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Old 05-02-2017, 10:21 PM   #1
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Name: pat
Trailer: MITY LITE
British Columbia
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Solar conversion set up help

Looking to set up my rig to run off solar or shore option but need suggestions on how to set up and where to place equipment.
Here's what I have just nothing installed yet :

Marine 12v battery and 8ft cables
used 12V Hydroflame heater
2000W inverter
12V pump for sink

The longest trip would be 2 weeks at the most and would be using inverter for basics, tv, hairdryer, radio, led lights

What soler panel can I get away with? I need a basic controller amps? Fuse or breaker system?
Thanks
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:21 AM   #2
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Can't help you on where to install everything as I don't know your trailer.

The first thing you need to do is figure out how much 12vdc power you want to be able to burn in a given day. Determine the power required for each device you are going to use and how long you want to be able to run them, add them all up and you can figure out how big a solar panel and what capacity battery storage you'd need for your system, this also tells you the size of the wiring and fuses you'll need.

To start with, see if you can find the wattage for each device, and guestimate how long you want them to run each day. Some devices, like the furnace, only run part of the time, you need to take that into account.

Do you have room for more then the one 12v battery?

Are you thinking of a permanent roof mounted panel or a portable you set out on the ground?
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:59 AM   #3
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Thanks for that. Well there's a little sink pump. That would be minimal daily. Small Tv maybe an hour per day average. Blow dryer 10 minutes per day, coffee maker in the morning, charging phones, led lights at night along with 8ft string night of led lights on trailer outside. Solar panel would be folding and set up outside. What size 50w? 100?
There is just two of us and heater would be used minimally. Controller box ?
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:06 AM   #4
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Trailer: 2018, 21ft escapeó 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
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The size of the solar panel depends on how much power you plan on using , how many batteries you will employ and where and when you camp. The amount of sun feeding your solar is far different in Arizona then in Northern Minnesota and in the summer versus fall or winter. The solar also needs to be balanced with your battery storage capacity. Having 400 watts of solar with only one battery is not going to work well and is a waste of money IMHO. We have one 27F deep cycle battery and one 100 watt solar panel and it satisfies our needs but we don't run any 120 VAC appliances / inverter off our battery . Running a 1500 watt hair dryer and a coffee pot , even for a short period of time will drain a single battery in short order. If you plan on using your 2000 watt inverter at 100% then you need at least 2 large batteries (2000 watts @ 12VDC = 166 amps)
Just buying parts and throwing something together seldom works well and is seldom cost effective . All the components need to be coordinated properly
( solar , batteries ,controller ,wiring ,inverter ,usage , area ,time of year.)
You need to run the numbers.
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:14 AM   #5
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spaghetti road, here is how you figure it out:

Assuming an 80% efficient INverter:
- 1000 watt blow dryer for 10 minutes = 167 watt hours x 1.25 = 210 watt hours / 12 volt = 17 amp hours
- 700 watt coffee maker for 30 minutes = 350 watt hours x 1.25 = 440 watt hours / 12 volt = 37 amp hours
- 200 watt TV for 1 hour = 200 watt hours x 1.25 = 250 watt hours / 12 volt = 21 amp hours
- 10 watt phone charger for 4 hours = 40 watt hours x 1.25 = 50 watt hours / 12 volt = 4 amp hours

At this point you are already up to 79 amp hours per day of power demand. A 100 watt panel will provide 25 to 50 amp hours per day of power depending on the amount of sunlight available, so it appears you would need at least 2 100 watt solar panels...............

Adjust the above figures to match the ACTUAL appliances that you are going to use!

Good luck.

-John
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:17 AM   #6
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What I have described above is how to estimate your power usage. Its much easier to do this with a spreadsheet. But as you can see, your power demands are large in terms of solar panels. Figure also at least 2 100 amp hour batteries.
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:20 AM   #7
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This is a subject that is mentioned here often, so I'll be brief.
Follow John's numbers.
Avoid the inverter. Look into direct 12V alternatives, like a coffee press, 12V TV, etc.
"Marine" batteries are generally starter/storage batteries and not true deep cycle. Check out the amp hour rating.
A controller is essential to avoid overcharging. Fuses are needed.

