Hear is one for those who have been there done that route.

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Brakers, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Brakers

    Brakers Funster Life Member

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    OK guys and gals go on give me a headache.

    I want to be as self sufficient power wise on the camp as much as possible as I intend to stay at sites and wild camping without electricity. Let’s just leave it at that for the moment. I have just purchased a motorhome and picking it up next Friday Hooray, outdoor world here I come, so look out.

    I would preferred to of purchased a motorhome that encompassed every facility I desired in a van, but not being Richard Branson and having to buy a second hand mortohome there was always going to be a compromise which is normally down to money, although if I were Richard Branson I would be in a Hotel.

    This thread is about power when parked up, please don’t go down the genny route as that might be another thread at a later date and also I don’t want to start a thread war.

    I have read a bit about Solar panels and there seems to be various types of manufacture out there, not sure which one is best if any but I’m not particularly looking for links to sites that sell them and have info on them I’m looking for motorhomers who have had them fitted or fitted them, themselves and used them quite extensively during the year and what make they are using also how long they have had them and if the output of the cells have dropped. End user use for me is much better than any sales blurb.

    I also was thinking is it really possible to run 240v appliances for a reasonable amount of time in this country with an inverter with the lack of sun and weather we have especially in the Autumn or early Spring. Also how many appliances, now hold on, you techy chaps, before you leap in to tell me you will need to know the draw of the appliance also the inverter makes a difference if full sine wave inverter or the other one which I can’t remember the name, also the Amp of the battery or batteries etc the list goes on. So again this is for you good people who have the experience doing this and if you gave up in the end for lack of Sun etc in this country and took the solar panels off to reduce weight or some other reason.

    There we are that should give me enough brain ache to start with.

    I await your interesting replies, I realize this is not a straight forward question and there’s more than one road into London, so while I’m about it I want to thank all who endeavour to answer this question.
    Many Thanks Tony
     
  2. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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  3. chaser

    chaser Funster

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    Tony said

    I would preferred to of purchased a motorhome that encompassed every facility I desired in a van, but not being Richard Branson and having to buy a second hand mortohome there was always going to be a compromise which is normally down to money, although if I were Richard Branson I would be in a Hotel.

    If you think motorhomeing is cheaper than being in an hotel, I'm afraid you are in for a big shock, not being nasty but motor homes are a lot more expensive than is thought.:(
    Not knocking either mhs or hotels, they both have their place, but on a cost basis there is very little difference.
     
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  4. Humsafer

    Humsafer Funster

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    Agree with that, when we think about fuel, servicing, tax insurance etc we tend to NOT factor in DEPRECIATION which is frightening. A salesman at Brownhills once told me that they stopped selling RV,s because they could depreciate anything up to a grand a month just sitting on the forecourt. As for power, I just went for a honda
     
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  5. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    I've just added a second 100W panel to our MH bringing the total up to 200W. There is still room for a third panel but we'll give it a go with 200 to begin with. The reason I needed the second panel was because in a cloudy Brittany last year in September 100W was not enough after a couple of days as we were running a compressor coolbox and the diesel heating. I think 200W will be sufficient but that was only September, in December not a chance I think. It would help but we would have needed to start the engine and driven somewhere.

    If you want reliable winter power then a B2B charger is the way to go I think, much less hassle than a generator but it really depends so much on your power requirements.

    With 200W of solar I think we will be fine for our relatively minor needs (LED lights, 12V TV etc) for at least 8 months of the year in the UK and northern France, a bit longer further south but we have no inverter other than a tiny 150W which I use for charging my camera as there was no 12 volt alternative for it originally.

    If you want to run a microwave then I think you will struggle on solar in the winter but that is just my guess and of course it does depend how often you use it. But of course microwaves, electric kettles and slow cookers etc are not a necessity - if you are short of power you can do all your cooking and tea making on gas.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
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  6. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    First and foremost, forget anything that requires 220 volts. If it doesnt run on gas or 12 volt, throw it away if you do not intend using campsite mains electric. Concentrate on all your chargers, laptop, phone etc being 12 volt. 12 volt TV. Everything else on gas. then buy as many solar panels as your pocket and roof will support, not forgetting you will require extra batteries to store all this free energy. Then consider travelling at least 1500 miles south in the winter, because all those pannels will be doing sweet FA in the UK winter. Welcome to the fun by the way (y).
     
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  7. fastpat

    fastpat Read Only Funster

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    As others have said, you need a change of mindset, forget 240 and with a couple of solar panels and service batteries your set - even in the frozen north.
     
