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Old 12-20-2015, 09:56 AM   #11
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You first need to figure out how much power you use in a day.. Then you can look at how many and what type of panels to get.. There are lots of work sheets for solar power on the web.. if you are going to replace batteries go with pairs of 6 volt golf cart batteries.. wired for 12 v. Check your Cpap machine.. you may find it has a converter in it that takes 120VAC and changes it to 12VDC.. if that is the case (as it is with most) you can plug it into a 12VDC plug near the bed and avoid having to run the inverter all night
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2004 Chev Silverado Duramax optioned past the max. 2009 Jayco Eagle 308 RLS 765 watts of solar, 6-6 volt batteries (696 amp hour), 2000 watt (4000 surge) whole house inverter.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by CKinsella View Post
I'm not really sure at this point.
What would be the difference between the two choices as far as a solar package would be?
My wife sleeps with a CPap and that requires electricity. Other than that being able to have lights in the evening and being able to keep phones charged would be nice.
I know you are not sure as to if you will be doing any dry-camping or if you will always be hooked up to shore power, but you need to take into consideration your CPAP machine. CPAP machines run great when hooked up to shore-power, but if there is a long term power failure in the middle of the night (we have had a number of those), your wife will want to keep using the machine uninterrupted. Nothing worse than being awakened by a CPAP machine that loses source power.

All the CPAP machines that I have seen are powered by either a 12 or 24 VDC transformer. Check to see which yours is, it is printed on the transformer as DC output. If it is 12VDC your answer is an easy one. You just need to purchase the 12VDC adapter from the mfr (or make your own fused one) for the machine and install a 12VDC accessory jack by the bed. Since it runs off the battery, any 110 AC power issues will not be noticed until you wake up in the morning and see the microwave clock flashing. If you unit is a 24VDC unit, no problem, purchase a SMALL (100 watt-8Amps-with fan-Wallmart/Amazon) inexpensive 12VDC inverter to convert the 12VDC to 110AC for the CPAP unit. I tried my unit on an inexpensive 400 watt (pwm) unit and it worked fine. The CPAP machines are rated at 5 amps @ 12VDC (heat and blower running), but mine only uses about 3 amps (running on 12VDC). If your unit is 24VDC, set up the 100Watt inverter to power the CPAP machine all the time. Instead of turning the CPAP on and off you will turn the inverter on and off. The low wattage inverters use very little power to convert 12VDC to 110VAC, when I tested my 400 watt unit it used less than a 1/2 amp (4Ah over 8 hours).

Why 2 batteries? In case your AC power go off at night! Well the current battery you have is probably an 85Ah Marine/RV battery (Dealer standard), of which you can only use about 40Ah of the 85Ah (50% rule). Based on the CPAP max amps (5 amps - listed on bottom of unit) and if your wife sleeps 8 hours that is 40Ah (5Amps*8hours=40Ah). You have just brought your existing battery down to around 12Volts. And that does not include any other loads (CO alarm, radio, fans....) If you have (2) 12Volt batteries, that is 170Ah, your CPAC would have used the 40Ah and you would have had about 40Ah in reserve.

So based on the above setup, for starters I would recommend a 2nd 12 volt battery (same make, model, Ah and mfr as the existing one) wired in parallel to the existing one. Provided that the existing battery is a new one, if not you should purchase 2 new deep cycle batteries (12 or 6 VDC to be determined if you plan to dry-camp). Your existing TT battery charge controller will easily handle the extra battery. This will get you through a night easily.

You can still add SOLAR to the above system, and if you put about 200 watts of SOLAR, your batteries should be charged by 2 PM. Some of the members swear by Renogy SOLAR KITS. For basic battery charging and a little more, this would be a good choice.

Personally, I would add the SOLAR (and a second battery if existing is new), try it out for a while and see how it meets you camping needs. You can always upgrade your batteries after the SOLAR, if you feel you need to. It is easier on the pocket book this way.

Hopes this helps a little, but remember if you ask 10 people for their thoughts you will probably get 15 personal opinions. You need to make the final decision, based on what meets your camping needs.

Don

If you go with the 100 watt inverter you may want to keep it away from the bed and run an extension cord to it from an outlet near the bed (to unplug in the morning) so the small amount of fan noise does not bother your wife or you.
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Old 12-20-2015, 04:27 PM   #13
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Fuel it - 5 min every 2 days. Start it - First or 2nd pull. Watch it - 6' woven security cable and a tree, trailer frame, etc. Secure it - 6' woven cable and etc. and a tarp for weather.

Use 2 6v cart batteries and typically only run gen in am and pm for breakfast and dinner stuff. TV / sat runs on inverter so not keeping early sleepers awake.

Thread is about solar ? so not trying to push generators, just pointing that once you cough up the $$'s for small generator and a couple good batteries I can't justify spending a $$Grand or more on a basic solar set-up.
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Old 12-20-2015, 05:31 PM   #14
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Definitely a good point. A combo would probably be great for diehard boon dockers...
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Old 12-20-2015, 06:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bassdogs View Post

Thread is about solar ? so not trying to push generators, just pointing that once you cough up the $$'s for small generator and a couple good batteries I can't justify spending a $$Grand or more on a basic solar set-up.
My solar system has more than paid for itself in the 8 years I have had it.. but the best part of a solar system is it is QUIET... makes it much easier to enjoy the great outdoors...
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Old 12-20-2015, 06:45 PM   #16
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Fuel it - 5 min every 2 days. Start it - First or 2nd pull. Watch it - 6' woven security cable and a tree, trailer frame, etc. Secure it - 6' woven cable and etc. and a tarp for weather.

