Solar??? Maybe?

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by Jimbo1227, Jan 12, 2022.

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  1. Jimbo1227

    Jimbo1227 New Member

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    what's up everyone? I know i ask a lot of questions but here's another. Lets say i wanted to run solar in my camper and i want to run maybe portable ac or space heater , tv, lights just a bunch of random stuff, not all at the same time but just in general. Is there a full kit i can just buy and comes complete? or even if i have to add a panel or 2. If they do sell a complete kit anyone have experience with them? or is it better I buy piece by piece Thanks
     
  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Renogy does sell solar kits however you will not be able to run AC, electric heater etc off your battery. You can however run a 12v fan or 12v TV and other 12v items. You can install a 12v plug in your camper so you can use your onboard battery. If you use an inverter to run 110v items you lose more energy than what it's worth, but it is doable except for high amperage items such as AC and electric heater will kill a battery in minutes and no amount of solar could not keep up. I personally only need a single 100 watt for my use, but I'm conservative with my power usage and use my on board furnace only at night if I need heat. During the summer I stick with 12v fan and windows. I got my kit on Amazon myself but you can find kits elsewhere.
     
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  3. Jimbo1227

    Jimbo1227 New Member

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    I don’t necessarily need any power at all. I kinda enjoy being without it. But I do have 3 small kids and 1 teenager that are spoiled hahhahha. Thanks for the help
     
  4. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

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    The amount of solar you're likely to install on a popup trailer, and the size of the battery banks common with popups (one Group 24, two Group 24s, one Group 27 or Group 29, or 31... not a lot of capacity) will never keep up with the demands of a space heater or air conditioning. What if you really went hog wild and installed four 100w panels? So 400w of power at 12VDC for four hours a day, that's about 1600w at 12VDC. That would theoretically replace about 167AH/day. Now run the space heater (1500w at 110VAC): 163 amps per hour. So you would run two group 27 batteries almost totally flat in an hour. And your air conditioner would run them flat in a half hour.

    That's super rough math. In reality you need to carry at least double that much battery capacity so that you run down to a 50% charge.... in an hour for heat, or in a half hour for AC. So four 100w panels, and four Group 27 batteries would be fantastic if you only need an hour of heat or a half hour of air conditioning (rooftop air conditioner).

    A small portable AC would probably last an hour! :)

    You'll probably get a little more than four hours of charging, too. Five, maybe six in the summer. But still the battery capacity has to be there to match, and you'll get just over an hour of run time.

    A more realistic approach would be to use the popup's furnace for heat, or a Mr Heater Buddy for heat. And for air conditioning, use a pair of 2000W generators in parallel, or a single 3500W generator. Unfortunately, that's going to be a lot noisier than solar.

    If you can get by without air conditioning, and can use propane for heat, solar is awesome; so nice for keeping the battery topped off every day after running the furnace's blower and lights overnight.
     
  5. Jimbo1227

    Jimbo1227 New Member

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    So basically stick with the furnace lol. Air conditioning is not a priority but sometimes to cool down for a little bit is nice. But all that work I can sit in my truck for an hour lol. Thanks for the help
     
  6. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Solar is not a stand-alone solution, unless you throw $$$$ and battery weight at it. Lets alone the solar panels - where do they all fit?

    But if you accept propane for the heat part of central heat (fan runs on 12V from solar), and skip the AC, solar works fine. Which we do with two 100W panels and one 100AH Lithium battery (and associated charge controller, monitor etc).
     
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  7. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Solar power is wonderful. BUT you need power storage to make it worthwhile… aka batteries! Don’t ever plan on running a/c on solar….. With the proper battery and solar setup, you can certainly do some extended trips, but it’s not quite as simple as plugging in a solar charger. Hope this is somewhat helpful.
     
