3818 Solar and Battery Upgrade suggestions Plz - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 07-05-2016, 06:12 PM   #1
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3818 Solar and Battery Upgrade suggestions Plz

Hello all and I hope everyone had a great 4th!,

we just got back from a 4 day trip and i need to upgrade the poor single 12 volt battery the 5th-wheel came with. On my old Host Super-C I had a bank of four 6-volt batteries and that worked ok, but i still needed to use the generator a lot to keep the batteries above 50%. (that coach was an electrical nightmare and I was always tracing electrical problems and power drains.)

The 5th-wheel came with a Power Control System Panel but I'm unsure if that can be used to add Solar or will I need a stand alone Controller for the Panels? We will only use the batteries to power the 40" led tv, blu ray player and the Yamaha sound bar (1-2 movies at night) and then the morning coffee pot (1600 watt) after we buy an inverter. Besides that, just the occasional LED lights and minimal water pump usage (its Alaska, lots of sunshine in the summer).

I was thinking of four 6-volts again with a 300 watt solar system and a solid 2000-2500 watt inverter. Or, since it came with a 12 volt battery, i could just get 3 more to add to it.

Please feel free to make suggestions on systems that have worked for you. I'm probably going to do this in stages and may start with the solar first.

JIM
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Old 07-05-2016, 10:04 PM   #2
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With solar it is go big or don't bother! I would definitely consider the 4x6v. There are a couple of guys on here that are better with solar than I am and will get you some links. I doubt your onboard power system is going to handle the solar.

Upgrade once and make it work right the first time!

I am working towards solar on my motor home, currently using 100w portable panels and dual 12 volt. I am good for a long weekend in cooler weather. Eventually I will upgrade, just not sure to what and when.

Aaron
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Old 07-06-2016, 08:22 AM   #3
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After using two different charge controllers before the current one, I suggest going to right to the Bogart Engineering. The others I tried were not nearly as good. We dry camp a few times per year and this setup is fantastic. We only run the generator when we want AC.
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Old 07-06-2016, 03:28 PM   #4
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Solar

I would personally forget about trying for an electric coffee pot off of the inverter because your system will have to be planned around accommodating that large load. If you eliminate that huge wattage load, you save a pretty good amount on design and cost. You could get by easily on a nice 300 watt inverter and probably not need more than 2 batteries. The difference in price between a 300 watt pure sine wave inverter and a 2500 watt one is quite a bit, not even addressing the wiring and fusing that will be necessary to accommodate it. We're talking 250+ amps of DC current to the inverter when under full load. The 1500 watt coffee maker would pull more like 150A. If you do go the BIG inverter route, then 4 batteries will be the minimum for it to achieve its potential.

300 watts will be pretty light for 4 batteries (likely 400+ Ah?). It will maintain them while in storage just fine, but will not get you from 50% to 100% in a single day. 300 watts / 12V = roughly 25A peak charging current if you go with MPPT (PWM may be more like 16A max). To replace 200 Ah at 25A, that would be 8+ hours of ideal solar harvest. Alaska summers offer a lot of daylight, but I don't know if it offers enough peak solar harvest without a panel tilting/tracking system which is not very practical on a camper. Your described loads won't consume 200 Ah in a day, but if you're going with 4 batteries I think you would want to design the system around having this potential. With 2 batteries, 300 watts would be terrific.

MPPT vs PWM is a seemingly circular and endless debate with RV and solar. MPPT does offer more potential charging than PWM from the same wattage panels, but does cost more for a charge controller of comparable capacity. However, you will be able to use higher voltage panels which are less expensive than 12V nominal panels. I've read that the rough cutoff for when MPPT becomes the obvious choice is 500+ watts of solar, but I think costs have come down enough on both MPPT controllers and high wattage panels that the threshold may now be lower. I have no personal experience with MPPT, but if was building my system all over again I would probably go that route.
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Old 07-06-2016, 03:49 PM   #5
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outstanding post!
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Old 07-06-2016, 04:33 PM   #6
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Thank you very much for all this information!! a heck of a lot more than i was expecting ... and I see your point, that would be some expensive coffee when all i have to do is run my Gen for 10 mins once a day to achieve the same result.

I'll get started on finding some parts and maybe I can bounce it off you guys before i start buying, and i guess if I'm only looking at 300 watts, a ground mount setup would be an option so I can move it during the day maybe.. Hmmm... Maybe a pair of 150's with a HPPT controller?? I could fab some hinges and a handle etc..
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Old 07-06-2016, 04:44 PM   #7
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I personally would also forget about ground mount and chasing the sun. Like you said, lots of sunlight in AK summer, just mount them fixed and flat on the camper roof and let them work every day all day with no effort from you required. Mine are fixed and flat on the roof and suit us just fine. 300 watts into 4 batteries could warrant chasing the sun angle around all day, or you could just get another panel and fall back to fixed and flat mounting. Or just use 2 batteries and mount 300 watts of panels fixed and flat.

