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Old 09-30-2017, 01:01 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Solar panels question!!!

HELLO!

Somebody I know bought a pallet of solar panels. He has 7 left over and I have the opportunity to buy them all for $1400 and I think I could talk him down a bit but I'm not sure how much power we need and have no clue if they are what anyone else would have selected for their own bus. They are 40"x65"x1.5". The brand names are Yingli and Vikram. They each put out 250 watts, 24 volts, and 8.9 amps.

We have a 40 ft. school bus and want enough power to never need shore power... ever. Even with A/C running for all daylight hours. Is 1,750 watts enough? Any good links to resources that could explain this better? When I searched on here for solar panels it just came up with random stuff so I am sorry if there are other threads that will answer all of my questions. If so please let me know how to find them. Thanks!!!!
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Old 09-30-2017, 05:18 AM   #2
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1,750 watts could be plenty for everything but the AC. AC is expensive in terms of wattage, but some people pull it off.

If you're having trouble finding topical threads on this or any other subject, just do a Google search using the "site:skoolie.net" parameter. That will pull only threads from this forum and may help you find what you want better than the built in search function.
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Old 09-30-2017, 08:13 AM   #3
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You have the right energy input, so just make sure you have the correct storage, i.e. batteries. If you are wanting to run A/C, you'll probably have to go with Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries to get the energy density you need. Otherwise your rear-end will be dragging because of "all the lead in the back" (i.e. you'll be too heavy with lead-acid batteries)....


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Old 09-30-2017, 11:22 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Ok, thanks guys! Has anyone ever heard of these brands? Would $1200 for all of them be a good deal? Or is there other brands you'd reccommend that i could get the same amount of watts or more for a better deal with better quality? Sorry, it's just that there is like 700 brands. Brain tornado.
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Old 09-30-2017, 12:14 PM   #5
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Anything under a dollar per rated watt of output tends to look pretty good in terms of cost, unless you find a special local deal or mail order in large quantities.

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Old 09-30-2017, 05:55 PM   #6
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Do they come with inverters and controllers? Sometimes it's cheaper to buy the set together, panels, controllers and bms. Also, that way you know everything matches. I'm guessing the person who is selling these either added his to an existing installation or bought a whole set and these were extras - he keeps the controller etc.

You also need to check the warranty.

The cheapest way to go for batteries might be to get a reconditioned hybrid pack and have the pack rewired for lower voltages.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:34 PM   #7
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You can run all the A/C you like off a bus roof full of solar.

Long as its during peak solar conditions, maybe 4-5 hours a day at best.

A huge battery bank may add 2-3 more hours.

Altogether probably $6+k, likely more doing it right.

Or get a portable generator.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:36 PM   #8
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Descent price. Less than a dollar per watt. I have 500 watts of solar. Two panels. Four golf cart batteries, charge controller, inverter, battery monitor and more.

I can run a small 5000 btu Wally World AC while the sun shines and generally use only a small amount of additional power from the batteries if they're fully charged for three or four hours. But it won't touch the BTU's required to cool my short six window bus. Further, it will slowly drain my batteries to my imposed limit of 80% charge more or less.

While the sun shines on 1700 watts of panels you can probably expect to power a good 1200 watts of equipment but the batteries will be required to even the power out as the clouds float by. If you want your battery bank to last longer than one or two years you need to limit the discharge to 75 - 80% of full charge. Discharging the batteries further takes a hard hit on longevity.

There's a lot to understand around solar but I love it! If you include some frugality and get a good understanding of the strengths and limitations you can really use it to its hidden potential. Lots of bad information out there. Read read read. And then read some more.

You can cover your bus with solar but I don't believe you will ever be able to run full time AC to any comfortable level without boarding up all your windows and insulating the crap out of it.

Still... I can draw a curtain across the bus and cool the sleeping area for a few hours for a midday snooze. . And that's frugal!

Best of luck!

Ross
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossfree View Post
You can cover your bus with solar but I don't believe you will ever be able to run full time AC to any comfortable level without boarding up all your windows and insulating the crap out of it.
Of course, by covering the roof with solar panels and leaving that gap between the underside of the panels and the top of the roof, you do block some of the heat that would have transferred into the bus. I'm debating a way to take that a step further with a shade cloth deployment system.

Some old-school military camo netting stretched out into high flying canopies on either side of a bus could keep a lot of direct heat/sun from being absorbed. Using netting instead of canvas would make it a lot lighter, and it would keep the shade cloth from being so much of a wind hazard. It wouldn't keep any rain off, of course, but that wouldn't really be the point. Just stopping the side of the bus from being a big heat sink could help a lot.

Ok, maybe not actual camo colored netting... that might attract random paramilitary groups or cause salvation army stores to mysteriously appear in the vicinity. Maybe use the white kind.
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossfree View Post
Further, it will slowly drain my batteries to my imposed limit of 80% charge more or less.
...
If you want your battery bank to last longer than one or two years you need to limit the discharge to 75 - 80% of full charge. Discharging the batteries further takes a hard hit on longevity.
Not relevant to your overall point, but a good quality deep cycling bank is designed to go down to 50%.

It is always true that it will last many more cycles of lifetime if you cycle it more shallow, but then you are paying double and carrying a lot more weight.
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