Preparedsociety.com banner

21 - 40 of 58 Posts

·
Resident Goldminer
Joined
·
31 Posts
Here's my take on solar: I used to have an RV, my mobile homestead. I had six of the 65 watt panels, a top-of-the-line regulator, and three of the 8D batteries (the big big ones). The total cost was about $3500 for it all. I ran an inverter for my desktop computer, the fridge, and lights. It provided about 70-75% of my energy needs in Summer, and about 50-60% in Winter. So, I still had to have a generator. That means another few hundred dollars for the gen-set. While the solar is perfectly silent, and starts paying for itsself on day one, I don't think it's worth it. Spend $1000 on a Honda 2000i which is portable, will provide 100% of your needs, last 20 years, provide 12v DC and is super quiet, and you'll still have $2500 to buy gas for it. Obviously the 200i won't run a home, but you get the idea. Watt for watt, a generator is far superior.
Solar has a nice 'green' feel to it, but is not efficient enough unless you have a huge number of panels, and lots of storgage. It would be easy to spend 10-15k on doing a home, only to not have all your energy needs met. I see no satisfaction in that.

I'm not trying to piss off the solar fans, I've used it for years, and found it lacking. You might have better luck. People need to be presented both sides of the argument.
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
Since I posted many moons ago, I have installed a solar-system on my trailer. I am now running dual 6-volt RV batteries with an 80-watt panel. I find that when I am on the prairies, I have sufficient power being collected by the panels and charging the batteries. When I am deep in the mountains, surrounded by trees, I may have too much shade to properly charge-up my batteries fully each day.

My fan-forced-heat in the camper can suck my batteries dry in a single cold night and set-off the low-power-alarm (ya, it beeps at me!). I am considering adding two more batteries to the system and change out the panel to a 120-watt unit and then moving my 80-watt panel to another project that I plan on starting shortly (see thread on my BOT).

I will agree with Wallrat that sometimes solar is lacking and other times it works well - I am trying to find that balance point with my systems.
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
Nadja,

It is because of the size of my camper-trailer. I have an Evolution E1 trailer that doesn't have a very large roof-line and I need to keep the top fairly free of "stuff" so adding a second / third panel may not be the best route to take.

If I had a different style of trailer, I could consider tossing more panels up there to boost my power production.
 

·
I invented the internet. :rofl:
Joined
·
3,698 Posts
Here's my take on solar: I used to have an RV, my mobile homestead. I had six of the 65 watt panels, a top-of-the-line regulator, and three of the 8D batteries (the big big ones). The total cost was about $3500 for it all. I ran an inverter for my desktop computer, the fridge, and lights. It provided about 70-75% of my energy needs in Summer, and about 50-60% in Winter. So, I still had to have a generator. That means another few hundred dollars for the gen-set. While the solar is perfectly silent, and starts paying for itsself on day one, I don't think it's worth it. Spend $1000 on a Honda 2000i which is portable, will provide 100% of your needs, last 20 years, provide 12v DC and is super quiet, and you'll still have $2500 to buy gas for it. Obviously the 200i won't run a home, but you get the idea. Watt for watt, a generator is far superior.
Solar has a nice 'green' feel to it, but is not efficient enough unless you have a huge number of panels, and lots of storgage. It would be easy to spend 10-15k on doing a home, only to not have all your energy needs met. I see no satisfaction in that.

I'm not trying to piss off the solar fans, I've used it for years, and found it lacking. You might have better luck. People need to be presented both sides of the argument.
We understand your frustrations with solar power's high cost to output ratio. A generator puts out far more electricity at a lower intitial cost. A generator designed for continual usage is expensive and absolutely, totaly, 100 percent dependent upon fossil fuels. We live completely off-grid and have approx. 1,000 watts in solar power. We also have 4000 watt and 6000 watt generators. We use thenm occassionally to charge batteries after a week or so of cloudy days or to run my larger power equipment and welder.

