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Solar chargers

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Nwcid, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    I am in the works of trying to buy a ~24' enclosed trailer for multi use. One of the things I will use it for is camping in after unloading all the toys.

    They come with lights inside as is but only run if plugged into a vehicle. My plan is to upgrade to LED (if it does not already have them) and install a couple of large batteries inside. I want to be able to run the lights, charge small things like cell phones, and run a couple of 6" 12v fans on those hot nights. For the most part during the day nothing is going to be running.

    My question is how big of solar set up do I need and what is the most cost effective way to do it? I have seen several solar sites but many of them are several years old and much has changed since then. Also I see a lot of "consumption" tables based on use just like a generator which I am very familiar with. I can not find quite what fits my needs. I am trying to get and idea of what Watt size panel would be needed to put a decent charge on 2 large batteries each day.
     
  2. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Oregon Well-Known Member

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  3. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    I live in a RV. I use the 12 volt system most and only have a couple 120 lights. 3 batteries to power them and of course a converter to charge.Unless I have all the lights on and maybe a fan,the converter doesn't turn on that much.
    So if you get some good batteries and LED lights,you really shouldn't need that much solar panel.
    I'm fairly stationary right now and the power bill is low enough not to worry,but I am very interested in this for dry camping.
    I too have been thinking about the cargo trailer for my camp trailer.A local guy had one modified with 6" extra height and windows put in in the factory.But he has a lot of extra cash.

    Anyway,by all means not an expert and really waiting for them to come out,but why not start with one panel and add to it if necessary? You may need more than one anywho.Most manufacturers give you,us laymen at least ,some idea of what the panel will run on their packaging or web sites

    OK OK where's the experts at?
     
  4. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    DTD thanks for the RV link. Lots of info there and have not covered half of it.

    mj you make some good points. I have been looking a bit and it seems like a 100 watt system and 2 decent batteries should cover it. I have seen the 100 watt systems for about $350-400 and then decent batteries should be $150-200 each. I know the lights will not draw much but I am guessing running 2 6" fans over night will put a bit of a draw on the batteries. I have not checked to see what consumption they have cause they are buried in a box.
     
  5. sheepdip

    sheepdip Redland Well-Known Member

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    opinions are like a$$holes, everybody has one, here is mine. two big good 6 volt batteries put in series, charged good before you leave will get you 4 1/2-5 days if you are careful with your power use. if you need a, microwave/tv/mp3/dvd/hairdrier. go to the park with the plug in with the rest of the.


    and by the way quit running your generators all damn day
     
  6. Garg

    Garg east of portland metro Hold my beer..... watch this Bronze Supporter

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    Other than a solar panel, you may also want to consider a small wind charger as well. Small wind units for RV's and such can be had for a few hundred doll hairs, and work in the dark, and cloudy days. Between both you could pretty much relax in the knowledge that you would almost always have power.
     
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  7. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Well this year at one point I was out 26 days. It is not unthinkable for me to be out up to 30 days so 4 days will not cut it. The power use will be at night so it will have all day to charge. Sometimes I have access to power, others I dont so I dont want to count on it. With the size of this trailer I am guessing I will be parked in an area where access to power will not be practical.
     
  8. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    How big a trailer? One of the better fans will work pretty good for you.I have 30 feet and one does pretty good.Two if really hot,but you are on the sunny side aren't you?
    Don't get a black trailer BTW

    And we will need some pics of everything.
     
  9. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Looking at an 8.5'x24'. Needs to be big enough to haul my ATV's side by side. Even an 8.5' trailer is almost too skinny so it will be a tight fit. I could probably get away with a 20' but the extra 4' gives me some room since you always need more then what you think you do. I will get one with a drop back door and a man side door.

    For "fun" use we will only be out a day or two at a time and should be able to park in shady spots to help keep cool. I know this will limit the solar but will not be needing as much then.

    In the summer I work wildland fires and will be parked in the middle of a field somewhere in the PNW. It will be very warm in the day there. I need some cool/moving air to be able to sleep.

    Been doing some serious looking at trailers, styles, options and prices. There is a lot out there. If things go well I will have it in the works in the next 60 days.
     
  10. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so it is a doneish deal. Made a deal on a trailer today. Just waiting on a check that should be here next week so I can go actually pick it up.

    Now I need to figure out what I am going to do to it and in what order.

    1. Batteries
    2. What wiring I need to run. Need to figure out what I need to power.
    3. Solar charger
    4. Possible shoreline, inverter, power management system
    5. E-track. Think I am gong a row high and a row low along with upright sections. Seems like a really good system and there are brackets for building stuff with 2x6 (like a bed platform)
    6. Exterior lights
    7. Possible insulation
    8. Interior LED stip lighting
    9. Unknown
     
  11. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely do #4 so if you wanna stop at the RV park.
    That E-track type systems are priority right? Look at all the different ones to see what has the most versatility. They do get expensive and I have talked to folks that installed them and barely used them.
    #7 will save you energy and make it WAY more comfortable if you do winter camping.That white closed foam ain't that expensive or heavy.

