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Solar and Alternative Energy for RV's (1,749 members)

A place to discuss solar and other alternative power technologies as it relates to our RV's. 

Solar and Alternative Energy for RV's Feed

  • Gary & Marge
    Gary & Marge:
    February 17I put a regular household light switch from the solar panel to the charge controller. I could turn the solar power off when I'm plugged in.
      · via mobile
    • charles formby and 2 others like this.
    • Gary & Marge
      charles formby February 17 Great I did wonder, great cut-off.
    • Gary & Marge
      Seann ( the Canadian) February 17 Why? Your charge controller does that automatically when the batteries are charged
    • Gary & Marge
      Jeneric Ramblings February 17 Household light switches are not made to carry a lot of current and they're made to handle AC, not DC. Please don't use them for solar. 
      There's also no need to turn off your solar power when plugged in. If your batteries are charged by the sh...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Gary & Marge
        Gary & Marge February 17 Okay thank you I won't put it on my new system but it did work fine on my old system
    • Gary & Marge
      John T Mon at 4:59 AM Its good to have an easily accessible On/Off switch in the circuit FROM the solar panel TO the solar charge controller input. Its also good to provide proper overcurrent protection for the wiring FROM any energy source, such as a solar panel,&nb...  more
    • Gary & Marge
      Gary & Marge Mon at 7:27 PM Well thank you for that information
  • Leon and Susan
    Leon and Susan:
    February 16I have a qustion please, do I need a brakere betwin the Solar panels & charger/controller ??
    • charles formby likes this.
    • Leon and Susan
      Jeneric Ramblings February 16 If you build your system to NEC ( National Electrical Code ) the answer is yes, since every circuit needs fusing or a breaker, but it's not really needed, particularly if you have 12v nominal panels and they're wired in parallel.
      If a breaker/fuse...  more
    • Leon and Susan
      Corvettekent February 17 You don’t need a breaker there but you should have a way to disconnect the panels, so a switch or a breaker will work.
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Leon and Susan
        Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) February 17 Juan and Micelle’s panel arrangement is capable of putting out up to 185 VDC for each series pair, so he did the right thing running each of the four series pairs into a weathertight combiner box with a fuse for each one.  They are then connected in ...  more
    • Leon and Susan
      charles formby February 17 Yes. Light switch
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Leon and Susan
        Jeneric Ramblings February 17 Don't use household light switches. Light switches aren't made for this, they only handle about 10 amps safely ( that's less than 200W of 12v solar panels ) and aren't made for DC power. Use either a DC switch rated for at least 30% more than maximum curr...  more
    • Leon and Susan
      Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) February 17 I second Jeneric Ramblings’ advice on this matter.
    • Leon and Susan
      John T February 17 Leon and Susan, good question, FWIW here's my old retired electrical engineers answer:


