Solar Powered Winter Heating - please help!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Cwinslow, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. Cwinslow

    Cwinslow Monkey

    Hi there,

    I am planning on living in my vehicle next winter in New England. I will have a solar array atop my vehicle, and hoping to utilize an electric heater to minimize my need for fossil fuels. Obviously I need a heater that will produce a substantial amount of heat for ~7 hours. I will have 2, 300W mono panels with a 480AH, 12v battery bank. Can anyone help me to identify if there is a high BTU heater available that could be powered via my solar setup? Thank you!
  2. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Your asking way too much of solar if all you have is the vehicle your living in.
    I built a 19' shop trailer and the top is covered with solar panels and it is still not enough to run electric heaters in the winter months .
    Particularly because in the winter the sun is at it's lowest in the horizon so efficiency is down a lot , for you it's significant. .
    There are alternatives but they would be replacing the photovoltaic with thermal syphon or a pump, using radiators both inside and out. the out side radiator would be double glazed and articulated with the sun or a satellite dish with a boiler at the focal point ,articulated with the sun. However if there is no sun there is no heat.
    Most systems are SUPPLEMENTAL not stand alone, especially in compromised environments.
    Wind might be a good asset being it circulates year round night and day in many places around the world. a 600 watt mill might run you roughly $600.
    I prefer the marine grade mills .
    Trees are going to be a problem no matter what you use , location,location, location.
    My mill is built on my shop trailer . DSCN4197.JPG
    I'm thinking of getting a second mill seeing the money is about the same watt for watt for solar.

    But for running an electric heater your going to need a significant deep cycle battery bank and a back up charging system when alternative resources are waining .
    While living in the desert I built a 5 HP gas engine driving an automotive one wire alternator (built in voltage regulator).
    That unit powered the house and charged the battery bank with very little fuel and reduced the wear an tear on the bigger generator I needed for working in the shop .
    I built a double glassed box with a 10 gallon tank in side, and that was our hot water heater .

    By the way don't forget skirt around the bottom of your vehicle and a tarp over the top leaving small screened openings for ventilation .
    Doctor shrink provides wrap that is tough enough to skin a boat that is as large as you can imagine , may be larger . A giant difference in maintaining warmth .and protecting your investment.
    Brokor likes this.
  3. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    About twenty years ago I lived in my truck for a few weeks while in the Boston area waiting for my new apartment to become vacant. This was in the March/April time frame, and I froze at night. I have no idea how you plan to keep warm with a solar setup in the northeast, but I wish you the best.

    If all else fails, you could insulate best you can and ventilate, then use lots of wool blankets and maybe get a few dogs to cuddle up with to keep you warm. If you're suicidal and aren't particularly worried about suffocating, there are lots of portable butane or propane heaters available, but that's a little dangerous...warm, but dangerous. It's probably legal in Massachusetts considering they only ban handguns and stuff like that, but still dangerous.

    Sorry I couldn't help.
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Your electric heater will run at a minimum of 1500W @ 120VAC.

    So, how many 12V batteries are in your array? What charge controller? What inverter? Oh, and what vehicle?

    Welcome to the Monkey.....
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
    sec_monkey likes this.
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Find a nice place to PLUG-IN.... or you will likely FREEZE....
  6. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    12v heated blanket.
    really good sleeping bag, lots of blankets.

    Are we talking car, truck, van or rv?

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I asked the same thing, wondering what insulation value the vehicle has... Just not enough information, yet.
    sec_monkey likes this.
  8. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Not solar, but my limited experience has shown that a good RV grade propane heater, vented outside, heat inside. with 12 v ignition and a very low wattage fan was the most practical for a van or small camper, some places are already experienced in installing them in small RV's and I found a complete system at a dealer that I bought cheap from a fire damaged RV. Not a good idea to drink and smoke. It had genset, battery, heater, stove, lights, refrig, water heater, water pump, all 12 v or propane. Used in a small cabin, not called a tiny house at the time and before solar was cost effective. Made off grid very livable except for toilet, and a 100 lb cylinder would last quite a while and was cheap at that time if you took it out and refilled it.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  9. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    Former New Englander here, Mass north shore for quite a few years, and Bershires for a while longer.
    Please rethink living in your vehicle.
    -For one thing, when you get it all tricked out for winter, it will be immobile.
    -It SNOWS in New England. It is more than possible come spring they will find you buried under a snowbank, quite stiff. It is more than possible you won't be able to open the door so you can sweep off the solar panels.
    -If it's in Boston proper and most other metro areas, the locals will see to it that you don't like it parked in public. If the cops don't insist you move the car, the Winter Hill gang will collect a toll.
  10. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Ha, there is no way you are powering a heater with solar.
    Let's say you find a low power 800w heater.
    You can power a small heater for maybe an hour while the sun is up.
    You don't want to use fossil fuels but you are going to be killing deep cycle batteries left and right. Recycling lead acid batteries is way more expensive and environmentally damaging than using some fossil fuels.

    The only way to not freeze to death in Maine is a wood stove, propane or fuel oil.
    If you could put up a few solar panels and stay warm for the winter trust me everyone would be doing it.
    Altoidfishfins and sec_monkey like this.
  11. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    You would be much better off, and a heck of a lot cheaper, to go with something like this:
    Portable Buddy Heater
    Brokor likes this.
  12. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Not good in an enclosed space....
  13. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++

    No way to do it with solar. The numbers will never add up. Rent a cheap RV space and plug in. Or, park by a building with an outdoor outlet and run a extension cord.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  14. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    As many in this thread have pointed out, the math doesn't add up. And unless you live in an area that has 100% of it's electricity generated by hydro, nuke, solar or geothermal, you're still ultimately using (and responsible for using) petrochemicals.

    What you want to do, with the setup you are talking about, is going to result in your death by hypothermia, possibly preceded by the loss of digits or limbs to the cold.

    If you add some sort of "combustion" heater and you don't vent it correctly, you're going to asphyxiate. There's really no way around that.

    What, exactly are you trying to do and why? Is it to save money? The planet? Get out of an abusive relationship? What kind of vehicle? Does it have to be mobile? Do you have access to any other facilities during the day?

    You mention living out of the and food? Toilet facilities? Bathing? What's the extent of living that will be done in the vehicle?

    People have asked these questions and you haven't answered. After a while one has to ask if you are really looking for help and answers or if you are looking for someone to agree with you, which is going to get you killed and honestly isn't going to happen with this group.
    Motomom34 and Dunerunner like this.
  15. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    If any of the above situations @DarkLight mentioned above exist, I recommend Florida for the winter.
    Tully Mars likes this.
  16. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Welcome to the monkey. Hope you come back and answer what vehicle and the other questions above. We did have a member post a really great thread about living in his truck but he went South in the winter
    Truck Living | Survival Monkey Forums
    duane and Dunerunner like this.
  17. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    As ALL said , Dreaming of solar !! NFW .

    Oil Dickerson heater , = one , Dickerson wood unit , Oil stove with wood is my choice for btu / $

    Solar IS your dream turned into a nightmare !!!
    sec_monkey likes this.
  18. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Portable propane Mr. Heater style puts out enough fumes to gag a maggot. I used to winter camp in my steel shed on my property in the mountains, and it only gets into the low +20s upper teens there - tropical compared to New England. I'd run one just long enough to get into my night clothing and crawl under a pile of sleeping bags, then shut it off.
    3cyl and Motomom34 like this.
  19. smithcp2002

    smithcp2002 Monkey+++

    Go to a Wally world and plug in.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  20. enloopious

    enloopious Rocket Surgeon

    Motomom34 and sec_monkey like this.
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