Going Solar - Have Questions - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 05-17-2011, 02:54 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Name: Josh
Trailer: Scamp 13
Utah
Posts: 24
Going Solar - Have Questions

I have been reading every thread on this board regarding solar this past week. I have some questions that I have yet to find some current answers to. I see a lot of threads from 2-3 years ago but I know the technology and prices have changed a lot.

I see in most threads from earlier this year and last that it is popular to buy the 60w panels. As I look around Ebay I see that 75w ones are only about $25 more. I am looking in the 60-80w range and wondering what currently is the best panel to buy? Are there brands to look for and ones to avoid?

Also when it comes to a solar controller it seems like Morningstar and Sunsei are the brands to go with. My question is which one is a good one to go with? I see they range anywhere from $35 on up to $200+. I am hoping a sub $100 will do the trick but if it is really worth stepping up to the $200+ ones I will do it. Is there a good middle of the road controller?

This is all going on my 13ft Scamp I picked up a few months ago and now am getting ready for fulltiming next year with my wife.
__________________

__________________
jeckel30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 03:13 PM   #2
Junior Member
 
Name: Darren
Trailer: 1980 13' Boler
New Brunswick
Posts: 13
I'd like info on all the above as well.

Jeckel, do you plan to mount the panel on the roof of the scamp or keep it free to be placed strategically when at camp?
__________________

__________________
darwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 03:15 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Name: Josh
Trailer: Scamp 13
Utah
Posts: 24
I am planning on mounting it on the roof. It will be tight in the Scamp and tow vehicle so I would like to have it permanently on the roof.
__________________
jeckel30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 03:17 PM   #4
Junior Member
 
Name: Darren
Trailer: 1980 13' Boler
New Brunswick
Posts: 13
That would be my approach as well so it could continue to function while on the move..
__________________
darwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 05:45 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Ron F's Avatar
 
Name: Ron
Trailer: Eggless for now.
Formerly NH, now full timing
Posts: 405
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeckel30 View Post
I have been reading every thread on this board regarding solar this past week. I have some questions that I have yet to find some current answers to. I see a lot of threads from 2-3 years ago but I know the technology and prices have changed a lot.

I see in most threads from earlier this year and last that it is popular to buy the 60w panels. As I look around Ebay I see that 75w ones are only about $25 more. I am looking in the 60-80w range and wondering what currently is the best panel to buy? Are there brands to look for and ones to avoid?

Also when it comes to a solar controller it seems like Morningstar and Sunsei are the brands to go with. My question is which one is a good one to go with? I see they range anywhere from $35 on up to $200+. I am hoping a sub $100 will do the trick but if it is really worth stepping up to the $200+ ones I will do it. Is there a good middle of the road controller?

This is all going on my 13ft Scamp I picked up a few months ago and now am getting ready for fulltiming next year with my wife.

Josh,
I'm in the process of adding solar to my EggCamper. I'm mounting the panels on the roof and decided for adding as much wattage as would fit... mostly because I won't always be parked in complete sunlight and the fixed install doesn't allow me to aim the panels for the best power generation.

When I'm done, I'll have 165 watts from 3 panels (one 85W and two 40W). I've already changed all the interior lighting to LEDs. The fridge is very efficient and of course I won't be able to use the microwave or coffeemaker. So, I think that I will be able to do off-grid camping without much difficulty.

As for the controller, I got the Morningstar Sun Saver Duo, which is a 25 amp controller for charging the battery and included a meter/monitor. I also ordered the opitonal temperature sensor. The controller was $133.60 + shipping from ECO Direct.

The panels are multi-crystal, which is middle of the road in terms of efficiency. Mono-crystal panels are more efficient, but cost more. Amorphous panels are the least efficient and cost less. The higher efficiency lets you put more wattage per square foot. It' really a trade off in my mind. I think the 165W should work for me, however I still have the option of adding a second battery to span cloudy/rainy days.

I can't give you a report on how all this works yet. The panels are still in their boxes and won't be on the roof till after memorial day. Stay tuned.

Ron
__________________
Ron F is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 06:00 PM   #6
Junior Member
 
Name: Josh
Trailer: Scamp 13
Utah
Posts: 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron F View Post
Josh,
I'm in the process of adding solar to my EggCamper. I'm mounting the panels on the roof and decided for adding as much wattage as would fit... mostly because I won't always be parked in complete sunlight and the fixed install doesn't allow me to aim the panels for the best power generation.

When I'm done, I'll have 165 watts from 3 panels (one 85W and two 40W). I've already changed all the interior lighting to LEDs. The fridge is very efficient and of course I won't be able to use the microwave or coffeemaker. So, I think that I will be able to do off-grid camping without much difficulty.

As for the controller, I got the Morningstar Sun Saver Duo, which is a 25 amp controller for charging the battery and included a meter/monitor. I also ordered the opitonal temperature sensor. The controller was $133.60 + shipping from ECO Direct.

