Tuesday – January 6, 2015
Solar Panel Power – Green Energy
Dry camping in the desert of Arizona provides its own unique challenges when it comes to powering the AC electrical requirements of your RV. Using a generator for AC power is certainly an option, but it can become quite costly to fuel the generator on a daily basis. A better option is solar power, in my humble opinion.
We are fortunate in that we have a small fiberglass trailer manufactured by Casita Trailer in Rice, Texas. These trailers do not have large electrical requirements and are therefore powered by one Group 27, 12 volt DC, Deep Cycle Battery. The key to maintaining a healthy battery is to keep it charged, either through shore power, a generator, a wind generator, or solar power.
In 2012, we purchased an 80-watt solar panel to maintain the charge of the battery in our Casita trailer when dry camping. While dry camping, we would use a 400-watt power inverter to power our 20" television, satellite receiver and antenna. The inverter plugged into a 12-volt accessory outlet that had been installed by the Casita factory. We soon discovered that a significant voltage drop occurred, most likely due the size and length of the wire installed between the converter in the trailer and the 12-volt accessory outlet. After about two hours of operating the television and the satellite receiver, the 400-watt power inverter would suddenly power off. Such is the dilemma when converting DC voltage to AC voltage. Large wire size and short lengths of wire are an absolute necessity to minimize the voltage drop when connecting a battery to a power inverter.
During the month of December 2014, I began the process of putting together a solar panel power system to remedy the inadequate system I had been using to power the television and satellite receiver. I purchased the following components:
- Xantex PROwatt SW, 1000 Watt Sine Wave Inverter
- Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel with a PWM Charge Controller
- Group 27, 12 Volt DC, Deep Cycle Battery
- Size 2 AWG Stranded Copper Wire Cable
- Crimp and Solder Terminals for Size 2 AWG Wire.
Xantex recommends using a size 0 AWG battery cable with a maximum cable length of 6 feet. They caution not to use a battery cable size less than 4 AWG. I chose a size 2 AWG cable as a compromise. This size cable was much easier to work with and has a minimal voltage drop of 0.0159 volts per foot. I kept the cable length run between the battery and the Xantex PROwatt SW inverter to 5-1/2 feet.
The Xantex PROwatt SW requires a ANL fuse holder and an ANL fuse 150 amp be connected between the positive terminal on the inverter and the positive side of the battery. Neither one of these components are furnished with the inverter.
With all of the components assembled, I now have a system in place that provides in excess of 4 hours of television viewing each night, before the battery reaches 12.2 volts, a 50 percent charge level. I actually wound up swapping the 80 watt and 100 watt solar panels. I use the 100 watt solar panel to charge the battery in the Casita trailer and the 80 watt solar panel to charge the battery used to power the television and satellite receiver. These solar panels provide sufficient power to maintain fully charged batteries during the day.
An added bonus is when the trailer battery goes dead, I can replace it with the battery used to power the television and satellite receiver.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.