Small solar for my RV

My 1982 Holiday Rambler Class C RV is ready to hit the parks this fall after all the great stuff I’ve done to fix it up.  I’m looking forward to it.

I think I enjoy working on it more than using it though.  If I had bought a brand new RV with no problems then I would have been bored.  I’ve kind of run out of projects on it and am thinking of doing an upgrade that I don’t really need.  Solar Power.

I do most of my camping in places where you just plug in your cord.  There really aren’t a whole lot of places in Texas where you can camp other than designated RV parks.  For the most part, Texas is bought and paid for.  No public lands.  It’s hard to imagine that all the land in such a huge state is owned by someone.  Bastards!

Whether I plan to use it or not, I think I’ll add a small solar power system just in case.  It won’t cost a lot and it will be there if I need it.  Besides, by the look of the world right now, the apocalypse isn’t far off.  Might as well be prepared.

xantrexI’m starting with a Xantrex 1500 Watt inverter that I just now ordered on eBay for $155 and free shipping.  Gotta love eBay.  I plan on using the existing 100 Amp Hour deep cycle battery.  The RV has been converted to mostly LED lighting and the only thing I’ll need AC power for is the entertainment system and the microwave for short warmings.

I’ll mount the inverter in the generator compartment right next to the battery.  Plenty of room there.  If all is awesome then I’ll move on to the solar panels.

I was happy to find a quality brand inverter at a good price.  I trust Xantrex.  After the last cheap inverter I had stopped working and smoked, I feel that it is worth getting a good inverter for a few extra bucks.

panelI plan on using a flexible 120W 24V panel from Unisolar for around $175.

It will be easy to lay out on the roof of the RV and be removable if necessary.  The first thing I need to do is measure the amount of space to see if it will physically fit.  I think it will not be a problem.

If there is room I can add another one later.

No problemo.

controllerTo connect the panel(s) to the battery I’ll use a chinese made MPPT charge controller that is on eBay for $85.00.

You have to be careful if you are going to use chinese charge controllers because they are not all MPPT even though they may be labeled as such.  I found a video review on Youtube proving that this particular model really is MPPT.

Basically that means that you get more efficient charging.

I’m going a bit cheap here because this is a very small system.  I could spend much more on a better brand but I really think this one will do nicely.

in the interest of simplicity, I plan on just plugging the RV’s long power cord right into the inverter to avoid running extra wiring.  Since it will only be needed occasionally or in the event of the apocalypse, I think it will be just fine.  I’ll put a little warning sticker next to the inverter to remind me to unplug the power converter when using the inverter.  That would create an unnecessary power loop draining the battery faster.

The whole system should cost around $415 plus odds and ends.  Not a bad deal.