How to Live on 100 watts of Solar

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duckwonder

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Hi All.  My solar desires are not happening on this very day but maybe my solar needs are.  I have a 100w panel to work with and that is all for now.  This thread is not for "hey, you can get another 100w for very little money."  If I am curious about how to work better with what I already have, then maybe there are others out there too who could benefit a great deal from the experience of people who have already done it, either in the past or right now.  Here's the situation.  You are boondocking for 2 weeks.  You have a single 100w panel on the roof. No, it is not portable.  You have what you have on board and your needs are your needs.  How would YOU live on 100 watts of solar?  And p.s. It is winter time.  Thanks in advance to all who participate!
 

Almost There

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Yes, but where are you on the continent!

Winter in Yuma at sea level is a whole different ball game than say, winter in Flagstaff at 7,000. ft.

Also, it's important to know what those needs actually are!

Do you need a Cpap machine, are you trying to run a 12V compressor fridge or are you using a cooler?

How one lives on a 100 watts of solar can only be determined with a little bit more information or else it's all useless speculation!
 

JannaB

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You don't miss what you don't have.
I traveled for several years with 100 watts, and felt great about it. I was thrilled to be able to run a CPAP at night(no heat), charge a cell phone, and small LED Christmas lights. I didn't have refrigeration, just bought fresh and foods that kept at room temp.
Now I never use all I have, and the challenge is gone.
 

lenny flank

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duckwonder said:
 You have a single 100w panel on the roof. 


100 watts is all I have, plus a 105ah battery. With it I travel year round, all across the country. I use it to charge my laptop, my cellphone, my camera batteries, AAAs for a couple push-lights I have, and my electric razor.

Generally I don't have any trouble keeping everything charged up. If it rains more than a couple days in a row, I have to cut back, and in winter when the days are shorter I generally try to charge my laptop elsewhere to save the battery a bit. But all in all it works just fine for me.

EDIT: I should add though that I urban-camp almost exclusively, so I don't need a fridge of any sort, and I snowbird all winter, so I don't need any sort of heater or air conditioner.
 

Blanch

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I live on 160 watts of portable solar, but I could manage on a 100 watt panel provided I also had my 1000 watt $125 generator. I killed my first batteries by not understanding how they work. The seminars at RTR taught me a lot. With 100 watts on the roof and a few smokey or cloudy days and the battery can go below 50% and that kills the battery. So I would have a cheap generator to top the battery off if solar isn't keeping up. Otherwise, watching YouTube and Netflix on my iPad uses very little energy. Lights can be used as they are a small draw if they are LEDs, I'd switch to all battery operated fans for hot days. Propane for the frig. It is very doable if you are conservative with you electric use.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

jonsun

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100w is really all you need especially in the summer. You get LED bulbs for your fixtures first of all. Then if you're running a bunch of computer and/or TV and need more, you bulk charge with your alternator or generator and good high amp charger for an hour every morning. That gets you about 25 amps and your panel will get you another 35-45a more this time of year. I like a generator because I can nuke and brew in the morning off it while it charges and it's easier to replace than an engine in a class B. generator is cheap if you dont mind a noisy one, it's only for an hour or so.

easy peazzzy and I've did it for years......I love hearing about people doing fine on less. that is the true spirit of "cheaper RV living."
 

HumbleBeginnings

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I'm a newb at this stuff but let me give it a go...

Each of these devices provides the power expectations a little differently, so the path to Amp-hours varies:

Indel-B TB-51 fridge... spec sheet says avg 240W/day (=240Wh?) -> on 12v = 20Ah per day
LED lights... rated at 3W, assume 4hr/day = 12Wh = 1Ah per day
ShurFlo 3gpm pump... 7.5 amps, assume .5hr/day = 3.75Ah per day
Cell phone x 2 = 10Wh (based on Google search) = 1Ah per day

So my total would be roughly 310Wh or 26Ah per day. A single 100Ah battery should be sufficient. Without doing the calculations, a 100W panel should be able to replace 300Wh per day. (I live in southern CA for now so I've got that on my side.) The fridge is the biggest consumer and that is a total approximation, but since it's winter I'll just assume the generic spec is on the safe side.

