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Old 08-08-2020, 09:23 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by lrplumb View Post
Consider your 100 w panel. under BEST conditions maybe 60w x 5 = 300 watts input to your battery. All batteries have some degree of self discharge. So single panel 100w panel is barely going to provide some lights and a refrigerator would be almost hopeless....
I was tracking with you right up until you uttered the word "hopeless".
There is always hope. He just needs more solar panels or shorter stops.

My situation is very similar to your theoretical example. I have four 100 Ah AGM batteries from Windy Nation. If I'm paying attention, I don't allow them to fall below the 50% charge level. So, that gives me 200Ah useable.

My (very common) Norcold N611LT reefer draws 320 watts of AC power. The inverter eats another 46 watts, so that's about 29 amps from the battery bank. If nothing else is running, that's a little under 7 hours of fridge runtime, almost a full night's sleep.

If each solar panel can actually deliver 60W, I guess I would need 6 of them to keep my fridge running all day long in the desert, without cranking up the generator. Or, I could drive around in circles and use alternator power. (j/k)

I haven't priced a 3-way power refrigerator. Are they much more efficient? When my Norcold dies, that may be the logical upgrade.
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Old 08-09-2020, 05:21 PM   #22
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Yup ! Agreed : Propane is the best bet to keep the batteries strong for anything else.
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:11 PM   #23
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.....cut....

I haven't priced a 3-way power refrigerator. Are they much more efficient? When my Norcold dies, that may be the logical upgrade.
You need to look at specifications, but in general no, there isn’t a huge difference although you’d be saving the power (energy) that the inverter wastes. Absorption refrigeration works by requiring heat, so you can run from propane flame or electricity creating heat. I can understand wanting the alternator to provide electricity while driving so propane lasts a little longer and doesn’t need refilling as often, but when parked boondocking, use the propane. It will last a very long time with the tiny amount a fridge uses.


Having said that, if you are determined to run fridge on electricity, and are looking to upgrade by replacing, the logical upgrade is to buy a compressor refrigerator that is far more efficient than absorption fridge running on electricity.

There are various (new) models of so-called “residential” compressor fridges that can operate on approximately 1 kWh of electricity per day. That’s a significant savings in electricity, plus you get a larger fridge volume in same space.

In my opinion, as long as your existing fridge works on propane, use it. Eventually when it craps out you can look at upgrade options which may be even better by then.

Just my 2 cents ....
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Old 08-09-2020, 08:01 PM   #24
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I run my 2-way fridge on electricity while driving.
My 1200/2000 watt AIMS inverter with Auto-Transfer Switch is “on” and the chassis alternator charges the house batteries when on the move.

When I finally get to a boon-docking destination, I move fridge over to propane.
My Solar charges the house batteries so I can use the inverter to watch TV. And I generally have enough battery power to run my inverter 24/7.

If I’m going to a campground with electrical hook-up, then I never even need to change fridge over to propane.
Once I plug into shore-power, the inverter’s auto transfer switch takes over and fridge remains on 120 volt electric the entire stay.
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Old 08-10-2020, 01:21 AM   #25
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There are various (new) models of so-called “residential” compressor fridges that can operate on approximately 1 kWh of electricity per day. That’s a significant savings in electricity, plus you get a larger fridge volume in same space.
I would love to get a fridge with a real compressor. I haven't done it yet for two reasons: I don't want to lose the capability of running the fridge on propane. And, I can't make myself toss out a perfectly working appliance. When the 2-way fridge eventually fails, that will be the time to decide.

