Solar advice please.

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by scootit, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. scootit

    scootit New Member

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    We have a new to us travel trailer. Right now we have these batteries and plug. I am looking at buying the renogy 100 watts 12 volts monocrystalline solar starter kit with 30a pwm wanderer from amazon for $196.99. I will also update my batteries to deep cell marine 31 or 2 6 volt golf cart batteries depending on size of the space. Is this the correct set up? What am I missing? The past owner said just buy a panal and plug it in. I am learning that it is a bit more than just plug them in. Any advice will be great. I am new to all of this. Thanks.
     

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  2. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

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    I would not recommend you buy any solar components until you do an energy audit of your needs. It is quite possible that simply upgrading to a group 31 deep cycle battery will provide you with all the energy you need for the time period you are camping.
     
  3. sea-piner

    sea-piner Member

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    I state anytime, anything about electric anything is posted, I am not an expert or even close, but I am like to type and will always give my opinion when asked... :)

    I agree with above, that there are lots to consider b4 going solar, but I will make the assumption that where, when, and how long you plan on being in your PUP has taken you down the path that you'll need an external power source and the cost and/or noise of a generator isn't something you want.

    I use an 85 W panel with charge control from home depot. My deep cycles 12V battery will be charged by 2pm all year round the next day. We use all LED lighting. Heater may run 10-15 minutes per night and the girls take sink baths. We don't have an inverter. We play until the sun goes down and hang out by the fire until bedtime. We live in california, where it rarely rains or has overcast skies.

    thats my two cents/experience.
     
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  4. dion

    dion Member

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    How long do you spend camping without any way of charging you battery except solar? How much electricity do you draw from you battery in a typical 24 hours of camping? How reliable is the sun in the times and places you camp (do you ever camp in cloudy or rainy weather? Do you ever camp deep in forests where there's no sunlit area for your panels?)

    Regardless of how much solar capacity you have, you at least need to have enough battery capacity to get you through the night, plus enough to get you through any period you could reasonably expect to be without solar charging. Once you've got a battery that can do that, you might want to add a solar panel that can fill that battery in a reasonable time period. It would be nice to fully replenish the battery each day, but it might be enough merely to add a bit of charge each day, to make it so that you can go for more days before eventually needing another source of charging.

    We've looked into solar for our situation, but it doesn't make sense for us. I don't think we've ever stayed more than three nights at a site before packing up and moving on, and our group 24 battery handles our modest electrical needs for that length of time without any strain. Our tow vehicle charges the battery when we drive between sites -- we've spent months at a time on the road with no other form of energy than the tow vehicle. We use our 12V system for powering LED lighting, fans, and chargers for phones, cameras, computers, flashlights, radios, and various other small electronic items. We almost never use electric hookups.

    Just because solar doesn't make sense for us, doesn't mean it's not for you. if you like to camp for extended time periods in sunny places, and if you're a heavy user of something like a furnace with a 12V fan, you might be a prime candidate for a solar power system to keep your battery topped off. But you need to do that energy audit before any of us can tell you what sized system might work for you.
     
  5. scootit

    scootit New Member

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    From what I can understand it is my heater fan that draws the most power. Looks like 4.2 amps per hour. We camp year round(California) with out hook ups. If we used out heater for 8 hours for 3 nights it would be just under 42 AHS. Right? At this time with the batteries that I have-dual 24's is 170AHS. My leds,power jack, frig, water heater and water pump draw some when in use. I believe that this 100 solar panel will work to top off my power for our 4-7 nights at camp. If later down the road I could add another panel. I do not chose a generator but maybe down the line it could be added.
    When I order the panel and charger do I need to add an inverter? Do I need to add more wire so that the panel can be away from the trailer? How do I hook the panel to the plug the old owner has installed?
    Am I understanding all of this correctly?
    Thanks for your help.
     
  6. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    +2 energy audit, or empirical data from actual battery usage while camping.

    With our group 31 battery that is rated by RC, but converting to AH's it's about 100 ah. We have dry camp for 9+ days without heat. When camping with low 30's degrees nights and the stat set to 68 degrees, we get 2-3 nights. But we have LED lights and don't use any power except the water pump and 3-4 times a day we start the water heater. We also charge our kindles and phones.