Use 2 6v cart batteries and typically only run gen in am and pm for breakfast and dinner stuff. TV / sat runs on inverter so not keeping early sleepers awake.

Thread is about solar ? so not trying to push generators, just pointing that once you cough up the $$'s for small generator and a couple good batteries I can't justify spending a $$Grand or more on a basic solar set-up.
CKinsella is not sure as to if they are even going to dry-camp... The original request was for SOLAR to keep the batteries charged.

"Has anyone installed solar panels to recharge their batteries?
If so how well does it do at maintaining power?
Do you have any recommendations for what brand and models to buy?
"

My response was to respond to the original questions. I believe I answered their questions. I have nothing against generators except for their noise, and having to set them up. About the only generator that I heard (barely), that have been used around us, was the Honda 2000. There may be others but unfortunately they did not opt to park near us. Some people buy the larger ones that are noisy (cheap commercial models) and wonder why the CG's ask them to turn them off.

I have been on SOLAR for over 3 years and have yet to use the TT's battery charge controller or have a need for a generator.

Here is how I look at it. If I were to purchase a generator, it would be a quiet type like the Honda 2000 or an equivalent brand. I would be pulling it out at the campsites hooking it up checking the gas/oil then starting it up after 9AM for about an hour or 2, and put it away. At night 4PM or later (depending on CG rules) run it for another hour. I would probably unhook it and put it back in the TV, after each use.. less chance for it to get legs with a cable cutter.

For SOLAR, I mounted the panel on roof, wired in and just watch the AMPS flow into the batteries on my smart-phone. We use the microwave during the day, coffee pot can be used during the day, but we use the stove for coffee, actually faster. We watch about 4 hours or Tv/movies each night and the TV or radio is on during the day. It charges the laptops, cell phones, tablets. CPAP runs at night (5 or 6hours). Batteries are between 12.2 and 12.4 in the morning when we wake up. The SOLAR charges batteries by 2-3PM (4-5PM when mostly cloudy) the next day.

So lets take a look at the cost:
Generator (Honda 2000 Quiet model) $2000. Not a noisy one for $399.
-------------
200 Watts SOLAR (See link in earlier post) about $400 (and about $75-$100 for shipping).
Proper annual maintenance for the generator... Oil change, air filter, set up for winter storage

Batteries not included as they would be used in either case.

But these are just my thoughts on the subject.. I am sure there will be others posting with their own thoughts also.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, the final decision is one the OP will have to make based on their Camping Lifestyle. This SOLAR setup works GREAT for us, but may not work for others.

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 12-20-2015, 09:02 PM   #17
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My solar system has more than paid for itself in the 8 years I have had it.. but the best part of a solar system is it is QUIET... makes it much easier to enjoy the great outdoors...
Like you said, it is a considerate thing to do. Noisy generators can be really irritating. It is not really about the savings for me. I just want to be a good neighbor. You can run quit a bit with 500 watts of panels.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:34 AM   #18
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My solar system has more than paid for itself in the 8 years I have had it.. but the best part of a solar system is it is QUIET... makes it much easier to enjoy the great outdoors...
Think we have had this discussion before. If you love your solar, then I would be the last to challenge your decision. When ever this issue comes up my main concern to potential new solar campers is that the TRUE AND TOTAL cost of a solar set-up is almost always not disclosed. The renewable solar power is not free and the start up and renewal [battery] costs are significant and in many cases are a negative savings to many Rvers who spend more than 50% of their time with access to shore power or frequently set up in wooded areas or areas of the country with less than optimal sun vs cloudy days. For those people a small generator will more than adequately support their power needs with minimal usage cost and without the need for more than 2 batteries.

The quiet thing is overblown unless you are packing a contractor style generator. Furthermore the carbon footprint of my Honda 2000 over its life time is a small fraction of the same from the firepit at a Campsite.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:39 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Seann45 View Post
My solar system has more than paid for itself in the 8 years I have had it.. but the best part of a solar system is it is QUIET... makes it much easier to enjoy the great outdoors...
Think we have had this discussion before. If you love your solar, then I would be the last to challenge your decision. When ever this issue comes up my main concern to potential new solar campers is that the TRUE AND TOTAL cost of a solar set-up is almost always not disclosed. Renewable solar power is not free and the start up and renewal [battery] costs are significant and in many cases are a negative savings to many Rvers who spend more than 50% of their time with access to shore power or frequently set up in wooded areas or areas of the country with less than optimal sun vs cloudy days. For those people a small generator will more than adequately support their power needs with minimal usage cost and without the need for more than 2 batteries.

The quiet thing is totally overblown unless you are packing a contractor style generator. Furthermore the carbon footprint of my Honda 2000 over its life time is a small fraction of the same from the firepit at a Campsite or a coleman gas lantern.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:51 AM   #20
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??Double post?? Don't know why, must have been a solar flare.

Honda 2000 is $1000 or less. Savings from only 2 batteries vs 6 batteries can be as much as $500. Solar panels do not produce significant power on rainy/cloudy days or in heavily wooded national forest where many boondockers like to set up.

Go with solar with eyes wide open. Your choice and the only annoying thing about a solar Csite is the noise from 2 solar advocates talking about their watts and controllers.
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