Solar or not?

Discussion in 'A-Frame PopUps' started by Jan Cristo, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    I'm a female newbie with a used Aliner Scout. I'm planning a trip from Florida to New Mexico in the fall and expect to be doing a lot of boondocking along the way, so goodbye to those wonderful water and electrical hookups. l'd like to be sure that I can use my phone and computer at all times, won't be using a tv or the refrigerator though. I'd like to have something simple that doesn't need fixed solar panels or electrical wiring. I know very little about it but have heard of suitcase kits (?) and Goal Zero Yeti Power Stations. Can anyone please give me an idea of what the very simplest (not necessarily the cheapest) way I should go? I am currently using two batteries and have not run out of juice yet - but then, I haven't camped much without electricity. Just need to keep it very simple cause I'm not a techno kind of girl!
     
  2. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    A lot will depend on your schedule. If you're planning a lot of one nighters it may not be worth dealing with setting up a solar panel every evening. I'd recommend that you try to get a site with hookups once every 4 or five nights so that you can get a full charge on your batteries. If you're planning longer stays, where you can leave the solar panels out all day you'll get better results.
     
  3. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Problem about the goal zero is you can't charge your camper batteries with it. It's essentially a fancy battery pack for your extra devises. However I believe you can attach your solar panel to the goal zero to charge that separately.
    If you camp for long or even have to use the furnace, you will need a way to charge your camper battery. You can buy a 100watt solar suitcase which is close to plug and play. The hard part is installing 12v power plug in your camper to charge your devices. I personally harness the use of my car to charge my devices so the solar panels can charge the camper battery. An inverter generator can do everything for you, but many campgrounds have restrictions with them.
     
  4. bheff

    bheff Active Member

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    If you plan on driving most of the daylight hours, you may get away with the charge your T.V. gives the camper battery. Then just use your vehicle to charge your phone and computer via the USB ports or by a small inverter for the car.
     
  5. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    That is really great news! I wasn't sure how much energy those two batteries would have. You're right I really don't plan to spend a lot of time at each site along the way, but I do want to be able to stay for a day or two if it's particularly interesting or beautiful! Your information frees me up a bit financially if I am not required to go solar. And mentally too!
     
  6. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    Thank you so much for the reminder! Yes, I can charge my laptop and phone with the cigarette lighter in the car while I'm driving. Makes me feel silly to have forgotten that. Appreciate your answer.
     
  7. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Hi Jan, I like solar because most controllers will charge to a high enough voltage to better care for your batteries. 365 days a year! The typical WFCO power center won't do that. Batteries need to be fully charged on occasion to prevent loss of capacity. Battery care is needed for them to last many years.
    Small items can certainly be charged by driving using cig lighter/usb.

    portable solar suitcase with controller included, just connect to battery and set out in the sun.

    Renogy, HQST, etc

    https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-RNG-K...folding+solar&qid=1563148062&s=gateway&sr=8-1

    https://www.amazon.com/HQST-Monocry...folding+solar&qid=1563148102&s=gateway&sr=8-2

    not a fan of the controller with this model, price is nice
    https://www.amazon.com/DOKIO-Monocr...&qid=1563148131&s=gateway&sr=8-20-spons&psc=1
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
    jonkquil likes this.
  8. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    Sorry to be so dense, but would one of these items be all I needed? Wouldn't I need to get some kind of monitor or something? Gosh, if this is all I'd need, that is a really good bet.
     
  9. hq308

    hq308 Active Member

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    If you're not stopping very long then your best solution would be to fit a DC/DC charger to the camper and charge your camper batteries while you're driving. The voltage from the TV has to travel a fair distance before it gets to the camper and as a result you won't get full voltage at the camper. A DC/DC charger boosts the voltage and ensures the camper batteries will get a full charge (if hooked up long enough). Without a DC/DC charger the batteries will never get a full charge from the TV no matter how long they are connected although if your battery use isn't too high you may get through your trip fine without a DC/DC charger.
     
  10. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Active Member

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    monitor you ask, well, the Renogy system has a Bluetooth option for some of their controllers - its great :)
    I have it on my iPhone and iPad.
     
  11. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Active Member

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    IF you mostly don't boondock in shady locations, solar is really a wonderful option. We boondocked 7 nights using only solar. 1 Group 27 105 Amp-Hour battery and one 100W panel glued to our Aliner Roof. And we had one portable 35W panel (if was free). And we were running an Engel electric Frig. We never ran the furnace (it was not cold). LED lights. We did charge some devices, including running a small inverter todo toothbrush, shaver and so forth. USB outlets are hard wired (an add-on).

    Canyon campground at Yellowstone is all trees, for that location I have a more comprehensive plan for using only solar.
     
  12. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    the renogy and hqst folding panels both have LCD screens to display battery voltage. the controller is on the back of the panels.
    What monitor do you have now. A volt meter is a handy monitor.
     
  13. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Active Member

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    In a PUP you may not be able to put the controller in a convenient location for viewing - hence the Bluetooth feature is really very handy
     
  14. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    You have all been so helpful with your comments. I truly appreciate the time you've spent sharing your expertise with me. Now I guess it's time to think deeply about exactly where and for how long to spend my time along the way. It's good to know at least that there are some very good options and it'll take some time to decide which is the right one. And from what you've all said, needs can change over time and with experience.
     
  15. shuang2

    shuang2 Well-Known Member

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    Install your solar panel on the trailer top like ours may be the solution. You would always have power charge to your batteries while you are traveling. DSC_2536.JPG
     
  16. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    Thank you so much. Very helpful. Your rig looks just like mine - just a different manufacturer.
     
  17. Steve Ogden

    Steve Ogden New Member

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    Good Luck Jan! I did buy a Zamp suitcase (from Backcountry Solar in Grand Junction, CO). If I point it to the east when I go to bed, it will fully charge the battery before I get out and about - but I'm not a really early riser ;-) It puts out about 6-7 amps per hour so just a few hours of good sun will do a better job of battery charging than the WFCO converter.
    Another solution is to get one of the lithium batteries that effectively doubles your battery capacity. I got a Battle Born that took me from 40 AH (useable) to 100 AH useable. As long as I drive for several hours, I find the TV fully charges my battery. But my tow vehicle has an upgraded tow package which includes a higher output alternator. I suspect the beefy alternator is why it does a good job charging the battery.
     

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