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Thread: Considering solar...

  1. Print this Post   #1
    Senior Member
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    Considering solar...

    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?

  2. Print this Post   #2

    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 !

    Marv & Karen Osborne
    09 Chevy 3500-HD - Duramax & Allison
    Escapees # 82038 - Passport America

  3. Print this Post   #3
    Past British Columbia Chapter Leader sailorand's Avatar
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    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
    BC Chapter Rep.
    Love it and would buy it again. 2006 Bighorn 3055, serial # 2808
    Chev 2500 extended cab, Duramax LLY, Silver Birch, 4x2
    Allison 6 speed, Tekonsha Prodigy
    Ladner B.C. Canada
    VE7HRA / K7HRA
    Kenwood ts2000, Scorpion motorized vertical antenna
    Past BC Heartland Chapter Leader Club #1012





  4. Print this Post   #4
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    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.

  5. Print this Post   #5
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    Hi Rand,

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

    Chris

  6. Print this Post   #6

    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.

    Marv & Karen Osborne
    09 Chevy 3500-HD - Duramax & Allison
    Escapees # 82038 - Passport America

  7. Print this Post   #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeyBare View Post
    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.

  8. Print this Post   #8

    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.

    Marv & Karen Osborne
    09 Chevy 3500-HD - Duramax & Allison
    Escapees # 82038 - Passport America

  9. Print this Post   #9
    Senior Member grizzlygiant's Avatar
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    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".
    Gary & Edie +Two spotted poodles
    Hayden, North Idaho
    Heartland Club Member 1116
    Sundance 2800RLS 2009
    (previous BH 3400RL)
    Dodge Ram 2500 HD 4x4 2007
    ...Cummins turbo diesel,
    ...short bed, timbrens

  10. Print this Post   #10
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    "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.

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