Gordon
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:00 AM   #8
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You also need to factor in that you should not run a battery below 50% so a 100 AH battery is only good for 50 AH of usage.
IE , you can't run the battery down to zero .
On cloudy days the solar output often cannot keep up with demand and charge your trailer battery. We ran into this after 3 days of camping in heavily overcast weather and had to move to a site with hookups in order to recharge our battery.
Not trying to discourage you but solar is not without its' issues.
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:14 AM   #9
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= even more batteries spaghettiroad
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Old 05-03-2017, 11:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by John in Michigan View Post
= even more batteries spaghettiroad
If and when I order a new trailer I plan on getting the factory solar package with the 165 watt solar panel and 2 - 6 volt batteries and then use my portable 100 watt solar panel to supplement if we are parked in the shade. Without our solar charger off grid camping would be almost impossible but sometimes I think camping with hookups would be easier and maybe cheaper.
I went with solar because I find generators annoying and often are annoying to others but many have a different opinion.

Good Luck
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:16 PM   #11
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hair dryer is a "basic" now ????

spaghettihead, you have a very small trailer there...

electric heat elements (hair dryer and coffe maker) are power HOGS

if I am not mistaken that Hydroflame heater has a blower (another power hog) and it will cook you right out of such a small space....not to mention that they are not terribly efficient (vast majority of the heat goes out the exhaust)

heck, if you're dead set on the hair dryer.... get creative and use that for heat (on low) and delete the Hydroflame altogether !

there is no free lunch...you can't have everything, where would you put it?

buying a solar panel desn't mean you can power everything your three bedroom house has

go camping... for a night or two...find out what you need...

good luck and have fun
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:23 PM   #12
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Interesting discussion. It looks like the bigger and more is better is the operating thought here.
First off one of the ways to reduce the need for lots of batteries and solar panels is reduce consumption. It's not rocket science or even difficult.
1. All and any lights (interior and porch lights) change to low current LEDS
2. Skip all the appliances, including television. You don't really need them. They're wants not needs. Do you really need television to live and enjoy the outdoors?
3. Recalculate your NEEDS not wants.
4. Now you'll have lots of room for a 12 Volt hybrid battery and a 50 to 100 watt panel with controller.

I get by with a hybrid battery, and a 65 watt solar panel that is set to be portable and I get out about every 4th day we're camping. And we camp for 100 days at time without electricity. NO television, smart phone, no electric water pump, etc., etc., etc.

We find it much more enjoyable to be free of all that stuff.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:59 PM   #13
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Trailer: 2018, 21ft escapeó 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Interesting discussion. It looks like the bigger and more is better is the operating thought here.
First off one of the ways to reduce the need for lots of batteries and solar panels is reduce consumption. It's not rocket science or even difficult.
1. All and any lights (interior and porch lights) change to low current LEDS
2. Skip all the appliances, including television. You don't really need them. They're wants not needs. Do you really need television to live and enjoy the outdoors?
3. Recalculate your NEEDS not wants.
4. Now you'll have lots of room for a 12 Volt hybrid battery and a 50 to 100 watt panel with controller.

I get by with a hybrid battery, and a 65 watt solar panel that is set to be portable and I get out about every 4th day we're camping. And we camp for 100 days at time without electricity. NO television, smart phone, no electric water pump, etc., etc., etc.