The real-life reason that I don't run propane appliances while driving on the highway? Because I haven't been able to convince my wife that it is safe. So, we turn off the main propane valve when we are on the road. No gas cooking, fridge on AC only, no water heating, and no furnace until we stop somewhere.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:59 PM   #26
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Will my 100 watt solar panel keep my house battery charged at night? I shouldn't be using that much power during the day, so I wonder if it stores power for use at night?
So the answer to your question; "Will my 100 watt solar panel keep my house battery charged at night?" No it won't keep it charged at night because solar panels need sun in order to provide power.
When you ask; "I wonder if it stores power for use at night?" by "it" if you're referring to does the solar panel store energy for use at night? the answer to that is No.
If you're referring to do your house batteries store power for use at night? the answer is Yes.
Maybe you were trying to ask if your 100 watt solar panel will provide a sufficient charge during the daytime to your house batteries so that you have sufficient power to run things in your RV during the night. If that's what you meant then the answer to that in my opinion is Maybe. The reason I say that is because it will depend on how sufficiently your house batteries are charged by the time you want to use them exclusively and how you manage your power consumption after dark.
Also, since you're asking about utilizing house batteries in your RV you need to realize that only certain electrical items are wired through the inverter in order to allow power from the batteries to be utilized for them. Example; in our RV the interior lighting, TV's, residential refrigerator, water pump and a couple AC outlets can be run by electricity provided by the house batteries.
When it comes to running the residential refrigerator off of the house batteries it's been my experience that once the refrigerator has reached the temperature that it is set at it doesn't consume much as long as someone isn't frequently opening the door which allows the cold air to escape. That then causes the compressor to kick on to start cooling the unit down to the setting. When the compressor has to start up and run frequently that is where the most electrical consumption comes in.The interior lighting in most of theses RV's is LED and are more energy efficient. It's still a good idea to manage use wisely.
As far as what a 100 watt solar panel is capable of, it would be my guess that it would not be much. Especially, if you were dry camping and depending on it to keep your house batteries sufficiently charged. If it were me I would utilize my generator during the day periodically to provide power and it will also complete the charge on your house batteries if the single 100 watt solar panel is not capable of doing so. You have to remember that the wattage ratings on the solar panels are optimal ratings and that means that's what it's capable of if everything is perfect. You can figure you're probably only going to get a percentage of 100 watts out of that panel. Dirty panels, and not enough hours of sunlight during the day will affect the efficiency of the solar panels. In my opinion that means that the single 100 watt panel may be challenged to provide a sufficient charge to the house batteries during dry camping. It seems to me that a single 100 watt panel would be sufficient to keep the house batteries charged up during storage and little more than that.
Remember, the electricity that you are utilizing in your RV isn't directly coming from the solar panel(s). The solar panels are basically a solar generator that supply the electrical storage facility which, is your house batteries. The electricity that is drawn for usage from the house batteries has to go through the inverter that converts the Direct Current DC to Alternating Current AC that is needed to operate most electrical items that are used in the RV. Again, Only certain electrical items in the RV are wired to work through the inverter. Also there are different rating or capacity inverters and that will dictate how many electrical items can be wired through them. Storage capacity is the other factor. The more electrical storage capacity (house batteries) you have in your RV the more flexibility you have as long as you can get them and keep them sufficiently charged.
Lastly, I would test out what that single 100 watt solar panel is capable in a more controlled environment like at my house or at the storage facility. My testing would probably involve getting the residential refrigerator cold using the generator or shore power. Then I would cut the generator and/or shore power off and see what that panel is capable of once its own after that. I would also test and see what my house batteries at full charge are capable of doing through the night because at night that's where the power is coming from if you're not on shore power or the generator.
I hope that this is helpful. Sorry, I know that it is long winded but it's also been my experience in this forum that long windedness is not a disqualification for posting.
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Old 08-11-2020, 03:25 AM   #27
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You need to look at specifications, but in general no, there isn’t a huge difference although you’d be saving the power (energy) that the inverter wastes. Absorption refrigeration works by requiring heat, so you can run from propane flame or electricity creating heat. I can understand wanting the alternator to provide electricity while driving so propane lasts a little longer and doesn’t need refilling as often, but when parked boondocking, use the propane. It will last a very long time with the tiny amount a fridge uses.


Having said that, if you are determined to run fridge on electricity, and are looking to upgrade by replacing, the logical upgrade is to buy a compressor refrigerator that is far more efficient than absorption fridge running on electricity.

There are various (new) models of so-called “residential” compressor fridges that can operate on approximately 1 kWh of electricity per day. That’s a significant savings in electricity, plus you get a larger fridge volume in same space.

In my opinion, as long as your existing fridge works on propane, use it. Eventually when it craps out you can look at upgrade options which may be even better by then.

Just my 2 cents ....
I have to back this up. I have two sources to draw on.

My on-board propane gauge can't be used due to a leak that turned the float out of whack. I have to keep an eye on it and try to fill it every so often. I fulltime. It never takes more than a gallon at a time after 10k+ miles.

I also have an extend-a-stay that I use when I'm parked. If it has to heat the RV, it takes 2-3+ gallons on refill. If it's only job is to keep the fridge cool, it takes a little over a gallon depending on how long I'm relying on it (dry camping).

The only thing I dislike about an absorption fridge is the defrost process. A hair dryer makes quick work of it but frost-free is really nice.

