Solar...should I, or should I not

Discussion in 'Camping Green' started by jmkay1, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    I really hate to ask this question as there are so many variables when it comes to solar. So here is the deal I got $250 from birthday money that for once want to spend for me instead of finances. I have been having my eye on solar panels for awhile now however I could never seem to be able to save up enough. I can buy a cheap 100 watt solar suitcase Or should I concentrate on battery power and give up the solar power idea? Here are the conditions. I live in the east coast and often camp in the mountains err hills, to those in the west. Which usually means leaf cover. Not ideal at all. On a group 24 I can just barley squeak buy on 4 days that is with very minimal use of the furnace. Leaving a tad less than half on the battery. I am very careful with power and check the battery often. I have led lights in the camper and only use the water pump once a day when on battery power. Phone will be charged in the car or a portable charger I carry. Nothing else will be used. Generator is out of the question as 85% of my campgrounds I frequent prohibit the use and no garage to store it. I don't normally camp longer than 4 nights but would like to be able to make it longer if I need to. What should I do?:smile_question1:
     
  2. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Put a controller inside the PU, one with a LCD display, close to battery, connect with 10g wire!
    The one linked below can bluethooth to a cell phone with app from Grape
    Get a 100w panel, cut off the connectors, butt splice 12g landscape wire of 30' or whatever and connect to controller, adding a 2 prong connector. Move panel as needed. Use camping & when in storage to keep battery in good shape.

    $128 100w panel delivered to HD for free

    $76 Grape Solar Comet controller

    $30 12/2 wire, connector, butt connectors, ...
     
    soft 17 and TinyCamperPro like this.
  3. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    Assuming your battery is over a couple of years old I would recommend a battery upgrade first, to at least a G27 or preferably a G31. Should be able to do that for about $100, leaving maybe enough for a beginner panel
     
  4. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea of the suitcase solar. And maybe upgrade to a group 27 or 31.
     
  5. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

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    Go with a 100 watt suit case panel. You want flexibility to move the panel to follow the sun. Then you can spurge on power usage
     
  6. TinyCamperPro

    TinyCamperPro Member

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    I agree with the others. You want a mobile panel to allow you to move with the sun. You never end up getting the ability to have a perfect campsite with no shade. I have mine on about 25ft of wire to allow me to move it around.

    I also really like that Grape Solar Commet controller from HD. The remote battery monitoring is quite an awesome feature! Upgrading to a battery and to a 100W panel should be quite helpful and plentiful in most scenarios.
     
  7. shuang2

    shuang2 Well-Known Member

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    Install the panel on the rooftop of the camper, then you never need to worry someone maybe take a chance to steal it. Also you could keep charging while you are on the road.
     
  8. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    . If I didn't camp under a whole lot of leaf cover I would agree with you. However I hate camping in a parking lot as there are no open fields here and I almost never am able to park in the sun. In the summer I'm going to be looking to park in the shade so being able to move the panels is critical. If I have to leave camp for extended time I will probably have to figure something out but most places I camp I haven't had any problems about things being stolen. I have more problems of things being stolen in my storage lot then I do at camp. Stupid city living. Another reason I need movable panels so there is nothing to be stolen when it sits in storage. Thanks though for bringing up the safety aspect of having solar panels.
     
  9. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    I would increase the battery size. look at a g-31 battery. compare the RC value or amp hours AH of the G-24 and G-31. The G-31 will give you about 40- 50% more battery amps. Which should take you to about 6 days.

    Solar with trees and over cast of the east is not that efficient. I have a 80W set that I need to move around need a 50 foot cord to move it into a sunny spot when there is sun?
     
  10. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    If you have to hide the panel in storage, go with additional battery capacity If needed) cuz solar 'shines' as a charger maintainer 24/7/365 for long battery life.

    1/2 of G24 ~40ah, 1/2 G31 ~50ah, about a day extra.
     
  11. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    I would go with a group 31 battery - or two if they will fit. Will give you that extra time that you want without having to do anything major or deal with moving things around.
     
  12. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    Oops. Double post.
     
  13. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I dont boondock. But i would up the battery also, at least it is a constant. Solar, as it is now isnt. And its too much of a gamble imho. Sure it works for a lot of people, but untill the technology gets better i would skip it.
     
  14. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Member

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    we Pop-Up dwellers really need a smaller furnace with a less watt-hungry blower; the furnace in my Aliner Scout is way too big for the small space it is heating
     
  15. bobinfleet

    bobinfleet Active Member

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    Go with the solar panel. We did it last year, got a 100w suitcase panel and havn't regreted it
     
  16. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    For us, solar has worked very well, but we tend to camp in the 4 Corners states, and usually have clear or mostly clear skies.
    The solar panels are handy, we set them out as we set up camp, and they do their job. We've chosen not to mount either set, so we can orient them best for each site, and chase the sun when we need to do so.
    Only you can determine if spending that money on solar is wise where you camp - but if it will allow you to extend your stay on occasion, it seems like a good investment.

    After our experience last month at the KOA, where they lost their main transformer, we've decided that the Zamp 160 goes on all trips, even if we expect to have power hookups. If we'd been in the trailer instead of a cabin, and had the solar panel, we'd have stayed instead of coming home.
    [most of the time, we are mostly dry camping, with hookups on overnight stops. My second solo trip this year will have power for all 10 nights, I'm still taking the Zamp]
     
  17. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

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    I'm impressed you can go 4 days on a group 24.

    I wouldn't give up on solar, but I would (and did) beef up batteries first. First thing I did in my TT was replace the dealer provided battery with a pair of 6V golf cart batteries.

    I have a gen, a GZ 400L, and numerous small battery packs to charge stuff, so I really can't justify solar for the amount of days I typically boondock. Someday....
     
  18. yetavon

    yetavon everything is better around a campfire.

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    We have camped a week, furnace, couple showers LED lights and kept the regular 12V battery topped up with a 100 watt harbor freight kit.
    We also have there 800 Watt inverter for 110 if we need it.
    Movable Panels may be a PITA but will work better for ya.
     

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