    This year for spring fall camping we started using a 80 W solar panel with our 5 year old G31 battery, when we know we will need heat. But up here in Ohio we have a sun angle about 50 degrees in the fall and spring and about 1 in 3 days are good sun days. We seem to never see the battery drop below 12.2 volts. On the good days we get the battery back up to 12.9 to 13.1 volts. We lose about 0.25 to 0.35 volts per night. We now don't use any other charging methods then solar

    I think I would hold up on the panel and batteries. As a safety measure bring some jumper cables and monitor your battery voltage. You don't want to drop below 50%. If you are running low, get a jump off your TV while it is running for 30-40 minutes. A TV will never get you higher than about 85%. At 85% we get 2+ nights.

    These are just my thoughts how to get the empirical knowledge on you needs.

    Also get a battery voltage to percent of charge chart and change you lights to LED's
     
  7. scootit

    scootit New Member

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    All my light are LED and we do watch our battery for low power. Now that I do not have enough power to keep my batteries charged after 4 or so days....I want to get a solar panel to give some power back into my batteries.
    I am looking into the Renogy 100 watt 12 volt monocrystallone solar starter set and charge controller. My trailer already has a plug on it. I am guessing that I am going to have to change the plug on the solar panel to be able to connect to the plug that is already on my trailer. Will I need anything more to connect the solar? I also feel that I am going to need a longer cord for the panel. I do not want to mount the panel to the trailer roof. I understand I will need to make a PVC tray to hold the solar panel up to be able to get the most sun light as possible. I am not sure if I might not be understanding all of this correctly. Am I missing something to be able to connect this panel to my trailer and use it correctly?
    Thanks
     
  8. Yak

    Yak Well-Known Member

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    My advice is not to use that 110 ac outlet. SAE, MC4 and Anderson powerpoles are made for 12v
     
  9. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    Based on your pictures, you appear to have 2 G24 12 volt batteries connected in parallel. Both appear to be quite old and may be near end of life. The connections are very corroded and you have a weird "knife" cutoff switch that is also very dirty.

    Before I spent money on solar I would upgrade or at least replace the battery bank. Solar's not going to help if your batteries crap out in the middle of a camp.

    I would replace all the ring terminals with new clean connectors and ditch that old cutoff switch and ac outlet. And use heavier wire on the connections between the batteries.

    I use a 100 watt mono panel and a Renogy controller with a single G31 battery and if I get 4 hours of good sun a day I can camp indefinitely, running a cpap 8 hours a night. But since you said "travel trailer" you probably have a lot heavier parasitic loads than I do so that may not be enough for you.

    Maybe, if your battery bank was in better shape you could do 4 days without solar.
     
  10. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    If you can go 4 days without charging with 2-G24. You should be fine; If you get at least one sunny day an a particle sunny day every 4 days. In sunny CA I think you will be fine.

    I went to with portable 80w setup that has two 40 watts panels that fold up. I Went with the 80 watt setup because it fits in a 24" pizza bag, with 1/2 dense foam on each side of the panels. My unit had the controller mounted on the back of one panel, fold up legs and short 10' leads with battery clips for post connections.

    I changed my leads to short quick connector "CB 10 gage" and also put a connector on the battery. I bought a 10' 30 amp 10 gage extension cord and cut it in half. Attached a CB connector on each of the cut cord on the hot and neutral leads. I always carry a 25' 30 amp shore power extension cord for when I need more cord.

    So now I can plug the 30 amp plugs together on the 10' cord or put the 25' cord between the 2 30 amp plugs of the 10' cord and get a 35' reach. For us this work well since we normally find a shaded site and now we can get the panels in the sun. It work well for use as long as I get a sunny day every 3 days, or some sun every other day.
     
  11. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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  12. CO Hiker

    CO Hiker Active Member

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    @Scootit
    Did you get your solar system installed?
    The extras I ran in to were, two spools of equivalent gauge wire, connectors, crimp on contacts, and battery disconnect switch from the auto parts store. You can mock it up using cardboard and string or extension cord (low tech) but it will give you an idea of what goes where or where things need to be relocated and then do the install. I didn't mount ours permanently and made prop legs from a 4ft stick of angle aluminum cut to length to give me a 30 degree or 60 degree angle depending on which way I flip it and a couple of screws, nuts, and washers from the hardware store.
     
  13. scootit

    scootit New Member

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    thanks for everyones help. I have not gotten my solar panels yet. Updated the battery to two 6 volt golf carts. Just got new tires too. I want to test drive the battery a few trips. Not sure if I will need to add solar. I believe I will be able to keep the trailer going for 4 days on battery power. We will only be camping more than 4 days maybe twice this summer.
    Relax and enjoy life.
     

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