Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-30-2019, 09:11 PM   #1
Pa Groundhog
 
PaGroundhog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 39
Solar or no Solar?

I just got my 180RT. I am use to camping as a minimalist. Motorcycle towing a small camper. My plan is to boondock in the toy hauler. Is solar power worth the cost? I have two Honda 2000 generators (if AC is needed). I may run the furnace some and the lights. The camper has one battery. I know clouds and such affect solar power a lot. ***Question*** Is solar worth the cost and should I get two 100 watt panels or would one be enough? The solar connection, pre-wired to the camper, will handle 10amps. Can 20 amp controllers be set for 10 amp max?Thanks
__________________

PaGroundhog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 01:10 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: California
Posts: 6,273
Need more information. What size capacity is your battery? How may AH do you use in a day?


I have 2 100AH Battleborn lithium batteries and 700W of solar and have never used my generator which I only bring on very long trips as a "just in case". For a week long trip, it stays at home.


With a PWM controller, each 100W panel will give you around 15AH/day assuming they are flat mounted. If you can tilt or move them around, you can get close to 20AH/day.


Each 100W panel outputs 5A peak which will happen only under ideal conditions.
__________________

__________________
2017 Coachmen 233RBS
2018 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5 Eco
"Common sense is not very common"
babock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 07:52 AM   #3
Pa Groundhog
 
PaGroundhog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 39
Since 5A is peek for a panel and my adapter is wired for 10A, it sounds like I should get two panels. I can't give you more info on use because I have not boon docked with a self contained camper before. I always used my motorcycle and towed a tent camper. I will say this. I live in the northeast so there is always a lot of shade and it is very hilly. A lot of camping is in the valleys so direct sun can be limited. For all I might be able to use solar...I am not sure if it is an option. Maybe I should try a season and see how it goes. I could chart how often and how much direct sun I get. That info would probably tell me best.
PaGroundhog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 07:59 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 4,618
I'd stay with the Gen's and that's a good idea to track what you use and how much sun you get. Why buy all that stuff if you're not sure you'll be able to use it.
TheWolfPaq82 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 08:31 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Dayton Ohio
Posts: 1,414
Solar is an interesting idea.

Good info on panels. Likely 15-20 amps per day with one panel. Shade and hills are the enemy.

Two fancy batteries and 7 solar panels cost likely north of $3,000. Plus a back up generator is sort of still necessary. Or just a generator running an hour per day.

I have a gas fridge and 460 amps of traditional batteries for $400 in my fiver. 4 six volts.

I run the generator, a Honda 2200 every day for an hour. I have a cpap machine which is a battery hog. No solar. I get nearly 50 amps per hour of charging from the Honda. As much as three solar panels on their best day. Plus running the washer/dryer for an hour. Or the convection oven. The DW likes her washer.

Solar is a fun idea. I like state park campgrounds with lots of trees.

P=IV. Wattage=Amps*Volts. Learn the math.
tomkatb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 10:14 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
rk06382's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Alaska
Posts: 1,186
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaGroundhog View Post
I just got my 180RT. I am use to camping as a minimalist. Motorcycle towing a small camper. My plan is to boondock in the toy hauler. Is solar power worth the cost? I have two Honda 2000 generators (if AC is needed). I may run the furnace some and the lights. The camper has one battery. I know clouds and such affect solar power a lot. ***Question*** Is solar worth the cost and should I get two 100 watt panels or would one be enough? The solar connection, pre-wired to the camper, will handle 10amps. Can 20 amp controllers be set for 10 amp max?Thanks
If your RV qualifies as a 2nd home, then you can get a 30% solar tax credit from the IRS for 2019. That includes Solar Panels, Batteries, Invertors, Labor, etc.

Solar allows us to camp anywhere and still have power for my CPAP. Solar is worth it.

Freedom.
__________________
Robert
2018 FR3 28DS - Boondock 90% of the time
Samlex EVO-3012 Inverter/Charger | 600ah Battle Born LiFePO4 | Victron BMV-712 & MPPT 100/50 | 800W Renogy Solar | Fan-Tastic Fans | Blue Ox TruCenter | SnapPads | SumoSprings
Solar Power & Battle Born batteries
rk06382 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 10:32 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: California
Posts: 6,273
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomkatb View Post
I get nearly 50 amps per hour of charging from the Honda.
Have you actually measured this with a battery monitor? It may start at 50 if you are really discharged but because of the nature of flooded lead acid batteries, it will take you 8 hours to just get to 80% charge. You just can't force the charge in because of the battery's internal impedance. Love it when people think that because they think the converter puts out a certain amount of current that's what will actually be put into the batteries...of course unless you have lithium! Yes, ohms law!
__________________
2017 Coachmen 233RBS
2018 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5 Eco
"Common sense is not very common"
babock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 10:36 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 185
Solar works great! No gas, no exhaust, and NO noise from a generator.

