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Old 08-06-2013, 06:43 PM   #1
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Full week boondocking on solar system

Hey everyone. Just wanted to report out after our first full week boondocking on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. I have a thread in tech talk describing the installation of our solar system (if your curious to see what it looks like). I wanted to post this thread in the general section so more of you might consider going solar. We went up to the Rim with a fully charged pair of 31-AGM batteries, a solar panel mounted on the roof and one left portable for following the sun. The roof panel only had full sun for about three hours a day, but the portable panel was in full sun for a good six hours. The panels are both 160 Watt and there is a 1000W inverter running the 110 circuit. Without putting any restrictions on the use of power (other than turning the inverter off at night), the batteries never dropped below 59% even with using 110 to recharge my 2 sawsall batteries up to 4 times each day for cutting firewood. That drop was after two days of mostly cloudy and seriously hard rain. Most days the batteries were held and 85% +. It was interesting to note that the batteries continued to charge even when the sky was overcast albeit only at about 3 to 4 amps versus nearly 17 amps in full sun. All in all, I was very pleased with the performance of the system and would highly recommend converting to solar. If you are on the fence, drop me a note and I'll try to push you over...


John & Jodie Hartline
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Phoenix, AZ
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:43 PM   #2
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I really enjoy reading these stories. It is amazing how well the panels produce even with a heavy overcast. We went a week in KS dry camping (on our way to CO) and really did not have to change our camping habits all that much. We had a few overcast days but it totally charged the batteries by 3pm (while using lights/fans/charging phones and watching some TV), the rest of the time was full sun and unfortunately about 20+mph constant winds. Still want to add a second 250Watt panel.
Enjoy
Don
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:13 PM   #3
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Interesting! We, too, were on the Mogollon Rim (near Woods Canyon Lake) just a couple weeks ago, for a three-day boondock. Used our low-power portable solar panel for daily charging. We use a 400W Wagan MSW inverter to run our television and DVD and had tons of fun with no worries of drained batteries (our dual 27 series deep cycle batts never went below 12.3 volts even after each night of watching tv, movies, running fans, lights, etc. (Amazing how many digital TV stations you can get at that altitude!) Love boondocking! Heading to Prescott AZ this weekend to do it again!
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:11 PM   #4
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Don't you just love it up on the Rim? 110 in the valley and 71 up there. Do you have any trouble pulling your 21FB up the hill from Rye to Payson? We do struggle with that stretch... basically 40 mph in 2nd gear. It makes me think our Tahoe is a bit underpowered even though it is the 5.3L tow package. How many of you are in the TV when making the trip?
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:55 PM   #5
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We are in Payson right now, when we came up in the middle of June and our Excursion pulled our trailer [over 17,000 lbs] just great, was between 48-52 all the way up.
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Old 08-06-2013, 11:18 PM   #6
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Don't you just love it up on the Rim? 110 in the valley and 71 up there. Do you have any trouble pulling your 21FB up the hill from Rye to Payson? We do struggle with that stretch... basically 40 mph in 2nd gear. It makes me think our Tahoe is a bit underpowered even though it is the 5.3L tow package. How many of you are in the TV when making the trip?
Yes...the Yukon does seem to dog out on that climb, but we survive... Just the two of us, plus the greyhound. Sure wish the gas mileage was better.
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:11 AM   #7
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My battery requirements at the present time is 255AHs coming from three 85AH standard issue 12VDC Interstate batteries. Durring our normal day/night camping run off the batteries my biggest drain is around 20AMP DC Current between the 8PM to 11PM home entertainment time frame with probably an additional 1-2 AMP draw the whole day/night period for keep alive circuits. This is using an 600WATT Inverter and direct connected 12VDC drains from my batteries. At 8AM the the next morning my batteries are down to around 12.0VDC which is approximately the 50% state of charge. This is when we connect the shore power cable to the the 2KW Honda Generator 120VAC receptacle and recharge my batteries in a short three hour time frame using smart mode technology on-board converter/charger.

Now that i am very successful in running the things we want to have aboard with our OFF-ROAD Camper i want to now add a 120WATT Solar panel on my POPUP roof and i actually have enough room on the roof for two 120WATT panels. I am hoping the power I get from the these panels will offset my somewhat 300WATT present all day/night battery drain and perhaps not have to use the generator as much.

