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Solar Performance...Real World Report / Review


rbertalotto

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I left Massachusetts on Feb 10, 2017....Right after a 12" snow fall and before the next storm was to arrive, dumping another 6-8". Heading to Phoenix for the "Winter Range" SASS Cowboy Action Shoot.

 

I made it to Knoxville, TN and stopped at a rest area for the night. It was cold and I ran the heater for about 7 hours. Turning on every 20 minutes or so. In the morning I made coffee two time with the 750w Kurig machine, turned a few lights on, watched the news on DirecTV NOW with my Ipad Mini hooked up to my 32" TV and charged devices....all off my two AGM Group 31 batteries. As I left the rest stop my Bogart TriMetric said I was at 12.7V and my battery bank was at 89%.

 

Driving all day I made it to the border of Texas / Arkansas, Texarkana and pulled into a truck stop for the night. Checking battery levels I was back at 100% and showing 13.7v. Same scenerio as the previous night.....same useage.

 

Next day I drove to Abilene TX and treated my self to a KOA park. Simply because it was convenient and I needed propane and to dump my tanks. Again, batteries were back to 100% and voltage at 13.8V. I did use shore power as it was available so no battery use this night.

 

Next day it was a haul with amazing headwinds to Las Cruces, NM. Lots of stops during the day to conduct business using my HotSpot and WeBoost cell booster. A few hours total of this use. Being much further south, and with much better sun, the solar system was dumping 15-18Amps into the battery bank. I've never seen this type of performance up in New England. During the day, I was producing much more energy than I was using with computer and various electronic devices. In Las Cruces I once again parked at an RV park and used their electricity and their WiFi which was fantastic.

 

From here is was off to Deming NM to stay a few days with my friends at Hidden Valley RV park (BTW, an amazing RV park. Best RV park I've ever stayed in...Period! more on this in a future post) At Hidden Valley I used shore power and had very poor data connection with Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint. Cell phone on Verizon worked, but being in quite a deep valley, other connections were very spotty. But the RV park WiFi was simply amazing. Absolute state of the art system and all for $200 a day!.

 

From here is was off to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, north of Phoenix. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, Feb 18 in a driving rain storm. You want to talk about MUD!!! Rained all day Saturday and Sunday. Using lots of battery power for heat, lights, TV, computer for two days, I finally had to break out the Honda generator and run it for a few hours. On Monday the sun shined brightly and the batteries were 100% charged by noon! And this is from a 70% level! Very impressed with this SW sun!

 

Today is February 24, My wife flew in on the 21st to join me, and she uses lots of electricity. We are in a dry camping space with no hookups. I have not run the generator since the 19th. Totally running on Solar with furnace every night, coffee machine running off my inverter at leasdt 6-8 times a day, electric tooth brushes being charged, lights, DirecTV NOW, watching DVD movies, WEBoost, fan over the stove, even an electric stem iron off the inverter.....You name it, we ran it.......Five days so far without hook up and no generator use, and the solar system has kept up in perfect form.

 

To say I'm pleased with how this solar system has worked out would be a huge understatement. Easily the best thing I've done for my camping experience!

 

System

(3) 140W / 12V AltE Panels flat mounted, no tilt

Bogart 2030 Charge Controller

Bogart TriMetric

Xantrex Inverter

(2) Sam's Club Duracell Group 31 AGM 12V batteries

 

You can find an article on my entire installation here:

 

www.rvbprecision.com

 

I hope this helps others thinking about taking the plunge into RV solar.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

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Congrats on your energy independence!

 

Your system is sized how I like......more than double the watt to Ah ratio. This works especially well when you run daytime loads like you do in the mobile office.

 

Next step to save energy and money is an alternative heating source like a Wave catalytic heater. You may never have to run the genny again as long as the sun is shining.

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Congrats on the successful maiden type voyage with your the new solar... And it sure does sound like you sized it correctly for your needs.

 

A funny things about the need for generators. With a few inches of snow on the top of the panels, not much power input from old Sol!! So stay prepared with the generator:)!

 

Travel safe,

Smitty

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Isn't solar great! The freedom to travel w/o needing to connect to shore power is wonderful.

 

Another real world experience is our trip to Alaska in 2016. We went 139 days (4 1/2 months) from Portland, OR and back to Portland and only had electric hookups for 2 days. One additional time we ran the generator for about 2 hours because of 3 days of dense cloudy days.

 

The only reservations we made on the whole trip was for the two campgrounds inside of Denali NP (dry camping). We made those about 2 weeks before arrival.

 

No reservations allowed us to move from place to place totally on our desires and whims. No need to leave in poor weather because we HAD to be somewhere because reservations. Here is a link to a blog of our trip.

 

We use the microwave to defrost food, heat leftovers etc. The TV and Dish Network DVR (the DVR is the power hog) usually on for 3-6 hours an evening. A 4 slice toaster (pulls 180amps when toasting 4 slices). Charging 2 laptops & 2 cell phones. Also my wife has a power wheel chair and a large 4 wheel scooter that we have to recharge.

 

We very seldom run the propane furnace. We use a Kozy World 5000-15000 BTU unvented portable heater, so we save on elect power and don't need to listen to the furnace turning on and off.

 

We have 650 watts of solar and 400AH of Lithium battery. The lithium is great, since we have no need to get the battery to 100% like you do with lead acid, including AGM.

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12.7 = 100% SOC, yet his system stated 89%.

