Solar and Alternative Energy for RV's

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Solar and Alternative Energy for RV's (1,544 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

  • Bill Zeller
    Bill Zeller:
    I have an Itasca IQ, 24’ motorhome and have Dead batteries that I need to replace soon. It has 2 (12 volt) and would like advice. Traditional, gel cell or lithium. We don’t have solar but are frugal with our electric usage.
    Type and brands you find the b...  more
    • Wed at 9:46 AM
    • · via iPad
    • Don and Tina and 1 other like this.
    • Bill Zeller
      Dwight Thomas If you want an AGM type check out Odessy - I've been more than happy with them in several applications
    • Bill Zeller
      Bill Zeller Thanks again everyone. Guess I should add that the batteries are very easy to get at so adding water ? is easy.
    • Bill Zeller
      Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) If you don’t mind checking the water and topping it off, definitely the cheapest way to go, at least initially.  You can replace a lot of “wet cell” batteries for the price of AGMs (and even more so for LiFePO4).  Just be sure they are deep cycl...  more
    • Bill Zeller
      John T Of course, for serious long term dry camping you want true deep cycle batteries NOT the cheap so called RV/Marine like sold at Walmart WELL DUH. I currently have four of the classic Trojan T-105's Deep Cycle Flooded Lead Acid 6 volt in series parallel for...  more
    • Bill Zeller
      Bill&Ginny My agms are 155ah each and I have 6 (930ah). Even 4= 640ah.They weigh as much as the Trojans
  • D & D Palmer
    D & D Palmer :
    Does anybody know of an installer in South Florida?
    • December 5
    • Becca Ray likes this.
    • D & D Palmer
      Carol & Wayne Lew works with AM Solar.

      Solar Tech Energy Systems, Inc.
      Lew Farber
      Winter - Florida / Summer - Oregon    
      Phone: 541-490-6357
      4rvsolar at gmail.com
    • D & D Palmer
      Carol & Wayne He is in Naples.
    • D & D Palmer
      Ricos Ride Palmerenergysystems.com.  Was recommended to me by a friend, however I wound up doing my own install so have no personal recommendation.  He’s near Gainesville, not south, but may be worth looking into, compare prices. AM Solar is very pricey.  Hide 1 Reply
      • D & D Palmer
        Bruce & Linda (Omnibus) We got our Lifeline AGMs and Magnum 4024 inverter charger from John.  And yes, he does (or did) sell solar stuff as well.  He has been intimately connected with solar energy for over 30 years, but we do not know how active he is these days. &nbs...  more
    • D & D Palmer
      D & D Palmer Thank you.
      • December 8
  • peterjw
    peterjw:
    We are camping with friends who were having problems with their solar. It led me to trying an experiment and the results surprised me and I thought I'd share. I have two 190 watt free-standing panels set at roughly 35 degrees to vertical and aimed roughly...  more
    • December 5
    • MnDRice and 5 others like this.
    • peterjw
      John T Peter, sure its a "given" that a better angle to sun increases solar harvest  but its just as you found a trade off of the inconvenience of moving versus flat permanent mounting. Its ONLY YOU that can make that decision as to what works best for YOU....  more
    • peterjw
      Pianotuna I would not get a manual tilt system. It is cheaper to add another panel or two than to have remote control tilting. Panels on the roof don't "grow legs", nor get blown over in the wind. They also charge while you trundle down the road, and if you are par...  more
    • peterjw
      Jean777 Peter, I happen to agree with your conclusion – it works best for me. I especially enjoyed camping in the shade all last summer and pulling my solar panels out into the sun each day, and didn't mind turning them.
  • Jean777
    Jean777:
    I'm getting ready to buy a new RV, so I get to plan a new photovoltaic system. I've built a few houses and am a math geek, so I should be able to do it with a little help.

