Solar (Done)

We are not sure if solar will be an option we want or not. Suppose if we have a choice, it would be a good idea to buy a rig that is solar ready (whatever that means) to some extent.

Here is a link to my short blog post regarding solar.

  • Buying a ground mount panel looks good. Apparently you can place the panel in the sun and run a wire to the battery. Systems come with the charging parts.
  • I’ve read if adding batteries to others that are over a year old, then plan to replace the existing.
  • We are planning our trip with a rental RV here in August of 2015. I’ve discovered many of the RV spots we are interesting in have at least electric. Would be nice to take that off the list of requirements.
  • Right now I’m thinking wait and see what are needs are after going fulltime.
  • Technomadia article to help make the decision on solar.
  • Good link from Tales from the Mutiny Blog concerning their adding solar.
  • AM Solar educational material. They also do installs. **
  • Gone with the Wynns solar videos.
  • Go Power solar company.
  • Roads Less Traveled has a very easy to understand article.
  • I’ve done some reading about future tech and solar. Who knows what will be available and when for sure.  I’m of the opinion, years from now, hydrogen fuel cells will be the new thing.  It’s 2016 and the rigs that are coming out today, as well as the rigs that come out in the next few years, could be the used rigs we end up buying. Therefore, it seems prudent that todays technology is all I should consider. Our timeframe to buy a rig is in the next three or four years.
  • As of 12/6/15 I’m leaning towards research what it would take to just charge up the batteries. Here is what I’m thinking our usage of electrical when off grid will be:
    • We rented an RV in 2014 and appreciated having electrical service when on the road. We used the A/C at truck stops and at times to keep the dogs cooled off.
    • The generator came in handy when electrical service went down at the camp site.
    • Adding weight to the rig is a concern and it seems a generator adds enough without adding major solar on top of it.
    • Karen and I aren’t seeing spending months in the desert is something we want to do.
    • I tend to pay attention more to what camp sites offer at least electric rather than what would be good boondocking sites.
    • As of today, 12/6/15, we are leaning towards having a gas/electric RV fridge only because we don’t want to limit where we stay. At least with a generator I could see us staying in places that only require the AC be ran during shorter periods of time.
    • The cost for a full system are high. Seems like having both a generator and major solar is redundant.
    • We are going to have to workcamp at times because of budget. I know there are jobs out there that would have no electrical service. Karen and I don’t see those locations as something we would be interested in.
    • For more than a year I have been keeping a spreadsheet of places we want to visit or stay. Very few have no electric service and as of 12/6/15 we have 151 places on the list.
  • So the research becomes: 1.  What system would charge the batteries when using basic electrical systems in the rig. 2. What are the technical aspects such as pure vs modified sine.  3. What does a solar ready fifth wheel mean and what components are the best for expandability?
    • That didn’t take long to find answers for questions 1 and 2.  Here is a good article by AM Solar.
      • Now I’m thinking get a rig that is solar ready. Monitor what it would take to charge the batteries if we use minimal systems such as lights/water pump/small fan/phone charger. Buy/or not buy our panels only after we know this.
        • This also brings in a need to decide four batteries or just two.  I’m leaning towards just enough to run the basics, and maybe one 12 volt television.
        • Then use the generator to charge/power when higher electrical usage is needed.
        • So, do we need solar ready on the roof or just a panel on the ground? I’d hate to waste the wiring if for example, the roof mounted setup is more involved.
          • I do like the idea of being able to move the panels to a sunny spot if parked in the shade. I also like the idea of not having to move them at all other than maybe tilting them on the roof towards the sun. Oh the compromises.
      • I’m liking Jack Mayer’s phased approach to solar.
        • However, this causes questions such as if you get a solar ready rig, what components have to be ready just in case our “basic” solar needs approach requires more than we thought. Wire size ect…
          • Pure sin wave inverters allow you to run any type of device. I’ll leave it at that.
          • This solar calculator might help make a decision on equipment needs.
        • Here is the RV Dreams Phased in approach.
    • Wheelingit is going with a lithium battery system.
  • Tilting roof panels or not?  Here is a link to a forum thread. Yes – RV Geeks did a test which showed a 33% increase in output when angled towards sun. Also huge losses if anything on the roof shaded even a portion of a panel.
  • Here is an interesting video and blog post on the Go Power IC 2000 which is an inverter, converter, charger and transfer switch all in one. Looks very interesting and relatively easy to wire.

Here is my running list of decisions.

  • I want a pure sin wave inverter.
  • I’ll use the phased approach to solar. Meaning, I’ll start out with very little to nothing while monitoring our typical electrical needs applicable to whatever level of boondocking we do.
  • Whatever equipment we do have I’ll want it to be expandable without having to throw out the old stuff (within budget limits). Especially when it comes to hard items to install such as wiring.
    • Make sure there is space for upgrades such as adding batteries.