Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 12-07-2015, 10:57 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
sammy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 115
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Gillig
Chassis: Phantom Schoolbus
Engine: Detroit Diesel 6v92TA
Rated Cap: 84
Is this a good deal on a solar setup?

Planning on full-timing in a 38ft bus. Originally planned on getting 3 300watt solar panels, much like charles_m, but just found a lightly used "Go Power Extreme" kit: This one .... for $1,500 - seems like a great deal, and I'm planning on picking it up tomorrow, and just add some extra panels (maybe 2 or 3 more 160 watt panels) to get it up to what I need.

Does anyone have any experience with this kit? I know kits are typically looked down upon, but this one seems decent (from what little knowledge I have).
sammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 12:35 AM   #2
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
PWM charge controllers are old school. I'd avoid them. The monitoring system is a joke if you're going to be dependent on this system for full time living. You need good measurements on your batteries and panels to run efficiently.

That kit doesn't have batteries, of which I would recommend 4 T105 or equivalent-capacity batteries--another $500 plus battery and inverter cables which could easily be another $200 if you want to be able to pull 3000 watts from your batteries at once. But if you do that, you'll need to double the size of your battery bank to prevent the loads from dropping you bank voltage below the inverter's auto shutoff threshold when you're really drawing heavy current. If you double your battery bank, you'll want more panels to charge it in a reasonable amount of time and maintain it properly, but wait you cant do that because your charge controller is already maxxed out...but I digress...that is a closed, tiny, un upgradeable system.

Safe to say, add another $1000 to the price of that kit for the remaining stuff and you're at about $4600. How will you rack the panels on the roof? That adds up, too.

I work with a local guy I found on craigslist and I can install a setup identical to the one on my bus including all cables and racking for about $5300. With 3 times the charging power and double the storage power for less than 15% more money. And I can upgrade it all easily and it will handle up to 10 300 watt panels before I have to add or upgrade my charge controller.

$1000 4 300 watt panels @$250 each
$1200 8 T105 batteries @ $150 each
$300 cables
$300 racking
$120 combiner box
$200 DC breaker box and load center
$650 Midnite Classic 150 MPPT Charge Controller
$1700 Magnum Magna Sine inverter/charger

$5300 total give or take a couple hundred depending on specifics. If you want reliable electricity all the time for daily needs and fearless living, this is the minimum I would go for and it is way more bang for the buck than those kits. They make money off the uneducated. I feel like the skoolie spirit is to learn and hack our way into better, cheaper, happier living. If you think of the money you save as getting paid to learn a new skill, its a helluva deal!
__________________
Patina enthusiast and professional busman
www.bustoshow.org
Blog: www.lookatthatbus.com
Instragram: @lookatthatbus
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 12:42 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
Damn! didn't see you were getting it at $1500.... you'll still need batteries and you can't add more panels. Call it $2500 to get you up and running and you're at a price point that is much closer to what can be done if you DIY. I hereby retract my previous advice and say go for it, unless you plan on adding more panels in which case you'll still need to upgrade the charge controller--a good MPPT unit will run 500-700 bucks new.

Also remember that you have to use the same exact panels in all of your system to achieve maximum efficiency. No mix and matching, in case you didn't know. Otherwise you will be running only as powerfully as your weakest panel, as I understand it.
__________________
Patina enthusiast and professional busman
www.bustoshow.org
Blog: www.lookatthatbus.com
Instragram: @lookatthatbus
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 01:00 AM   #4
Skoolie
 
sammy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 115
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Gillig
Chassis: Phantom Schoolbus
Engine: Detroit Diesel 6v92TA
Rated Cap: 84
that was super helpful. This wasn't the direction I was originally planning on going, but I feel that $1,500 for a system that's been used less than a year (and of course, I'll need my own batteries anyway) is almost too good of a deal to pass up... even though I think this system is really too small for what I want.

Do you have any experience with li-ion batteries? Like these

Obviously, higher cost. But seem to have a lot of advantages. See article here (if you haven't already - Living the Lithium Lifestyle – 3.5 Year Lithium RV Battery Update | Technomadia)
sammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 01:20 AM   #5
Skoolie
 
sammy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 115
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Gillig
Chassis: Phantom Schoolbus
Engine: Detroit Diesel 6v92TA
Rated Cap: 84
...also, during the winter we'll have shore power available. So although I'd LOVE a system like yours, it just might not make sense to spend that much money on it. Arg. This is hard to decide on.
sammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 01:54 AM   #6
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
Buy the small system, you can use it to learn what you need if or when you decide to upgrade you can probably sell it without much of a loss and you need batteries anyway. Lithium is the best if you got the cash.
__________________
Patina enthusiast and professional busman
www.bustoshow.org
Blog: www.lookatthatbus.com
Instragram: @lookatthatbus
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 05:41 AM   #7
Bus Nut
 
superdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: hills of sw virginia
Posts: 889
Year: 1996
Chassis: thomas
Engine: 8.3 cummins
Rated Cap: 11 window
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles_m View Post
PWM charge controllers are old school. I'd avoid them. The monitoring system is a joke if you're going to be dependent on this system for full time living. You need good measurements on your batteries and panels to run efficiently.

