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Old 02-11-2018, 09:39 AM   #1
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Setting up for solar

We are currently wintering in an RV park Quartzsite ,AZ and there has been much discussion about boodocking in the desert. Most of the boondockers look to be set up for solar as an adjunct totheir power needs. My wife and I a 2016 3160RL Montana and was wondering about purchasing a couple of portable solar panels. What I don't know is what other compnents are necessary to complete a solar system.
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Old 02-11-2018, 09:49 AM   #2
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You should determine exactly what you want to accomplish using solar first. By that I mean what your electrical needs will be. Are you just looking to have coffee in the morning or do you want to have access to much more. Based upon what your needs will be then determine the size and type of components you will need to accomplish. In general you will need a battery with sufficient amp hour capacity to provide the power you need. You will need an inverter to convert the DC battery current to AC current for your AC loads. You will also need a solar charge controller to manage converting the solar energy your panel absorb to recharge your batteries. Lastly you will need ample solar panels to provide enough amperage to charge your previously sized batteries.
2015 3440RL, legacy package, Sailun S637's, Onan Commercial gen, Winegard Trav'ler (Dish), 2011 Ram 3500 Laramie dually
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Old 02-11-2018, 10:50 AM   #3
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I know all that’s sounds like a lot to take in but it really is good advice. Here is our set up based on what I wanted to use power wise. First I wanted to sit down at night and watch TV without running my generator so I located the circuits allowing me to do this next I figured out how much solar power I needed to accomplish this and how big of battery bank I needed. 4 6 volt golf cart battery’s. Next how big of a inverter in my case a 1800 watt sine wave to protect my electronics. The inverter I chose was able to be hard wired to the circuits I chose to have power to. Basic knowledge of wiring is useful. As far as solar system I went with a 400 watt with included 4 100 watt 12 volt panels and a charge controller to keep batteries maintained. I installed the system my self with a little planning to make sure all the components fit where I wanted them and all the cable lengths where proper fit. I did actually end up adding 2 more batteries and wired in a few more circuits so I could run a few more things but the solar system is still the same. We boondock 90to 95 % of the time and are extremely happy with the solar option. Love the fact that the generator sits quiet most of the time. I hope I was of some help and if you do have more questions I would be happy to be of help just PM me I’ll give you my number.
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Old 02-11-2018, 01:08 PM   #4
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There is a lot more information to be had. The devil is indeed in the details. Where I have seen most people fail is in wire sizing and overcurrent protection. Do what you will with that information. The internet has a lot of resources available to you. Rest in the knowledge that you are not the first on this journey and there a wealth of information available to you via the web. A great place to start is to visit www.jackdanmayer.com Jack has a very, very informative series of pages regarding solar in the RV. Another I would recommend is www.technomadia.com. They went a a bit higher end however if you boondock a lot you may be interested in that level of gear. If you are interested in the second and third sentences at the beginning of my post you may also want to check out the AltE channel on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/AltEStore/videos
There is a lot of information and quite a bit of the sizing and protection videos are like stereo instructions since they get into the National Electrical Code requirements but if you follow the regulations you will have a properly wired and protected system as well. This project is very doable. Doing the work yourself will save you a lot of money. Doing it properly will save more than just money.

I had a few moments and found a couple of very good videos from the AltE site regarding wire sizing and overcurrent protection.

2015 3440RL, legacy package, Sailun S637's, Onan Commercial gen, Winegard Trav'ler (Dish), 2011 Ram 3500 Laramie dually
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Old 02-11-2018, 09:32 PM   #5
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We boondock most of the time. I would recommend you get a inverter and a good set of batteries along with a Honda 2000 to charge the batteries. Then try boondocking and see if you like it. If you like it then follow what PNW Fireguy tells you above and go with a full solar system.
Dennis & Linda Ward
Paola, Kansas
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1200 watts of Solar
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Old 02-12-2018, 07:34 AM   #6
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Discount Solar in Quartzsite would be able to answer a lot of your questions that you have. They have installed many systems on our members trailers when folks are in town for the Circling of Montanaís off Plomosa Rd. Here is a site I use to help with my design and questions I had about solar.
2007.5 Dodge 3/4 ton, SRW,2WD,6.7,SB
2002 3295RK, Magmun Hybrid 3012 inverter with 1305 watt solar at 82 volts. Midnite Classic 150 controller
6ea. AGM 6v battery, Flex Air pin box, Mor/ryde I/S,disc brakes. RF Mogul dish.
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