Solar Power -- RV

Thread starter #1

mattuga

Senior Member
I would like to equip my 7' x 12' travel trailer with solar power. What is the best kit or personal designed setup you've seen?

I run a small AC unit and some lights, not a heavy power pull but more than 2 outlets. Scalability would be cool as this is the starting process for learning solar. I want to really get it on the basic level and understand what the number mean and just as much what numbers matter most when it comes to specs. Thanks in advance.
 

660griz

Senior Member
It seemed pretty simple till you mentioned the AC unit.
What is the startup / running watts of the Ac unit?

I am not going to say it can't be done, in full sun, with the right technology but, it will be a pretty expensive experiment.
 
Thread starter #3

mattuga

Senior Member
I use the model unit linked below, it takes 115 volts but I don't know the other specs. I was worried I'd have to get a serious battery bank to run the solar setup for AC but I plan on going Lithium on my batteries for sure if that matters. In my research the benefits of lithium outweigh the costs long term and nearly everything I buy over $100 has a long term investment mentality behind the purchase, if I can't afford to get the best item with cash and it isn't a "need" I don't buy it. I plan to eventually get a pull behind trailer set up for hunt camp so the wife and kid can join. That said I would like the unit I put together to be kinda simple to transfer. If what I am thinking to do is unreasonable I am open to that honest answer as much as a solution. Google gives overwhelmingly useless advice as everything is to advertisy based on my search instead of providing actual answers.


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WayneB

Senior Member
From my personal experience, start with an inverter and batteries to establish the loads you expect to use; THEN using that information determine what you need to recharge your battery bank. You can recharge batteries with a regular charger while you test and exercise your setup.

There are a LOT of variables to know, some more important than others, but all pertinent to the end result.
One variable I feel is important is loss through inverter. If your 1000W chinese inverter sucks 1/4 of your battery capacity just being on, you have simply wasted some capacity for no return.
For an AC unit and some lights or cell chargers, the modified sine unit should be okay, however there is always the AC unit that just don't like it... YMMV

Efficiency- 12v vs 24v. Higher voltage feeding an inverter will be more efficient, it also requires more batteries.

Charge controllers- I avoid the all-in-one inverter chargers as I have had issues with both brands' charge side 'flaking' out. Some things should not be proprietary.
Once you've decided what voltage you want to feed to your inverter, you select a charge controller that outputs that voltage. I use the PWM style, 60A for inverter array, and a PWM 30A for house battery. Morningstar brand.
I use 24v for solar with one 12v charge controller to supply charge to the house battery. Yea, I have a ton of batteries..

I use group 8D batteries which is the big honkin' monsters used to start big rigs, in a deep cycle version. The ones I use are made by DEKA and sold at Batteries Plus. Usually have to order the deep cycle style.
I can 'get by' with a single for the house, and a pair for the inverter, however I have four for the inverter to add to my capacity.

I use Tripplite and Zantrex inverters for different applications, one is true sine wave, the other is a modified sine wave. True sine wave will run anything including computers just like utility power. The modified sine wave will cause issues with computers but is less expensive for general use.

One thing often overlooked is a transfer switch, you do NOT want to be powering the built in converter to your camper with the solar setup, it literally sucks any overhead capacity out of your assembly, not to mention your camper plug end will be 'live' when powered via inverter output without a transfer switch.
 
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