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Old 06-12-2014, 10:11 AM   #1
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questions re inverter - pwr usage

Our new 19RD arrives in about an hour, and I've been preparing for more boondocking power situations... Not a pro at this yet, but - that's what this forum is for I guess ..

I have a 160wt portable solar unit that I will attach to the batteries (2 6v golf cart batteries) to maintain/charge. I have a Champion 2K inverter/generator that I'd like to run at a minimum, and preferably not during the evenings at all.

I understand that I'll need an Inverter to be installed in the trailer, but here's my poor understanding of power usage..... I'll want to run the following: LED trailer lighting; using and recharging 2 laptops & cell phones; & TV/receiver/DVD (stock w/trailer)... Probably not all at the same time.. I don't' have the exact power wattage needed as I'm posting this from a remote location, but I hope someone will know a reasonable average figure to calculate this.. A couple of questions..

1.) Do you think that the 160 WT solar unit recharge and keep charged my dual battery system without having to run a genny very much? Here's a statement from the manufacturer .... "Big power and only 33 lbs! This Zamp Solar Portable packs a big punch with a staggering 6.84 amps, large enough to handle larger battery banks. This system has been designed to work well with dual 6 volt or 12 volt battery systems, this system will perform up to 30-40 amps per day."


2.) Not understanding the physical setup part of this ... When the inverter is installed, do all of the wall plugs then accept and use AC now, or do you only have a certain dedicated outlet(s) that would accept our appliances? It appears we'd want several different outlets in various locations to suit our usage needs, but would they have to be new installations, or can we use the existing outlets??


Learning as I go ......

thanks in advance,
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:14 PM   #2
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questions re inverter - pwr usage

I am not too familiar on the inverter/solar aspects of your question. But I do know that your AC plugs only work when you plug your trailer into 115V shore power.
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:12 PM   #3
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I've been doing this for 25 years and I am still learning....this is going to take a while.
Your 1st question will be hard too answer. It's going to depend how much power you want to use everyday and how large your trailer is. The next large consideration is sunlight and just how much you get or don't. Length of stay should also be considered...is it a 1 day trip or a week long.
Our set up can draw in 12amps in full sunlight but we have a few trees that obscure the panels at certain times in the day dropping it down to 2-3 amps.
If its cloudy all day you will be lucky to see 2 amps an hour of which probably only 1 is actually reaching the batteries as you lose some in the cabling. Get 2 or 3 days of that and NO solar set up will be sufficient on its own so we also have a 2600W generator to handle those situations. Not too mention our trailer can hit 92 degrees inside some days in summer so running our air conditioner is a must sometimes.

A bit about our set up....we have a seasonal site with no electrical service and have 2 6V Trojan T105RE's that are connected to 200W of solar that's mounted on the roof.
Our trailer is fairly large at 31' inside with a couple slides so for example heating it would use far more battery power then our old 19' with no slides. (at least 3 times more if not 4) So you can start to see it really will vary between trailers / families.
Now I'll be honest here, we are a modern family and use a lot of power. I like the amenities life affords us. We have a 28" LED TV/DVD as well as a 22" LED TV/DVD that are used daily...we charge 2 cell phones...our Galaxy Tab 3 Tablet...our sons electronic gizmos...ipods...walkie talkies....remote control helicopters and cars...the list goes on. We even have a couple large 12V fans.
I use whatever lights I require whenever I want and heat our trailer to 68 degrees at night.
Now we have done things to mitigate consumption...I have installed LED lighting in select places in the trailer, I added 4 12 volt power plugs which really help a lot. (both TVs work off 12V or AC so we use the 12V power plugs and almost everything else can and does get charged the same way) I installed a programmable digital thermostat so I control the heat....I tell it when to come on and when to turn off all night long. I think it was our best bang for the buck.
If I get 12 hours of sun a day I can push an average of around 80 amps back in...but believe after losing some to cabling its probably closer to 65ish but I am guessing a bit there. My batteries will charge back to near full or full and go into float mode somedays even as we are using power. Love it!
Now if its cloudy I can pull 2-4amps an hour which is not enough for our daily usage but still helps. I can go a couple days under those conditions and not need to use the generator but by day 3 if it is still cloudy then the generator comes out. The generator also charges slower then our solar so needs to run longer.
Sorry for the short novel and hope your still with me here lol.