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    As has been alluded to, solar does not directly power anything. It recharges your battery or batteries, so is handy on many climates for running 12v items. The big RVs do often use inverters to run 120v ac items, but the inverter takes power itself, and they often have much larger battery banks than is practical on a popup, or small camper.
    We camp in the SW, where sunlight means solar usually works very well. We actually are running two solar set-ups on our small travel trailer, which is 17', and actually smaller than some of the larger popups. We have the original set-up that we had on our popup, which charges a free-standing storage battery (Goal Zero Yeti 150). That is used to charge cell phones, Kindles, and run my sound machine overnight. I haven't experimented with charging tablets or laptops in a long time. We have a Zamp 160 for the trailer batteries (we switched to 2-6v golf cart batteries in '15). We mostly dry camp, and it works well for us. We would probably not have done the two system set-up, except that we already had the smaller one and the storage battery and figured we night as well use them.
    There are 12v options for many things, but y ou still need to keep track of total power usage. Standard camper batteries do not fare well if drained below 50% state of charge, especially if done repeatedly.
     
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  9. p

    p Active Member

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    In my experience, a 80 W solar panel in a partially shaded camp site will double your stay time. That is, a group 27 battery will get below 50% after three nights of medium furnace use. With the 80w solar panels, you can milk it to 6 nights (ish).
     
  10. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    As others have stated, you will not be able to run AC or a space heater from a battery unless you want to invest thousands of dollars into it. I upgraded my camper battery from a group 24 to a group 27 last year. The upgrade will extend the time I can run my furnace, but not by a whole lot.

    If you want something for the kids to charge their phones, I would suggest a solar generator like mentioned above. You can choose between many sizes from many companies. Beware, some companies are more reputable than other. You can spend as little as $140 on a small Jackery (160watt unit) that will keep the kids phones charged, less for other brands.

    Two years ago I purchased a Jackery 1000 and two portable 100watt solar panels. I am now capable of running two CPAP machines and charge all of my electronics for days without having to recharge the Jackery. I can also use it to top off my camper battery and have done so quite a few times. See THIS post for my full review.

    If you want to run a TV for a few hours, you should get nothing less than a 500watt unit and solar panels.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2022
  11. Groomporter

    Groomporter Well-Known Member

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    I went with a "solar generator" as well. Since my homemade pop-up doesn't have a built-in electrical system (or any utilities at all...) it seemed the simplest way to go since a Jackery, or the Bluetti like I bought, have built-in charge controllers so you can plug them directly into your solar panel(s) to recharge them. The youtuber Hobotech Has lots of videos on Jackery, Bluetti and solar panels that I found useful and he has discount code available on his website.
     
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  12. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so the consensus, including the OP, is yes to propane heat, no to air conditioning with solar.

    Now what comes next?

    My setup is one 100w panel, a Renology controller, and two Group 24 batteries (because that's what fits best on the tongue of the trailer frame). My furnace is propane with a 12v blower. I keep phones charged, use lights liberally, sometimes the FanTastic Fan, and of course the water pump and water heater solenoid. With those electrical requirements, the 100w solar panel keeps me going indefinitely in warmer months, and in cooler months doubles my camping duration from 4-5 days to 8-10.

    I never camp more than five days at a time anyway, so having solar pretty much allows me to not think about conserving electrical usage. And 100w seems to be enough; a good balance between how long I can camp versus how much roof space and weight I dedicate to the setup. ...oh and cost of course.

    So if you look at a minimal solar kit and sufficient battery capacity to go along with it, you can take the worry out of electrical consumption, and enjoy camping in the peace and quiet of no gas generator.
     
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  13. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Well, if you have only one 100W panel, it needs to be portable. Your camper will not always be in a favorable position with respect to orientation or shade if your one panel is fixed on the roof. We have one fixed panel and one portable panel, both 100W.

    Edited: I forget to mention that we run a 40 Qt Engel Electric Cooler 24/7 when camping.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2022
  14. tfischer

    tfischer A bad day camping beats a good day at the office

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    Solar is great. We have a 150W solar suitcase and have camped off-grid for over a week. That included some furnace use when needed, charging 4 smartphones, 4 smart watches, various cameras, etc. every day, lights, water pump, and more. It's so nice to not have to depend on sites with shore power.
     
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  15. Susan Premo

    Susan Premo Well-Known Member

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    Greek to me. But I'm hoping to get an education from some friends, in person would be good.
     
  16. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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