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Old 10-28-2016, 08:07 AM   #1
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Two 6 volt batteries and the solar panel

Being a longtime dry camper (solar powered lights from Goal Zero) I am wondering how my camping life will change with the solar/six volts batteries. What can and can't you run on such a system and, of course it matters what you power, but on average use (whatever that means....) can you camp for several days w/o hookups? Lights/fan/heater fan/frig fan/water pump...??
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:22 AM   #2
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We were recently at Assateague for 2 weeks without hook-ups. We were running the lights (all LED), sometimes it was warm enough to run the fan and daily recharging our tablets with no problems. The fridge runs on propane as does the furnace and the stove (although both the fridge and furnace do require a small bit of power for the displays). Even on the couple rainy days the solar did charge a tiny bit, with sunny days keeping the batteries at or just slightly below fully charged as we used the power. We were impressed.
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parfsten View Post
Being a longtime dry camper (solar powered lights from Goal Zero) I am wondering how my camping life will change with the solar/six volts batteries. What can and can't you run on such a system and, of course it matters what you power, but on average use (whatever that means....) can you camp for several days w/o hookups? Lights/fan/heater fan/frig fan/water pump...??
Parfsten, If you have good sun exposure and use the fridge on propane, and don't use the television, you can go several weeks without hook-ups. When we dry-camp, in good sun, our batteries are at 100% by noon.
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:25 AM   #4
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We have that setup and we do go for 4-5 weeks without needing shore power to charge them up. Have only seen the systems monitor go to 1/2 way mark a ouple of times and that was when raining and cold and we made another pot of coffee using g the inverter. Otherwise it only goes to 3/4 charged and then shows full within an hour.
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:51 AM   #5
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Running the normal built in appliances with the exception of the microwave, the combination of 6V batteries & the 160 watt panel should let you run as long as you are out, at least in the summer with long days & high angle sun.

During the winter, particularly if you run the furnace a lot, you might need a bit more.

I dry camped for 93 days last winter in Quartzsite, AZ with a 95 watt & a 100 watt panel on the roof & a 160 watt portable panel (and a pair of 6V batteries). As I've mentioned before, I use more amp hours than most (35 - 40 amp hours per day). I make a pot of drip coffee each morning, often use a toaster, both with a 1000 watt inverter, do lots of photo editing on a high powered laptop, and usually run a cell phone amplifier & Jetpack.

During the winter in Quartzsite I was using the furnace enough to go through a tank of propane every 7 - 10 days. While the 2 roof top panels meet my needs during the summer, I needed the 160 watt portable that could be aimed at the sun during the winter.
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:52 AM   #6
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I think the biggest variable is the sun as affected by the season. Most every system will perform great in mid summer and get your batteries fully charged. Ignore comments that are based on such.

There are several things that affect your solar input and they will vary based on your style. Colder weather means the need for more solar yet this is commonly the time of low angles and reduced input. Your camping location makes a dramatic difference. If you frequent wooded areas with any tree cover, have low sun angles, are at an upper latitude, and use a fixed angle solar panel mounted on your roof, cloudy weather will limit you to five to seven days of off the grid. You may not be able to replenish what you use on a daily basis and operate at a deficit.

Some examples, here in Wisconsin in July my panel is placed at a 26 degree angle. In late October that angle changes to 75 degrees. Last weekend I spent five days off grid, they were cold days and frequently cloudy. We were camped at a site with an adjacent large open area but the sun angles were so low that there were only a few hours when our portable panel with a 50 foot wire could even reach sun. A roof top would have had no direct sun.

If in southern latitudes it will be better but be warned that January in Arizona will require two panels to keep up. So much depends on your style of camping. Obviously the dual six volt batteries are a must.
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:22 PM   #7
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Late spring-early fall, we can go indefinitely.
Colder season, we can do roughly 4-8 days stationary. Haven't really taken it to it's full extent as yet as we move every 4 or 5 days. Meaning the truck charges the batteries a good amount.
So far when we've camped in the winter we've been down south and have had hookups.
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Old 10-28-2016, 04:57 PM   #8
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Based on a late October trip (last year), my 150 watt portable panel was producing double to triple the amps of the roof mounted 150 watt panel. That said, for a 1 or 2 night trip I probably would rely on the capacity of the batteries and leave the portable panel at home since I am a light user of power. (The furnace is too noisy for me to use at night. I'll be snuggled in my down sleeping bag as the interior of the trailer drops below 40F)

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Old 10-28-2016, 08:27 PM   #9
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Yes, we need to adjust the solar panel angle when the sun is low!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Running the normal built in appliances with the exception of the microwave, the combination of 6V batteries & the 160 watt panel should let you run as long as you are out, at least in the summer with long days & high angle sun.

During the winter, particularly if you run the furnace a lot, you might need a bit more.

I dry camped for 93 days last winter in Quartzsite, AZ with a 95 watt & a 100 watt panel on the roof & a 160 watt portable panel (and a pair of 6V batteries). As I've mentioned before, I use more amp hours than most (35 - 40 amp hours per day). I make a pot of drip coffee each morning, often use a toaster, both with a 1000 watt inverter, do lots of photo editing on a high powered laptop, and usually run a cell phone amplifier & Jetpack.

During the winter in Quartzsite I was using the furnace enough to go through a tank of propane every 7 - 10 days. While the 2 roof top panels meet my needs during the summer, I needed the 160 watt portable that could be aimed at the sun during the winter.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:04 PM   #10
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Amps to watts to run time??

Am I on the right track here? The two 6 volt batteries total 225 amps (will also have the solar panel on roof). I have googled and been on youtube and now turn to the experts. Is this formula correct? Amps X 10 divided by appliance wattage and again divided by 2 = run time to 50% of battery charge. Thinking of 12 volt appliances.

I'm curious, when not on shore power, can I run a small toaster oven?
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