This mobile power plant has a 1280W solar charger with a 900Ah lithium battery bank and a 3000VA inverter. With this much power you won’t really need to watch gauges or worry about consumption. You may even be able to power your neighbor’s RV.
This client got a 640W Solar charging system with a 2000W inverter/charger. A system like this is capable of running a residential refrigerator, microwave and blender. Because a 70A charge controller was used, this system can be expanded in the future with the addition of two more 160W solar panels.
If you’ve ever thought about RV solar panel installation, a solar RV kit can be a great way to go. One kit comes with everything you need for your RV to be solar powered. We break down with a kit comes with and what everything is for.
The solar panel kit
The solar panel kit itself comes with solar panels, the size of which depends on the kit, and what you intend to use your solar power for. Most kits will come with a mount set, so you can physically mount the panels onto your RV. A harness is a tool that helps run the cables between the combiner box and the controller, and from there to the batteries. With most kits, you’ll receive cables that you’ll need to hook everything up.
Most kits will come with a charge controller. You might need to add on some monitoring equipment, as all kits might not include monitoring equipment. Charge controllers are used for regulating your solar power output, to deliver more of a current to the battery bank.
Some kits come with a great feature for monitoring power, like a Bluetooth compatible dongle system. It’s a system that can be synced with your smartphone via Bluetooth, to help you monitor your solar power input on your cell phone.
This is a smaller box that houses the cables running from your solar panels. This box monitors your solar panel output, and seals the cables off from roof penetration.
Most kits also come with a form of sealant, one that the company recommends. Most solar panel installation companies will use a form of sealant to seal around the solar panel mounts, the cable management, combiner boxes, and anything else on the roof.
Most solar kits will feature everything you need to run your solar RV. There are always customization's you can make to collect more power or run different things. But the kits will help you put the power you collect into a battery bank. Some systems will recommend an upgrade to a lithium battery bank, as there are added benefits to lithium batteries. Kits with monitoring systems that can you can access with your phone, make the monitoring of power collected a lot easier.
If you’re willing to invest in upgrades, you may be able to collect more power and run different appliances. Talk to your local solar RV outfitter and see what’s possible for you.
Converting your RV with solar panels can be a great way to get off the grid. There are things you need to know about your DIY solar RV and there is endless studying that can be done, but we’re here to let you know what you should consider first. Learn if a solar RV is just what you’re looking for.
What’s the difference?
The only major difference between solar panels for your home and solar panels for RV is the size. They still function relatively the same. RV Panels used for solar still convert the sun’s light into energy or electricity for your RV to run off of. Sunlight gets passed through your solar panels, which creates a current. This current flows to the charge controller, and that regulates how much current runs through the battery of your solar-powered RV system. Depending on what kind of power you need, DC or AC, the power then can get run through a solar inverter.
If you plan to run your whole RV off of solar power, you’ll definitely need an inverter. AC power runs things like chargers, laptops, small kitchen appliances like toasters, etc. Your solar panels will send the energy collected to a battery, that will store the power you need to power your RV.
What do you need?
Learning about exactly what you need to go solar can be tricky. Talk to your local solar RV equipment supplier about what you’ll need to do it. See how many panels they’d recommend for what you’d like to be able to do with your RV. You might need more panels for what you want to do, or you may just need to budget more time to collect energy.
If you’re looking for a greener way to power your RV, solar is probably the best choice for you. You can get off the grid with a solar equipped RV, and no longer depend on hook-ups in a campground. It takes some time and power management to figure out how much power you need to run your RV, and you have to use your power sparingly. For example, you probably won’t generate enough power to cook dinner, take a shower, and watch TV, but you may collect enough to do two of those things.
If the only thing stopping you is the cost of an initial outfitting with solar panels, you should consider how much money solar panels could save you in the long run.
If you want a greener way to go camping or are looking for a better way to live off the grid, check out what a solar RV can do for you. You will have to adjust your lifestyle to going solar, but it’s a great way to free yourself from campground hookups and get off the grid.
We recently had a customer who was installing his own lithium system trip over one of the M8 cables on the lithium battery and rip the end off. These diagrams show the pinout on those cables if a repair is necessary.
This client now enjoys the latest Bluetooth monitoring technology with their 800W solar charger and 640Ah AGM battery bank. Charging current, battery voltage, remaining battery capacity and battery temperature can all be read through the Victron Connect app on a smart phone.
This class A motorhome got a 640W Solar charging system with a 440Ah AGM battery bank and a 2000W pure sine inverter. In addition to powering their refrigerator, our clients will now be able to run appliances like a microwave, a blender, a coffee maker, etc. without turning on the generator.
This client had a simple solar charging system installed. Because of the tight roof space, we used our compact SP100 solar panels. The addition of a single set of tilt bars allows for easy roof cleaning.
This Airsteam owner had one of our Essential Lithium battery banks installed with a battery monitor, 2000W inverter and 500W of roof mounted solar panels. Because lithium batteries are damaged when charged at temperatures below freezing, we included one of our cold charge automatic disconnect kits. Along with the roof mounted solar, we included a 120W Zamp folding panel on its own Victron MPPT charge controller.
Renewable energy is energy that can be recreated, or energy that doesn’t harm the environment as much as fossil fuels do. There are many kinds of energy, for example solar power, that are deemed renewable, like the following:
Geothermal energy is energy that comes from the heat of the earth. It comes from heated rock and reservoirs of hot water that are miles below the earth’s surface. Geothermal plants are able to harness these naturally occurring heat sources and turn them into energy. Geothermal energy can help heat office buildings, help grow greenhouse plants, heat water, and more.
