Performance of solar installation on 19'? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 01-25-2013, 10:07 AM   #1
Don
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Performance of solar installation on 19'?

While researching the various aspects of sizing and installing a solar system, I've found it's frequently stated to install the panel where there is not a shadow cast onto the panel as "even a small shadow will nearly disable the entire panel; even if only a portion of a few cells are shaded, it can cut the amperage by one-half or more."

I've only seen a few photos of the solar panel location on the 19'. From those photos, it appears the panel is located midway between the air conditioner housing and the MaxxFan and likely to have a good chance of being partially shaded by either one or the other for a good part of the day. If that is correct, and the installation warnings are valid, the specified peak current of 5.5 amps supplied by the 95 watt solar panel in actual conditions may actually be less than 3 amps. In other words, a sunny day may only replace 25-30 amp-hours in the batteries?

So, I have questions for those of you who have real world experience using the solar package on the 19'.
1. Does the solar package keep the batteries sufficiently charged when you have been without shore power for a week or more (assuming LED lights, no a/c or microwave)? If you've ever noted how many amp-hours are actually being replaced in a typical day, please provide that information.
2. Is there even space to install the solar panel in a different location or orientation on the roof of the 19' that would minimize partial shading of the panel?
Thanks for your input.
Don
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:00 PM   #2
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I don't know if there is enough room to install one on the back of the roof - that is where mine is on the 17, and it is rarely shaded except when there is low angle sun coming across the TV antenna.

Combined with the 6V battery option it supplies enough to keep me going for at least 2 weeks, running LED lighting, the furnace for around 45 minutes per day, my power hungry laptop for 1-2 hours, various chargers, and a short (6-8 minute) 60 amp draw to make a pot of coffee each morning. Have always shown 100% by the end of the day; usually by noon. This was dry camping at 10,000' in Leadville, CO with night time temperatures going into the low 30's...
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:10 PM   #3
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My installation gives me 100% full by 10 am daily. If you feel the a/c is giving you a shadow, reposition the trailer to a south/north orientation, that should minimize any shadows with the panel in a east/west position.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:38 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies to my questions. Guess I just need to stop "over analyzing" everything and move on.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don View Post
Thanks for the replies to my questions. Guess I just need to stop "over analyzing" everything and move on.
Don
Yeah, really. I think you are the first one on this site to do that, Don....Not.

I too (like many others) overthought the various components that made up my trailer. In fact, I think I overdid things (for what was available at the time) more than had things I wished I had done.

After 4 years of pondering something along the lines of solar, I still have not done anything, and you know what? I have never really needed it. The max I have gone to date has been 5 days without services, and with temps down just below freezing, my batteries still had good life left in them. This is without LED lighting too, just using conservative measures without compromise. Last year I converted all lighting to LED, so should be that much better.

Other than the furnace, we use little else for power usually, and spend much of our time out of the trailer anyway, even in the evenings.

I do still have inklings towards solar, but have been leaning toward something portable, that does not even have to come along if I know it will not be needed.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:58 PM   #6
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Agreed, if you are only out for less than a week, or in moderate temps., where you are not using the furnace fan much, you don't need solar. However, it you want to be able to boondock for a couple of weeks, or camp in cold weather, solar s great. The other positive is the immense enjoyment you will get from watching your monitor show 100 percent each day. Not to mention the fun of reading all the posts that question how practical solar panels really are
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:18 AM   #7
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Dave, I am looking forward to that immense enjoyment.
The Grape panels seem to get very good reviews. The only thing I don't like is the 47" length so still looking at that. And want portable.

I have seen that people used panels when power went out at a campground after a hurricane or storm so that's another use.

Also, the Morningstar 6-amp controller looks sufficient but apparently Grape says to use an MPPT which costs five times as much. I guess it gets much more charge. That would make the controller cost nearly as much as a 100-watt panel.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:00 AM   #8
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We use this system to good effect:
130 watt folding portable RV solar battery charger - Professional Series
Securing Portable Solar Panels
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:31 AM   #9
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Those look like interesting systems. I like the idea of portability. I have discussed the possibility of sharing a unit like this with a couple other folks. I assume we would each need our own controllers though, correct?
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:36 AM   #10
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  • Built in 3 stage, Patented, Digital, PWM charge controller with bulk, absorption, and float modes. Displays battery voltage, output amps, total amp/hours produced, and % battery charge.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:54 AM   #11
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So, this is built into the portable unit itself, and just needs to be connected to the battery via a quick connect of some type? If so, it sure does sound like a good setup. They really don't describe how it is built, or set up, very well. Their controllers have PDF files on how they work, too bad these units didn't.

edit: I just looked at the page again, and at the top, not under the description, is a photo showing how the controller is mounted.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:08 AM   #12
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Connected to the battery using alligator clips or ring terminal adapter (accessory) shown on the web page. Schematic came with the collectors but I do not have access to the manual as I am out of state. E-mail the company under "contact us" for a e version of the manual.
http://shop.rvsolarnow.com/130-Watt-...SLP130P-12.htm
At the bottom of the page you can "click to enlarge" to seem the components. Click twice for large view.
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Old 01-30-2013, 02:18 PM   #13
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I did contact CEA Solar, and got a link to the user manual, as well as a PDF for the digital controller should one want to upgrade from economy to pro. The fellow I was in contact with said that 95% of Casita and Scamp owners just went with the 80W Economy model.

In my looking about I did find a couple other suppliers. ZAMP seems to be a fairly popular brand. EEZ RV has an interesting 100W unit that has a hard plastic shell incorporated into the build. None of these offer the digital charge controller that gives you amp production in real time, total amps produced since connected. battery voltage and battery percentage of fill levels. The Pro CEA model also has a motion sensor alarm.
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:41 PM   #14
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I was interested in the 80W Zamp fold-up kit way back but I was never able to find reviews of anyone who had used it or the 40W Zamp for anything, much less an RV. I would still be interested in that one even though it costs a little more than a Grape 100 with MPPT controller bought separately. I can find sellers but not reviewers except the sellers.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:37 PM   #15
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Hi, Crappy-tire has a solar panels on sale for 99.99 dollars. It's portable so there is no junk on your roof. 40 watt @ 2.3 Amp. looks like a good battery maintainer even a charger.? Page 11 in this weeks flyer. Sale starts this Fri.
www.canadaintire.ca
go to this week flyer at top of page.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:31 PM   #16
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Yeah, regular $250. Could buy two, and make your own fold out 80W portable unit. They call it folding, but it looks like that is just the stand.
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