    One thing I was thinking of for one of these was making the bed fold outside. You would have to make a canvas for it and cut the side out,but it would give you more room inside. The other was just have it fold up on the wall instead of framing it on the floor.Oh you have to do something like that anyway if you're gunna have quads in there.

    And the guy I spoke of earlier had them install the waste and water tanks.I wouldn't bother with the waste tanks,since you can always stop somewhere or bury it and use good stuff so you can let the gray water drain to the ground .But some sort of water system would be a really nice feature.
     
  12. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    I am 99% sure I will never be at an RV park. The nice part about shoreline will be to keep things up when I am at home. On fires now I can usually park my truck close to power, but with a trailer this size I doubt that will happen. Also I do have a 3500 watt generator if I need it. I have not done tons of looking but they seem to run about $1000 so that is not going to be a high priority at that price. Do you know of a cheeper option? I can make some kind of manual plug/switch/ect for less then $50.

    I know the E-track is not cheep and will do more research but think it might be what I need. I am going to use this trailer for many different things so that makes flexibility a must. I will not be building any fixed structures inside. Even fold up framing is going to be too wide to fit with my ATV's. As is I am not sure they are going to fit side by side as I would like which is part of the reason I went 24' vs 20'. The fold outs are a cool idea but even if I do the work myself the $$$ will add up quick.

    Insulation is semi high on the list cause even in the summer it will help keep it cooler. Just have not decided what kind to do. Thinking spray in might be nice but need to pull a wall off and see how it is framed.

    No plans on fixed tanks of any kinda. I dont mind camping I am just tired of sleeping on the ground in a tent. In this I am sheltered, I can stand up, I can keep all my gear dry/protected, it is just nicer all the way around.

    Thanks for the input though. Always enjoy hearing thoughts since the might spark a cool idea I missed.
     
  13. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    I work in the RV industry and have to answer power questions all the time. To start there is no perfect system for power replenishment just some are better than others and the #1 thing you can do to extend stored power is to cut all power use to a minimum at all times - I know this sounds over simplified but it is amazing how many people simply cannot do it. Your #1 power draw in an RV is the 12 VDC furnace followed by lights. The amp draw of 1141 auto style bulbs for RV lighting is incredible - something like 5 amps per bulb. Add the poor connections usually found in RVs (butt connectors, too many circuits on too light of wiring) and you can factor in even more amp draw. While LED is expensive most people are only replacing only the strategic lights they normally use to keep the cost down. To begin I recommend a Catalytic heater for ANY RV. Even in the summer in Oregon we will need heat and that furnace motor pulls about 10 amps when it is running. The Catalytic heater uses no power but puts out an amazing amount of heat and actually uses less LP than the furnace. And when I talk about Catalytic heaters I mean the ones made by Olympian - check them out on their website. Install an LP light fixture. Kind of like a Coleman lantern but permanently installed and plumbed in. Provides light and heat at the same time. Fans were previously mentioned. Look no further than the Fan-Tas-Tic brand fans. These move a huge amount of air with very low amp draw. Two are ideal - one pulling air in and one pushing it out but that may be overkill. One good reversible Fan-Fan (RV slang for the Fantastic Fan) will provide enough air movement for a medium size RV and plenty for a utility trailer. Batteries - never use anything from Bi-Mart, Wal-Mart, Les Schwab and above all never use anything from the 'Deka' brand. Use only Interstate brand deep cycle batteries and always use 6 volt batteries wired in series for your 12 volt system and using 4 guage wire. Two minimum and four is an optimum setup but more could be added only limited by space and your budget. Even for medium long term 'dry' camping ( 5 - 7 days) four 6 volt batteries are usually more than enough with minimal power use. Solar - great but only if you can afford a relatively high wattage system. I would never consider anything less than an 85 watt system with 125 being much more effective. These are the basics and we could get into talk about converters and inverters but PM me if you have any questions about that. Finally generators - last ditch power replenishment consideration - the reasons should be obvious.
     
  14. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Wow, great post. I will be PMing you when I have time. Thanks.
     
  15. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    I have been living in these things for some years now and aside from the amperage drain of the furnace,I have found they basically just burn LP and blow ambient air(as apposed to hot?) so I'll be looking into the Olympians too.

    So the lantern doesn't emit enough exhaust to hurt anything when used inside? Sounds like a great solution as the little 12v bulbs suck for reading light.

    +2 on the FanFans? I use them all the time in the summer

    And thanks for the rest of your post RV
     
  16. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiosity why? All the reports I've heard about them have been very positive.
     
  17. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    They are absolute crap.
     
  18. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    You will still want to keep a window 'cracked' while the LP light is in use and turn it of before going to bed. As far as the catalytic heater Olympian has a 'spec' for how much air flow is needed to replace what it uses which is the only issue - they use up air but do not emit any Carbon Monoxide. I just keep the vent over my bed open about 1".
     
  19. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    Well I have never had the money to buy a completely air tight RV,so not much to worry about.
     
  20. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    There is no such thing as an air tight RV. The reality is You could probably run the Cat heater in any RV with everything buttoned up and still have enough ventilation but ALWAYS err on the side of safety.
     
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