Solar panels for full timers.

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by mandymops, Apr 3, 2015.

  1. mandymops

    mandymops Read Only Funster

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    My daughter is thinking of moving in with her boyfriend. He has free accomodation in an old mobile home ( I know, not a motor home but you clever peeps probably know about this stuff.) and he has no hot water or electricity. They want a solar panel to provide them with both of the above or two separate systems, depending on which would work best. They would be using electricity for lighting, laptops, charging phones, music and brief bursts of heating to take the chill off. If they don't set up the mobile home they may be purchasing a van to do up so advice on solar panels for either would be very welcome.
     
  2. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    where to start, battery powered heating is a definite no no, any meaningful heat will result in a flat battery in a few mins (literally) use gas. Hot water should likewise be gas heated or use a solar radiator system but that does require power for pumps and a number of tanks or a solar shower bag. (leave in the sun all day and wash shower at night).
    Solar power to charge batteries for all other uses no problem at all provided you have enough and a large enough battery bank to carry over those wet or overcast winter days panels should be angled to the midday sun as flat will barely charge in the winter due to the low angle of the sun.
     
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  3. mandymops

    mandymops Read Only Funster

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    Wow, that was quick. Thanks. I hope you don't mind but I have copied and pasted your reply to her boyfriend to peruse. Thanks once again.
     
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  4. steevie

    steevie Funster

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    That really says it all really, but I would suggest you buy home type 250w ones and as many as you can afford. They can be bought for around £100 each, and four would be good, feeding at least two 110 amp leisure batteries, all controlled with a 12 v controller from eBay, like a 30 or 40amp one about .£20. Heating can be calor gas, or kero feeding a wagon type cab heater. Another alternative would be a wood stove, but you would be forever looking for logs.
     
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  5. Peter A Forbes

    Peter A Forbes Funster

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    Before you jump into a full-blown expensive solar system, remember that England is not the south of France, daylight sunshine is not reliable and solar panel ratings are at best a little optimistic.

    If you want hot water, use Calor Gas bottles, same for heating.

    With low-power LED lighting it starts to look feasible, but power-hungry devices are not going to be any good unless they have a small generator for occasional use and when the batteries go flat because there's no sunshine.

    Solar Panels are great, but a touch of realism suggests that living 24/7 in a caravan won't work with solar alone.

    If you are going to set up a decent panel array, you need to look at MPPT solar controllers and some decent batteries, plus a big mains-powered charger to go with the batteries.

    I'd suggest:

    4 X 100W or 125W solar panels About £85-£100 each
    2 X MPPT controllers Buy a decent pair, £85 each
    2 sets of 12V 225AH batteries £245 each
    2 X 50A chargers £40 each
    1 X 2.2kVA generator £150

    The quality of the MPPT controllers and the batteries will define how well it all works, buy rubbish and it will fail.

    If the system is split into two, you can run on one set while the other set recovers from whatever you took out the night before and gives it a chance to fully
    recharge.

    If you get bad weather, the generator can charge the batteries up and run other high-current AC loads.

    Peter
     
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  6. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    The other thing that you need to consider is devices connected to battery.
    I am a fulltimer and have been using the same laptop for over 8 years. I never saw the point in replacing it because it worked.

    However I have replaced it in january with a new one which is a magnitude faster. My battery usage has dropped through the floor. On the old laptop I had to start the generator ever 5 days with normal/heavy usage. Now I can use the new laptop none stop and the solar panels keep up even in February.

    What I am saying is, don't spend all your budget on solar panels and batteries then connect cheap/old equipment that is not power efficient.

    LED lighting is essential, use a tablet or low power laptop for watching media on. Try to use a tablet for browsing rather than booting up a full computer. Try to avoid anything that requires an inverter.

    As others have said, heating anything whether it is food, water or air always use gas. If the lad is diy handy I am sure he can work out a system with refillable gas bottles. Connect to his van to refill then swap out back at home. LPG will work out cheaper than callor.

    It sounds like they will have an adventure and I wish them the best. Good luck.
     
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  7. mandymops

    mandymops Read Only Funster

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    Thank you so much everyone. I'm afraid it's all wasted on me but I have passed on your collective wisdom to him and he is most grateful.
     
  8. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Ok, so the problem of light and heat is partly solved.....
    now, what about water, drainage and sewerage ?
    on site, the mobile homes are connected to mains water and sewer
     
  9. mandymops

    mandymops Read Only Funster

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    At the moment there's a loo and shower very near. I think he better deal with one thing at a time but I may be back. ;-)
     
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