So, something does not equate to his statement.

 

This could mean the system calculates a SOC and not a true valve.

 

With my system, my Magnum BMK, reads a true valve of battery +, and - voltage going to the batteries.

The BMK takes into consideration the alternator, solar or the Inverter/Charger putting a (+) current into the batteries.

When I compare the battery voltage to the SOC, it is very close.

 

There is really no way, he would be at 12.7 charged in the morning after his statement "I made it to Knoxville, TN and stopped at a rest area for the night. It was cold and I ran the heater for about 7 hours. Turning on every 20 minutes or so. In the morning I made coffee two time with the 750w Kurig machine, turned a few lights on, watched the news on DirecTV NOW with my Ipad Mini hooked up to my 32" TV and charged devices..."

 

A propane furnace uses about 4 to 8 amps an hour, a 750 watt machine will use 60 amps DC for at least 5 minutes. "32" Tv, uses about 12 amps DC. So, I am just asking for clarification for his numbers.

I suspect, his 12.7 voltage was the result of the sun coming up, and not the real battery voltage.

 

just asking questions.

See my signature for my system

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I suspect, his 12.7 voltage was the result of the sun coming up, and not the real battery voltage.

 

That could very well be true. When I made my first reply I was thinking more along the lines that 12.7 is pretty much in-line @ 89% since most true deep cycle AGM's generally run more around 13v@100% SOC (2.17v per cell). That wouldn't necessarily be true for hybrids or standard wet cells.

 

My bad for not reading more carefully. ;)

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....................A propane furnace uses about 4 to 8 amps an hour, a 750 watt machine will use 60 amps DC for at least 5 minutes. "32" Tv, uses about 12 amps DC. So, I am just asking for clarification for his numbers. .......................

 

just asking questions.

See my signature for my system

Not trying to nit pick, but while the old picture tube type of 32" TV's draw around 12amps of DC power, my 32" LED flat screen TV only draws about 1 to 1.5 amps of DC power. However the Dish Network DVR used to get the satellite signal recorded and to the TV draws about 5-7 amps.

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rule of thumb.

1 amp AC = 10 Amp Dc

 

100 Watts = 110 vac * .9 Amps = .9 amps Ac

100 Watts = 12.5 * 8 Amps = 8 amps Dc

 

Next you have to add the power that the inverter uses while on. This can be around 4 amps. Adding the 8 + 4 results in 12 amps. This is a rule of thumb approach.

My system, shows the actual current (BMK Shunt), charging and discharging the batteries.

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I use my Trimetric battery monitor to get the DC amps for everything I use, lights, inverter, TV, etc.

 

Bottom line, the new LED flat screen TV's use very little power. Yes my Magnum inverter uses 3-4 amps when I turn the inverter on. However if I was to just wanting to power the TV and not the DVR I would get a small 100watt inverter, plug the inverter into the 12V outlet and just power the TV.

 

Lots of options available.

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Bottom line, the new LED flat screen TV's use very little power. Yes my Magnum inverter uses 3-4 amps when I turn the inverter on.

 

Very true. These days.. some 32" LED's only drink 25-30 watts AC... the overhead on the maggy is right around 25 watts DC... so what you're really looking at is around 2 amps of DC overhead + 3 amps DC for the actual TV for a total of 5 amps... not 12.

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There is really no way, he would be at 12.7 charged in the morning after his statement "I made it to Knoxville, TN and stopped at a rest area for the night. It was cold and I ran the heater for about 7 hours. Turning on every 20 minutes or so. In the morning I made coffee two time with the 750w Kurig machine, turned a few lights on, watched the news on DirecTV NOW with my Ipad Mini hooked up to my 32" TV and charged devices..."

A propane furnace uses about 4 to 8 amps an hour, a 750 watt machine will use 60 amps DC for at least 5 minutes. "32" Tv, uses about 12 amps DC. So, I am just asking for clarification for his numbers.

I suspect, his 12.7 voltage was the result of the sun coming up, and not the real battery voltage.

 

A few clarifications. Using the info directly from the TriMetric....

 

My furnace blower uses 3 amps and runs about 3 minutes each cycle

The Kurig uses 56 amps for 3 minutes

TV draws 1.2amps

 

12.7 is actual battery voltage as I'm up well before sunup.

 

My voltage at the Trimetric and various voltage meters I have at each cell phone charging station show 13.37 volts with panels covered and TriMetric showing 100%

 

The 100% full indication is suspect because I'm using the generic AGM profile supplied by Bogart. Not sure this is accurate for these batteries.

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...show 13.37 volts with panels covered and TriMetric showing 100%

 

Which isn't out of line. Those charts you find around the internet showing voltage to SOC%'s are so incredibly outdated and generic.

 

Checking with your batteries mfg is the only way to really "know" what each individual cells (2v) voltage rating "should" be. Mine sit at 13.1@100% SOC.. so when you were talking 12.7 with AGM's my foggy brain automatically clicked into.. wow.. that's a bit low for 89%. :lol:

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...Is this a typo....... But the RV park WiFi was simply amazing. Absolute state of the art system and all for $200 a day!...

Yes it is. We have stayed at Hidden Valley near Deming a couple of times. From their website: "Wireless Internet at site add $2.00/night or $30.00/month." It is a Passport America Park with no time restrictions. If you consider the cost of their nightly, weekly and monthly rates; even with the Wifi charge, it is a very reasonably priced place to stay.

 

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