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View Poll Results: Are Solar Panels Worth it?
Adding solar panels is a MUST! 11 20.75%
Add only if boondocking often. 22 41.51%
Add only if the RV is already prepped. 7 13.21%
Neutral. 4 7.55%
Not enough gained to deal with it / another system to maintain. 12 22.64%
Stay away from them! 0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-26-2020, 04:43 PM   #1
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Are SOLAR PANELS really worth the hassle?

Like many, I have the solar prep kit but am unsure if installing the solar panels is worth the hassle. I will have the batteries on a battery maintainer when it isn't being used at home. If I'm on the road, I will be plugged in, driving or using the APU. The last three scenarios will be charging the batteries anyway if I understand correctly.

If I am boondocking without the APU or engine generator, will the solar panels keep up with the electrical withdraw. Most of that would be at night when using the lights which is when solar is no good anyway.
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Old 08-26-2020, 05:02 PM   #2
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It really does depend upon your individual needs.
I will be adding a 350 watt kit that uses a pair of 175 watt flexible panels, and a 40 amp MPPT controller...
But there are other items ahead of it on the "Wish-List".
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Old 08-26-2020, 05:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mr Beaumont View Post
Like many, I have the solar prep kit but am unsure if installing the solar panels is worth the hassle. I will have the batteries on a battery maintainer when it isn't being used at home. If I'm on the road, I will be plugged in, driving or using the APU. The last three scenarios will be charging the batteries anyway if I understand correctly.

If I am boondocking without the APU or engine generator, will the solar panels keep up with the electrical withdraw. Most of that would be at night when using the lights which is when solar is no good anyway.
That would depend on the size of your battery bank and how much you use it.

IMHO if boondocking I would rather park in a shaded spot which precludes the use of solar panels.

I would much rather spend the money on a 1K or 2K Inverter Generator with Eco Mode to charge the batteries and only use the big generator for running the Air Conditioning if needed. That's just my style.
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Old 08-26-2020, 05:49 PM   #4
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My v10 uses 2/3 gallon per hour at idle.
That's $1.25 to $2.00 an hour to power an inverter and charge the batteries.
I'll guess solar would never pay for itself for us.
I'm not opposed, I had one of the nicest systems available on a travel trailer(i didn't pay for it, prior owner lost $6,000 on that system)


We don't, and will never, boondock in quartzite.
Solar is useless whenever the vehicle is running.
Solar is useless when on shore power.
Solar is useless when your generator is running.
A nice little $20 solar cell tossed on your dashboard will keep a trickle on your battery. I have plenty of those.
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:11 PM   #5
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Ducky
No doubt: a lot of us want it more than we need it...
Sometimes, that's enough.

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Old 08-26-2020, 06:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducksface View Post
My v10 uses 2/3 gallon per hour at idle.
That's $1.25 to $2.00 an hour to power an inverter and charge the batteries.
I'll guess solar would never pay for itself for us.
I'm not opposed, I had one of the nicest systems available on a travel trailer(i didn't pay for it, prior owner lost $6,000 on that system)


We don't, and will never, boondock in quartzite.
Solar is useless whenever the vehicle is running.
Solar is useless when on shore power.
Solar is useless when your generator is running.
A nice little $20 solar cell tossed on your dashboard will keep a trickle on your battery. I have plenty of those.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Denman View Post
Ducky
No doubt: a lot of us want it more than we need it...
Sometimes, that's enough.

https://www.thorforums.com/forums/at...1&d=1598461855
Solar is often purchased by redeeming box tops from
Purina Sheeple Chow.


You're right. It's just a thing to have in 90%of cases.
Solar is a fine fine thing under limited circumstance.
It's just a toy unless you camp within those limited circumstance.

The solar on our little 19ft toy hauler was great.
It would run the heater all night, run the microwave for three meals, water pump, everything for two days straight without sun. We only used the generator to excercise it and for ac.
The solar saved us from hooking the truck up and running at idle a couple of hours at a time. It was very nice to just come back to the trailer and a was working when we dry camped or boondocked IF we had to park in the open sun in the winter. Any other time the generator negated the need for the solar because we were running the ac.
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mr Beaumont View Post
Like many, I have the solar prep kit but am unsure if installing the solar panels is worth the hassle. I will have the batteries on a battery maintainer when it isn't being used at home. If I'm on the road, I will be plugged in, driving or using the APU. The last three scenarios will be charging the batteries anyway if I understand correctly.

If I am boondocking without the APU or engine generator, will the solar panels keep up with the electrical withdraw. Most of that would be at night when using the lights which is when solar is no good anyway.
I just added 200 watts of panels to our rig, it was prewired and had controller already in unit. Does keep all five of my batteries charged when not hooked up to house or rv site. Which is rare.
Not a big fan of boondocking. I love AC when i sleep! HA
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mr Beaumont View Post
Like many, I have the solar prep kit but am unsure if installing the solar panels is worth the hassle. I will have the batteries on a battery maintainer when it isn't being used at home. If I'm on the road, I will be plugged in, driving or using the APU. The last three scenarios will be charging the batteries anyway if I understand correctly.