Long story short now.
1. Yes I believe you will be ok...take a few steps to mitigate usage and you should be good to go. Your generator will assist you when necessary.
2. Inverter is also a bit tricky...if wired into your converter then all the AC plugs will work when the inverter is turned on. (Remember that the inverter itself uses a bit of power when on especially if its a large 1 and will draw another 1 amp minimum in stand by) So it should be switched off when not needed.
Size will depend on just how much juice you wish to use. Want to run your microwave for a couple mins? Then you will need at least a 1000W inverter and it should be a Pure Sine Wave - Not a modified wave. They are quite pricy.
Just looking to use 300W max then get a smaller 400, 600, 800W unit.
I do wish I would have installed an inverter directly to our converter and 1 day soon I'll make it happen but for now we also have a 300W continuous (600W surge) Pure Sine Wave inverter that plugs into any 1 of the 6 12V plugs in our trailer so we can then charge or use whatever AC device we choose that's under that wattage.

I also would of thought that your 160W of solar would be capable of a bit more then the 6.8amp rating....what kind of panel is it? We only have 40W more but can grab an easy 10-12 in full sunlight. I am guessing its due to the area (or sqft)
of the panels as we have 2. Hope that helps you out a bit.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:05 PM   #4
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31dslbguy - you are the best..... You're part of the reason I love this forum. I understand that there are variables, however you answered my questions !! - I too, am a techno geek, and I love my transistors..... Although not all performing at the same time, I see now that a good sunny day can, and probably will, keep the batteries charged while we use what we want ... (It's just my wife and myself) - Got my answer to the Inverter and outlets also ... Just 'how' it's installed, I still have no idea, but - as long as the inverter can be assimilated into the existing wiring/outlets, I can work with that..

I really appreciate your detailed reply....

thanks again...

BTW, the 19RD with Elite package was delivered today and it's awesome !! Just purchased a new RV queen mattress and will pick it up tomorrow .. this is gonna be fun !!

r
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:16 PM   #5
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You are more then welcome...always happy to help and would rather offer a fairly detailed reply then a vague 1 that's leaves more questions then answers. Even if it's a bit long winded sometimes.

Enjoy that new trailer and get camping!
Oh and we want pics of that new trailer....or it didn't happen lol.
Take care and safe travels.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:19 PM   #6
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Hey Ottor - have no idea what you and 31dsl are talking about but I totally agree with your ending......NOTHING better than to be shot at and missed.
Vietnam combat proved that for me many, many times. Proud to have served.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:49 PM   #7
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You can wire your inverter however you want. Either add a couple of dedicated plugs that are just run from the inverter, or use it to run your whole panel. For this you need a transfer switch. It's a big relay - your shore power cord comes in one side and your inverter output into the other. The relay switches between the two and sends the output to the circuit breaker panel. If your inverter is a small one (3-500 watts - this is what I am starting with) you probably want to switch off your breakers for the high power loads like the AC, microwave, electric water heater so they don't accidentally come on when the inverter is running.

For charging phones, etc, I would suggest adding some kind of outlet (like USB) right off the battery. If you use the AC charger, there is some power loss in the inverter (not 100% efficient) and some loss in the wall wart power supply for the charger. Save that wasted power and charge right off the battery.

I recommend reading this guys stuff: http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/t...ging-puzzle-2/. He's a bit rough but he's pretty smart. You will understand battery charging, solar, and inverters a lot better after reading his stuff.

Good luck! Enjoy the new rig! And enjoy the boon docking.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havnfun View Post
Hey Ottor - have no idea what you and 31dsl are talking about but I totally agree with your ending......NOTHING better than to be shot at and missed.
Vietnam combat proved that for me many, many times. Proud to have served.
19th MP Co, 1967-1969 ... Glad ya' made it back OK .. Not too many people would understand that a bullet whizzing past your ear makes you feel invincible ... if not a little pissed !!
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