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Old 04-08-2014, 06:33 PM   #11
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Re: Solar panels and generators - where to start?

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Originally Posted by rockbender
Thanks Dave - I just wanted to be sure. We always appreciate your in depth electrical knowledge!
Thanks. From my jobs point of view we see lots of folks plugging in their generators and backfeeding things when out of power and was where my mind was a goin.

I do hope the OP knows if they have the Starcool system with the AC compressor. They make a 12vDC only version that runs with the engine only. Hate to see somebody go out and purchase a monster generator W/O the need for one Figure Wally probably knows that though.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:57 AM   #12
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Re: Solar panels and generators - where to start?

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Originally Posted by walib
... Can any of you suggest a relatively simple product ...
Not solar, but the generator plugged into the shore power inlet is pretty simple and would also charge the batteries.
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:54 PM   #13
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Re: Solar panels and generators - where to start?

Wow, thanks for the great replies! I just came back to the forum after posting this. Great to see the responses.

BTW - I took the van out for its maiden boat towing excursion (15 foot aluminum with 25 horse outboard) - what a champ.

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Old 04-14-2014, 04:16 PM   #14
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Re: Solar panels and generators - where to start?

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Originally Posted by daveb
2) some like portable systems. Do you want to mount your solar to the roof and wire down into the house battery system?
Yes, I was thinking of either a smaller roof mount system or a portable system that I could pull out when I've got some sun. Mostly, I'm trying to figure out how to best connect this up to the house battery so that I don't have to pull apart the couch and access the battery within its case every time.


As for the generator question - there's a lot of good info and links there that I'll dive into soon. It looks like the Starcool generally won't get run unless the van is running or I'm hooked up to shore power or to a rather large generator. I am going to go double-check the manual on the Starcool again.

I definitely can foresee camping for several days at a time with no external electricity available. I want to ensure that I can recharge the house battery reliably during these stays.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 04-26-2014, 01:53 PM   #15
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Re: Solar panels and generators - where to start?

get the largest panel you can fit on your roof. Originally I had a 120 watt panel which put out about 6 amps and I was never very happy with that. I was able to find a cheap 240 watt panel and bought that, i also bought a cheap 105 dollar mppt controller and can get about 11 to 12 amps in full sunlight, the panel is just lying flat on roof permanently mounted. Everything is connected to a 145 amp agm battery.
i like the ability of charging my large laptop and running swamp coolers in my van especially during the hottest part of the day. I can also use my roadpro lunchbucket oven to cook.
Worst case scenario a 240 watt panel can charge your starting battery, which it did for me when I left the lights on, it took all of 3 hours to put enough charge for me to crank it over.
Theres nothing like having 12 amps to work with, in 2 years I've been using solar, never had to use generators or even have my house battery connected to the engine alternator and also never use any house power etc.
I would recommend a good large battery, that is my weak point in my system, I have too much wasted solar power, the battery is usually floating at 2 to 3 amps most of the day unless i'm using electricity. Larger battery will get you through a couple of cloudy days.
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