That kit doesn't have batteries, of which I would recommend 4 T105 or equivalent-capacity batteries--another $500 plus battery and inverter cables which could easily be another $200 if you want to be able to pull 3000 watts from your batteries at once. But if you do that, you'll need to double the size of your battery bank to prevent the loads from dropping you bank voltage below the inverter's auto shutoff threshold when you're really drawing heavy current. If you double your battery bank, you'll want more panels to charge it in a reasonable amount of time and maintain it properly, but wait you cant do that because your charge controller is already maxxed out...but I digress...that is a closed, tiny, un upgradeable system.

Safe to say, add another $1000 to the price of that kit for the remaining stuff and you're at about $4600. How will you rack the panels on the roof? That adds up, too.

I work with a local guy I found on craigslist and I can install a setup identical to the one on my bus including all cables and racking for about $5300. With 3 times the charging power and double the storage power for less than 15% more money. And I can upgrade it all easily and it will handle up to 10 300 watt panels before I have to add or upgrade my charge controller.

$1000 4 300 watt panels @$250 each
$1200 8 T105 batteries @ $150 each
$300 cables
$300 racking
$120 combiner box
$200 DC breaker box and load center
$650 Midnite Classic 150 MPPT Charge Controller
$1700 Magnum Magna Sine inverter/charger

$5300 total give or take a couple hundred depending on specifics. If you want reliable electricity all the time for daily needs and fearless living, this is the minimum I would go for and it is way more bang for the buck than those kits. They make money off the uneducated. I feel like the skoolie spirit is to learn and hack our way into better, cheaper, happier living. If you think of the money you save as getting paid to learn a new skill, its a helluva deal!
4 l-16's would be better, less cells to equalize
__________________
living in a bus down by the river.
my build pics
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/membe...albums942.html
superdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 07:00 AM   #8
Skoolie
 
freakn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Southeast British Columbia
Posts: 106
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72
Found this to be a good read.
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
__________________
Living the dream in the Kootenays
freakn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 03:51 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
A trojan L16 has about 50% more capacity than a T105, but costs over double, so it has a markedly higher price per kwh of storage. Not saying its a bad battery but it doesn't provide the same kind of bang for your buck storage. For the same money, I'd take 2 T105's over 1 L16. Just my .02
__________________
Patina enthusiast and professional busman
www.bustoshow.org
Blog: www.lookatthatbus.com
Instragram: @lookatthatbus
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 08:33 PM   #10
Bus Nut
 
frank-id's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Twin Falls, Idaho
Posts: 809
Just my opinion.. Mine maybe alone.. Solar is not much good for any RV or bus. The costs for building a system is very expensive. A large battery bank is required. Large wire conductors needed. Mounting on RV/bus roof will not track sun. Any wind and dust will shield suns rays. Solar panels need to be cleaned very regular. My gen set supplies more energy in half to one hour operation. I tried to use and like solar. Too high a cost.... Frank...........30 years Ca electrical contractor........Be well.
frank-id is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 09:09 PM   #11
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 217
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
Charles, what 300w panel are you using? I'm finding it difficult to put 1000 watts of 12v on the roof of a 40 foot bus. I'm using only the sides, since tilting the panels would shade any located down the middle.
__________________
My project: The Cruel Bus
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 09:36 PM   #12
Bus Nut
 
superdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: hills of sw virginia
Posts: 889
Year: 1996
Chassis: thomas
Engine: 8.3 cummins
Rated Cap: 11 window
Quote:
Originally Posted by frank-id View Post
Just my opinion.. Mine maybe alone.. Solar is not much good for any RV or bus. The costs for building a system is very expensive. A large battery bank is required. Large wire conductors needed. Mounting on RV/bus roof will not track sun. Any wind and dust will shield suns rays. Solar panels need to be cleaned very regular. My gen set supplies more energy in half to one hour operation. I tried to use and like solar. Too high a cost.... Frank...........30 years Ca electrical contractor........Be well.
didnt know wind blocked the sun, thanks for the info
__________________
living in a bus down by the river.
my build pics
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/membe...albums942.html
superdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2015, 09:41 PM   #13
Bus Nut
 
superdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: hills of sw virginia
Posts: 889
Year: 1996
Chassis: thomas
Engine: 8.3 cummins
Rated Cap: 11 window
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles_m View Post
A trojan L16 has about 50% more capacity than a T105, but costs over double, so it has a markedly higher price per kwh of storage. Not saying its a bad battery but it doesn't provide the same kind of bang for your buck storage. For the same money, I'd take 2 T105's over 1 L16. Just my .02
they have twice the capacity, less cells is always better, cheaper is not always better.
__________________
living in a bus down by the river.
my build pics
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/membe...albums942.html
superdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2015, 11:35 AM   #14
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
Last I checked, the l16 has 2.1kwh of storage and the t105 has 1.5kwh

Am I wrong?

