Need some help figuring out solar!

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NicoleP

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2024
Posts
5
Location
Pensacola, FL
I’m hoping to get some advice regarding adding solar (either fixed or portable) to my 2022 Grey Wolf 26DBH. I don’t really know anything about it, and I find that Google has been a bit too confusing. What would it take to set it up? How much power do I need it to capture to run my appliances/lighting/air conditioner (15,000btu)? What kind (and how many) batteries would I need? What’s a reasonable price to make this happen?

I’d really appreciate any insight/advice!
 
Welcome to the forum.

Just a quick thought. No amount of solar panels (at least that you can mount on your RV) would be able to run a 15,000 btu a/c. For that, you need a generator.
 
On Youtube, James on "The Fit RV" channel a long time ago (6-ish years maybe) converted his van-based RV from a generator to a lithium battery fully electric rig. As I recall he had a design spec of being able to run the AC from battery for something like 1 or 2 hours.
Might be worth searching for that to get some idea of what would be involved.

I'm not sure what the power draw looks like exactly from your RV's AC... but I'm guessing something like 10-13 amps or so...Much more of course for start-up.
say 13 amps x 120Volts =1,560 watts...so you'd need at least 16 panels at 100 watts each.... but considering that a 100 watt panel will rarely if ever see full sun at just the right angle to be able to output full power, you'd need many more that sixteen panels to maintain it! And you'd need an absolutely HUGE battery bank too!
 
There's a range of value/price point to consider, with just 'having' solar and running a few things, to being 100% self sufficient, to full time failure is not an option redundancy/margin. Answer the question what items you want to operate, for how long, and under what less than optimum solar conditions. The size, cost and complexity of the system will come from that. Not the answer you're looking for but there needs to be some design constraints at the outset to have a chance of the system doing what you want.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 
Welcome to the forum.

Just a quick thought. No amount of solar panels (at least that you can mount on your RV) would be able to run a 15,000 btu a/c. For that, you need a generator.
Thank you. That’s pretty straightforward! Perhaps would solar still help run the other things, so I could have a smaller, quieter generator?
 
On Youtube, James on "The Fit RV" channel a long time ago (6-ish years maybe) converted his van-based RV from a generator to a lithium battery fully electric rig. As I recall he had a design spec of being able to run the AC from battery for something like 1 or 2 hours.
Might be worth searching for that to get some idea of what would be involved.

I'm not sure what the power draw looks like exactly from your RV's AC... but I'm guessing something like 10-13 amps or so...Much more of course for start-up.
say 13 amps x 120Volts =1,560 watts...so you'd need at least 16 panels at 100 watts each.... but considering that a 100 watt panel will rarely if ever see full sun at just the right angle to be able to output full power, you'd need many more that sixteen panels to maintain it! And you'd need an absolutely HUGE battery bank too!
Seems like way too much! Maybe just a generator for the ac.
 
There's a range of value/price point to consider, with just 'having' solar and running a few things, to being 100% self sufficient, to full time failure is not an option redundancy/margin. Answer the question what items you want to operate, for how long, and under what less than optimum solar conditions. The size, cost and complexity of the system will come from that. Not the answer you're looking for but there needs to be some design constraints at the outset to have a chance of the system doing what you want.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
Thank you for the insight :)
 
We use a propane modified Honda EU2200i for the rare occasions we need Air Conditioning. We use a 200 Watt portable solar suitcase to charge our 100AH LIFEPO4 battery which enables powering all our 12VDC trailer systems. We use a 3000 Watt Inverter to power all our 120VAC devices (e.g., coffee maker, hair dryer, microwave, toilet bidet seat, vacuum, etc). We only use at most about 50% of our LIFEPO4 battery State of Charge (SOC) overnight. Our solar panels can fully replenish this 50% SOC or 50AH in about 4-6 hours and our generator can replenish this in about 1-2 hours. Our portable solar panels can always be placed in full sun to maximize capture of solar power while keeping our small Casita travel trailer in shade to minimize need for Air Conditioning.
 
