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Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1139

  • fiatspider79
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We installed solar on our coach this winter while at Quartzsite. It works great. With only two 6V batteries and a small 1,500 Watt inverter we can run everything except the A/C and the microwave. By noon my batteries are fully charged and they are healthier because they are topped off daily.

Now my question. We have come east and will have a full hook up all summer, including a 50A connection.

Ok, now my question. Should I disconnect the solar for this extended period that it will not be needed or will the controller handle my concerns?

It is great to be traveling and not have to worry about having a hook up that evening or burning a lot of fuel to run the generator for several hours.

Second question, since I don't use the generator much, what is the minimum time I should run it to keep it in shape for when I will need it?

Glenn

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1141

  • monkey44
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don't know about the solar question, but as far as running the generator:

We ran ours once a month for an hour and changed the oil and cleaned the filters etc about every three months on our "on-the-job" generators when we were not up and running daily or at least several times a week. We had sporadic use becaue we usually had shore power, but at a job start-up we had no power so used the generators. Also used for back-up as we were pretty rural and often lost shore power during storms, etc. Never had any problems with that schedule...

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1143

  • franknsandy
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I am NOT a solar expert, however I do have acomment about the generator.
The first motorhome I had was a class "C". I only used it for a few months a year, so it sat a lot. Some mice got into the generator and made a nest in there and chewed up the wireing and windings, etc. It was a costly repair as even though I had purchased an extended warranty, the warranty did not cover all of this repair. I have since learned a trick.
Go to your favorite big box store or Wal*Mart and buy a package of those electronic mice repellers. They plug into the 110 VAC outlet and they DO WORK. I put one in each room of our house "out in the country" and for almost two years never saw any evidence of mice. NONE. I put in an extension cord in the RV so I could place one by the generator and in the 3 years since, NO MORE MICE. They work great. If you are in an area that mice are abundant you can have pretty much piece of mind that they will stay out of the RV or you house, etc.
Also I do a monthly PM where I start the generator and run it for about 5 minutes "with a load on it". I also do other things such as start rhe engine (diesel), run the a/c units if not being used, do maintenace on the batterys (clean the posts, cables, check and add water), check tire pressure. This has saved me time as I picked up a nail a couple months ago and had a slow leak. I caught it and was able to have it repaired before I was going to "hit the road".
Any way, I would like to hear more info about the "solar" rigs.
Frank

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1144

  • larryf
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Glenn, We leave our solar on all year, even when we have hook-ups. I don't turn on the charger and let the solar controller keep the batteries topped off. It's worked fine for the past 3 years. With AGM batteries, the battery system doesn't need any attention (or worries).
Larry Farquhar, USAF (Ret)
Owner/Operator of this website.
The Happy-Wanderers
Casino Camper Website

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1149

  • fiatspider79
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larry

Sure, rub it in. You have AGM batteries. Since we retired in the same pay grade it must be that you either invested wisely or actually had a well paying job in "retirement".

Now that I am a certifiable old fart in that I now wait patiently for the 4th Wednesday of every month for the Social Security check to land, I can start thinking about AGMs and other niceties of the fulltiming lifestyle.

I trust you on solar and, besides, that is what I was thinking anyhow.

We are in Savannah, GA volunteering at Fort Pulaski National Monument (four days on three days off for a full hook up) until August when we do our annual thing at the MAC Nationals of the NHRA in Indy. After my high school reunion in October we will be back here at Pulaski for the winter (kinda found a home here). So if you or anyone else on the board here get to Pulaski, ask for us and we will give you the very special VIP tour.

See ya down the road,
Glenn

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1155

  • larryf
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Glenn,

We made a little money from selling the sticks and bricks house. We enjoyed buying a few "luxuries" when we started fulltiming.

We're working in California, then heading as far East as Arizona this winter. Thanks for the offer of the VIp tour, but not this year.
Larry Farquhar, USAF (Ret)
Owner/Operator of this website.
The Happy-Wanderers
Casino Camper Website

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1158

  • bblhed
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Without looking at your system I can't say for sure, but there area few things you can check for yourself to be sure.

Any good solar system should have diodes in the system to protect the solar cells from the power input from the "shore power" Actually the primary function of these diodes is to keep the solar cells from draining your batteries at night. Something a lot of people don't know is that solar cells will draw power if they are hooked to a battery and not producing power (when they are dark). Check your wiring diagram, it should show the diodes. I would be willing to bet you can find a former electronics technician to help you out with this. If your batteries are not draining fast at night you should be all set.

One drawback of the solar systems is that they usually not charge your batteries when you are hooked to power because if the solar voltage is lower than the voltage from your hook up you will only charge from the higher voltage source. This will depend on your solar controller. But if you really want to be safe you could install a switch to disconnect the solar system when you are on full hook up.

Some solar tips I have picked up over the years.

1. If you can spray water on the outside of your solar so that droplets form they will produce more power (the drops act like little lenses).
2. Panels that are too hot, or too cold will make less power.
3. If you can move your panels to track the sun do it 5 or 6 times in a day, less is inefficient, more is not worth the annoyance.
4. Your batteries will work the best when they are about 3 years old (hold the most usable power)
5. The first 10 charge cycles are the most important, try to fully cycle the batteries for these first 10 charges (fully charge them, and drain them to the same "low" voltage for these 10 cycles). Being good to your batteries for these cycles can add up to 2 years to there expected life. IMO It is worth the effort and annoyance.

So you know, my experience comes mostly from driving over the road electric cars, there are other long distance tricks we used to use, but they were used to squeak out extra miles at the price of battery life so I did not include them.

Good luck.

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Re: Seeking Senior Solar Specialist 14 years 1 month ago #1159

  • fiatspider79
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So how does an underwater sailor know about sun stuff?

Great info. Thanks so much.

Glenn

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