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Old 09-13-2016, 07:42 AM   #11
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Its not that I'm against solar but unless you are going to follow the "solar" lifestyle, you will like others have said need a small generator. What was your total investment to purchase and install your solar system? A Honda or Yamaha 2000 can be had for $800-$1000 and you are good to go for less than a gallon of gas per day to keep the batteries charged and that coffee in the am. Most of us seek out shade when we camp. With solar that is a problem or at least minimizes the output of solar. With that small generator that you will need anyway you can pick the best site without worrying about the shade. We found that our favorite CG's are in National Forest and COE properties. These CGs tend to be heavily wooded so again solar if you have it will have to be backed up with that evil generator.

Do as you will, but unless you are at least seasonal and can pick an open campsite, going solo with solar is not the answer.

And then there is that fire thing with lit batteries. 1st it was passenger planes, then pcs, then hoverboards, and now cell phones. Hmmm?
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Old 09-13-2016, 08:33 AM   #12
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"And then there is that fire thing with lit batteries. 1st it was passenger planes, then pcs, then hoverboards, and now cell phones. Hmmm?"

And gasoline to power the generator isn't flammable? The Carbon Monoxide in the exhaust from the generator isn't dangerous? Don't lead-acid batteries off-gas hydrogen? Everything in today's world has its dangers, the owner/operator just needs to be aware or them and pay attention to them - it isn't set it and forget as Ron Popeil used to say. Key is getting brands that are trusted and focused on quality rather than the cheapest.

Your comment re: the lithium batteries is like saying that "I'm not going to Chicago because I heard somebody got shot there once", or "I'm not going to Yellowstone because a bear attacked someone last year".

The lithium battery issues in the Boeing case was a different composition, as per Wikipedia - "The focus of the review was on the safety of the lithium-ion batteries[1] that use lithium cobalt oxide(LiCoO2) as the positive electrode. These electrodes are known for their thermal runaway hazard and provide oxygen for a fire. The 787 battery contract was signed in 2005,[25] when LiCoO2 batteries were the only type of lithium aerospace battery available, but since then newer and safer[26] types (such as LiFePO4) and LiMn2O4 (Lithium Manganate), which provide less reaction energy during thermal runaway, have become available."
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Old 09-13-2016, 08:43 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mustang65 View Post
You will also need to monitor your AC voltage. I am ordering one of the AC voltage monitors below, and will mount it next to my DC voltage monitors.

Don
I got one of those meters for our last trip. Checked it against a true RMS Fluke and it's dead on but you can pop the back and adjust. Pretty fast response - caught a dip to 90V when the AC started on gen ECO (just a test). Backlight is a bit bright at night so might add a push button switch or find some gel.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:04 AM   #14
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I got one of those meters for our last trip. Checked it against a true RMS Fluke and it's dead on but you can pop the back and adjust. Pretty fast response - caught a dip to 90V when the AC started on gen ECO (just a test). Backlight is a bit bright at night so might add a push button switch or find some gel.
Thanks for the update on its performance...

Don
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Old 09-13-2016, 10:59 AM   #15
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"And then there is that fire thing with lit batteries. 1st it was passenger planes, then pcs, then hoverboards, and now cell phones. Hmmm?"

And gasoline to power the generator isn't flammable? The Carbon Monoxide in the exhaust from the generator isn't dangerous? Don't lead-acid batteries off-gas hydrogen? Everything in today's world has its dangers, the owner/operator just needs to be aware or them and pay attention to them - it isn't set it and forget as Ron Popeil used to say. Key is getting brands that are trusted and focused on quality rather than the cheapest.

Your comment re: the lithium batteries is like saying that "I'm not going to Chicago because I heard somebody got shot there once", or "I'm not going to Yellowstone because a bear attacked someone last year".

The lithium battery issues in the Boeing case was a different composition, as per Wikipedia - "The focus of the review was on the safety of the lithium-ion batteries[1] that use lithium cobalt oxide(LiCoO2) as the positive electrode. These electrodes are known for their thermal runaway hazard and provide oxygen for a fire. The 787 battery contract was signed in 2005,[25] when LiCoO2 batteries were the only type of lithium aerospace battery available, but since then newer and safer[26] types (such as LiFePO4) and LiMn2O4 (Lithium Manganate), which provide less reaction energy during thermal runaway, have become available."
Oh please. Small generators are an accepted part of a camping setup by 10's of thousands of Rvers and have been for years. A couple gallons of gas in a calif mandated red container is likewise pretty much in every garage or shed in America. Lith batteries as recently as last week continue to be a problem and Samsung has recalled millions of their top of the line smart phones and airlines have issued warnings about using them on planes because of fire risk. Get over your "old news" stats and admit that lith batteries catching fire have continued to be an issue most recently with hoverboards and now cell phones. I don't stick a can of gas inside my RV or its storage and I'm not putting lith batteries there either.