We find it much more enjoyable to be free of all that stuff.
The majority of the time when we go camping we leave our cell phones at home , but not because they consume a ton of power.
We go camping to get away from everyday life and the phone is like an electronic leash. I feel no need to be socially connected 24/7
My life is just not that interesting that I need to share everything with everyone.
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Old 05-03-2017, 03:09 PM   #14
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Name: Peter
Trailer: G30 Elite Class C
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Originally Posted by spaghettiroad View Post
Thanks for that. Well there's a little sink pump. That would be minimal daily. Small Tv maybe an hour per day average. Blow dryer 10 minutes per day, coffee maker in the morning, charging phones, led lights at night along with 8ft string night of led lights on trailer outside. Solar panel would be folding and set up outside. What size 50w? 100?
There is just two of us and heater would be used minimally. Controller box ?
:if your going to run the heater then I would go with 100W as only puts out 5.5 amps at high noon and eases off before and after those hours as the sun moves, that furnace fan takes a lot of juice, Throw the blow dryer away and cut your hair just like army cut, We have used 100W for ever and have never run out of juice on our batteries (2) but again were careful in how we use them. Also when your on the road hook up from car to trailer a charge system from the cars alternator that way when u park the battery is always charge and same as car battery is charged so no dead batteries.
Stude
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Old 05-04-2017, 04:36 AM   #15
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Simplest would be to do as others have suggested, forget the hair drier and coffee maker. Install 2 batteries and get a 100w or 120w folding panel, make sure it has a controller on the back. Hook it to the batteries via the cable clamps the panel comes with and see how it goes. You can either get a TV that you can run off the 12vdc, or pick up a small cheap portable inverter for it.

Could also consider a small generator and fire it up for coffee and the hair dryer. A 1000w would work depending on the coffee pot and if you can get away with the medium setting on the hair dryer.

If you really want to go all out...

You didn't mention how comfortable you are working with power, there's a far amount of it involved when you get into a permanently mounted inverter, especially a big one.

Might start by seeing if you can mount 2 batteries, on my old travel trailer I had a 2 battery tray welded up at a shop and I bolted it to the front between the LP tanks and the jack. You can go East/West or North/South. Folks that run 2000w inverters with heavy draw items like you want to run, go with at least 2 batteries, 6v is generally better then 12, but you already have one of the 12's. If it's a new battery, then see if you can get another of the same so they match. They do not HAVE to be the same, but they will charge better if they are.

Wiring in a 2000w inverter takes a good amount of space, and it needs to be as close to the batteries as possible to keep the cables manageable. The farther away, the heavier the gauge the cable, which is too big even at short distances. I went with a 1000w for space considerations. Depending on the inverter, you may need access to it to turn it on, some have remotes.

You need to calculate the amp draw of the inverter to determine fuse size, as well as fuse or type, then find a fuse holder so you can measure the lug size on it for determining cable ends. Some of these fuse holders are pretty big so you need room for it too. A breaker is an option as opposed to a fuse.

You'd be best off with the most panel you feel like handling. You may be able to get away with a 160w +/- to start, although you may need more if you really want to run the coffee pot and hair drier on a daily basis. The 160w suitcase panels are pretty bulky and heavy. Where you store it during travel should be a consideration.

I don't know how multiple portable panels, each with it's own controller, would work trying to hook them to the batteries with cable clamps. If you were to find you need more then 1, you may have to look into a separate solar controller permanently installed.

I'm sure I missed a few things, but this should give you an idea on what you're getting into.
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Old 05-04-2017, 06:40 AM   #16
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Name: Patricia
Trailer: 1975 Ventura
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Interesting discussion. It looks like the bigger and more is better is the operating thought here.
First off one of the ways to reduce the need for lots of batteries and solar panels is reduce consumption. It's not rocket science or even difficult.
1. All and any lights (interior and porch lights) change to low current LEDS
2. Skip all the appliances, including television. You don't really need them. They're wants not needs. Do you really need television to live and enjoy the outdoors?
3. Recalculate your NEEDS not wants.
4. Now you'll have lots of room for a 12 Volt hybrid battery and a 50 to 100 watt panel with controller.

I get by with a hybrid battery, and a 65 watt solar panel that is set to be portable and I get out about every 4th day we're camping. And we camp for 100 days at time without electricity. NO television, smart phone, no electric water pump, etc., etc., etc.

We find it much more enjoyable to be free of all that stuff.
Hybrid Battery? I have been reading extensively and watching videos on solar and this is the first time I have seen hybrid batteries mentioned for solar use. When dropping a new (to most forum members) technology or concept into a discussion, it would be very helpful to include some description, rationale and perhaps pictures.
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Old 05-04-2017, 06:54 AM   #17
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The only hybrid battery I've heard of is a marine battery. It's half deep cycyle and half starting battery.

