2014 RV-Dreams Fall Educational Rally - September 16 -21, 2014 in Goshen, Indiana. REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Click Here For More Info & To Register!

2015 RV-Dreams Boondocking Rally - February 8 - 15, 2015 in Ft. Ogden, Florida. Mark the dates! REGISTRATION will open in August

2015 RV-Dreams Spring Educational Rally - April 28 - May 3, 2015 in Sevierville, Tennessee. Save the dates! REGISTRATION will open later this summer.

2015 RV-Dreams Family Reunion Rally - May 23 - 31, 2015 in Marion, North Carolina. REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! - Click Here For More Information & To Register!

2015 RV-Dreams Fall Educational Rally - October 6 - 11, 2015 in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. Save the dates! REGISTRATION will open this winter.



Members Login
Username 
 
Password 
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Solar Panels on Your RV?


RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 108
Date:
Solar Panels on Your RV?


Anyone have 'em? What's involved cost wise and how do they work? Thanks!



__________________

Dreamin' of hitting the road


My Lifelike Dolls:
bbstudiobabies.BlogSpot.com



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 3980
Date:

Melinda,

You can go to Jack Mayers website and find all kinds of information on both regular RV electrical and solar systems.  He can give you a very good idea of what is going on with the technology and equipment.

Here is a link to his website:

Jack Mayer website

Terry



__________________

Terry and Jo

2010 Mobile Suites 38TKSB3
2008 Ford F450
2010 Ford F150 as Tag-along or Scout

Two minor works in progess....pictures taken over the years and a webblog:

Our photos on Photobucket

Ignoring the Barking Dogs  -  Terry's Blog



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 108
Date:

Thanks! C:

__________________

Dreamin' of hitting the road


My Lifelike Dolls:
bbstudiobabies.BlogSpot.com



Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 851
Date:

We have solar panels and love them for the flexibility they give us, especially when we are out west.

Those with solar panels often fall into two camps:

  • Those that try to avoid campgrounds and nightly camping fees and boondock without hook-ups whenever they can, and
  • Those, like us, that park in campgrounds with electric hook-ups most of the time, but like having the option of boondocking for a week or two at a time.

For those of us in the second camp, it takes a long, long time to recover the cost of the investment, but it's a lifestyle choice for increased flexibility.

Those in the first camp can recover their investment in campground savings fairly quickly.

The solar panels themselves are almost secondary.  A good, solid battery bank with the capacity you need and a good inverter are the main building blocks of a great solar system. 

Depending on what you want out of it, costs for an entire system can range from about $3,000 to $10,000.

It can get complicated, so I'd recommend checking out our RV Electrical Systems page to ease you into how it all works.  You can skip the stuff you know as it gets more complex the more you scroll through it.  There are several links on that page to other great websites, including Jack's.

A lot of people would love to have solar, but it can be hard to justify the upfront costs depending on planned use.



__________________


RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 36
Date:

We have solar panels on our TT, about 500watts worth which allow us to boon dock up to a week. Paired with our 12volt Engel fridge for extra food and we can go a good 2 - 3 weeks without leaving the comfort of the woods... well until we run out of clean clothes lol!

We monitor power consumption VIA a battery bank volt meter and current power draw. We like to keep power at least 75% otherwise if we NEED power it may not be there.

Recently the DW and I have been thinking of installing the rollable solar panels as an awning which would net us another 300+ watts worth of panel surface area. As it stands right now we run the AC during the night if it gets hot enough and can be fully recharged the next day unelss it was on ALL night like has happened in the past haha.. oops!

Solar Panel kit

We bought the kit there, it allows you to expand to up to 50amps worth of panels and comes with everything we needed to mount and wire them to our TT.



-- Edited by MikeH on Friday 16th of March 2012 08:55:10 AM

__________________
Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.


RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 920
Date:

If I was doing a lot of boondocking I would install solar panels. However, if I did an apples to apples comparison a small 1000 watt generator would probably be a better solution.

1000 watt generators are quiet, use very little fuel and would keep our batteries charged enough to allow us to use the microwave and other small appliances off of the inverter. Also watch TV and use the satellite receiver. Charge the batteries all day and you'll be ready for lights and TV all night.

For now mostly we stay at RV Parks with full hookups. We do go to a beach campground with no hook ups. We use our generator when we are there.

A solar panel system won't provide enough power to run your air conditioner. You will be able to power most other electrical or electronics in your RV.

