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Old 07-09-2016, 11:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2016
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solar help

Hello everyone. New to the skooile stuff but excited and ready to start building. Have a 1997 bluebird 84 passenger bus. Want to set this thing up for mainly solar power for everything and a wind generator and of course if cloudy will have a small generator. But need to run all lights and outlets and interior components off solar. Plan on getting a rv fridge and propane range, but will be using various kitchen electronics. Also will be living in full time. Can anyone help with how much watts ill need coming in, how many battery and what controllers or inverters. I dont know if ill need to go 24v or 12v or what.PLease help skoolie solar geniuses
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:49 AM   #2
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Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
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Welcome aboard!
You titled your post about solar and wrote about several other things...
Regarding appliances: Craigslist has been my greatest resource for refrigerator, sink, faucet, toilet, countertop dishwasher, Atwood stove/oven, insulation, & tools.

Regarding solar... I'm still in the dark
I once complained I had no shoes....
Until I met a man with no feet
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Old 07-09-2016, 04:34 PM   #3
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The first thing you need to do, I'm just learning solar too, is to buy a kill-a-watt. You can get this at home depot for around $30. Whatever appliances you plan to use in your bus, connect them one at a time to your kill-a-watt meter, and write down everything. This will tell you exactly how many watts, amps etc. that you will be using for those things. Your lighting system will need to be figured in as well. if you are using RV 12V lights you just need to know how many amps per light x number of lights and how many hours per day you will use them. The same with any other system components such as water pump, monitoring stations, etc. You have to know these things first before you can plan your system. Hope this helps!
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Old 07-09-2016, 04:44 PM   #4
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Location: Kentwood, MI
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Do a search for "rv forum". Lots of info about solar on the rv forums.
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:21 PM   #5
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its best to run an electric household fridge than a gas one, they love gas lots of gas. sunshine is free. i have a kill a watt and its useless if your on solar, most inverters are most efficient at 80% load. get this
Bogart Trimetric 2030 RV Solar RV Battery Monitor Meter w 500 Amp Shunt | eBay
the key to living off solar is not to waist any. use gas for everything you can, even to make coffee
living in a bus down by the river.
my build pics
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:24 PM   #6
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Hello and welcome!

I am 1 month into a bus with Renogy brand 200w solar kit. This was two 100w 4ft panels, with the mounts, wires, and vharge controller. It couldn't have been more simple to set up. Bought this kit on Amazon.

I also bought two Trojan t105 deep cycle batteries 6volt (connect in series; positive of one to the negative of the other. The two leads not connected become exactly what they are labeled only 12volt) If you are in Virginia i know where to get a awesome deal on the batteries.

I run a 42" plasma tv 180w for 1hr each night, i run two fans most the day and half the night, but all the rest of my stuff is small watt laptop, tablet, led lights, etc.

I run all of this off a 500w Home Depot black and Decker inverter (dont get the 1000w Cat inverter from Home Depot; i had two smoke and read countless reviews online of others having the same issue )

This 500 w is a whisker too small for me, so i plan to get a 1000w soon. Now everyone said i must get the "pure sine" inverter but these modified sine have yet to let me down.

I also run some automotive cigarette lighter cell phone and tablet chargers directly from the 12v batteries (where the inverter hooks up)

I have yet to even run the batteries low, and have used all of my gadgets to my hearts desire, and this is through rainy days, and stormy nights. Again LED lightbulbs are superb in keeping the power consumption down.

Like you i also went with the propane stove. Battery power for heating elements is super wasteful. Holler if you have any questions, and good luck!
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:03 PM   #7
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I came here primarily to thank Tat2Phil about the Kill a watt recommendation, It's been on the edge of my mind for awhile that I need a device like this but it hasn't been relevant enough for me to seek it out. Just got this P4400 off amazon for $20.

I am a Skoolie dunce, but I have an opinion. If you're anything like me, you probably want a simple answer. I will provide this with no experience to back it. Do you plan to have an air conditioner and use a hair dryer on occasion? Then you want 2000watt inverter. Are you a simple dude who plans to use propane for heating, cooking, and hot water? Then you don't need more than 1000watt inverter. As far as solar goes, maybe you want between 200-800 watts. (I'm planning 400watts and 1000watt inverter) For your fridge, look into chest freezer conversions before looking for an RV fridge. I've noticed that a lot of companies will market their "energy efficient" items with very little wattage to back it. You probably want a inverter charger so you can charge your batteries via AC power, Jazty did a sweet electrical setup on a budget in his armageddon bus, in fact after skimming through that build you should just read it all it will help you, on page 3 he breaks down his electrical usage.

Also proptip. Go to google and search "site:skoolie solar" (or replace solar with whatever you're seeking, you'll likely get relevant results).
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Old 07-10-2016, 05:10 PM   #8
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Best place to start is here, after you read it read it again then maybe one more time,
I've gone thru it about half a dozen times & still go back
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Old 07-10-2016, 05:52 PM   #9
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Kentwood, MI
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Jack and Danielle Mayer
Lots of technical solar info here.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:48 PM   #10
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Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
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1. Forget about wind power.
2. Read all you can on the Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum - those folk know solar.
3. You can never have too much solar! Yes, you need to know your power requirements first before you can plan your batteries / charge controller / PV panels / inverter / etc., but the concensus of thought is that you'll probably want more power eventually as your needs change over time, so buy more PV now than you think you'll need. PV is still less than a dollar a watt.

I have eight panels totaling just over 2000 watts on my bus - I would have bought more, but I don't have any more roof space!

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