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Old 02-15-2020, 07:39 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 33
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Thomas
Need solar help!

I cannot seem to wrap my head around figuring out how much solar I need for my project. I am trying to add up everything I have and check the usage, but I am losing my mind.

I am curious how big of a solar set up youíre running and what you are running off it.

I am looking at about 800w set up at the moment, but curious to see what you guys are running.

Thank you!
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:37 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
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Engine: 345 v8
I have 530 watts currently. right now Iím only running my whynter dual zone fridge, the natureís head, and charging all sorts of stuff during the day. I started off with just two 6 volt golf cart batteries and a cheap generator before I got the solar stuff so my batteries are my weak link, I only have a 400 watt plug in inverter which I rarely use beyond my electric razor. Right now I produce way more power than I can use, my batteries are charged really quickly each morning. My plan is to upgrade my batteries soon and install an inverter, then evaluate whether I need to put another set of panels on the roof. Iím 2 and a half years into full time living, it doesnít all have to be perfect to be comfortable, Iím letting my experience prioritize what I work on next and what I actually need.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:51 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
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Best to get your load devices, inverter(s) if any, and a DC coulometer to actually measure their consumption,

and start trying to ballpark your total usage, avg Ah per day.

For your battery input, figure 120% of consumption.

Every dollar you spend on lowering consumption will pay off a lot from reducing your up front costs in production and storage.

And many times more to the extent supplementing with ICE sources is required.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:03 AM   #4
Site Team
 
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: The West
Posts: 1,073
Year: 1998
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Chassis: 102 EL3
Engine: DD 60
asquarecan, it kind of sounds like you are focusing on the solar array/charge controller too much and instead should be focusing on your energy budget and battery bank storage capacity. Once you have that information in hand, you get to decide what your goals are for solar - primary source of power to charge your battery banks, supplement some other charging source, or something else.

This link is a short read on doing an energy budget - there are many similar so find one that makes sense to you. This link and this link are examples of an energy budget.

If you don't have a Kill-A-Watt meter, you probably should. It is a good investment for helping to do what you are doing.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:31 AM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
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Killawatt is for AC amp hours.

You want a DC coulometer (Ah meter) since ultimately most if not all your off grid energy usage is DC

And so your measuring of AC appliances' (which should be minimized) Ah per day consumption includes the substantial overheads imposed by inverters.
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Old 02-17-2020, 05:00 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
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Year: 2004
Coachwork: Thomas
Thanks for the help guys! I’ll try to figure these numbers out. I have an LG washer dryer combo that runs 110v, tv, and fridge. Pretty much all other power will be charging things and then dc lighting. Everything is new so I showed be able to get the numbers off those.
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Old 02-17-2020, 05:30 AM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
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Unless you go for a truly massive solar rig, household AC powered appliances like washer driers really should be supported by a genset running, or ust wait until you get back to shore power.

Same with aircon, hot water etc designed to run off shore power.

Systems designed for mostly-solar living off grid require are specialist very energy efficient units available internationally designed for yachts etc more suited to running off (still big) solar setups

but of course very pricey.
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