__________________

"Small House, Big Yard "
Alfa See-Ya 5'er and 2007 Kodiak C4500 Monroe



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 530
Date:

Yup.. we've done solar on our past two trailers, and in process of building our solar electrical system for our bus. Thus far we have our cutting edge Lithium Ion battery bank & inverter installed. And we're investigating custom semi-flexible panels to fit on our curved roof.

Cost wise.. will depend a lot on how much capacity you want, and what challenges your available space has (ie. curved roofs, etc).

Recommend also checking out AMSolar.com - they're experts in RVing solar power. Lots of great informational reads there.

- Cherie

 

Edit by moderator:  Activated link.  Terry



-- Edited by Terry and Jo on Friday 16th of March 2012 03:35:07 PM



-- Edited by Technomadia on Saturday 7th of July 2012 06:40:10 PM

__________________

Cherie (and Chris) / Our blog: Technomadia.com
Full time since 2006 as Gen-X 'technomads' (technology enabled nomads)

zephyr_pixel.jpgRV: 1961 GM 4106 Bus

Toad: 2009 MINI Cooper



RV-Dreams Community Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 22
Date:

I have 600 watts of solar on my RV roof feeding 6  6 volts batteries. I am kinda a power hog, but at end of day the batteries are fully charged. I have a Magnum 2000 watt inverter which converts 12 volts DC to 120 volts AC. It is nice when I am in Arizona in the winter to leave in the morning for a ATV ride and come back in the late afternoon and have the batterys charged. And the best thing is no noise.

 

Good Luck on your journey,        Kevin



__________________

Kevin,  Retired Fulltime RV'er

1999.5 F-350 4X4 CC Diesel Flatbed

2007 Alpenlite Defender Toyhauler w/ 600 watts of solar

2007 Yamaha Grizzly 700

One Tough Kitty named Bob



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 488
Date:

When I bought my 2012 Springdale, they offered to install solar panels for an extra $400 to the sales price, so I said yeah! It's only a 45 watt kit to charge up the battery, but I'm light on electricity, usually just running a laptop etc. It's come in handy a few times already. I just got a little Gudcraft wind generator that I'm about to put together, then I'll have to get someone to install that with another battery.

It's not enough to run the air conditioner or anything, but it keeps the batteries going, and as long as the weather is temperate, I don't need the air conditioning. But some day, finances permitting, I'd like to get more. RVers are more ready than most to "go off the grid" and survive natural disasters and stuff, so why not?

Jane

__________________

2004 Fleetwood Fiesta 26Q Class A

 



RV-Dreams Community Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 3
Date:

Check out AMsolar.com for individual components and complete installation kits with everything you need kitted up and shipped out to you. They have a complete kit with a 100 watt panel, MPPT controller, wire harness, mounting brackets, fuse, shunt, etc. for $950 and for another $350 you can add an additional panel and hook it in line with the first and continue to do so until you run out of roof space. What is great about AMsolar is that they are 100% RV oriented and their 100 Watt panels are the smallest around and fit in places where the traditional solar panels that are built for home and commercial use are much to large. Their RV panels are also a third the weight and are high efficiency panels of the latest design.

Rough guide is 100 Watts of solar panel output for every 100 amp hours of house battery capacity. At $1300 the cost is the same as going out an buying a very small portable generator. With a generator I have the maintenance cost and the fuel cost and they don't work very well at higher elevations and their output is actually overkill for charging batteries. Add in that I need to stick around and monitor the generators whereas the solar setup regulates itself and the charge delivered to the batteries. Many controllers include amp addition and removal metering for the house batteries which works like the fuel gauge for your vehicle to tell you the status.

We cannot run the AC on solar and we cannot run the microwave but we can live with using them when and where we have shore power. Solar fits in much better with our desire to get away and out into the "wilds" which is not at all in line with running a noisy generator for several hours a day to keep our batteries charged.

__________________


RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 933
Date:

Why can't you run the microwave off of your battery bank via inverter? Assuming you have a reasonable sized inverter that should be no problem.

__________________

Jack & Danielle Mayer

http://www.jackdanmayer.com,
2009 Volvo 780 HDT, 2012 New Horizons 42' Custom 5er (SOLD), smart car
New Horizons Ambassadors - Let us help you build your dream RV.....



