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Old 04-02-2016, 01:43 PM   #1
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Solar? how much do I need? 200 watts? 400 Watts?

Hello everyone . I have been looking into solar the last few days and I am trying to decide how much I will need. main goal/hypothetically is to be able to run Satellite and TV all day with no generator and still have enough battery to say run the furnace at night. and what size inverter would be recommended . and then one more scenario- lets say, tv- and fridge .? Thanks for any input.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:57 PM   #2
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You'll want to size your solar array according to the consumption of the products you want to operate and for the length of time you want them working.
Check the rear of each product for specific current consumption. Don't forget to factor in the inductive load of any motor you may use. Once you have determined how much battery capacity you'll need the inverter size is a no brainer. It just has to output more wattage than you will need if in the event all your products are operating.
The refrigerator will cost you the most in solar to operate it. That's an almost constant resistive load that will demand at least 250 watts, depending on the refrigerator proper.
Add all the wattages and go from there.
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:03 PM   #3
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My minimum solar array is 100 watts, more is better, to a point. You will need to determine how much power you are going to consume over a given period. Don't forget to factor in rain days and such. You will also need to consider the size of your battery bank, you want to be careful not to over discharge it or it will shorten the life of it.

We run our fridge and water heater on LP to keep the power draw to a minimum.

I have two group 27 batteries with a capacity of ~180 amp hours, you want to avoid drawing them down below 50% on a regular basis. You can draw them down to 20% but that shortens the life of the battery. My typical overnight usage is in the 15-30 amp hour range, my 100 watt solar panels can regenerate that in about 5-6 hours of good sunlight. With extremely careful power management I can get a good 6 days without recharging. If you want to manage your 12 volt lifestyle properly you are going to need to invest in good batteries, good solar panels and controller as well as a good battery monitor, the little LED thingies are not going to cut it. I use a Trimetric, Victron is another good one.

Lots of things to consider. And keep a generator for back up, it doesn't have to be a large one, just large enough to push your battery charger and keep a few other small items running. I have a buddy that uses a Honda EU1,000 and it has kept him going for years. I believe he runs nearly 300 watts of solar.

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Old 04-02-2016, 04:35 PM   #4
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My minimum solar array is 100 watts, more is better, to a point. You will need to determine how much power you are going to consume over a given period. Don't forget to factor in rain days and such. You will also need to consider the size of your battery bank, you want to be careful not to over discharge it or it will shorten the life of it.

We run our fridge and water heater on LP to keep the power draw to a minimum.

I have two group 27 batteries with a capacity of ~180 amp hours, you want to avoid drawing them down below 50% on a regular basis. You can draw them down to 20% but that shortens the life of the battery. My typical overnight usage is in the 15-30 amp hour range, my 100 watt solar panels can regenerate that in about 5-6 hours of good sunlight. With extremely careful power management I can get a good 6 days without recharging. If you want to manage your 12 volt lifestyle properly you are going to need to invest in good batteries, good solar panels and controller as well as a good battery monitor, the little LED thingies are not going to cut it. I use a Trimetric, Victron is another good one.

Lots of things to consider. And keep a generator for back up, it doesn't have to be a large one, just large enough to push your battery charger and keep a few other small items running. I have a buddy that uses a Honda EU1,000 and it has kept him going for years. I believe he runs nearly 300 watts of solar.

Aaron
Right now i just have what the dealer installed for batteries, so I'm not even sure what they are, I am thinking of going to 400 watts of solar, and the trailer has a onan 5500 generator. I was looking at the windynation system with the 30amp controller can go up to 400 watts of power. this stuff sure does get technical doesn't it
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:51 PM   #5
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It is somewhat technical but not brain surgery. One needs to research and study the system. The more one knows about solar the more it becomes easy to understand.
Dealer kits are ok but not the in all of solar systems. One can do their own research and size their system to their needs.
I had 12 panels on my house, six real deep cycle batteries and a 2400 watt inverter/charger. I built a few panels myself for the hell of it and lived that way for 20 years. I have to admit I had sun 360 out of the year with a solar isolation of 5 all year long. I actually had reflective charge from the clouds that put the 30 amp charger to the max limit and tripped the breaker a few times.
Kits are nice but doing it yourself offers more satisfaction.
We've forgotten to mention, add a little extra room in the system for future growth.
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Old 04-04-2016, 01:40 AM   #6
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Right now i just have what the dealer installed for batteries, so I'm not even sure what they are, I am thinking of going to 400 watts of solar, and the trailer has a onan 5500 generator. I was looking at the windynation system with the 30amp controller can go up to 400 watts of power. this stuff sure does get technical doesn't it
Take a look at this article. This guy really knows his stuff and makes it easy to understand. I've emailed him a couple of times and he's really good about responding:
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/

You are correct....it does get technical but I would highly suggest you take a look at the post. It's long, so break it up into chunks so it's easier to digest
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:16 AM   #7
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Take a look at this article. This guy really knows his stuff and makes it easy to understand. I've emailed him a couple of times and he's really good about responding:
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/

You are correct....it does get technical but I would highly suggest you take a look at the post. It's long, so break it up into chunks so it's easier to digest
That was a super interesting read, a lot of great info in there. thank you for sharing.
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:52 PM   #8
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If your fridge is an absorption fridge, then run it on gas when not hooked up to electric. Using battery for that is a bit of a waste, unless you need to apply a load for some reason.

