New solar install.... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-28-2011, 12:23 PM   #1
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New solar install....

Thinking about installing a new solar system on the Nest Egg. Everyone seems to have had good luck with the VHB tape. I'm not sure the best type solar to get though, I'm thinking under 100 watts- 50-90 should be adequate for my use. Any suggestions, ideas, pit falls? Thanks for your valued opinions.
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:02 PM   #2
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I definitely would not go below 50watts if I was counting on using it alone, I had 60watts on my 5thwheel and it did pretty good in the constant west Texas sun.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:27 PM   #3
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I've just made an offer today on my 3rd Ramsond 50w panel from eBay.
I installed one on my 16' Scamp almost 2 years ago and one on a friends trailer.
I've sold the Scamp and am installing a panel on my new to me Bigfoot.
The last time I ordered my best offer was $155.00 which they accepted. Their controller is $19.00.
The 50w panel supplied all my power needs last fall on a 5000 mile trip through Yellowstone and the surrounding states.
My furnace ran almost every night.
I did switch on the charge wire from my truck for 2 days when I was in a 3 day rainstorm.
I camped at Yellowstone for a week. All I had was filtered sun and I still had all the power I needed. All the interior lights had been converted to LED.
I'm sold on Ramsond. They perform well and are inexpensive.
Shipping is included in the sale price.
I used bolts and chrome washers and acorn nuts on the inside.
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:20 AM   #4
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Jim,
I probably added way more solar than I needed (185W), but mine is a roof mounting and I seldom camp in full sunlight. My goal was to camp off grid for 3 days in the rain. I also wanted to still get enough charging to camp in filtered sunlight. All my lighting is LED, and the Norcold (DC040) frig is very efficient.

It's also important to have battery capacity matched to your usage. I know that you have a pair of 27s, so I think you're all set there.

After I get my propane furnace installed, my worst case usage will be approximately 25 amp/hours per day. Keeping within a 50% depth of discharge and with frugal use of lighting/tv, my 150 amp/hour Trojan J150 should work ok.

Ron
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry J View Post
I've just made an offer today on my 3rd Ramsond 50w panel from eBay.
I installed one on my 16' Scamp almost 2 years ago and one on a friends trailer.
I've sold the Scamp and am installing a panel on my new to me Bigfoot.
The last time I ordered my best offer was $155.00 which they accepted. Their controller is $19.00.
The 50w panel supplied all my power needs last fall on a 5000 mile trip through Yellowstone and the surrounding states.
My furnace ran almost every night.
I did switch on the charge wire from my truck for 2 days when I was in a 3 day rainstorm.
I camped at Yellowstone for a week. All I had was filtered sun and I still had all the power I needed. All the interior lights had been converted to LED.
I'm sold on Ramsond. They perform well and are inexpensive.
Shipping is included in the sale price.
I used bolts and chrome washers and acorn nuts on the inside.
John
Thanks Perry,

We are heading for mountain country this week - I just installed our furnace and LED lighting. I will take my 15 watt solar panel to top off the battery, but need to beef it up. Your recommendation and use history mean a lot to me - I will check into Ramsond panels. I checked their site and they are made in Michigan about 100 miles from where I live!

Jim - I suggest you take this hint seriously - - the 50 watt panel is only 24" x 21" and is rated at '1 inch hail @ 50mph' and '145 mph wind' with output of nearly 3 amps.

Bill
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:55 AM   #6
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Our Scamp 5er runs on solar and have also converted all our interior lights to LEDs. The key to making solar work, I think, is using LEDs instead of traditional bulbs. One regular, incandescent bulb uses as much power as ten LEDs; two of them burn as more battery power than the furnace does.

We originally had one 50w panel permanently mounted to our roof, and that worked really, really well. When we went to Yellowstone, however, we had a furnace problem that made the furnace run all night, running the battery way, way down. We've since added a second fixed 55w panel and installed an Olympian Wave 3 catalytic heater in addition to the furnace. The second solar panel and Wave3 are overkill -- one 50w panel really was enough to meet all our needs -- but we never have to worry about running out of power. Lynne is looking forward to our buying a 12v electric blanket to warm the bed sheets before we climb in to bed.

I also built a portable 40w solar panel setup made of two Ramsond 20w panels for our Surfside trailer. I'm pleased with Ramsond. Their panels seem to be a pretty solid product at a good price.
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:42 AM   #7
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" Lynne is looking forward to our buying a 12v electric blanket to warm the bed sheets before we climb in to bed."

Peter H
We use an AC twin blanket on our bed. Actually it draws very little AC current and can be run from a very small inverter.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:36 PM   #8
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I went to Ebay and looked at the Ramsond panels but could not find any complete kits with wire, feet, and display controller. Do I buy these separate from the panels?
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:50 PM   #9
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Ramsond

Jim, Go to the Ramsond web site ( Ramsond SunRay Pure Sine Wave Inverters ), scroll down till you come to a blue heading "Ramsond Full Range of Panels" and click on one of the panels below the heading. It will take you directly to ebay, and you'll find panels. If you bid $155. you'll probably win the bid. When I bought mine through ebay, I paid $150 each. The only problem I had was when the second panel showed up on my PayPal they rejected it, thinking it was a duplicate of the first purchase. If you're thinking of getting more than one, space out your purchases a bit. I think mine were less than an hour apart.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way connected with Ramsond, yada yada.