If I am boondocking without the APU or engine generator, will the solar panels keep up with the electrical withdraw. Most of that would be at night when using the lights which is when solar is no good anyway.
I youre case solar isn't needed. I dont boondocks very often so no need for solar

Jerry
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:37 PM   #9
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Our plan is to add solar power in order to keep our batteries stuffed full of voltage during the times that we're not sucking power through an extension cord...
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Old 08-26-2020, 06:57 PM   #10
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Solar is 'only' useful for: (in most 'camping' situations)

- recharging/trickle charging the house battery(s)

- allowing one to operate a little longer, thru the night, without other power sources


note: Solar does not power anything 'directly' - but only serves to recharge the battery(s) for your 12v lights and fans and devices.
If you have an Inverter, it helps to allow it to run a little longer, as well.

No, solar is not the 'end all' to camping, it is simply 'another' small source of 'power', but it will not do 'everything' in any situation.
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Old 08-26-2020, 07:07 PM   #11
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Looked at adding solar (1600w) The cost vs running the genset..Just would not "pencil out" and would still have to run the genset for A/C..
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Old 08-26-2020, 07:13 PM   #12
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correct, as you'll need external power anyway, so the 'solar' is simply another method to offset 'some' of the generator time, but not a lot - solar is expensive for it's results, and therefore is not really any 'great' return, and certainly 'not' an investment for the 'normal' camping or off-grid situations - it can't run the air conditioner(s), under any 'normal' solar setup, and since you'll still have to have that 'backup' energy source, duplicating your 'investment' seems unneeded.
While many campers 'have' some solar, it's doubtful most owners would ever see much of a difference if they didn't.
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Old 08-26-2020, 07:14 PM   #13
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Looked at adding solar (1600w) The cost vs running the genset..Just would not "pencil out" and would still have to run the genset for A/C..
I know the cure for that...

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Old 08-26-2020, 08:28 PM   #14
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80% of our RV use is at the beach or state parks along the California coast without electric power hook-up.
There are no trees at the beach, but temps are rarely about 75 degrees on the Pacific coast, so no AC is needed.

That said...
> I spent less than $350 on 200 watts of solar + PWM controller, wire, connectors & fuses (a DIY project) to charge my two 12 volt house battery bank
> We continuously run our 1200 watt inverter from 6am to 9pm to power our Satellite Dish and TVs as long as we have normal sun. Although, even without normal sun I have found that we rarely fall below 12.1 volts
> I choose solar over running my Onan 4000, although I suppose I could idle the chassis engine an hour or two at a time to charge the house batteries as well

The other option as mentioned above, is to purchase a Honda 1000 or 2000 for $900-1200. Weighs about 50#, and carry it on the rear bumper. Also need to carry a gas can.
I frequently see big DPs running small Honda’s 24/7 to keep their residential fridge from draining the house battery bank.
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Old 08-26-2020, 09:23 PM   #15
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Solar can make sense under some conditions. One example is boon-docking while parked in sun, and where generator use is limited to a couple of hours a day. Some national parks limit generator use to one hour in morning and another hour in evening. Unless you have a lot of battery capacity and a high-capacity converter (battery charger), it may be difficult to get enough Amp-hours into batteries during that 2 hours to power what you want the other 22 hours a day.

Air conditioning is mostly out of the question, so solar can add extra Amp-hours to battery bank that may assist in powering residential refrigerators, microwave, coffee maker, or hair dryers.

Another option under these conditions (for when generator run time is limited) is upgrading converter and battery bank to increase charging rates in order to get more energy stored in shorter time.

We mostly stay in campgrounds with full hook-ups and usually boon-dock after driving all day, so solar would have not added value to us. Having said that, a friend is adding 670 Watts on trailer which should deliver between 2,000 and 3,500 Watt-hours on good days along Gulf Coast depending on time of year. On cloudy days he may not get much juice at all, so must rough it.
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:10 PM   #16
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I have one solar panel now, 165 watt mainly to keep the batteries charged while the RV is stored. I'm planning on adding more to the system so I can run the AC for short periods or the microwave..
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:28 PM   #17
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We NEVER boondock but my solar is one of the best additions I ever did to my coach. I store my coach at a storage lot without power and always had a problem keeping my house and coach batteries charged. During the Rona lockdown I put a Renogy 80W panel on the roof. With wiring and a bigger/better controller than Iíll ever need Iím into the project for about $150 and itís easily keeping my three batteries topped up and ready to go. It was an interesting and fun project that makes my life easier and extends the life of my batteries. I MAY add another 80W panel in the fall because our winters have short gray days. But I have no interest in adding anything beyond that.
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:36 PM   #18
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I put 200 watts worth on the roof of ours just to keep the house and truck batteries charged when it's not being used.
About $350 all said and done.
The quote to run power to where its parked was in the $2500 range.

Seemed like a no brainer to me. Might have taken 2 hours for the whole project.
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Old 08-27-2020, 03:02 AM   #19
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i added a 100 watt panel to keep the house batteries charged while in storage. works great for that and it was $100 plus a couple hours of work.
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Old 08-27-2020, 03:06 AM   #20
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Boon docking or storage. For anything else donít waste the money.
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