Our Ascent Into Solar…

Updated March 2020…

Oh my!  We do live in interesting times.  COVID-19 will give us all a chance to evaluate our lives against the lives of the world I suppose.  If we have an RV we are far more fortunate than most of our earthly companions.  Hopefully, we can keep this in mind as we move through our daily lives!

Since my  last update almost two years ago we have been on many trips with our new Leisure Travel Vans Wonder FTB.  We absolutely love it!  The solar system I installed works perfectly and has allowed me to perfect the installation on this sort of rig.  There is not as much roof space on a smaller Class B/C so maximizing that space is a challenge.  I was able to put 400W up there and it does a very nice job of keeping my dual Crown CR235 batteries at full charge!

I considered lithium batteries rather than the dual Crowns but could not justify the cost at the time.  I may make the change when it comes time to replace them (but with a good solar system the batteries are always charged properly so that could be a long ways off!) or if I get to the point where I need more than 100AH per day.  When that happens I’ll cycle the Crowns down below 50% which will hasten their death and I can move on.  By then lithium will be less expensive.  I do know already that I will be able to multiply my overall AH capacity by a factor of 3-4 times.

Speaking of the trips.  Here are the links to a few:

Alaska 2018

https://photos.app.goo.gl/cTWmKioHvy6AJFiW7

Northwest US 2019

https://photos.app.goo.gl/i87Fs7fmPhL2kNhk6

And not technically an RV trip (OK, not at all an RV trip), Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/DTYRwyHbyWDHbiMH8

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June 2018 Update:

Lots of changes yet again!  We sold the Unity MB and purchased another Leisure Travel Vans rig, this time the Wonder FTB.  That takes us from the Mercedes to the Ford chassis and gets us ready for our longggg Alaska trip.  I’ve installed a 400W solar system using Renogy 100W panels and Victron meter and MPPT controller.  I made the move away from Bogart (which is still probably the best product out there) to the Victron because I like the Bluetooth capability they provide.  Jury is still out about how efficient their MPPT controller is and Handy Bob and I argued in depth about that on the phone just this week.  Speaking of that old rascal we will be visiting them this June for a couple of days.  I’ll report back as to his level of cantankersousness (sp?).

Here’s another photo of the new rig!

IMG_2162-1

Updated in November 2017…

Lots has changed in our lives since I updated this profile last year.  We sold our second FunFinder (before I was able to get its solar install documented here!) and purchased a new Leisure Travel Van Unity MB 25′ Class B.  Wow!  We are first class now.  I promise to add information about the work I did on the factory solar install.  As usual, the factory stuff needed tweaking but I was able to augment what I had and make a system that works very well.  I’ve also been active in the Sprinter Forum – Unity page voicing my opinion about how solar should be done.  One thing I’ve learned from that forum is there are lots of smart people out there and level of understanding of solar on RVs has changed dramatically.  So has the technology!  We are able to do very good installs now.

And because we could, we sold our Unity and will take delivery on a new Leisure Travel Van Wonder FTB.  I did not order the factory solar option so will be doing a complete install next spring.  I’ve already decided to use lithium batteries in the new rig to reduce weight and increase capacity.  Stay tuned to all that I learn about that.

This blog is dedicated to our experiences with solar electricity on the RVs we’ve owned and will own!

We are now full time Arizona residents after more than 50 years in Colorado.  We take a couple of long trips each year. We are planning a two month plus trip to Alaska next summer.  We prefer National Forest, Park and State Campgrounds. We are now self sufficient when it comes to electricity and can park almost anywhere. It wasn’t always that way! We started with a 21″ FunFinder travel trailer and dead batteries after several days of camping.  When I got home I did a bunch of research to figure out why and from reading Handy Bob’s blog determined that I didn’t have enough charging capacity using the truck alternator. There’s a fairly long explanation as to why that is so but it boils down to not enough voltage and current to begin with coupled with a very long wire run from that alternator to the RV battery bank that exacerbates the not enough voltage problem even further. Bottom line: no way RV batteries get charged in a reasonable, or perhaps any, amount of time. What to do? Buy a generator? Not an option. We hate those things! Use candles? Ah, no. Stay home or always park in a campground with electricity? No. It turns out that a well designed and installed solar system is perfect.

Link to our RV Installations:

If you want to truly understand battery charging, solar installation, etc. and its nuances you must start by reading the Handy Bob blog here:

http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

Handy is excellent! It can make your head hurt. I have extended and simplified what he says into a series of simpler entries in my blog to help others down this path.

Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me if you have questions!

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