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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
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 and Jo2010 Mobile Suites 38TKSB32008 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 PhotobucketIgnoring the Barking Dogs - Terry's Blog
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:
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.
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.
"Small House, Big Yard "Alfa See-Ya 5'er and 2007 Kodiak C4500 Monroe
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
Cherie (and Chris) / Our blog: Technomadia.comFull time since 2006 as Gen-X 'technomads' (technology enabled nomads)
RV: 1961 GM 4106 Bus
Toad: 2009 MINI Cooper
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
2004 Fleetwood Fiesta 26Q Class A
Jack & Danielle Mayerhttp://www.jackdanmayer.com,2009 Volvo 780 HDT, 2012 New Horizons 42' Custom 5er, smart carNew Horizons Ambassadors - Let us help you build your dream RV.....
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 & Linda2007 36KSB KZ Escalade 5'er - Served us extremely well \ Under Construction - 2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 962012 Chevy 3500HD Duramax-Allison \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Air RideClassy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank
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.