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 1124
Date:

Assuming you want to be off grid for whatever your motivation, the problem with the “small” generator to charge the batteries is you really can’t leave the rig – at least in my opinion.  If you want to go off in the day you really can’t leave the generator running (at least in most situations) to charge up the batteries; at least it seemed that way to me – correction - us.  That was the reason we decided to bit the bullet and have me install some solar equipment.  The solar panels have more than enough power to recharge the batteries fully if AH use was reasonable the night before and the sun is out most of the day.  If not they will finish up what the big 5,500 watt generator with a charger started and you can leave the rig after the morning coffee / breakfast time and most likely come home to a fully topped off bank.  (We’ve got 300AH AGM’s which is not a huge amount, but enough for us based on our previous off-grid times.)

 

We happen to have chosen 4 – GO-100 watt panels and a MPPT controller supplied by AM Solar.  A pretty nice package for those who want to do their own installation.  Probably the two biggest problems with the installation is getting 2 pieces of #2 wire from the roof to the solar charge controller and then getting a tool to properly crimp #4/0 cables necessary from the battery bank to the inverter.  You can do it with a hammer crimper, but I was able to get an electric/hydraulic unit from a buddy electrical contractor.  A $6,500 tool but it makes really nice crimps.

 

For the price vs. size vs. output the GO-100 panels from AM Solar (made by Grape Solar according to the ID tags) seem to be a good choice for those of us with limited roof space due to 2 AC units, TV antenna, a sky light, 2 fan vents and a large satellite antenna already installed.  They’re size allowed placement away from the dreaded shadows, were lightweight, but still were high enough in voltage for the MPPT controller to have some effective current “boost” and necessary voltage regulation for proper charging.

 

Everything is a slight compromise when you retrofit things, but this worked out pretty nice in our rig.  But it is a lot of work to totally rebuild the 12 volt system the way Jack did with Howard and Linda.  I knew it would be, but kinda fun.  But it’s done now and we’ll now have some additional camping options.

 

Isn’t this fun?

 

Bill



__________________

Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2012 Chevy 3500HD Duramax-Allison \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 933
Date:

If you take your time in the design phase, draw everything out with a wiring schematic, and are handy enough to install a residential outlet then you can install your own solar system. IF you take your time and fully understand things before doing them. For those that want to DIY I'm willing to critique designs and make recommendations. After doing the design even if you then decide to have someone implement it for you, you will be far better prepared to get a good install.

__________________

Jack & Danielle Mayer

http://www.jackdanmayer.com,
2009 Volvo 780 HDT, 2012 New Horizons 42' Custom 5er (SOLD), smart car
New Horizons Ambassadors - Let us help you build your dream RV.....



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 1124
Date:

Well, for once, Jack, I will take a bit of a variance on your opinion.  Yes, the skills to do a solar installation are not much more than pulling cable in a wall and installing a breaker in the panel and an outlet in the wall.  However, if you have never worked with high current / low voltage cable (its big and somewhat difficult) or don’t understand why you need heat shrink and no-ox compound on the connectors, best to read carefully Jack’s excellent dissertation on solar installations.  There are rules which must be followed for best and safe results.

 

High current 12 volt wiring, both solar and high current, is not very complicated, but there are rules that must be observed and Jack does a good job of explaining those.  So, do the reading first, follow the rules, and you will have a success experience.  I have well over 40 years of electrical experience and his comments were still helpful in the design stage.  An excellent web site.

 

Bill



__________________

Bill & Linda
2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2012 Chevy 3500HD Duramax-Allison \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



RV-Dreams Family Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 933
Date:

Bill, I did not mean to imply that you could just "helter-skelter" start in on a solar/electrical rewire project without knowing the proper techniques and components. My point was that with proper research and minimal handyman skills and some critique of design a "normal" person could actually do the job. But it requires the willingness to do the research and to TAKE YOUR TIME. The biggest hurdle, IMO, for someone with the basic skills is impatience. Every "fix" I've done on someone's DIY job is an example of rushing the job.

Also, new stuff comes out all the time. I'm pretty well up to speed on most of it....but everyone should do their own research on components. I generally shy away from the "new and exciting" technology that remains unproven or is not up to true production standards. These things may be fine. But I don't generally choose to be their "beta testers".

Thanks for the compliments on the website. It is intended to get people to consider what the scope of the job is, and too document best practices. As I said above, even if you do not end up doing it yourself, you can best choose an installer if you already have some idea of what is involved.

__________________

Jack & Danielle Mayer

http://www.jackdanmayer.com,
2009 Volvo 780 HDT, 2012 New Horizons 42' Custom 5er (SOLD), smart car
New Horizons Ambassadors - Let us help you build your dream RV.....

Page 1 of 1  sorted by
 
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to Del.icio.us