Solar vs Generator - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Escape Systems | Water, Waste, Charging & Propane
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-22-2011, 06:00 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 11
Solar vs Generator

Our goal for our upcoming solar egg is to take a solar generator approach vs gasoline generator approach. You have to tote gasoline around, it's expensive, you have to refill it constantly, then you have the noise and the pain of firing it up. It seems like 800w of panels could permanently replace a 2000i generator. We might get a 1000i as a backup to top things up but that may not be necessary. I did some research and ran some math and came up with some thoughts on my blog: http://solarriderz.com/2011/09/22/solar-sustainability/

How many hours are people running their generators for a day on average? Say your at quartzsite and it's hot, how many kwh are you using up a day? I wonder how this differs between extra insulated vs non extra insulated trailers.

I figure 800w of panels would be the equivalent to running your generator almost 3 hours a day every day, when would that be enough vs not enough.
__________________

Solar Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2011, 07:44 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 11,930
Re: Solar vs Generator

I have never gone more than 3 nights in a row with temps around, or just below, freezing at night, and don't have LED lights yet, and even with the furnace running a fair bit, I still had a good bit of battery left. i am running dual 6V.

I have boondocked 7 days in the summer with very little use of the furnace, and had lots of battery left.

I love the idea of solar power, but most places I park my trailer gets very little sunlight. If I do go this route, I would definitely use portable panels and find a way to secure them so they don't run off. I am not a huge fan of the look of the panel mounted on the trailer, and using the portable units would avoid this. The only problem would be how I would store and transport them when not in use. Maybe the roll-up ones will be produced in larger sizes, that would be great.

I still think that I might go the way of a 1k gen set. They are very small, very quiet and burn very little fuel. If I was to do this though, I would likely completely abandon the solar idea.
__________________

__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2011, 11:19 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Harold Kroeker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trailer: 2011 Escape 19
Posts: 111
Re: Solar vs Generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solar Rider
I did some research and ran some math and came up with some thoughts on my blog:
While I appreciate what you are doing and will follow your blog with interest, your calculations omitted a number of costs associated with using solar instead of a generator:
- mounting system for the panels
- charge controller
- batteries and their replacement after x number of cycles. The lighter the battery the fewer cycles before replacement (lead-acid vs. lithium-ion polymer)
- inverter to convert DC to AC
- high current wiring from the panels to the charge controller to the batteries to the inverter
Taking these into account may not change the final answer, but it will present a more balanced argument.
__________________
2011 Escape 19
Harold Kroeker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2011, 11:33 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
gbaglo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B - "Toad". '08 Toyota RAV4 V6
Posts: 10,715
Re: Solar vs Generator

And, with anything, you need to consider how much use you will get out of the item or system.

As in, how long will it take for the initial expense to be recovered? and then there is maintenance and flexibility ( my Honda generator isn't attached to the trailer so I can use it at home or on the road - when it needs maintenance or repair, can just toss it in the back of the RAV and take it to the shop ).

The older I get, the less inclined I am to buy new stuff, with instruction manuals and problems to solve.

From my limited study of alternative power, solar and wind have a long, long way to go to get close to being a real alternative to fossil fuel. The solution to the energy crisis will likely be something else entirely.

baglo

__________________
2009 Escape 17B "Toad"
2008 Toyota RAV4 V6 Sport
North Vancouver, British Columbia

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
gbaglo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2011, 12:25 AM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 11
Re: Solar vs Generator

Yes I excluded some costs. Lifepo4 can offer 5000-7000 cycles, that's 20 years, 400ah will require 100lb, no maintenance, no adding water, no trips to the gas station. The packs are expensive now, but the current escape solar and dual battery plus the original battery cost is 1500 and you already have a charger, so maybe 2000 for the current 100w system that's what 220ah 50pct dod, 110 usable. Lifepo4 gives you 80pct dod so 320ah usable. If you add up the cost of the current system and the price of a generator your looking at 3.5k ish. A solar system will be more expensive upfront but not an reasonable amount given the advantages, maybe 6k so 2.5 extra for 3x as much battery, no gas ever, no maintenance, lots of flexibility and less for not asp less extreme system. Given these trailers are already 27k it's not a crazy difference and worth it for us given our admittedly special use. Again just sharing.
Solar Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2011, 09:34 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
strawbarry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Rockwell, North Carolina
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5TA
Posts: 106
Re: Solar vs Generator

Solar Rider

I will also have solar installed for my trailer when I purchase it. However it will be portable and not as large as you have planned. Will you need that much watt hours every day, purchasing a light weight trailer, smaller tow vehicle, and a less stress filled life are all condusive with less energy use. You could start out with a moderate amount of solar and increase capacity as needed. Which would also allow you to keep up with current technology and not break the bank all at once.

Keep in mind that solar does not work in the dark. It is a great technology that has a role in energy production, but it will not be a reliable source until we are able to put a collector in orbit of the sun and connect it to our power grid.

strawbarry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2011, 10:15 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 11,930
Re: Solar vs Generator

strawberry, how do you intend to store and carry your portable panels, especially so they are out of the way for the many times you would not need them? This is my biggest concern with this method.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2011, 12:06 PM   #8
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 11
Re: Solar vs Generator

I'm debating between a 200ah and 400ah pack, they weight on these things is much less than lead acid, 200ah would give me 1.6kwh usable (@50lbs), if i had 700w of solar that would add 2-2.8kwh during the day. I may start with that and add more batteries later. My requirements are unique thought, we will be on land without hookups of any kind for long periods, a decent solar setup would let me run everything: A/C, hotplate on the picnic table, microwave, water heater, etc without propane. I'm not going all electric as I want to keep resale value in mind, but if i didn't care about resale I'd definitely consider all solar. I want things simple, taking panels in and out and worrying about them being stolen is not for me.
Solar Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2011, 09:04 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
strawbarry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Rockwell, North Carolina
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5TA
Posts: 106
Re: Solar vs Generator

Jim

I plan on purchasing the 5th wheel, I also intend to pull with a full size truck. This should give me serveral options:

Using small panels:

1. They could be stored under bed mattress.

2. In some kind of rack in bed of truck.

3. In a box of some design in the bike rack mount on the trailer.

4. They could also be mounted to the top of trailer.

5. Any combination of the above.

6. Left at home when not needed.

It should be noted that I do not intend to stay at places with electric hook ups. You can not generate cheaper than you can buy it. LP or white gas cooking appliances will also reduce power needs.
strawbarry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2011, 09:17 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
strawbarry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Rockwell, North Carolina
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5TA
Posts: 106
Re: Solar vs Generator

Solar Rider

Sounds like a good plan. Be aware that weight or the amount of materials in a battery is equal to capacity. I am not saying new technology can not reduce the weight but it is still a chemical reaction so mass plays a part in it. The manufactures do not field test they simulate the conditions. The end user does the actual time in field test.
__________________

strawbarry is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:47 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.