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Old 07-18-2016, 09:59 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Solar Power!!

I'm at work right now so I don't really have time to go through and look at all of the posts so I apologize if this is a repeat. My plan at this point is to have everything completely solar power with the option to plug in and also charge my batteries off of the engine if need be. I will have electric appliances ( stove and microwave) my inside and outside lights, and also several plugs that I can plug a TV, xbox, and stuff like that up to. Can anyone give me any advice on how to make this work if it's even possible.
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Old 07-18-2016, 10:54 PM   #2
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Hi Pudge,

Solar is superb!

I bought a 200w Renogy kit last month and am happy as a clam
I sit inside the bus and watch storms take out power lines and my lights stay on. It's neato skeeto.

I also went with two of the deep cycle Trojan t105 batteries. These are great for solar but if you can try to find 'em locally at golf cart suppliers, then the price will be much better.

A few of us have turned to propane for stoves because heating elements suck a lot of juice. For a microwave and stove i am betting you will need at least a 3000w inverter.

I only have a 500w inverter and power a tv, stereo, lights, fans, charge all my gadgets; cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc. I have yet to run the batteries down.
but again i dont have a microwave and use propane to cook.

I bet someone here with similar electricity use and solar can let you know the amount of panels your setup will require.
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Old 07-18-2016, 11:03 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
Hi Pudge,

Solar is superb!

I bought a 200w Renogy kit last month and am happy as a clam
I sit inside the bus and watch storms take out power lines and my lights stay on. It's neato skeeto.

I also went with two of the deep cycle Trojan t105 batteries. These are great for solar but if you can try to find 'em locally at golf cart suppliers, then the price will be much better.

A few of us have turned to propane for stoves because heating elements suck a lot of juice. For a microwave and stove i am betting you will need at least a 3000w inverter.

I only have a 500w inverter and power a tv, stereo, lights, fans, charge all my gadgets; cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc. I have yet to run the batteries down.
but again i dont have a microwave and use propane to cook.

I bet someone here with similar electricity use and solar can let you know the amount of panels your setup will require.
Did you attach a propane tank to your rig or do you keep it separate and just change the tank when it's empty?

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Old 07-18-2016, 11:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pudgewomper View Post
I'm at work right now so I don't really have time to go through and look at all of the posts so I apologize if this is a repeat. My plan at this point is to have everything completely solar power with the option to plug in and also charge my batteries off of the engine if need be. I will have electric appliances ( stove and microwave) my inside and outside lights, and also several plugs that I can plug a TV, xbox, and stuff like that up to. Can anyone give me any advice on how to make this work if it's even possible.
Yes, it can do almost all (see below) of that if you design and make it correctly. You have two ways of doing it:
1. Calculate all your loads, then you'll know what size battery bank is needed to support them, then you'll know what charge controller(s) are needed to charge the batteries, then you'll know what size inverter is needed for your AC loads, etc etc. This is the "correct" way of planning a PV system. Or
2. Just carpet your whole darn roof with as many panels as will fit there, then buy enough batteries and charge controllers (you'll probably need more than one CC!) to achieve the ideal 5 to 13% charge rate. This is the "You can't have too much of anything in a bus conversion" approach.

I tend to fall into the second school of design thought - I have eight big grid-tie panels totaling just over 2 kW because that's all I have space for! I don't know if I'll ever need that much power, but PV is still under a dollar a watt now, so why not? (Plus, it shades the whole roof, keeping the bus noticeably cooler in the sun.) Likewise, I have 220 gallons of fresh water and 180 gallons of grey and poo tanks for no other reason than that's what I could fit! When have you ever heard of any RVer complaining about having too much of anything? And I still have space for 40 sq.ft. of solar water heating panels. I love the sun!

If you have a switch to connect your house batteries to your starter, you can either start your engine from the house batteries if your chassis batteries are dead, or boost the chassis batteries in cold weather to help crank some heat into the engine, or even charge the house batteries (but not very well) from the alternator while driving. Running some more 4/0 cables to the starter is well worth it for this reason - it's less than $4 a foot, so why not? I've done this, with a pair of Blue Sea heavy-duty switches to send house power to the starter, and my engine starts just fine from my house batteries - by doing this I could go from 8D start batteries to Group 31s instead at less than half the weight.

You mention an electric stove. No bueno. Any resistance heater will suck too many amps far too quickly from your batteries (you'll be up against Peukert effect if you draw that much power), and you'll also need a huge inverter. Mind you, for such heating a cheapo square-wave inverter would do the job - you don't need a good sine-wave inverter for resistive loads, but you probably will for your other more difficult loads. Heat with propane, not electricity; but cool your food with electric fridges to avoid the risk of fire from gas absorption fridges. (Ever notice how many burnt-out RV's in junk yards seem to have their fires start at their fridge vents?) Chest freezers converted to run as fridges use only a tiny fraction of the power of even energy-efficient upright fridges - I'm thinking of having two small chest freezers, one running as a fridger and one as a freezer. Easy, safe, energy efficient, reliable, and you don't lose all your cold air every time you open the door!

It's well worth your time to read all you can about PV and RE on the Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum - those folk know all there is to know about it! They could potentially save you from making big expensive mistakes, or worse.

Have fun, John
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Old 07-19-2016, 03:18 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
Yes, it can do almost all (see below) of that if you design and make it correctly. You have two ways of doing it:
1. Calculate all your loads, then you'll know what size battery bank is needed to support them, then you'll know what charge controller(s) are needed to charge the batteries, then you'll know what size inverter is needed for your AC loads, etc etc. This is the "correct" way of planning a PV system. Or
2. Just carpet your whole darn roof with as many panels as will fit there, then buy enough batteries and charge controllers (you'll probably need more than one CC!) to achieve the ideal 5 to 13% charge rate. This is the "You can't have too much of anything in a bus conversion" approach.

