Electrics, batteries, solar panels, advice needed!!!

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by gazza280, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. gazza280

    gazza280 Read Only Funster

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    Ok so now I'm checking out seriously new vans, never had one before, but I'm dreaming of hitting the road in a big way.
    Thought I'd covered myself with any problems that I might have, is the toilet and shower large enough?, well ok I'm not too large just cuddly, I'd like to think. So I've been in a few showers shut the door and made sure that when I'm doing my business there's room to at least pull off a few sheets of overpriced eco toilet paper and at the very least be able to move my arms in the shower cubicle.
    Tables vary enormously too. If its fixed to the wall can I get behind the table comfortably without being cut in half, well I am cuddly? Most do but some I think were made for the undernourished or people with an eating disorder.
    So checklist sorted, checking van prices done!, counting my money done! I'm ready to commit to a van then someone says "Electricity is a problem!! Batteries don't last long, solar panels are no good."
    AAggh!! Help??
    I've tried to do the research but I can't get a definitive answer. Looked on youtube usually someones got a video with an answer, but no! So obviously go to the people who know, and that's you funsters!!
    I can see my self hooked up in a campsite occasionally and a lot of wild camping too, but am I to believe that when not hooked up, leisure batteries last next to no time, and after 15 minutes of television a boiling a kettle, that the lights will go out and I will have to wait days for the battery to recharge?
    I want to use my computer, I like to watch tv, I'd like to have at least one light on when it gets dark.
    Some people, no names, have been extolling the virtues of their wild camping adventures, with "we had no hookups and we wild camped for days with plenty of electricity running 240v tvs" etc etc. Are these the exception, exaggerations or just downright porkies. How do others go on with electrics when wild camping and maintain a good supply.
    I understand the formula for calculating power and usage but I feel like I'm missing something.
    I want to use my computer not a laptop if I can and I want to use a 240v television, preferably with a light on.
    Or am I just expecting too much.
    Thanks in advance to anyone with advice!!!

    Gary
     
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  2. Philcott

    Philcott Read Only Funster

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    Well a lot of what you have brought up has been puzzling me too, so am looking forward to the replies.
     
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  3. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    Firstly you are expecting toooo much if you don't want electric hookup. Having said that there are compromises. The first one is forget running anything on 240 volts. You will have to have a laptop with 12volt charger, 12volt TV, LED lights. Why you want a thumping great mains TV and computer is your business but hey ho.
    To keep the above running FAIRLY smoothly you will require at least 200 watts of solar panel and possibly a wind generator to keep your minimum of 330 amps of leisure batteries charged MOST of the time.
    If you require any further assistance in your quest am sure someone will tell you differently.
    Welcome to the fun and good luck with you search for the holy grail.
     
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  4. ShiftZZ

    ShiftZZ Funster Life Member

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    Right, here are my thoughts.. No doubt others will come along and offer theirs.

    What do we have on our Rapido

    2 x 80w solar panels.
    2 x 110A batteries
    LED lights
    Gaslow refillable gas (about to add another 11Kg)

    Boiling the kettle, use gas not 240v (unless on hookup):Wink:

    We have a 24" (12v) TV and Automatic Sat that uses little power.
    We use the laptops on 12v and find that no problem.
    LED lights we currently have are so low consumption that if we had them all on, that would have been the same as having ONE non LED light on, that's a big saving . :thumb:

    On a normal outing say a longish weekend we have enough power to keep us going with no issues...We check the VU (voltage) meter and find that more often than not we do not go below 12.5v.

    So Solar is fine with us.

    Hope that helps?

    ShiftZZ

    PS, eco bog paper? :Doh:
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
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  5. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    It really depends on what your budget is to whether you are expecting too much.

    First things first.

    Batteries, get quality, (traction) and get 2 3 or even 4.
    Fit a sterling battery to battery charger (or alternator to battery charger) to ensure you get maximum use out of your batteries.

    Second I would go for good good solar panel combination, 200w would be good, but dont expect miracles especially in the winter.

    Generator, if you can afford it (its always my dream) invest in an on board super quality genny. You can get one from Edge technology for about 3k for a decent ultra silent one. Then all your problems are over.

