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Old 05-31-2016, 11:41 AM   #1
WaltBennett
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Fun with no sun and just a little solar!

Since no one's been posting on this thread for a while, I figured I'd put something here.

We spent five days dry camping with next to no sun (and lots of rain!) living off our four T-105 battery bank and four 100 watt solar panels in late April. Wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, although we didn't try watching TV or making microwave popcorn. I think this was probably a worst case kind of exercise, but it worked out rather well. Did all our cooking with propane and used our Big Buddy on one night. Took quick showers and washed our dishes every day. Furnace never kicked in although the thermostat was set for 68. Outside got down to 50 or so. Had a generator in the truck bed for 'just in case' but never fired it up. When we got back home I had to refill one tank, but I don't believe it was totally full when we started.

Just have to be a little careful about what you're doing and life can be good doing this!
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:26 PM   #2
MAMalody
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I have been debating solar, but have not yet pulled the trigger. Was you success dictated by voluntary restrictions or by the limited power replenishment?
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:25 PM   #3
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When you have solar you have monitoring devices that let you know when you have to conserve. It seems to be standard for those of us who have solar to get sucked in to knowing what everything draws and what our max and minimum electric requirements are. You just go from there. We've had six inches of rain so far this month and no issues with recharging the batteries, of course we have seven panels so that helps.
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Old 06-01-2016, 10:24 AM   #4
WaltBennett
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by MAMalody

I have been debating solar, but have not yet pulled the trigger. Was you success dictated by voluntary restrictions or by the limited power replenishment?
Like Dick said, one becomes sort of obsessive about where the watts are going when you are even getting serious about installing a system. I sized ours for just what we did at most and not for spending weeks off grid. Usually we use it for overnights, or spending a few days in a National Forest or some such. Although my 4kw inverter could run the AC, I bought it as it was half the price of the 2kw one I wanted. Just lucked into it. I had planned on a battery bank of only four T-105s (yes, I have to check the water once a month - not that hard to do), and also four 100 watt panels (so I didn't need the expense of an MPPT solar charger). This has worked very well over three years on two cross country trips and numerous shorter ones. Only time we've needed to use a generator has been for AC the three times we got stuck with no power and 90+ degree heat. I designed the system so that I can add panels and/or batteries if we have the need, but I don't believe we'll get to that point.

For this one, we did have to limit TV to only the bedroom one, and didn't watch it much. Didn't use the microwave or coffee maker either, although we have in the past. Used our Big Buddy for heat the two nights it got a little cool instead of the furnace (fan motor). The batteries typically will recharge from about 80% to 100% in 4-5 hours of cloudless sunlight. This time we had about 4 hours total of good sunshine in the five days. They recharged totally twice in those five days, and were above 90% for the rest. Since we were gone elsewhere during the daytime and didn't need to use anything then, this worked out fine.
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:54 AM   #5
mjammersc
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as many have said when you start researching solar, the battery monitor is key and it makes you very aware of usage and how to conserve when needed. Little things like changing the last few non-LED lights our rig had makes a difference as they were ones used a lot (over the island and dining table). We ended up with brighter lights at 1/5th the power draw. Its items like this that add up and makes using solar to keep you off grid or supplement AC when you are on a 15-30A line, all the better. I use my solar in both manners. I've been off grid and running the furnace when it was into the 40s, TV, occasional electric skillet or microwave, and not sitting in the dark, and only use about 10% overnight and even on a bad day I can replenish most of that during the day as our usage drops then when we are out and doing things. This past weekend I was on a 30A site and was putting that towards the air conditioning and using my batteries to support most the rest of the electric usage and even though it was a shaded site I was only down a few % from max capacity after 4 night stay. My DW laughs at me when I get excited and comment on power because we are down to "only" 90% left.
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:15 PM   #6
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If you like to boon-dock Solar is the way to go. This pass winter we spent 3 months off the grid and never had to run the generator once. Like was said above if you do stay in a park where you have to pay for electric or 30 AMPS service then you run everything on solar and use the grid for the AC units.
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Old 10-08-2016, 12:16 PM   #7
Justme44
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Hay Dennis ... how do you get 1200 watts of solar? I can't get 12 panels on my 3280rl. Do your panels put out more than 100 watts each? I plan to go solar but it will be well over a year before I can have the cash.
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Old 10-08-2016, 01:02 PM   #8
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We can't get to 1,200, but we have seven 140w panels up there.
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Old 10-08-2016, 01:15 PM   #9
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Dennis I am not sure what Dennis "mudchief" uses for panels but I believe he purchased them for Larry Crutcher in Yuma. He has a nice system that will supply lots of power for his stays in the AZ desert. On my trailer I have 3 panels that have 1,305 watts total that are about 42"x80" . I had to run my panels crosswise on my trailer. I did have to cover on of my attic vents when installing. I also bought my panels from Larry Crutcher.
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Old 10-08-2016, 05:14 PM   #10
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Dennis, I have 2 systems combined. The first one contains 4 140 watt panels at 12 volts. The second one contains 2 320 watt panels at 40 volts. With the Blue Sky controller they can be daisy chained together allowing you to use different voltage from different arrays. If you can go with bigger panels it will be cheaper. My 2 larger panels cost about $75.00 more than one of the 140 12 volt panels.
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Old 10-09-2016, 09:50 AM   #11
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I am trying to educate myself on the solar systems. I am having a problem putting together a system of more than 800 watts (100 watt panels)at two lines of four panels (in my mind). I think I would like a system using 48v in order to keep the cable size down and allow the longer cable run. This would require an MPPT controller like your Blue Sky to convert the 48v to 12v? Am I on the right trail? Education needed.
Dennis
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Old 10-09-2016, 12:54 PM   #12
mjammersc
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There is a point where switching to high wattage/voltage panels and an MPPT controller is more cost efficient and effective. You also can get away with 3 panels and be at 800w plus.
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Old 10-09-2016, 06:45 PM   #13
Drifty1
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Justme44

I am trying to educate myself on the solar systems. I am having a problem putting together a system of more than 800 watts (100 watt panels)at two lines of four panels (in my mind). I think I would like a system using 48v in order to keep the cable size down and allow the longer cable run. This would require an MPPT controller like your Blue Sky to convert the 48v to 12v? Am I on the right trail? Education needed.
Dennis
Dennis the panels I use are 72.9 volts which allowed me to run a smaller cable to the Midnight Classic charge controller.
The follow link would help answer some of your questions. https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...d-up-so-angry/
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