Solar setup

Is a solar setup on a caravan deliver enough power to run fridge microwave etc tv ? Thinking of getting a camper trailer maybe going some off grid camping but am I better off with a portable generator for that? If so what is a solar setup good for? Is it even worth paying extra for especially if u want to run an air conditioner.
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Reply By: Gronk - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 20:30

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 20:30
You may want to do a bit of reading on batteries and off grid camping.
Solar panels can deliver a lot of power for fridges and microwaves ( with an inverter ) but will only power them while the sun shines.
Which is why everyone uses them in conjunction with batteries.
As for an aircon....yes a gennie will be required.

You need to supply LOT'S of details like size of fridge, microwave etc before anyone can give you any sort of details as to what you might need ?
AnswerID: 613459

Follow Up By: RMD - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:41

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:41
I second the reading of associated concepts and components. It is hard to explain the intricaciesof things if the concept isn't initially understood to any depth.
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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 21:01

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 21:01
Be aware that generators are frowned upon in a lot of campsites
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Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 21:04

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 21:04
Yes I'm aware of this but I meant In perhaps a remote location thanks
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Follow Up By: IvanTheTerrible - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 21:52

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 21:52
Solar will do everything except AC. Could do it for short burst but thats it
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Reply By: Will 76 Series - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 22:14

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 22:14
Johny, We have 2 x 120 wat solar panels on our hybrid camper. We do not have airconditioning as we do mostly bush camps. They work great but we do need to site our campsite to get sun. I have purchased an extra 120 w portable panel which has made huge difference and gets us out of trouble if the sun is clouded for more than three days or so as once batteries run down it is hard to get them back up. If you want to run AC my guess is that solar is not going to cut it for you and a generator would be required. Solar is grat but on occasions we have been caught out with cloud and rain for 3 to 4 days constant and it has struggled.
AnswerID: 613462

Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:10

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:10
Would you need a dual battery or will a single battery do ?
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:16

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:16
If the fridge is being carried in the tug I recommend powering it from its own large battery. You can charge that with a dual battery set up if you move every day or second day. If you are going to camp for more than 2 days then you will need enough solar panel capacity to be self contained.

If you are going to carry the fridge in the camper and power it from a battery in the camper then the same principles apply.
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Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:21

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:21
Just a question nomadic as I don't have a caravan and I don't understand these things ,is the solar power always charging while you are on the move to power the fridge or is that run off the gas?
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:55

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:55
If you have solar panels mounted on the roof of your trailer they will charge when the sun shines. The problem with the charging whilst on the move is that you frequently pass through shade from the roadside trees. The charging ceases whilst you are in that shadow.

What fridge are you intending to use? If it is a gas/electric type (absorption fridge) you do not run those off a battery. The 12 V power input to them is only meant to be used from the alternator of the tug. If you are going to run an absorption fridge from the alternator and also charge the house battery from the alternator then it is safest to run separate leads right through for the two jobs. Unless you use an extremely heavy cable to do both jobs you will find that the house battery will be discharged during the trip as there is too much voltage drop between the alternator and the battery. The following diagram is the way Dometic recommend that their fridges be used when on the run.

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Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 00:01

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 00:01
It would probably be a gas electric not a large one either we want to buy a jayco swan which doesn't run a large fridge
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:41

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:41
Aahh, now you have supplied some info. The Jayco has a gas/electric fridge, so battery power while at camp only needs to run a couple of lights and maybe charge a phone or two.
One battery and one solar panel will get you out of trouble most of the time.
A proper setup to run the fridge while driving ( on 12V ) ........like some decent size cable (16mm2 ) and a means to isolate the supply while parked (can be as simple as pulling the anderson by hand ) and you are set .

Oh, and forget the air con, unless the van comes with it, and then only use it at a caravan park where there is 240V.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:47

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:47
The OP needs to understand a little about energy out and energy in, ie, usage rates of amp hours and charging and solar limitations before he will understand some of the given info by replies.
At the moment he is struggling with conceptual stuff.

Just giving a circuit will mean little if the diagrams aren't recognized.
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Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 09:45

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 09:45
No your right rmd I don't understand much about these things I guess I would need to ask the dealer how this is Supposed to work when I buy it buying a second hand camper without a guide as to how to work this stuff would be hard i guess it comes down to trial and error.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 10:48

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 10:48
Check out this website, Johnnykluger, belonging to Collin Rivers.

He has a number of books available that would give you some grounding in this subject, as well as suggestions for upgrading your potential camper purchase. I have a couple of his books and they're easy to read and well illustrated.