Now if you prioritize parking the camper in the shade, then you are looking at a portable setup to locate away from the camper.
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Old 07-06-2016, 04:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewarnerusa View Post
Now if you prioritize parking the camper in the shade, then you are looking at a portable setup to locate away from the camper.
Not to many times we're looking for shade in AK where we camp .

if I do mount on the roof, I'll start looking for a way to route the wires, like vent pipes etc... I havent even been on the roof yet, heck, I havent even made my first payment yet haha...
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:10 PM   #9
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Alaskan.............

I couldn't and wouldn't even consider any compromise concerning my coffee!
I MUST have it and it MUST be delicious.

After spending a few years chasing methods and types, I finally admitted that the best coffee was always when I was somewhere in my world travels abroad. Italy, Australia, and Panama stick out as 3 perfect examples.

They all three had one thing in common............the coffee drink always started from a shot or two of espresso.

Why do I bring that up? Because espresso machines, especially the small ones,
do not use nearly as much high-wattage. The down side is they take quite a while to heat up if left off overnight.

Not saying it's for everybody. And I am betting that in the long run it uses just as much electricity\amps, but spread out over a longer period. But oh my, the coffee tastes like the nectar of the gods that it was intended to taste like. lol

Warning, though. An espresso machine absolutely requires the proper grinder. In fact, the grinder is far more important than the espresso machine. It is an investment that often ends the pursuit of those that are less devoted.
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:20 PM   #10
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While I discouraged battery powered electric coffee, I also absolutely prioritize my coffee! I make my coffee at home and in the camper with the moka pot which is kind of a stove top espresso. It doesn't achieve the steam pressure required for "official" espresso, but it does deliver a glorious cup of high octane brew.
https://bluebottlecoffee.com/prepara...letti-moka-pot
(^^^Regarding those instructions, I don't bother boiling water first before adding. I do all the water heating right in the moka pot)




2nd best option for me is the French press.

Back to the solar topic, a common wire routing approach to get from the roof into the camper is via the refrigerator exhaust duct work. But I wouldn't be afraid of creating another hole for your wiring directly through the roof and sealing with Dicor either.
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by snakebitten View Post
Alaskan.............

I couldn't and wouldn't even consider any compromise concerning my coffee!
I MUST have it and it MUST be delicious.
Yes sir, i agree 100%. My wife and I are very picky about our coffee and if its not the way we like it, we don't drink it ....

the bad thing is, the 3818 has a small kitchen with very little counter space so a big machine like that wouldn't work.... and it cant go in the garage because i need allllllllllll that space for my tools and toys .
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:25 PM   #12
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that's a cool pot.... so many options!!

JIM
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:49 PM   #13
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Ignore EVERYTHING I said about espresso. LOL

A picture is worth a 1000 words.
That mocha pot pretty much proves you don't need a big invertor.
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:53 PM   #14
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ya, i already sent the link to my wife.... this might be the next addition to the 5th wheel.

JIM
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Old 07-06-2016, 05:54 PM   #15
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I used the 6-cup moka pot for many years, which is really a single normal sized coffee mug worth. Craving more, I purchased the 12-cup one last year and haven't looked back! It brews enough for one cup at home while getting ready for work and the rest in my to-go mug to get through the remainder of the morning. Although the 6-cup one provides a better tasting single cup, I think it comes out a bit stronger.
The one that I keep full time in the camper is a little 3-cup one. Hardly worth my time! So I usually just go with the GSI Outdoors French press with plastic carafe to get adequate volume for my efforts.
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:09 PM   #16
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I was going to ask how many mini-pots would i have to buy to fill my mug??? but I think that 12 cup would replace my electric 14 cup just fine.... maybe buy 2 of them in case of some kind of catastrophic coffee pot malfunction



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Old 07-06-2016, 06:44 PM   #17
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Since you said you wanted to watch blue ray and didn't mention broadcast TV, how about mounting your panels to your TV antenna. That way you could rotate it to follow the sun, from inside the comfort of your RV..... I am sure we could figure some kind of mounting for it....
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:47 PM   #18
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Oh boy, this is getting crazy haha...

I was just thinking that since I pull the Truck forward when we setup, I could TIG an aluminum mount for the bed of the truck for some panels...... just more thoughts tumbling around the old gray matter.....

JIM
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:52 PM   #19
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I went portable on my last RV due to the shade factor. We are on the East Coast USA and look for shady spots in the summer months. The game plan is to have roof mount with the portable for additional power when parked in the shade. Winter months I can usually pull enough to recover a night of furnace use. Summer we use full electrical sites only.

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