Why not solar power?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-06-2015, 12:25 PM   #1
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Name: Mark
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Why not solar power??

I plan on having or adding solar panels whenever I make my purchase. But I am wondering, why doesn't everyone have solar in their RVs? It just makes so much sense and kits can be purchased for under a $1000. I am wondering if there is something I am missing. I would thing the savings in the long run allowing someone to camp off grid and for free would pay for itself in no time. Am I wrong? Is there more to it than I am seeing? Is the installation cost a prohibitive? Glancing thru the for sale ads, I see very few RVs with solar
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:45 PM   #2
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I added solar on my Bigfoot and love it. Cost was about $300 for materials. I doubt it would ever pay for itself but I love the fact that gives the opportunity to get away to isolated places without power and stay for days. I can boondock and keep the furnace running and the beer cold for days. The only downside is when its cloudy or the panel gets dirty. The only maintenance is cleaning dirt off the panel. If there is a morning dew or rain, when things dry out the panel get dust or dirt on it which does reduce performance.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:46 PM   #3
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$1000 is almost as much as I paid for some of my trailers. Actually a good system can be had for ~$400. This compares to the cost of a converter.

Solar is not without problems. What if you camp in a forest? If it is cloudy? If you want AC? ...
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:46 PM   #4
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I agree Mark solar does just seem to make sense and I can't imagine not wanting something that would allow me more flexibility.

However I think it yet again comes down to a personal choice for how you want to camp. Some folks are just more comfortable in a campground setting with hookups. Also in some parts of the country at certain times of year a lot of people would consider A/C to be a requirement. If that's the case than why spend the money on solar that you will never use?

No right or wrong answer to how someone wants to use their egg or how they want to experience camping. That's what makes the world so great.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:59 PM   #5
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In my case, I read all the posts about solar on this site and others and came to the conclusion that you needed an engineering degree to run solar. All the talk of amps and watts and shunts and volt meters, controllers, converters, inverters scared me off.

A generator I could understand.

I've since acquired two 40 watt panels and the controller that came with. I plug them in and they either add charge to the batteries, or they don't, according to conditions.
I have the generator as backup.
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Old 02-06-2015, 01:01 PM   #6
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We have a small solar panal, 5 watt, that keeps our battery charged.
It has worked great for over 3 years and is still charging our battery.
We can run our fantastic fan and 2 lights.
Comes in handy when we park overnight somewhere without utilities.
When camper is stored the solar panal is keeping battery from losing charge.
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Old 02-06-2015, 01:46 PM   #7
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In the past we seldom camped without hookups so solar seemed to be just an added expense and one more thing to break or maintain . Last summer we spent several long weekends at a campgrounds which does not have electrical hookups ( The whole campgrounds is off grid ,solar is their only source of power and they do not allow generators). We soon discovered that after about 3 days ,we needed to find a way to charge our battery .Solar is at the top of our list of modification to perform this summer . Too cold and too much snow right now to start . Looking at installing a 100 watt solar panel with a MPPT controller . We live in area that has fairly moderate summer temps so A/C is not a necessity 99% of the time
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Old 02-06-2015, 01:52 PM   #8
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I suspect one of the reasons more folks don't go down the solar road is as Glenn suggests some folks can make the whole idea of adding solar panels far more complicated than what it really is! ;-) Although I have been happy running my trailer on solar for a number of years a system I added myself, I am often left wondering when the topic of solar comes up what the heck half the posts are talking about with all the electric jargon & what all the different additional monitoring systems etc that some add to their systems are actually needed for! ROFL


I have been thinking of upgrading my simple small solar system of under 60w (which I paid no where near $1000 for) to a bigger panel but as I don't use an microwave or AC on my trailer I am having a hard to justifying the need to upgrade to anything bigger at this time.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Mark View Post
I plan on having or adding solar panels whenever I make my purchase. But I am wondering, why doesn't everyone have solar in their RVs? It just makes so much sense and kits can be purchased for under a $1000. I am wondering if there is something I am missing. I would thing the savings in the long run allowing someone to camp off grid and for free would pay for itself in no time. Am I wrong? Is there more to it than I am seeing? Is the installation cost a prohibitive? Glancing thru the for sale ads, I see very few RVs with solar
You can park off the grid without solar for a really long time using propane. Your battery will last a long time if they're topped off and you have LEDs for lighting. LEDs make a real difference in energy consumption.

The cost of Solar panels have dropped dramatically and really there is no reason not to add them. Installation is relatively easy.

The reason you see few RVs with solar is the majority of people park for only short periods, typically a weekend, or they park in parks with electric service. They really don't need solar. If you camp only a few times a year there is little justification for solar.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:41 PM   #10
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Good idea to leave the electrical jargon behind. Mark started a good discussion. He seems to be one who is willing to spend money on the technology, up to $1000, which is a great way to support the manufacturers and marketers. Like any new technology, it starts expensive, with great potential, and if all goes well, the prices drop dramatically, and we have a long lasting benefit. Solar on an RV is a must for a few, a toy for many and of no use to most. I doubt it can ever pay for itself in terms of cents/kWh, but that is not how these things go. I am intrigued by it, but until I really need it, of feel like playing with it as a little hobby, it's out. So far plenty of electricity wherever we go. It may change too.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:42 PM   #11
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Carol and Glenn are correct.
All remodel projects should be as easy as a solar system.
All you need is the panel a controller wire and a good battery.
I use group 27 or 29 deep cycle.


Mount the panel, hook it to the panel side of the controller and from the controller to the battery.
I use the Sun Solar Controller which is about $40.00 on eBay or Amazon.
It's small, easy to install and has a digital voltage readout.
The only headache is routing the wire so it's not visible in side.
At todays prices you should be able to do a 50 or 60w system for under $200.00.


My first 50w system was about 5 years ago on my 16' Scamp.
I gave it to my son with most of my grandkids and after 5 years the group 27 battery is still in good shape, on a sunny day, after a cold night, the battery is usually fully recharged by noon.


I've done 5 systems in the last 5 years and they are all still working well.
Panel, wire and controller! Those are the only words you need to know.
John
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:44 PM   #12
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I'm in the beginning stages of adding solar to our Scamp and am excited!
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Old 02-06-2015, 03:45 PM   #13
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We live and camp mostly in Texas. There are very few places in the state that allow boon docking. For 5 months of the year the temperature at 10 P.M. Is often in the mid 90's. Air conditioning is not optional, it is essential. Solar will not be in our future.
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Old 02-06-2015, 05:08 PM   #14
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Put solar on our new 21 as a "future need" should we decided to boonie much, got the big 12V battery, but no inverter. We will pack a Honda 2000 on hot weather trips just in case we may want air, but in general we stay at places with power. In my case it's more about flexibility. 21 is stored indoors, so no solar help there!

Adding a portable inverter to run a micro/coffeepot is cheap and simple, but it's also not hard to boil water on the stove and pour it over the grounds to make coffee and keep it in a thermos.
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