Two 100w panels will be enough if you're limited to 10amps, since that's about what they will do anyway. Shade isn't a big issue if your panels can be moved into the sun.

It does depend on your needs. A/C will not work without about 7-8 batteries and maybe 5 -100w panels.
My solar system was cheaper than a generator. (2 panels) But, where I boondock...I don't need to use the A/C.
They do still gather a small charge through the clouds. I have more experimenting to do under those conditions. I have seen 1-2 amps through the clouds.

I think if one is a minimalist...Solar is the way to go. You can find panels with all the wires and controllers between $120-$180.
Solar is not expensive.
__________________
2019 Flagstaff E-Pro 14FK
JS Stanley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 01:24 PM   #9
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 10
The first thing I noticed after going solar is that you don't need direct sunlight to charge batteries. You need light. Direct is more efficient but you can have a lot of charging going on during daylight hours, direct or indirect.

I use 2 12-volt batteries in our TT and, so far, only one 125-watt solar panel. I will probably get a 2nd to make things charge a bit quicker, but with a 2500-watt true sine wave inverter, we wake up to brewed coffee in the morning. We can make at least 8 or ten cups (for us and company) before the inverter shows signs of being underpowered. Then it charges during the rest of the day. By afternoon, things are topped off again.

Solar may be pricey to start, but it is quiet and dependable with enough light. I also bring along a 2000-watt generator for those very cloudy days but rarely use it.

As a side note, I love the TT solar so much that I installed a 12-volt system in my house. I have inverter power for the fridge and freezer during power outages. Works flawlessly. Good batteries are expensive but they do last for years.

Good luck with yours!

Craig
trumpetmood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 02:54 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,958
The easiest and cheapest way to start is to go to 2 batteries instead of 1. I prefer the GC-2s ($95 each) from Costco or Walmart as the most cost effective way to add battery capacity. But that might be more weight than you want if you are truly going to be a minimalist.

Regardless of solar capacity, you really should have 48 hours worth of battery capacity (without going below 50% SOC for lead acid) for decent battery life. If you have 48 hours worth of batteries, a generator run cut short or a rainy day doesn't destroy your batteries.

Once you have the battery capacity, then recharging them for stays more than 48 hours becomes the issue. Both generators and solar panels have their significant drawbacks - pick your poison.

We use the 2 GC-2 6V batteries (105 AH usable without going below 50%) to give us 4 day capacity with reasonable use of the heater in our A-frame. We've never stayed any one place without electric for more than 3 nights, so the batteries alone are sufficient. We do like to camp in shade, and not worry about our sun orientation. We also don't want to be man-handling a 50lb generator, and dealing with gas and refilling, etc. Solar is cheaper than a generator if cost is an issue.

But that's us.
Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
pgandw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 04:15 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
CincyGus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 829
I agree that the first improvement I would make would to be adding a second battery or two better ones if your camper came with the typical group 24 they usually put on campers. Two 6v seem to be the favorite choice of boondockers for their superior AH capacity. Lithium is very expensive but gives your the ability to run them down to 80% depleted vs. 50% for lead acid or AGM. If your going to be doing extended trips, might be worth it for you.

Maybe go that route and track your usage so you can make a more educated decision once you have harder numbers. I would also suggest putting in a good battery monitor such as a Victron with a shunt. About a $125 investment but will give you real feedback on your batteries, their usage and charging. Protects them by letting you know when you have reached the 50% or 80% mark and need to fully recharge them along with letting you more accurately calculate your usage and document your needs as far as solar if you go that route eventually.