Stick with a multi-way. Some newer ones are 3-way and run off of electric, propane or 12vdc.

JMHO
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Old 08-11-2020, 04:47 PM   #28
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The Original Poster asked a very basic question based on a 100 watt solar panel and I think we overshot the answer by many hundreds of watts. My own solar setup is basic - a single 100 watt solar panel and two golf cart batteries in series.

Since, unfortunately, my RV sits in the storage lot baking in Florida sun way too often, the goal was to keep the batteries charged. This setup, which also ties the engine battery into the charging circuit, keeps my batteries from ever going dead even while keeping certain minor loads connected.

A battery monitor that displays the voltage and current on the batteries is also an excellent investment. It allows you to "see" how much power is being drawn from or put into your battery bank so you can manage things better.
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Old 08-11-2020, 07:42 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Tom N3EQF View Post
The Original Poster asked a very basic question based on a 100 watt solar panel and I think we overshot the answer by many hundreds of watts. My own solar setup is basic - a single 100 watt solar panel and two golf cart batteries in series.



Since, unfortunately, my RV sits in the storage lot baking in Florida sun way too often, the goal was to keep the batteries charged. This setup, which also ties the engine battery into the charging circuit, keeps my batteries from ever going dead even while keeping certain minor loads connected.



A battery monitor that displays the voltage and current on the batteries is also an excellent investment. It allows you to "see" how much power is being drawn from or put into your battery bank so you can manage things better.


Thought so too. My 80w panel is easily keeping up with my storage needs (2 house and the chassis battery). I think I’m going to add a second panel before winter as those days are short and gray around here so I might need a bit more capacity for when the sun does emerge.
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Old 08-11-2020, 09:08 PM   #30
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His question in post #5 changed the scope of what he was asking.
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Old 08-12-2020, 01:12 AM   #31
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Will my 100 watt solar panel keep my house battery charged at night? I shouldn't be using that much power during the day, so I wonder if it stores power for use at night?
I'll take a crack at the original OP question.
(Not trying to be funny, but I can't help myself)

No 100W solar panel will keep anything charged at night because the moon isn't bright enough. You will need your batteries for that.

Think of your battery bank as a bathtub full of electrons. At full charge, the bathtub is full. As you use power, the level goes down.
What you're really asking is: "After partially discharging my batteries overnight, will I be able to recharge them before the sun goes down, using only a single 100-watt solar panel".

The answer to that question depends on "How much power did I use?" and "How fast can I replace it?"

Battery capacity and "state-of-charge" are actually measured in Amp-hours.
If you pull 20 amps from the tub for 5 hours, you will want to put those Ah's back into the tub as soon as possible because batteries are happiest when they are full. An RV might have any of 4 charging methods available and you can use combine them: shore power, generator, vehicle alternator, and solar.

If you can supply 20A of charging current to your batteries, it will take something more that 5 hours to replenish them. If you only have 5A of charging current, it will take more than 20 hours.

Let's say you ran your fridge on propane the night before, so the only thing drawing power was that 32" TV and your CO/gas detector. You wake up before the sun and find that your batteries are down 32 Ah. Without an SoC analyzer, you would just have to guess at this.

Using the estimate provided by another member in this thread, let's say that your solar panel is able to produce only 50 watts at 12 volts, which is a little more than 4 amps. It will take you over 8 hours to recharge those batteries. On a cloudy day, it would take much longer. If you get a second 100W solar panel, you would cut that time in half.

Did I answer your question?
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Old 08-12-2020, 02:43 AM   #32
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I'll take a crack at the original OP question.
(Not trying to be funny, but I can't help myself)

No 100W solar panel will keep anything charged at night because the moon isn't bright enough. You will need your batteries for that.

Think of your battery bank as a bathtub full of electrons. At full charge, the bathtub is full. As you use power, the level goes down.
What you're really asking is: "After partially discharging my batteries overnight, will I be able to recharge them before the sun goes down, using only a single 100-watt solar panel".

The answer to that question depends on "How much power did I use?" and "How fast can I replace it?"

Battery capacity and "state-of-charge" are actually measured in Amp-hours.
If you pull 20 amps from the tub for 5 hours, you will want to put those Ah's back into the tub as soon as possible because batteries are happiest when they are full. An RV might have any of 4 charging methods available and you can use combine them: shore power, generator, vehicle alternator, and solar.

