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Old 09-17-2018, 07:30 AM   #1
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Solar watts: how much do I need?

We're gonna go solar. We dry-camp often and find ourselves using the generator a lot. We are not heavy power users.
It's a Jayco Melbourne 24M.
--How many watts do I need, primarily just to maintain a fully charged battery?
--Online info seems to point to Zamp and Renogy as the preferred manufacturers. Price is a factor....Any thoughts?
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Old 09-17-2018, 07:43 AM   #2
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Can't just come up with a number without knowing what you use out of the batteries. The use of the generator will help with the calc's.

You would need to know how many amps your onboard charger puts into the batteries when charging from the generator. Multiply by the hrs you run the genny to get back to float charge on the batteries and that's an AH needed. Then you need to figure what if any 110v you need which requires an inverter.

If you use a coffeemaker then switch to a pour thru or french press and heat water by propane. You say you use the gen a lot but you're not heavy pwr users?

Rough calcs: Full sun 100w panel @ 85% = 85w @ 12v = 7A = 7AH per hr of sun. From that use the AH above to figure out if you can recharge in a day. The 85% would be midday with sun overhead, derate from there.

We have 4 6v AGM's. We use an inverter to watch TV in the evening if we want, plus lighting, plus appliance usage. Last yr with 320w we were fully charged by late morning in AZ (Jan-Feb tilt panels). This yr we have 640w and won't take the genny (didn't use it last yr)
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Old 09-17-2018, 07:46 AM   #3
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Third,

To start, what kind of battery are you using? Are you using more than one?
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:06 AM   #4
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Details, from thirdktm, on solar:
--We have a 12-volt battery, less than a year old.
--When I say we use the generator often: It's usually to charge the battery, from two-thirds to full. We use the generator to extend and retract the slideout; for the microwave, which is seldom and for only minutes at a time; and sometimes to extend the stabilizers.
--During the day, the only things drawing power are the fridge and the CO monitor and other devices that draw parasitic power.
--We do not watch TV.
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:39 AM   #5
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Solar

Why do you use the generator to extend the stabilizers and slide out? Your battery may be faulty - 2 or 4 true deep cycle batteries ( 6 volt ) and a battery monitor would be a good starting place ( you will need both as part of your future solar system ) this way you can monitor your needs and size your solar system properly - I would oversize the system for cloudy days and future added needs - we have 560 watts and are fully charged by 1pm most days - 280 watts might provide for our needs but the extra allows us not to be overly conservative Les
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:56 AM   #6
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If you are at least somewhat handy I would suggest putting together all the pieces yourself rather than just buying a kit. First thing would be to get up on the roof and figure out where you can put panels and what sizes. I used 165w panels and the cost/watt was less up here in Canada. If you started with 2 6v batteries and planned for 4 then you can expand, same with panel layout. I put 2 up first then added 2 more this summer.
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Old 09-17-2018, 11:03 AM   #7
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Adding panels as you go along is popular among solar users.Just want to make sure your controller will handle the extra watts!
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Old 09-17-2018, 12:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdktm View Post
Details, from thirdktm, on solar:
--We have a 12-volt battery, less than a year old.
--When I say we use the generator often: It's usually to charge the battery, from two-thirds to full. We use the generator to extend and retract the slideout; for the microwave, which is seldom and for only minutes at a time; and sometimes to extend the stabilizers.
--During the day, the only things drawing power are the fridge and the CO monitor and other devices that draw parasitic power.
--We do not watch TV.
What the others have already said.

1st, when using the slide outs or stabilizers, run them with the TV hooked up and the engine running. SAVE the battery!!!

When you say 2/3 to FULL, I take it that you are looking at the Battery monitor LED lights that come with the TT. You do not want to monitor your battery(s) based on those "Idiot Lights" (1960's definition for the warning lights used in cars). Get yourself a Digital Voltage monitor for a QUICK EASY reference. They are cheap on Amazon. Since $$ are a budget concern see the meter below. They are very accurate and a lot of members have them and they are easy to install.

One 12Volt battery will get you overnight for only lights, parasitic power, and maybe the heater fan over night. The deeper the discharge the longer the charging of the batteries. Microwave is not an option with (1) 12Volt battery.

If you are going to dry-camp the minimum you will want is 200 watts to charge up your (2) 6 volt batteries. You can pick up a Renogy 200 watt system for less than $300 with SOLAR charge controller included. A good basic system with expandability to (4) 100 watt SOALR panels.
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Old 09-17-2018, 02:19 PM   #9
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How much solar you need varies with each person. One fellow on this group figures 100 watts is over kill and I need over 500 watts to feel comfortable.

I like watching my satellite TV, using my microwave and drinking K-pod coffee. this all takes power and need to recharge every morning.. So figure how much you use every day and size appropriately. (there are lots of forms online you can use to figure out how much you use)
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Old 09-17-2018, 09:41 PM   #10
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Just a different angle here but we dry camp the majority of the time also. I know they aren't popular with most people because of the cost but I highly recommend going with Lithium Ion batteries. Get Lithium Ion batteries now and save for the solar later. You wont be disappointed.
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