Looking for Solar advise - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-19-2017, 09:59 AM   #1
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Name: Charles
Trailer: Scamp 16
Ohio
Posts: 244
Looking for Solar advise

I want to start by saying that I am a pretty knowledgeable person.
I am actually a certified electrician and have many years experience in that field. This actually tends to be a problem because I tend to way over think things. I have done all the calculations as to what I think my needs are for a solar system in my 16' Scamp but would like input from someone who has a working system. I have the front bath with side dinette. Right now I have an on board 2600 watt inverter generator that I use mainly for the AC unit when needed and for the microwave. My main electrical drains are my LED lights and my electronics which are a lap top a cellphone and tv on occasion. I have 2000 watt inverter for converting 12v to 120 v. My plans are to dry camp for an indefinite period and would love input on a system the would work for me. I want to hardwire the camper to be plugged in to a portable solar panel as I park in the shade often with sun surrounding the camper itself.

What kind of batteries should I use and how many?
What watt solar panel and what brand do you suggest?

Sometimes I throw the rules out the window and learn from folks and their experiences.

Thanks very much in advance.
Charlie
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Old 01-19-2017, 10:50 AM   #2
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Charlie, I had great success with a single 100 watt Renogy monocrystaline solar panel mounted on the front of our 13' Scamp, paired with a single group 27 battery. I believe they make a portable "suitcase" style system. If you can handle the weight, two golf cart deep cycle batteries would be a great setup, but you do have a generator as a backup plan if a smaller system doesn't live up to your expectations/needs.
Dave & Paula
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Old 01-19-2017, 12:39 PM   #3
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Name: Charles
Trailer: Scamp 16
Ohio
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Thanks Dave&Paula,
Sounds like the 2 golf cart batteries and 100 watt suitcase would work well. I now have the group 27 and a 40 watt Coleman which does ok for about 3 days before I need to fire up the generator to top the battery off. I do worry about the weight of the setup.
Slowly over the years I have learned to cut way back on "stuff" that I thought I needed for camping. I'm getting to the age where it is just too much work and found that I just didn't need all that.
I like your idea. I've ordered the plug kit for the shore power cord so that I can install the golf card batteries under the rear dinette seat in a sealed vented enclosure.
I think that would work if they are not too heavy. Now need to shop for batteries and a solar panel.
Charlie
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Old 01-20-2017, 08:57 AM   #4
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If you don't plan to run the microwave or AC, you don't need much solar. Well, depending on where you live and camp.

In the west, with all the sun we get, you don't need much. When I "camp" (I still have a hard time calling RVing "camping"), I use my water pump, heater blower, a small fan, LED lights and I charge a phone, laptop and sometimes a few other things like toothbrush, rechargeable batteries for flashlights etc.

I have just one regular marine battery and a 90W portable panel. For me, it's just right. Just barely enough. If I wanted to use all my listed electronics without any consideration to power draw, I might up my solar to 150W or something, but using solar is (or at least should be) first and foremost about conserving power and being overly conscious of electrical use. With the courses I took in solar design and installation, the first thing you're asked to do is try to reduce your power use. Then you design the system. But we're all allowed some extravagance and pampering But it seems that people interested in solar care about using renewables and conserving, otherwise why not just do the easy thing and burn gas in the generator? I think that with something more like 100W or 150W and more battery storage, you'd be totally set, without overdoing it. I often camp for 5-7 days in one place with my setup, and it's fine. But sometimes I'm right on the edge...depending on whether or not I need to run the heater, usually. It's always enough, but if I'm running the heat a lot, I do find myself wishing for just a bit more solar or a bit more storage.

If you camp in more shady areas you'd need more, obviously, and it sounds like you know how to do those calculations.

There are people who full time in their trailers, even in the winter, in areas which see some snow and cold temps but not full-on winter, and they get by with just solar, running a microwave, TV, heater and everything else. But then you're talking a serious battery and solar set up. I think maybe it's the "handy bob solar" or something like that where I read about that stuff.
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:13 AM   #5
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Name: Larry H
Trailer: Trillium
Arizona
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Solar info...

Hi,

Link to another solar discussion...

Two weeks off the grid with Renogy

Larry H
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:52 AM   #6
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 13
California
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I just got back from 4 days in Quartzsite AZ. On my Scamp 13 I use (2) 30 watt monocrystalline panels with a 10 amp controller. I used a Trolling motor quick disconnect plug wired direct to my single Group 27 battery. This has been enough solar for me to run my LED lights, My Attwood furnace and several dvd's during the night. Even with the low winter sun and cloudy sky this was enough solar to keep my battery charged every day. When I set up camp the first thing that gets set up after leveling the trailer is my solar. Don't wait until everything is drained down and then set up your solar.

If I wanted to save a little money instead of using the trolling motor plug you can use a 7 pin socket attached to your solar wires and plug into you 7 pin trailer plug to get the power to your battery.

