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Old 05-29-2017, 09:15 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
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I need solar power...HELP!!

Ok, so I am currently stranded with my bus because I can't figure out the tail light problem (brake lights are off, interior power is all screwed up) So I figure I will try to embrace it and hunker down. I need power! I want to set up a solar panel but I have no idea what brand to get, what inverter is good, what battery is good. If anyone has real world experience I could use it! I dont have the biggest budget but I will try to get what I can for now. I won't be mounting it to my roof just yet because well...I don't know how.
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Old 05-29-2017, 11:14 AM   #2
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So... I am thinking that you maybe wanna get a handle on your present tail light issues before you add the solar. Solar is complicated enough when everything else works.

That said... everyone with solar has an opinion on the subject (myself included) and what each of us can do is give you a brief description of what we have and maybe that will start you thinking about what you want.

If all you want is to trickle charge your engine battery to keep it topped off then you just need a simple 12v solar charging kit (panel). Any number of places have that.

For a system to power your fridge, computers, TV, house lights, water pump, etc., then here goes...

I'll start with a list of components common to most systems (not in any particular order). Solar panels, mounting hardware, panel wiring and connectors, charge controller, battery bank, battery bank monitor, disconnect switches, heavy gage battery wiring and connectors, inverter, breaker panel, shore power relay, shore power charger, ac wiring and outlets, maybe a battery watering system and a few other things.

I know... that's a lot of stuff. But truth is... you need damn near all of it!

I have two house-size 240watt 48v panels tied in parallel to an MPPT charge controller charging four 6v golf cart style batteries for a 12 volt, 440 amp hour system. I have a 2000 watt pure sine inverter and have propane for on-demand hot water and catalytic heat. This system should provide enough to keep a small upright fridge going for a few days of cloudy weather. With sunny days I can even power a small window AC unit to cool the sleeping area of the bus. All lights are LED and I have a single burner conduction cook surface which I can use sparingly when not connected to shore power.
My bus is a six window bus.

Some will tell you that you need greater than 480 watts to properly tip off the four batteries and I will respectfully disagree. But if I had room I would add a third panel for a little more capacity. I am still converting my bus but it has been running entirely on solar for over a year and it works great!

I'll let others chime in.

Regards!

Ross
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Old 05-29-2017, 11:22 AM   #3
Skoolie
 
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Well I can't fix my tail lights atm, I need to start tearing the bus down to find the wires. Basically I just want to get a panel, a battery, and a plug in so I can charge my phone and run a fan. It's sooooo hot inside a bus I'm dying!

Eventually I'd like to get the full setup and wire the bus so I have all the cool plug ins and a fridge and whatnot. Looking for good quality I can expand upon, but the bare minimum to get started.
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Old 05-29-2017, 12:51 PM   #4
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Some folks know the solar end of things and engineer their own solution. Some dig in and learn as they go.

Others buy a ready made "kit" that has all of the right pieces and installation instructions.

Take a look at: https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Monocr...rds=renogy+kit

Renogy has a good rep for decent quality and good technical support.
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:00 PM   #5
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The comment section of those panels mentioned mppt charge controller? What is that?
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:27 PM   #6
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MPPT controllers do tons of things. Someone who is really solar intense can probably go on for hours. Among other things, mppt controllers will allow you to charge a 12v battery or 12v battery bank with higher voltage panels.

Let's say you found a great deal on a 48v panel. Let's say it gives you a whopping 1 amp each hour it sits in the beautiful sun. In the middle of the day they'll probably be cranking out somewhere over 60v give or take. You cant use those 48v panels hooked directly to the batteries unless you want to fry them. The mppt controller will take that 60v or so and break it down. Through its magic, it may give you 14v at 3 amps p/hour. These are just numbers off the top of my head and are only to be used for illustrating the controllers functionality much like a kindergartener will illustrate something that requires a lot of detail with crayons. It takes the extra voltage and turns it into more amps for your energy consuming pleasure.

The nice thing is when the sun is coming up or going down, and your imaginary 48v panel is cranking out way less than that, the mppt controller will keep it at 12, 13, 14v whichever your battery needs at its current state of charge, for a lot longer.

The other nice thing is the amp output of the panel doesn't have to be anywhere near as important as the voltage. The higher the voltage the better.

For alooooooooooot more on solar, visit the site below.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:40 PM   #7
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So I should get that. Should I also get 48v panels? Are those the best? I can start small and build higher right?

For the mppt, which brand is best? Which panels are good (renology right?)
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:02 PM   #8
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Not trying to be snooty but there have been two or three similar threads in the last two or three weeks alone and there is a wealth of information in each of them that would have answered almost all of your questions. The concept of solar power is not specific to you and you might learn a lot about the basics by thumbing through them. When you have a better idea of what you want, come back, and you'll get some more specific answers.

Quote:
rossfree: I'll start with a list of components common to most systems (not in any particular order). Solar panels, mounting hardware, panel wiring and connectors, charge controller, battery bank, battery bank monitor, disconnect switches, heavy gage battery wiring and connectors, inverter, breaker panel, shore power relay, shore power charger, ac wiring and outlets, maybe a battery watering system and a few other things.
A battery watering system. Ingenius. I might need to snag one of these.

Iheartbus, read up on all of it. Handy Bob Solar is a great place to start as previously mentioned.
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:15 PM   #9
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Maximum Power Point Tracking is a type of solar charge controller that simply maximizes the amount of usable power going into your batteries. In comparison, Pulse-Width Modulated controllers waste much of the panels' power. However, MPPT is always more expensive than PWM, but for systems larger than a few hundred watts MPPT is well worth it. I have two MPPT charge controllers that convert my panels' 30 volts and 68 amps into 14.7 volts and 120 amps to the batteries. The wattage is still about the same , but it's changed into the lower voltage and greater amps suitable for charging batteries. If I had PWM controllers instead, I would get the panels' current into the batteries, but at only the batteries voltage, therefore wasting half the PV power. Not smart!

I personally like Morningstar's MPPT charge controllers - the TS-MPPT-60 is very efficient, can have a remote display elsewhere in the bus, requires no cooling fan (always the first thing to fail), and can be remotely networked so it could potentially be set up and monitored through a computer anywhere in the world!

John
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:21 PM   #10
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Thanks John, idk why but it seems some people are reluctant to give info and expect people with questions to dig through multiple posts in hopes of finding something g close to what they are looking for. I don't have strong internet I'm out in the woods and only comment when I am in town, so I don't have the time to do that. I appreciate the straight answer.
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