Solar suggestions for my camper

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Oddcaliber, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. Oddcaliber

    Oddcaliber Monkey+++

    Now that I have this I'm going to figure out how to put solar panels on it . I'm thinking 2 400 acp hour battery's with enough panels to keep them topped off. Propane can run the fridge,furnace and water heater. Looking for LED lights for the inside and going to run wires for USB ports. Biggest power drain is the furnace fan when used for winter camping. My goal is to have the ultimate BOV. Any suggestions on this? Thanks.
    techsar likes this.
  2. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    How big is the roof?
    I day fill it with as many 100 to 120 watt panels that will fit.
    Gator 45/70 and Oddcaliber like this.
  3. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Dimensions around the A/C unit (if that is what that hump in the middle of the roof is) would help. I'm thinking one 100 to 120 watt panel forward and one aft would fit, but that is just a SWAG...

    As for the LED lights, I don't think you will have to change the fixtures. Take a look online at Camping World. They may have replacement lamps in LED for those old fixtures. Most old RV fixtures use automotive lamps. Those are replaceable with LEDs.

    That propane runs everything, think about spending $45 for another 30# tank or adding dual tanks with an automatic selector valve to the tongue of the trailer. and and
  4. Oddcaliber

    Oddcaliber Monkey+++

    Oil pan, the roof is 12'x 7'. Got some real-estate up there to mount panels. Just watch out for the AC unit.
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  5. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Depending on the age of the furnace, a Wave 3 (or larger) heater might work as well and you save the power for a cloudy day.
  6. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    80 to 120 watt panels will be your bet to get cheap panels that will fit on the roof.
    They will be around $1 per watt shipped.
    If the panels are laying flat expect about 400 watts of installed capacity to make 1kwh using a MPPT charge controller.

    Get an Morningstar mppt charge controller. That's what I use and a pwm charge controller for backup.
    Zimmy and Gator 45/70 like this.
  7. Oddcaliber

    Oddcaliber Monkey+++

    Good option,also a Mr Heater Buddy ain't bad.
    Dunerunner, Gator 45/70 and 3cyl like this.
  8. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Just a thought here...24 volt (nominal) panels tend to be much cheaper per watt, and if you're going to use an mppt controller will pave the way for future updates if you so desire.

    Could you easily retrofit the furnace blower to a dc motor? That would save on conversion losses.
  9. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I bought a new Travel Trailer about 4 years ago. First thing I did was replace all the interior incandescent bulbs with LED towers. I checked Camping World first, but they were charging something like $22 apiece. There were some 25 or 30 total lamps that needed to be replaced. Ouch!

    I found some on Super Bright Leds ( and also on eBay for far more reasonable. BTW, get the correct base and the LEDs are a direct replacement for the incandescent bulbs, no lighting fixture change is required.

    While I was at it I measured the current for an incandescent bulb, 1141, at 1.44A. The LEDs that appear to be just as bright draw right around .3A (300 mA). So you can run almost 5 of the LEDs on the same amount of current that it takes to run one incandescent. The LED towers provide plenty of light for the interior of the TT.

    This was important because I have a (sort of) portable solar site at the BOL, no commercial power available. So I wanted to go as easy on the discharge cycles of the batteries as I could. The solar site has been working reliably for several years, providing power throughout the night, even with the furnace running. In full sun the batteries are usually recharged no later that 11:00 AM, even in winter.

    Fridge and hot water are run on propane, so I bought a Stay-a-While kit, a 12 foot propane hose, and a couple of 100 lb tanks.
  10. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Might want to check out the blog "RV Sue and her canine crew'--

    Retired lady teacher- lived in her 17 ft Casita - mostly boondocking. Worth the time to read to see how her solar system/internet worked for her for the last 6 years....
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  11. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I made a solid canopy that is hinged on the side of my camper ,hanging down it is just from the roof to the wheel well.
    I plan to build a matching canopy for the other side , solar panels will be mounted on these canopys .
    The advantage in doing it this way is that the support can be made to accommodate the attitude of the sun any were I park . the top of the camper can be still used to hold the boat.
  12. Cwmoore

    Cwmoore Totally off grid

    Don't waste your money on low wattage panels for $1 per watt! Buy a couple 300 watt panels for the same price. They should fit. The higher the voltage the better because you can use smaller wires. With a good mppt controller you'll be amazed at how much energy you can harvest.

    On my camper I have 2 327 watt 60 volt panels wired in series I bought on eBay for $110 each. I use a victron mppt charge controller which is made for vehicles. I have 4 trojan batteries that store all the power I need for everything including my makita and ryobi chargers and runs the heater fan thru the night. Of course I do live in Arizona.
    Cruisin Sloth and oldman11 like this.
  13. Navyair

    Navyair Monkey+

    I concur with the canopy set up. Watch the short solar movie on this website. Might give you some good ideas. I'm considering building one of these so I can put a lot of my bug out stuff in the trailer. I had a "Yuppie Wagon" that I got for my kid to travel around for the military...great trailers, weigh almost nothing, very sturdy. They use a different model for this video, but you could just adapt the tilt set up (no trailer) for your BOV.

  14. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    After all the years with plastics i'd rather have an aluminum roof over any thing else .
    Fibre glass though the years disintegrates and every other roof material falls apart through the years. but aluminum lasts forever .
    If you have the skill to build, think about the long term, not the price.
    I lived in the mountains when I designed my trailer and knew the draw backs to trailer designs , and even though my trailer is not pretty, I prefer it that way.
    In retrospect the only change I'd make is having 3 axils not 2. but you use what you've got at the time . I should have allowed for that modification on construction. not thinking far enough ahead.
    My shop trailer has paid off since the time I made it 30+ years ago .
    It's like an over sized tool box
    but currently it's gotten crowded and making decisions about what is necessary and what is not is conflicting.
    If I only did carpentry it would simplify things, but my range of experience is too broad for my own good.
    Learning new stuff is addictive .
    Do you realize how many different kinds of hammers there are ,not to mention all their different sizes?
    To simplify things I have categorized my tooling into job titles and boxes specific to their task even if it means doubling up on certain universally used tooling . This so that if I have a plumbing problem I pick up the specific tool boxes and every thing I need for the event is in there, no running back to the trailer for a screw driver of which i own several .
    I digress , my solar and wind mill and battery bank are in there as well .
    Load levelers and electric brakes are an important assets as well on a heavy trailer, wouldn't go any where with out them.
  15. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Anything bigger than about 280w usually incurs a freight charge.

    Stopping is good. There is no short supply of stupid people on the road doing dumb stuff.
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