    Can't afford one ? then get a honda e10 or e20 to keep your batteries charged and give you instant 240v

    Or you can listen to others whom will tell you they have 1 80amp battery that goes 5 days in the dead of winter and you need nothing more :Wink:

    And they won't be lying, its' just peoples requirements are different, but esssentially it sounds like you want home comforts but with in the Motorhome environment,,
    what next a bath on board?:Rofl1::Wink:

    good luck, what you buying btw
     
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  6. dennismartin

    dennismartin Read Only Funster

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    we have 320 watts solar
    4 115 amp batteries
    3kw inverter

    all lights are led
    led tv 240v
    sky box
    media player
    laptop
    use microwave,hair dryer,toaster
    12v electric blanket


    we never run out but dont use them 24 hrs a day and turn every thing off when we dont need them
     
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  7. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    I am guessing it has all been said, we have LED lights 2 x 80W solar panels and about to add a third and 4 x 110 amp/hr batteries. TV is 15" 240v and sat sys is 240v both run via a 150W inverter and draw a total of 4.25 amp per hour from the batteries. Netbook on several hours a day, one charge does nearly six hours and charged by midday. other batteries are recharged during the day provided there is at least some sun bin the winter or even on a cloudy day in the summer (vast difference in light levels) we holiday 3 -4 weeks at a time spring and autumn and just about manage, summer no problems at all, and never use a hookup or site. fixed gas tank keeps us in gas for nearly 2 months. We never use 12v to heat anything, so toast under the grill, gas water heater and kettle, no hairdryer, no microwave. If you want to set your sights higher then I guess a genny would help, though we carried one for a few years we never actually used it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
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  8. bungle.bear

    bungle.bear Read Only Funster

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    Gary,

    I think one of the most important thing is to know how much battery power you have available, by this I mean do you need to switch of equipment or start the engine so you do not over discharge your batteries. Motorhome builders normal fit a voltage meter which in my opinion tells you nothing.

    I would fit a Victron BMV 600 or Nasa BM-1, these monitor power coming into the battery (charge) and power going out (discharge) and calculate this into % of power available, you need to program them with your battery bank size. The display will show the amount of charge as a % and you normally (depending on battery type) can only discharge to a maximum of 50%. (£120>)

    So once you know how much power you are using, you can think about the size and type of batteries, I would suggest you fit as large as bank as possible (min of 240ahr), because there is no point in generating power if you have nowhere to store it. I am a fan of AGM batteries because of the higher discharge available (50%) and slightly quicker recharge time, but there is no problems using standard lead acid (max 60% discharge). but buy the best you can afford. (£150>)

    So now you have a battery bank and something to tell you how charged they are, now you need to charge them.

    1) Motorhome engine driven alternator is going to be rated somewhere between 70 & 150amps normally, but your leisure batteries will never see this type of charge on a standard motorhome set-up, as other people have said you can fit a stirling B to B or A to B battery charger to decrease the recharge time and boost the voltage to the leisure batteries to ensure they are fully charged and keeped in tip top condition. (£300>)

    2) Solar panels can give a good charge rate though the summer and really as long as you battery bank is large enough? the large and the more solar panels you have the longer you can wild camp. On a 240ahr battery bank I would want a minumum 130watt solar panel. (£350>)

    3) Generator (my specialied area), two options onboard (most expensive) or portable.
    Onboard generators, three main suppliers and fuels, fuel wise you have a choice of petrol, LPG or diesel.

    Diesel are the most expensive, but can run from you main fuel tank also these are not the quietest. (cost £3.5k>)
    Petrol (my perfered) are the cheapest and quietest, but require second fuel tank. (cost £1.8K>)
    LPG are more expensive than petrol, but can be run from you current gas supply, hence no second tank required. but can be a bit temperamental. (cost £2k>)

    Portable normally petrol (or with LPG conversion). It would need to be a inverter output type either from Honda (EU10i or 20i), Yamaha or a Hyundai. Personally I would say clear on Kipor's. (cost £600>)

    Now you have batteries, couple of ways to charge them and something to monitor them with. so now you need to power your equipment.

    Some people will tell you to purchase everthing 12v or a convertor for each piece of equipment, but normally dedicated 12v equipment costs more to purchase and there will always be something you need 230v for.

    I prefere to purchase a large inverter (say 2000watts) and run everything off of it, Laptop, TV, mobile phone charger and even a small toaster. the cost of the inverter is offset againest the extra cost of dedicated 12v equipment. (£250>)

    As you can see there is no cheap option. but it is something you can build up over a year or so.

    Also you could replace all the lighting with LED's to keep the load down.

    Anthony
     
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  9. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Gas is a problem.
    Water is a problem.
    Sewage is a problem.
    Space is a problem.

    You must adjust to the limited quantities. You are doomed if you think that you can carry on as if in a normal home.

