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Author Topic: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:  (Read 599 times)

jesseo715

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New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« on: July 01, 2017, 08:09:21 AM »
We fiiiiinally have our Winnie Drop in the driveway!  We'll be taking our maiden voyage next week, but for now, I have a question:

We'll be doing a lot of no-hookup camping in national parks.  As such, I want to make sure my battery lasts.  Being in national parks, I don't necessarily want to be disturbing the peace with a noisy generator.  What are the pros and cons of a portable solar charger as opposed to a generator?
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2017, 08:46:30 AM »
There really are no "cons", but you need a decent sized panel to have any practical value. Those 15W-18W panels you see advertised only deliver about 1 amp in full sun and practically nothing otherwise. Pretty much a waste of money, in my opinion. If you don't have room to deploy a 50W or larger panel, I think you are better off adding a battery or carrying a spare battery with you. That doubles your battery time (amp-hours) without any real effort.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Kevin Means

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2017, 11:48:16 AM »
Agreed. We boondock quite a bit and we're big fans of solar. In fact, it's become our primary source of charging, but most of our camping is in the desert southwest where there's usually lots of sun. A second battery would be a simple, reliable way of extending your boondocking time, without having to worry about genset noise or lack of sunlight. You could always throw a 100 watt panel on the roof later, or even hook up a portable panel.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2017, 11:53:27 AM »
There isn't a whole lot of roof space on that Winnie!
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Oldgator73

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2017, 12:00:02 PM »
I have a 45W system (three 15W panels) that I haven't tried yet. We also have a Winnie Drop with only the single battery. Wondering if it would be better to take the extra battery and use the solar system to charge the one I switch out. Solar system is a portable one.
2016 Winnebago Winnie Drop
2016 Nissan Frontier 4x4 Crew Cab
Air Force Retired
It's not the weight of the load, it's how you carry it.

papachaz

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2017, 12:25:30 PM »
you'd really be surprised at how quiet an inverter generator is, like the honda EU3000 or the equivalent yamaha,  champion or briggs and stratton. of course they do require fuel, but they work at night, or when it's cloudy, or in shady spots, etc  ;)
Chaz (DH) Jill (DW)
2013 Ameri-lite Ultralite 259 BH
2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4WD

papachaz

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2017, 12:26:26 PM »
oh yeah, love that camper! very sharp!
Chaz (DH) Jill (DW)
2013 Ameri-lite Ultralite 259 BH
2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4WD

UTTransplant

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2017, 01:26:11 PM »
No question that solar is quieter, and we looking at adding a bunch in the late summer or fall. We have used a Honda 2000 very successfully for a number of years though, and we won't be giving it up. One of the issues with National Parks (and sometimes other dry camping spots) is they frequently limit generator hours to something like 8-10 am and 4-6 pm. Since we like to be heading out for our day's activities by 7 or 8 and frequently don't get back until 5-6, we have a real problem getting enough generator time to charge the batteries. There are still reasons to carry the generators (we bought a second Honda last year) - clouds, shady spots (pretty common in NPS campgrounds), and air conditioning. We have only had to pull out the second generator a few times for the AC, but it sure is nice to have it.
Pam and Kevin plus Minou and Lily (the cats) plus Lexi (the grand-dog)
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BigLarry

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2017, 02:21:06 PM »
Another consideration is availability of the Sun.  Many of the parks we've stayed in have enough tree cover to make Solar less predictable.  We've always used a generator and found that a couple hours of generator use a day has always topped off the batteries plus provide the AC power we need.  We have all LED's in the trailer we have now, which made a huge difference in the rate at which we drain the batteries.
Larry and Betty
Bryan, Texas
2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 Diesel
2016 Cougar 28RLS

jesseo715

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2017, 08:48:28 PM »
All good points!  We're staying in Grant Village at Yellowstone (which is pretty wooded), and we'll be looking for a spot on the west side of Glacier.  I'll research quiet generators and probably start with a second battery.  Thanks, everyone!
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL

papachaz

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2017, 01:15:55 AM »
All good points!  We're staying in Grant Village at Yellowstone (which is pretty wooded), and we'll be looking for a spot on the west side of Glacier.  I'll research quiet generators and probably start with a second battery.  Thanks, everyone!

