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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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Old 04-22-2016, 12:37 AM   #11
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Has anyone tried a Sundanzer? I have yet to read a review complaining about efficiency.
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Old 04-22-2016, 10:13 AM   #12
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OP: Let me put a shameless plug in for having a little Honda EU2000i as a backup for your solar system. Caca Happens. When it's been three days without sun, and the XYL wants to blow-dry her hair, you'll be a hero. Greatest little things since sliced bread. Toss a gallon of gas at it and it'll run 12 hours charging batteries. Very quiet. And perfectly happy running out of gas, so you don't need to baby-sit it. Plug. Pull. Go away. Come back to a full charge and firm ice cream.

Yamaha makes a very good inverter genny too, but my fav is the Honda. YMMV.

You're in signals? Extra class ham here. PM me if you want to yak on 40 meters some time. BTW: your ham ticket gets you some amazing pricing (and free shipping) on an EU2000i from Mayberrys.com. Call 'em and introduce yourself.
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Old 04-22-2016, 03:46 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by GreyCoyote View Post
Yamaha makes a very good inverter genny too, but my fav is the Honda. YMMV.
I absolutely agree. I used the same 2kw gen running a 1500 watt hammer drill for 10-12 hrs a day when I worked construction. Best generator hands down I've ever used... Totally worth the slightly higher price tag.
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:34 PM   #14
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I've been researching solar - there is a blog Cheaprvliving.com; gentleman there has links to decide how many watts and panels you need - check it out...
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Old 04-30-2016, 01:06 PM   #15
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Thanks again to all of you! I have to say the response was more than I expected with a somewhat vague question.

I decided to leave it alone and look at other things for the bus for about a week or so. Luckily enough I was on yt and found an awesome link that cleared it all up for me. This may be common sense in these parts and I apologize if it is but it was a resource for a noob like me so it may help someone else.

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Old 04-30-2016, 07:33 PM   #16
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Well, sorry that didn't exactly hit the nail on the head. It seems that the Sundanzer is not a popular choice in this crowd. Without a link there's a few choices about what that could be. It's power related based on responses? It's a Sundanzer awning? Inverter? Ohh... gettng a headach. Not enough data.
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Old 05-23-2016, 07:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
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.
This is exactly how I feel. I am a navy brat and medically retired navy vet myself and if I am anywhere for more than two years I go nuts! Cannot wait for these next two years of conversion to pass by so we can get out of here! Five years is too long!
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