This is one of the coolest campers we have worked on. The client used to live in a Tiny Home. Now he has moved into a camper that is about the same size. We installed 540 Watts of solar power and substantially upgraded his battery bank. This camper is designed to be very energy (and space) efficient, so the solar power we installed should go a long way towards powering his light DC loads.
This is another client of ours that made the decision to move out of their traditional home and live the RV lifestyle full-time. This client actually had their brand-new Escape trailer delivered to our facility by the manufacturer. They are planning on working full-time out of their trailer while traveling around the country. The 360W solar power system we installed will help keep their batteries charged, and allow them to run some light DC loads while they journey throughout the country.
This client’s rig came to us equipped with both a residential fridge, and an AC/DC freezer. They also had a 3000W Xantrex inverter (previously installed), and a battery bank consisting of eight 6V Discover AGM batteries providing 414Ah of usable battery capacity. We installed 1400W of solar power on their roof, mixing five SF180W solar power kits with 5 SP100W solar power kits. On average, the solar power generated by this system will restore about 350Ah a day to their batteries. We also installed a Victron 150/100 charge controller with built-in Bluetooth capability, a Victron BMV-702 battery monitor, and a VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart Dongle so they can easily and accurately monitor their battery bank’s state of charge.
This premium system contains some of the best components money can buy. These clients had us install a 960W solar charging system with a 600Ah lithium battery bank, and a 3000VA inverter. They live full time in their RV, and now they can enjoy some of the same comforts of a grid connected home while on the road. Living off-grid is much easier with a powerful system like this.
This client was looking for something small and relatively inexpensive to keep his batteries charged and in good health. To accomplish his goal, we installed 360W of solar charging power along with a 25A Blue Sky charge controller. He’ll also be able to use the added solar power to help run some light DC loads.
One decision our clients have to make when setting up their RVs with solar power is what kind of battery bank they want. Lifeline AGM batteries are very popular for this type of application, but we also offer Lithium batteries, which are the latest and greatest battery technology. For this client we installed an 800Ah 12V Lifeline AGM battery bank. A comparable lithium system would have cost over $6000, while this client paid around $2200 for their AGMs. This is a very powerful system for someone who doesn’t want to spend the additional money on a Lithium system.
This client was already familiar with BlueSky solar products, so he chose to go with a BlueSky 3024iL charge controller. Along with the BlueSky charge controller we installed a 2000VA Victron Inverter kit, and a 300Ah AGM battery bank to complete the system. The mid-sized solar power kits provide enough power to keep his batteries healthy, and run some electronic devices when disconnected from shore power.
This client elected to go with a Refrigerator Vent Combiner Box instead of our usual Roof Combiner Box because they didn’t want to have another hole drilled into their roof. The Refer Vent Box utilizes the existing hole that is used to vent the refrigerator, but it can only accommodate up to four solar inputs. It’s not a bad option if you’re definitely not going to expand, but it is obviously limited. The Roof Combiner Box we manufacture allows for eight solar inputs, doubling the possible capacity.
Some clients bring us rigs with very little work done in terms of making the van a viable place to live. An empty rig gives us plenty of options when it comes to strategizing the placement of our equipment, but we also want to make sure that our clients have some flexibility as they make changes. We completed this installation knowing that when the client ultimately builds out their rig they may need to move our equipment. This van was set up so that the client can relocate the components we installed (if needed) without much of a headache.
This client originally requested to have three SF180 Solar Power Kits installed, along with a 40A charge controller. After about a month he realized that he didn’t have enough solar power to meet his needs and he came back to upgrade his system. We added three more SF180 Solar Panel Kits, and replaced the 40A charge controller with an 85A Victron charge controller to accommodate the additional solar charging current. We always recommend that our clients have us install a system that is easily expandable to avoid duplicate costs. It is much more cost effective to install a larger system core that allows for expansion than it is to install a smaller system core that has to be completely replaced in order to add additional power.
