Solar ???? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-27-2012, 03:27 PM   #1
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Solar ????

I do a lot of boon docking and camping in state forests in the shade. Is it worth my time installing a solar panel on my roof? Will it still make some electricity in the shade? and if so how big a panel should I get?
Thanks!
Jason
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Old 05-27-2012, 03:42 PM   #2
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The big question is how many days at a time. I can go about 4 days without recharging my battery. Therefore I usually drag out my solar panel my solar panel on the 3rd or 4th day. The last trip it was cloudy and shady and it still brought the battery back to full charge by the end of the day.

I've replaced all incandescent lights with LEDs and the only other power usage is for the fan on the furnace. As a result my power requirements are very small.

The battery is a 74 amp deep cycle.
Solar panel 65 Watt with a home built frame so that I can move it around to get the best sunlight.
Charge controller is a 6 amp. That's all that's needed because of the way I have it wired. The solar only has a maximum 4 amp output.

We were out for over 90 days twice in last two years. Total time with electricity was about 9 days out of over 180 days. Most time in one spot was a bit over 3 weeks.

The reason I asked about camping days at one time, is if almost all of your camping is 2 to 3 days at time solar could be a waste of time and money for you. Where we're on the road for months at a time it makes sense and is cheaper, quieter, and less messy than a generator.
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Old 05-27-2012, 05:14 PM   #3
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Some trips I am only out 3 to 4 days and I have found my battery does last that long but it gets drawn down very low and I am worried about ruining it. In the summer when I use it for work and am gone for 3 to 4 weeks at a time. I'm usually alone then and watch a lot of TV, use my laptop, charge my cell phone, and run the fan all night. I did change all of the lights except the florescent over the sink to led's. I do want to mount it on the roof so I don't have to worry about it growing legs and walking away while I am at work!
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Old 05-27-2012, 09:05 PM   #4
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Jason I also camp in the shade a lot so I didnt mount mine - I have a case I store it in and I built a stand out of PVC that pulls apart for storage. I can get by as Byron suggests for a few days without power providing I dont use my furnace. How big a panel depends a lot of how much power you are using - if your running your fridge on propane have LED lights inside and dont run a microwave, tv or AC you dont need a very big panel. Go a search here using google for best results as this topic has come up a number of times.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:54 AM   #5
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Jason,
The short answer is Yes, a solar panel will provide some charging capacity without direct sunlight, but not much. The best approach is to reduce consumption. LED lighting helps a lot. You need to do an inventory of your power consumers and estimate you daily use, then you'll be able to determine the size of the panel(s). If you camp in the shade, you're probably better off using a free-standing panel, as Carol does. Keep the trailer in the shade and place your solar array into a sunny spot.

Check out the link on the left side of the Forum ( http://www.fiberglassrv.com/solar.html ). It has info about how to size your system.

Ron
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:03 AM   #6
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Thanks guys! I cant leave the panel set out on a stand while I am out working in some of the places I camp I just know it would not be there when I returned.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
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Instead of an "either or" installation, you could do both. On my previous trailer (a Casita), I had a panel on the roof and also had a movable panel that I could plug in to my solar system when I was in a "secure" camping location. The rooftop also had the benefit of keeping my battery charged between trips.

On my new trailer (an Escape 19), I am installing 2 roof panels, and a duel battery system for more storage capacity for shady campsites.

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Old 05-28-2012, 09:12 AM   #8
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I have two group 27 deep cycles in parallel.Still 12 volts,but extra amp hours.I currently maintain them with a single 15 watt panel (free standing),and am upgrading to a bank of three 18 watters for 55 watts total.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:18 AM   #9
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Thanks guys for all the help! How well will all this work in the shade? That is my biggest concern. I don't want to spend a lot of $$$$ just to find it is not doing the job I need it to. It might get hit buy the sun once and a while during the day but not for long.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:18 AM   #10
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You will always get some current. With my 42 watt panel in full sun I get about 3 amps. A passing cloud will drop that in half. On a a heavy overcast day I am down to about 1/2 an amp. Overcast and in the shade maybe, 100-200 mA. All this assumes the panel is pointing in the right direction although on the overcast days up is as good as anywhere. Raz
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:44 AM   #11
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May not be worth your effort if you are surrounded by shade.A portable unit may be a more effective gatherer of energy if you can move it to avoid the shade.

CEA Solar/RVsolarnow.com in Surprise, Arizona markets some high quality portable systems. They currently come in 90W and 130W and can be linked together for additional capacity. The units fold and store in aluminum cases. The solar cells are manufactured in Germany.

Jim Mannett (CEO and founder) and his staff are very knowledgeable about solar products. I have used a 120W system for my Casita travel trailer for boondocking adventures for several years now and I have been quite pleased with its performance and the customer support from the company. I recently stopped by their store for a replacement handle for my storage case which I had clearly abused. I had a replacement in two days and they refused to charge me for it.

For security purposes, I attach a hardened cable to the system and the frame of my trailer. I use an alarmed lock on the cable that sounds if the system is moved.

Jim has a number of helpful published articles at the attached link.

Portable Solar Panels : RV Solar Battery Charger : RV Solar Power : RV Solar Panel Kits : RVSolarNow.com

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Old 05-28-2012, 11:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkman View Post
Thanks guys! I cant leave the panel set out on a stand while I am out working in some of the places I camp I just know it would not be there when I returned.
Thats a bit of a problem and one I debate when mine is out in the open on a stand & I am not going to be at the site all day. In those situations I put the panel up on the roof and hope it gets enough sun to do some charging - in most sites when its up on the roof you cant even see it - if the camp site is located such that the panel is visible I put it up on the side where by awning is its not so visible.
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baron100 View Post
For security purposes, I attach a hardened cable to the system and the frame of my trailer. I use an alarmed lock on the cable that sounds if the system is moved.]
Jim do you have a photo of your locking system or a link to the lock. It sounds like something I could use.
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Old 05-28-2012, 01:56 PM   #14
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Thanks so much guys! I am getting smarter buy the minute.
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