SO for about $325, you will have a significantly increased battery capacity, be prepared to take care of them better and be able to gain solid info on your usage and right size solar if you decide to buy that down the road.
__________________
2020 Chevrolet 2500 LTZ, 2019 Forest River Wolfpack 23Pack15, 2014 EZGO Golf Cart.
CincyGus is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 04:50 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
lablover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: coastal north carolina
Posts: 301
I dont believe that solar will handle AC. That being said, we have solar and this allows us to go to a lot more remote campgrounds than without. For us, the peace and quiet, nature sounds etc of boondocking or dry camping would be drowned out if we used a generator. Everyone camps differently. We have a 120W solar suitcase that we can move around as the sun moves. As hot as it is in the southwest, it cools off enough at night to be comfortable. We were pleasantly surprised. Now in the east, with all of the trees, heat and humidity, we probably would look for electricity. Good luck. We are about to leave on our third, 3 month camping trip out west next week. Can't wait.
__________________
2 Old Geezers
1 Labradorable
2018 Dodge Ram 2500
2015 Roo 21BD-L'ABode
lablover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 04:58 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 424
I boondock in my Lance 1575.

I carry a Honda generator for AC.

I carry a Zamp 110W suitcase solar generator for 12v power. It connects directly to the battery with alligator clips so the line loss is neglegable.

I have one deep cycle battery.

Being a minimilist, I use only the 12v power I need. Lights are turned off except when essential. It doesn't take much power to light the LEDs, control the propane refrigerator, and occasionally run the water pump.

Issues I've had:

1. The battery drained to low-voltage during one night when the heater fan ran a lot. The heater shut off. Since I was still connected to the truck, I snuck out and started the truck and ran it for 1/2 hour until the sun came up. That kept the heater running with the truck just idling. Then the solar panel took over.
2. No other issues.


I also boondock in my Georgetown 31L5 (35' Class A).

I have a 5500W on-board generator for AC.

I carry a Zamp 110W suitcase solar generator for 12v power. It connects through a pre-wired connector at one end of the RV while the batteries are at the other end. The line loss drops the charging from 10 amps to 8 amps, a 20% loss.

I have two deep-cycle batteries.

Being a minimilist, I use only the 12v power I need. Lights are turned off except when essential. It doesn't take much power to light the LEDs, contro the propane refrigerator, and occasionally run the water pump.

Issues I've had:

1. After three days, and each day thereafter, I have to run the generator for a couple of hours to re-chaarge the batteries. The line loss from using the pre-wire plus a larger refrigerator controller plus phantom loads in a Class A seem to over-tax the 110w solar panel. It can't keep up.
2. No other issues.

SOLUTION FOR THE Class A:

For this season, I've added a Dokio 100W soft-side suitcase solar charger. I'll use this connected directly to the battery bank plus move the Zamp to also connect directly to the batteries to reduce line-loss. This gives me 210W of charging.
__________________
McCormickJim
2017 GT 31L5
McCormickJim is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-31-2019, 10:10 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Tom48's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Ontario, California
Posts: 1,519
Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaGroundhog View Post
I just got my 180RT. I am use to camping as a minimalist. Motorcycle towing a small camper. My plan is to boondock in the toy hauler. Is solar power worth the cost? I have two Honda 2000 generators (if AC is needed). I may run the furnace some and the lights. The camper has one battery. I know clouds and such affect solar power a lot. ***Question*** Is solar worth the cost and should I get two 100 watt panels or would one be enough? The solar connection, pre-wired to the camper, will handle 10amps. Can 20 amp controllers be set for 10 amp max?Thanks
First, boondocking with one battery is a no go from my experience. Add a battery first. Then get two solar panels up there. Any size charge controller should be fine. It is a matter of how much solar pushing down the wire and two hundred watts will be a great place to start.

Lots of variables. We camp alomn in the southwest, and two big golf cart batteries and 380 watts of solar work fine meeting all of our needs except on the most dreary overcast days. And man I use my 32 inch TV a bunch.
__________________
Tom48
In Sunny So Cal /w
Now in 2005 Holiday Rambler Ambassador DP and The Hot Air Balloon RESTLESS
NO MORE Tricked out
2017 Sandstorm 250 T.H.
Tom48 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2019, 08:50 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 748
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaGroundhog View Post
.......
***Question*** Is solar worth the cost and should I get two 100 watt panels or would one be enough? The solar connection, pre-wired to the camper, will handle 10amps. Can 20 amp controllers be set for 10 amp max?Thanks

Don't forget that 10amps is 10amps at any voltage. Wire two 5A panels in series and you've doubled the voltage but kept the current at 5amps. This requires using an MPPT controller to manage the higher voltage and should only be used with panels that include internal bypass diodes that let the panel still work if some cells are shaded. Wire losses are proportional to the square of the current which means that at 10amps, you'll have four times the wire loss of 5amps.

Many MPPT controllers also have data ports that can be used to monitor solar output, charge current and other information.