Harnessing the power of water isn’t new, as water wheels and mills have been used for decades. Now the energy of rivers is being converted into hydroelectricity. The most common example of this is a dam. Dams store water, like a reservoir, and release the water through turbines that produce electricity. Another way dams work is where a portion of a river flows through a channel with turbines, and energy is collected from the river as it flows through.
Ocean Thermal Energy
Along the same lines of harnessing the power of a river, lake or reservoir, is the power of the ocean. The ocean can produce two types of energy: thermal energy from the sun’s heat and energy from the motion of the water, tides and waves. Anything from ebbs and flows of tides, to wind-driven waves, and ocean currents can help generate power if harness properly. With most of the earth’s surface covered in water, the future is promising for hydro-related power.
Bioenergy is used to create alternate renewable energy, such as biodiesel. It can be used to create heat or electricity. It uses biomass, or organic matter, to create the energy. It does use the same amount of carbon dioxide as fossil fuels, but it helps remove an equal amount of CO2 from the atmosphere with replacement plants. It’s an ongoing process.
While wind is technically considered to be a solar-powered energy, it still falls into the renewable energy category. Wind is caused by the warming and cooling of the atmosphere. The power of the wind can be harnessed by wind turbines and converted into energy. In some farms today, windmills are still used to pump water.
There are many alternate ways of getting the energy that we need to exist. A lot of them aren’t as explored as fossil fuel energy is, but are well on their way to getting there. Solar power is just one of many alternate ways to supply energy from things like water, wind and sun, that already exist.
This client came to us with an existing 400W solar charging system using flexible panels (which we discourage due to reliability issues) and an additional 120W folding panel. We replaced the original roof wiring because one of the four panels had stopped functioning, added two SP100 solar panels and upgraded the charge controller. We also replaced the PWM charge controller on the folding panel and added a Victron MPPT charge controller with Bluetooth monitoring. Next, we added a 600Ah Signature lithium battery bank and a 3000W inverter, which all fit tightly under the bed. This is one of our most elaborate installs.
We installed a 220Ah AGM battery bank and a 300W solar charging system on this client’s van. In typical weather conditions, the solar panels will replenish about 75Ah per day (70% of the battery bank’s usable capacity). Solar, combined with alternator charging will keep these batteries topped off.
This trailer got a powerful roof mounted solar charging system along with a Zamp 120W folding panel. The folding panel has been customized to work on the same charge controller and monitoring system as the roof mount solar panels.
This client wanted a simple solar charger for the flooded batteries on their Class B RV. We gave them a 200W MPPT charging system using our ultra efficient SP100 solar panels.
We installed a powerful 960W Solar charging system, a 300Ah AGM Battery bank and a 3000W inverter on this class A motorhome. Fortunately Victron inverters can be installed in a variety of orientations. This one is upside down.
Our SP100 solar panels are ideal for the curved roofs on Airstream installations because of their compact footprint. This client ended up with a 300W solar charger and two new AGM batteries.
This client opted for a unique configuration with his lithium batteries and had us put them inside, under the couch. Wiring was extremely challenging but the installation was a success.
Learning about the world, and the effect that we have on it can be mind-blowing. Here at AM Solar we try to do our part by supporting green or alternative energy, such as solar energy. Now that 2017 has fulling arrived, and people have either kept or not kept their New Year’s resolutions, we’re here to suggest another. What if you pledged to reduce the impact you have on the environment? The best way to learn about your impact and come up with ways to reduce it, is to learn about what a Carbon Footprint is.
What is it?
Carbon dioxide is a color-less and odor-less gas that occurs in the atmosphere. It occurs naturally from the life cycle of oceans, soil, plants and animals. It’s also caused by human activities, and released into the environment at harmful amounts. The majority of human-caused carbon dioxide is from the burning of fossil fuels, decay of solid waste and combustion of wood products. If narrowed down, the top three sources of carbon pollution are electricity, transportation and big industry.
How to help
Of course, we can all pitch in by turning the lights of, making sure extra appliances aren’t plugged in all the time. Taking a bike or walking to work if possible is a great option. Taking public transportation isn’t a perfect solution, but it does help. Some cities have even pledged to use more environmentally friendly fuel (like biofuel) in their public buses, etc.
Carpooling is another great way to at least reduce the carbon emission that you personally put out. It takes a car relatively the same about of energy to get one person to a destination as it does to get 3 others. Sometimes there are even other perks to carpooling, such as programs offered by an individual state or city, or faster commuter lanes.
There are a lot of things you can do to help conserve energy, like investing in energy efficient appliances, weatherproofing windows and being conscious of the energy you do use. Recycling is also helpful to reduce energy.
It’s hard to feel like one family or one home or one RV can help make an impact on the growing carbon footprint, but you can. Taking small steps to using alternate energy methods does help. Try using a solar powered phone charger, or solar powered crank flashlight.
Another great way to test out solar options, is to outfit your RV to be solar. It’s not as big of a commitment to solar energy as your home, but it will give you an understanding of what the freedom of solar power can do.
Any way that you can contribute to a reduction in energy used will help reduce carbon emissions. One family, home, or RV can make a difference.
Four months prior these clients had us install four SF160 solar panels and a SunRunner Signature 40/2 Pro Core. On this installation they swapped out the Blue Sky components for Victron, added another 640W and got one of our 800Ah Signature lithium systems. Now they have 1280W of solar with one of the most advanced RV battery systems on the market.