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Old 10-17-2021, 09:17 AM   #1
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Basic Solar (12 Volt Only - No 120 V Needed)

Sorry if this has been discussed/answered before but since we exist in the Satellite Internet World searching the site is like watching paint dry. Plus, our location has terrible cell signal. The positives of rural living can have its negatives.

Anyway, as we define our build choices we have come back around to the question of solar. We don't really ever see a need to have 120V power when boondocking as we can do any 120V charging off of the inverter in our F150 while we traveling between locations or while on site briefly. Low power stuff like laptops, a cordless drill and such.

The only "need" we might have is for coffee and our bean grinder. But we have a very nice 23 ounce french press and the truck inverter to cover our addiction.

Can I ordered the just solar panel and two 6V batteries only to accomplish this?

Thanks for helping out the internet disabled.
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Old 10-17-2021, 09:42 AM   #2
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While your trailer can run on the 12V system alone (I've gone as long as 91 days in a row without hookups), I doubt that Escape would build a trailer without a converter & the typical 120V system.

The combination of solar & an inverter in the trailer will let you do just about everything except run the air conditioner or the water heater on electric. As to how much solar, that depends on your usage. I did the 91 day stretch in a 17B with a pair of 6V batteries, 200 watts of solar on the roof & a 160 watt portable panel. I used a 1000 watt inverter to make drip coffee, ran my coffee grinder, a toaster, etc. While that worked, I did have to keep an eye on usage & switch to using the stove for coffee during a streak of cloudy days.

I currently have 320 watts of solar on the roof that can be tilted for higher efficiency & a 300 watt portable panel, combined with a 1500 watt inverter & 3 Battleborn lithium 100 amp hour batteries. Hopefully, the combination will get me through a streak of cloudy days without needing to change my usual usage.
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Old 10-17-2021, 09:48 AM   #3
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doubt that Escape would build a trailer without a converter & the typical 120V system.
Thanks for the info. I'll check with Escape.

I just don't see the need for 120V when out in the wild. We are pretty simple folks when we camp.
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Old 10-17-2021, 09:56 AM   #4
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Well for one reason, resale value. If you make too many eliminations you may never recoup your investment.....
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Old 10-17-2021, 12:03 PM   #5
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Well for one reason, resale value. If you make too many eliminations you may never recoup your investment.....
^This^ if nothing else, IMO. It's a rare buyer who plans on never utilizing a shore power connection.

Even if you are in that rare group, the base converter/charger and 120V 'system' of wiring and outlets adds minimal weight and takes very little space. The base converter is 12" x 12" and intrudes 6.5" into the dinette bench space, so its elimination would yield only about 1/2 cu.ft. of increased storage volume.

IME from custom build discussions with ETI for my trailer, even when they are willing to not-install a base standard item the amount of credit applied is either zero or a fraction of the retail cost of the hardware alone.

Bottom line, while I can see benefit in selecting battery and solar options suitable for your needs, I can't see any meaningful benefit in asking for deletion of the standard base 120V system which you may never use.

But, YMMV, and that's OK too. Have Fun!
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Old 10-17-2021, 12:57 PM   #6
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The reason I ask is because on Escape's website they offer the 190W Solar Panel with Controller for $785 USD. You can select the dual 6V batteries for an additional $245 USD. It would appear that Escape thinks highly enough of this setup to offer it or am I misunderstanding their online pricing sheet?

To me, this puts a 12v only Basic Solar option with a good battery setup to just over $1,000 USD. This would provide us with enough Refrigerator, Water Pump, Furnace, Lights, Fan usage for several days of off grid camping.

ROI on a depreciating toy is not really in my long term investment strategy. I can always add an inverter later should I ever "need" one.

This solar equation stuff is a lot like dividing the speed of light by the sum of the growth of a blade of grass while trying to decide how many hot dog buns to buy as I contemplate mining my Bitcoin Billions.
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Old 10-17-2021, 01:01 PM   #7
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Bottom line, while I can see benefit in selecting battery and solar options suitable for your needs, I can't see any meaningful benefit in asking for deletion of the standard base 120V system which you may never use.

But, YMMV, and that's OK too. Have Fun!
That's the bottom line. We hardly ever use shore power but never say never because we've plugged a few times for various reasons.

Some deletions are easy to retro-fit, like an A/C. When selling it's an easy item to put into price considerations. But the cost for someone down the road to retro-fit a whole AC system, definitely would be a deal killer for some folks.

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Old 10-17-2021, 01:02 PM   #8
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^This^ if nothing else, IMO. It's a rare buyer who plans on never utilizing a shore power connection.

Bottom line, while I can see benefit in selecting battery and solar options suitable for your needs, I can't see any meaningful benefit in asking for deletion of the standard base 120V system which you may never use.
I think I've been misunderstood. We will definitely use AC shore power on those nights when we stay in RV parks.

My question is purely about 12V Only Solar while camping off grid.

I can see having No AC Power at all would be a huge mistake.
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Old 10-17-2021, 01:18 PM   #9
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I think I've been misunderstood. We will definitely use AC shore power on those nights when we stay in RV parks.
Ah, gotchya, forget that tangent, with apology.