I tend to fall into the second school of design thought - I have eight big grid-tie panels totaling just over 2 kW because that's all I have space for! I don't know if I'll ever need that much power, but PV is still under a dollar a watt now, so why not? (Plus, it shades the whole roof, keeping the bus noticeably cooler in the sun.) Likewise, I have 220 gallons of fresh water and 180 gallons of grey and poo tanks for no other reason than that's what I could fit! When have you ever heard of any RVer complaining about having too much of anything? And I still have space for 40 sq.ft. of solar water heating panels. I love the sun!

If you have a switch to connect your house batteries to your starter, you can either start your engine from the house batteries if your chassis batteries are dead, or boost the chassis batteries in cold weather to help crank some heat into the engine, or even charge the house batteries (but not very well) from the alternator while driving. Running some more 4/0 cables to the starter is well worth it for this reason - it's less than $4 a foot, so why not? I've done this, with a pair of Blue Sea heavy-duty switches to send house power to the starter, and my engine starts just fine from my house batteries - by doing this I could go from 8D start batteries to Group 31s instead at less than half the weight.

You mention an electric stove. No bueno. Any resistance heater will suck too many amps far too quickly from your batteries (you'll be up against Peukert effect if you draw that much power), and you'll also need a huge inverter. Mind you, for such heating a cheapo square-wave inverter would do the job - you don't need a good sine-wave inverter for resistive loads, but you probably will for your other more difficult loads. Heat with propane, not electricity; but cool your food with electric fridges to avoid the risk of fire from gas absorption fridges. (Ever notice how many burnt-out RV's in junk yards seem to have their fires start at their fridge vents?) Chest freezers converted to run as fridges use only a tiny fraction of the power of even energy-efficient upright fridges - I'm thinking of having two small chest freezers, one running as a fridger and one as a freezer. Easy, safe, energy efficient, reliable, and you don't lose all your cold air every time you open the door!

It's well worth your time to read all you can about PV and RE on the Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum - those folk know all there is to know about it! They could potentially save you from making big expensive mistakes, or worse.

Have fun, John
Thank you so much! How difficult is it to set up? I know absolutely nothing about electrical so this is going to be a first for me lol

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Old 08-06-2016, 06:22 PM   #6
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Im also going with that renogy kit and the deep cycle golf cart batteries. Im pretty sure its an easy install. Also there are videos on youtube that can help. Electrical is foreign to me but with these instructions it made it easy for me. The only thing im changing is that i can adjust my pannels twards the sun with adjustable mounts. For everything the cost will be approximately $900. So worth it to be total off grid sustainability
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blueman View Post
Im also going with that renogy kit and the deep cycle golf cart batteries. Im pretty sure its an easy install. Also there are videos on youtube that can help. Electrical is foreign to me but with these instructions it made it easy for me. The only thing im changing is that i can adjust my pannels twards the sun with adjustable mounts. For everything the cost will be approximately $900. So worth it to be total off grid sustainability
It really is super easy to set up. I took extra care to label the panel wires with the positive and negative, because once they came through the roof both Renogy wires look alike. I ordered two more panels because i was running out of juice, they arrived wrong item (ordered "like new" used from Amazon , not pleased) but i just found out a battery went south. They are sending it back to Trojan, so for now i am keeping my load light and just using a auto battery, which is holding up fine.

Pudge i just use the little propane tanks for camping, because i keep finding those around the alleys here. I have found maybe 7 lol Until i run out, those are first to be used. Ahhh i just cooked up some wild caught cod with Lemon and blueberries. It was delishious. Kinda a Saturday treat tradition.

Having my solar down really helped me get a glimpse of how important it is to have a back up battery to use, an extra charge controller, and an extra inverter. All of which is in the works. That way when something blows i am not stuck and can make due until a replacement arrives.

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Old 08-06-2016, 09:44 PM   #8
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I want all solar too. It just makes sense to me. I was looking at the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 kit. I don't understand all the ins and outs of electrical on a bus yet but this looks like enough to power for more than what I will have device wise. I'm planning on having propane available. Anyone use or think of using one of these?
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Old 12-21-2017, 09:49 AM   #9
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Total solar

Anyone know about how big your battery bank will need to be if you want to be on total solar to include Air Conditioner and all?
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:08 AM   #10
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With 1.2k watts of solar (4 300w panels) and 860ah battery bank (8 duracell gc2s), I can run my 6k btu ac for aprox 5 hours before i am around 50% discharge at night. During the day its not an issue if sun is good. That is with JUST AC on a test in garage. I have not installed into a vehicle yet. I am betting with less insulation in a bus than i have in my house the numbers will go down some. This is why I bought an inverter/charger that has auto genny start. Why pay for double panels($1400 on sale) and double batteries($700 hell of a sale)?
When my batteries do get to 50% the genny kicks on and charges batteries while running ac. When batteries get to 80% genny shuts down. (No need for full charge when sun about to pop up usually). My 3500W inverter genny cost $695. So I have aprox $1400 in fuel i can spend before I have made the wrong choice. BTW this genny runs 9 hours on 2.2 gallons at half load @ a volume of 54db. Thats gonna take A WHILE b4 the panels/ battery were the better choice. I also have the option of shore power use, and alternator charging when driving.

Personally I would stay away from anything like the yeti equipt. It is no where near what you can build for nearly same money. It WILL NOT run an ac by the specs I just read.
Doug
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