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Old 01-04-2019, 11:57 PM   #21
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Tom Morton of Mortons on the Move posted a set of videos of how he retrofit a Tesla battery into their RV.



I think this is a great way to go but it is not for beginners. Voltage has to be closely monitored and controlled but a Tesla cell is a great bargain.
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Old 01-05-2019, 03:58 AM   #22
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Solar is great when itís a good fit. For us, unfortunately, it wouldnít accomplish much, so I havenít been able to justify it. So far, no solar.

We only boondock at night when there is no sun, we drive often so battery charging isnít an issue during the day, and van camper serves as a second/third car often enough that a dead battery isnít a problem.

Beyond cost, solar would add weight, add to roof cleaning effort, maybe even reduce fuel economy and increase noise a tiny bit, etc... Solar is a great technology, and I like it a lot, but for us and our travels it wouldnít add enough value to offset the negatives at this time.
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Old 01-05-2019, 02:30 PM   #23
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Beyond cost, solar would add weight, add to roof cleaning effort, maybe even reduce fuel economy and increase noise a tiny bit, etc... Solar is a great technology, and I like it a lot, but for us and our travels it wouldnít add enough value to offset the negatives at this time.
It obviously does add a little weight but negligible for most people only using 3-4 panels. Cleaning takes a little more to raise the panels unless you have them permanently mounted to the roof so they cant be tilted but a plus side of having them on the roof is they shade the roof from direct sun with an airspace below them to dissipate heat. Solar certainly isnt for everyone and your use sounds appropriate for how you use your rv. We often boondock in the desert for days on end so it fits us great or if in state parks without hookups.
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Old 01-05-2019, 02:59 PM   #24
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It does make moving around on the roof a bit more dicey...
And since I'm an "insurance Guy": I spend my time worrying about everything that can go wrong...

And since I'm even more of a Klutz: they will!
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Old 01-05-2019, 03:09 PM   #25
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It does make moving around on the roof a bit more dicey...
And since I'm an "insurance Guy": I spend my time worrying about everything that can go wrong...

And since I'm even more of a Klutz: they will!
LOL, hazard of the profession
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Old 01-05-2019, 03:22 PM   #26
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I watched these videos and subsequent videos with great interest to see if the integration of the 'tesla' type battery would provide a totally 'off-grid' possibility.

What I've seen is that his videos are very professional, quite technical, and not overly complicated, at least if you have some experience in your own RV's electrical systems.

After all is said and done, though, he still admits that he makes use of his 'small' generator when needed, though not as much as before, of course. It really helps to reveal that trying to be 'off-grid', without any need for external power, is not really attainable for most RVing scenarios, unless, of course, you have deep pockets and want a true 'off-grid' home, whether on wheels, or not, and have the money and enough panels and batteries to do it.

I love the idea of the 'flat' tesla style battery pack for RVs - it's an awesome weight and size and output for a motorhome application, especially if you want to mount it attached to a bay sidewall, flat on the bay floor, or even INSIDE the coach, such as in a closet. I might even have room UNDER my residential fridge, since the fridge is already mounted on a 'riser'. It might inhibit the air flow to the rear of the fridge, but maybe not enough to really matter. I think the ability to move the battery into the coach could be a big deal for RVing, especially as these types of batteries don't require maintenance, water, or really much of anything - and being within the coach would provide an even better temperature condition, as they don't like low temps, especially.

Now, the old 'battery bay' would also be free of lead acid heavy large bulky batteries, and would easily work as a great place for the other 'devices' and wiring for this type of install. And, even though my Chassis batteries are there also, they are already mounted up high, on their own bracket, and would not be in the way.

A drawback to solar power, for RVs, though, is that the typical RV, or motorhome, doesn't have a great amount of roof area to mount the number and size of solar panels that you might need to really implement a system for a more total 'off-grid' lifestyle. It really becomes 'the' limiting factor.
What I'd like to see is the ability to mount flexible solar 'panels' on the AWNINGS of the rv, or even find a manufacturer who might design a 'solar' awning, itself - basically a 'fabric' of solar cells, on a full 20' x 8', in a 12v or 24v output scheme. That size might render 40 to 60amps of output.
Rolling out your awning would then not only be for shade, shelter, and weather cover, but for the sunshine to power the RV, and recharge the battery(s).