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.... To me, this puts a 12v only Basic Solar option with a good battery setup to just over $1,000 USD. This would provide us with enough Refrigerator, Water Pump, Furnace, Lights, Fan usage for several days of off grid camping.
That sounds plausible with the standard 3-way reefer, running it on propane when boondocked with a bit of 'cooperative' sunshine for the rest (or a bit of load management maybe if the sun is hiding the whole time).

Remember, with FLA batteries your 'useful Amp hours' is about 50% of the 'rated Ah', you can't discharge them much lower than that without risk of damage.

If considering the DC-only compressor refrigerator option you might be pushing the limits of your pair of 6volt flooded lead acid (FLA) batteries, especially if the sunshine goes 'iffy'. Personally I wouldn't go that route given your stated goals - I'd stick with a reefer that can run on propane.
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Old 10-17-2021, 01:51 PM   #10
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Ah, gotchya, forget that tangent, with apology.


That sounds plausible with the standard 3-way reefer, running it on propane when boondocked with a bit of 'cooperative' sunshine for the rest (or a bit of load management maybe if the sun is hiding the whole time).

Remember, with FLA batteries your 'useful Amp hours' is about 50% of the 'rated Ah', you can't discharge them much lower than that without risk of damage.

If considering the DC-only compressor refrigerator option you might be pushing the limits of your pair of 6volt flooded lead acid (FLA) batteries, especially if the sunshine goes 'iffy'. Personally I wouldn't go that route given your stated goals - I'd stick with a reefer that can run on propane.
I agree, while many have installed compressor fridges, the amp hour capacity for that requires a decent sized Lithium bank to be practical. The three way fridge in our Escape has worked flawlessly for 4 years in all sorts of weather. Very little power usage and propane tanks last a long time . ymvv
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Old 10-17-2021, 04:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by WillyB View Post
The reason I ask is because on Escape's website they offer the 190W Solar Panel with Controller for $785 USD. You can select the dual 6V batteries for an additional $245 USD. It would appear that Escape thinks highly enough of this setup to offer it or am I misunderstanding their online pricing sheet?

To me, this puts a 12v only Basic Solar option with a good battery setup to just over $1,000 USD. This would provide us with enough Refrigerator, Water Pump, Furnace, Lights, Fan usage for several days of off grid camping.

ROI on a depreciating toy is not really in my long term investment strategy. I can always add an inverter later should I ever "need" one.

This solar equation stuff is a lot like dividing the speed of light by the sum of the growth of a blade of grass while trying to decide how many hot dog buns to buy as I contemplate mining my Bitcoin Billions.
My build sheet shows $220 dual 6 volts and $710 for 190W solar or $930 total, unless the prices have increased? Wait I see they have increased their prices to $245 and $785 or $1030 total now. I may be on the hook for another $100....?
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Old 10-17-2021, 05:09 PM   #12
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A simple 12 volt syst

Willy B, when we ordered our 5.0TA we ordered the solar with two 6 volt batteries an the inverter with distribution to all the 120 vac outlets. My inverter choice was for us a total waste of money. We have never used it except to test it back in 2017. I really appreciate a dry place to sleep with a reading light and not having to fold up a wet tent but a lot of folks seem to want to drag all their home appliances along when “camping”.
You will be fine with two batteries and a solar panel. I do suggest getting a portable panel for when parked in the shade or cloudy weather.
Happy camping, Steve
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Old 10-17-2021, 05:35 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for your help.

I'm feeling better about basic solar now.

Be Good!
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Old 10-17-2021, 05:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Starbrightsteve View Post
Willy B, when we ordered our 5.0TA we ordered the solar with two 6 volt batteries an the inverter with distribution to all the 120 vac outlets. My inverter choice was for us a total waste of money. We have never used it except to test it back in 2017. I really appreciate a dry place to sleep with a reading light and not having to fold up a wet tent but a lot of folks seem to want to drag all their home appliances along when “camping”.
You will be fine with two batteries and a solar panel. I do suggest getting a portable panel for when parked in the shade or cloudy weather.
Happy camping, Steve
It is nice to see others with the same thoughts as I have......
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Old 10-17-2021, 05:53 PM   #15
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Heavy boondocking would entail a upgrade in batteries etc. We have the stock solar and has been fine for years, we don't boondocks much
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Old 10-19-2021, 07:52 PM   #16
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WillyB if I understand your question, you want to know if just simple solar panel, and two 12 V batteries would be enough for boondocking?

We would say absolutely, if you camp like we do. We've had a campervan, a motorhome and a camper and have never even had solar. With a propane oven and fridge, heater, etc, we have pretty low power needs. Now we live up north where the sun doesn't really go down so we don't need lights in the summer...

But we have had a sailboat for 10 years in BC, and run a separate fridge and freezer, lights etc, on 12 v. We can stay out indefinitely with 360 watts of solar.

We never use an inverter and don't want one. We don't use any electric appliances like coffee makers, grinders etc. If we need to charge my husband's laptop we can use the 110 V in the truck

Everyone has different habits and wants of course, but this is our set up and it's served us very well over the years
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