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Old 02-15-2020, 12:49 PM   #21
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I didn't realize the yield on solar was that bad. My RV draws about 1 kWhr/day at idle with the fridge on. As measured by a kill a watt meter.
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:36 PM   #22
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....I am with Chance on his "upgrading quote"...
I at one point thought I "needed" solar. Trying to keep batteries charged.
As seen in photo my "New Factory Battery" (pic of the post of new battery photo taken first week) was upgraded with the Duracell grp 31's and my issues were solved. No amount of solar would have helped my situation unless I first upgraded. A little better battery, alternator, inverter, I think would solve a lot of the many issues RVers have. I know I bought "entry level" and that's what you get....
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:40 PM   #23
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I can say I was delighted to see that the new to us Meridian has a single panel solar system. I'll investigate further to determine specs. The controller was keepiing the batteries happily charged at 13.3 volts sitting in the Arizona sunshine. Like our ws31 it also has a residential fridge pulling power from the batteries. When we took the WS to a shop for repair (even with the fridge off) they always let the batteries go dead. I was continually asking for access to a plug.
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:57 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by petefoss View Post
I didn't realize the yield on solar was that bad. My RV draws about 1 kWhr/day at idle with the fridge on. As measured by a kill a watt meter.
Excellent. It’s good to depend on measured data, and then confirm it’s in right ballpark just to make sure there wasn’t an error.

A picture of a new 31W shows the fridge energy consumption estimated at 387 kWh per year, or about 1.1 kWh per day (on average). If you tested energy consumption while on shore power or generator, that would be very close to rating. When running off inverter, you’d need to add at least another 10 to 15%.

Solar “yield” varies a lot depending on many things. If you’re in Arizona in summer, tilt panels towards sun, have good wiring, efficient controller, good batteries with low resistance, etc., you’d probably beat that number by a significant amount. However, for a yearly average, with panels flat on roof, and traveling throughout US, data suggest you shouldn’t count on much more than 3 times panel rating. The worse part is that some days you’ll get next to nothing, so you’ll need a backup just in case.
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Old 02-15-2020, 02:41 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by TurnerFam View Post
...

your replies reinforce the idea that 'solar' is not the realistic power source that many dream of it to be... something like a silent 'knight in shining armor'. It seems to me to be more of a 'need' because 'others are doing it, so I guess I should, too' perspective.

Now, not that solar in itself is anything negative, it's simply another power source, but really also an expensive one. Sure, you can purchase a $100 'solar system' to deploy out near your rig once you've arrived at your picturesque, though unrealistic, off-grid vacation site, as seen on many 'advertisements' about 'going camping', but that equates to having a 120v outlet that only allows up to 1 1/2 amps of usage, with full sun, and only has power 'when' the sun is out, and almost directly overhead... for a few short hours, if that.

There are certainly some adventurers, with deep pockets, that have deployed fully-built-out solar 'systems' that are capable of much, much more - yes, but that's like equating building your own electrical substation at your home - some will do it, but most never will - it's not realistic for most 'campers'. Does the solar industry want this thought to permeate all campers, no matter what their 'real' situation is? Yes. It's across the board: 'You Need Solar', and your new camper is already 'solar ready'!

Having solar is good. Not having solar is good. Neither is right, or wrong, but it seems that the conversations tend to be one-sided, always showing the 'great solutions' that solar brings to the camping community, yet never really go into discussions about the reality of the downfalls of solar, or the relatively expensive cost, versus the 'pay back' timeframe, or much discussion that it does not power anything 'directly', but is more of a battery charger, for the most part.

For most campers, if they have any 'concerns' over being able to have a night without 'shore power', having an additional battery is probably a much easier, quicker, and much more cost-effective measure. Having 'solar' for those few and relatively infrequent, if ever, 'needs' is highly over-rated, and very expensive for the little overall usage.

This is not really a discussion about disagreeing over the validity of solar in certain situations, but more of a balancing of the conversation, giving more of a 'reality check' for most RV owners.

