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Old 11-03-2014, 08:58 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by gypsmjim View Post

The comments about solar have gotten me to rethink it. I COULD put it on a post in a sunnier area. How many hours a day does it need sun to be effective?

What doi you man by inverter? I have the stock unit that came with the trailer. My generator is a Yamaha Inverter 2800.
Glad to hear that you already conserve energy. Most people dry-camping have to go through a the learning process..

As for the inverter, converting 12VDC to 120VAC. I have a 1500 watt inverter and have never maxed it out (so far in just under 2 years). Large units can have an internal 1-3 amp drain, just in itself.

You are better off using the TT's internal battery charge controller to charge your battery (hooking generator to TT's 120VAC connection).

As for SOLAR, you need to figure out how many hours of DIRECT sunlight the SOLAR panel(s) will have. You can then calculate the size and number of panels you will need. I would recommend that you DO NOT buy the LOW VOLTAGE panels (usually about 17-24VDC, sold in kits. Buying a HIGH voltage panel (about 31VDC) will cost you less per watt and coupled with an MPPT SOLAR charge controller will out perform any low voltage setup (unless you buy a lot of low voltage panels).

A major issue in SOLAR is the distance between the SOLAR panels and the TT's batteries. The distance may be to far and the voltage drop may be to great. If you do calculate it out, the longer length of wire should be between the panel and the SOLAR charge controller, and the shorter run between the SOLAR charge controller and the batteries.

I have one 250Watt Grape Solar (31VDC high voltage purchased at HomeDepot - Free shipping, cheapest at time of purchase) panel, which is the one used for home solar applications and a MorningStar MPPT 60 charge controller. I have direct sun on the panel from 11AM-5PM. I do not let my batteries drop below 12VDC and they are charged by 2 PM each afternoon, 3-4PM if cloudy). I will be adding 1 or 2 more panels and 2 more T145 Trojan batteries by next camping season. I chose the MorningStar MPPT controller because I can check my live status (on my smart phone) and the availability to look at 120 days of history. This helps to see if anything is going wrong.

Good luck
Don
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Old 11-03-2014, 02:32 PM   #12
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Mustang, thanks for the continued support.

OK, been looking at what you've suggested - a little pricey....LOL. Especially since our electric usage is minimal.

So, here's the deal....Let's say I buy a ~$300 starter kit with a MPPT controller. Also, let' say the battery is at about 12.2 volts at the end of the day when I turn off the disconnect switch. With my situation, say I only have 3 hours of direct sunlight. When I come back next weekend (5 days later) will the battery be fully charged?

I realize lots of variables here. I'm just trying to get a feel for it, so I'm not looking for a 100% answer. I know i can keep the battery up when I'm there - the genny works fine - just need to "maintain" when I'm NOT there.

Also, I knew right away I had the wrong battery. But that's what the dealer gave me for "free" and I didn't think ahead to specify what I wanted.
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:20 PM   #13
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You could just buy an inexpensive automotive battery charger and take the battery home with you at the end of each weekend. It would have all week to get a true, full charge. At best, running the generator for 3 or 4 hours a day is only getting the battery up to 90% charge state. That last 10% needed to reach full charge can take many more hours, and for your battery to remain healthy, it should reach full charge state regularly.

And a remote battery charger would be a lot less expensive than the solar option.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gypsmjim View Post
Mustang, thanks for the continued support.

OK, been looking at what you've suggested - a little pricey....LOL. Especially since our electric usage is minimal.

So, here's the deal....Let's say I buy a ~$300 starter kit with a MPPT controller. Also, let' say the battery is at about 12.2 volts at the end of the day when I turn off the disconnect switch. With my situation, say I only have 3 hours of direct sunlight. When I come back next weekend (5 days later) will the battery be fully charged?

I realize lots of variables here. I'm just trying to get a feel for it, so I'm not looking for a 100% answer. I know i can keep the battery up when I'm there - the genny works fine - just need to "maintain" when I'm NOT there.

Also, I knew right away I had the wrong battery. But that's what the dealer gave me for "free" and I didn't think ahead to specify what I wanted.
As for your batteries (new deep cycle replacements) being charged over the 5 days... I would say yes, but that is based on a good amount of sunshine over the 5 days.

Question: I know you said you would put them on a post, but what are the chances that they would grow legs during those 5 days you are not there. Is the area secure, as SOLAR panels are a hot item... you will see a lot of used ones on eBay... wonder where they got them?

Why I recommend staying away from kits without MPPT solar controllers, a little example showing the difference between MPPT and PWM:

PWM Controller:
Let's say your battery is at 12.4 volts and you have a 100 watt panel, rated at 16.5VDC your output would be close to 6 amps (6 amps * 16.5 volts = 100 watts). So if your battery is at 12.4 volts it will only charge at 6 amps (see above calculation) times 12.4 volts or only 75 watts. You reduced your capacity by 25%.

Enter the MPPT controller:
With the panel voltage being higher than the battery voltage, the MPPT controller will compensate for the difference. So if you take the lower 12.4 battery voltage the MPPT charge controller will use the FULL power of the solar panels output of 100 watts or 8 Amps. (12.4 volts * 8 amps = 100 watts).. The calculations will be slightly off due to rounding. Add a couple more 100 watt panels in series and you can do the math of the above numbers X2 or X3. My MPPT controller is capable of 150 volts input and 60 amps, so there is plenty of room for additional panels. Keep expansion in mind when buying the SOLAR charge controller.. you only want to buy it once.. as replacing it can be expensive.