Bob

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Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 10:51

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 10:51
You don't really have to understand much at all mate. A dealer MAY give you some info, but if you are armed with a few simple questions beforehand, it will be pretty easy.
Has it got a battery ? Has it got a charger to charge the battery ( when at home or a van park )..Is the camper setup to charge the battery AND run the fridge while driving ?
Most won't have a solar panel attached, but a few may.....all the better.

You'll find most used campers like the Jaycos will be setup with most or all of the above and as long as the car is wired to suit, understanding electricity needs to be almost zero.
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Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 11:53

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 11:53
Thanks for the info guys I'll check it all out
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 13:35

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 13:35
Most users under-cater esp when they get into warmer climates. And undercharging the aux battery/batteries used to be the norm.

In addition to Bob's reading suggestion:
http://12voltblog.com.au/intro-page/

and another source of Rivers' wisdom: https://www.exploroz.com/Vehicle/Electrics/Solar.aspx

Check carefully that the gas/electric fridge you're considering will actually cool to say 4 degrees when the ambient is 40. Many won't.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 16:25

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 16:25
Johnnykluger "is the solar power always charging while you are on the move to power the fridge? "

You can have it hooked up through some suitable connection to be charging as long as there is some light, but best to have the 2nd batter(ies) hooked up to charge from the vehicle when driving, the output from the vehicle alternator far exceeds what you'd get via solar (in a typical setup).

The fridge would be always running from the 2nd battery, the solar or vehicle charging keeps the battery up.

You can run vehicle charge form the car alternator via a VSR (voltage sensitive relay) for a very simple method, this suits me, or others with higher needs may us DC-DC type charging, or other newer / better tech.
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Follow Up By: Johnnykluger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 21:24

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 21:24
So les would you recommend having dual battles in the engine bay? At the moment I have a kluger to tow the swan I intend to buy should I have it set up that way so the second battery would keep the fridge powered?
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 21:37

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 21:37
Mate I've never had a camper, from what I've read you would ( if fridge in camper) probably be better with some sort of school m- do charger ?
Others can advise better.

I have second battery in an arkpak case in the cabin set up as described.
If in the engine bay you need to look at how far a second battery is from heat sources, and / or good ventilation to keep tabs cool as possible.
Heat kills batteries, especially the AGM types commonly used for 2nd battery.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 21:59

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 21:59
Damn auto correct.

Better with dc-dc charger.
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:11

Friday, Sep 01, 2017 at 23:11
Johnnykluger, solar can run anything, if you have the enough batteries and panels. There are some who do power microwave ovens, bread makers and coffee machines. They carry 4 - 6 large batteries. That amounts to 150 - 200 kg of mass for the batteries alone. However they are towing large vans with more than the usual loading allowance of large motorhomes. The average camper with a camper trailer can carry enough capacity to power a Waco top loading fridge or equivalent and have a car radio and LED lights.
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Reply By: Outback Epicurean - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:38

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 08:38
Hi
Not sure why/how you would put a AC on a camper trailer. We have camped for 20 years in various campers/OR vans and provided that they have good ventilation, a 12 v fan is all that is needed at night.
We use solar panels and 3 batteries in the trailer to power fridge, lights and other smaller appliances. Also fridge in the ute with mormal battery. Best purchase is a 12v plug in meter to keep a check on the car voltage. If in doubt, run the motor rather than cart a gennie around. Other very useful item is a 12v 12v charger in the van so that the power from the tug quickly charges the batteries in the van.
In summary, don't believe you need an AC for off grid camping and IMHO gennie's also unnecessary provided you include sensible solar and battery storage.
AnswerID: 613465

Reply By: swampy - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 10:40

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 10:40
hi
aircon and microwave are run on a large bank of solar and batteries
1000 watt solar min
600-800 ah battery possibly lithium
Very expensive set up only found on motor homes

For more normal people a good basic solar system
solar minimum 160-200 watts
batteries minimum 1 x 120ah
Above will cover
small compressor fridge, w/pump ,led lights

You need 240v charging 15-25 amp

solar 160-200watts per 100ah

12v dc to dc charging
either
altenator
or
dc to dc charger
[Jayco 3way fridge run off either above supply ]

System protection
Battery isolator
low voltage disconnect set at 12.oo volts =50% battery capacity
AnswerID: 613466

Reply By: Dean K3 - Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 12:36

Saturday, Sep 02, 2017 at 12:36
Best thing you can do for yourself.

Go purchase a book by Collyn Rivers on solar power systems.

This will explain loads wiring sizes solar panels ete etc

A few suppliers out there from grey matter - altronics jaycar a few online may also have them. Think you can order directly from him as well.
AnswerID: 613467

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