The panels are multi-crystal, which is middle of the road in terms of efficiency. Mono-crystal panels are more efficient, but cost more. Amorphous panels are the least efficient and cost less. The higher efficiency lets you put more wattage per square foot. It' really a trade off in my mind. I think the 165W should work for me, however I still have the option of adding a second battery to span cloudy/rainy days.

I can't give you a report on how all this works yet. The panels are still in their boxes and won't be on the roof till after memorial day. Stay tuned.

Ron
Thank you that is very helpful. I am assuming that if it doesn't state in the ebay listing what type of panel it is then it probably is isn't a mono panel. It seems like the 60w panels are labeled as mono so maybe that is why it seems like the popular choice?
__________________
jeckel30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 06:21 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
honda03842's Avatar
 
Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Florida
Posts: 7,300
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeckel30 View Post
Thank you that is very helpful. I am assuming that if it doesn't state in the ebay listing what type of panel it is then it probably is isn't a mono panel. It seems like the 60w panels are labeled as mono so maybe that is why it seems like the popular choice?
We had 120 watts on our roof and were able to run our coffee pot. Though they draw a fair amount of power they do it for a very short period, The real power is only drawn while heating the water,

Our coffee pot is a 600 watt, 4 cup pot. We have a 1000 watt inverter.

Norm
__________________
honda03842 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2011, 08:40 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Name: George
Trailer: Waiting for the Sprinter van and designing the converion modules.
Oregon
Posts: 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeckel30 View Post
I have been reading every thread on this board regarding solar this past week. I have some questions that I have yet to find some current answers to. I see a lot of threads from 2-3 years ago but I know the technology and prices have changed a lot.

I see in most threads from earlier this year and last that it is popular to buy the 60w panels. As I look around Ebay I see that 75w ones are only about $25 more. I am looking in the 60-80w range and wondering what currently is the best panel to buy? Are there brands to look for and ones to avoid?

Also when it comes to a solar controller it seems like Morningstar and Sunsei are the brands to go with. My question is which one is a good one to go with? I see they range anywhere from $35 on up to $200+. I am hoping a sub $100 will do the trick but if it is really worth stepping up to the $200+ ones I will do it. Is there a good middle of the road controller?

This is all going on my 13ft Scamp I picked up a few months ago and now am getting ready for fulltiming next year with my wife.
Post #7 in this tread shows my installation done earlier this year. I did considerable research, but the market could have changed in the last 4 months. Make sure to get MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) versus older technology PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) charge controller, especially if you get high voltage panels. MPPT could increase charge current up to 30% in a high voltage panel output – full Sun exposure.
PWM controllers use power up to charge matching voltage (13.6V), MPPT controller works as a “variable transformer” using all power from panels output at voltages above 13.6V.

Another potential benefit of MPPT controller relates to size of wires. If panels are connected in series, the output voltage could be around 35-40V. An MPTT controller can efficiently transform power at these high voltages to maximum power at 13.6VDC charging voltage. If panels are connected in series the current will be one half of the current from panels connected in parallel therefore reducing high gauge wire requirement.

Good Luck,

George.
__________________
GeorgeR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2011, 05:31 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Ron F's Avatar
 
Name: Ron
Trailer: Eggless for now.
Formerly NH, now full timing
Posts: 405
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeckel30 View Post
Thank you that is very helpful. I am assuming that if it doesn't state in the ebay listing what type of panel it is then it probably is isn't a mono panel. It seems like the 60w panels are labeled as mono so maybe that is why it seems like the popular choice?
Josh,
Whenever I need to really know more info about something selling on ebay, I just google the product name, model number, etc. and I can usually find more info at another vendor's web pages. I wouldn't assume anything about things on ebay.
Ron
__________________
Ron F is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2011, 06:04 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Ron F's Avatar
 
Name: Ron
Trailer: Eggless for now.
Formerly NH, now full timing
Posts: 405
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeR View Post
Post #7 in this tread shows my installation done earlier this year. I did considerable research, but the market could have changed in the last 4 months. Make sure to get MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) versus older technology PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) charge controller, especially if you get high voltage panels. MPPT could increase charge current up to 30% in a high voltage panel output – full Sun exposure.
PWM controllers use power up to charge matching voltage (13.6V), MPPT controller works as a “variable transformer” using all power from panels output at voltages above 13.6V.

Another potential benefit of MPPT controller relates to size of wires. If panels are connected in series, the output voltage could be around 35-40V. An MPTT controller can efficiently transform power at these high voltages to maximum power at 13.6VDC charging voltage. If panels are connected in series the current will be one half of the current from panels connected in parallel therefore reducing high gauge wire requirement.