When it comes to solar, being 'mobile', like with RVs, creates actually the hardest cost to financially figure - there are just too many variables. With homes, though, where many of these 'solar cost comparisons' arise, that is a whole different story - a fixed position solar panel, with never any shade, and not moving around, is certainly a much easier cost and financial payback to compute, even though it, itself, is not exact, and can vary depending on 'guesstimates' made at the time of purchase.


it's all good : )

Agree!! like you, I've followed the "Solar System" throughout the threads...one minute I can't wait to get a small system...then, second guessing myself into not needing it. So far I haven't pulled the trigger. I need to camp next to someone with it for a couple days and see firsthand how it benefits them. If I knew what size would just keep my fridge going...I'd have it shipped overnight.
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Old 02-15-2020, 02:53 PM   #26
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....cut....

If I knew what size would just keep my fridge going...I'd have it shipped overnight.
First thing Iíd look at is how much energy your fridge is estimated to use. All new RVs are required to have a sticker like the one below ó this one showing 387 kWh per year. Your motorhome should have had one at time you purchased it.

Many larger residential refrigerators are in the 700+ kWh/year range.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:13 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by The Gritz Carlton View Post
Agree!! like you, I've followed the "Solar System" throughout the threads...one minute I can't wait to get a small system...then, second guessing myself into not needing it. So far I haven't pulled the trigger. I need to camp next to someone with it for a couple days and see firsthand how it benefits them. If I knew what size would just keep my fridge going...I'd have it shipped overnight.


This is me. I sometimes want a small (150w) system to help keep the batteries charged while in storage for an Indiana winter. I visit the unit frequently so that I.could switch the system from one battery to another every once in a while. Then again Iíve been through three winters now with no help and no problems so then I think Iím fine.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:11 PM   #28
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I look at it this way...

1) the cost is minimal if you DIY. 200 watts = $300-350 for solid panels all-in, $400-450 for flex panels with Eternabond tape all-in
2) it adds value if/when you sell. That is, in the upcoming years, all new RVs will include solar as a primary feature. So buyers will expect it
3) it gives me a peace of mind when I’m boon-docking, even though my fridge runs on propane when necessary

That said, to each his own
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Old 02-16-2020, 12:53 PM   #29
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Other than a small solar system for battery maintenance solar is likely a wash or negative on the secondary market

Electric generation is only economically feasible in large scale production if you're looking at the cost per mw

Everyone running a generator for several days powering AC knows the cost

Off grid and boondocking for long term situations seems to be the only times it would pay to install a large array

In over 60 years of camping battery charging has been the only solar power I have ever needed or used

Hopefully both battery and solar panels will evolve to the point you can generate significant energy without covering your roof and spending thousands for a good system

Green power is currently extremely costly and has a huge carbon footprint, that needs to change with new technologies to keep the taxpayer from having to subsidize it

Not against anything if it cash flows or is truly better for the environment
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:57 PM   #30
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I look at it this way...

1) the cost is minimal if you DIY. 200 watts = $300-350 for solid panels all-in, $400-450 for flex panels with Eternabond tape all-in
2) it adds value if/when you sell. That is, in the upcoming years, all new RVs will include solar as a primary feature. So buyers will expect it
3) it gives me a peace of mind when Iím boon-docking, even though my fridge runs on propane when necessary

That said, to each his own

I agree with you on solar becoming more popular, and that itís ďLIKELYĒ to be expected as a future feature. However, I can imagine a few changes in technology or design that may change the need for solar to the point that itís not worth installing on a motorhome.

One possible change is that as motorhomes become more electrical hogs in nature, they will use so much power that other means of energy will be needed anyway, and if solar becomes a very small percentage of total, then why bother since added benefit is minimal or insignificant. Itís the same logic why Tesla cars donít have 1,000 Watts of solar on roof, hood, trunk, etc. Even if it were possible, it would do more harm than it contributes.

This point has already been questioned by highly-technical individuals when reviewing motorhomes with Volta electrical systems. When you need so much electricity that your equipment can charge batteries at up to 6,000 to 12,000 Watts, a little solar becomes a drop in a bucket.

