Going solar, have a few questions.

Discussion in 'Camping Green' started by Jeeperforlife, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. Jeeperforlife

    Jeeperforlife New Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    Over the winter I plan to install 4-100 watt panels, 3 more deep cycle batteries and wire in a inverter. What is the most weight I should have on the roof of my camper? I have an AC already and worried about stressing the lift system. here is the panels I am going to use.


    I am also looking to hard wire the inverter in. I am considering going with a inverter and charger combo so that if i lose power, or if the voltage at a campground drops below the limit it switches to battery automatically. I would run everything except the AC through it. It also greatly simplifies getting inverter power to all original outlets and I have been reading that is an area many people struggle with. I am very surprised that I have never found anyone that uses these in a camper. is there a reason why? Here is the inverter I am thinking I will use.


    The extra charger amperage would be nice to charge the battery bank over the stock charger. I may pull the entire original charger-fuse panel out and replace with the inverter. it would be very easy to add in a small fuse block for the 12 system and breaker box for the 120 volt system, and I'm sure still give plenty of room for the battery monitor and solar controllers.

    What do you guys and gals think?
  2. sea-piner

    sea-piner Member

    Oct 9, 2015
    Tongue in check: are you planning on living out of your PUP and staying inside watching television, playing xbox and working on your laptop? I am no electrical expert, but that seems like a lot...

    I have a single 85W panel and my single 12V deep cycle battery is recharged by 2pm the next day--granted I live in California and have all LEDs and I am only in the PUP after the sun goes down :) Most people do seem to get by on a single panel...
    seasonsroar likes this.
  3. Antipodes

    Antipodes Call me Paul

    Jan 28, 2015
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    I am probably confused as to what you intend to do?
    It appears that you want to build a system that you are primarily going to go to camping grounds with as you are talking about buffering the voltage from the supply and ensuring consistent supply.

    If that is the case then you are not requiring solar at all?

    If you are only occasionally going of grid? 1 day? 2days? Then again you may be better with batteries capable of running for your time of grid.

    But if you are wanting to boondock almost always?

    The inverter you specify I am not sure what you are going to run and for how long. But at the low max output it is 105 amps/12V or 156 amps/12V at the 1 hour high output.
    With 4 batteries (which will be extremely heavy to place and tow) will give you around 4 hours of use at that current draw! Depending on type of battery, this may be either full discharge or certainly over the max discharge of most batteries you would use on a Pop up.

    400 watts of solar is around 33 amps. This is only achievable in full sun with the panel at the right angle.
    Depending on where you camp, weather, and time of day, the output will be less than your panel rating and some cases right down to 10%. Not going to keep your batteries charged if you intend to draw from your inverter constantly.

    Now Sea-piner does plenty with his panel because of where he lives.(Does make a big difference)

    I have 2 x 200watt panels mounted to the roof and I have very rarely seen full power being delivered from them except during peak of summer and in full sun. (Mounted flat) (Live in NZ pretty much camp at 45 deg south)
    I went out 2 weeks ago, for 3 days and we pretty much had the furnace running all the time during the early morning evening and night. During the day we barely got any sun with most of the time overcast or rain.
    The small amount of sun was just enough to charge but not to capacity and we ended up with 50% discharge (140AH battery)on the morning of the third day. (Had to turn furnace off)

    So don't count on running 1250 watts of AC power at all if you don't get 12 hours of full sunshine a day, and even a small use you are going to have to audit your needs and restrict the time you do need that sort of power.

    Pretty basic summary and I am sure there will be lots advice from the many knowledgeable people here on the forum.
  4. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
  5. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
    I suggest anyone power their PU by an inverter have the ability to turn off their converter while doing so! Most PUs seem to have the converter wired to the same breaker as the 120v outlets.
  6. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

    Jul 18, 2013
    Thornville, OH
    Have you done an energy usage audit to figure your demand. That seems like a lot supply you are planning for.

    We dry camp in the fall and spring in temps into the high 20's and run the furnace at 68 degrees. We get by very well with 80w solar and one G31 battery, as long as we get near full sun every 3 or 4 days.
  7. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2015
    Seems like a lot of effort, money and tongue weight for a 2 hour duration UPS. Are the electrical systems at the campgrounds you go to so unreliable? I'd look for better maintained campgrounds.

    Read the reviews on Amazon, this is not a pure sine wave inverter.
  8. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

    In answer to your last question; I think you have more money then....

    Seriously, WHY? What in the world do you need that much power for? Have you done an energy audit? Have you looked at the weight of 4 batteries? Cost? [:!]
    Alan likes this.
  9. Alan

    Alan Active Member

    Mar 18, 2017
    Reno, NV
    I have one solar panel and one deep cycle battery. The solar panel runs everything we need during the day and charges the battery. I don't know how many watts it provides but the panel itself is about 14" x 48" it's mounted on the top, rear of the PU and wired into the electrical system. It also has some type of unit inside the trailer which indicates what it's putting out and the state of the battery.

    Not only does more weight stress the lift system but it stresses the top structure as well. My Westlake has a roof rack; the manual says to take any loads off of the trailer before cranking it up...good luck with your project.
  10. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2016
    King George, Virginia
    I will soon have 4ea GC2 6V batteries and a metal box on the tongue of my popup trailer. This is around 450Ahs capacity...

    I too want to install some solar panels on my popup roof which also has a 13500 BTU air conditioner installed.

    I am thinking of putting in 100watt solar panels on each side of my of Fantastic Fan install and maybe a 120Watt solar panel across the end of the roof between the air conditioner install and the rear of the popup trailer.
    Google Image

    I will use Aluminum Unistrut on both ends of the trailer roof - not what is shown here in this google photo
    Google Image

    I already know this is going to be a task for my powered roof raise. It already moan and groans putting up the roof and air conditioner now.

    I will be using the aluminum UNISTRUT stock on the edge of my roof to attach the panels to the roof. This will allow me to slip the mounts inside the unistrut strips..

    I will mount the two 100WATT panels first and see how it goes... My PLAN B will be to use one of those folding portable setup panels if it is too much for my roof to raise.

    My POPUP trailer has a front deck which would also make it very easy for me to raise the roof first and then mount the panels... I can stand in the front deck real easy..

    Also my Air Conditioner is not a high priority for us. Solar Panels will be a higher priorit so I may just remove the air conditioner. We are always OFF-ROAD back in the woods somewhere and very seldom use it.

    My goal is to have something that will produce 17-20AMPS DC CURRENT during the high Sun periods so I can charge my batteries in a quick three hour time frame. I also am planning to run my generator for the first hour of charge to get past my my very high initial heavy current until the batteries start tapering back. Then i will let the Solar panels finish off the charge before the end of the high sun day. I learned a long time back I have to start my day/night runs off my batteries if I want them to make until 8AM the next morning. I usually draw around 20-22AMPS DC CURRENT from my batteries between 6PM and 11PM each evening. I will drop back to around the 50% state if charge on my current 255 AH battery capacity setup doing this.

    Roy Ken
  11. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

    Jul 18, 2013
    Thornville, OH
    Roy, what are you running that requires that much current?

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