We just made some adjustments in lifestyle and get along just fine on what the solar produces about 99% of the time. We seldom use the generators anymore.

When we went to Nevada last winter we took a single 100 watt panel and only ran out of electricity once for one night. We ran lights, small DVD player and two notebook computers. We use LED lights and the computers use less juice than your standard incandescent lightbulb. At home we run our refrigerator off the solar panels all seasons except winter.

Solar may not be for everyone but the big thing about solar is that it will function without fossil fuels for the next twenty-years or more. A generator is only as good as your fuel supply and if you use it much it will need frequent replacement.
 

·
Resident Goldminer
Joined
·
31 Posts
We understand your frustrations with solar power's high cost to output ratio. A generator puts out far more electricity at a lower intitial cost. A generator designed for continual usage is expensive and absolutely, totaly, 100 percent dependent upon fossil fuels. We live completely off-grid and have approx. 1,000 watts in solar power. We also have 4000 watt and 6000 watt generators. We use thenm occassionally to charge batteries after a week or so of cloudy days or to run my larger power equipment and welder.

We just made some adjustments in lifestyle and get along just fine on what the solar produces about 99% of the time. We seldom use the generators anymore.

When we went to Nevada last winter we took a single 100 watt panel and only ran out of electricity once for one night. We ran lights, small DVD player and two notebook computers. We use LED lights and the computers use less juice than your standard incandescent lightbulb. At home we run our refrigerator off the solar panels all seasons except winter.

Solar may not be for everyone but the big thing about solar is that it will function without fossil fuels for the next twenty-years or more. A generator is only as good as your fuel supply and if you use it much it will need frequent replacement.
Good points...I should have said that while solar didn't supply all my needs, it was wonderful while it lasted. Perfectly silent electricity from the Sun is that 'Green" feeling I mentioned. But for people with a tight budget, it might not be the best option. To me, solar is best suited if you're doing it on a home (or a big RV you can carpet the roof of with panels), one you'll have for at least ten years or more. Then it might pay off. My two cents.

Also, Nae-kid, on your trailer...I've seen people put panels on the hinged fiberglass window cover on the front window of a pulltrailer. Don't know if that's what you have, but it might be another spot to use.
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
WallRat - if you peak at my message again, you might noticed that the "Evolution E1" is in another color - that is a link to GoogleImages that you can peak at many pictures of my trailer and at pictures of other's trailers as well.

If I remember correctly (IIRC), my Jeep and trailer are picture #4 in the list ...
 

·
Resident Goldminer
Joined
·
31 Posts
OK, got it....no front window! It looks like you could put at least four big panels on the roof of it, but you said you need to keep it free of stuff. Love those trailers...If you have quads or bikes, it'ld be sweet. How about making some freestanding frame for your panels, so you can stand them up like an easel, then rotate as the Sun moves, and put away when you leave? You can use quick connectors for the wiring.
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
OK, got it....no front window! It looks like you could put at least four big panels on the roof of it, but you said you need to keep it free of stuff. Love those trailers...If you have quads or bikes, it'ld be sweet. How about making some freestanding frame for your panels, so you can stand them up like an easel, then rotate as the Sun moves, and put away when you leave? You can use quick connectors for the wiring.
I have my panel mounted on cross-bars on the roof with a quick-connect between the panel and the rest of the trailer. That allows me to disconnect the panel when I am travelling. The wire is long enough that I can reach the roof with a couple inches to spare. The problem is that the weight-restriction on the rising-roof is such that I am close to the limit already having the bars and panel up there. I am wanting to put a second set of cross-bars on the roof (it is designed for it) so that when it is down, I can strap my 16' canoe to it. That might put me over-the-top for the static-weight on the roof.