A second possible change is chassis manufacturers offering hybrid drivetrains that can be modified to support camping needs. Much like the Volta or Xantrex systems, but on steroids, youíd be able to utilize 10 to 20 kWh of battery to run the house, and if it runs down during extended periods of camping, it would start engine for a very short time to recharge.

Lastly, when we get to all-electric campers, they will need 100s of kWh of battery capacity to drive, so again solar will be a drop in a bucket. Manufacturers may install solar anyway to make buyers feel good, but it will hardly make much difference. For example, if you had 300 kWh of battery, and solar could make 2 KWh per day on average (a large system), would it be worth it? I doubt it.

I agree with you short-term ó 5 to 10 years. Beyond that itís difficult to say what direction motorhomes will take. I think the future of solar could change just as quickly as the future of generators. For now they have a role in design, but that can change due to other technological advances.


P.S. ó Propane absorption refrigerators require a huge amount of electricity to cool if not using gas, which makes powering them from solar impractical. Youíd have to switch to a compressor fridge to have a chance of powering from solar.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:17 PM   #31
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We have pretty much decided that solar power will be added to our rig...
Tiffin does a GREAT job with the pre-wiring (heavy gauge wire! ), and we just need to buy a plug-in controller to their system.

...And then find the right panels!

We're hoping that panel efficiency gets to the point where adding just two panels might yield (under optimum conditions...) over 400 watts of power.
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Old 02-16-2020, 05:43 PM   #32
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The math was easy for me. The state camp sites I use charge $25/day for electricity - 25 days there in the last two months alone - it'll pay for itself by choosing the non-hookup site and letting the sun do its thing.
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:07 PM   #33
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The math was easy for me. The state camp sites I use charge $25/day for electricity - 25 days there in the last two months alone - it'll pay for itself by choosing the non-hookup site and letting the sun do its thing.
Another fellow Vegas owner adds Solar! 👍🏼 ☀️☀️ 👍🏼
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Old 02-17-2020, 05:19 PM   #34
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The math was easy for me. The state camp sites I use charge $25/day for electricity - 25 days there in the last two months alone - it'll pay for itself by choosing the non-hookup site and letting the sun do its thing.
Hopefully no one can top that rate
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:32 PM   #35
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I love solar.

I am in the process of installing 6, 245-watt, 24-volt solar panels on my 40í Phaeton. And when the end of the world comes, Iíll be blasting my stereo while I shine a floodlight on my neighborís RV so that the zombies can find their way over for a much-needed snack.

Yep, I love solarÖ
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:33 PM   #36
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I love solar.

I am in the process of installing 6, 245-watt, 24-volt solar panels on my 40’ Phaeton. And when the end of the world comes, I’ll be blasting my stereo while I shine a floodlight on my neighbor’s RV so that the zombies can find their way over for a much-needed snack.

Yep, I love solar…
Why do you love solar?
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:40 PM   #37
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Why do you love solar?
The idea of producing usable energy from the sun is a good feeling. It's not something that has to pay for itself, or be useful 100% of the time.

After all, if we justified something being useful by the metric that it paid for itself, etc., etc., then few of us would ever buy a motor home.
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Old 02-17-2020, 11:02 PM   #38
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We agree on lack of constant usefulness and non payback and impracticality winning the day as often as not.

My rig is the pinnacle of:
'why'

I'm just looking for some magical word that will get me on one side or the other of the solar thing.
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Old 02-17-2020, 11:07 PM   #39
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I'm just looking for some magical word that will get me on one side or the other of the solar thing.
Then remember, at the end of the world, you'll have a floodlight so you can watch the zombies eating your neighbor(s).
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Old 02-17-2020, 11:12 PM   #40
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Then remember, at the end of the world, you'll have a floodlight so you can watch the zombies eating your neighbor(s).
Nah, I'm hoping the first bomb hits me right in the chest.
But I'll have them bury me butt up so you have a place to park your bike.
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