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Old 01-31-2011, 09:28 PM   #1
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Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

Who has a solar setup other than the standard setup from SMB? What choices did you make and why?

I'm working on the design for my soon-to-be SMB. Solar power is pretty important -- I intend to camp and run a computer for extended periods of time. I estimate needing about 1.1 kW*hr per day to keep up with standard components, such as the refrigerator, fan, water pump, etc. And, I estimate needing as much as another 1.6 kW*hr per day to power a computer and satellite Internet dish. The standard SMB solar setup is underpowered for these requirements, so I'm looking for ideas and alternatives.

Thanks,
-Peter
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:13 AM   #2
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

Just curious, are you sure you are doing your demand calcs correctly? If you really do have that much demand I would seriously look at your loads and see how to reduce them rather than trying to generate that much power. For instance, are you going with the standard Norcold refrigerator rather than a more efficient Isotherm? The water pump is only running when you have the valve is open so the demand usually isn't very large unless you have a an unlimited source of water. Look at LED lighting instead of incandescent and fluorescent. Also, where do you plan on camping? Forested area vs the desert will make a huge difference in what the PV panel will generate. Aside from filling the roof with crystalline panels mounted on a tracking type device, you are going to need portable ones as well and a controller large enough to handle them. I am a big proponent of PV, but there comes a time where it may make more sense to get a (I hate to say it) generator, or run the engine. How big a battery bank are you looking to install?
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:07 PM   #3
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

agree

at 2700W you'd be needing 225A at 12V

that would be a lot of panels at 10A each. need a big trailer

i think the numbers might be off. You shouldnt need that much to run a computer

there really isnt much more you can do with solar. A good size panel will produce about 10A give or take and you could put 2-4 on the van

but again i would double check the numbers a microwave oven doesnt need 2700W
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:19 PM   #4
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Fuel Cells

That sounds like a lot of useage for a solar system. How about a fuel cell? 8.4 kg of fuel provides 11.1 kW-hr output. Not sure how that compares to a generator.



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Old 02-01-2011, 04:32 PM   #5
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

I believe the original poster is saying they'll use up to 2.7kW-hours (Watts x hours) in a day. Divide that by 8 hours (notionally), and they'll need 337W at any given time on average. Still a lot of juice, but shouldn't need a flux capacitor to power the rig.


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Old 02-01-2011, 06:26 PM   #6
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

Thanks for the ideas. I hadn't considered a fuel cell. Also, I appreciate the ideas for reducing demand.

Yes, BroncoHauler is correct about my estimates.

Going back to the estimates, a 1.1 kW-hours per day estimate (for standard SMB equipment) divided by 8 hours of sun per day translates to 138 Watts. That's consistent with the one or two solar panels that the SMB website recommends and that many folks have. With additional computer equipment, I conservatively estimate meeting my total 2.7 kW-hour per day requirement with about 3-5 panels (depending on the panel's power output).

Returning to my original question, I would appreciate advice from people who have created custom solar setups. What have you built?

Thanks!
-Peter

===

For those interested:

I intentionally chose units of kilowatt-hours per day (kW*hr/day). For comparison, the electric bill for your house measures energy consumption in kilowatt-hours per billing period.

Battery capacity is often measured in Amp*hours (Ah or A*h), but this unit of measurement assumes constant voltage. Many solar systems run at a higher voltage (often 24 volts or more) than many batteries (12 volts in an SMB), so constant voltage is not a good assumption for systems with both solar and batteries.

Many people discuss solar systems in terms of Amps (or A), but this unit of measurement both assumes constant voltage and ignores the number of hours of sun per day.

Lastly, solar panels and generators usually get specified in Watts (or W), but this unit of measurement ignores hours per day of operation.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:04 PM   #7
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

Thanks for the clarification. I should not read these things so late at night because I had read it as you needed 1.1 + 1.6 kilowatt every hour per day as in a continuous 2.7kw system. My mistake.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:27 PM   #8
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

This can be a really good post. Several members have used equipment other than what SMB uses. A few of the upgrades SMB employed were from what others have used in the field to improve what they found to be a better product such as SMB switching to the Blue Sky solar boost 2000 controller. Several folks have used different makes of panels as well, even if SMB did the install. Some of the issues I see is if those panels are covered in a warrantee situation while being mounted on an RV. Many companies will not honor a damaged panel on a RV. Another issue is space. I prefered to leave some room for equipment on my roof and had SMB add a remote plug so I can use a portable panel...I stow it under my bed and only really need it if I'm in tree cover or if the overcast is bad enough to get it out. Sometimes it's so bad nothing works. I'm waiting for that super panel that produces beaucoup watts per Sq inch. (provided it's covered under warrantee)
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:53 PM   #9
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Re: Solar Setups Different than SMB Solar?

Badgertrek has some good info on their solar system mods: http://www.badgertrek.com/sportsmobile/electrical.shtml
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:10 PM   #10
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Re: Fuel Cells

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally
That sounds like a lot of useage for a solar system. How about a fuel cell? 8.4 kg of fuel provides 11.1 kW-hr output. Not sure how that compares to a generator.
Not sure how that compares to anything---are we talking 8.4 kg of hydrogen? Or maybe methanol? Where is this going? Do you own these? How much are they?
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