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Old 12-13-2013, 11:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by KachFam View Post
Bringing back my own thread... Christmas present to the family is going to be some trailer upgrades this year!

Does anyone carry their panels not mounted to the roof? How much distance from the trailer would be acceptable when running this way? I'm thinking here in WA I might be able to eek out a bit more power from some of these semi-shaded campsites by moving the panel to more sun (and not necessarily a spot I can get the trailer to). Yes, I did come up with this thought while sitting in my camp chair watching the sunny spots in a shaded campsite!
Not roof mounted has positives and negatives.. the positive is you can usually always place the panels in the sunlight.. HOWEVER the negatives far out weigh the positives. Your panels can grow legs and walk away, they can get blown over in the wind and damaged, some jealous idiot can take a hammer to them. My 4 panels (515 watts total) are mounted on the roof in a way that lets me tilt them for max sun. With my system I can use everything except the A/C.
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:06 PM   #12
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The one thing you want to watch when not mounting your panels on the roof is the length/gauge of wire used. For every foot of wire between the panel and battery there is a voltage drop, so you need to keep the distance between the panel and batteries to a minimum. You can Google voltage drops and it will give you the specifics. This should give you an idea as to how far you can go.

I opted to mount the panel on the roof of the TT. We traveled 6000+ miles this summer and never had an issue with batteries being run down over night or not fully charged by end of day. As our camping life style changes, I will be adding an additional 250Watt panel and 2 more batteries before we head out next spring.

As Roy mentioned, batteries are probably the most important item on the list. Your dry-camping will only last as long as your batteries can keep up with your families camping life style. So you will want to invest in some GOOD deep cycle batteries. The more the better (watch their weight), but that brings you to the issue of keeping them charged. With more/larger batteries, comes more panels or a generator.

As mentioned in other posts, the first thing you want to do is reduce your electrical consumption, and there is no better place to start than replacing ALL your bulbs with LEDS. You will still want to watch how many you have on at any given time. There are a lot of GREAT posts regarding SOLAR on this forum, with a lot of good information and ideas.

Once you know its limitations and how to deal with them, you will love going SOLAR!!

Don
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by KachFam View Post
Good info - thanks everyone. I looked at Costco today and found 6v golf cart batteries for about $84 each. Rated 208 ah over 20 hours each (I think I almost understand what that means...). Would 2 of these be a good start. I am new to boondocking, so just getting to generator supported (without the genny running constantly) would be a big step.

Thanks again!
There good but you want to look at 75 AH rate for the better rating. Get the 120 minute rating ones for more life, larger plates and better recovery. You will want to store the energy while the sun is up and having the larger plates will allow for this. They run about 20 bucks more, but are better.
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:58 AM   #14
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There good but you want to look at 75 AH rate for the better rating. Get the 120 minute rating ones for more life, larger plates and better recovery. You will want to store the energy while the sun is up and having the larger plates will allow for this. They run about 20 bucks more, but are better.
KachFam said the batteries were rated 208 ah over 20 hours and you replied that the 75 ah were better. What am i missing?

Jack
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Old 12-14-2013, 06:07 AM   #15
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I think 3'senough was referring to the battery performance rating.. The battery specs usually list the battery capacity in minutes @25Amps-@56Amps-@75Amps... You want to get the most minutes here.. i.e. a TROJAN T105 will produce 6VDC @25Amps for a whopping 447 minutes (7.45 HOURS) before being discharged down to 10.5VDC (0% charge) Two of these 6VDC batteries in series will produce 12VDC for that long.

You of course don't want to run this number below the 50% charge state before re-charging otherwise you will do damage to your batteries. I re-charge back up to their 90% charge state when my batteries get down to 12.0VDC (which is around 50% charge state). I can do 10-12 of these 50% to 90% charge cycles before I have to do a full 100% charge state. I can re-charge in a quick three hours of generator run time using smart mode charging technology but having to do a full 100% charge state takes more time which is around 12 hours or more. Sometimes the camp grounds don't allow you to run the generator for that long of time so the solar panels really come in handy here - silent running while they re-charge your batteries...

For me TWO GROUPs of two 6VDC GC2 CostCo batteries in series would be great giving me around 440 AHs capacity which would produce 12VDC @25 Amps for a good 7 hours and not drop my battery bank below 12.0VDC...

When I am camping off the power grid my parasitic drain is just over 1 AMP all night long. Then in addition to this I usually run around 20 AMPS drain from the 12VDC battery bank between 8PM and 11PM with the home entertainment items, extra exterior lights, keep computer and cell phone recharged, maybe a electric blanket on the lap, running a few of Ham radio items, etc.. All of this relates to around 300 Watts of 12VDC being consumed during this time which is probably abit higher than the usual boondocking usage most campers do off the power grid..

My current 255AH battery bank drops to around 12.0VDC the next morning doing all of this each night and this is when I use my 2KW Honda Generator to recharge my battery bank back to its 90% charge state starting around 8AM in the morning when allowed to run my generator. After three hours of run time I am good to go for the next night run off the batteries. I always brew up my coffee for the day when I am running my generator...

This just gives you an idea what to plan for in your situation. You can adding solar to this picture will allow you to silently re-charge your battery banks back up during the high SUN DAY and not be having to use the loud generator that much. This is my game plan at any rate...

Just takes good planning on what you want to be doing and not end up doing damage to your battery bank keeping up with the 50%-90% charge cycles.

Roy Ken
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Old 12-14-2013, 11:00 AM   #16
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Here is a chart (for 6 volt batteries) that should make it easier to understand. I hope it displays ok. For RV use, I believe that the 25 amp category relates best to our usage. Our usage is somewhere between 1 and 25 amps.
Trojan has a chart for 12 volt batteries also.
Don

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2013 Jayco Eagle 284BHS
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
2012 Ford F150XLT, EcoBoost w/3.73
157" Wheel base, HD Towing Package

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Old 01-18-2014, 09:23 AM   #17
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Read this: http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/t...ging-puzzle-2/

It has a lot of useful information and do's and don'ts when installing solar.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:48 AM   #18
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Handy Bob is the best source I've found on understanding solar/battery charging set up. Read all of his writings, and let us know your thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaycojls View Post
Read this: http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/t...ging-puzzle-2/

It has a lot of useful information and do's and don'ts when installing solar.
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