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Old 08-28-2020, 01:06 PM   #1
dallasrules
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Ok guys, educate me please

I know there is a ton of information on solar out there. I just found out that its going to cost me thousands of dollars to get temporary power on my property.

So, I need to learn about solar. I have next to 0 knowledge, so can you point me to some good articles where I can learn the basics quickly and build my knowledge base.

Basically, I have a 2003 Montana 3655fl 5th wheel. It is 50 amp, but only has one ac. I can run the water heater and refrigerator on propane. I am assuming 12v led lights are a minor issue, but I will need electric for the furnace or ac, plus maybe computer and TV. Maybe refrigerator is no good and I would have to put an electric one in. What about the water pump.

I have a generator, but don't want to run it all the time. Can the generator charge up the battery banks as well.

Trailer should get decent sun during the day. It is on the edge of a clearing.

We will only use on the weekends.

What is the minimum, average and maximum systems I would need.

This is an older trailer, so I am assuming it doesn't have any solar pre wiring.
 
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Old 08-28-2020, 02:19 PM   #2
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I would go on youtube and search for "Will Prowse solar".

Be prepared to sit for a few hours watching.
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Old 08-28-2020, 03:40 PM   #3
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Pretty much all of your necessities will run off 12 volt and/or propane including hot water, heater, refer and lights. A decent size battery bank with 2 or 4 golf cart batteries will let you run for a day or two with no additional power and then can be recharged by running a genny a couple of hours. You can add a portable solar kit to help recharge without a big install expense or just go with a genny. If you want to run your a/c or anything else that requires significant 110 power you will need to run the genny.
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Old 08-28-2020, 03:42 PM   #4
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Our old rig had six golf cart batteries, 7 panels and a 4500 watt inverter and I still wouldn't have attempted to run an AC unit.
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Old 08-28-2020, 04:04 PM   #5
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For what you are trying to do I would get 4 6 volt golf cart batteries and run the genny a little in the morning and evening to charge the back up. Also change all interior bulbs to led. We dry camp several weeks at a time just like that.
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Old 08-28-2020, 06:06 PM   #6
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You are going to need a lot of solar to run your AC. A lot more than you can get on top of your camper. I like to boondock. We run the generator for the AC and conserve power when not using the AC.
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Old 08-28-2020, 06:53 PM   #7
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Remember for a rough calculation approx. 1 amp at 120 VAC requires 10 amps from 12 VDC, so a typical 15 amp draw of an AC means 150 amps from the Batteries.
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Old 08-28-2020, 07:22 PM   #8
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Bottom line it's going to cost thousands of dollars for the solar you need and you still many not be able to run the AC. I'd have them bring in the electic if I was going to be there a while otherwise I'd get a spare fuel tank for the generator.
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Old 08-29-2020, 09:15 AM   #9
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We have one solar panel, 135 watt, and we get along fine. Of course, that won’t run the microwave or air conditioning, but we manage without either when we are boondocking.

The thing to remember about solar is, that it’s basically a battery charger. The more battery capacity, the better. Your generator should handle anything that your solar will not.

Of course, we live at high altitude, and don’t use the air much anyway, so that may sway your thinking a little.

Use propane for everything that you can run on it, and you should be fine. LED bulbs will help with battery drain, too.
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Old 08-29-2020, 09:48 AM   #10
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I like the idea of a little solar and some generator. One shade tree equals one air conditioner. If you can get enough sun to charge the batteries, good enough.
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Old 08-29-2020, 02:34 PM   #11
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I wouldn't spend thousands of dollars on anything temporary, just to have for the weekends. Get some batteries and a good generator. Sounds like it should fulfill most of your needs. If you do decide to move the rig you take your solution with you while the temporary power becomes a stranded investment.
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Old 08-29-2020, 02:41 PM   #12
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I would go with a mix of generator and solar and batteries if you dont want just run the genny all the time.
Batteries are the hard (expensive) part, especially if you go lithium. I bought used Valence batteries (excellent deal) but you have to know what you are doing if you go that route. 6vdc golf batteries are probably easier to manage if you are not well versed with electrical/electronics and lithium batteries.
Also if you are stationary, look at insulation. Look at the air gaps under your frame. Use gorilla tape to close up small holes (keeps mice out too). Cover openings around the jacks (except for the propane tanks, they must have openings to vent any propane leaks).
Look at skirting your rig and some heat for underneath. Makes a big difference in heating/cooling. Good Facebook group for winterizing is "Let's stay warm together".
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Old 09-02-2020, 01:39 PM   #13
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I have a 3781RL parked at my Cranberry Bogs, my girlfriend calls it the country home. We run the whole thing off a single 25amp extension cord. We watch what we run and don’t overload things. I use Gas for hot water and when it gets too hot I pull out my Wen 3800 watt generator and can run both AC’s.
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Old 09-02-2020, 02:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ren View Post
I would go on youtube and search for "Will Prowse solar".

Be prepared to sit for a few hours watching.


I agree - 100%

Will is good kid who knows his stuff when it comes to batteries & solar. He has an affordable book on Amazon that will give you a great foundation of knowledge. It might even be the only resource you need.

One other YouTube channel Iíve found helpful is ďRV with Tito.Ē

There are a couple more, but the suggestions above will get you started.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 09-02-2020, 02:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dallasrules View Post
I know there is a ton of information on solar out there. I just found out that its going to cost me thousands of dollars to get temporary power on my property.