Phil
pmsherman is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2019, 09:33 AM   #16
Recently new!
 
Paulie1138's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Arizona, in The Land of Scorch!
Posts: 1,112
Send a message via AIM to Paulie1138
Once you determine your needs and gather an equipment list, hunt Craigslist, OfferUp, EBay for your solar parts. There can be deals there, but you have to be knowledgeable. I prefer MPPT controller if going over say, 200 watts.

I also went with higher voltage commercial panels instead of 12 volt. Wired them in parallel to get the higher current, as the MPPT deals with the higher voltage conversion from the panels. Because of the higher voltage, wiring size can be scaled back a bit if you want. Plus, here in the Phoenix area, there are a lot of used or scratch and dent sales for the commercial panels. Because of the higher voltage to begin with, these panels work better during cloudy days or shade.

As pmsherman said above, amps is amps. However, with MPPT and higher voltage, your excess voltage over charging voltage gets converted into higher current, with some lossses in the process.

Yes, get a good battery monitor such as Victron or Trimetric. Great piece to know what your batteries and charge circuits are up to. The battery idiot lights on your trailer’s monitor panel do not tell you much information.

Drawback to the higher voltage commercial panels, they tend to be larger and heavier than the 12 volt ones. However, to get the same amount of power from the 12 volt ones, you need more of them. You also need the more expensive MPPT controller to get the most out of them.

-Still waiting for the price of lithium batteries to come down. Less weight, “more power” (arr arrr arrruuugghh!!!! LOL) Plus, my current (pun) battery bank is still doing great.

As others have said above, solar will not run your air conditioning, unless you get a huge battery bank and a lot of panels. I can run everything in my camper except the air. TV, microwave, coffee pot, hair drier-as long as we are reasonable or limit the usage at night. Daytime, no problem.
__________________
1987 Starcraft Nova tent trailer, purch. '87, sold 8.14
2013 Crusader 290RLT bought new, 8.14 lotsa mods!
2001 Ford F-250 7.3
Loving wife, R.I.P., 6/6/19
and Mason the always dirty dog! R.I.P, 2/19
Paulie1138 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2019, 09:45 AM   #17
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: California
Posts: 6,273
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmsherman View Post
Wire losses are proportional to the square of the current which means that at 10amps, you'll have four times the wire loss of 5amps.
The wire has a certain resistance. You increase the current, the voltage drop increases linearly. The resistance isn't increasing! If you are talking about the power loss in the wire, that is somewhat accurate.
__________________
2017 Coachmen 233RBS
2018 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5 Eco
"Common sense is not very common"
babock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2019, 09:52 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
NMWildcat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Southern NM
Posts: 5,619
We boondock at least 80% of the time. We have 2 12v series 27 marine batteries from Interstate. $100 a piece and last about five years, even with us abusing them. 2 Honda EU2000is run on average of five hours a day (one at a time) keep batteries charged, even on outings of up to three weeks.

Will probably have solar someday, but so far the cost to actual benefit ratio is not there for us.

The smaller, affordable units are akin to trickle chargers which don't really help if you are actually using any of your battery capacity. So you end up running generators anyway to keep up with the draw down.

A system big enough to actually run your rig and keep your batteries charged is very expensive. Which is fine if solar power is your hobby and you love to constantly tinker with all that stuff.

So for now, we just keep it simple and straightforward. We spend our $$$ on things we actually enjoy and give us more bang for the buck.

Boondock several times before you decide which way to go. But definitely get two decent batteries
__________________
Scott and Liz - Southern NM
2012 Wildcat Sterling 32RL - w/level up (best option ever)
2007 Chevy 2500HD 4dr short bed Duramax w/allison
Reese Fifth Airborne air ride king pin coupler with Sidewinder
NMWildcat is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2019, 10:03 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: California
Posts: 6,273
Quote:
Originally Posted by McCormickJim View Post


I also boondock in my Georgetown 31L5 (35' Class A).

Being a minimilist...
If you camp in a Class A motorhome, are you actually a minimalist?


Sorry...couldn't resist. To me, camping in a tent is a minimalist.
__________________
2017 Coachmen 233RBS
2018 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5 Eco
"Common sense is not very common"
babock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2019, 10:48 AM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: SO-CAL
Posts: 438
solar is good for most RV's
__________________

__________________
RETIRED U.S. NAVY
2017 FORESTER 3051S
IN SO-CAL
Philkaty is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
solar

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 11:54 AM.


×