Old 05-07-2021, 10:50 AM   #8
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MY OEM rooftop solar setup (100W) keeps battery at 100% without having to keep it plugged in (when it is uncovered of course!)
That's actually a good point. I do have it plugged in all of the time here in the driveway, and it would be one less thing to have to consider.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:09 AM   #9
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And it feeds 2 golf cart batteries, not just one 12v, keeping them topped off. I really rarely use the battery disconnect switch. Nice to be able to just open the door and flip lights on if I need to.
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Old 05-07-2021, 01:31 PM   #10
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I use solar at home to run several charging stations for devices and also to run a pure sine wave inverter for when the power goes out. This seems to happen several times a year. I have four 12-volt batteries that stay charged with 2 panels on my porch roof. The setup runs my freezer and refrigerator all night easily, and, of course, gets more juice the next day if it is sunny. I've never run out of overnight juice. It works for me as it removes the concern of food spoilage!
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Old 05-07-2021, 02:36 PM   #11
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PART of what needs considered is the area of the country... not only for solar power capacity, but also reliability of electric power.

I now own 3 smaller gas-powered generators and a 2KW inverter. This because around 2015 we had a 4 day long power outage caused by a windstorm in Sept spawned by a hurricane (IKE I think it was named) that ran up the Mississippi and then the OH River valley. This storm took out several large power towers in KY and TN, knocking out power in a large swath. Then a couple of years later an ICE storm knocked out power for a few days doing the same thing.

Now in the ensuing 5 years I can recall one 20 hour and one 8 hour time period that I was without power since then. I spend more time storing and rotating 5 gallon cans of gas then I have used for power generation for my home use.

Of course I feel good that I am somewhat prepared, but from a cost/benefit, I am not so sure. OH, TN, KY and surrounding states are not getting hit by hurricanes, nor tornadoes on a regular basis and all of my power outages in the past 5 years have been counted on one hand.

Your area of the country may vary greatly!
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Old 05-07-2021, 02:58 PM   #12
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We have 200 W of panel on the roof of our Isata 3, and it does a great job of helping keep our lithium batteries charged. At home, we invested in a 5.6 kW system that is connected to our electric co-op's line, what they call "net metering". Pretty much runs our house on sunny days and the extra is sold to the electric company. It will pay for itself in 10-12 years from install, and has a 25 year life expectancy. And after two years, it's well on it's way to paying for itself, even here in Michigan. We also have an 18kW generator that covers us for the occasional but inevitable power company outages. We don't back-feed the lines from our solar during outages for the safety of the linemen.
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Old 05-07-2021, 03:03 PM   #13
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I have a 7.5kw system on my house. I pay 3 bills a year maybe totaling $250
And get SRECs paid each quarter. Works for me! LOL
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Old 05-07-2021, 03:20 PM   #14
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Net Metering: in essence you can back-feed the grid with the output of your solar array.

https://www.energysage.com/solar/101...-solar-panels/

Net metering in Ohio:
https://puco.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov...s/net-metering

In the most basic terms, you'd need to invert your solar array's output to 240 volts AC and provide the necessary buffering and separation and syncing protocols required when syncing with the grid. Your array must also stop back-feeding the grid if there is a power outage so as to protect power line workers from getting electrocuted.

As a practical matter, most net metering solar arrays are thousands of watts to warrant the investment in the hardware required to integrate with the grid and achieve a reasonable ROI.

The advantage of net metering is that the solar energy your array generates makes your meter "run backwards" instead of attempting to collect and store in batteries and integrate all that DC battery power back into your household energy system.

Were you to install permanent solar with net metering...or a battery storage system...on your home, it would be a relatively simple matter to "add in" your RV panels when parked at home. But to use, say, 400 watts of solar on your RV to drive a net metering system on its own, the ROI on that investment might be many years...well beyond the life expectancy of the equipment investment. https://ecavo.com/net-metering/#necessary-equipment

The bottom line is that RV solar is pretty puny as a household source, but it's well suited to an inherently 12 volt system that's used sparingly. The primary advantage is that it can readily produce between 50 and 150 amp hours per day (in sunny Colorado, my 400 watt system easily produces over 100 amp hours), and my battery bank (2 x 6 volt golf cart batteries) can deliver about 115 USABLE amp hours. This frees me from living with generator drone for many hours per day. I only run the generator to supply 120 volt appliances like the microwave, espresso machine, and so on. Solar is a set-it-and-forget-it answer to 12 volt power.

