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Old 04-19-2016, 03:19 PM   #1
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Solar usage

Hey everyone,

This being my first post on here, I just wanted to say thanks to all the veteran posters on here for the massive compendium of information you have created on here.

So a little bit about my skoolie aspirations; I will be releasing from the military in just under two years so I have begun the planning and schematic phase for my home. My wife and I plan on living in our bus full time, and will follow the warm weather throughout canada and the central US.

My biggest concern right now is how to calculate my power draw from appliances to determine what kind of solar power I will need. I am looking at a 78 passenger school bus(not 100% on model at the moment). We will be using very limited electronics; will be using a wood cookstove for heat at night as well as cooking. We are looking at a computer, about 8 cfl bulbs, shower and compost toilet as well as a few small items that will consume low amounts of power.

The problem I'm having is that I have very little experience with electrical systems and I want to be sure I can supply enough power for my home using purely solar with battery backups. If you guys have any advice I would be deeply appreciative. Even if it is about the systems you employ or any tips about brands to avoid.

1 last thing, I initially looked at wind turbines but believe that I wont be able to mount the turbine high enough to get the full potential of it. From my research so far, it seems they have to be about 30-40ft high to get the maximum output from them.

Thank you all for taking the time out to read this and thank you again in advance for any and all replies.

If this is in the wrong forum please let me know.
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Old 04-19-2016, 03:44 PM   #2
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Welcome Red
Can't you visualize the wind turbine spinning like mad while you're going down the road?

My plan is to put a paddle wheel on the side of my bus so I can park by a river and generate power.

There are numerous threads on here about solar setups. It sounds like you're talking about needing the Killawatt meter to measure in real time how much power an appliance uses. I tried to find one yesterday at a home store but they looked at me like I was nuts.

I like your wood stove, but if it's actually a cook stove you are already familiar with how often you need to feed it, not to mention how small you need to chop your wood. I like a good 12 hour burn. It's not a cook stove but it does boil water and stuff.

I'm sure you've been pricing solar panels and needed hardware. Have you also looked at how expensive batteries are? Not to mention the weight of what sounds like the larger system that you desire. It's very possible to do. Good luck with your reading.
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Old 04-19-2016, 05:21 PM   #3
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The biggest consumer in my power budget is the refrigerator -- I prefer to use a conventional residential unit rather than a multi-mode propane fueled unit. Supplying enough solar panel area to run the electric fridge for 24 hours with just 4-5 hours of sun, and enough battery bank to run the fridge for 48 hours in case of stormy weather, proved "tricky." Seems like I estimated it was going to take an array of 1-2 kW..?
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:33 PM   #4
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I'm going the small chest freezer route, with the thermostat turned way down. I currently have an apartment size refer that gets defrosted every time I drive to town to get groceries. No battery bank and no solar. Considering what batteries cost it might be a while unless I can get some batteries out of a hybrid. Can I borrow your Prius?
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:16 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Robin97396;143864]Welcome Red
Can't you visualize the wind turbine spinning like mad while you're going down the road?

Haha, that was what I originally imagined when I saw the turbine. Then I realized I will be stationary for most of the year other than journeys to new destinations every few weeks. So it may suck when Im parked in the forest with mainly trees around.

I have looked into the battery prices and yes, I am not very appeased by what I will need to spend but thats why I am starting almost two years in advance of me buying the bus. The it will be Bye Bye Army, Hello Freedom
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:42 PM   #6
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What's you MOS? I assume you're stateside.

I joined in '76 as a 63H (discontinued), was out for 8 years then joined again as a 71D and got out in '92. 5 years overseas, and that was the best part of the military.

Oddly enough it seems there are a lot of veterans with buses. Once you get used to being mobile you can't go back.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:07 PM   #7
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Robin,

Im actually in the CAF, up here in the North. I work in signals and play wtih radios all day lol. It definitely makes sense to see us boys riding the big yellow bus though, I feel like we all need to get a piece of our own personal freedom back upon release.

You'll have to let me know of any Vet meetups going on in the next year or so and I will make the trip up to see some brothers from across the border!
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:34 PM   #8
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One thing might help, ditch the cfl bulbs and go led. They are designed to run on 12 v dc already. And a small car battery could power a 36 led board for a month +/- without recharge.

If you don't need a large fridge, coleman has a 12 v plug in cooler that would be ok, as long as it isn't in 90 degree heat constantly. The manual says it keeps it 45 f cooler than ambiant air. I know it kept my milk and bologna cold from Indiana to Phoenix a couple of times.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:35 PM   #9
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im off grid, 750 watts of panels,outback charge controller,xantrex 2000 watt inverter/charger and 4 l-16 batteries. my biggest draw is my fridge, i plug it in in the morning and unplug at sunset.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:55 PM   #10
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That's pretty cool if it works. Some people out here use solar panels but its effectiveness is questionable except during the summer. That's just a geography problem. I do need to set up a battery bank so the fridge doesn't defrost every time I go to town to get groceries. Actually that's not working out that bad. Ok, I actually want the battery bank so I can watch my boob tube at night. I'm a minimalist, but a bored minimalist.
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