Television and dish setup doesn't draw much, probably less than 300 watts continuous. Get a pure sine wave inverter with a minimum of 300 watt continuous rating. Lots of good options for not too much money.

Amount of solar depends on amount of batteries as well as your use. Figure basic 12V use like water pump, lighting, furnace, and fridge control panel and you can get by indefinitely on 2 batteries (12V in parallel or 6V in series) and 200+ watts of solar. Convert all your lighting to LEDs and that will really cut down on your power use.

Adding your inverter load to watch TV all day and I say at least double the batteries and solar wattage. Occasional TV use and you can still get by with 2 batteries and 200+ watts of solar, but you won't be getting much charging going on if you're watching TV at the same time.
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:21 PM   #9
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So here is a recap- went to Moab for a week, boondocked for 4 days before going to meet there rest of the family at a rv resort. so the 200 watts of solar did pretty good. would run the inverter and tv at night for 4 hrs approx , left satellite in idle mode at night to keep signal locked and ran furnace at night, by morning my batteries had dropped to 11.6, by 3pm or so my batteries were back up to 13.6, I have the controller set to 14.2 but never seem to get that high on the charge. I think the controller was going into float mode maybe. I have the windyNation P30L controller which is adjustable and provides a lot of information the 200 watts seemed to always be trying to keep up. what voltage setting would you solar users recommend, they are Interstate deep cycle 84 aH batteries, from all there research i have looked at its says I really need the batteries to get up to 14.-- plus and hold the charge for a while to get it to stay meaning they are truly fully charged before going into night and running inverter and furnace. any suggestions.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:52 PM   #10
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11.6V is really low and potentially damaging. They may be so discharged that they are never getting out of bulk charging. I'd bump your set point up to 14.4V at a minimum, but that won't help your current situation if you're not even reaching 14.2V. What's your wiring setup?
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:08 PM   #11
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I was thinking that 11.6 was damaging low as well. wiring is 10ga from roof to controller approx 23 feet long, from controls to battery 24 inches at most. I was thinking of going to 8ga from the roof but also going to 400 watts and maybe a MPPT controller?
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:27 PM   #12
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If going with 400 watts then I'd do 4 gauge between controller and batteries. I'd look into replacing/upgrading your batteries first.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:33 PM   #13
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If going with 400 watts then I'd do 4 gauge between controller and batteries. I'd look into replacing/upgrading your batteries first.
Batteries are only 4 months old, is what is stamped on them, but dealer installed. My converter in the trailer will only charge up to 13.6 which is annoying. its a WFCO 75 amp, going into float mode at 13.6 and can't be adjusted.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:38 PM   #14
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30 and 40 amp controllers can accept 6 ga wire but to fit a 4 ga wire one would need a 50 amp controller.

I agree with the battery suggestion. Larger capacity battery bank sized to the rest of the system. I am wondering if the 84 amp hour capacity bank is too small and confusing the controller. Possibly charging the battery bank rapidly and kicking out before the bank is deeply charged.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:44 PM   #15
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30 and 40 amp controllers can accept 6 ga wire but to fit a 4 ga wire one would need a 50 amp controller.

I agree with the battery suggestion. Larger capacity battery bank sized to the rest of the system. I am wondering if the 84 amp hour capacity bank is too small and confusing the controller. Possibly charging the battery bank rapidly and kicking out before the bank is deeply charged.
i assume the control only see's 84 ah and there are two in parallel , I can adjust the control to charge all the way up to 16 volts I believe, butI don't want to cook the batteries either, the control does have a battery temp sensor on it, which i have seen work, when it gets cold it bumps the volts up and such. wondering if I need a more advanced charger?
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:57 PM   #16
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The deep discharged aren't good, even if they aren't that old. Good thought about hitting that setpoint too early if it's at 14.2V. Bump it to 14.4V. I run at 14.8V with my 6V GC batteries.
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:48 AM   #17
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A couple of suggestions...

Most of the controllers that I am familiar with can be programmed with the total AH's of the battery bank. Also the WFCO converter/chargers are notorious for NOT doing what they are supposed to do. On that front I would consider upgrading to the better Boondocker Main board.

Which controller do you have?

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Old 04-25-2016, 12:58 AM   #18
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A couple of suggestions...

Most of the controllers that I am familiar with can be programmed with the total AH's of the battery bank. Also the WFCO converter/chargers are notorious for NOT doing what they are supposed to do. On that front I would consider upgrading to the better Boondocker Main board.

Which controller do you have?

Aaron
I currently have the windy nation P30L controller, do you have a suggestion on converters?
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Old 04-25-2016, 01:10 AM   #19
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I currently have the windy nation P30L controller, do you have a suggestion on converters?
If you have a 8900 series WFCO you can install the Boondocker that I linked to. You can also shoot an email to Randy at Best Converter and see what he suggests. He is a great guy to deal with. I have bought several converters from him over the years. My personal preference is the Progressive Dynamics stuff.

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Old 05-01-2016, 01:22 AM   #20
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We've got 4x100 panels, 35A chg ctlr, and a 2k psw inverter. 4 x 12V bats on coach w/1 reserved for gen. Mobile aux bat box & monitor with 4x6V bats added in parallel w/ winch quick power disconnects when boondocking allows for 2 weeks with nights at 25 degrees outside w/furnace running enough to keep the thermostat at 68, without getting up to start the gen (but able to if needed). Will upgrade to 8 panels eventually to hasten recovery on overcast days, but pretty sufficient so far.
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