The beauty and lure of Solar is it's quiet power, and it's 'natural' environmental benefits, but the size and number of panels, and even the size and number of storage(batteries), is the typical hurdle, at least for our MOBILE applications.
If you just want to supplement your 12v needs and usage, then it's pretty easy.
If you, though, want to power your 120v needs and requirements, especially for high-amp devices and appliances like heating and air conditioning, it's a different story.

It's coming, though.
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:22 PM   #27
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The quantity of energy youíll need and what other sources of energy will be available play a huge role on whether solar makes sense for an application. Energy storage seems to be less of an issue to me. In a way, the more energy you use the less solar makes sense because youíll have to rely on other sources regardless. Isnít that the reason electric cars donít have a solar panel on roof? It would contribute so little as a percent of total that itís not worth it.
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:26 PM   #28
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Yep, Turnerfam, You are right.... Its is coming soon.

If you just look at the last 8 or 10 years with Tesla Motors, Solar inovations, improved computer controls, Battery technology and lower costs. It wont be long and most folks will be driving an electic car, have 1K + battery banks (at home and in the RV), solar roofs (on home and RV's) etc.

I like your idea of a flexable solar panels build into a rollup awning.
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:28 PM   #29
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The quantity of energy youíll need and what other sources of energy will be available play a huge role on whether solar makes sense for an application. Energy storage seems to be less of an issue to me. In a way, the more energy you use the less solar makes sense because youíll have to rely on other sources regardless. Isnít that the reason electric cars donít have a solar panel on roof? It would contribute so little as a percent of total that itís not worth it.
That is exactly correct Chance. If you use a lot of energy during the day it can lose its effectiveness but still helps make up the loss. But if you are running a residential fridge or water heater on electric its gonna be hard to do. On a separate note in reference to electric cars, I envision one day that solar could be transmitted from huge solar arrays in outer space being received by some type of solar receiver that you pay to have turned on. I dont really think this is to far fetched. Especially with new technlogy such as Soli where you can turn appliances or apps on or up or down by rubbing or tapping your fingers together.
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:36 PM   #30
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This is a great how to video by Will Prowse
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:40 PM   #31
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Iím curious as to who has solar and how is installed: roof vs ground.

Iím guessing roof mounted would be more popular and possibly more expensive out the gate. You then donít have something else to Ďsetí up upon arriving.

Do you see a lot of benefits? I donít see us doing a lot of extended boondocking where I see this would be a benefit.

Thanks
JJMON. I boondock often. The Harbor freight 100 Watt system kit, is cheap and works in sunny and shade. I have 2. I can go for weeks in the S.W. without electrical connections and enjoy 120 volt powered coffee & t.v. daily. And it's portable. Following the Sun a couple times a day. Repackaged in the box and down the road quick and easy. Enjoy. Go big later...
Regards Mr Bill and Roberta lost somewhere in the U.S.A
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:24 PM   #32
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My 100 watt solar panel

My fixed 100 watt Solar panel:

Eliminates an electrical cord that is across the driveway and driven over multiple times a day by other vehicles. I do use a cord a day prior to trips.

Saved on installing a permanent electric cable & outlet around driveway. Solar panel was @$120, installed.

Keeps batteries fully charged even if there is power loss, (blackout, or faulty GFCI, which I had). I already replaced 1 battery this year due to GFCI failure.

Save a few dollars a year on electric bill (My utility charges .23 per Kilowatt hour).
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:34 PM   #33
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agree, as my 200w provides STORAGE power, keeping the House batteries topped-off whether leaving the disconnect OFF, or even if leaving the Inverter on(search mode, for Fridge compressor only).

I think this is really why so many ClassA and similar motorhomes are now coming with a smallish solar panel, already installed, or a simply 'pre solar' wiring - not to really create a big solar system connection, but more for 'storage' trickle charging of the House batteries.
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Old 01-05-2019, 07:42 PM   #34
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There is no doubt solar technology will continue to improve, but so will technology in other competing energy areas. Thatís what makes predicting the future so difficult.
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Old 01-05-2019, 11:38 PM   #35
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yes have 360 watts never have to plug in to keep battery's charged
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:56 AM   #36
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If it a 2019 Thor Gas motorhome it will have everything prewired and a small (10 amp?) solar controler that I beleive is connected to the battery already.

