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Old 04-02-2015, 03:22 PM   #1
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Default Solar for the semi ?

Looking into a 400 watt system for my Semi/RV. Would like some input about what I need to look for ? Systems seam to go from $600 to $2000.

What inverter ? Thinking 2000 watt ?

Is their a "best" system ? And what to stay away from ? May need to add 12V charger for the 120v side? That would be like 25amp.

Been thinking of using the (4) 12v battery's for the truck. Good idea,bad ? I have a segregated 12v for the genset so if the system drained I could recharge with the genset (would take awhile ) think the 12v side is 5 amps ? LOL

My Int.9600 is a 12v system.

Thanks for the help !
Randy
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:49 PM   #2
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Randy...youll hate me for this but....it depends

How many batteries will you have, what appliances will you use (the real question is how many watts/amp hours will they consume). THEN you'll need to ask will i be able to recover the batteries each day (so you can get thru the night) ?

Ive been considering adding panels myself - still cant figure it out.....i would want to be able to maintain my electric cooler (12v) and keep the batteries "topped up" during the day.

i don't expect to run many 12vdc appliances at night, water heater, fridge, cooler and as far as a dc to ac inverter, maybe a little tv, certainly no air conditioning.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:09 PM   #3
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The load will be a Frig. 5.4 amp's at 12v . and keeping the 4 G31 ( I think that is the size?) . As for other loads ? I will need to do some testing over time.

If I did the math right a 400 watt system makes like 33.3 amps in the sun. Lets say 27 amps usable ?

So, 5.4 x 24 hr. = 129.9

And 27 x 10 hr. = 270

Maybe its covered and also the batteries ?
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:17 PM   #4
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so your right at 400 amps ?

i don't know what they say to expect out of the panels (when theyre not tilted toward the sun)....i thought i read something about 60% efficiency or something.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:20 PM   #5
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At 60% = 199.8 maybe I'm still good ?
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:34 PM   #6
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One key thing to remember is that you will be cycling lead acid a lot and they don't like that even with deep cycle. We've had a couple of systems. The first we built over time on our 5th wheel with 5 x 55W 12V panels, charge controller, cheapy inverter for the TV. We then upgraded to a Magnum 2800W inverter/charger. This let us run our microwave and charge our batteries quickly. Our AGM batteries would be good for about a year and cycle out. We would have around 400AH of batteries. With the panels flat we get around 12A charge.

What we have on our conversion now are 2 x 300W panels, 400AH of LiFePO4, BMS for the batter Morning star charge controller for the panels, Magnum inverter/charger upgraded for CC/CV, combiner, 30A lead acid charger connected to the starting batteries and a bunch of misc. bits to connect and disconnect the LiFePO4 from the starting lead acid.

This let's us keep plugged into 15A and run everything. When plugged into 50A/generator then nothing runs of the batteries except lights and heater. On 15A all of the 110V stuff except for fridge and AC runs off the inverter. We get around 24A off the solar panels. So it seems we get around 1/2 the watts of the panels. Over night leaving the inverter on draws a far amount of power. DirecTV etc. draws power when off and then we have internet phone etc. So we turn off the inverter before we go to bed after watching TV. The generater is tied to the starting batteries so we don't have to worry about weak house batteries. An issue with the 5th wheel. We do a lot of dry camping.

The LiFePO4 work well. We haven't had cycling issues. We had only 200AH but just upgraded to 400AH. With 200AH things worked a lot better then AGM. However you can't charge them like AGM and you need a BMS. You can't float them and with AGM tied together, AGM will draw the LiFePO4 down. So unless the AGM's are charging or
LiFePO4 are low then they are disconnected from the starting batteries. Also when they get to full voltage they disconnect. This keeps them charged when plugged in, driving etc. It's automated so we don't have to think about it. It's nice that LiFePO4 keep their voltage so things work well and don't get the lead acid slow down. One down side to LiFePO4 is you can charge them below freezing. They are expensive but AGM are not cheap and they cycle out quickly. With LiFePO4 we don't have to worry about having the lights on etc. and will we get though the night with heat. Using higher voltage panels, the wiring can be smaller from the panels with less loss.

Long term we don't get enough solar to keep going but since we mostly dry camp and for a weekend it is good enough. Summer is better then spring/fall. Having 1200W of solar would probably work okay for us. I've been thinking of adding a couple of flip up "awning" panels over the day and kitchen window but haven't found a good powered mount system yet. Driving across country dry camping at night is fine since the alternator helps keeps the batteries up. Worst case extended dry camping we can fire up the generator for an hour and get everything up to charge with the upgraded CC/CV charging. Chances are we'll have the AC on sometimes so the generator will have to run for that. It's nice not having to run the generator much when drying camping in generator city :-( With 400AH of LiFePO4 things should be better and we might leave the inverter on overnight.

Except for batteries and wire we got most of our stuff from Solar Panels from Wholesale Solar
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Old 04-03-2015, 02:37 PM   #7
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Doug, could you post some photos of your control system and the system in-general ?
And you have one serious battery ! $1400 +
Thanks ,for the input !
Randy
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