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Old 08-07-2012, 07:48 PM   #1
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how small of a solar panel can i get away with

I have panels on my class A rig and want one for my van.The only one that fits the space over the cab is a 30 watt. I do not want to put it on the penthouse because I don't want to ad height. Right now I only have 1 50 amp hr.Optima but will add another later. My electrical needs are low since the kids will not be coming with.I saw a deal on ebay for a 60 watt but it would hang out past the roof like a little brow. Has anyone done this? The 60 watt is a great deal at $139 delivered with a basic electronic ( non shunt ) controller.Mono crystalline panel. Your input would be most welcome.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

I think Badger did. You can look at their site. http://www.badgertrek.com/

A 50 watt panel would be about the minimum but it depends on your load. For example really you should have enough to run the fridge with a little to spare if using a small bank of batteries.

Some smaller panels can put out more than some larger models do. I also carry a 65w flat panel that can be set up when needed. I stow it under the bed when not in use.
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:23 PM   #3
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

Thanks for your input and moving the post to the proper spot.I don't know What I was thinking.The 50 watt and the 60 watt are virtually the same size so the 60 is the ticket.I was just wondering to myself about running the little fridge in full sun but I guess you covered that.Cool beans
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:08 PM   #4
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

Just remember that when its overcast you might not have enough output. That's why you need to have enough battery in reserve to use up until the next time you start the vehicle for a charge. If the panels are putting out minimal current because they are too small and/or shaded, it might take several hours to replenish the battery bank. If the DC draw is more than the panel can handle, it will never reach full charge. Some just go with a larger bank first and use these smaller solar panels more to maintain the batteries when they are fully charged and not in use. Depends on how long you want to stay w/o running the vehicle when using a small panel.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:39 PM   #5
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

One answer is:

You can get by without any solar panels. As long as you don't spend more than 1-2 days in any one place, and drive 2+ hours each day.

We didn't have a solar panel for the first 5 years we had our SMB. With the 125W panel installed, we can park for virtually unlimited time without needing to run the van.

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Old 08-09-2012, 12:18 PM   #6
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

I know I can do without but am spoiled by all my other motor homes that have all had panels.I was sitting at the beach last weekend and instinctively thought to myself "the battery should get a pretty good charge with this sun" only to realize that the van has none.I had to run the engine to charge the battery that may or may not have needed it.I think I will go with the 60 watt panel and get an MPPT charge controller with a read out to show state of charge but will have to go cheap at first.Lots of good examples here after doing a search.
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:14 PM   #7
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

I changed my mind.It looks like I can get a 90 watt panel that will take up most the space above the cab so that's what I'll do.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:34 PM   #8
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

You might check out this thread before you jump:

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=9211

Check out the video:
http://www.solarfuture.com.au/
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:01 PM   #9
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Re: how small of a solar panel can i get away with

Thanks Daveb.I have read that thread before.i couldn't see how many watts for that intall .I think the 90 watt monocrystal with a 25 year warranty (don't know if it's worth squat with all the banktruptcies going on) is the right size but wish I could get more.There is a guy on craigslist in Redlands Ca. selling 120 watt panels for $150 but they are too big to fit my cab without my wife screaming about the big eyebrow that they will make.
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:23 PM   #10
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how small of a solar panel can i get away with

What is the Ebay link to the panel?
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