I have a 2019 and didnít see this, buuuuut I donít really know what Iím looking for. Can someone please snap a pic and post it? Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:47 PM   #37
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Ok, Well all I know is the 2019 Thor products that I have looked at locally (@ Camping World) had a small solar controler by the door as you walk in (Next to the cut off and light switches). Some of the bigger coaches might have it with the rest of the control panels (For checking water level, tanks etc) but I think most of them have gone to the multi-plex wiring so its all in a touch screen (so it might be next to that screen?).

All of the one I saw in person said "Go Power" on them.

And in your fuse box area (inside the coach - usually under the bed) you should see a white and orange wires comming in (but it should be hooked up to something since yours is a 2019 model).

Thats all I know... perhaps someone with a 2019 rig can chime in later.
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Old 01-10-2019, 02:56 PM   #38
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We've been using solar since 2012. When we up graded to the MH I added solar to it. Solar is not for every one.
We spent the entire month of Oct 2018 using only solar to recharge the batteries. For east coast camping I have 3- 100 watt panels set up as portable to solve the shade issue.
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Old 01-10-2019, 04:54 PM   #39
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We've been using solar since 2012. When we up graded to the MH I added solar to it. Solar is not for every one.
We spent the entire month of Oct 2018 using only solar to recharge the batteries. For east coast camping I have 3- 100 watt panels set up as portable to solve the shade issue.
Ok great. Yeah its not like I really "need" solar (at least not right now). Its more of a "want thing".

I hope to work from the road more this year so I will have to stop at parking lots/trucks stops/WM for hours working off my laptop/phone. Plus work from the CG during the business hours.

So would think solar will allow me to shut off the engine and keep the Genny off longer (if its not hot outside and not plugged in anywhere). Plus some day we hope to do some camping off the grid for a few days.

What solar system did you go with? How many amps is your Solar controller/charger? How do you like it so far? How many batteries are you running? Anything you would do different? Thanks.
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:06 PM   #40
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I currently have 200W of panels on the roof and plan on adding another 200W this spring. I also have a 120W portable panel that connects to an SAE connector on a pig tail to my solar controller. With the 400W on the roof plus the portable, that will max out my controller's capacity (a little over, but I doubt I'll ever see max panel output). The portable is a hold over from when we had a trailer, but is handy to be able to locate it in the sun if the rig is shaded.

We dry camp a fair amount of time so the solar really helps keep the batteries charged. Also my storage location doesn't have power so the solar keeps the batteries charged all winter.

The solar panels are 100W (each) Windy Nation flexible panels fixed to the roof with Eternabond tape

Solar controller is a Bogart Electronics SC-2030. This is a PWM 40 amp controller chosen mainly because it integrates with my Trimetric battery monitor.

Solar controller is mounted in the storage compartment nearest the battery compartment, but is still about 10 cable-feet away. I routed two No 8 cables down the refrigerator vent and then into the belly bay below the refrigerator. Then across the bay to the driver side storage bay. Solar panels are run in parallel due to the PWM controller and a desire to have them independent. The No. 10 panel wire connects to the No 8 trunk cable under the refrigerator vent cover.

If you use the Thor provided wiring, you probably can't support more than 200W unless you use an MPPT controller and series the panels.

Another spring plan is installation of a 1500W Windy Nation inverter in the same bay with the solar controller. I need bigger battery side wire for the inverter so I'll replace the No. 10 I'm using for the solar controller with 1/0 and tie in the solar controller output to the inverter battery terminals.
DenverTransplant, Iím curious about your choice to mount flexible solar panels with Eternabond tape vs hardmount with brackets. I have heard that air needs to circulate around the panels (which would favor the hardmount with brackets), but I confess I am intrigued by the low profile and ease of installation of using Eternabond tape. And I really donít want to drill more holes in my roof. How long have you had this setup? Any regrets about using the tape?
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