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wyleyrabbit
01-25-2009, 08:02 PM
Hi everyone,

We're almost there with buying a 3055RL Bighorn, and we really like camping in the BC Provincial campgrounds which unfortunately don't generally have any hookups, electrical or otherwise.

I'm considering solar panels for the roof, but have been having a hard time doing the necessary "due diligence" on this issue. What I'm particularly having a hard time finding out is how many watts the furnace fan uses, the water pump, the lights, etc. I did some googling and found that the TV uses up to 170 W, and the stereo uses up to 60 W, but aside from that, I'm kind of stuck.

I can see wanting to use some lights for perhaps few hours in the evening, running the furnace on cold nights (and cold, damp days), and would like to be able to use a laptop for a few hours (homework, photo processing, maybe email), and would like to be able to have "movie night" and watch a movie maybe not every night but every two or three nights. Oh, and the water pump will need to do its thing when having showers, washing hands, dishes, etc.

Doing a bit of searching, I found one site that indicated for our usage, we would likely need about 400 Ah of batteries (would that be 4x12V or 8x6V?) and half the roof covered in panels.

Realistically, if I put on two of the 110W panels and had either two or three of the 12V 160Ah batteries, would I be able to do what I need? Keep in mind that we're not in the southern USA, but up here in Canada where the winter days are short and the summer days are long. Generally, I would think that our off-season camping would be in a campground close by that has full hookup and the boon-docking in the provincial campgrounds would be mainly spring, summer, and fall.

I guess I'd also need an inverter, but am not sure if I need to have a "pure sine wave" inverter or can get by with one of the cheaper "modified sine wave" inverters.

Any thoughts or advice?

SmokeyBare
01-25-2009, 08:47 PM
A simple yet effective way to KNOW how much each electrical item is using...

Is a Watt Meter... as they state....

"Plug your appliance into the Kill-A-Watt and find out how much energy it uses"

Here is one link to a source:

http://www.discountpv.com/meters/p4400.htm

The best part of going solar... is you can always expand the number of Solar panels as your needs grow. Just be sure to size the wires coming down from the roof... so as to reduce the resistance... there by maximizing the flow to the controller and then into the Batteries.

Install two panels on top... feed those to a large enough controller so you can add additional panels if needed...

Problem with Solar is the cost to complete the system... compared to getting a generator. Only you can decide that... Solar sure is nice... sitting in the desert.. watching a movie... using the Laptop... Staying far off the Grid !

sailorand
01-25-2009, 08:47 PM
Hi wyley
We have 4 6volt golf cart bateeries in our 3055. We can go for 7 days when we are south in the desert and about 5 days when in BC. I have put in a couple of Floresent lights which cut the light power out from 9 amps to 2 amps. The furnace will take about 8 amps and the water p[ump around the same.
We do not use the TV, prefer to be outside around the fire. Email is not there in the provincial campgrounds.
Water well don't take long showers. just wetdown shut off the water soap up the rinse off.
With carfull use of what you have you can easile go for 5 days in BC.
Sometimes we take our Yamaha 2800 generator

wyleyrabbit
01-26-2009, 07:32 AM
Smokeybare,

I actually have a watt meter very similar to that! :)

So I guess I'd have to arrange for the dealer to have a unit plugged into a 15 amp service and but it between the two cords.

Hmmmm.

Thanks for the tip.

wyleyrabbit
01-26-2009, 07:33 AM
Hi Rand,

Do you last 5 days with solar? Or is that without any solar?

Chris

SmokeyBare
01-26-2009, 08:47 AM
Wyley,

Remember that the furnace runs on 12 Volt. The Propane Gas detector, the Fantastic Ceiling fan, even the Fridge requires 12 Volt for when it's using propane to run. There might be other phantom loads on your 12 Volt system...