      Its always best to install overcurrent protection (fuse or circuit breaker) in a circuit fed by an energy source IE a solar panel. HOWE...  more
  • curt603
    curt603:
    February 16Is the portable solar system from Harbor Freight any good? It is cheap
    • Kevin & Lonnie at RVing.Website likes this.
    • curt603
      KK-Idaho February 16 I looked at all the negative comments & decided not to get it & I have a lot of Harbor Freight stuff. I went with Renogy from Amazon for around the same price with many positive comments Had it about a year on my motor home & happy with it.
    • curt603
      Kevin & Lonnie at RVing.Website February 16 All mine are Renogy too. Been very happy with their products.
    • curt603
      Leon and Susan February 16 NO.... I had one it didn't work so well. I just install a Renogy syestem on my RV and works very well, and I take the RV 6 months at the time.
    • curt603
      Michael&Marilyn February 16 It all depends on your needs. I bought one from HF, and it served my needs. All I needed was something to charge my one battery and to charge my cell phones. My power needs was for lights and the water pump. It worked great and the cost was right.
    • curt603
      Jeneric Ramblings February 16 No, it's cheap, but it's not a good value. The panels are inefficient. I'd spend the extra money and go with Renogy or another brand.
  • Michelle and Bob
    Michelle and Bob :
    February 15Just completed our solar panel and controller and supplies order from Continuous Resources yesterday. Matt Dalley, helped review our design for potential issues and saved us some money in the process. He is quick to respond to messages and some of our su...  more
      · via iPhone App
    • Minton Reunion and 1 other like this.
    • Michelle and Bob
      Minton Reunion February 16 Bob, th for your interest in solar, is it possible to send me an inventory or just a listing? If your equipment and necessary for installation of the solar panels. My rig is 2004 Teton. Prewired, just 2 batteries, currently. I just have a cpap, refrigerat...  more
      Hide 3 Replies
      • Michelle and Bob
        Minton Reunion February 16 Naturally, I will keep gas on for frig. And hot water. Also have a generator for necessary things, but really want solar for, simple things. But thanks Lane and Faline.
      • Michelle and Bob
        Tom and Lois February 16 Come see me at the Rally and we will design a system that meets your requirements. I will be at the vendor booth for RV Medic and Solar.
      • Michelle and Bob
        Michelle and Bob February 16 Every install will be different based on where you put the combiner box/roof penetration and solar controller in relation to your batteries, but here’s my checklist:
    • Michelle and Bob
      charles formby February 17 Ty for your comment
  • PeterB
    PeterB:
    February 14Gel Cell Batteries for RV use, any pro's or con's?
    • RichP likes this.
    • PeterB
      Bill Joyce (and Diane Melde) February 14 AGMs are much better and outsell gels by 100 to 1 - https://www.batterystuff.com/kb/articles/battery-articles/gel-vs-agm.html .  
    • PeterB
      PeterB February 14 why are AGM's better than Gel Cell? I've got 15 plus years on my Gel Cells and they can be run down to 5% without harm. Thet do cost more
    • PeterB
      Bill Joyce (and Diane Melde) February 14 Gel cells work best when they are discharged slowly.  With RVs the discharge is not slow and the recharge time is much longer than AGMs.   
  • Dan Bartmann
    Dan Bartmann:
    February 12I do quite a bit of Solar/Wind off grid work, I have my head wrapped around that. But I'm a little bit intimidated about mounting PV on a fiberglass roof. I have a potential client who would like help with this but I'm curious about the 'best' way. It ...  more
    • Becca Ray likes this.
    • Dan Bartmann
      Terry & Diane February 12 being a tiffin owner ,my 2 cents worth would be to call Tiffin! They ate pretty good about helping out
    • Dan Bartmann
      Ricos Ride February 12 3M industrial adhesive 2 side tape   I know AM Solar is using it.   
    • Dan Bartmann
      olkell February 12 We just had four panels installed on our 5th wheel with a fiberglass roof. The installer used sticky mounts from AM Solar I believe. The only penetrations are for the cables going to the basement from the combiner box. He also covered the mounts with an a...  more
    • Dan Bartmann
      3 Hour Tour February 14 I had a fibreglass roof on my Winnebago. I used two sided tape as well as #10 well nuts. Covered everything with dicor. Held up well and no movement or leaks for the 3 years i had it like that.
    • Dan Bartmann
      Dave and Terry Clayton February 14 The AMsolar mounting system says the VHB tape is good for Fiberglas and metal roofs while you need to use screws for EPO and rubber.
  • tomsch23
    tomsch23:
    February 12HELP ... I am in need of some electrical advice. Our travel style is more as boon-dockers than campers tethered to shore power. The problem is, I need to power a continuous flow oxygen machine during the night. It’s specs are 120 VAC ±10%, 350 W, 60 Hz...  more
      · via iPad App
    • Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) and 2 others like this.
    • tomsch23
      Morganwoody February 12 Assuming 8 hours a night according to my calculations that would be 264 amp hours. I would personally want at least six 6 volt 225 amp hour batteries which would give you 337 usable amp hours. For that you would need about 1000 watts solar.  
      Hide 1 Reply
      • tomsch23
        Tom and Lois February 12 Or 4 x 100AH BattleBorn lithium’s . Smaller footprint and much lighter weightwise. It is doable but may not be economically sound in a Roadtec.
    • tomsch23
      John T February 12 Tom, good question, to provide an answer lets take an engineers look at the numbers and make a few "guesses" HOWEVER the actual current draw of that machine is likely LESS then the 350 watts cited, but I will address the worst case scenario for now. ...  more
    • tomsch23