Good Luck,

George.
George,
Nice job with your panel install. I wish I'd done a bit more homework for the charge controller. I have the PWM. I suspect that it will work ok, but if it becomes a problem, it looks like the MPPT is compatible with the temperature sensor and meter, and I can just upgrade.

How is the HPV tape holding up for you. I considered that, but I'm concerned that weather and time will someday have my panels flying off the roof and through the windshield of a car following me down I95.

Final question (questions): How have you connected the ouput from your solar controller? Have you tied the output from your power converter and solar controller to a common point, feeding the battery? Do you have a switch that disconnects the solar controller when you have hookups?

Ron
__________________
Ron F is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2011, 11:25 AM   #11
Junior Member
 
Name: Josh
Trailer: Scamp 13
Utah
Posts: 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeR View Post
Post #7 in this tread shows my installation done earlier this year. I did considerable research, but the market could have changed in the last 4 months. Make sure to get MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) versus older technology PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) charge controller, especially if you get high voltage panels. MPPT could increase charge current up to 30% in a high voltage panel output – full Sun exposure.
PWM controllers use power up to charge matching voltage (13.6V), MPPT controller works as a “variable transformer” using all power from panels output at voltages above 13.6V.

Another potential benefit of MPPT controller relates to size of wires. If panels are connected in series, the output voltage could be around 35-40V. An MPTT controller can efficiently transform power at these high voltages to maximum power at 13.6VDC charging voltage. If panels are connected in series the current will be one half of the current from panels connected in parallel therefore reducing high gauge wire requirement.

Good Luck,

George.

I saw your post on your setup through searching and it really has been what I have been thinking of modeling. I was just hoping it wasn't going to require a $200 controller . It seems like that is the way to go. Now I just need to determine if I want an 80w panel of if I should step up and do two 60w.
__________________
jeckel30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2011, 12:19 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
Name: George
Trailer: Waiting for the Sprinter van and designing the converion modules.
Oregon
Posts: 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron F View Post
George,
Nice job with your panel install. I wish I'd done a bit more homework for the charge controller. I have the PWM. I suspect that it will work ok, but if it becomes a problem, it looks like the MPPT is compatible with the temperature sensor and meter, and I can just upgrade.

How is the HPV tape holding up for you. I considered that, but I'm concerned that weather and time will someday have my panels flying off the roof and through the windshield of a car following me down I95.

Final question (questions): How have you connected the ouput from your solar controller? Have you tied the output from your power converter and solar controller to a common point, feeding the battery? Do you have a switch that disconnects the solar controller when you have hookups?

Ron
I use VHB (Very High Bond) tape often. For example, my rear view camera is attached to the rear window with VHB tape for a few years, no issue. 48 in^2 bond area per panel at 75 lb/in^2 shear or tensile strength will require 3,600 lb. to shear or pull the panel off the trailer roof; unlikely. Even at 10 lb/in^2 of shear or tensile strength it would take 750lb to remove a panel.

I connected the charge controller output directly to the batteries and don’t have a disconnect switch in line. If the converter is powered and the battery voltage is at 13.6V than solar charge controller stops current flow from the solar cells to the battery.

George.
__________________
GeorgeR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2011, 12:39 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Carol H's Avatar
 
Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
Posts: 11,731
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by darwen View Post
Jeckel, do you plan to mount the panel on the roof of the scamp or keep it free to be placed strategically when at camp?
I suspect the answer to this will vary from person to person, depend on where they camp and how many panels they have and the power of them. I only have an older single panel and I keep it free as I camp on the wet coast and often in treed areas so it helps to be able to move it - if the trailer is sitting in a sunny open spot the panel lays nicely up and out of the way on the front window rock guard which I leave on the trailer in an up postion. Now if I had panels with a lot more power then I suspect I would mount them on the roof as collectively on a less than sunny day they should collect as much power as my lower powered on a sunny day? Am I wrong as far as how that works?

Wish I had waited a few years to purchasing mine as they sure have come down in price and they have way more power for the size..... hummmmmm
__________________
Carol H is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2011, 01:53 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Greg H's Avatar
 
Name: Greg
Trailer: 72 Boler American
Indiana
Posts: 1,557
You don't need a $200.00 charge controller, that 60 watt system you see at Harbor Freight or at the Tractor Supply stores comes with a 7 amp charge controller. That controller comes separate for a lot less than $200.00, I'm thinking less than $20.00.
__________________

__________________
Greg H is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
solar


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
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


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
SOLAR D Tharp Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 2 06-25-2007 06:10 PM
Replacement windows, questions, questions. CliveAlive Modifications, Alterations and Updates 4 07-13-2006 08:32 AM
Solar: Several questions wes harris Electrical | Charging, Systems, Solar and Generators 3 05-31-2006 11:27 PM
Solar jasoncarder Electrical | Charging, Systems, Solar and Generators 2 02-22-2006 10:19 PM
Solar charger questions Steve Rosenberg Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 17 12-01-2005 02:00 AM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.