I used 4 panels and a 2000 Watt pure seine inverter which I only ran to one leg of the 110 Volt breaker panel. I switched breakers inside the panel so the circuits I wanted to work... would work with the inverter running. Several outlets I felt I wouldn't need while on Solar power. Example was the A/C... as well as the Fridge... both use far too much power to operate with the inverter. Another was the RV's 12 Volt Charger... don't need that with the Solar panels doing the job...

I'm glad I have the Honda 2000 generator as well... when needed I can always plug in to the Honda and top things off... the Honda will supply enough for us to watch TV... use the computer and my Hughenet dish for the Internet... and the lights we need.

Good Luck with getting your system working.

Dragoon
01-26-2009, 09:20 AM
Wyley,


I used 4 panels and a 2000 Watt pure seine inverter which I only ran to one leg of the 110 Volt breaker panel. I switched breakers inside the panel so the circuits I wanted to work... would work with the inverter running. Several outlets I felt I wouldn't need while on Solar power. Example was the A/C... as well as the Fridge... both use far too much power to operate with the inverter. Another was the RV's 12 Volt Charger... don't need that with the Solar panels doing the job...

A word of caution...The factory wires the circuit breaker boxes for balance loading. Be careful when doing this. Placing too much amp draw on one side of the line could lead to disaster.

SmokeyBare
01-26-2009, 09:36 AM
Please Describe the potential disaster you feel could happen...

As I see it... The electrical breaker panels are designed to carry a full load on each leg of the panel... They engineer the panel with only enough breaker openings to safely carry the electrical load for that leg of 110 power.

grizzlygiant
01-26-2009, 10:19 AM
I hardly see a "disaster". The worst that would happen is that the main circuit breaker would trip from an overload on one leg; hardly a "disaster".

ChopperBill
01-26-2009, 12:59 PM
"I guess I'd also need an inverter, but am not sure if I need to have a "pure sine wave" inverter or can get by with one of the cheaper "modified sine wave" inverters."

I have an Xantrax 3000 X power mod. sine wave. If I could have a do over I would have bought the Xantrax 1800 pure sine wave. I wanted run the microwave. Big mistake! It is not happy even with 4 6v batteries but will work. SUCKS those batteries down is short order. Batteries were fully charged and after 1 1/2 minutes of the microwave my batteries took over a day of charging to recoup. Would not even think of running a micro off an inverter now.
I use a 110 watt panel strapped to an aluminum 4 foot ladder and move the panel with the sun. BIG difference. Hard to believe but the 6.5 amp panel will put out close to 9 amps at times according to my charge controller. That is at close to 9000 feet (less atmosphere). Camp 10-12 days with no problems, even using the TV 2-3 hours a day. I have installed all florescent lights. Better light with less power.

wyleyrabbit
01-26-2009, 02:02 PM
Has anyone swapped out the factory installed incandescent lights with high-output LED lights? I would think that if this is possible, it would save a ton of power.

SmokeyBare
01-26-2009, 06:37 PM
As with the ever increasing cost of Solar... those LED light bulbs are right up there in costs. I'm just not able to pry open my wallet wide enough to buy those.

We use for our evening lights... a pole lamp with three energy efficient florescent bulbs in place of the typical light bulb. Works well... at a lower power use... and better light than the wall mounted 12 Volt bulbs built into the BigHorn.

Marv

leftyf
01-26-2009, 08:22 PM
Has anyone swapped out the factory installed incandescent lights with high-output LED lights? I would think that if this is possible, it would save a ton of power.

I'm going totally florescent. Cheaper.

wyleyrabbit
01-26-2009, 11:56 PM
I'm going totally florescent. Cheaper.

Do you have any links or pictures that show the lights you're changing over to?

sailorand
01-27-2009, 04:12 AM
Wyley
5 days without solar, just on the batteries. I have switched 2 of the incandecent lights to floresent lights. I have put 1 LED strip over the desk area, it only takes 350 milli amps. I have been playing with some 1 watt LED's but they are not yet there yet. The trouble with LED's is that they are directional even with the lens magnifiers on them.
You can get LED stips with defusers on them but there is too much light lose. At the best you would get bright ambiant light from led's which are installed at the cieling hieght. for under counter lights they work OK if you install enough.
I paid $35 US for my stip of 8 LED's with the defuser.

leftyf
01-27-2009, 04:22 AM
Do you have any links or pictures that show the lights you're changing over to?

