Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Phases One and Two – Done !

 "Fate is for those too weak to determine their own destiny." 

solar1_03Talking to folks about solar is interesting.  You can really learn a lot from RVers who have it.  However, no matter who you talk to the information and opinions can be very different.   What works for one doesn’t mean it’s the best answer for someone else.  You can really learn a lot from folks who sell it.  They know a lot but you have to weigh it because they’ll certainly talk up their products and talk down someone else’s product.

--- Checking each connection and wire

Solar panels are made with different watts and come in all different sizes. We know folks who have had 50W panels installed all the way up to 235W panels installed on their RV.  Now some will argue one is better than another but face it, wattage is wattage no matter how you put it together. 

We weren’t sure what we wanted to begin with. Over the years solar panels have changed.  The earlier versions weren’t quite as efficient and they were huge.  Technology continues to get better .. thank goodness.  Panels have gotten smaller and more efficient.  We found different sizes for the same wattage and by same manufacturer.  Obviously, the latest versions and smaller panels for the same wattage, the more expensive they were.  However, we also knew we couldn’t be pulling heavy panels up on that roof.  After all we didn’t have a lot of help.  Moving them from the ground up the ladder was a feat in itself.  With the lighter ones we could bungee them up by hooking one end under the frame and carefully guide it up the ladder. solar1_02 Whee!  I was sure glad when that was behind us and everything was still in one piece …. including Terry!

On Sunday the wiring was run, controller and digital remote meter installed.  The digital meter was optional but we  like reading all those input / output things.  Maybe one day we’ll really know what it all means. 

The panels were installed on Monday and the final moment came.  We crossed our fingers when the last connection was made.  Would it work?  Would it?  Nope … nothing happened.  Connections were checked, wiring was analyzed and everything seem right.  With an email to the shop owner he agreed to go over all the connections for us if we could be at his shop at 8:00 the following morning.  We would be there.  He checked each and every connection and each and every wire …. one by one.  The fee …. zero.

The problem ….. our batteries are 6V and not 12V.  Both cables from the controller had been put on one battery instead of two.  Oops.  However, I have to admit it was a dang good job never having done it before.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all works now.  We know we’re power hogs.  solar1_01Our maiden voyage with the solar will be Quartzsite in a few days.   Terry wants to tackle Phase 3 and take the panels up to 600W.  Why? I think just because there’s room.  Well, we’re going to try out 400W and see how that works for us first.

Terry’s laptop battery hasn’t been holding much of a charge.  I checked local prices for a new battery even including Interstate Battery.  Prices were all over $100 so I ordered from Amazon.  Including shipping it was only $29.  We want to have this before we go to “Q”.  Hopefully, waiting for it won’t delay our departure.

‘Tis life on the road.


  1. So you got (4) 100W panels ? What brand did you end up going with ? Ask Terry if he'll do mine now that he's such an expert - I want to add another panel !!

  2. Hope you 400 watts of solar will do the job for you in Q. I thnik conserving a bit you should be fine.

  3. You can never have too much power.....LOL Good job Terry!

  4. If I see a glow in the sky over Quartzsite, from here in Palm Springs, I'll know Terry has added a few more panels!

  5. That;s a lot of juice! Hope it works as well as you expect. You'll be the envy of all the boondockers in Q!

  6. Be cautious with going to 600W. You need a lot of batteries for that, if you want to really take advantage of the power. Remember that batteries are heavy. 6 batteries of 6V each are more than 370lbs. 8 batteries and you have an additional 126lbs.
    Good luck with your solar!

  7. I have 380 watts and that is not enough to keep up with my 12v fridge. Since you have propane as an option on your fridge, you might have enough.


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