From Arizona Solar

"Marine batteries are usually a "hybrid", and fall between the starting and deep-cycle batteries, though a few (Rolls-Surrette and Concorde, for example) are true deep cycle. In the hybrid, the plates may be composed of Lead sponge, but it is coarser and heavier than that used in starting batteries. It is often hard to tell what you are getting in a "marine" battery, but most are a hybrid. Starting batteries are usually rated at "CCA", or cold cranking amps, or "MCA", Marine cranking amps - the same as "CA". Any battery with the capacity shown in CA or MCA may or may not be a true deep-cycle battery. It is sometimes hard to tell, as the term deep cycle is often overused - we have even seen the term "deep cycle" used in automotive starting battery advertising. CA and MCA ratings are at 32 degrees F, while CCA is at zero degree F. Unfortunately, the only positive way to tell with some batteries is to buy one and cut it open - not much of an option."
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Old 05-05-2017, 08:46 PM   #18
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Thanks so much for the help ! 2000W inverter, 6 way fuse box with , 100 W portable solar , ditch the hairdryer and coffeemaker, and stick with the newer marine battery. It's a small trailer, won't need much and I'll keep an eye out for a good little AC/DC tv. Haven't decided on the hydroflame heater. It does have a thermostat.. but I agree 16,000 BTU for a little space, it won't kick in very much. Thought about a catalytic system as well.
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Old 05-06-2017, 12:20 PM   #19
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I think everyone should determine their own needs and wants. Far be it for me to criticize others. I admit that the blow dryer gave me pause, but it doesn't matter. Many people consider an indoor toilet a Must. Many don't. Just remember that all the advice here is free. Some of it's a bargain. Some of it's not (even mine ).

I have the same Atwood heater with the same output in my Scamp 13. The blower draws about 3 amps when running. I don't believe the exhaust produces more heat than the output to the interior. I use a lighted on/off switch more often than the thermostat, because 5 minutes is usually enough. I consider this to be a delightful luxury. Although sometimes it's a Need, most of the time it's a Want that is very much appreciated. Sometimes my dog puts her head right in front of it, looking a lot like the RCA Victor dog.

Your Mity Lite reminds me of a cryogenic stasis chamber for 2, suitable for flying to distant galaxies searching for habitable planets (maybe too much Star Trek in my life?) . If you decide on a catalytic heater Be Careful! That could put you in Permanent stasis.

I like my TV/DVD for movies and concert videos, but I mostly full-time. The majesty of nature looses a little shine when you've been out for months. Nice to have.

Above all else, go camping and have fun! Get road worthy and get out there. You'll learn a lot about what's important to You. Bring a pencil and paper and take notes.

Good Luck
Gordon
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Old 05-06-2017, 01:47 PM   #20
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maybe....

maybe I'll have to check my furnace....

mine is an Atwood 8500 series (with 3 ducts)...it consumes 4.4 amps (fifty percent more than the OPs)...on the outside of the trailer the furnace cover says "HOT"...and it certainly is...I can't keep my hand there when it's running...inside it takes quite a few minutes before any heat is felt and in the middle of a cycle it's just somewhat above lukewarm (not very hot IMO)

maybe there's something wrong with mine....maybe not

coming from boats...if that furnace broke down I would not spend a couple of hundred dollars to get it fixed...I'd yank it out and install a marine propane fired "fireplace"....nice flame to look at, a built-in little 12V blower and even a B vent (combustion air coming from outside through the double wall chimney)...and there are also other good options...time marches on, it's called progress....but the status quo certainly does work (consuming fuel and power at a measurable rate that can be compared to other options)

lastly, I think people post on here to get feedback (opinions) I don't consider providing feedback (my opinion) is criticizing anybody (???)

all trailers and all owners are different....It doesn't matter a hoot to me if somebody thinks my installed equipment or my set-up are dumb/unsafe/ inefficient....if it works for me it's in there...if it doesn't it's either out or will be sometime in the future....If I'm considering an install and ask for feedback and I get a response like "that's a dumb-*** idea" (hopefully with reasons why), I'll consider it...end of story. That's the point ain't it? Why would I get upset?
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