  8. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    It's absolutely straight forward and has been answered many many times, so if you don't get enough data in this thread just search one solar and habitation battery.

    No-one can answer your post because you do not say what you want to run. You do have the right idea though when you say you know that in the UK you are not going to survive in the winter months.

    Another important consideration is, don't for one moment think you can live like you do at home, electricity, water, sewage, gas are all in very short supply, if you don't adjust your demand you will fail.
     
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  9. Brakers

    Brakers Funster Life Member

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    Yes I do know that no one knows what I want to run but I was not asking that, I was asking you good people who do use this sort of setup what experience they have and what they might use and how they got on with it, I certainly was not wanting a definitive answer, again more of a how they get on and what they used and a ball park view of how long they used them for. Also it they would go that route again.
    Anyway thank you for your answer. Tony
     
  10. WillH

    WillH Funster

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    As with a few of the replies above, go 12v and gas. Make sure all your lights are LED and manage your power consumption carefully. When we leave the van the control panel is switched off, saves a little power. Remember to remove chargers and switch off satnav, camera, radio etc. Every little helps.
     
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  11. DavidG58

    DavidG58 Funster

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    If you are moving around, charge anything you can while the engine is running, a little plug in inverter might help there

    Also when wild especially if you are not moving on just run your engine for a while, much quieter a than generator and from my experience will recharge your hab battery just as quick and warm the MH at same time (y)
     
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  12. Bridget

    Bridget Funster

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    I have a solar panel but I have to have the control panel switched on in order for it to charge my leisure battery and vehicle battery according to the split I have programmed in.
    I only have one panel of unknown wattage along with a leisure battery which is also unmarked and unknown. I thought I would just see how things pan out before going mad replacing everything but the kitchen sink!:LOL:

    When away Nov and Dec I would watch a dvd most evenings and would use led lighting. I stayed without hookup or moving on for 7 nights without a problem.
    This is the first van that I have had a solar panel on and it seems to be working out ok for me. I'm still in my assessment phase of deciding whether I need an increase in power capability!
     
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  13. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    We have 100W panel and 110Ah battery. Over new year in UK we lasted about 3 days with LED lights, just a bit of TV and heating. Then we had to run the engine to charge. The solar was not up to much.

    Later in Spain we still needed heating at night, watched 2 hours of videos a night and we coped. But we did hook up just to charge the electric bike batteries which a 100W cannot cope with. Maybe 200W would keep the bikes going, I don't know.
     
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  14. Stealaway

    Stealaway Funster

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    Why would you restrict yourself to 12V when the percentage difference in power consumption is quite negligible.
    A 220 v alternative is invaluable - IMHO.
    Simply make sure you have enough battery's and solar panels for your own personable requirements.
     
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  15. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

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    something not yet mentioned is the payload implications of adding multiple heavy batteries and solar panels. in an ideal world you could cover the whole usable roof with panels and add 6 or more 110ah batteries to be self sufficient. that would weigh far too much for most motorhomes though never mind the cost involved
     
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  16. Carol

    Carol Funster Life Member

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    My fairly untechnical answer would be one solar panel, in winter 3 days using Led lights limited TV and powering the water pumps and heating, the rest we would use gas. some where and I don't know where maybe @Jim has the link there is a very informative thread on Solar, as many Motorhomers have changed over from Gennys to Solar.
     
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  17. DanielFord

    DanielFord Funster

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    You aren't a million miles away from my van, I'd happily show you around ours. We have 150w solar on the roof and a 2kva inverter with 2 x 100ah leisure batteries.
    Basically what everyone else has said is true, if you run anything that is 240v you are pretty well going to kill your batteries in no time. Get as much on 12v as you can.
     
  18. Brakers

    Brakers Funster Life Member

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    Hi Daniel Thanks for that really nice offer, I would love to come and see your van, perhaps this weekend if you have a spare hour or two.
    My email is abrakepersonal@outlook.com, please contact me there if this is possible and we will arrange something.
    Many Thanks Tony
     
  19. Brakers

    Brakers Funster Life Member

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    Hi Stealaway r u saying that 220 -240 with an inverter is a viable alternative to just running 12v, and if so what set up and items do you use. Thanks Tony
     
  20. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    That is very misleading. A 12V 750W microwave would take just as much ( give or take a few percent ) as a 240V 750W microwave.

    I think this is what stealaway is saying in a roundabout way.

    To survive off grid every watt counts. We plug in 3000W kettles at home without thinking, plug that into a 100Ah battery and it might just last long enough to boil it once.

    Unless you are a Yank, you have to adjust your mind to off grid living.
     
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