Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-29-2019, 11:36 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 20
Smile Questions regarding going full time in our FR3!!!

Going FULL TIME SOON!!!

So, we have LOTS of questions!!!! 8-)

We have a 2014 Forest River FR30DS 30' Motorhome.
We love it and have traveled for a few months at a time in it but we are looking to go fulltime and Dry Camp (Boondock) as much as possible for financial reasons.
We have one solar panel on the roof that came with the rig as we bought it used.


Questions for you experienced full timers:

Will the one solar panel keep the batteries charged here in the southwestern United States where the sun is out often?

Do the outlets in the rig work when on battery power of only on hookup or generator?

Is it possible to add solar panels to up the charging of the batteries? Is it something we can do ourselves or should we have it done professionally and pay?

Is it possible to add batteries in order to up our electrical storage and capacity? If so, where can the additional house batteries be placed and do they need to be wired in parallel or serial??? We are thinking of taking the 2 existing house batteries and adding 2 or 4 additional ones.
What kind of benefit will that give us seeing we don't use the A/C or Microwave much???

How do we maintain the roof seal on the top of our rig as we will be spending 6 months on the beach and don't want the salt air or blowing sand to ruin anything?

What are your biggest tips for folks in our fifties like us who are going to try full-time? We would love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly that you guys have seen or experienced personally.

THANK YOU in advance for ALL YOUR HELP!!!

Dylan Mattina and Lavinia Busch
Dylvinia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2019, 12:30 PM   #2
...far N Georgia!
 
formerFR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Hiawassee, GA!
Posts: 3,164
- one panel of solar is simply a 'feel good' purchase and will not take anyone close to 'off grid' capability - it's no where near 'enough' power - it's akin to saying that your whole home can work off of only 10amps of incoming power from the utility company - most homes today are 200amps, and that's at 240volts, so 400 amps at 120v...you get the idea.

- you can certainly add lots more solar panels, and you will certainly need to double or triple your current battery capacity, as having 'more' solar means nothing if you have no where to 'store' it. Most 6v batteries are run in Series(to make two a 12v battery bank), and then in Parallel(to double the amp hour capacity of two 'banks', etc). Yes, the more batteries you have, the better, but also the more solar you need to charge them.

- while you are contemplating going full time, I'm not sure how you would say that you are not going to be making much use of your air conditioning... what then will be keeping you cool in 100degree heat? YOu say you are spending 6 months 'on the beach'??? and, while you might not say that you would be using your microwave, and you certainly can try to live without one, I think it would be short sighted to think that you won't... or you can just choose to use a lot of propane, I suppose... but that's another cost, and aggravation, as well.

- Outlets - most of these mid-level/entry-level class A coaches don't have 'whole house' Inverters, which means that you must run the generator, or be plugged into 120v Shore Power to have power from all of the outlets... maybe one will be run thru the inverter, for the residential fridge, if you have one, but probably few, if any, others.
Many owners, though, can devise ways to power other outlets, or run extension cords from a powered outlet to other areas, etc., but how your unit is built will determine whether all that, or some of that, is feasible.


...whether you are off-gridding a lot, or not, using the generator is a fantastic way to offset the shortcomings of solar, and it will also fully charge your battery bank while it's running. I understand that many think that off-gridding should proclude the use of a generator, but that's usually not a capability that most any rig has - at least not the way we all want to live comfortably.
__________________

The Turners...
'14 Thor Palazzo 33.3 compact diesel 100k+miles since '14... US, Alaska, Canada...
AND a '14 Gulfstream Amerlite
AND a '07 ForestRIver Rockwood : )
formerFR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2019, 02:47 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by formerFR View Post
- one panel of solar is simply a 'feel good' purchase and will not take anyone close to 'off grid' capability - it's no where near 'enough' power - it's akin to saying that your whole home can work off of only 10amps of incoming power from the utility company - most homes today are 200amps, and that's at 240volts, so 400 amps at 120v...you get the idea.


That's kind of what I figured. The single solar panel up top just keeps the batteries topped off more of less.

- you can certainly add lots more solar panels, and you will certainly need to double or triple your current battery capacity, as having 'more' solar means nothing if you have no where to 'store' it. Most 6v batteries are run in Series(to make two a 12v battery bank), and then in Parallel(to double the amp hour capacity of two 'banks', etc). Yes, the more batteries you have, the better, but also the more solar you need to charge them.

The question then becomes how many would it take to create an array capable of running the RV without having to run the generator? If I add 5 more panels rated at 230W (ie; 230 watt sunpower, Monocrystalline, 72 cell, 41 volt, solar panels, 61"x31", 30 pounds each) would I be able to roof mount them or won't the roof be able to handle the weight and driving?


- while you are contemplating going full time, I'm not sure how you would say that you are not going to be making much use of your air conditioning... what then will be keeping you cool in 100degree heat? YOu say you are spending 6 months 'on the beach'??? and, while you might not say that you would be using your microwave, and you certainly can try to live without one, I think it would be short sighted to think that you won't... or you can just choose to use a lot of propane, I suppose... but that's another cost, and aggravation, as well.

