Mobile solar power plant with an active tracker on the roof of RV.

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Clubhead

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I am developing a project of a mobile solar power plant with an active tracker for a van, which is supposed to be used for charging drones in field conditions, and looking for an area in which this development will also be useful. I want to ask people with experience in using a RV: will this device be useful to owners of campervans? Surely there are some nuances that experienced people may know about.
The device is mounted on the roof of a caravan or trailer. The solar panels are retracted while vehicle is moving, and can provide 400-800 Watts. Device is unfolding while on park, and perform active sun tracking, providing about 1-3.5 kW per hour (depending on the PV panels). Its weigh about 100 kg.
I will be glad to any of your ideas, thoughts and comments.
Kind regards, Alex.
 

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Gary RV_Wizard

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I don't under stand how the unit can "provide 400-800 Watts" but then claim "providing about 1-3.5 kW per hour". Which wattage is it?  For cost and space reasons, most Rvs get by with much less, maybe 100W-200W.


100 kg is rather heavy for an RV system, but I suppose it's due to the amount of panels to produce that wattage
 

Clubhead

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400 Wt - when in retracted state,and only 4 panels in work (MPVES0.jpg).
1200 Wt -when in unfolded state while on park (MPVES1.jpg).
I mean, is any need to obtain more than 1 kWt of energy? Some heater, or water clean system or e-bikes or something?
 

Bobtop46

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For RV situations things of concern would be.  The weight, how much footprint on the roof, and how much space below the pictured unit does it need.  RV solar installs are a trade off between foot print on the roof and wire runs, I imagine it would be the same for this unit.  Places where I might have room for it might call for long wire runs to the battery.
 

AStravelers

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Amazing!  For the 1200 watts, (based on the pictures shown earlier) this will be twelve 100 watt panels, which each measure about 4' X 2', unfolding to an array of over 12' tall and 8' wide.

I wonder kind of structure it will take to hold this thing together in a mild 15-20 mph wind.  I know what a 15 mph wind does to my awning.
 

Isaac-1

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I too think weight will be the biggest detractor on smaller RV's may class B camper vans have only about 500-700 pounds (225-325 KG) of total cargo carrying capacity, which has to accommodate, luggage, camping gear (pots, pans, chairs, canopies, food, ...) etc.
 

Clubhead

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You are right, the wind  is the thing to be accounted.
The unit is equipped with wind gauge and will be auto retracted if wind exceed 5 points on Beaufort scale (about 25 mph). Real tests might decrease the index.
I'm working on reducing the weight of the chassis to find a balance between weight and rigidity.
Tell me please, what is max weight can be placed on the roof of vehicle (I mean your experience - not a passport data).
 

Clubhead

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I want to understand: is it necessary for RV travelers? Do you experience a lack of a electric power in your adventures? Or the unit is useless in this area?
 

Bobtop46

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Many RV full timers have solar power and many others want it.  This forum is loaded with solar for RV questions.  Solar is not a necessity, but a sought after upgrade.  Several companies out there make a good business doing solar for RVs.

How much weight and RV roof can hold varies widely by make and model.  All can hold the weight of a person walking on the roof, at least when new, and come with ladders for that purpose.  Type of roof can also make a difference. 

Battery location also varies widely, some in the front, others in the rear, and anywhere in between. 

Still no mention how much space this unit takes below the one pictured?
 

Clubhead

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Thanks a lot for your answers. I do appreciate your attention.
The unit don't need any space below it and might be placed just on the surface of the roof. Chassis, drives and wiring fit in the box with specified dimensions.
There is enough space inside the unit for a hatch on the roof,  but you can't use it when solar panels are retracted.
 

solarman

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Gary RV_Wizard said:
I don't under stand how the unit can "provide 400-800 Watts" but then claim "providing about 1-3.5 kW per hour". Which wattage is it?  For cost and space reasons, most Rvs get by with much less, maybe 100W-200W.


100 kg is rather heavy for an RV system, but I suppose it's due to the amount of panels to produce that wattage

Gary, this guy has no clue what he's talking about.. or is this a joke ?
 

Clubhead

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Indeed it is - I have no clue about RV life, that is the reason why I am bothering experienced people here.
About wattage: there are only four solar panels exposed to sun, when unit is in folded state (100 Wt per panel: 4 x 100 = 400 Wt);
and twelve panels resp., when the unit is in unfolded state (12 x 100 = 1.2 kW).
 
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