I have a Honda EU3000I. runs the A/C and the lights ok. Have to turn off the A/C to run the microwave, but anything else is good to go. I bought it as a 'new but damaged' unit at a surplus shop here in town. It had been dropped. But it works just fine, I had to do a little cosmetic work on it, but I got it for almost $1000 off the price of a new one from just about anywhere. I looked at wheel kits online, then just made my own.

the equivalent champions are almost as quiet, and less than half the price of the honda or yamaha, and about 2/3 the price of the briggs and stratton unit. There's not much difference in the dB level of any of them, and there are plenty of youtube videos to watch. I'd have bought the champion if I hadn't just happened to walk in this store on the right day with cash in hand  ;) Ben and Andrew are better price negotiators than I am when I don't have them along 

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« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 01:20:23 AM by papachaz »
Chaz (DH) Jill (DW)
2013 Ameri-lite Ultralite 259 BH
2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4WD

Punomatic

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2017, 09:01:34 AM »
I just received a new Harbor Freight coupon book, and this 100W solar panel kit is on sale for $150. I'm thinking of getting one for the very purpose you mentioned in the OP.
2016 Riverside White Water Retro 195
2014 Nissan Titan SL Crew Cab
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Oldgator73

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2017, 09:48:37 AM »
I just received a new Harbor Freight coupon book, and this 100W solar panel kit is on sale for $150. I'm thinking of getting one for the very purpose you mentioned in the OP.

That looks like a good price. I think I paid about $110 for my 45 watt system at Harbor Freight.
2016 Winnebago Winnie Drop
2016 Nissan Frontier 4x4 Crew Cab
Air Force Retired
It's not the weight of the load, it's how you carry it.

jesseo715

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2017, 11:11:13 AM »
The trailer is already wired for Zamp, so I'm looking at getting a portable one of those.

https://www.amazon.com/Zamp-Solar-80P-Portable-Charge/dp/B00K1LBVKG

A generator (for when we can run one) and a second battery (for when we can't) sounds like the best option for now.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 11:16:45 AM by jesseo715 »
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL

HappyWanderer

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2017, 01:02:11 PM »
I just received a new Harbor Freight coupon book, and this 100W solar panel kit is on sale for $150. I'm thinking of getting one for the very purpose you mentioned in the OP.

Don't waste your money. Those are four heavy panels that need to be mounted in a frame. For the same price,  you can get a single 100 watt panel and controller from Amazon.

We use portable solar to reduce the need for running the generator. With just the fridge and LED lights, we've gone up to four days on our single battery.

jesseo715

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2017, 02:37:04 PM »
Don't waste your money. Those are four heavy panels that need to be mounted in a frame. For the same price,  you can get a single 100 watt panel and controller from Amazon.

We use portable solar to reduce the need for running the generator. With just the fridge and LED lights, we've gone up to four days on our single battery.

That's good to know.  I doubt we'll even have a need for the television or the AC in Yellowstone and Glacier anyway.  We'll be too busy, and the evenings/nights are cool at that altitude.
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL

AStravelers

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Re: New Trailer! Pics and question about solar vs generator:
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2017, 02:40:12 PM »
A lot of people buy a 100watt solar panel like this one from AM Solar in Oregon:  http://amsolar.com/rv-solar-panel-kit/solar-panels  and make a portable solar panel

This panel is $135 and ships via UPS for just $12.  AM Solar sells quality panels. 

At your local hardware store buy a 100' #12 gauge 120V extension cord.  Cut the ends off and use it to connect the solar panel to the battery.  Use alligator clips to  connect to the battery. 

Note: the solar panel comes with a MC4 connector.  If you cut the connector and wire directly to the panel you will void the solar panel warranty.  Order MC4 connectors like this from Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/HQST-12AWG-Solar-Adaptor-Cable/dp/B017PHOJFM/ref=sr_1_9?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1499196782&sr=1-9&keywords=mc4+cable

As long as you are just running your lights and fridge, take the solar panel and prop it up in the sun for a couple of hours each day.   Don't leave it connected for 5 or 6 hours, as it will probably overcharge your battery.  If you run your furnace over night, then charge the battery for 5-6 hours the next day. 

If you plan on doing a lot of dry camping/boondocking then you should get a controller and a battery monitor which displays the number of amp hours (AH) going out (discharging) and when being charged.  You really need the monitor to know just how much of the battery you are using and how much you charged it. 



 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

 

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