Solar is an awesome option and ive been incredibly happy with my setup. It cost money, like every thing, bit i can do it cheap. I fit 1200 watts easily on my bus with room to add 600 more very easily.
__________________
Patina enthusiast and professional busman
www.bustoshow.org
Blog: www.lookatthatbus.com
Instragram: @lookatthatbus
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2015, 12:07 PM   #15
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Posts: 1,677
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: B3800 Short bus
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by frank-id View Post
Just my opinion.. Mine maybe alone.. Solar is not much good for any RV or bus. The costs for building a system is very expensive. A large battery bank is required. Large wire conductors needed. Mounting on RV/bus roof will not track sun. Any wind and dust will shield suns rays. Solar panels need to be cleaned very regular. My gen set supplies more energy in half to one hour operation. I tried to use and like solar. Too high a cost.... Frank...........30 years Ca electrical contractor........Be well.
I've had a very different experience with my solar set up.

First, the cost was reasonable. I paid around $1100 for the panels, wiring and charge controller that will run everything I need it to (small refrigerator, lights, water pump, inverter for tools and kitchen stuff). Whether you're running a generator or not, a bus/RV should have a battery bank so I'll ignore that cost. After all, it'd be silly to have to start your generator to turn on the lights on the way to the bathroom at night.
I did the calculations of purchasing and running a Honda eu2000 and a cheaper Champion 2000w generator. My findings were that - as of beginning of August this summer - the solar system has already paid for itself vs buying either of those generators and fuel.

Cleaning being a problem? Nope. I've only had to wipe bird poop off once. The rain has taken care of the rest. Even when on the road driving around Texas last winter. A desert dweller may have a different experience.

Also note that battery banks should only be bulk charged at a maximum amperage that is determined by the manufacturer., then the amperage tapers off to finish charging. Because of this, running a cheap, non-inverter generator to charge batteries is a wasteful affair. The cheaper generators don't throttle down in sync with the battery charging requirements.

But the biggest, best thing about solar? Silence!
I've had the unfortunate experience of camping next to generator powered RVs a couple of times. I try to avoid the situation the best I can, but sometimes it just happens.
__________________
My build page: Armageddon - The Smell of Airborne Rust
jazty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2015, 12:15 PM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Posts: 1,677
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: B3800 Short bus
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 36
I should add, though, that if you do happen to have a generator it can come in handy for backup situations. This time of year we have plenty of rain and clouds. For at least one week recently it was steady clouds and I had to be conservative with my electrical usage. We made it through fine, but you may need to be watchful of the weather on the rare occasion.
__________________
My build page: Armageddon - The Smell of Airborne Rust
jazty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-2015, 06:42 PM   #17
Bus Nut
 
superdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: hills of sw virginia
Posts: 889
Year: 1996
Chassis: thomas
Engine: 8.3 cummins
Rated Cap: 11 window
yep looks like t105s have 220 at the 20 hr rate and l 16 are 380. so yes there is more storage in the 2 105s. its still a hole lot better just having 3 cells than 6. i believe you posted handy bobs blogs. its in there. to each there own. next set i will only have 6 cells, going with the big dogs. i have 4 l 16s nowhttps://www.altestore.com/store/Deep...Battery/p9704/
__________________
living in a bus down by the river.
my build pics
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/membe...albums942.html
superdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2016, 04:57 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by frank-id View Post
Just my opinion.. Mine maybe alone.. Solar is not much good for any RV or bus. The costs for building a system is very expensive. A large battery bank is required. Large wire conductors needed. Mounting on RV/bus roof will not track sun. Any wind and dust will shield suns rays. Solar panels need to be cleaned very regular. My gen set supplies more energy in half to one hour operation. I tried to use and like solar. Too high a cost.... Frank...........30 years Ca electrical contractor........Be well.
Here is a rational thinking. Waste all that money on a system that only returns penny on a dollar, and if bus break down, then what? Last time I checked, minimal in-frame overhaul kit costs something like $2000 for parts alone, way much more than cost of bus alone. I wouldn't hire anyone to work on my machine, never did, especially the dealers with certified logos, because I just don't trust someone else would be good enough or care for a genuine repair work. Bus will sit on a ground for few month, if not years, better just sell it for scraps.

Soon or later, component will break down, batteries will be replaced, and hails will knock out glass panel if it wasn't vandalized already by someone looking for easy money. I wouldn't put solar even if the US government gives me thousand in free money, because it just is not economically feasible.
kwang_yi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2016, 08:35 PM   #19
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
Wow. Not my experience in the slightest.
I spent around 5k on my setup. Some people drop 2-3k on a dies genset that is loud and takes fuel to operate. If someone wants to get on my 11' roof and steal my panels for 'easy money' they can have it. But i hope to never live in a place THAT rough....

Your criticisms illustrate a lack of experience or knowledge with solar power. I hope no ones takes them seriously because they are not grounded in fact or reality.
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2016, 08:37 PM   #20
Bus Nut
 
charles_m's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 489
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
And every single component of the solar system is easily removable, with the only exception being the brackets that attach my panel racks to the bus.

Gah, i just cant get over your extreme pessimism!!
__________________
Patina enthusiast and professional busman
www.bustoshow.org
Blog: www.lookatthatbus.com
Instragram: @lookatthatbus
charles_m is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×