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MSN Member:
Sent: 9/16/2002
Hi!  I have a solar-powered motion detector flood light I use on the RV when I camp out in the desert, and because it works so well I'm looking into expanding use of solar power.
   I can get a 50-watt panel with regulator for about $350.00, which I think would be sufficient for my on-demand water pump and coach lights, w/o having to run that very loud free-standing gen.  The ultimate goal will probably be to do away with the gen entirely, which I could do easily if I wasn't spoiled by (still a bit hard to believe, lol) microwave cooking miles from the nearest power line.  And maybe a bit of tv to keep up on the news.  (ok, ok...actually to keep up on the Gilmore Girls).
  Has anyone had experience using solar power in their RV?  I'll get a book on it sooner or later, (I'm already checking them out)but nothing is quite like first-hand experience.  For example, would I run into any conflict if I DID run the gen while the solar was still connected?  Any hints about the wiring?  When I do look at a total conversion to solar, what wattage would be sufficient for the micro and tv, and should I wire ALL the solar together or try to have individual supply panels?  And can the batteries handle all of this ok?  (Both batteries are brand new and good quality)
   I understand most solar panels in RV's are connected to make 200 to 500 watts, and if that's what would work best I won't try the "50-watt-panel-at-a-time" route but smash open the piggy bank and get it all in one.  But is it worth getting that extra wattage, just for micro and tv, if  the 50 watt panel can handle everything else?? Also, the question of what converter I would need comes up, and would it change if I went to the higher wattage?
I'm sure a good book will answer some of these, but again I really value first-hand experience.  Any ideas/comments?  All will be appreciated! 

I do not currently use solar, but am researching it for my house and RV. In the RV, I would run only DC appliances. Changing DC current to AC current requires an inverter and is pricey, more than I would want to pay to run a microwave oven.
Most everything else you can buy can be built to run from DC power.
Also, do your homework on batteries. RV deep cycle batteries are not the same as solar deep cycle batteries. AC-Craig

MSN Member:
Thanks for the info.  I didn't know there was a difference between solar and RV deep cycle batteries...  So, using a solar panel to keep my RV deep cycle batteries fully charged isn't workable?  Or maybe just isn't advisable?
  Yes, I pretty much DO do the homework first.
The battery shop where I just bought my two new batteries~vehicle and deep cycle~ is also the place with the solar setup for sale, so I'm a bit curious why they didn't mention that possible problem.  I'll go back and ask.
  It's amazing how FEW solar info books are out there...  Barnes & Noble only had one in stock; (I could order several) Borders had two, but one was strictly for installing solar in new house construction.  The public library is my next stop...
  When I was considering the solar set-up, the man at the battery shop said I could just run some #10 wire from the solar regulator straight to the batteries to keep them charged, and he said my goal of running the 'on-demand' water pump and coach lights would be easily met by the 50-watt panel.
  I'll look for more input here;   and return to the battery shop for more info;   and make a run at the public library, so between these sources I hope to learn whatever I might need to know before embarking on the Solar Power journey...
Thanks for the input!  I do appreciate it... 

There is a ton of stuff on solor energy on the internet. I am a member of the MREA- Midwest renewable energy association and they sell books and have a web page as well as others. Home Power Magazine is a good resource as well.
As for the batteries, it depends on usage. The lead plates in a normal RV or car battery is a porous cell lead plate. The real solor deep cell batteries are solid lead plates. For camping on the weekends, an RV deep cycle battery will be fine, but if you are a full timer, a higher quality battery might be a good idea. And which ever battery you have, keep the batteries charged and don't run them down below, I think 80%, of the full capacity. I am still learning this subject as well.  Kraig  (AC-Craig)

MSN Member:
Thanks for all the comments!  I printed out a lot of stuff from phred's info, and will check out some of the other sites after I digest some of this.  From what I gleaned from quick scanning, it looks as if I could use that 50-watt (and regulator) panel for my water pump and interior coach lights, w/o too much problem or expense, but if I want to use my microwave I'll be getting into mucho bucks and equipment, from inverter to more panels and gauges and controls...~sigh~
  Solar sounds like what I'll probably be getting into sometime in the not too distant future, but for right now I won't go beyond perhaps a combination of that 50-watt panel and the noisy generator.  We get so much sun here in Nevada it seems downright un-American not to use it, but I'll need to digest a lot more info before I start shelling out the BIG $$!!     


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