It should be noted at this point that I'm in the middle of building this stuff right now, I've yet to order my solar system, and I have no real world experience (yet!) to inform the information listed above! I assume I've overlooked some things. 

Be kind.
 

rvpopeye

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I have only had 75watts .
This is what I have and what can I do with it.
Kind of backwards from what others do but
I've been doing it for 16 years...
Just led light and charging my tablet and 12v DVD player mostly but more while the sun is out.....

I used to have 2 six volt GCs but the last 8 years I just buy a big grp31 start battery
from my friend that repairs big rigs..
Not always perfect charging but I replaced the GCs at 5years and the Grp31 at 3 or 4 years and I don't feel too bad about that.
 

blmkid

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My 100 watt panel set up.
1 12 volt battery, 79 amp hours.
Endless Breeze stand alone fan. 1.2 ah on low. 2.6 ah on high. I need this to sleep.
19" Element TV. 30 watts. 2-3 hours per night.
That's it. Plain & Simple.
Charge my phone and PC with an adapter in the truck.
2 each camping/caving headlamp's, uses 3 AAA batteries.
This is my set up for RTR 2018.
You have to start some where. 



"..back to the basic's of life.. " Luckenbach, Texas by the Late & Great , Waylon Jennings
 

Wabbit

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I was doing fine with 100w and 120ah battery. Panel is portable so am able to point it at sun. However, just bought some 215ah Duracell 6v (x2) and that 100w panel seems to not be able to push back in what I take out. Possible one of the batteries is bad. Giving it a few days then will check SG after an eight hour rest. But with the 100w was doing just fine. No frig though. Just tablets(x2), laptop, cell phone, 2 fans, and ecig batteries. Prob about 300wh a day.

EDIT: oh and some 12v light bulbs for night time.
 

highdesertranger

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Humble just one little flaw in your system if you pump water for .5 hours and your pump, pumps 3 gallons a minute your have just pumped 90 gallons of water. way over estimated. even 5 minutes a day is a little much. highdesertranger
 

GypsySpirit

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I don't know that I'll get my solar setup in time for RTR, so I'll keep doing what I've been doing. Battery operated LED lights, propane for cooking/heating, ice chest for cold things. I have a forehead light thing for reading in bed. I charge the phone, tablet and e-cig in the truck.
 

wheels

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HDR pointed out 1 flaw in the calcs... there might be more.
Easier to figure things now and meet expectations later. :)
wheels
 

rvpopeye

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At night run the batt down to.....oh say 12.5v , next day , see if the solar charges the batt back up ! If yes , try 12.4.
If not , next time try 12.6 !
Rinse , repeat.
Just sayin'



It's really not rocket science.
 

HumbleBeginnings

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highdesertranger said:
Humble just one little flaw in your system if you pump water for .5 hours and your pump,  pumps 3 gallons a minute your have just pumped 90 gallons of water.  way over estimated.  even 5 minutes a day is a little much.  highdesertranger

That's hilarious. I was trying to imagine from a power perspective a safe number, thinking surely a couple quick washes wouldn't run the pump for more than 30 min/day.

I didn't stop to think about how much water that would be! I haven't actually powered my pump yet, so I'm waiting to see how much it runs to maintain pressure.
 

jonsun

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don't use it like that at all. only flip it on when needed, not leave it on with the faucet off just holding pressure.
 

HumbleBeginnings

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Got it. My plan was to put a switch on the counter so that if I was using it occasionally during meal prep and cleanup, I would leave it switched on that entire time but the pump would only run when needed. I also got a pressure accumulator... I hear it will reduce how often the pump cycles on and off. But I won't be hooking that up until this weekend.
 

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