If you’re looking to add solar panels to your RV, there are some important facts you need to know about solar panels and cold weather. While the cold isn’t harmful to your solar panels, it can impact the way that they function. Read about some of the frequently asked questions about solar performance in the winter months.
It’s important to know that when the weather turns cold, it can affect your battery storage capacity for your solar panels. If you keep your batteries fully charged, and you use them on a frequent or daily basis, they won’t freeze very easily. Temperatures would have to drop significantly, to negative 70 degrees or more, before you could be worried about that. It is important to note that if batteries aren’t fully charged they can freeze much faster, around 10 degrees F. Ask your solar provider what they recommend during the cold winter months.
When AM Solar installs solar panels on an RV they’re sure to install them so that they can collect the most sunlight possible. Typically in the winter snow won’t stick to solar panels, because they’re really smooth and snow mostly slides right off. If you’re able to store your solar powered RV so that the panels are facing the sun you’ll see the best results. If the panels are facing the sun, whatever snow sticks should melt.
If you do find that snow is sticking to your solar panels, you need to be careful about removing it. Try to gently remove most of the snow from your panels and RV roof. Try to always have a broom or brush on hand, so that you can clear fresh snow off. The longer snow sits, the more likely it is to freeze and stick to your panels. The longer you leave snow on your panels, the longer they’ll go without collecting energy.
You also want to be sure to prevent any damage to your solar panels. Just like water melts into cracks on the sidewalk, it can melt into any cracks in your solar panels, and expand the cracks when it freezes. This is one of the main reasons why it’s important to keep snow off of your solar panels.
Don’t worry if you experience more cloudy weather in the winter. Even if it’s cloudy, your panels are still collecting energy. If there’s any light, your panels are collecting it and converting it in to energy. Remember that solar panels don’t react to heat, they react to light, so as long as there is light, they’ll be collecting energy.
If you’ve always struggled in giving gifts in the holiday season, maybe it’s time to go solar with your gift giving. There are a wide variety of solar gadgets that are fun to give, and some gadgets are highly functional for your next solar outing in your solar equipped RV.
If you’re looking to go solar in all aspects of life, it might be time to invest in some solar decorations for the holidays. There are plenty of solar operated light to choose from, whether it’s outdoor or indoor you’re looking for. Solar lights collect the energy they need during the day, and stay lit well into the night. The next day they start collecting energy again.
Most people love holiday trains riding around the base of your Christmas tree, and there are now new options. There are now solar powered trains, that you can set up as part of your holiday decorations.
If you’re looking for fun solar gifts to give, there are solar figurines that are simple and easy. Figurines that light up or move, if left in the sunlight by a window, are a fun gift to give.
Think about giving a solar powered flashlight, or hand crank flashlight. In a world that is slowly transitioning away from batteries, it’s important to have a flashlight on hand that doesn’t require them.
Another great solar gift to give that has a high functionality is a solar mobile charger. Perfect for the solar RV camper in your life or just someone who enjoys getting out on the trails. A great stocking stuffer, a solar mobile charger is great for those instances where your phone unexpectedly dies in the middle of the wilderness.
While tools have always been a hallmark staple gift around the holidays, this year it’s time to shake that up. Many manufacturers are coming out with solar alternatives to power tools. Find solar powered tools, tool kits, and multi-tools this year.
There are plenty of smaller solar gadgets to find for a solar fan this time of year. From solar showers, to mobile chargers, to solar powered flashlights, to even holiday decorations, there’s plenty to find when it comes to converting to solar.
This client wanted to install a small amount of solar power now with the potential for adding more in the future. We fully wired their trailer, installed a 40A Blue Sky charge controller, our AM Solar Roof Combiner Box, and 360 Watts of solar power. When ready to expand, all they will need to do is mount more solar panels to the roof, and wire them into the Combiner Box. That’s a job they should easily be able to do themselves as a DIY project now that the hard work is out of the way.
