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Old 03-15-2018, 12:56 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Solar Panels - I know nothing

My husband and I want our bus to be off grind completely. In order to do that we need solar. We know nothing about it. What we need, how to wire, NOTHING. We're going to be running an apartment size fridge, compact washing machine, tankless water heater, pump, and maybe a RV AC unit. Is there any books websites one could suggest? Or your own personal knowledge?

Thanks everyone!
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:12 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moby_Bus View Post
My husband and I want our bus to be off grind completely. In order to do that we need solar. We know nothing about it. What we need, how to wire, NOTHING. We're going to be running an apartment size fridge, compact washing machine, tankless water heater, pump, and maybe a RV AC unit. Is there any books websites one could suggest? Or your own personal knowledge?

Thanks everyone!
Welcome! "Off grind" is one of more apropos typos I've seen here, and there's been a bunch!

handybobsolar.wordpress.com (if memory serves). Pretty much the textbook on the subject. You are going to have to figure out at least some SWAG guesses at how much electricity you want to be able to use at one time, how long you want the system to hold out without recharging (several cloudy days in a row), where to put the batteries, etc. Lots of moving parts and interrelations here. Read up; find and fill out a "load sheet", price a couple of things, see what you can afford, and ask us a lot of questions.

Also read everything on this topic ("Electrical, Charging and Solar") in this forum. Lots of people have been where you are right now, and have lived to tell the tale.

Good luck!
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:40 PM   #3
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This article is an excellent starting point for working out the electrical installation:

http://faroutride.com/ford-transit-c...trical-system/
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moby_Bus View Post
My husband and I want our bus to be off grind completely. In order to do that we need solar. We know nothing about it. What we need, how to wire, NOTHING. We're going to be running an apartment size fridge, compact washing machine, tankless water heater, pump, and maybe a RV AC unit. Is there any books websites one could suggest? Or your own personal knowledge?
I recommend this book from Amazon. I bought the Kindle version and found it to be an awesome starting point.
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:03 PM   #5
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Off-Grid does not require a lot. If you need A/C , computers, gaming, washing machine, and other comforts, then there is no amount of solar that can help you. If you just want lights, water, fans, tablets, and a fridge, then solar will be your friend.
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Old 03-15-2018, 11:52 PM   #6
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I have 2kW of solar on my bus, and it will run a 12K mini-split air conditioner through a Magnum MS2000 inverter. However, don't expect a bus-load of solar to run several typical RV A/Cs, or to heat your water, or provide space heating, or resistive cooking, or other power-hungry uses. Even with a lot of PV you will need to eliminate all unnecessary and inefficient appliances, and realize that it will never be like living in a house with unlimited electricity.

I suggest spending several months learning all you can about solar before making any plans or buying anything at all. The Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum has lots of good advice, Handy Bob is cranky but generally accurate, and there are plenty of other resources to check out. Google is your friend.

There's not much point in being self-sufficient for power from the sun if you don't also have usefully-large water and waste tanks, so you should plan on having the largest that will fit. I have more than 200 gallons of water tanks, but if I could have fitted larger I would have done so! Enough is never enough!

Have fun.
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Old 03-16-2018, 07:30 AM   #7
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Ditto what John said!

Solar is a fantastic and amazing thing but not the answer for everyone in every situation. I live very comfortably on 2kW of panels and a big lithium battery. Not cheap but it has paid for itself many times over - in my opinion.

There is no shortage of information available but applying it to your situation is what requires the learning curve as their are no simple 'recipes' that you can follow. Well... there are but they are pretty generic and don't fit every situation.

Here are a couple links to junk I wrote, might be helpful:

Is solar power for you? - JdFinley.com

Energy Audit - Watt For? - JdFinley.com
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Old 03-16-2018, 08:03 AM   #8
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The system I have specced our will run AC and all other comforts.
But we’re planning on using 4000w of solar and 55kw of Lithium.
Full creature comforts are possible, you just need to invest a bit more.
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:20 AM   #9
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Thank you everyone for the suggestions. I really cannot sy how much I appear the knowledge and helpfulness on this site. It's incredible!
I'll look into everything everyone has suggested since the electrical and solar is my portion of conversion.
Thank you again!

-Gwen
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Old 03-17-2018, 07:25 PM   #10
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So glad this string popped up! So a thank you to everyone from me too! I am still in planning stages but also know nothing... going to go read as well. I really really want solar but need a computer at least 8 hrs a day... pluses and minus to a remote job I guess.



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