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Old 03-22-2015, 12:06 AM   #1
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Solar power

30W 30 Watt Solar Panel 12V 12 Volt Battery Charger Off Grid RV Boat | eBay

I was looking at this solar panel ad on eBay thinking a few of those on the roof could supply all my electrical needs. Comments?
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Old 03-22-2015, 12:56 AM   #2
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It would be cheaper to buy one, big panel than many small ones. Depending on your needs, you might be ok, or you might need a lot more. No one can answer that question without knowing how many watt-hours of energy you need to make per day.
I've had positive experiences with a 100W panel I bought off ebay for something like $160 including a small charge controller. Works great to keep my starting batteries full, and I can run my lights, etc, without fear of the battery being dead the next day.
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Old 03-22-2015, 01:04 AM   #3
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I had two thoughts. One is that with narrower panels I could maintain a walkway down the center of the roof with panels on each side. The other is that if a small panel fails or is broken, no problem. A bigger one is more of an issue.
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Old 03-22-2015, 01:10 AM   #4
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I understand your concerns, but these panels are pretty robust. The walkway is a nice thing to have, but the price on those panels is about double per watt what you would be paying for a 235 watt panel. The dimensions on those bigger panels aren't that bad and you would be able to navigate your roof no problem.
Just my .02
Im putting 4 big ass 315 Watt panels on my bus and I'm not worried about it.
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Old 03-22-2015, 01:11 AM   #5
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In terms of what I'm going to be using... Microwave, steamer, crock pot, chargers (phone, laptop, battery, tablet, mifi), printer, electric kettle, coffee brewer, maybe a 500w heating fan on low in winter, water pump, electric shower, led lighting.
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Old 03-22-2015, 01:40 AM   #6
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I hate to break it to you, but those are all the most power-intensive appliances out there.
there is just no way you could power all that, even if you covered your roof almost completely, you'd still need a massive battery bank to go along with it.
we're talking a couple thousand watts of panels to charge enough battery to run all that.
A system like that would run you at least a few thousand dollars.
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Old 03-22-2015, 02:29 AM   #7
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I'm not going to be running all of that all the time. I use the microwave a couple of times a day. If I use the crockpot, its once a week. Kettle or coffeepot maybe once a day. Chargers don't use much. Actually, I might take a 12v line from the panels straight to my chargers. Shower - as long as the waters not ice cold then I'm happy.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:25 AM   #8
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I hear ya. I would either do the math myself, or use a calculator to determine your daily energy needs and then size from there. I still think you'll want around 1000 watts on the roof and large battery bank to come close to what you're looking for.
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Old 03-22-2015, 09:18 AM   #9
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The comments so far are spot on. For all those resistive heating devices you'll probably be looking at buying over 30 of those 30w panels to reach a reasonable 900w, not to mention upwards of 6 decent batteries. Running resistive heating devices is a tough chore for a battery bank. They consume a lot of electricity and do it constantly as they run, unlike a motor which will consume much power during starting then smooth out. An electric kettle would be fine since it's only on for about 10 minutes. A heater on overnight will require some serious power reserves, as will an electric on-demand water heater.

If you're serious about boondocking then you may want to look into adding complimentary non-electric options. Are you opposed to propane? It doesn't come freely from the sun, but for cooking and boiling water it works wonderfully. Woodstoves aren't as care-free as simply turning a heater switch to "on", but they provide plenty of heat and a rewarding ambience to the room.

Also, don't buy 12v panels. they're more expensive per watt than grid-tie panels and have more line loss over distance. Look at buying an mppt charge controller and ~36v panels.
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Old 03-22-2015, 09:25 AM   #10
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i agree with charles,and solar power is expensive. cook , heat water and your skoolie with gas,perk coffee over the stove. try to invert the least amount of dc,get down to the basics. my solar system was 5000.00 , 800 watt in 1000 pure sine out.
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