If you boondock rarely, it's probably not worth it. But if you boondock often, solar can set you free from your generator. And solar is pretty cheap. $800 will get you a turnkey 400 watt kit (I paid under $600 for mine). (check Amazon...my preference from them is Renology or Windy Nation...there are better options that cost a bit more.) In Ohio, you might want to double that wattage to reliably achieve similar performance.

By the way, there are numerous "Building off the Grid" shows that depict these homes supported by little more than a robust RV-style solar system. These installs typically have 4 x 6 volt golf cart batteries or the equivalent storage in LiFePo4s, a fairly sophisticated inverter, and a good helping of 12 volt DC power for lighting and other systems (e.g. water pump, spark ignition for heating, hot water, a two-way fridge, and so on). Many of these homes are in Alaska, Montana, or Wyoming.

So, can you harness your RV solar to support your house? Absolutely. Would it be worth it? Probably not if your home is not already setup for net metering...or equipped with 12 volt storage. Is solar worth it if you boondock? Absolutely.
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Old 05-07-2021, 04:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by EcoBuckeye View Post
As we're considering cost / benefit to solar, I'm wondering if people use it at home for anything? I would love the flexibility of having solar on the camper but here in Ohio, boondocking isn't as easy or common so I wouldn't get as much use out of it until those couple of times we go out west, camp at a purely primative site or stay at a friend's farm.

So my question is, does anyone use their solar when not camping? It seems wasteful to me to have a passive energy source that's not being used to offset home consumption, but I can't image how that would work in the real world.
Not sure if you mean have a solar system at home? We do the only thing Electric is Fridge, Lights, pool pump, crap load of Echos and computers, fans outside lighting, electric dryer and washer and dishwasher.

We don't use AC much, and pay around 9 dollars a month. we thought about a tesla wall, but our power is stable a few times each summer, and I just make sure the Internet, Fridge, TV, and computers are plugged into with the Wen generator 2000w. everything else is gas and does not go out even hot water.

Cheers if this is what you were asking about or not.

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Nice system came with the house 1 year old not bad...
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Old 05-07-2021, 04:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by EcoBuckeye View Post
As we're considering cost / benefit to solar, I'm wondering if people use it at home for anything? I would love the flexibility of having solar on the camper but here in Ohio, boondocking isn't as easy or common so I wouldn't get as much use out of it until those couple of times we go out west, camp at a purely primative site or stay at a friend's farm.

So my question is, does anyone use their solar when not camping? It seems wasteful to me to have a passive energy source that's not being used to offset home consumption, but I can't image how that would work in the real world.
Yes! I took all of my solar components and made a solar generator in a garden cart. I use it out of my pickup while camping by attaching it to the battery cables and the shore power receptacle. The panels are portable.

Out of season, I wheel the cart to the back of the house and use it to lightly power the basement apartment. It has come in real handy during the 4 power outages that we experienced over the past 12 months.
https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ture21556.html
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Old 05-07-2021, 04:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by EcoBuckeye View Post
As we're considering cost / benefit to solar, I'm wondering if people use it at home for anything? I would love the flexibility of having solar on the camper but here in Ohio, boondocking isn't as easy or common so I wouldn't get as much use out of it until those couple of times we go out west, camp at a purely primative site or stay at a friend's farm.

So my question is, does anyone use their solar when not camping? It seems wasteful to me to have a passive energy source that's not being used to offset home consumption, but I can't image how that would work in the real world.
I have 1100 w on my patio roof that supplements our electric bill with a grid tie inverter. As soon as the coach finds itself a permanent pad in the backyard with a power outlet I'm thinking of putting a grid tie inverter on it and switching it over when we're at home to supplement the house but I don't know if it's worth the effort for only 600 watts.
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Old 05-08-2021, 03:02 PM   #18
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I bought a 160w panel off craigslist a while back for super cheap and use it for boondocking, but I also use it to keep the battery charged in the driveway. It keeps my 2 6v batteries charged when not in use.


I have not needed it for this scenario, but I do keep it in the back of my mind - if I lose power at the house for a period of time that exceeds a couple of hours, I have power in my camper that I could use for charging electronics and such. If I lost power at the house for a few days, I could live in the camper with the solar.


Just a thought.
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Old 05-10-2021, 09:21 AM   #19
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Cheers if this is what you were asking about or not.
Yes, sorry - I realize while reading my original post that it's not entirely clear. I'm talking about putting the RV solar panels to use at home when not camping. The responses are clear, however; they wouldn't make a big impact on day to day operations here and I can be happy with keeping the batteries charged.
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