So, I need to learn about solar. I have next to 0 knowledge, so can you point me to some good articles where I can learn the basics quickly and build my knowledge base.

Basically, I have a 2003 Montana 3655fl 5th wheel. It is 50 amp, but only has one ac. I can run the water heater and refrigerator on propane. I am assuming 12v led lights are a minor issue, but I will need electric for the furnace or ac, plus maybe computer and TV. Maybe refrigerator is no good and I would have to put an electric one in. What about the water pump.

I have a generator, but don't want to run it all the time. Can the generator charge up the battery banks as well.

Trailer should get decent sun during the day. It is on the edge of a clearing.

We will only use on the weekends.

What is the minimum, average and maximum systems I would need.

This is an older trailer, so I am assuming it doesn't have any solar pre wiring.

Normally I would say it depends on if you are full time or not. You sound like year round weekenders. That is a little different, aspects of both extremes. I would buy a battery monitor to determine what your battery requirements are. If you were full time I would recommend a Victron BMV712 or 702 but in your case the gold standard Trimetric TM-2030RV might be better. The procedure is, early morning note time and 'Amp Hours from full'. Go about your day and the next morning note time and 'Amp Hours from full' again. Simple math will tell you how long your batteries will last. Assuming they are real deep discharge batteries like Trojan T105's you probably know they can only be discharged to 50% without damage (if they are not real, they won't last at all). The TM-2030 shows that number on the screen so you will know. Running an AC especially without a soft start needs roughly 125 DC amps to run and briefly 3 or 4 hundred to start w/o the soft start. AC with FLA is not a good idea unless you turn on the generator. For solar, once you know how much power you need subtract your solar estimate from that to determine battery life. If you do get the Trimetric TM-2030-RV since this is a small installation and not full time, I recomend the companion charge controller SC-2030 because they work real well together. The furnace is the biggest power pig and probably means at least 4 T105's plus generator since there is hardly any sun in the winter. To determine sun, use the web site https://pvwatts.nrel.gov I have 4x170Watt panels and today was my best day at a peak or 500W for a few minutes. The web site is the best estimator. I am full time so have 400AH of Lithium ($4,000) You will likely need 4xT105 which is a usable 225AH. I would buy a real 3 or 4 stage charger, the built in chargers are just trickle chargers. For TV and other AC use you will need an inverter. If you get an inverter charger like my Victron you kill 2 birds wih one stone and can program it to make life simpler.
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Old 09-02-2020, 03:15 PM   #16
dallasrules
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[QUOTE=bcrvman;1196778]Normally I would say it depends on if you are full time or not. You sound like year round weekenders.

Full time weekenders is a good description. We own the property, but don't plan to do anything with it for now, except to camp. The electric company wants $8000 to run temporary power, so that is out.

I have found a system that I think will work for the most part. Seems pretty good to me, except that I think they have too much panel for the batteries. From what I was learning, I would probably need more battery, and less panels, but I can add those. Plus its only a 2000w/4000w inverter. I was thinking 3000w, but otherwise, I believe a good deal. Please if you all can give me input, I would appreciate it. Price is good at $1500, but its a 5 hour drive to go get everything. I would go on Sunday. System is basically new and I can add batteries over time (can't I?)

Cotek 2000w pure sine inverter, Morningstar TS-45 solar controller, Sqare D 70 amp breaker box, (2) 70 foot lengths of 10 age photovoltaic wire, #2 wires for connecting batteries, (4) Infinium Solar 250 watt panels and (4) Vmax SLR125 AGM deep cycle batteries. Had boxes mounted, but never hooked it completely up. $3200 invested, selling for $1500 firm.

I would want to set this all up on the ground. Can I run an rv plug from the panel box and plug the rv up to it?

I do have the generator, but don't want to run it all the time. If anyone sees any major problems with this, please speak up.
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:09 PM   #17
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Install a soft start in the ac unit.
I am currently on 1200 watt of solar. 24 volt. Down to 6 100 amh lithium batteries and two 4000 watt inverters chargers. One as primary and second for just Incase and run both 15 k ac units most of the day with partial sun. Full sunny days well they can run all day
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:09 PM   #18
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solar and a/c just aren't going to work for you.


get a generator that will run your a/c and charge your trailer batteries.
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:16 PM   #19
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Install a soft start in the ac unit.
I am currently on 1200 watt of solar. 24 volt. Down to 6 100 amh lithium batteries and two 4000 watt inverters chargers. One as primary and second for just Incase and run both 15 k ac units most of the day with partial sun. Full sunny days well they can run all day
That's horrible advice. He is not going to install $15k worth of solar system on a $10k 5th wheel that he only uses on weekends.

OP... If you MUST have AC, then I would recommend a 3500W inverter generator and skip the solar in it's entirety. Get an 8k-10k BTU window or portable AC unit and skip using the factory 15k rooftop unit. Those AC units cost the same as a soft start and are way more efficient at cooling your RV than your factory AC unit. Takes only a few minutes to set them up.

The generator and the better AC is going to cost about $1k.
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Old 09-03-2020, 10:28 AM   #20
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If you are weakening only and have good sun 4 big batteries 4 large panels will help. You will need a gen. for a/c. The batteries and solar should be acceptable if you are careful with usage. On my unit I have two deep cycle batteries and one panel. It gives us three days but we are very careful with usage. We don't us t.v. If you use t.v. get a 12 volt and keep it small. And yes they are available.
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