    My last designer did a very poor job, had to repair it five times, and never told...  more
    • November 20
    • Becca Ray likes this.
    • Jean777
      Judith & Mark Regarding designing and installing your own solar system, I designed & installed ours (with help from my son getting the panels onto the roof). Our blog has links that I found helpful, as well as my thoughts on steps in the process. By designing your ow...  more
    • Jean777
      Judith & Mark If I were doing it again, I would include manual tilt brackets. Hide 4 Replies
      • Jean777
        Jean777 I'm thinking the same.
        • December 7
      • Jean777
        Jean777 But also removable.
        • December 7
      • Jean777
        Judith & Mark Some friends have ones that can be tilted either way (right or left, not four way). By removing the four thumb screws, they could lift them (but the panels are heavy) -- but they usually only tilt them up to clean under them.
      • Jean777
        Jeneric Ramblings The AMSolar mounts are like that. I've got them on my panels. 
    • Jean777
      Pianotuna Jean7777 are you willing to climb the roof at 2 a.m. when a thunder storm passes by? If not, don't bother with tilting. Hide 1 Reply
      • Jean777
        Jean777 I have imagined a rack on the back of my camper that would hold the panels upright on hardware that could also be tilted and swung from left to right. And could also be removed. While driving they would clamp down.
        • December 7
    • Jean777
      JLF With a rack on the back you might find yourself removing the panels to make them portable whenever you couldn't camp facing north.  If they stayed mounted with camper not facing north you would have to raise the rack to roof level to avoid shading. Hide 1 Reply
      • Jean777
        Jean777 Yeah, I like having all those options.
        • December 7
    • Jean777
      Jean777 I have lived a lot of years off grid with just solar power. I am comfortable with the responsibilities and limitations. Hide 1 Reply
      • Jean777
        Pianotuna Jean777 the back of an rv becomes coated in road grime. That may not be a suitable  location for panels to be stored.
  • Judith & Mark
    Judith & Mark :
    Found a great site to help set EXPECTATIONS on solar yield from any setup:
    <a href="https://www.renewables.ninja/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">https://www.renewables.ninja/</a>

    You can put in your info: location, wattage of panels, tilt, etc. It wil...  more
    • November 13
  • TechScott
    TechScott:
    OK, loads of folks have said a lot of things but the information is fragmented. Here's my experience through research and a number of solar installs:

