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Old 02-20-2013, 03:08 PM   #1
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Ladybug goes solar!

On Monday February 18 the wonderful folks at Escape installed a GoPower Solar RV-95 on our Escape 13. The installation was done very neatly and professionally.

We decided on this modification to allow us to do more dry camping, since most provincial campsites in BC do not have electrical hookups. While we have a small generator which we have used, it does disturb the tranquility of camping. We were impressed with the number of Escape owners who have made the choice to "go solar" and how happy they have been with their decision.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:13 PM   #2
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Was the trailer pre-wired for this install?
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:18 PM   #3
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Looks great - love your parking spot .
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:29 PM   #4
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I called about the same thing while you were there getting yours done.
Ours is going to be done on March 6th...Partially because we are planning a trip to Yosemite and are intending on being there for 6 nights and no services..

And with BC parks having no services, no worries about the furnace or water pump--we have LED lights already.
Now, where is the monitor located and do I have to empty cabinets to make it easier for them?

Glen, we aren't pre-wired for this as our trailer is older than yours.

Retirement $$ aren't going to accommodate a new trailer--so this one will be decked out as best I can do-another new year- another new mod!!
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:33 PM   #5
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baglo:

No, Ladybug was not prewired for solar. The wiring was run through the cupboards on the driver side ceiling then down to the front driver side bench seat where the charge controller was installed. The installation was done so neatly that it is hard to see any evidence of it being done.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:41 PM   #6
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Anna-Marie:

On our trailer the charge controller was installed on the side of the front driver side bench seat. If your trailer has sufficient flat space between the doors for the upper cupboards it could be installed there. (There was not enough room there on our trailer.)

Yes, we needed to remove everything from the upper cupboards on the driver side and from the front driver side bench seat for the installation of the wiring. I think when you deliver the trailer the people at Escape will discuss the best solution for your trailer.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:01 PM   #7
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OK. And the big one. What did it cost?
Also, are you on twin 6V?
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:36 PM   #8
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baglo

The cost was the same as the published cost on Escape's website ($850). Less than the cost of buying a generator, which might have been another alternative. We have a small Honda generator which I bought used, but when we tried it last year we found it was noisy, and a new generator would be just as noisy, according to the specs.

No, we don't have two 6 volt batteries, just a single 12 volt battery. We'll see whether this is sufficient once we begin to use it. We were able to go at least 2 days without recharging in previous trips, so having solar should extend this time. Factors:

1. how much sun? Depends on weather, shade, time of year. Have to learn to select a sunny campsite and live with the sun we have been given.
2. how much load? Depends on demand for power -- we now have all LED lights, need power for fan, water pump, possibly furnace, recharging computer and camera batteries. (We can charge these also while driving our car.) I think our power demands are pretty modest. I have ordered a 300 watt inverter which should be adequate for our alternating current needs.
3. which battery? Our three year old 12 volt is a group 27 rated at 96 Amp-hr of storage. A group 29 is rated at 128 Amp-hr and is about the same size as a group 27, though heavier (65 pounds vs 50 pounds).
4. how long in a location? We also can charge our battery while towing from one location to another, so don't need to depend 100% on solar power.
5. when need power? The 96 watt solar panel we have is the same as the one people have with twin 6 volt batteries. I would guess the logical time to charge computer and camera batteries would be when the solar panel is producing maximum output.
6. how big is big enough? We bought a 13 foot trailer with the idea of minimizing our footprint, and have found it was big enough for our needs. Simplify!
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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So, think about it this way. $850 is about 25 nights in a full service campground ( likely fewer ). You done good.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:11 PM   #10
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baglo

I guess you can justify your generator based on the same calculation, so we both come out winners! Not easy to do these days!

I have noticed there is a lot to learn to master the craft of equipping and running our trailers. With solar you need to think about whether you need an inverter, what type of inverter, what size, how to wire it, how to supply alternating current power depending on whether you are hooked up to a power supply or running on solar.

There are a many very helpful members who have done the hard work of figuring this out. Jon Vermilye and Barry Justice have both given needed help.

I should mention an excellent thread you started is here: Solar musing
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:42 PM   #11
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Today I installed a 300 watt inverter which will supply 110 volt 60 cycle power. I installed it under the front driver side bench seat.

Higher resolution version here: Inverter installed! | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:57 PM   #12
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First Trial of Our Solar Installation

This week we camped for three days at Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island and had the first trial of our new solar installation.

Ladybug at Fort Casey State Park | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I monitored the performance with our new Trimetric TM-2025-RV.

Our single 12 volt battery was fully charged on arrival. The overnight temperatures were about 8 deg. C (46 deg. F) and we used our propane furnace as well as the water pump and LED lights. In the mornings the Trimetric registered 96 - 97% charged. By noon it was reading 100% charged. Fort Casey has little shade. There was sun or bright cloud on all days.

I'm happy with the performance of all the components of the system.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:28 PM   #13
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Hi Brian....How did you like Fort Casey ? Did you need reservations ? We are seeking out state parks to try. We used to tent camp at Larabee 30 years ago but drove through there 2 weeks ago and it is rather bleak looking now. Do you recommend Fort Casey ?

Cheers Janet
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:32 PM   #14
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Brain, very nice setup you have and I'm glad it working out well while actually camping. I have solar as well and like the freedom it gives you. Enjoy!

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Old 04-04-2013, 11:40 PM   #15
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Fort Casey

The good points of Fort Casey State Park:
1. it is in the middle of Whidbey Island which has many interesting things to see
2. it is right at the ferry terminal to Port Townsend, a wonderful place to visit
3. not much shade and opportunity for full sun so good for testing solar systems!
4. walking distance from Fort Casey and Admiralty Head lighthouse
5. clean, well maintained park with some serviced sites
6. clear views of ferry and freighter traffic
7. no reservations needed in off season

Things that some people may not like:
1. park is small so you are close to your neighbours
2. there is no protection from sun and wind, might be a problem at times
3. no reservations means it is "first come first served" in off season, so arrive early!
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotfishtacos View Post
Brain, very nice setup you have and I'm glad it working out well while actually camping. I have solar as well and like the freedom it gives you. Enjoy!

Steve
Steve:

You are right about freedom! Not knowing how our solar would perform we arrived at Fort Case prepared to camp with or without hookups. As it turned out this was spring break in this part of Washington State and all the serviced sites were occupied by large RVs. It was cold and we needed to use our furnace, so the solar setup came through wonderfully! There are many campgrounds in our part of the world that have no serviced sites. In some campgrounds the sites with the best views have no power or water, so it is great to be able to manage without hookups! It is also nice not having to depend on a generator.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:53 PM   #17
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Forecast for this weekend ( according to Weather Network ) is 120mm of rain.
Are you gonna test the solar and compare?
Might want to stay home and do it there.

baglo
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:06 AM   #18
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The forecast in Alberta is 15 cm. of snow, so I think my solar panel may not do well!
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:08 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Forecast for this weekend ( according to Weather Network ) is 120mm of rain.
Are you gonna test the solar and compare?
Might want to stay home and do it there.

baglo
baglo

I already know that even when it is sunny out our trailer pad at home is in shade, so this test will not be necessary.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:08 AM   #20
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Brian, another advantage to solar we learned is that the shaded sites are most popular and the one's we like for solar are often open when we want to camp.
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