Solar Questions - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-05-2011, 05:38 PM   #1
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Solar Questions

Hi again,

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

I own a 2004 16' side dinette Scamp.

What I'd like to do is increase my trailer's power capacity, as well as charging capability, by possibly adding a third battery...but definitely by adding solar.

1. Is adding a 3rd battery something that people do? Just seems like an easy way of increasing available power. If so, how does one go about doing this?

2. Adding solar. So, I've read quite a few threads on this and I totally get that whether someone uses the thin flexible panels on the roof, or a hard-framed panel on the roof, or a portable setup that can be moved into the sun when needed...depends on that person's personal preference. I can see the benefits of each.

What I think I'd like to do is have a portable panel mounted to some kind of frame, that I can position where ever I want and have it connect via some kind of cord.

Here's where we get to my real questions.

I get that a charge controller is necessary, but does anything happen with the converter that is stock in the Scamp? Does that need to be replaced, upgraded, or modified? How does the charge controlled connect to the converter? I guess I'm just completely hazy on the general wiring of the solar integration. What if I wanted to use both the portable solar panel AND the roof mounted one? Do both just plug into the charge controller?

Any and all help would be much appreciated!

Thank you,
Chet
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:40 PM   #2
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Hi Chet....I'm new to Solar set ups as well...so will be following your thread with much interest. Here's a site you might find interesting...

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

I've been in touch with these folks and they've been very helpful. I'm leaning towards one of their packages for my Bigfoot.

Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:49 PM   #3
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Here's a couple things to think about:
1. If adding an additional battery, make sure it is the same size as the other batteries. Also, It's best to have batteries all the same age(so they will charge equally.
2. I like the portable solar panels, so you can move them where the light is. So many parks put trees next to parking.
3. You can connect the solar charge controller directly to the batteries, having no affect on your converter.

Look at Smarthome.com or Northern tool as 2 other places to look for portable panels.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chetwynd View Post
Hi again,

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

I own a 2004 16' side dinette Scamp.

What I'd like to do is increase my trailer's power capacity, as well as charging capability, by possibly adding a third battery...but definitely by adding solar.

1. Is adding a 3rd battery something that people do? Just seems like an easy way of increasing available power. If so, how does one go about doing this?

2. Adding solar. So, I've read quite a few threads on this and I totally get that whether someone uses the thin flexible panels on the roof, or a hard-framed panel on the roof, or a portable setup that can be moved into the sun when needed...depends on that person's personal preference. I can see the benefits of each.

What I think I'd like to do is have a portable panel mounted to some kind of frame, that I can position where ever I want and have it connect via some kind of cord.

Here's where we get to my real questions.

I get that a charge controller is necessary, but does anything happen with the converter that is stock in the Scamp? Does that need to be replaced, upgraded, or modified? How does the charge controlled connect to the converter? I guess I'm just completely hazy on the general wiring of the solar integration. What if I wanted to use both the portable solar panel AND the roof mounted one? Do both just plug into the charge controller?

Any and all help would be much appreciated!

Thank you,
Chet
The charge controller hooks directly to the battery and the panel to the controller, everything remains outside except you have to protect the controller from the elements. Dual group 27 or 31 batteries should give you over 200 a/h of juice of which 40% is available. You go to here The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
which explains hooking up 2 batteries and figuring your a/h use/demands. I doubt you would need 3 batteries and with only 2 and a 40 watt solar stuck on your roof you will receive about 6 hours of charging or about 18 a/h going back into your batteries. So if you use 30/day less 18 refresh your net use is 12 which means about 6 days before plugging in or hooking up to your tow. If your use is less your stay can be unlimited. Switching to all LED lights will really cut your usage dramatically.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:03 AM   #5
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Chet,
Jim is right about LED lighting. The biggest bang for your money comes from reducing your power consumption, and LEDs are the easiest way to do that. A third battery adds a lot of weight and unless you use an AGM or gel batteries, they need to be mounted outside your living spaces, which means on the tongue or rear bumper. Both of those locations could cause new problems.