    You should have your solar controller the shortest, safest distance you can from both your batteries an...  more
    • November 8
    • Benji & Sandra and 4 others like this.
    • TechScott
      GaRay of Light Very well said Scott. I’ve only done 60 installations on RVs but you are on target sir!
    • TechScott
      Benji & Sandra
    • TechScott
      peterjw " the charge controller can't put out more current than it receives"
      I dont think thats true for MPPT controllers. My 24V panels put out 16amps max but often feed 26amps to the battery. Statement is true for PWM controllers.
  • Randy and Sue
    Randy and Sue :
    does the length of wire diminish the amount of current from the charge controller to the batts? I want to set 2-100 watt panels and a waterproof controller out and then run about 50-60 feet of wire from the controller to the batts....
    • November 8
    • Becca Ray likes this.
    • Randy and Sue
      JLF My point to Randy and Sue was that it was best to not have 60 feet of wire (more significant part of the total voltage drop) between the controller and the batteries.  It sounds like you have it right in keeping the larger part if the voltage drop be...  more
      • November 11
    • Randy and Sue
      Steve and Wanda Then I talk to Morningstar they tell me to have it as close as I could but not next to batteries because of gassing and less volt loss
      • November 11
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Randy and Sue
        Randy and Sue ok,,,, let me recap,,,,, I should have the controller close as I can but not next to the batts acct. of gasses,,,, got that,,,, but make the long run from the panels to the controller letting the voltage drop be between the panels and controller thus supp...  more
        • November 12
    • Randy and Sue
      JLF Randy and Sue.  That's it. Hide 1 Reply
    • Randy and Sue
      John T Randy and Sue, great discussion let me convey some engineering comments:  First of all, the panels are producing X amount of energy intended to be transmitted to your batteries to charge them, therefore ANY AND ALL wasted I Squared R heat l...  more
    • Randy and Sue
      Steve and Wanda I went to school 40 years ago and forgot most everything I knew, my RV is 40ft long so about 55ft to controller, my panels are the cheapest I could find 100 watts that put out 18 volts 5.5 amps on a sunny day, I don't notice much voltage or amps being lost
      • November 12
  • Mary C. Karr King
    Mary C. Karr King:
    I have a 29 ft coachman pathfinder. The previous owner had a 100 wt solar panel on the roof. He removed and sealed. I have a new panal and have Mount from amazon. Just not exactly sure where to put it. Any videos or suggestions ??
    • November 7
    • · via iPhone
    • Becca Ray likes this.
    • Mary C. Karr King
      Pianotuna Locate the panel where there is no shade from any item on the roof.
    • Mary C. Karr King
      Jeneric Ramblings You probably want to go bigger than 100w. That's not a lot for a 29 foot RV.
    • Mary C. Karr King
      Elaine Cundiff You should be able to go with 400 W or more. Easiest way to determine placement is to cut cardboard to size of panels desired (templates being a fancier term) and move them about to avoid shade as Pianotuna suggests. 
    • Mary C. Karr King
      Steve and Wanda Go to youtube sould help you install the panel, then installing panel do it so you have space to install more panels later.
      • November 8
    • Mary C. Karr King
      Micheal and Diane Whelan A 200 Watt Renogy system with room to grow. Cable access through refrigerator vent stack.
  • Bob N Terri
    Bob N Terri:
    I am new to using solar power and don’t have a clue. We have 6 six volt battery bank and are wandering what solar system we need. Thanks
    • November 5
    • · via iPad
    • Warren Wall and 1 other like this.
    • Bob N Terri
      Steve and Wanda You have about 600 amps of batteries probably I would put 600 watts on the roof let me know what kind of RV to see if you have space a picture would be best if not space I can tell you how to get around that , I have 600 watts I run a dishwasher and washe...  more
    • Bob N Terri
      Ann & Paul I wouldnt base the total watts of solar panels to be purchased based on your battery bank.  The total wattage of the panels you buy should be based on how much power you need or want.  After having solar power for eight years, I have concluded t...  more
    • Bob N Terri
      Tom and Lois Educate yourself. http://www.rvmedic.biz/solar
      • November 5
    • Bob N Terri
      Pianotuna Bob N Terri, Have a look here for information. https://freecampsites.net/adding-solar/
      • November 5
    • Bob N Terri
      Steve and Wanda You need a charge controller to keep batteries from over changing, divided total watts by 17 to see how many amps the controller sould be able to handle, wire to from panels to charge contoler able to handle total amps, with panels on roof sould be outsid...  more
  • John & Cindy (and the Boys)
    John & Cindy (and the Boys):
    Does anyone know of a good reliable source for solar panels and installation in the Northern Arizona area? We had a great system that came on our 5th wheel but when we went to the class A we lost it. Would like to get it back if possible (financially).
    • November 2
    • Becca Ray likes this.
    • John & Cindy (and the Boys)
      Micheal and Diane Whelan We installed a Renogy 200W system purchased from Amazon on the recommendation of Renogy techs. Installed it our selves. Easy work took about 3 hours. Now that I have done one I could have done it in half the time. Biggest issue was routing the labeling fr...  more
    • John & Cindy (and the Boys)
      Chuck & Debbie Located in Yuma, AZ, but Larry at Starlight Solar is an excellent choice for system design and installation. http://www.starlightsolar.com/starlight_solar/index.html
    • John & Cindy (and the Boys)
      Steve and Wanda Northern AZ wind and solar is where I brought my solar down the street they have a place that will put it on. For 600 watts, a morning star controller, bogart 2030 and wire I spent about $1200. Mobilhomesteading could also put it on better then any one el...  more
    • John & Cindy (and the Boys)
      RVerDavid On Facebook search for Brian Boone he winters in Quartzsite AZ and travels the country installing solar during his working months, He has personally helped me out a lot because of my unique install. He has a group on Facebook "Solar Powered RV's &  B...  more Hide 1 Reply
    • John & Cindy (and the Boys)
      LeeVormelker I also support naws. I have a three panel solar from them. Lee