I don't have any right now...it's 4 am. But, I will put a couple up when I get back from the doctor in the morning.

I've got 3 different types (styles and lengths.) If you get interested let me know. You can get them in lots of 10 for $16.50 each. I bought a case. Every ceiling light fixture in this place will be replaced with a couple left over. Those may go into the basement.

sailorand
01-27-2009, 10:00 AM
Leftyf
I would like to meet you some day, but please park at the other end of the campground!! I will never be able to use my Ham radio, because of all the RF florescent lights put out. I have to turn off the 2 I have so I can play radio at night

ChopperBill
01-27-2009, 01:26 PM
I bought all my florescent lights from this store on eBay (http://stores.shop.ebay.com/R-and-P-Carriages-Trailer-Sales_Lighting-Fluorescent_W0QQ_fsubZ18577114QQ_sidZ13922267QQ_tr ksidZp4634Q2ec0Q2em322) I replace all mine with 18 and 24 inch double bulb lights and added a couple under the cabinets above the kitchen counter. Renee loves e'm! Have about $200 converting all the lights. Probably one of the best up grades I did even if we have shore power. These are GREAT lights!

wyleyrabbit
01-29-2009, 01:51 PM
Anyone installed an inverter into their Bighorn? Is it really as big a job as the RV dealer says it is? I got a quote from them and they're telling me it's a 6 hour job to install an inverter. I'm a bit shocked, actually.

Anyone else had this done, or done it themselves?

SmokeyBare
01-29-2009, 02:24 PM
It takes time to do a clean looking installation... in my view.

I ran the wires from the my converter to the inverter inside flexible electrical PVC conduit... I ran it along back side one of the aluminum floor Joice in the basement so when I open the basement, it does not show.

I used wire ties screwed to the aluminum to secure it in place. Drilled holes through the wall between the basement wall and the front storage area... then through flexible conduit and into the Inverter.

I full time... and my basement reflects that as well. It's quite full. With that said... I had to empty it before crawling inside so I could do the install. Feeling nimble? Laying on my back to do the job... grumbling when I needed to crawl back out of the basement... which seemed to happen often...

OR..... you could pull up a folding chair... and watch as they do the crawling about inside your basement. :)

wyleyrabbit
01-29-2009, 03:09 PM
Marv,

Thanks for the great info. Did you keep the Bighorn's existing converter?

My dealership is telling me that the converter that comes with the Bighorn isn't adequate for handling 2 solar panels (110W), a pair of golf cart batteries, and a modest pure-sine inverter (1500-1800 W). I'm surprised at this.

Did this hook up all of the electrical outlets in your unit? Or is it only specific ones?

Also, start to finish, how many hours do you think this job took you?

I still am suffering from some sticker shock that the dealership thinks it will take at least 6 hours for JUST the inverter installation.

Chris

sailorand
01-29-2009, 04:10 PM
Chris, must be Traveland.
Talk to Brian at Langley RV

SmokeyBare
01-29-2009, 06:21 PM
Wyley,

I sent you a Private message... sorry it's so long.

Here is the battery set up I used... and a picture of the Charge Controller and the Monitor panel for the Inverter

jackg
02-04-2009, 10:17 PM
Carmanah Technologies is a Canadian (Alberta, B.C.) manufacturer of inverters and solar charging units, their RV website ( http://www.solarforrv.com/) has a great calculator for determining what you'll need for a solar panel...or you can do what I did, put 4 6volts in and a 3000 watt pure sign wave inverter, take the thing out for a couple of weekends and you'll know how long the batteries last. THEN you'll know what solar pannells to get!

wyleyrabbit
02-04-2009, 10:32 PM
Jackg,

So then? How long do your batteries last?

Chris