When it comes to the world of solar, and especially solar equipped RVs, lithium batteries are the go-to choice for solar fans. Why are lithium batteries more chosen, and what makes them the preferred battery for solar battery banks? At AM Solar, we’re fans of the lithium battery, and here’s why.
Lithium batteries are most often chosen because of the wide variety of benefits they bring to the table. Lithium batteries offer more power, and are able to deliver it over a longer duration of time. They’re also smaller and lighter than other batteries, which makes them much more convenient for using in a solar charging system for a solar powered RV.
Lead batteries tend to lower the voltage they deliver as their power drops, but lithium batteries are able to deliver a consistent level of stored power. They’re also able to sit unused for longer periods of time, than other batteries, like lead acid batteries, which makes them an ideal battery for a solar-powered RV.
Price of a Lithium Battery
While the cost of lithium batteries used to be what deterred most people, they have now become more affordable. While they’re still more expensive than lead acid batteries, when you weigh the benefits and how long they’ll last they’re a much more affordable alternative, with pricing close to that of lead acid batteries.
Using in a Solar battery bank
When using lithium batteries in a battery management system, they don’t get over charged or ever completely discharge. While they do have a longer lifespan, it’s the lower weight that makes them perfect for solar powered RV’s. With a higher current output, and less maintenance required, they’re that much more usable.
AM Solar offers different set-ups for their lithium battery banks. It all comes down to how much use you need to get out of your solar power in your solar equipped RV. If you need to function with more appliances you’ll need to set yourself up a bigger capacity battery bank.
On Airstreams, due to their rounded roofs, we often use different sized feet to attach the solar panels to the roof. Some clients like to have the panels conform to the curvature of their roof, others prefer a more level appearance. We are happy to install them either way, or even come up with custom mount sets when necessary. This client asked us to use taller feet on the outside, and shorter feet on the inside, resulting in a flatter look. At the end of the day it’s only about personal preference as the performance difference is generally negligible.
The pictures in this post show the steps we had to take in order to upgrade this client’s battery bank from two 12V wet cell batteries connected in parallel (150Ah) to their new battery bank comprised of two 6V Lifeline AGM GPL 6CT batteries (300Ah) connected in series. The battery bay was too small to accommodate the new AGMs without modifying the bay lid. A plasma cutter was used to remove most of the metal top of the battery bay so that the battery terminals would not touch the metal lid. Now there is just enough room for the new the batteries to fit, thus doubling their battery capacity as a result.
1x SF180 Solar Panel Kit
1x Roof Combiner Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 25A Charge Controller Core
2x AGM GPL 6CTs 300Ah Batteries
This client requested as much solar power as possible. We ended up installing 640W of solar power within the limited space available on their roof. We also installed a Trik-L-Start charger which takes power from their solar charged house batteries and transfers it to the starter battery. The Trik-L-Start charger is particularly useful when the vehicle is parked for extended periods of time. You won’t have to worry about your starter battery dying, and it helps maximize the life of the battery.
This client requested to have a portable panel installed along with an additional 300W of solar power on their roof. We provided a 120W portable panel from @zampsolar, and we installed a portable panel plug on their bumper for easy access. All they have to do is plug the panel in, put it a sunny area, and it will produce solar power. In the event they are parked in a shaded area they still have a way to harness the power of the sun.
Space can be an issue for some of our clients who want as much solar power as possible, but don’t have much room. The available space on this roof was very limited, and we concluded that our standard solar panels would not provide the best fit for this client. Our friends @zampsolar provided these slim 80W solar panels that fit perfectly on the sides of this client’s air conditioner. Zamp Solar also offers some awesome portable solar panels that are designed and built right here in the United States.
This client wanted to be able to run his microwave, and he wanted all of his AC outlets to be functional when dry camping. The existing battery bank was not large enough to power the loads he was planning on running. It’s recommended that when running a heavy AC load (like a microwave) you want to have at least a 300Ah to 400Ah battery bank. We doubled the size of his battery bank (from 220Ah to 440Ah), installed a solar charging system and an inverter, which should give him the power he needs to be comfortable while dry camping.