I have only the small deck on the front of the trailer, I can't strap motorbike or quad or anything like that to the trailer. I designed and built a rear 2" hitch for the trailer so that I can carry extra stuff on the back of it via hitch-rack. There is a thread about my trailer hiding somewhere on the forum under the vehicle section if you wanna see more of it.
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
Naekid, by the way , since your up there in the cold beyond your wildest dreams, you ought to wear clothes Lol Why don't you make you a hinged "awning" window or no window, and let it down when your traveling and put it up when your parked ? I think I would create something like that if it were me.
Ahh ..... clothing, it is over-rated. I don't mind wearing clothing when the temperature bounces off of -40° to as warm as -20° - any warmer than that and I just swelter.

I am not the only one like that ... check out this ice-fishing video ..


Anyway, can you sketch-up your idea on the awning idea for my solar-panel? I can't picture it ...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
336 Posts
Well, nakid, I don't know if you could read my sketch. But picture this. Lets say you put two panels side by side and made you a angle iron frame. Then , you put say 4 door hinges at the top of them, and mount that , hinges at the top to the side of your rv so that it goes up and down , sorta like the flap on a tent. Now you can either mt a couple of support rods, like on the hood of a car to keep it up or simply make a couple of 2 x 4's different lengths etc or a rod with bolts sticking out to raise the entire "awning' at different increaments as to where the sun is. Sure would give you a lot of extra power. When it comes to solar, more is always better.

As far as Crazy Canooks are concerned, why would anyone down here in the real world think of you guys as anything different anyway ? LOL
 

·
performing monkey
Joined
·
4,230 Posts
Well, nakid, I don't know if you could read my sketch. But picture this. Lets say you put two panels side by side and made you a angle iron frame. Then , you put say 4 door hinges at the top of them, and mount that , hinges at the top to the side of your rv so that it goes up and down , sorta like the flap on a tent. Now you can either mt a couple of support rods, like on the hood of a car to keep it up or simply make a couple of 2 x 4's different lengths etc or a rod with bolts sticking out to raise the entire "awning' at different increaments as to where the sun is. Sure would give you a lot of extra power. When it comes to solar, more is always better.

As far as Crazy Canooks are concerned, why would anyone down here in the real world think of you guys as anything different anyway ? LOL
a small geared motor to turn it and suntracker* software are both pretty cheap add-ons now
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
336 Posts
Good mornin Naekid. Having just looked at your tent trailer, I instantly realised that you cannot put much more on the roof and pretty much nothing on the sides. A 1,000 watt panel, if they were to make such a monster, would weigh in at 2 or 3 hundred pounds by itself. Therefore, you would need to make a small A-Frame type mounting system, much like the old hawkers would wear walking up and down the streets to advertise products and movies. But even then you would want no more then 2 panels on it, as they are a little heavy, especially when you add all the wood weight with it.
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
Good mornin Naekid. Having just looked at your tent trailer, I instantly realised that you cannot put much more on the roof and pretty much nothing on the sides. A 1,000 watt panel, if they were to make such a monster, would weigh in at 2 or 3 hundred pounds by itself. Therefore, you would need to make a small A-Frame type mounting system, much like the old hawkers would wear walking up and down the streets to advertise products and movies. But even then you would want no more then 2 panels on it, as they are a little heavy, especially when you add all the wood weight with it.
I am glad that you had a chance to peak at my trailer so that you would understand my limitations on placing panels on the roof. I have considered a "painter's easel" style of solar panel mount that I could put on the ground and move as required, but, the amount of space that I have to work with on the trailer is quite limited for storing the panels. I can place about 200# on the top of the roof while travelling and about 50# can stay up there when raising and lowering the roof.

You can see more about my trailer (and pictures of it and the solar on it) here in the Vehicle-discussion-zone at: http://www.preparedsociety.com/forum/f21/travel-trailers-715/
 

·
YourAdministrator, eh?
Joined
·
8,000 Posts
I tow the trailer with a Jeep - there isn't really any room for large solar panels on my Jeep. If I went to a big truck (like a 3/4ton or 1ton long-box with canopy and rack), I could probably do something with more solar panels being transported by the truck ... but, till then, I am working with what I have ...
 
21 - 40 of 58 Posts
Top