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Old 01-15-2012, 02:38 PM   #1
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Purpose Of Solar Panels

From what I know of solar panels, their main, if not the only, purpose is to trickle charge batteries. Is this the job of the solar panels that some people get installed in their Escapes? What sort of electronics and electrical connections are required for this installation? Are the panels used for any other purpose?

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Old 01-16-2012, 03:58 PM   #2
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

You are right in saying the panels are for charging batteries for those people who live in locations where it gets dark at night and need lights to read in bed.

I would need something to run the toaster, Television, or micro wave oven.

Here in the Yukon where it does not get dark in the camping season,
I do not need to have lights.
What we need is a small gen set for the toaster, I do not need a television.

For our purposes a single 12volt battery will carry me for a week, with the heaviest load being the roof fan.
I have found with the double insulation I do not need an air conditioner.
A solar system would be another maintenace problem about to happen.

Doug
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:37 PM   #3
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

I have the 95 watt solar option provided by Escape combined with dual 6V batteries & LED lighting. It lets me dry camp for days without a generator. True, I can't run the AC or a toaster, but I do have a power hungry laptop (9 amps) a cell phone amp & router (2 amps) sometimes need the furnace, and under most sunlight conditions my batteries are back up to 100% by noon. For me it is more than a trickle charger...
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

The best decision we made was to get the panels. We have dry camped for two weeks, even using the shower (carry water), with the batteries remaining at 100%, thanks to the panels. And this was in thick west coast forest with only indirect sunlight. When we are spring skiing in Jasper it freezes every night, and the furnace fan turns on and off throughout the night. With our sunny Alberta skies, the panels have our twin 6 volt batteries back to 100% in no time. I've noticed many people that seem to knock the panels, and make excuses for why they are not a feasible choice. I don't get it. They are fantastic, unless of course you need AC, microwaves etc. Or you just like the sound of your generator
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:15 AM   #5
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

I'm with Jon, ddevin and others about the positives of solar panels. The majority of our outings are also dry camping. With the furnace, computer, MP3 player, phone charger, etc., the solar panels do the job in maintaining and recharging our twin 6 V batteries. A great addition to our SittEscape, without question. But then, we don't have a microwave.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:01 PM   #6
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

I am new to this forum, and am considering buying an escape 19 for our young family of four. The solar panel seems like a good option for us, since it apparently keeps the batteries nearly fully charged, and we plan on dry camping quite a bit. My question would be - if this is the case, couldn't we get away with a single 6V battery rather than two in series? Weight is an issues for us (towing with a 6 cyl Highlander), and so if a single battery would do it, why not?
Thanks for the advice
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:12 PM   #7
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

It requires two six volt batteries to make 12 volts. The camper operates on 12 Volts. You can have just one 12V battery. The duel six volt batteries give you more amp hours of capacity. More amp hour capacity with lead acid batteries equals more weight, because lead is a main component in the chemical process.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:19 PM   #8
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Stevy, welcome aboard. You would love the 19.

Weight is always an issue, this is one of the reasons for going for a lightweight trailer, and the challenge then is to outfit it to keep the weight down further.

I mostly do boondocking, and have the dual 6V option. I have spent 4 nights in temps dropping down to 0°C, and the batteries held up just fine. I don't even have LED lights yet. If we were somewhat careful, and minded our energy use, I imagine we could go for a week in cooler temps, and even more in nice weather.

If you were to go solar, and could keep the battery pretty much fully charged, I would think that with using a single 12V you should be able to keep it charged up. I guess it depends on how much draw you put on the battery, and how much available sunlight you have.

What is the towing capacity of your car? Many 6 cylinder vehicles are rated for 4,500 to 5,000 lbs which should be adequate, so long as you don't add too much gear. You do have remember to take into account the weight the load in the vehicle, and if the kids are of good size, the pounds will add up fast.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:51 PM   #9
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

I've got the solar and just the single group 27 on my new 19. Towing with a ford escape so wary about weight also. Had no problem running the furnace overnight down to -3c in whistler and 100 charged by noon. Also have the led lighting. Burnt through a tank of propane in that mode in 5 nights never on shore power.
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:48 AM   #10
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Welcome! We also have a family of 4, 5 if you count our German Shepherd! We also tow with a Highlander. With the panels, and temperatures well below 0 celcius, we could go forever! We do have twin 6 volts and LEDs. The whole idea of having a fibreglass trailer, in my mind, is going light, and with a minimalist perspective. Get the panels!
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