Here on the East side of the US we have almost extreme Generator use restrictions in place just about everywhere you go including the Natl Forest areas. Most place that allow generators will have the 8AM-10AM and then again 4:30PM-7:30PM allowed generator run times. The Natl Forest areas are starting to adopt the 8Am to 8PM schedule but this is not always the case. No where can we run a generator after 8PM at night let alone all night long.

This has prompted me to adapt my trailer to run all my toys in a one day/night run off the batteries and then be able to re-charge my batteries back up to their 90% charge state the next morning.

I am hoping adding solar panels to my POPUP roof area will help me out here. I probably will not be able to go bigger than 240WATTS total on panel size. Having 10-20AMPS of re-charge power for my batteries for at least 6-8 hours during the daytime hours should do the trick for me... Of course we do not have the hot sun like your guys out West guys have. We also like to camp in the shaded wooded area when possible...

I know your camping spots up on the rims very well as living out that way back in the late 60s early 70s when tent camping and Jeep trailer convoys was very popular. Great adventures running the back trails in the high country of AZ.

Roy ken
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Old 08-07-2013, 01:59 PM   #8
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Well... since it has been brought to this forum and you are offering to bring us over - I am new to the solar consideration because I am heading out to PSU for a couple of football tailgating weekends and will be in their lot with no power, water, or electricity and would love to at least be able to watch the game while my family members attend the game. They don't even allow any non-onboard generator usage so I can't bring my (noisy) genny. I don't have the funds to invest in the size you mention but can swing one of the HF 45 watt kits. $149 to get me started sounds do-able funding wise - will that get me along for a 3 hour football game? I already converter to led lighting to help general power need at night. Just looking for an opinion on if it is a complete waste of money and I should save up for at least xx watt. Thanks for the info!
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Old 08-07-2013, 02:38 PM   #9
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Well... since it has been brought to this forum and you are offering to bring us over - I am new to the solar consideration because I am heading out to PSU for a couple of football tailgating weekends and will be in their lot with no power, water, or electricity and would love to at least be able to watch the game while my family members attend the game. They don't even allow any non-onboard generator usage so I can't bring my (noisy) genny. I don't have the funds to invest in the size you mention but can swing one of the HF 45 watt kits. $149 to get me started sounds do-able funding wise - will that get me along for a 3 hour football game? I already converter to led lighting to help general power need at night. Just looking for an opinion on if it is a complete waste of money and I should save up for at least xx watt. Thanks for the info!
How good are your batteries? I see that as a focus area.... I use my solar panel strickly to recharge my batts during the day. I can watch quite a few hours of television/movies at night at 225W power draw (60 watt television, 165 watt DVD / surround sound system) through a 400W Wagan MSW inverter and not go below 12 volts on a pair of series 27 deep cycle batteries. Then charge them up the next day with my panel. I would think you would be ok to watch a three hour game if you've got the right battery / inverter setup
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Old 08-07-2013, 03:01 PM   #10
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How good are your batteries? I see that as a focus area.... I use my solar panel strickly to recharge my batts during the day. I can watch quite a few hours of television/movies at night at 225W power draw (60 watt television, 165 watt DVD / surround sound system) through a 400W Wagan MSW inverter and not go below 12 volts on a pair of series 27 deep cycle batteries. Then charge them up the next day with my panel. I would think you would be ok to watch a three hour game if you've got the right battery / inverter setup
I just have the Interstate that the unit came with - the tv is listed at 45w (I used to be in the 12volt electronic field so I should be able to remember the draw numbers etc.) The inverter is a simple 400 watt modified sine cheapo. I was planning on bringing an old battery from my VW Diesel that I replaced with new just due to time but use it to start my mower and snow blower when needed. Holds a charge well but not designed for camper use. I was just going to switch over to that when hooked up to the 45 watt kit to keep the charge and watch tv and then switch over to the Interstate when shutting off the inverter. Maybe I over think things but looking for something to get me through a couple of weekends tailgating with family. I really don't see myself boondocking much since we camp with a couple neighbors and it is all campground/full hook-up preferred.
Thanks for the info!
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