If you go with a solar setup, here's a site that can be helpful for calculating the size of your panels, wiring, etc.: Solar Electric Power Discussion Forum by Northern Arizona Wind & Sun . A lot of these folks have setups for home use, but solar is the same, whether you mount it on a house or a home with wheels. You should find it easy to use since they use the same web software as this forum, and when it comes to solar, these folks are really helpful, just like here.

Ron
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Old 12-06-2011, 01:20 PM   #6
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Sept. last year I took a 4000 mile trip to Yellowstone and the surrounding country in my 03 16' Scamp SD.
I deliberately disconnected the charge line from the TV so I could test my new 50w panel on the roof.
The panel which was connected to the largest group 27 deep cycle battery I could find at Wal-mart supplied all my power needs for the entire trip.
It was cold so the furnace was run every night.
I spent a week in a Yellowstone campground with very tall trees so my panel received only filtered sun.
I was in a 2 day rain storm when the sun never out.
All the lights were LEDs.
I think if you add a 50W panel to your roof you will be more than satisfied.
John
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:41 PM   #7
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Thanks!

Thanks guys for the responses. It makes a lot more sense now. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find simple explanations without posting very specific questions.
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:44 PM   #8
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Cost effectiveness

I installed 80 watts on our Scamp 16 and LEDs at the same time. The LEDs are the most cost effective thing you can do, about $30-40 the 7 Lamps in our trailer. To add 80 watts of Solar cost us about $500.

New solar install....

In addition to LEDs another cost effective addition is the ability to charge your battery from the tow vehicle.
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:53 PM   #9
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Changing the lights to LEDs is great first step. It might be all you need, however I would suggest you examine your power usage. Don't even thing about running a refrigerator on battery, use propane. Another big draw, I would think, is the water pump. Limit the use of things like televisions, stereos, etc.
I have a 65 Watt solar panel that's portable so I only connect when I think I might need to. My house battery is a group 24 75 amp hour battery. Out of 97 days on the road last winter I ran the battery down once, the night time temperatures got down to 5, so the furnace was running a lot and I had been there for about 4 days without using the solar panel, oops....
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:01 PM   #10
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I used some of these tips below (Links)when I installed my 130 watt solar panel etc on my Trillium 4500
I made a 3/4 inch plywood box with a hinged top and bolted it down on the front of trailer to the frame with a lock on it that holds 2- 6 volt Batteries 80 pounds each .I installed a vent on the top side with a 2" abs elbow and screen inside it for mice wont get in and rain . I don't have a photo because my trailer is covered in a tarp for winter .
PS. Don't put too much weight in front of trailer when traveling . I put the 6 volt batteries inside my trunk and tie them down as they are too too heavy for the tongue and front frame of trailer as I have propane tank on the front too .
I have a spare 12volt deep cycle battery too ,it is smaller and lighter about 25 pounds and carry that in the box while I travel until I arrive to a long camp out and switch .



Installing Solar Panels


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Old 12-06-2011, 09:37 PM   #11
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My 55 watt solar panel is more than adequate. I place it on the roof when in use and like John said even in shade it provides enough juice to keep the group 27 battery charged. I never worry about putting it in full sun.

The cord is draped down the side of the Scamp and plugged into an outlet on the side. The outlet is wired to the solar controller which is mounted to the dinette cabinet. Then a wire goes from the controller through the cabinets and out the front with the trailers house 12v wire to the battery. Both wires are kept together with one of those split wire tubes, like auto use.

There is excess wire zip tied to the underneath of the solar panel in the event I ever feel the need to place the panel other than on the roof. To date that thought has never run through my mind. I always have a fully charged battery.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:03 AM   #12
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Another thing to consider -charge controllers. I have one that charges the house battery first, then changes over to the cranking battery. If you are remote camping it gives you piece of mind knowing your cranking battery is charged.
Many options are available. Thorough research into what's out there will pay off.
I have a Uni-Solar 64 watt panel. As long as the battery is adequate and good it should be enough in the 50-80 watt range.
But, since I"m of the "bigger is better" mind-set, I'm going to get a 135 watt on my next assembly.
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