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Old 03-03-2019, 01:37 PM   #1
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Solar panels

I think this is over my head but any advice on the dos and do nots in having solar panels installed
Vehicle is a Pallazo 2014 33.2.
Thanks in advance, RC.
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Old 03-03-2019, 02:23 PM   #2
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the first question would be 'why' do you think you need or want them?
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Old 03-03-2019, 02:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurnerFam View Post
the first question would be 'why' do you think you need or want them?
Dry camping or boondocking , maintaining charge in house batteries while in storage which has no electric service.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:00 PM   #4
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Do- Look up a couple of youtube videos on how to install.

Do- Purchase the panels, wiring and controller (if needed) on line.

Don't- Buy through your RV dealer as they will cost way more, and may not be exactly what you want.

Don't- Waste money (unless you have just too much of it) having your RV dealer install them. It is not that hard.

If you can follow simple instructions, doing it yourself will save you enough money to install probably twice as much solar, compared to dealer prices.
Mike
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:03 PM   #5
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yes, I get the boondocking and being off-grid overnight, such as at a stay in a parking lot while traveling, etc... but the question you have to ask yourself is really more of 'how much' you are going to be 'off grid', at least for more than a night or so.

Solar is expensive, there's no other way around that. Any 'inexpensive' seeming solar setup is not really going to provide you anything much more than you already have - a great onboard generator that is perfectly designed to handle EVERYTHING you need for those short drycamping times. Solar is not really the 'magic' that many may assume at first.
If you have a lot of money to drop on a solar setup, then you might can fill the roof with panels, install a large solar controller, add additional batteries to your bank, and you might then have a system that can sustain you for several nights without any external power - IF the sun cooperates.

Most who purchase solar for those 'once in a while' overnights have probably overspent for something that otherwise hardly ever gets used. If we spent this type of money on other devices that hardly ever gave us much benefit, we would easily pass on them.

Yes, having solar makes one 'feel good', and if that's what one wants, then spend the money on it. The reality is that solar has hardly the impact we think it does, at least in the RVing world. We are mobile, we are moving, and if we don't always have the panels tilted in the right direction, we are not receiving near the amount of 'power' that we might be paying to have.

All that said, and maybe a shock to read it, I would take your coach on many off-grid outings, using your onboard generator, AGS(auto generator starter), and inverter for what they are designed for: off-grid living. As you grow accustomed to what they can do, how they work, and the real financial benefits of using them, you might decide to have a little solar to augment the power, or you may find that 'investing' in expensive solar might not necessarily be of good value.

We have two 100w panels, and while they really don't add a lot of 'off-generator' time when parked, they are mostly a good option to storage, giving the house batteries a trickle charge during sun hours.

If I had $500 to spend elsewhere, though, I now would probably use it somewhere else, such as doubling my 4 6v battery bank.


travel, enjoy!
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'14 Palazzo 33.3 bunkhouse 34' diesel
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:26 PM   #6
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Your second to last paragraph is what makes sense when I put a little more thought into it.
Did you install yourself, are you happy with it , what would you change ?
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:37 PM   #7
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I did my own system, after an energy audit first. A good system will run about $1400 if you DIY!
That said you need to look at the solar blog on freecampsites.net and the 20 golden rules of solar first.
Do and energy audit!
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:40 PM   #8
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- $300 HQST 100w panels, 20a solar controller, wiring, mounting brackets

initially I had mine simply as 'mobile' panels I could sit outside/tilt/move, but then decided to use a bike rack to make a 'mobile' panel carrier that could ride on my accessory hitch, in front of my tow vehicle, on our 2017 Alaska trip.
I then later moved them to the roof as most folks do, which serves a good purpose for daily trickle charging when we're not using the coach.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:44 PM   #9
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I find that on 'good' sun days, the solar can keep the generator from running as often, depending on our usage, of course, and how often you would run the generator anyway for air conditioning, etc.

Most folks don't realize that your house batteries are already charged from the Alternator while driving, so the 'travel' time is not where solar is going to benefit you anyway, it's ONLY the hours you are parked and with no outside 120v power, whether generator or shore power.
If you run the generator periodically during the day for air conditioning, or to use the microwave for an extended time, etc., the actual number of hours the solar gives any benefit is minimal, at least as compared to what we 'think' we are getting - most of us overthink the actual benefit of solar in a mobile RVing scenario.
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:26 PM   #10
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Well Said TurnerFam.... Most of us Dont need solar.... We Want it.

If you boondock for just a few days a year.... you dont need solar. If your boondocking for weeks at a time and several times a year..... Then solar is for you.

If your somewhere in the middle and hate to hear the generator run for 5 hours a day to charge your battery bank.... then Solar is for you (IMO).

I also plan on doing about 200 watts of solar this spring/summer..... Do I need it... Not really.... But we are hoping in the near future we will spend 2+ mo a year on the road. And we "think" about half it it will be while boondocking.

Plus I like tinkering with my RV (man cave) and I am very intesting in solar for my retirement home in the future so this will help prepare me for this in a small way (i hope).
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:36 PM   #11
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I agree: the "wants" can be a powerful motivating factor...
I'm more guilty of following my whims, rather than my needs: than just about anybody else in here...
Having said that: we're looking seriously at the "suitcase solar" kits from Samlex. It'll give us solar recharging capabilities that we can shuttle from the chassis to the house batteries as we see fit.
(MB Sprinter chassis: the two systems don't seem to tie together as easily as they do in other rigs...)
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:38 PM   #12
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right, and thanks, as my direction of my conversation is not to necessarily 'sway' folks from solar, but to just put it in it's 'reality of life' and financial benefit light.
Most of us do, yes, install solar because we like to 'mod' our rigs, and/or keep up with the 'Jones', as though we'll somehow miss out on some of the RVing life if we don't have everything others do, or do everything everyone else is 'doing'...

Solar, to me, is oversold,though ... as in advertising and in the fact that the government has been involved in providing 'credits' for it's purchase... but those don't make solar a benefit just because they are in play. The same could be said for plant-based fuels... my car can use it, but it also reduces the mpg when I do, so the cost of the fuel must be financial effective for it to make sense, and that is only WHEN my car can actually FIND it!
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:45 PM   #13
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So much info here , it would be nice to sit in my motorhome garage and have this discussion and after having acold one. Problem is I don't have a garage for my motorhome , if I did I guess I wouldn't need panels to trickle charge my batteries.
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:57 PM   #14
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Thanks , you guys have already saved me a couple of grand which will go into the building of RV garage. I will not start construction until next year which means another cold winter that just slams my batteries. Again thanks for your help.
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Old 03-03-2019, 04:58 PM   #15
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true, and if you had solar on the roof, parking under the 'garage' would not benefit you at all! Enjoy : )
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Old 03-03-2019, 05:00 PM   #16
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I would suggest removing the batteries and storing them during the winter months in a better place, then.... much simpler than having to worry about them, and it won't hurt the RV to do it, either.
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Old 03-03-2019, 05:03 PM   #17
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So next winter I will just remove batteries and store in garage.
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Old 03-03-2019, 05:05 PM   #18
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I think I was replying at same time. My thoughts exactly.
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