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Old 07-05-2017, 07:30 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Solar for a shorty

Hi everyone,

I'm looking to get solar real soon and I've got a few questions. Mostly wondering how many panels or how much wattage I'll need for my appliances. I would like to power a Koolatron, 2 burner stove, toaster oven, small switch pump for sink and I guess charge my laptop. Would 2 100W solar panels do the job, or do I need more? I'm mostly going to be using it in the summer, but will at times use it in the winter and plan on travelling around both Canada and the U.S.. Also, how many batteries should i get and what kind? I've heard marine and golf cart batteries are good.

Would you guys recommend just going with a Renogy kit from Amazon, they seem simple and affordable. If so, any kit in particular and any additional things that I should buy with it?

Any opinions on rigid or flexible panels?

Cheers,
Brendan
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Old 07-05-2017, 07:38 PM   #2
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Someone made a very similar thread last week or the week before. Perhaps you should catch up and join the discussion there.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f10/so...gin-17867.html

also

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/
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Old 07-06-2017, 01:56 PM   #3
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I just got mine yesterday from HD. 3 panels, 540 w with an 1800/3000 w sine wave inverter. Got a few more things to get before installation, but it looks pretty much straight forward. Now, if you smell ozone coming from my direction...
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Old 07-06-2017, 02:08 PM   #4
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What Taolik said... Read the Handy Bob Solar site. Maybe twice....

Then calculate your loads and see how much generating capacity it will take to support it.

The electric stove and toaster oven are going to be tough to support with solar alone. I would suggest that you give some consideration to either propane cooking appliances or adding a generator to use when you need to run high draw appliances.

As far as kits go, I have heard quite a bit of good about Renogy and their support. If you are not a solar guru it is priceless to be able to call one up when you get stumped.
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:26 PM   #5
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I found a good dealer not to far from where I live. I bought a 260 Watt panel with a controller. I wanted to wait and do some more research before buying an expensive inverter, and I'm going to try to get an old battery from somewhere.

I think I am going to end up going with propane cooking. Let's say I do go with propane cooking and I now only need to power a 12 v Koolatron and charge my laptop. Should I bother with an expensive inverter or just get a cheap small one that people use in cars?
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Old 07-07-2017, 06:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adventurbus View Post
Mostly wondering how many panels or how much wattage I'll need for my appliances.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adventurbus View Post
Also, how many batteries should i get and what kind? I've heard marine and golf cart batteries are good.
As Steve said, work up an energy budget first so you have some numbers with which to work.

I'll suggest reversing your thinking. Think of your battery bank as the fuel tank for all of your equipment. How large of a fuel tank do you need to supply your needs for a day or two (or whatever your goal is)? Then you can figure out how much solar you need to replenish your fuel tank (battery bank) in the 5-6 hours of sunlight you have each day.

The typical electrical system limitations are budget, physical size, and weight. A high capacity battery bank is very heavy - and takes up a good bit of space. A huge solar array takes a lot of roof space. You'll have to figure out what your limitations are.

Yes, golf cart batteries are about the best low cost option available. You should be able to find 220 Ah 6 volt batteries in the $80-$100 range. You will need multiples of two to make a 12 volt battery bank. There are other options, of course.

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Any opinions on rigid or flexible panels?
The very unofficial word that I have heard regarding flexible panels is that their lifespan is not as good as people were hoping. This may be changing as we speak as the manufacturers have a market if they can make them work reliably. They are also a bit expensive. If you shop around, you should pay no more than $1 per watt for rigid panels - sometimes lower is possible.
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Old 07-07-2017, 09:16 PM   #7
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Thanks for the helpful advice.

Where can you find batteries for that cheap? I've only been able to find them between $135-200
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Old 07-08-2017, 01:25 PM   #8
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Some battery chargers don't like modified sine wave inverters. I'm pretty sure we killed the wife's Dell laptop charger with one. Took awhile though. Long term use with electronics and chargers I suggest a pure/true sine wave inverter.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:23 PM   #9
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Some battery chargers don't like modified sine wave inverters. I'm pretty sure we killed the wife's Dell laptop charger with one. Took awhile though. Long term use with electronics and chargers I suggest a pure/true sine wave inverter.
Did it kill the laptop or just the charger?
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:21 AM   #10
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Thanks for the helpful advice.

Where can you find batteries for that cheap? I've only been able to find them between $135-200
Batteries are expensive.

The most cost effective batteries I have found so far are Duracell GC2's from Sam's Club. I found them for $86 and am considering 8 of them for my house battery bank. (24v/420AH)

I did also find used AGM's on CL that were offered with a warranty. Not sure about buying used batteries though...
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