An easy way to calculate PWM loss (compared to MPPT) is:
PV voltage - Battery voltage = Difference x Amps = Lost wattage

Not sure that this is the best way to go...

Sorry this was so long :-(

Hope this helps,

Just my thoughts,

Don
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250Watt Grape Solar Panel, MorningStar MPPT 60 Charge Controller
1500 Watt Ramsond PSI, 2 Trojan T145 Batteries (260Ah)
2 - AirSight Wireless IP Cameras (used as rear view cameras)
EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
MagicJack Internet Phone
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Old 11-03-2014, 05:22 PM   #15
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You could just buy an inexpensive automotive battery charger and take the battery home with you at the end of each weekend. It would have all week to get a true, full charge. At best, running the generator for 3 or 4 hours a day is only getting the battery up to 90% charge state. That last 10% needed to reach full charge can take many more hours, and for your battery to remain healthy, it should reach full charge state regularly.

And a remote battery charger would be a lot less expensive than the solar option.
This seems like a really simple fix to your problem since you said that you only go for weekends, or better yet, have a spare battery, take it in with you, then just swap it out. Just keep swapping out with a fully charged battery. I guess the only downside to this, is that you have to transport a fully charged battery around.....probably should do that in a secure method.....maybe in battery box with a lid. Good luck!
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:39 PM   #16
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When I was younger and not as lazy (LOL) swapping batteries would not have been an issue. Now, we often get down late Friday night, and I don't relish changing out batteries in the dark.

Sprouting legs is always a problem. The solar panels would be the least of my worries. With a bolt cutter they can have a lawn tractor, generator, 4-wheeler and a lot of other stuff. We have been there 27 years and (knock on wood) have not has a single problem yet.
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:18 PM   #17
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I'd keep it simple. Check out your existing stock converter that currently charges your battery. I highly doubt it is an advanced 3-stage charger, however it may very well have the ability to be upgraded. That is your least expensive route. If that is not the case, then you should take a look at getting an external battery charger you can use to charge for 3-4 hours per day with your generator. That is exactly what I did for years before I upgraded my charging system. Do not get one that automatically reads the voltage and turns off automatically. Get a farm & ranch you can set on 30 amps and force feed your battery for 3-4 hours straight.

Found this link from the forum, posted in 2011. All holds true today. Check it out.

http://www.kissmygrits.net/factory-r...d-boondocking/

Good luck.
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Old 11-04-2014, 09:22 PM   #18
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All the lights are LED - use no more than 1 at a time and then only at night. Never charge phones. The only other usage is a TV, and maybe no more than an hour at night. battery IS properly maintained (water, etc).

The trailer we had before this one had NO power at all, so we have learned to be conservative. Of course,a furnace is a necessity.

The comments about solar have gotten me to rethink it. I COULD put it on a post in a sunnier area. How many hours a day does it need sun to be effective?

What doi you man by inverter? I have the stock unit that came with the trailer. My generator is a Yamaha Inverter 2800.
Really think you are putting way too much thought into this for a trailer that you say has a very low power usage. Solar by any account is expensive to set up. A couple good deep charge batteries, a simple auto battery charger available at Wally World and the generator you already have and your good to go. You can use all the lights, tv/radio, charge your stuff, and use your furnace without putting more than a moderate strain on your batteries. 2 or 3 hours in the am and again in the evening will keep your batteries topped off and allow you to leave your batteries full when you leave on Sunday. You can not justify the $$ necessary to put together a decent solar system for the type usage you have described.
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Old 11-06-2014, 07:21 PM   #19
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I'd keep it simple. Check out your existing stock converter that currently charges your battery. I highly doubt it is an advanced 3-stage charger, however it may very well have the ability to be upgraded. That is your least expensive route. If that is not the case, then you should take a look at getting an external battery charger you can use to charge for 3-4 hours per day with your generator. That is exactly what I did for years before I upgraded my charging system. Do not get one that automatically reads the voltage and turns off automatically. Get a farm & ranch you can set on 30 amps and force feed your battery for 3-4 hours straight.

Found this link from the forum, posted in 2011. All holds true today. Check it out.

http://www.kissmygrits.net/factory-r...d-boondocking/

Good luck.
I'm not an expert on these newfangled trailers, but I know a little bit about deep cycle batteries and such, having owned boats for the last 45 years.

If you "force feed" a battery at 30 amps for 3-4 hours wouldn't you literally boil it over and destroy it after you did that a few times? Once I had an alternator malfunction and the over-charging literally killed the battery.
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Old 11-06-2014, 09:30 PM   #20
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You will not over boil in 3-4 hours a battery that was run down the night before. My golf cart batteries were charged this way for four seasons. This last season I finally upgraded and replaced my charging system. Now the batteries are on an advanced 4-stage charging system. Finished season five with them and hope to get 6 or 7 years before they are done. It charges at a bulk 100 amps and eventually floats at 1.5 amps. Full charge with that system takes 3+ hours depending on initial state of discharge. However if you charge at 30 amp for four hours straight, you will not over charge your battery.

The best step one mod investment for you would be a battery monitor. That will give you the ability to always understand exactly the charging state of your batteries and put your mind at ease from over charging as well as over discharging.

What is the brand and model of the converter that came with your TT? Let's start there first. Let's investigate if it has an advanced upgrade option. That's your best bet!
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