    Electricity is a minor problem, if you have a full toilet cassette you are in deep poo.
     
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  10. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    DOOOOOMED:Eeek:....you are quite right Birian the person is Doooooomed:Rofl1::Rofl1:
    These below will have all the mod cons 48" led tv a little heavy on the old petrol....joking apart....like Brian has said, you will have to compromise a little...unless you want to stay on a site most of the time, then a static may be the answer or a very large american RV ....running a BIG generator Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


    [​IMG]

    I am looking for a pick-up for this 5 er

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
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  11. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    We have 250Ah of batteries
    320w of solar
    Alugas refillable 2x11kg
    12v TV (rarely used)
    12v adaptors for laptop
    1.5kw inverter (3kw peak)
    All lights LED

    In the summer we are fine, we even use a mains (low wattage) kettle and hairdryer. In the winter a very different matter. If you move frequently in the colder months you will recharge your batteries when you drive (but very slowly unless you have a battery to battery charger). Otherwise a generator.

    If you are not full timing though, you can go a few days in the winter without moing and the solar will recharge your batteries while you're not using it.

    Also don't use the expensive bog roll, any supermarket soft one works just as well and breaks down as fast.
    As somebody mentioned earlier, the first thing that doesn't last is how quickly you fill your toilet. I carry a spare cassette but you need somewhere to store it.
     
  12. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    Listen To Haganap....sound advice....yes you can do it....or you could stay on campsites all the time Plugged into electric hook up....with 16amp electric that will work......Or buy a laptop and think large is maybe not the best option in a motorhome
     
  13. Vlad The Impaler

    Vlad The Impaler Funster

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    I faced this very same dilemma,being new to it all and about to go on a 2week trip to Scotland had serious power anxieties.Hagnap seems to me to give good advice and I was going to go for a b2b charger however couldn't get one in time.The first thing I did was ditch the 85 amp battery the van came with and got 2 110 amp,then with the help of a FUNSTER ,thanks Andy,fitted 2 90 watt solar pannels and a regulator £250.I bought a 19""TV DVD combo 12v from ASDA recommended by Terry £100 ,made up a lead £4 from ebay and off I went.I also replaced all bulbs with LEDs off eBay £35
    I spent 2 weeks away and never went near a hook up batteries charged fully by mid morning.We are not big power users but kids watch 3dvds a day on average,phones iPad charged with 12v adapters even wii.That was in August but a couple of weeks back went away for half term for 4days batteries still charging fully every day.
    If money is no problem go big on solar,wind,b2b charger and a great big genny.Or like me start with a few basics and see how you go,you can always add to it later.
     
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  14. Johns_Cross_Motorhomes

    Johns_Cross_Motorhomes Trader - Motorhome & Accessory Sales

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    As you are in Eastbourne, just down the road to us, why not call in and have a chat to Glen, our workshop manager and pick his brains.

    Then talk to Andy in sales, he fulltimed for some years in a Pilote

    Peter
     
  15. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    Hadn't realised you were in Eastbourne, which is where I live. PM me if you want to swap addresses or meet up somewhere.:Smile:
     
  16. maz

    maz Funster

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    I've fulltimed (both on and off hook-up) for around 18 months now and you soon learn to adjust your usage according to what's available - whether electricity, water, whatever. :Smile:
     
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  17. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    Maz of course is quite right. You must first try and see what you need. No point in whacking your payload and then spending a fortune if your needs would of been suited by a 80 amp battery. :Smile:

    start adding in the order I quoted

    Xtra batteries (decent)
    Solar
    B2B
    Genny

    The advice about the BM1 is also good, I have one of these bits of kit and it's ace.:thumb:
     
  18. aba

    aba

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    regardless of what anyone on here has said before you need to get the dealer selling you the motorhome to get your intended van weighed before you start adding 200kg of extra batteries / onboard generator and solar panels because you may find that the motorhome wont have enough weight capacity for you to put fuel and your self in never mind clothes / food / gas / water for a weekends trip away.
     
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  19. happypre65

    happypre65 Funster

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    the beginner

    Hi,we have solar panel fitted and have never had a problem with power,we have two colour tvs heating on etc,this is the only way to go.
    And the next day the panel will suppy for the next night or day,just make sure you have a big panel or two,also the battery needs to be as big as possible.regards happyman.:Smile:
     
  20. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    I HAVE ALREADY MENTIONED THIS.

    Ie don't do anything that will whack your payload unless you need it. :Doh:
     
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