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Old 05-31-2007, 02:29 PM   #1
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Solar panels

Curious what peole think of their solar panels, or if people who don't have them, wish they did?

It's getting time to start finalizing the mods we're going to have done, and I'm undecided about the solar panels. It's a fairly high cost, and I'm not sure if I'll get enough benefit. Given that we have a young son, I don't expect that we'll do extensive, remote camping for long periods, but I also know things change. We currently have a DVD player installed, and we're going to have a kitchen module (from the Transformer) installed, which has a small fridge, microwave and sink. We'll have the inverter and 4D battery installed as well.

I understand many people get 2 of the flexible, Marine panels. Are two panels really required? The second panel adds about another 70% to the cost of the solar system. I realize this is all about personal opinions and how an SMB will be used, but I'm hoping for some practical experience before I under/overspecify the mods. The van will not sit at home for extended periods of time, as we also use it as a people mover.


thanks in advance,
Herb
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:57 PM   #2
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Solar panels

I wouldn't be without my solar panels. In our case, it is mostly the refrig that draws 12V power. And we could go about 3 days when the batteries were new, later 2 days. I added a single 125W panel and now we can last forever, even in overcast or partly shaded conditions.

With an inverter and a microwave, I would positively have solar to help charge the batteries. The more the better. That microwave will pull down a battery quickly.

Mike
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:18 PM   #3
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Not a direct reply on solar panels, but something to consider as you select options..........


We have the EB51 floorplan with a microwave, fridge and entertainment system.

I recall that the solar option was something like $1,100-1,400. Can't remember the exact amount.

We've got 3 kids and like you didn't anticipate doing any extended camping in the boondocks for some time. So I went with a small portable Honda generator instead of solar. I found the EU2000 model on sale for $800 and I've been very happy with its performance. On full power, it cranks out enough power to quickly recharge the batteries. It is also very quiet and fuel efficient. At full power it can run for 8 hours and in power save mode something like 14 hours, with a fuel capacity of 1gal. I was also pleased to see it fit perfectly in the rear of the EB van. I also like having it around as a backup for emergency use.

At some point, I may indeed want solar for longer camping trips. I've never tested how long I could make due with the generator on 1gal of gas. But for trips of 2-4 days, it has worked out nicely.

Rob
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMrider
.... So I went with a small portable Honda generator instead of solar. I found the EU2000 model on sale for $800 and I've been very happy with its performance. On full power, it cranks out enough power to quickly recharge the batteries...
Thanks Rob, more to think about! That's the curse of asking for opinions, you get more to think about rather than straightforward solutions. How do you connect the generator to the van to charge the batteries?


Quote:
Originally Posted by EMrider
.... I was also pleased to see it fit perfectly in the rear of the EB van. I also like having it around as a backup for emergency use.
Did you have Sportsmobile West actually install the generator in the van, or do you have it externally in a bumper cargo box? If it's in the van, how is the exhaust routed to the outside?


thanks,
Herb
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:06 PM   #5
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Re: Solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
...I added a single 125W panel and now we can last forever, even in overcast or partly shaded conditions....
Mike
You added to single 125W panel in addition to a previous panel, or you just have the one panel?


thanks,
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Old 05-31-2007, 06:06 PM   #6
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I've got one 130W Kyocera Solar Panel and both Honda Eu 1000, and 2000 Generators.
The Generators have been great but the one 130W Solar Panel has been at best only an augmentor to extend the battery run time by a few hours. I'm planning to add 3 or 4 of them to extend the battery life cycle in the future though.
When we're camping, we usually get extra long power cables back to back and stick the generator behind a rock. Barely hear it.

Most of my power is the Fan,Flat Panel TV, Microwave, TIVO and the TripLite Powerinverter; lasts about a day and night. I can go 2 days in super conserve mode (turning of the Powerinverter).

It would take a week to charge the 8D AGM if it was by Solar alone..
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Old 05-31-2007, 06:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco_hauler
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMrider
.... So I went with a small portable Honda generator instead of solar. I found the EU2000 model on sale for $800 and I've been very happy with its performance. On full power, it cranks out enough power to quickly recharge the batteries...
Thanks Rob, more to think about! That's the curse of asking for opinions, you get more to think about rather than straightforward solutions. How do you connect the generator to the van to charge the batteries?


Quote:
Originally Posted by EMrider
.... I was also pleased to see it fit perfectly in the rear of the EB van. I also like having it around as a backup for emergency use.
Did you have Sportsmobile West actually install the generator in the van, or do you have it externally in a bumper cargo box? If it's in the van, how is the exhaust routed to the outside?


thanks,
Herb
The eu2000 generator is portable and weighs about 45-50 pounds. It can fit easily next to the rear door of the van and takes up a small amount of space.

You can't run it inside the van. I also just place it behind a rock/bush or something and then simply plug the van's power cable into the front of the generator for general power and battery charging.

If it was behind a rock/bush, I could sleep OK with the generator running in power save mode. But I've never had to run it overnight.

Good luck in choosing.
Rob
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Old 06-06-2007, 03:01 PM   #8
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You added to single 125W panel in addition to a previous panel, or you just have the one panel?

Herb,

I added one panel where none existed. The van was built with the Solar Prep package, so all I really had to do was add the one panel.

Mike
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Old 06-06-2007, 04:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
I added one panel where none existed. The van was built with the Solar Prep package, so all I really had to do was add the one panel.

Mike
Is yours a rigid panel, or one of the flexible types? I was thinking about having one flexible panel installed and seeing how that worked for me and possibly adding a second one later, but the flexible panels are only rated at 56W output compared to the 130W output for the Kyocera panel that SMB sells.

Anyone have any breakage/cracking issues with the rigid panels?


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Old 06-16-2007, 12:40 PM   #10
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Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:26 pm Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is yours a rigid panel, or one of the flexible types? I was thinking about having one flexible panel installed and seeing how that worked for me and possibly adding a second one later, but the flexible panels are only rated at 56W output compared to the 130W output for the Kyocera panel that SMB sells.

Anyone have any breakage/cracking issues with the rigid panels?
Herb,

Sorry about the late reply, been on the road for a couple of weeks.

Mine is a rigid panel. I believe it is an earlier Kyocera 125W that is now rated for 130W.

The panel works well for us, since we use almost no power except the 12V refrig.

Mike
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