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Old 09-01-2012, 08:19 AM   #41
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Re: Solar musing

Quote:
Originally Posted by digger57
I haven't purchased an inverter yet, I just need to make sure the wiring is correct or if I need to change it. I am not sure if the wire is different because of the solar panel install or that doesen't matter. I won't be going more than 1000w with the inverter.
Anything from the Escape factory will be left alone and kept original and unchanged as you will be creating your own dedicated circuit from the battery direct to your inverter. Ideally the best set up is to mount the inverter next to the battery and then run your dedicated circuit wire to a new "inverter outlet only box" where you can plug in your 120v appliances you want to use while on battery power. You have to keep this inverter circuit separate from any original factory wiring and they can not be connected in any manner. Your solar system will not be changed in any manner and the wiring there is fine.
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Old 09-02-2012, 02:04 PM   #42
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Re: Solar musing

We are considering installing solar cells ... maybe. While I can see them being ideal for many parts of the sunnier parts of the continent I'm concerned that on the wetcoast particularly in the winter solar cells might not be much use. Going to dual 12 volt (isolated) batteries has extended our summer boondocks camping to at least 7 days but that is without using the battery killing furnace. I'm also considering replacing one of the 12 volt batteries when it dies with two 6 volt batteries. I would appreciate any input others have had pre/post solar cell installation particularly during winters here in the northwest.

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 09-03-2012, 07:54 AM   #43
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Re: Solar musing

Dave,

You do not have to mount the panel to the roof. It can be free standing, and left at home when not needed. The solar controller would be mounted in the camper, and attach to the panel with a plug and cord. I believe this setup would give you more flexibility. The trade off is you need to set the panel out at each stop and store it when traveling. This portability allows for better light gathering by pointing the panel at the sun and repositioning during the day for maximum harvest.

I am currently using a portable setup including a panel, 2 12V marine batteries, and a morning star sunsaver MPPT controller. The batteries and controller are mounted in a 4 wheeled cart. I use this when tent camping for fans, lights, and with a small inverter 120V AC when needed. I have not run out of capacity, and generally is recharged by days end.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:33 PM   #44
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Re: Solar musing

Thanks for the response Strawbarry. You answered a future question I had about movable solar cells versus permanent roof mount. Up here in the North west we can have dark cloudy/rainy skies for several days if not weeks in a row (worst case scenario). If we routinely traveled to Arizona or other sunny places which may happen solar would be the way to go. I realize that I might be searching for the holy grail here. I'd like to avoid an alternative like a generator if I could but that might not be possible.

Sorry in advance as I'm getting off topic but I've considered a battery swap out system where a battery can be easily removed and plugged into the vehicle to charge when you drive for groceries/exploring etc. It shouldn't be hard to make some sort of quick release/plug in system. Anybody done anything like this?

Dave

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Old 09-06-2012, 07:31 AM   #45
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Re: Solar musing

http://www.amazon.com/GAUGE-PIN-QUIC...+pin+connector
I have used these to quick connect land scape lights in my camp site. They are made in 16, 12, and 10 gauge wire.
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:43 PM   #46
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Re: Solar musing

Thanks for link Stawbarry, I was thinking about something along those lines to connect the battery. To hold the battery in position maybe something like using a cam(s) instead of some sort of threaded or strap hold down on the trailer and the vehicle. Either way it would have to be fast, easy (and safe) otherwise it would be too much trouble to bother.

Dave
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:54 PM   #47
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Re: Solar musing

I have been mulling over the addition of some sort of solar support for some time, and have come to the conclusion that "it depends." That is, it depends on the sort of camping you do, and really, how long you want to stay in one place, unattached to shore power, etc. We have an 18 month old Escape 15B that we love, with dual 6 volt batteries and all LED Lights. Since it is winter alot in SW Montana where we live, we have only taken it out 66 nites over the past two seasons. So far.

Some time ago, I ran a bunch of calculations based on power consumption of the various components that use electricity, and figured we could easily go 4 nights in one place on the dual batteries, given how we operate. (For example, we don't watch TV, but often watch an hour or so of DVD on a 17 inch notebook computer).

So I was interested to see how we would do while camped at the Teklanika Campground in Denali NP for 5 nights. But I also wanted to see (since you are not permitted to detach and drive your vehicle anywhere else from this campground) what the impact would be of simply using our tow vehicle (2011 Honda Pilot EX-L) in idling mode to charge the batteries. Bottom line: with a total of two 30 minute idling episodes, our batteries NEVER dropped below the 2/3 charge mark over the 5 nights. This included using the heater a LOT because of cold rainy weather, taking showers, etc etc. A check of the fuel consumption and change in average mileage suggests that the 60 minutes of idling (which is so quiet compared to any generator I have heard) burned about a gallon of gasoline in the Pilot. So I would have to do that sort of camping a huge number of times to justify the cost of a generator or solar add-on.

This is NOT to imply that solar (or a small generator) would not be useful for long periods of true boondocking, but for the length of time we would be likely to stay in one spot, it seems like overkill.

Roger
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Old 09-16-2012, 11:25 PM   #48
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Re: Solar musing

Perhaps from a purely practical perspective, you are correct. I must add, however, that there is something extremely satisfying about having the panel, and never, ever having to worry about your batteries again. Sure, I look at my monitor everyday, but just for the reward of seeing the batteries bounce right back, again, and knowing that you can repeat that cycle week after week, month after month, year after year.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:47 AM   #49
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Re: Solar musing

It's not just the gasoline that you are paying for.
It's also the wear on your car's engine, and the planet ( not that my generator is much of an improvement ).
As for solar, those panels have to to manufactured somewhere, out of materials that are mined and transported, so nobody gets off easy.

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Old 09-21-2012, 05:16 PM   #50
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Re: Solar musing

Roger
Thank you for putting solar into perspective. I just returned from a two week trip to Wyoming. We were off the grid for the entire time but did do some moving between campgrounds resulting in a charge off the car and I did connect my 19 to the car and ran the engine for 45 minutes during an extended stay at an unpowered campground. Connecting my car was painless and I was surprised how much 45 minutes of idling did to the batteries. I was returning from my trip dreaming of solar but I thank you for a realitiy check.

There are some campgrounds that do not allow vehicles to idle doing a recharge. I note that Glacier National Park states vehicles cannot idle for more that 10 minutes. Yellowstone and Grand Teton state that "excessive" idling is prohibited. That said, it is probable that a complaint would have to be made, such a complaint would be more likely with a diesel pusher vs your Honda Pilot. However there is the potential.

If one can rely on your vehicle to recharge it sure saves lots of headaches: cost, storage, and time assocated with a generator or solar set. I will admit I would love to have the "play" factor of having solar, a generator does not hold that same glamour of solar. I think I will wait.
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