We will be living at the beach in Southern California during the winter months (Oct/March) so A/C won't be a issue. Yet...
How many series/parallel batteries would be needed to power a rig without the need for the generator at all? Is there a way to calculate usage to determine?

My biggest headache is trying to figure out WHERE we would mount 4-6 more big, heavy deep cycle batteries. Has anyone done this and what was their solution? Is there a NiMh or Lithium battery alternative that saves sace/weight???

- Outlets - most of these mid-level/entry-level class A coaches don't have 'whole house' Inverters, which means that you must run the generator, or be plugged into 120v Shore Power to have power from all of the outlets... maybe one will be run thru the inverter, for the residential fridge, if you have one, but probably few, if any, others.
Many owners, though, can devise ways to power other outlets, or run extension cords from a powered outlet to other areas, etc., but how your unit is built will determine whether all that, or some of that, is feasible.

So we would need a new "whole house" inverter? I wouldn't have the faintest idea on how to do that swap out. Are there any other alternatives that you know of???


...whether you are off-gridding a lot, or not, using the generator is a fantastic way to offset the shortcomings of solar, and it will also fully charge your battery bank while it's running. I understand that many think that off-gridding should proclude the use of a generator, but that's usually not a capability that most any rig has - at least not the way we all want to live comfortably.
We want to try to live as much as possible without resorting to the generator. If at all possible/feasible. I think your assessment is correct in that we maybe should not preclude it, but if efficient and effective ways of having power "anywhere" exist we would like to employ them if at all possible.

Thank you so much for your input and I look forward to learning more from you here.

Dylan and Lavinia
Dylvinia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2019, 03:57 PM   #4
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 20
Options for off grid camping...

Thinking this may do the trick over having to add house batteries and tie solar into the actual coach...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/NATURE-S...-305666875-_-N

Your thoughts???

Dylvinia
Dylvinia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2019, 10:43 PM   #5
edm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Oregon
Posts: 144
Solar

There is a company here in oregon that has a lot of good info and supplies for rv solar systems. Watch there videos and get the real info.

The company is am solar amsolar.com
Good luck and happy travels.
edm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2019, 11:01 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
rk06382's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Alaska
Posts: 1,292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylvinia View Post
Thinking this may do the trick over having to add house batteries and tie solar into the actual coach...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/NATURE-S...-305666875-_-N

Your thoughts???

Dylvinia
Sorry for this delayed reply. I was on one last trip before winterizing. We spent four nights with Battle Born battery power only. I was also testing my replacement Battery Control Center.

See My coach batteries stopped charging from the alternator. (Bad SDC-107A)

Solar is only one leg of a three legged stool. I had to purchase lithium LiFePO4 batteries to store the power and an Inverter to produce 120 AC power. My setup is:
  1. 800 watts of solar with a 50 amp Victron MPPT charge controller.
  2. 400 amp hours of power from four Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries.
  3. 3,000 watt Samlex EVO-3012 Inverter/Charger.

Because I have a ten panels, I do not need point them at the sun. Side benefit is solar panels protect part of the roof from direct sunlight. The center of the roof is open for maintenance access.



Also the batteries can be recharged from the engine alternator as you drive down the road. I have seen 90 amps coming from the alternator.
__________________
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 | Koni Shocks
Solar Power & Battle Born batteries
rk06382 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2019, 11:41 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
CincyGus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 878
If your serious about being off grid for more than a few days, then you will need to increase your battery banks size. Solar is an awesome option to recharge when there is Sun but even those that live minimalistic on power, generally have a genny as backup in case you get 2-3 days of cloudy rainy weather.

My suggestion is to search YouTube for "RV Solar" and you will find plenty of videos of people that have done a nice job of laying out the needs and proper way to size your solar panels and battery storage to perform what you want it to do. It can be very confusing and takes some time and many hours of watching and getting a solid understanding for most people to comprehend.

As mentioned, Solar is a partial solution and not without significant costs. Panels are coming down in price but the battery technology for most that are serious about building an "OFF GRID" system includes Lithium Batteries which run between $800 and $1000 for top performers like Battle Born or LifePO.

The PRO of having solar is you don't have to listen to a genny as often and you save on gas costs replenishing your batteries. The CON side is it is a significant investment to get a system that can bring your batteries back up to near 100% recharged during the course of a sunny day when your taking about a battery bank of hundreds of hours.

I'm headed where you are in a few years and will be making the decision how much solar I want to invest in. Costs at that point will play a role in my decision. Hopefully they continue to fall, especially the battery part which is the most expensive element. What I see many doing on the youtube FTer's channels that I watch is balancing between some solar, some genny run time when required and some times just staying in a place with electric hookups for a few days to get fully recharged when conditions have been bad for the solar process.

Good Luck with your education and decision.
__________________
2020 Chevrolet 2500 LTZ, 2019 Forest River Wolfpack 23Pack15, 2014 EZGO Golf Cart.
CincyGus is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
fr3

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 06:06 AM.