      Louvieve February 13 There are 500w solar generators, reasonably priced on Amazon. Also, check out a guy by the name of Jim in Denver, on the Cheap RV Living website/forum... he's running a window air conditioner on solar only.
      Hide 1 Reply
    • tomsch23
      John T February 14 Tom, one last thing. If you are considering (and its even possible) direct 12 VDC to power that device via a so called 12 VDC Cigarette Lighter type of Power Outlet, note some of those are ONLY 100 or 200 watt rated and it appears you need more then ...  more
      Hide 3 Replies
      • tomsch23
        charles formby February 14 Ty John
      • tomsch23
        charles formby February 14 I am also looking at the inverts at all small tool shop, here in Foley at outlets mall is tool shop with portables batteries chargerWow, this could help . Plus they do have 300 watt inverter charger just 30 bucks neat... continues
      • tomsch23
        charles formby February 14 Ty John t, like
    • tomsch23
      Louvieve February 14 PianoTuna...his post states 350w
      And there's no need to be rude.
  • Curtis
    Curtis:
    February 11Help an RVillager out? :)
    • Curtis
      Curtis February 11 Going to share this post to the solar group. You will get a better response there than on the home feed. 
    • Curtis
      bigwhite February 11 How do I search solar group ?
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Curtis
        Curtis February 11 Go to groups, then browse groups, then scroll down and enter "solar" in the search. 
    • Curtis
      Wncol February 11 The Chevy volt battery is a high voltage system.  Solar charge controllers are for low voltage like 12, 24 etc...
      Though there are lithium 12 volt batteries available.
    • Curtis
      Jeeptj5- Don February 11 Unless you're very familiar with lithium battery protection systems, I would advise going with a "drop in replacement" battery like the Battle Born solution.  You can directly replace your existing lead-acid batteries and all the protections you need...  more
  • Lola N Rush Songer
    Lola N Rush Songer :
    February 11 We need more battery storage. With our power needs we know we don't have enough storage. I can't see spending $13000 on Trojan Trillium when we can carry the weigh and go with L-16's and spend a lot less and get a heck of a lot more storage. Doing the...  more
    • Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) and 1 other like this.
    • Lola N Rush Songer
      Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) February 11 We have 6V L16 batteries for the house portion of our bus.  They are great IF someone has the space to accommodate the height.  We did, so they actually made better use of the space than other battery shapes.  As for the refrigerator, if yo...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
    • Lola N Rush Songer
      Terry Pickard February 11 You can only use 50 percent of the rated amp hours of lead acid, no matter what the manufacturer claims. Beyond that you begin to degrade battery life span.
      Battle Born lithium 12v, 100 ah are very popular with rvers, and can be drawn down 95 percen...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Lola N Rush Songer
        Lola N Rush Songer February 11 That’s fine but I read only 80% account below %80 it loses amps. But if you use 80% of your bank today and have no sun you have to pull out generators. So if you have more storage. You can go longer without pulling out the generator.
    • Lola N Rush Songer
      JLF February 11 You haven't mentioned how many solar watts you have.  Will it be plenty to recharge the additional battery capacity?  If not, you may have to count on more than a day of sun before the next cloudy day, or run a generator to recharge the batteries.
      Hide 1 Reply
    • Lola N Rush Songer
      John T February 11 Lola N Rush, Hey nobody knows your situation and energy use and capacity better then yourselves so I will only offer a few thoughts. 1) In the event you were going for all new battery energy storage and NOT adding to existing lead acid, I would ...  more
  • Spyderrider2000
    Spyderrider2000 :
    February 6ok battery problem near Casa Grande AZ, any one know a good place toget solar batteries replaced
      · via Android App
    • Karen and Steve Veneskey and 1 other like this.
    • Spyderrider2000
      BuckeyeCruisers February 6 We are in the same boat. Have you decided which batteries to buy? After extensive research, we’re thinking lithium.
      Hide 2 Replies
      • Spyderrider2000
        Wncol February 6 Lithium are the best but very pricey.
      • Spyderrider2000
        Spyderrider2000 February 6 looking at the Lithium with 3500 rechargeat just inder $800, but have to make sure they fit my box
    • Spyderrider2000
      Okietravellers February 6 I have bought Lifeline batteries from the “battery guys” in the Glendale AZ area. (Very Pleased).

      Charlie
      Hide 2 Replies
      • Spyderrider2000
        Wncol February 6 AGM are the next down from lithium on the best scale.  A lot less expensive but heavier and can’t be drained as far down as lithium.   I opted for AGM my self.
      • Spyderrider2000
        BuckeyeCruisers February 6 Do you think the price difference gets you the most bang for the buck?
    • Spyderrider2000
      Tom and Lois February 6  Free delivery right to your door
      http://www.continuousresources.com?aff=9
    • Spyderrider2000
      Okietravellers February 6 Buckeye Cruisers, that is a very good question. I prefer the AGM Lifeline batteries because they are virtually maintenance free plus they can handle repeated deeper draw downs than lead-acid flood conventional batteries.

      I switched to Lifeli...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Spyderrider2000
        Wncol February 6 That is pretty much the characteristic of all AGM batteries, not just lifeline brand.
    • Spyderrider2000
      Lola N Rush Songer February 8 Lithium are fine as long as you never stay in cold weather. They will absolutely die on you if your batteries ever get below freezing for long period of time. I choose lead acid account I've not yet seen the reason to spend lets say as someone posted $800...  more