Solar setup for boondocking?

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by Hammockpacker, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Hammockpacker

    Hammockpacker New Member

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    Mar 26, 2018
    Hey there, I would like to know more about others of you that have solar setups for boondocking. I have a 93' Rockwood XL camper and I just got a 100w flexible solar panel and also have a second rigid 30w panel as well. I'm planning to run these panels to a deep cycle battery (860CA/100AH) which is already connected to my power panel underneath the seat of my dinette (in a battery box). The charge controller is also hooked up and ready to accept the panels.

    I've already replaced all my bulbs with LED ones. This said I'm curious as to what I might expect in regards to battery life (hours and expected to range of usage). I realize I won't be able to run an AC...but perhaps I could run a 12v swamp cooler. I'm in the process of building one now. Also, I'm wondering how long it will take my 100w panel to charge my battery to full capacity (understanding that this depends on sun exposure). Does anyone think I should add another panel? Also, any ideas for best methods to mount the panel(s)? Again, my panel is a flexible one (mounted on a sheet of rigid plastic which can be drilled for screws). I welcome any ideas you guys may have.

  2. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

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    Oct 1, 2014
    South Central New Hampshire
    Alot of this depends on where you intend to camp. If your in Maine you need to get another 100w panel if your in New Mexico I guess you would be fine laying them on the roof.
  3. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2016
    Search the threads. There are dozens of posts on this subject.
  4. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Depends on where/when you camp. We do most camping in the 4Corner States. On our pup, we had a Group 24 battery, and 60 watts of Goal Zero panels. Our usage was two (1 LED bulb) ceiling fixtures, furnace, and some use of the 12v outlet. We also had a GZ free standing storage battery, used for our Endless Breeze fan, a hanging lantern outside, Kindles, cell phone.
    That generally had the battery topped off by the afternoon, a bit later in rain or very shady sites.
    In the TT, we have more power users, water pump, more lights (the ceiling lights have 2 LED bulbs, if we’re dry camping we mostly use one fixture at a time), ignition and brains for the hot water tank and ‘fridge. We use the fans only as needed. We have a newer GZ Yeti 150 (wore out or killed the older one), used as we did the original. If we need to recharge it on a trip, our original set of GZ panels are hidden in a storage area. We now have a Zamp 160.
    Another section to read is :
  5. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    Mar 23, 2016
    King George, Virginia
    I am wanting to do the same with my OFF-ROAD POPUP camper. It presently has an Air Conditioner on the roof and I want to swap that out for a Fantastic Fan setup.

    Then I want enough solar panels to produce around 25AMPS of DC Current when in HIGH SUN... POPUP roofs are neat as they can lowered down to the six foot level so you can work on them hehe... I'm probably looking at two 120WATT Panels on one end and another 200WATT or higher across the roof on the other end of the roof... Having a portable setup might be looked as well...

    I have a somewhat higher DC Current usage demand than most off-grid campers have with my Ham Radio Operations and other high wattage items being used...

    My camping has me using my 2KW generator each morning starting at 8AM during breakfast hooking my trailer to the generator to recharge my batteries. This takes around three hours of generator run time. Getting past the initial high DC current demand when first starting out charging is my problem as I need to produce around 55AMPS of DC Current from my on-board converter/charger unit. This starts tapering back after about 30-40 minutes of use so that would be a perfect time to shut down the generator and allow solar panels to do their work the rest of the high sun day... My demand drops from the 55AMP DC Current source to around 20AMP DC current in around 45 minutes as my batteries start taking on Charge State... Having multiple small solar panels in parallel that will produce the 20AMPS is what I looking for...

    If it looks like I will not be able to get my battery bank back at its 90% charge state by 4-5PM I will still have enough time to start up the generator again before I loose daylight and still be allowed to run the generator. If I don't start the next evening night run with at least a 90% charge state it gets dark and quiet on me around 10PM hehe... I want to start each evening with at least a 90% charge state in order to keep things going until 8Am the next morning when I am usually allowed to run my generator again.. This is what we have to deal with here on the East side of the US where most camping spots has Generator run time restrictions in place. Very few DISPERSED camping locations around here where I live...

    We camping off-grid I can do this 50% to 90% charge state thing about 10-12 cycles before having to do a full 100% charge state which takes me a good 12-16 hours to get done. That when I like to head back home so i can do this this in my back yard...

    I think running my generator for about an hour each morning and then using the Solar Panels in HIGH SUN for the rest of the day will work out great for my camping needs...

    My game plan to reduce having to run my generator so much per say hehe...

    Roy Ken
  6. inthedirt

    inthedirt Active Member

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    Aug 28, 2012
    SW Montana
    I have 260w on my roof and have stayed out 7 nights straight and never had a problem with the 2-6v batteries being under charged. This was during a 5-family campout and we had the only working hot shower. Pumped so much water that the tank had to be filled 1-2 times each day. On top of all this, my wife is a wussy and needs the heater all night long.
  7. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

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    Apr 6, 2017
    New Plymouth, ID
    I currently have two 100w panels mounted on the roof, in tilt mounts that I fabricated....they lay down flat for travel, but can be tilted to catch the sun. Only been out 2 trips with them so far, but they've been keeping our 2 g24 deep cycle batteries topped up. We don't have a huge current load on our outfit, just the furnace, which we rarely use, 2 lights, a 12v fan we usually run on low all night, & a 400w inverter we use to run small 12v appliances, & a couple of sockets for charging cell phones. So far, I'm well pleased with the setup. First trip out with them, it was cloudy, & rained off & on all weekend, yet the panels developed enough oomph to keep the batteries charged.

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