Remember if you have enough batteries to run an AC at night, you will need enough solar to run the AC the next day AND recharge the batteries in 5 or 6 hours to run the AC again at night.
 
I think this solar idea is great. I have a couple of little thing for emergency. But wow it confusing and I usually am shown and BANG I've got it but I can't with this , agitates me , lol.
I know it's alot but I still think those little generators, well I think different sizes , but anyway the ones that do the gas , propane and solar seem cool. But I guess if you run a exhaust from the generator out the trailer your fine leaving it in place instead of always having to remove it.
Mite be a stupid question just never had one in a trailer I only use my marine battery if I needed a back up other things ran on propane so I was good.
 
Question .. these battery monitors are they just for solar set up or just to keep an eye on your battery.
Has nothing to do with the solar, just the battery and it tells you all you could want to know about its state of charge. Such as current going in or out, SOC%, etc. But that will include seeing the charge you're getting from the solar.

It is very handy to tell you when to shut off the genny--such as when the battery is already fully charged.

In my case, on my Class A, I can watch my stock L-A as well as my added LiFePO4 battery as I added a SmartShunt to both systems.

Fully charged will look like this:

1719255345972.png


-Don- Reno, NV
 
Smallish camper and solar AC is doable but not very practical ($$$$). Having solar to recharge the 12v house battery each day is VERY doable. Adding an inverter to run microwave, TV, computer and everything else that is 120v EXCEPT the AC is bit more complicated but still very doable.
FWIW I have 500w solar, 200ah lifepo4 battery, a 2000w inverter and an ATS. So with out manually plugging things in I can run my microwave off shore power, generator, or batteries. AC still needs the generator.
P.S. Check out
These will let you run your roof AC with even a smaller generator
 
Welcome to the forum.

Just a quick thought. No amount of solar panels (at least that you can mount on your RV) would be able to run a 15,000 btu a/c. For that, you need a generator.

There's a range of value/price point to consider, with just 'having' solar and running a few things, to being 100% self sufficient, to full time failure is not an option redundancy/margin. Answer the question what items you want to operate, for how long, and under what less than optimum solar conditions. The size, cost and complexity of the system will come from that. Not the answer you're looking for but there needs to be some design constraints at the outset to have a chance of the system doing what you want.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
Agree with Mark. One of the first things I asked my clients was the power budget. Its something many diy just don't understand. So I will ask you here what your expectations of such a system are, what do you expect to power from solar and how long ? Another factor is the type of camping style you have. The more information you can give,the better we can help.. You don't have to give a precise detailed report, just give us an idea of what you think you need..
 
Around 1,600 watts worth (in peak sunlight)just for the A/C alone.

Better have a rather large RV for that!

-Don- Reno, NV
Its possible to fit 2400 watts on a 25ft rv.. All depends how serious you want to get...
 
Smallish camper and solar AC is doable but not very practical ($$$$). Having solar to recharge the 12v house battery each day is VERY doable. Adding an inverter to run microwave, TV, computer and everything else that is 120v EXCEPT the AC is bit more complicated but still very doable.
FWIW I have 500w solar, 200ah lifepo4 battery, a 2000w inverter and an ATS. So with out manually plugging things in I can run my microwave off shore power, generator, or batteries. AC still needs the generator.
P.S. Check out
These will let you run your roof AC with even a smaller generator
It's all "doable" ultimately it just comes down to one thing.. $$$ and how much you can justify.
 
Its possible to fit 2400 watts on a 25ft rv..
Yeah, I guess the solar panels are a lot smaller these days for the same output.

On my Class C, I have a whole 80 watts of solar panels, four large ones of 20 watts each! Put on more than 20 years ago and these days I only get a few watts out of them. They are cheap HFT panels from back then.

But I now carry a couple of decent small portable solar set ups. And I can face those towards the sun. A couple of hundred watts worth.

So I don't bother to change what I put up on the roof more than 20 years ago.

-Don- Reno, NV
 

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