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Author Topic: solar panels ,,worth the time and trouble??  (Read 4726 times)
pete36330
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« on: May 11, 2011, 06:28:26 PM »

Is anybody using any solar panels on their bus for power ,,I'm thinking about 6 175watt panels ,,a good solar controller to help at keeping the house batteries charged ,,8 deka 6v gel cell batteries for 24volt house system,,hoping to run the house frig and roof vents ,other stuff like the Tv and computer ,trying to keep from running the gen all the time ,,,anyone have any suggestions ideas that would help?
    thanks pete 36330
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Joe Camper
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2011, 06:47:42 PM »

I have a friend with an H345 that has been intensively researching this and he ain't no grease monkey like me. He has a PHD so I tend to listen to comments about the things he persues when he does it.

His research has led him to flexible self adhesive panels. The potential is unlimited. Women's purse flaps to charge cell phones, awnings, curtains or the roof of the camper Smiley  
« Last Edit: May 11, 2011, 06:50:35 PM by Joe Camper » Logged

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happycamperbrat
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2011, 07:24:13 PM »

I love those flexible panels, but they are out of my budget right now. Im still waiting for them to come down. Ive also read that solar paint is in the works, so is solar ink. But for right now, here is a calculator I found online that shows the number of panels and batteries you will need depending on what you want to run http://www.freesunpower.com/system_sizing.php if money isnt an object with you but roof space is, there are ways that I think they could be stacked and then folded out (or extended out automatically) to create sort of an awning when parked....
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The Little GTO is a 102" wide and 40' long 1983 GMC RTS II and my name is Teresa in case I forgot to sign my post
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2011, 07:27:16 PM »

  If.
 
  If they were affordable, and if they were flexible enough to match the roof contour, I would do it. But flat panels on brackets up on a round roof Bus, or that cost a fortune, are not an option.
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Joe Camper
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2011, 07:37:41 PM »

If we wait just a bit they will very quickly become yeserdays tech Grin

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Jerry32
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2011, 08:36:48 PM »

I have 480 watts on the roof and they pretty much keep the fridge and numerous other items going at least till the sun goes down Jerry
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2011, 08:56:57 PM »

I have 480 watts on the roof and they pretty much keep the fridge and numerous other items going at least till the sun goes down Jerry

at what cost?  i'd prefer solar with sufficient storage as opposed to a noisy genset.  what's the payback period on these panels or others versus diesel that i may have to run to keep the hot water hot, freezer frozen, etc?
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011, 09:24:19 PM »

pay back? Remember too that when parked at home there is no reason you cant run a good extention cord to your house to power stuff as well. Get double duty out of them
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The Little GTO is a 102" wide and 40' long 1983 GMC RTS II and my name is Teresa in case I forgot to sign my post
Barn Owl
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2011, 04:38:45 AM »

Solar panels are more of a lifestyle choice, because there isn't a payback at current prices from what I remember reading other threads on this topic. Also don't solar panels have a limited and relatively short lifespan? If you are having to put news ones on every six to ten years, plus batteries every five to seven, then that gets to be very costly. I would like to have a solar system on mine, I just don't have the extra $ laying around.
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 04:43:00 AM »

Yes, it is costly...... I dont know even with using the cells double duty how long it takes to recoup costs. I think the solar panels last about 25 years now, at least that's what many of the ads for the newer ones here locally are saying. But they want to install them for 3.33 a watt  Shocked That's just crazy! But if you can solder you can buy the cells individually for under 1.00 a watt. Of course then you have to come up with the materials to mount them in a windproof, rain proof, hail proof container and put them on your roof.....
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The Little GTO is a 102" wide and 40' long 1983 GMC RTS II and my name is Teresa in case I forgot to sign my post
boogiethecat
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 04:47:37 AM »

I have 200w x 3 panels on my roof, a BZ MPPT500 charge controller and 8 AGM's on my bus.  The day I installed the system was the last day I ever worried about my fridge.  The fridge is a 110v Summit in which I installed a dedicated 2000w sine inverter that is turned on and off by the fridge's temperature control.  It's about the most seamless, maintainance free setup I've had in many years! It runs constantly and never needs to be plugged into shore.  I Love it.

So to answer your question, YES it was worth the time and trouble. Well worth it.  I fought with a 3-way fridge for 5 years. Always having to Level the bus. Always having to screw with lighting the pilot. Repairing the stupid thing 1-2 times a year for one little thing or another. Finding warm food when parked in the desert, 'cause the fridge couldn't keep up. What a hassle.  Now, all gone... no hassle... I just enjoy it...
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 04:51:20 AM by boogiethecat » Logged

1962 Crown
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 08:54:12 AM »

Barn Owl I agree. I was interested for storage w/o power or possibly just slightly more and that is what my friend was wanting to do as well. Drive a circulating fan somewhere for discharging summer heet and turning the air over and keep the batts up while stored w/o power.
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technomadia
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 09:15:15 AM »

Also don't solar panels have a limited and relatively short lifespan?


Many solar panels are warranted to produce their rated output for 30 years, and they will likely keep working a lot longer than that.  All you have to do is clean them every so often, and you get magical and totally silent electricity constantly flowing in to your home / bus.

Generators are noisy and annoying - particularly to your neighbors. Anything that can be done to avoid hours of generator usage each day is a huge win.

Solar panels alone are not enough though - to get your monies worth out of them you need to really focus on power efficiency. In our trailer we used all LED lights, and measured and optimized every watt of electrical use. But by doing so, our 200 watts of solar panels allowed us to occasionally go for weeks on end without needing to pull the generator out of the truck - even with us two geeks spending much of each day working away on our laptops.

Solar is one of the best upgrades ever, IMHO.

   - Chris // www.technomadia.com

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Tony LEE
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2011, 09:43:26 AM »

Payback period can depend on what value you want to put on peace and quiet. If you prefer to give expensive RV parks a wide berth AND prefer not to annoy the neighbors when you do, work out the payback period by multiplying the number of nights you DON'T spend in an RV park by the coast per night an average RV park costs.

Works best for those on the road full time. Weekend warriors can never justify solar purely on a dollar basis.
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 09:59:39 AM »

I have 200w x 3 panels on my roof, a BZ MPPT500 charge controller and 8 AGM's on my bus.  

  Im sure we could use your system as an example of payback. Whatever your fridge is using in average KWH's can easily be converted to utility rates. If we assumed the panels are making 70% power for 10 hours a day, .6KW X10 hours = 6 KW per day, about 180 KW per month, sounds about right for an average fridge? At $0.08 per KWH, thats about $15 month, $180 year, $1800 in 10 years. I cant imagine you have anywhere near that into your setup, and you cant include the fridge or inverter, just the panels, batts and controller. If you used the costs of running the generator intermittently to charge the batts, to keep the fridge running 24/7/365, your costs would likely be $0.25 per KWH or more, and your payback could be within months.
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