EDIT:
Never mind Jim. I just re-read your post. Here's the real answer. They're just selling you the panel. You have to provide wiring, charge controller, and mounting hardware.

Ron
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:59 PM   #10
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Ron,
Do you foresee any problem with mounting the "legs" on the front and rear vs 2 sides?/
I measured and the space on top is 18" from the seam and most of these panels are 20-22" wide.That is of course I go with that special marine attachment kit I emailed you about vs the VHB tape.
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Ron,
Do you foresee any problem with mounting the "legs" on the front and rear vs 2 sides?/
I measured and the space on top is 18" from the seam and most of these panels are 20-22" wide.That is of course I go with that special marine attachment kit I emailed you about vs the VHB tape.
Jim,
Sorry for the tardy reply. I've been camping up in Maine while I help my nephew build a log cabin kit.

I'm assuming that you mean that you will mount the panel in the center of the roof, to the left or right of the seam. Most of the panels that I've seen have mounting holes drilled in the frame, 2 or 3 inches in from the corners, so for a 20 to 22 inch panel, that would mean that the mountings would be 16 to 18 inches apart. If you move the mounting holes in an inch or two closer together, it probably wouldn't be a problem.

On the other hand, if the mountings are tall enough, you could place the panel to straddle the center seam. My 85W panel straddles the seam.

Ron
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:41 PM   #12
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Jim,
Sorry for the tardy reply. I've been camping up in Maine while I help my nephew build a log cabin kit.

I'm assuming that you mean that you will mount the panel in the center of the roof, to the left or right of the seam. Most of the panels that I've seen have mounting holes drilled in the frame, 2 or 3 inches in from the corners, so for a 20 to 22 inch panel, that would mean that the mountings would be 16 to 18 inches apart. If you move the mounting holes in an inch or two closer together, it probably wouldn't be a problem.

On the other hand, if the mountings are tall enough, you could place the panel to straddle the center seam. My 85W panel straddles the seam.

Ron
Ron, that picture is so impressive! Just wondering, what kind of total $$ are we talking about to install a system?

Also, assuming all LED lighting, how much will time will you be able to play "entertainment systems" such as CD/Ipod/radio and DVD/TV?

I currently use a fairly noisy generator to run my microwave at dinner and recharge the batteries. I do use an inverter to re-charge my training equipment, and for my radio, but I notice that the radio drains the battery fairly quickly. Love the radio for news, music, and local talk programs, but I want to upgrade to a larger (higher watts) system for my I-pod. Don't really need a TV, but that may change someday.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jane P. View Post
Ron, that picture is so impressive! Just wondering, what kind of total $$ are we talking about to install a system?

Also, assuming all LED lighting, how much will time will you be able to play "entertainment systems" such as CD/Ipod/radio and DVD/TV?
Hi Jane,
The two smaller panels are 50w Ramsond (ebay) at $150 each. The larger panel is a Solartech 85w purchased at Amazon for $337. I did the Amazon purchase first, then got the 50w panels. If I had it to do over, I'd get all three from Ramsond, two 50s and one 80w and the cost would have been a bit less. The charge controller is a Morningstar SunSaver Duo w/remote meter, about $140 with the optional battery temperature sensor. 3M VHB tape $32, miscellaneous hardware and wiring, perhaps another $50-$75. So, somewhere around $850, without considering a battery. I later replaced my depleted house battery with a Trojan J150 at $210. So, everything together came to about the same as the Honda eu2000 generator that I now leave at home. The system is silent.

I estimated my daily usage as 25 ah (amphour) and I'm still experimenting to determine the actual usage. For me the critical needs are refrideration, lights and heat. The fridge is a DC040 Norcold (12v only) that uses a compressor and uses about 2 amps while running. All of my lights are LEDs and really don't draw much power at all. For heat, I'm currently installing an Atwood 8012-II propane furnace, which draws 1.8 amps while running. Assuming a 25% duty cycle for the heat and fridge:

Fridge - (2 amps X .25) X 24hours = 12 ah
Heat - (1.8 amps X .25) X 12 hours = 5.4 ah
Lighting - 1 amp X 4 hours = 4 ah
TV/Misc. - 1 amp X 3 hours = 3 ah
Total approximately 24.4 ah

I'm also planning to replace the existing water heater with an Atwood propane/electric water heater, but the electronic ignition should impose a very small drain on the 12v system.

At 25 ah/day and a maximum depth of discharge of 50%, I can camp above the arctic circle in the winter (total darkness) for 3 days. In reality though, the system still charges the battery even on cloudy days and with filtered sunlight on shaded campsites. In practice I can probably go 4 or 5 days without really draining the J150 beyond 40 to 50%, and then, when the sun breaks through, charging is relatively quick. That was my objective in placing as much wattage on the roof as possible.

Ron
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:04 PM   #14
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I was thinking about putting a "solar power farm" on the roof of my Bigfoot, but then it occurred to me - how do you clean the roof UNDER the panels?. Around here, the weather causes things to grow very quickly unless you keep on top of things, and......
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