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Old 09-13-2017, 12:20 AM   #1
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Is Solar power the way to go?

Hello, Myself and my Crew are discussing Running Solar or just generators, We are leaning towards Solar but Know nothing about it. We Would be running a Full Surround Sound Music system, A Air conditioning system, a mini fridge, Flood lights outside, a projector system and a laptop. We have no idea what to do and I'm Curious what anyone thinks.

~Michael
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Old 09-13-2017, 03:13 AM   #2
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Solar seems to make the most sense if you have pared down your consumption to near minimum and then add more than enough panels so you don't run too big of a deficit when conditions are not ideal.

AC off of solar is usually a losing proposition and it sounds like you have a lot more power usage than just that so I think you will be running your generator a lot.

If your generator is running a long time every day, buying enough solar to make a dent might be very expensive.

Going the other way with low consumption and lots of solar helps you stay off the grid while boondocking and you might only need an inexpensive little Honda as a backup.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:23 AM   #3
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What Dropout said. While running all those items off of solar CAN be done it will get expense. If you're going to live in your bus for 1.5+ years you will likely recoup your costs on a solid solar system and can enjoy the silence. If you're going out on weekends then you probably won't.
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:00 AM   #4
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solar ac has been done the key is super insulation so you can run a small ac
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:58 PM   #5
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Solar + Heat/AC is going to require a huge array of panels, a LOT of insulation, a huge battery array, and a very small heater and AC unit. And it won't' work if you have cloudy days, it won't keep you cool or warm while you drive, etc. If you don't already have it mapped out to the watt, you should start looking into more efficient and reasonable ways to control your climate.
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Old 09-13-2017, 01:32 PM   #6
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Im using propane for heat only need to run fan ill have a small back up 12 volt deep cycle charging system also. Can you give some numbers as huge is a relative term. How many watts can you get per sq. Ft? I ctunched them to my satisfaction and as i stated its been done.
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Old 09-13-2017, 03:39 PM   #7
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You can do some simple math. I've looked up a small AC window unit here:
http://amzn.to/2h39V6l

Now this is a pretty small unit, only 5000BTU. COnsider that an in-dash AC is likely to be nearer 25000BTU, and many buses have more than one unit!

This little guy claims to draw 450W while running. I'll be really generous and say that your insulation is good enough that it only runs 50% of the time in the summer heat of Imaginaryland, FL.

I'll also be generous and say you've bought a high quality pure sine inverter and you're only losing 15% of your power in the conversion process, which means you're pulling about 540 watts of DC to produce the 450 of AC.

The math is easy enough, 540 watts * 12 hours = 6480 watt/hours per day.

So that's the consumption side. Remember, I'm being really generous here! Let's look into generation.

To keep things fair, we're still talking about summertime in Florida, so we have a lot of sunshine. Being generous we'll call that 14 hours of sunlight, and through some miracle you're able to average 75% of your max panel rating across that entire period.

With those criteria, every 100W of solar panel is going to produce 1050 Watt/hours per day. To reach your 6480 figure you'll need 7 of those panels (7350 watt/hours daily). So that's the production side.

Storage is next. Following generally accepted best practices, you want to be able to handle a cloudy day here and there. This is a nice calculator to determine how much battery you need: https://www.wholesalesolar.com/solar...ry-bank-sizing and with my specs (6480 w/h usage, 1-2 cloudy days, 12v system using 200AH packs limiting to 50% depletion) you're looking at 1685AH worth of battery, which means 9 200AH batteries.

Now you've got about 800 watt/hours left over at the end of each day, which can go towards building your reserve capacity back up, and let you have a cloudy day once every few weeks... But let's be realistic here...

You're not going to meet all the generous levels I've thrown out, in some cases you won't even be close. You're also not going to use your solar just to power your air conditioner. Real world where you're not going for easy math you can expect to double this.
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Old 09-13-2017, 05:26 PM   #8
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So how does my friends system work for the last couple of years? He only runs his gen once in a while im doing what he did. Go troll somewhere else
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Old 09-13-2017, 05:35 PM   #9
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I"m afraid you've confused me with someone else if you feel like my post wasn't in good faith.

Your friend is doing something different if he's able to cool adequately with his solar, but you just said yourself that he supplements it with a generator. Math doesn't lie, even if you don't like the results.
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Old 09-13-2017, 06:19 PM   #10
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Staying cool somewhere in Florida with only 5,000 BTUs of AC seems like it would be a very very short bus.

With a 35-40' bus, I am looking at a 24,000 BTU dual zone mini-split AC unit, good insulation and most of the windows blocked off and I still think it will be a struggle to just be comfortable in the high 80s when it's 100 outside. I'll need about 2,000 watts of solar panels to run that on a good day and I'll want another 1,000 watts to deploy when it's not so good.

I won't be running flood lights a sound system or a projector, just a PC on occasion, a cell phone charger, a refrigerator, LED lights, ventilation fans, water pump and a TV.

Hopefully I wouldn't have to run a generator very often.

I don't have any crew but I doubt a crew would be good for your power consumption.

Hopefully for 8 months out of the year I'll be places where I don't need more than a little bit of AC every once in a while but during the other four months I expect a struggle unless I pay up for an RV park with plenty of shore power.

The flood lights, surround sound and projector sound fun but they are going to draw a lot of power when your solar isn't generating...
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