Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: In the hills, with coyotes, deer, and other critters, L.A.
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...a large array isn't really doing that much more for you until you are boon docking for a lot of days. Which you might indeed be planning. In that case it might be better to deploy some flexible panels and adjust their location and angle for maximum gain. Rather than loading up the roof with a bunch of panels that are not likely to be in the most beneficial position.
I'm trying to figure out a few things—well, many things, but these for the moment:
1a. How much solar can the roof hold along with one MaxxAir fan (and maybe a small roof fan/vent over a maybe shower)? I want as much solar as possible. It would be nice to be able to run a small mini split, like one of the Cruise N Comfort units, for a couple of hours off grid. (But that would not be on the roof.)
1b. Can residential panels be used for RV applications? I found some high-wattage, mono-crystalline panels from LG and Panasonic.* Three of the Panasonic or three of the LG (not both) might fit crosswise but would pretty much cover the roof with the inclusion of the length of the MaxxAir fan (23").
*https://www.ecodirect.com/LG-SolarLG...g350q1c-a5.htm (350 W, 66.9" x 40")
https://www.ecodirect.com/Panasonic-...bhn330sa16.htm (330 W, 62.6" x 41.5")
1c. Is there a rack or roof-rail system that anyone can recommend that would support the three panels (about 120+ pounds)? Is that a reasonable amount of weight? I read somewhere on the forum that the addition of some kind of structural supports between the roof ribs might be a good thing...
Thanks for any input!
Thanks, Hein! Yeah, it might be that we will be boondocking for a week or more straight, or we might be driving every day and boondocking at night. I want to keep all options covered, avoid a gas generator, and have everything balanced.
I see solar arrays of mostly 100 to 400 watts, but if the wattage is balanced system-wise with the right battery array, and the life of the batteries can be prolonged by charging them correctly using charge controller (MPPT, PWM?), inverter, etc., am I wrong to want all the power? I'm studying (struggling) to understand how to balance the system, and though I'm more of a creative type than an engineer, I want to grok it (see what I did there? Hein, Heinlein, grok?).
We usually don't drive more than six hours a day on our extended road trips. My concerns are having enough oomph to run the air conditioning for (a) 30–60 minutes for our dog in case we need to leave her in the van while we eat at a restaurant or run a errand, and (b) a few hours for me and my husband, Mike, in case we go to more humid and hot climates, like Florida to visit friends. (I lived in Miami and the Fla Keys for ~12 years, and while I used to loved the swelter, I'm now used to dry Cali weather, and I think my older self might not be as adaptable to the heat.)
I understand the positioning of the panels on the roof might not be the most productive, and it would be nice to have room for a Bomar hatch or another big fan, but...
Is the the weight load of three panels on the roof the concern? Or the drag they would cause while underway?
Even if we mostly won't need that much wattage, the array might shade the roof from the sun and cool the van.
And is it possible to mount three 68" x 40" panels on the roof of a long tall Transit, plus a MaxxAir Fan? (I'm thinking of mounting the fan in the very back over the bed, with a hole in the floor, á la Orton, to help with the flow.)
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