Hello everyone! I wanted to get some information on another hot topic that some are curious about, others want to go this but are still on the fence about going solar. I was going to do a video on this due to the amount of information I am going to explain but decided to have this in writing so that it can be a reference to come back to. I will explain the goods and bads about solar, how to maximize power in the winter months, and show how easy these. Kits are to install.
The easy part is installing the panels. With just a few screws and bracket, you can have your panels hooked in. Depending on if your part timing or full timing, or just taking a weekend trip may determine if you should buy angle brackets for your solar system. These angle brackets (brackets with a bunch of holes) give you the option to angle your panels. Now why would I do this? In the winter season the sun is lower then the summer time which makes it hard to get the maximum exposure to the sun. You typically want to be at a 90 degree angle to the or you may lose up to 40 percent of your power. To figure out your angle use the formula:
Latitude x (0.9) + 29 degrees
This will put you at a good 90 degrees from the sun. There. Are many types of these brackets out there ranging from $25.00 to $100.00. When you buy these, make sure you have the ones that will give you multiple angles. I paid $50.00 per bracket for this set
Once you have your panels installed you will see 2 cables with a male and female end. You will need to hook these in as refered on the diagram below. This set up is a 500 watt system so diagrams may vary by the panels you buy. I highly recommend sketching out a diagram first before panels are installed.
Once you reach your last panel, you will have a breaker that connects to your main power down to your controller. There is no right or wrong way of running your panel cables down since every rig is diffrent. We cut a little hole in our vent screen to feed down into the bedroom, then drilled a hole in our sink cabinet down to where our main trailer battery supply is.
Now the fun part… The electrical! This can get a bit confusing which happened to me also when I hooked everything up I blew the fuses in my inverter. Which brings me to another point. My 1,000 watt inverter holds 4 40amp fuses so if you here a pop and see smoke, tear the inverter open to check the fuses. See the diagram below for proper install. When I printed the diagram everything was in black ink so I had no color code to go by so it became a guessing game which could be a pricey one if not installed correctly.
You cant just put a car battery in and call it a day. You will need deep cycle 6v or 12v batteries to run. They are pricey (mine cost $375.00 a piece) but will earn your money back in the long run. The ones I run are used in military aircrafts, never need refilled and are 100 percent maintance free. You get what you pay for. You will beed to make sure you have enough battery power to keep up with your panels but not to much that would fry your system. I go by 1 battery for every 200 watts in panels.
Your inverter is where your power source will be to plug in your electronic. Im running a 1,000 watt inverter for my system but I would recommend a 1,500 watt if running a 500+ watt system. Juwt to give you that extra cushion.
Your controller is used to make sure everything is equalized so that your panels or batteries dont fry up. The one I use has a key chain for manual shut off. If the system runs hot, my controllet kicks in to level everything out.
You will have a control panel for inside your RV that reads for power levels, temperature of system and many more details of how your system is running.
The amount of watt system needed will vary on your load. 250 watt system is pretty good for 2 people to do there every day tasks of showering, watching TV and running appliances. I do recommend having a back up generator though and not soley depend on solar power. Also, solar wont power your air conditioning unit since it requires a couple thousand watts alone to turn over. Another one is your microwave. My unit will power it but barely. When shopping for a backup generator, I recommend nothing under 3,000 watts and be a duel fuel system to run propane and gas.
Maintance on these systems is nothing more then a squirt bottle of water and a rag. I recommend wiping the panels clean once a week unless you are in an area like Arizona with dust storms. Then I woulf recommend every other day. The shade of something as small as a twig will have a huge impact on your power.
The goods: saves on cost of having free power.
The bads: cant be soley depended on.
I hope I covered a good chunk about solar power and feel free to message me with any questions you may have. For those of you just interested, have a great day, those if you just starting, hope to see you on the road sometime and for the experienced RVers stay safe and keep the wheels turning.
Have an awesome day everyone.