This has been working very well for me but I am in socal where the sun is mostly out and there is not allot of shaded camp sites. Don't even think about running the fridge on solar or any real 120 AC stuff you will need a whole bank of batteries and allot of solar watts. With 12 volt plumbing, showers and stuff you will probably want to start with closer to 100 watts. the beauty of solar is you can easily add more. Just start with a controller rated at at least double of you actual initial need. A 100 watt panel needs a 9 amp controller. Add another panel your at 18 amps so I would be buying a 25 to 30 amp controller. Room for expansion and should last forever being under worked.
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Old 01-21-2017, 07:47 AM   #7
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Name: Charles
Trailer: Scamp 16
Ohio
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As usual, lots of great info. Thanks very much.
I tend to over think , over build and over do. Looks like with the advice I've gotten from you folks I can do with way less that I thought. Thanks!
Charlie
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Old 01-21-2017, 08:33 AM   #8
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Name: John Michael
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Charlie, I had great success with a single 100 watt Renogy monocrystaline solar panel mounted on the front of our 13' Scamp, paired with a single group 27 battery.
Dave & Paula
Dave and Paula's system sounds a lot like ours. Works well and allows for near infinite nights of boondocking even with Winter's low sun angles. We tend to follow KISS principles. Roof mounted, non tilting, 100 watt panel, LED lights, water pump, occasional furnace use, 12 volt/usb chargers for idevices. We don't bring home appliances like hair dryers, microwaves, coffee makers, etc. Our tea kettle goes on the stovetop and I expect stovetop percolators are still available if coffee is the drug of choice.

We still call our trips camping, though we don't judge other flavors of Camping/RVing. To each his own. My father built up over time from a popup to a 38 footer and Jill and I spent decades in tents before moving up to our palatial Scamp. Some full timers want washer/dryers onboard. One popular RVing podcasting couple can't seem to stay anywhere without 50 amp/240 volt service. That kinda eliminates National Parks, Seashores and Forests; our preferred destinations. We are glad everyone doesn't agree with our choices. Its already way too crowded out there.

As frequently stated here and elsewhere - Y.M.M.V.
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Old 01-21-2017, 10:55 AM   #9
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Nothing wrong with overthinking, necessarily, just keep it in perspective. Research and calculations are completely appropriate here; just going with the advice you've seen here on other peoples setups is also. It's always interesting to add up your estimated usage in watts, build your system to that, with a little buffer and room for easy expansion, and see how accurate you were.

Yup, everyone does it differently. I still car camp, and I still backpack, and I hope to never give either up (well, backpacking may go away in my 70s or 80s). I'll always have a tent, and I'll still sleep on a pad under the stars now and then.

My RV serves its own specific purpose and its own kind of activity. It is, in reality, hauling a house behind me wherever I go. And I love hauling my house and living in it with views and on property I could never afford. BLM and Forest Service land allow me to spend time in places I'd otherwise only be able to dream of.
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Old 01-24-2017, 06:22 AM   #10
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Name: Charles
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I am pretty bare bones and still call it camping as well. lol I do fire the gen up for my coffee but take a percolator in case of emergencies hehee (must have java) After all this good input, it looks like all i need to do is keep my current batter and just add another 40 watts.
Thanks
Charlie
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Old 01-24-2017, 08:28 AM   #11
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Let us know how it goes!

Luckily for me I mostly drink tea, so all I need is the kettle on the stove. But I do like coffee now and then. I have a manual hand grinder, and a pour over cone. Used to have an aero press and it was great too. No electricity needed.

But I agree, especially since we have the ability to bring our homes with us wherever we go, there are certain conveniences that are well worth it, and certain comforts of home that there's no reason to deprive yourself of.
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Old 01-28-2017, 04:52 AM   #12
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Name: Huck
Trailer: ParkLiner
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It cost me a little more, but I have 2 100 watt panels. I have a flexible panel roof mounted which is all I usually need. I also have a portable panel I can plug in as needed.

If I park in the sun, I don't bother hooking up the portable. If I park in the shade, or in cloudy weather, or in the winter, I can use both.
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Old 01-28-2017, 01:25 PM   #13
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Can you explain more about your setup?

I remember learning ways around this, but don't remember what they are...Basically any shaded cell will drag the rest of the panels efficiency down. So essentially whatever the lowest-producing cell on the panel is putting out, the rest of the panel is limited to that much production. Which is why just a little section of shade on a panel drops it's efficiency a TON.

I thought the same was true of multiple panels. Which is why you tend to see a bunch of panels on just one side of residential roofs, getting the angle of the best sun, rather than on all sides of the roof to pick up morning, afternoon and evening sun. But now and then I do see set ups with panels facing every which way, so I know there's a way around it...

What do you do?
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Old 01-28-2017, 02:13 PM   #14
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Name: Huck
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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
Can you explain more about your setup?

I remember learning ways around this, but don't remember what they are...Basically any shaded cell will drag the rest of the panels efficiency down. So essentially whatever the lowest-producing cell on the panel is putting out, the rest of the panel is limited to that much production. Which is why just a little section of shade on a panel drops it's efficiency a TON.

I thought the same was true of multiple panels. Which is why you tend to see a bunch of panels on just one side of residential roofs, getting the angle of the best sun, rather than on all sides of the roof to pick up morning, afternoon and evening sun. But now and then I do see set ups with panels facing every which way, so I know there's a way around it...

What do you do?
I just used 2 y cables. One end plugs into the roof panels and I extended the other end through a hole in bottom of trailer. The common end of the y cables connects to the charge controller.

I made 2 dummy plugs to connect to the cables going through the floor to keep dirt and water out when traveling. To connect my portable panel, I just take the dummy plugs off and connect the 2 cables going to panel.
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