If you can supply 20A of charging current to your batteries, it will take something more that 5 hours to replenish them. If you only have 5A of charging current, it will take more than 20 hours.

Let's say you ran your fridge on propane the night before, so the only thing drawing power was that 32" TV and your CO/gas detector. You wake up before the sun and find that your batteries are down 32 Ah. Without an SoC analyzer, you would just have to guess at this.

Using the estimate provided by another member in this thread, let's say that your solar panel is able to produce only 50 watts at 12 volts, which is a little more than 4 amps. It will take you over 8 hours to recharge those batteries. On a cloudy day, it would take much longer. If you get a second 100W solar panel, you would cut that time in half.

Did I answer your question?
You did. We will have sun pretty much all day, so that is not a problem. You mentioned I could run my TV, my TV only comes on when I am hooked up to shore power or turn on the generator. What am I doing wrong?
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Old 08-12-2020, 03:43 AM   #33
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Will my 100 watt solar panel keep my house battery charged at night? I shouldn't be using that much power during the day, so I wonder if it stores power for use at night?
.

Night? no power from panel. It should charge it up during the day if you aren't using to much power.
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Old 08-12-2020, 10:39 AM   #34
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You did. We will have sun pretty much all day, so that is not a problem. You mentioned I could run my TV, my TV only comes on when I am hooked up to shore power or turn on the generator. What am I doing wrong?
your TV(television) is a 120v device - meaning that it requires 120v power to operate, and without Shore Power or the Generator power, it can't work.
Now, having said that, many of us have an INVERTER, which pulls batter power and changes it's 12v output to 120v power for the outlets(Televisions, satellite receivers, residential Fridge, device chargers, computers), etc.

Remember that 'SOLAR' is ONLY trickle charging your house Batteries, it does NOT provide any type of 'direct' power to anything, and, even if it 'did', it doesn't provide 120v power, and certainly NOT to your electrical main panel, where the outlets are wired. It is only to help charge the house battery(s).
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Old 08-12-2020, 12:09 PM   #35
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You did. We will have sun pretty much all day, so that is not a problem. You mentioned I could run my TV, my TV only comes on when I am hooked up to shore power or turn on the generator. What am I doing wrong?
Yes, an inverter is an option. They come in all shapes and sizes. Mine is a big one and it uses 40W of battery power anytime is is on, in addition to the power used by various appliances.

If you want to avoid the expense and inefficiency of an inverter, you might consider a TV that runs on 12vdc. They're not cheap either. This (click here) is the one I installed before I got my inverter. It isn't a smart TV, but it has performed beautifully. We mounted it over the foot of the corner queen with a fully-articulating mount so it can be viewed from the bed or swung around to be viewed from the dinette.
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Old 08-12-2020, 12:36 PM   #36
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I'll take a crack at the original OP question.
(Not trying to be funny, but I can't help myself)

No 100W solar panel will keep anything charged at night because the moon isn't bright enough. You will need your batteries for that.


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Old 08-12-2020, 01:21 PM   #37
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Old 08-12-2020, 02:17 PM   #38
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Old 08-12-2020, 11:48 PM   #39
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your TV(television) is a 120v device - meaning that it requires 120v power to operate, and without Shore Power or the Generator power, it can't work.
Now, having said that, many of us have an INVERTER, which pulls batter power and changes it's 12v output to 120v power for the outlets(Televisions, satellite receivers, residential Fridge, device chargers, computers), etc.

Remember that 'SOLAR' is ONLY trickle charging your house Batteries, it does NOT provide any type of 'direct' power to anything, and, even if it 'did', it doesn't provide 120v power, and certainly NOT to your electrical main panel, where the outlets are wired. It is only to help charge the house battery(s).
Thank you, I will look into getting an inverter.
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Old 08-13-2020, 11:23 AM   #40
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Thank you, I will look into getting an inverter.
There are tons of inverter discussions in these forums.

I'll just say there are four basic installation types:
1. small portable. these plug into any 12 volt outlet and typically supply 120W or less. In my experience, sometimes you can't even charge a laptop with one of these.
2. larger portable. these usually require special wiring or alligator clips to the battery bank to handle higher wattage outputs and DC current draw.
3. partial house. Some people will re-wire one or two outlets in their coach for inverter use
4. whole house. the inverter supplies power to the entire breaker panel, so all 120vac outlets and appliances get inverter power. I have this type but I need to be careful never to run the Air Conditioner on inverter power because I only have 4 house batteries.
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