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Old 06-19-2008, 09:23 PM   #1
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Solar wattage?

I was at frys the other day and I noticed they had this Giant box Labeled "Solar Kit" and it had pictures of RVs, cabins, etc all over it. I normally don't purchase random items at Frys (Cause I usually end up returning them) but I was intrigued. It had listed the amperage it put out as well as the total watts.

For those people with SOLAR, how much watts does it put out? What are you running? My EB50 doesn't have too much, and generally it would be the radio that is running often, followed by the Lights, and lastly the Microwave with inverter.

Have any of you installed it on your own? I'm not familiar with SOLAR at all and it would be nice to only use my generator for the AC unit and only when needed. Are there issues hooking up solar and switching to shore power when you're in a location that has it?

Joe
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:31 PM   #2
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This is a good periodical that has tons of info about solar stuff: www.homepower.com
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:13 PM   #3
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Solar

I have a 56 watt solar panel & the Blue Sky controller, installed by SMB West on my '07 SMB. With the sun fairly high the controller shows a charge of about 3.5 amps. About the only thing running is the std Norcold 3 C.F. refer and an occasional light when I'm drycamping. I believe you'd need a lot more solar if your going to run a microwave, maybe more batteries too. My controller very seldom shows the battery in a "charged" condition and I may add a second panel towards the end of summer. There's a lot of good solar/battery discussions in this forum. Hope this helps.

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Old 06-22-2008, 10:06 AM   #4
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Our van has a 4.0 Refrig and some lights drawing power, sometimes the furnace on cold mornings. The 125W solar panel keeps the 2 house batteries charged.

You could have a couple problems with your setup the might prevent good results:

- The microwave draws alot of power 600-1200 watts. At 600 watts, that is 50 amps out of the battery (the 4.0 refrig draws 2 amps when running).

- And, that power for the microwave comes from the inverter which is not 100% efficient, so you are probably drawing 60 amps from the batteries.

- And, when the inverter is on, the refrig is running on AC and drawing more power from the batteries than it would on DC.

- Even when nothing is running, the inverter draws some power from the battery.

But, the big issue is the microwave power consumption. If you use it more than a few minutes a day you will need more solar power. Our 125W panel will recharge our batteries in 2-3 hours; you may need all day since the inverter is still drawing power (unless you turn it off) and if you have any clouds or shading from a tree you may not fully charge your battery and then it just goes downhill.

Basically, you have three choices:

- Plug in

- Use less power (limit the microwave use, turn off the inverter)

- Add plenty of solar power (250W?) and a 2nd house battery.

Good luck,

Mike
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:33 AM   #5
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So a few questions to kind of quantify this- and for the sake of argument consider a typical 50 with one battery, microwave and a 3cf fridge.

What is the least amount of solar power that is worth putting on? Is a 10W panel not even worth it? 5W?

Second- what is the theoretical maximum? Say money is not an object and the whole PH is available for a flat installation... what's the theoretical max?

And last, who has the most solar on their van?
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Old 06-22-2008, 02:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
What is the least amount of solar power that is worth putting on? Is a 10W panel not even worth it? 5W?
It might depend on what you want the solar for.

To trickle charge the house battery (or starting battery) during long storage times, 5-10 watts might be enough. But I would go to 25W at least.

To recharge 2 4D batteries and keep up with cooking meals in the microwave?????

Maximum is probably determined by how many panels you can fit. From looking at my 125W panel and the penthouse, at least 500W would fit. And you could add more panels on the ground or on a small trailer. Now we could get upto 1000W. Is it practical? Or even reasonable? Probably not.

I've gotten 9.8A out of my 125W panel in ideal conditions. 6-7A is the typical max early or later in the day. Works for us, but we don't have the microwave to deal with.

Mike
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:31 PM   #7
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I've got the toaster which is worse than a microwave. However my goal is (will be) not to stay parked indefinitly, but reduce the overall loss and extend the time I can stay parked. Otherwise I would probably need the solar trailer...
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Old 06-23-2008, 08:16 AM   #8
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We have 240 watts of solar which, theoretically, could produce 20 amps (240 watts divided by 12 volts). I've never seen that high of an output since the panels start recharging the house battery as soon as it gets light out and top it off before the sun is completely overhead which is when they could produce full amperage.

There are two problems....h1) aving enough battery power to run the devices that you want from late in the afternoon (when the sun is going down in winter) until it rises enough in the morning to let the solar panels start charging and then 2) having enough solar to charge the battery(s) during daylight hours. With just the frig and some lights, our new single house battery will drop overnight to 12.2 volts in the morning...more capacity would be very nice since this is the limit that is should be run down. The 240 watts of solar certainly charge it quickly enough.

If the microwave is a 1200 watt device (just guessing since we have a 1500 watt inverter), it is pulling 10 amps. The solar panels can produce twice that amount of power during the day so using the microwave during the day isn't a problem (or probably even a toaster).
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Old 06-23-2008, 09:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
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If the microwave is a 1200 watt device (just guessing since we have a 1500 watt inverter), it is pulling 10 amps. The solar panels can produce twice that amount of power during the day so using the microwave during the day isn't a problem (or probably even a toaster).
Not exactly.

While your 1200W microwave draws 10 amps, the inverter (let's ignore inverter losses for now) will draw 100 amps from the 12V battery.

Watts are the constant in this case, while the volts change and amps are a result of the power (watts) and voltage.

Mike

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