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Kirk W

Some questions about solar use?

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23 hours ago, Kirk W said:

What I am wondering mostly is what it costs nowadays to put in a mid-level system, what if any maintenance is needed (pretty well answered) and what sort of life one expects from one. If I were to build one, the big question is batteries, since lithium are clearly the best, but budgets could get in the way. 

The hot deal right now is in used panels removed from buildings when their tax credits expired.  With panel life exceeding 25 years one that's been removed after 5-10 years service still has plenty of life left.  SanTan Solar in Arizona and other dealers are selling used 250 watt panels for $50 each.  These are about twice as wide as the 100-150 watt panels usually found in RV systems and are nominally 24 volts (36 volts open circuit) so you need a MPPT controller to feed a 12 volt system.   MPPT controllers are pretty standard nowadays, you'll only see PWM controllers in the cheapest systems.  A single 250 watt panel is enough to keep a pair of batteries charged.

$50-100 for a panel and wiring, $50 for a Chinese amp-hour meter and $150-200 for a basic MPPT controller and you're up and running to charge the batteries you now have.   Of course you can expand the system beyond that if you want.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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One of my blog friends just posted that his 13 year old panels weren't providing as much power as they used to do. On checking he discovered they needed to be washed. They are back to 100% power now. When I was snowbirding, I parked under a tree all summer. Dave would wash my panels before I set out for the winter. He's supportive of me that way.

Linda

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51 minutes ago, sandsys said:

One of my blog friends just posted that his 13 year old panels weren't providing as much power as they used to do. On checking he discovered they needed to be washed. They are back to 100% power now. When I was snowbirding, I parked under a tree all summer. Dave would wash my panels before I set out for the winter. He's supportive of me that way.

Linda

Our panels also were not charging well this summer and needed to be washed.  The output doubled after cleaning.

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Hi Kirk,

In fall 2011 we did bootcamp, then bought an 8 year old Itasca Meridian 36.  In the spring of 2013 we went to Mayo FL and John Palmer and I "negotiated" a solar install.  I had a bunch of ideas that I had picked up from this forum and Jack Mayer's site.  John had others.  In the end we put 500 watts of residential panels on the roof and a Morningstar 60 MPPT controller and replaced the inverter with a Magnum 2000 pure sine wave, and 440 AH of LifeLine AGM batteries.    Spent about $4300 for that.

We have done a fair amount of boondocking since then from bluegrass festivals to driveway surfing to BLM  land.  Several years later we did add another panel to bring it up to 750 watts (panels had gone from 500 to 125 by then.)  I work from the rig so I need to run the inverter and computers pretty much all day.  Third panel made the difference between needing to be very careful, to not really needing to worry.  Although 3 days of rain still means the generator starts.

But the peace and quiet of solar is really nice.  The LifeLIne batteries are still holding their own after 7 1/2 years.  I have been very careful not to over discharge them, and  know lots of folks who haven't had agms last as long, but for us it is working.  Only maintenance is washing the panels from time to time.  Crawl up on the roof with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Windex.

They have worked well for us and we would do it again.

Alex

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It's all about lifestyle and expectations. We have 200 watts of solar and 210amp batteries and get on just fine. No a/c and no long showers. Always boondock. As a rule of thumb 2 x the solar watts for the battery amps.

Without upsetting our American friends I would suggest Australian RVs are way ahead of American RVs in the way of independent camping. We have to be!! 

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12 hours ago, bruce t said:

Without upsetting our American friends I would suggest Australian RVs are way ahead of American RVs in the way of independent camping. We have to be!! 

No doubt about that. Back in the 70's & 80"s I used to take my popup into places that approached some of those that you have but pretty much stopped that when we left WY. We did still dry camp in parking lots and such for short stops but haven't done any of that since my 75th birthday. I think most Americans consider themselves to be in the "boondocks" as soon as they leave the pavement.  

Edited by Kirk W

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15 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

. I think most Americans consider themselves to be in the "boondocks" as soon as they leave the pavement.  

Are more than half hour from a Walmart.

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The sad thing is that the very reason we go camping is to get away from thing things we take with us. Think about it!

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5 hours ago, bruce t said:

The sad thing is that the very reason we go camping is to get away from thing things we take with us. Think about it!

We went fulltiming to get away from Minnesota winters. We did NOT take them with us. :)

Linda

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We camp off grid lots.   Not all enjoy that I get it.  It's what makes us a interesting group.   We all enjoy what we enjoy.    I also get learning stuff - even stuff I'll never do.   You never know what can add to your enjoyment of life. 

Below is a post I posted on another forum .....

Solar Panel Built

Why and what not......
I took on this project to learn and teach myself about solar power, solar panels and solar controllers.  As we all know there are a lot of very 'helpful' folks on the internet.    Sorting the facts from the alternative facts is a full time job. 
My project by its nature is a throw away.  I believe ALL lessons cost money.  Thank god for the cheap ones.  My plan now is the use this setup in the 'real' world so I can learn what improvements I'll need.

 

Parts List
Renogy Solar Starter Kit . $95

Renogy MC4 Tool .  $5.50

Super Cloud Extension Connector Terminals. 1Ft . $9.00
 
Renogy-10Ft-Adaptor-Female-Connectors .  $21.00

Construction Note
I knew it but its  worth repeating Lazy Daze is not know for using too much wire.  The hardest part was getting the battery out so I could  attach the extension connector to the plus battery terminal.    Once the battery terminal connectors where in place the rest of the construction was plug, screw down,  and play. 

Lesson learned so far.
MPPT and PWM -- the difference is more to do with the use and application is what is better.  They both will produce, in the same price range the same amount of power.

Cost -- the price of a controller will get you more bells and whatnot but they all seem to produce the same amount of power.

The controller you SHALL have should be based on the amps your solar panels will be producing.  I.E. 10 amp controller for a set of 10 AMP panels etc. 

All controllers produce large amounts of heat.  Get one with a good heat sink.

 

glen

 


 

 

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