Questions about solar power - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-02-2014, 10:17 AM   #1
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Questions about solar power

Now with the new fridge we enjoyed boondocking so much I'm researching solar panels to see how expensive and practical it would be to extend our off-grid time.

I've determined I'd like to get around 300 to 400 watt-hours of battery charge per day. We are in Florida at about 28 degrees N latitude and the 'full sun' period here is about 6 hours per day.

I would like to learn more about

1) I think a portable unit that folds in half for storage would be the best for us as we try to park the trailer in the shade. We could put the panels in the sun and adjust the position as the sun moves across the sky. Does this mean I can expect more juice than the insulation tables suggest? It seems like they are based on flat or at least stationary panels.

2) my first guess is that I need about 100 watts of capacity. I see kits on offer for between $200 to $600 for this much capacity but I don't understand what the difference is. For instance

this 90 Watt Portable Solar System - Professional Series | Off The Grid RV SolarOff The Grid RV Solar at $625

This 90 Watt Portable Solar System - Economy Series | Off The Grid RV SolarOff The Grid RV Solar at $425

And this 100WATTS Portable Folding Poly Solar Panel 100W 12V RV Boat Battery Charger Kit | eBay at $200

3) I consume between 500 and 600 watt hours per day and have enough battery for 4ish days with no recharging. I'd like to double or triple that. Does a 100 watt panel sound like about the right size?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:28 PM   #2
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Check Harbor Freight. I saw kits there.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:57 PM   #3
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RV Solar System Sizing by "Rules of Thumb"
Here's a good "rule of thumb" guide. The rest of the site is good, too.
The other solar resource, though really for permanent systems, is Handy Bob: 2014 SOLAR IDEAS, BATTERIES & OTHER THINGS « HandyBob's Blog
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:51 PM   #4
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The Harbor Freight sets are not adequate. Try to get a Kyocera, Renergy or other quality panels. The Renergy 100w panel, expandable with connectors, is $149 on amazon right now. Northern Arizona Wind and Sun really know their stuff and can tell you what you need. windsun.com
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:01 PM   #5
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Costco has a solar charging kit.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:32 PM   #6
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I had bought a 45 watt Harbor Freight 3 panel set years ago, and never used them. One HF polycrystalline 15 watt panel turned out to be about the same size of a quality 100 watt mono-crystaline panel. This is a big deal if you're only dealing with a 13' Scamp. 100 watt perm. mounted panel was plenty enough panel for a single group 27 battery to keep us fully charged for a couple 60 day straight vacations off grid. We had a Danfoss refrigerator, LED lights, sure-flow water pump, 75 watt inverter for recharging lap top, phones, etc. I am going to check into flexible stick-on panels for the roof of our soon to come Lil Snoozy.
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Old 03-03-2014, 05:27 AM   #7
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Here's a Solar Irradiance calculator for you. Pick your location and it gives you a figure, multiply the given figure by the size of your panel and you have your daily output in watts. Play with it a bit and you'll see what the best angle is for a given season.

http://www.solarelectricityhandbook....rradiance.html
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:29 AM   #8
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Questions about solar power

Dave, That's a good data point. Thanks.

How sunny, shady, cloudy was it when you were going 60 days off the grid?
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin00 View Post
Here's a Solar Irradiance calculator for you. Pick your location and it gives you a figure, multiply the given figure by the size of your panel and you have your daily output in watts. Play with it a bit and you'll see what the best angle is for a given season.

http://www.solarelectricityhandbook....rradiance.html

Tried it but got a techy error message. I used my phone though. Does it work for you?
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:39 AM   #10
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The best sites I've found for solar are Solarblvd.com and ebay. Harbor F is very expensive. use dollar per watt to compare cost. So $200/100w is $2 per watt. you pay allot more for the foldable kit.

I have 60w on my vehicle, with 2 batteries. I can last a few days before I need to start the vehicle.

Cheers

HandyBob's Blog « Making off grid RV electrical systems work is always a good no BS read about rv solar.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:55 AM   #11
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If your anywhere near an urban area I would check around locally for shops that specialize in solar. We have a company here in BC that sells solar for 90 cents a watt.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:13 PM   #12
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Tried it but got a techy error message. I used my phone though. Does it work for you?
Yes, it works from my laptop.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:26 PM   #13
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100W might do fine most of the time, but you could get a string of cloudy or rainy weather days. If I were doing it I would lean toward 150W of solar. 75W panels at Solarblvd.com are under $100 apiece, and they have controllers as well or you could get a "Solar30" with LCD readout from ebay for about $45 (Norm and Ginny knew someone who installed one of these, IIRC).
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Old 03-03-2014, 05:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MCDenny View Post
Dave, That's a good data point. Thanks.

How sunny, shady, cloudy was it when you were going 60 days off the grid?
We were pretty much through the gamut of weather (sun/rain/hail/fog/cloudy), as both times we started in sunny AZ, and traveled up the west coast line, California, Oregon, Washington, on over to Sand Point Idaho, Colorado, etc.
Makes me want to get back on the road, although it would be tough leaving this beautiful weather we're having here right now.
Dave & Paula
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