But the real point I was making is that for all but the total purest, a small generator is needed to augment cloudy days and shaded campsites. I just came off a 7 day outing on our houseboat and used a Honda 2000 to power the boat and to keep the 12v system charged. I have a residential fridge and do not use an inverter to supply 110v power from a large battery bank. My 2 6volt cart batteries power the marine toilets, lights, etc. The Honda was fired up at 7am and ran continuously until 10pm for 7 straight days and it consumed a total of a little over 10 gallons of gas at a cost of $22. I didn't use it but the same generator will power an 8000btu ac unit if necessary,

OK, if your desire is to eliminate the almost undectable sound of a Honda 2000 during most of the day, you can do what ever you accomplish with a solar system and can keep the same battery bank fully charged by only running your generator for a couple hours in the am and the same in the evening AND all the expensive solar stuff can be totally eliminated.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:09 AM   #16
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I just came off a 7 day outing on our houseboat and used a Honda 2000 to power the boat and to keep the 12v system charged.
Nice house boat!!! Best of both worlds!!!

Only kidding....

Don
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:39 AM   #17
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I'd be very surprised if the OP's batterys didn't contain a BPS of some kind to prevent runaways. All of the ones I've seen marketed for RV's have them. I don't see them as being any more, or less dangerous than the flooded lead acid stuff. And pound for pound, they are awesome, low maintenance, and last longer.

I like the battery tech, I just can't afford them. A group 31 12V 100AH LITHIUM ION RV BATTERY (one of the more common ones) is well over 1000 dollars, yet comes in around 28 pounds. A compareable lead acid battery will run you less than 200 bucks but weighs double. With multiple 6 volt batteries, the weight savings starts to really add up. For a lot of people it comes down to weight with these setups. Otherwise it would be pretty hard to justify the cost. Slightly envious of people that can throw 5 grand into a solar setup and haven't even fully identified their requirements yet. A good Honda / Yamaha generator is a sure thing, has been on my wish list for a while. I'd probably get shot if I tried to use my Cabela's / Champion generator anywhere I camp . Also integrating solar into my setup as a test bed for a much larger grid-intertie system I'm looking at for my home. Gas / Fuel prices are *not* going to be this low for long. Solar is a great hedge against fuel prices tripling in our life times.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:50 AM   #18
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I spent a bit more than $5k for the solar setup For me the most important thing was to put the batteries inside the trailer. Apart from that we will be camping only in California for the next couple of years (small kids) and the sun it there... Based on the initial test, I am pretty confident that we can survive at least 5 days without charging (we will mostly dry camp, so water will be limiting factor and 5 days should be about max time), but changing the habits. I am ok with that and will report back in November when we will be going for Thanksgiving to Pismo Beach for 5 days.

In emergency situation, I will park the trailer for 5 hours in the sun and we survive next couple of days.

Thanks guys for all help!
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Old 09-13-2016, 03:24 PM   #19
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Nice house boat!!! Best of both worlds!!!

Only kidding....

Don
A couple decades ago they actually made barges that were designed to carry a camper out on the lake just as shown in this picture. Clamp downs and an outboard motor and you were good to go. You could rent them at some places. Don't think they caught on and I don't know if they are still available.

Mine is an actual houseboat.
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Old 09-19-2016, 01:02 PM   #20
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Off grid solar

Hi all,
Just wanted to add my two cents on the solar conversation. I am not a complete new be so I have some camping and RV experience under my belt. On the solar issues, we recently purchased a 2016 Precept 31ul, we love it but it was not pre wired for solar, something I knew I wanted! I installed 2 100watt panels with a 30amp mppt charge controller and two 125ah Vtech charge tanks. In my opinion one of the best battries on the market for this use. I installed the system as back up to what the rig came with. I plan on adding at least 1 to 2 more panels and up grade the mppt controller to 40amps. Eventually I would like to install some type of transfer switch between my solar and house battries or better yet install 3 independent 110 volt outlets hard wired directly off my inverter.
I would appreciate any and all feed back and or ideas about this set up.
Thanks to all, happy bring
Russ
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