|The Joys of Solar Power
and how we made it work for
us on our 2003 HHII 5er.
have a 2009 Discover America 348 SB HitchHiker.
for a 2000 Magnum inverter/charger installed by the factory.
two 120 and one 130 watt solar cells. and a Solar Boost 2000.
boost is installed within a foot of the four Interstate 12v AGM batteries.
We had had a little solar way
back when we went on early vacations in a very small 17 ft. Jayco 5 th
I bought one and then two 75
watt Siemens solar panels and a small controller and hauled them
on summer trips to WY to charge
the one little deep cell bat that came with the Jayco trailer. When we
got there I would drag them out from under the bed and set them up outside
and would get 3-4 amps with one and then later a whopping 8 amps with two.
The first two winters, one in TX and the other one in AZ we stayed in RV
spots that had commercial AC power. Well we thought now that we had this
big bad new Hitchhiker II with a heat pump we used that instead of the
gas fired furnace. Well the first months electric hit hard. About $100
bucks just for electric. We started to conserve real fast after that. After
the crowds were gone and before we left Quartzsite last year, I went to
Discount Solar on East main street. Priced out a system with them
with also adding my two 75 watt cells.
It included a Solar Boost 2000e
Xantrex 2000 watt charger/inverter, one Kyocera 125 solar panel, and
6 12 v AGM batteries.
This year we bought another
Kyocera 125 panel in Nov. at azrvlifestyles
in Quartzsite for $600 now they are $630 each. Terry installed this last
one himself. Just had to wire it into the existing third panel on top.
The panels have a total wattage
two 75 plus two 125 for 400 watts. Amps output is just under 25 amps and
the Solar Booster 2000e is rated for 25 amps out. So this combination works
just right for us. This booster even on a cloudy day lives up to
its name and boosts the output. You can get a bigger Solar Booster that
to goes up to 50 amps. See Blue
Sky Energy for the makers of the Solar Boost units.
I had them install it so so
we could be parked in an RV park and run the AC and still use solar and
inverter for everything else. They tried to talk us out of it but that's
what I wanted so an extra circuit breaker and wiring was installed. If
we ever go back into a RV park for an extended stay we can use commercial
power to power the AC or heat pump, and we can still use the solar to power
the inverter for the rest of our needs.
The older 75 watt units are
the first two you can see.
Discount Solar offers the mount
and tilt hardware for $30. Good price.
We went with AGM batteries since
I didn't want to have to build a sealed box and vent hose for the gassing
effect of golf cart batteries. These AGM can be placed anywhere, and even
laid on their sides and stacked. They are sealed and you never have
to check water levels. In the pic you can see 4 (two black cases and two
white cases) with 2 more in the regular bat compartment on the side of
the 5 er.
Terry built a shelf above them
to increase storage. (Don't want to set anything down on the open bat cables,
Ya know.They are in the center of the lower level storage, to balance the
weight. These suckers are very heavy. And expensive $140 or more as compared
to $70 or less for a 6 v golf cart bat. But you need two 6 volt ones for
each 12 volt AGM. But
you do get more amp hours out of two 6 v, than one 12v AGM. The 12 v AGM's
are about 100 or so amp hours each. I am not going to get into the
heavy numbers of each as everyone has their own opinion of what is
best. So I have about 600 amp hours in storage and you don't want to go
50% discharge so I have about 300 amp hours to use. Or close to it. I just
know what we used and how it works for us. Your results may very with what
you decide to go with. I will say the AGM's are said to charge up 20% faster.
And with no water to spill. I like that.
One of my duties in a former
life, I had to maintain the battery systems of a large telephone central
office. Hundreds of huge lead acid bats, that had to have their SG
and water levels checked. So now retired, none of that for me.
Just use em and abuse em. AGM's YES
The Xantrex sits right next
to the bats on the main floor of the 5er.
You want to keep the bat cables
as short as possible to the charger/inverter.
The control panels of the charger/inverter
and solar boost units.
They are placed on the wall
with easy access for monitor and control.
It was an easy install as they
just removed the TV and had assess to go
right up through the roof and
down to the 5er basement to the bats for connections.
The bottom line is this system
keeps us powered up and off the grid so we can boondock.
The solar boost unit sez the
bats are fully charged before noon on a good sun day.
We do have a Honda 2000 unit
and will use it to top off the bats or run the microwave. The microwave
will run but only at about half power (which is normal for a non true sine
wave inverter) and you can watch it draw down your stored amp hours,
with just the inverter on. We have a desk top computer and satellite internet
system and could stay online all night with the stored bat power but when
we run our 25 inch tube TV at the same time, we will kick in the Honda
to carry the load (without the charger function turned on) so not to draw
down the bats. The Honda is carrying the load without the inverter/charger
doing the work.
We may not need to do this,
but at some point during the evening, we will kick in the Xantrex charger
with the Honda running to top off off the bats. In a short time the Xantrex
control panel light will go to green, to say we are in the top 10% bat
range. Then we can shut down the Honda.
It is well know that RV forced
air heating units will whack a one or two standard rv/marine bats in one
We have not had any problems
with our forced air furnace draining the bats while running during the
We feel we have a good system
that suits our needs. Not cheep but with every dollar. Let me think what
we have invested. This is how I remember the costs.
From RV Solar Electric:
2 each 75 watt panels shipped
several years ago about $500 each.
At Discount Solar Quartzsite:
Xantrex 2000 watt inverter/charger
Solar Boost 2000e unit
4 12v 105 amp hours AGM bats
One 125 Kyocera watt panel
Wiring, circuit breakers, etc.
and install about $4500
2 12v 105 amp hours AGM bats
for Solar Bills in Quartzsite $300
(Discount solar only had 4
AGM bats left, so got 2 more at Solar Bills in Q and Discount Solar installed
One 125 Kyocera we installed
ourselves this winter $600 plus $30 tilt hardware.
Oh and a Honda 2000 gen. $950
for those rain and cloudy days...
You can add it up, I don't
So.. Ok for around $7500 you
can boondock with the best of them.
Staying the winter season in
an RV park (for how much $) where you can hardly step out of your unit
and without touching your neighbor. If that is you, great, go for it.
Or if boondocking without anyone
near, and real campfires in the BLM... sounds good.
And the rest of the year traveling
without having to be dependent to RV parks.
Yes you may be in a MH and say
we have our Onan generator and we can stop anywhere. Great. But can you
boondock for months on end without the solar.
Good travel to ALL...
Some sites for more info...
(more links will be added)
Solar Electric Where I got my first two panels
OTHER ELECTRIC STUFF
Arizona Wind & Sun A forum on their site
buyers guides from Wind and Sun.
Electric Links from Wind and Sun
Cycle batteries at TruckChamp.com
From Mark's Fulltime RV Resource:
12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
12 volt Side of Life (Part 2)
Do read this article
RV SOLAR POWER THAT WORKS - BOONDOCKING WITHOUT A GENERATOR
by Bob Shearer
will be updated as I go along, to add and make changes.
is, the art of fixing the dumb things we write.
we catch hell... with email.
ahead send away...