Add solar? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-02-2014, 09:48 PM   #1
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Name: Linda
Trailer: Burro 13'. 1982
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Add solar?

For someone with not a lot of carpenter, etc. skills, how hard is it to add solar to a 13' Burro? Thanks...happy camping.


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Old 08-02-2014, 10:05 PM   #2
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It's not difficult, but the first thing you need to do is determine what your daily amp usage is projected to be. Once you know that you can begin to determine the type, size and quantity of panels you will need, the type of charge controller, and the batter(y/ies) you need, and how much you want to spend. Also, are the places you camp most shaded or prone to overcast skies?

Go here for a decent start. The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
This will give you a good understanding of the dc system in your trailer. Part 2 gives you a good foundation for determining your needs.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:16 PM   #3
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Linda,
Portable panels need no installation, and have some advantages over mounted ones. Just clip them to your battery. Solar is a must have item for boon dockers.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:47 PM   #4
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Installation is not difficult, but I second the suggestion to consider your energy needs. Once you have that figure, most of what you need to figure out has to do with storage (batteries).

I would never suggest hooking any panel straight up to your battery - a charge controller, even a cheap one is important.

Solar was the first modification I made to my camper, along with installing a 12v fridge that is easily powered by my system. It has been by far the simplest mod I've done.
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahspins View Post
Installation is not difficult, but I second the suggestion to consider your energy needs. Once you have that figure, most of what you need to figure out has to do with storage (batteries).

I would never suggest hooking any panel straight up to your battery - a charge controller, even a cheap one is important.

Solar was the first modification I made to my camper, along with installing a 12v fridge that is easily powered by my system. It has been by far the simplest mod I've done.

But not your best mod Sarah. Love the graphics on your camper!
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lfoxmont View Post
For someone with not a lot of carpenter, etc. skills, how hard is it to add solar to a 13' Burro? Thanks...happy camping.


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It is fairly easy. Anything you add for solar will be a help and ensure your battery lasts a long time. Warning! Free Power is very addictive. You may want to plan in advance for adding more. Generally one 100 watt panel will be all you need for three season camping.

You will need:
1. Solar Panel and mounting method
2. Charge controller to prevent over charging.
3. Wire to connect to the batteries and possibly connectors of some sort
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:16 AM   #7
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Name: Mike
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I just got a quote for a 150 watt portable suitcase panel with a Genasun 140 watt controller, circut breaker and padded case. I'm hoping that the 150 watt will take care of a Engel Portable Fridge/Freezer and a 22" LED TV with power to spare to keep the battery topped off.

$500 Panel and case
$200 Charge controler and breaker
Plug and play with 30' of wire.


Portable Solar Power System, Portable Solar Power Generators, Portable Solar Panels, Portable Solar Charger: PortableSolarPower.Biz
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150 Watt Portable Panel.jpg  
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:31 AM   #8
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I AM a Carpenter, and I am still starting out slowly on this solar thing. I have bought a couple of panels and a good (MPPT) controller. My plan is to use them as a portable system for a while and get things sorted out and then mount a couple of panels permanently on the Scamp. I think I will always keep at least one, maybe two, panels for portable use in case the trailer ends up parked in the shade or really poorly oriented.

One note here that my research indicates is missing and really poorly discussed about solar is fusing. I bought a “system” from a company and even though their installation diagram shows fuses none were provided with the kit and the company in fact does not even sell any. When I emailed to ask their recommendations they did indicate a style of fuse and told me they were available on Amazon or Ebay! I thought that was beyond lame. To sum, I suspect there are a whole lot of solar installations out there either poorly or not fused at all.
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Old 08-04-2014, 12:16 PM   #9
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Mike N Laurie-let me know how that system works out for you-I'm definitely interested in investing in something like that. I'm struggling with finding quiet campsites with electric and am thinking solar is the way to go. Anyone use Goalzero products?
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Old 08-04-2014, 01:33 PM   #10
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What I understand the size of the panels and the quality of the charge controller makes a lot difference. The panels that have the charge controllers glued to them need to be close to the battery as the charge controller needs to be within 5' of the battery. Watch YouTube this is the charge controller www.PortableSolarPower.biz uses on his 150 watt portable suitcases. I ordered one today Ryan said it should ship in a week to 10 days. I will let you know how it works.

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Old 08-04-2014, 01:57 PM   #11
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Night Sailor is the person to talk to. I believe he is boon docking or off grid and his array consists of 900 watts of panels and has 400AH of batteries...
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike-N-Laurie View Post
What I understand the size of the panels and the quality of the charge controller makes a lot difference. The panels that have the charge controllers glued to them need to be close to the battery as the charge controller needs to be within 5' of the battery. Watch YouTube this is the charge controller www.PortableSolarPower.biz uses on his 150 watt portable suitcases. I ordered one today Ryan said it should ship in a week to 10 days. I will let you know how it works.
This retailer video interesting in that; 1. He compares the MPPT controller he sells to a shunt type on-off controller rather than the more common PWM controller. 2. He uses a DC power supply rather than actual solar cells for his demonstration.

Shunt controllers are old technology.

MPPT as advertized can deliver up to 30% more energy to the batteries. However, all my reading indicates they are most effective when the PV panels are cool, and/or in low light conditions. The panels they are normally paired with, mono and polycrystaline cells, loose efficiency in high heat or low light or shaded conditions.

I think the jury is still our on MPPT controllers given the additional cost. On the positive side, my understanding is that under normal conditions the MPPTs are actually functioning in PWM mode. The cost/benefit to me is still in question.

Not trying to poke sticks....just my two cents.

My experimenting and study continues. For all of us the goal is a balanced system.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:50 PM   #13
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Name: RogerDat
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Those suitcase systems are really nice but people have done just fine with a controller wired to the battery and a panel stashed in the camper for travel and propped against all manner of stands from PVC plumbing pipe to fabricated from metal or wood.

I recall a member Carol had hers stowed with a couple of hooks and bungee cord to hold in place against the outside of a closet or bathroom.

Nice to have lots of surplus solar capacity but I think starting with what Clif said is smart, how much power will the things I'm going to use pull out of the battery in a day. That tells you how much solar panel you need to put that much power back. If you want to (or can afford to) provide a cushion above what you need that is good but shopping without knowing actual need you can waste money under purchasing or over purchasing.
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:04 PM   #14
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Place I would start with is choosing roof mount or not (suitcase style.) If roof mount, what size panel will fit that meets my power needs and how to mount and wire it? The rest (controls, battery wiring, etc) all depend on which way you go with the first decison.

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