Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Solar From Phoenix

"Jeri" from Wanderin' wondered where we would be getting our solar panels. After having been RV'ing for 7 years in North America we have tried several companies for purchasing solar equipment. The one we going to check out now is Sun Electronics in Phoenix. According to their website and from what we have seen they are having the lowest prices of all. And the good thing is we have a few neighbours right here who have already purchased solar panels from this company earlier. The panels are good and they are priced right.

Only a few years ago we have paid over $500.00 for a 130W panel. Today we can buy a 195W panel for $210.00 in Phoenix. And if you think they are too big (they are quite large) you can find a 150W for $192.00.

What else would you need to build a simple solar power system?
You need a charge controller which prevents your batteries from being "cooked" from overcharging. You would also want an Inverter transforming the 12V DC into 120V AC. And last but not least, you need an adequate number of deep-cycle batteries to store the harvested power from your solar panels. 

On previous rigs we have had 2 panels with a total of 260W, matched up with 6pc. 6V deep-cycle batteries. This time we will go to 2x195W with the same number of batteries. 
260W is not enough if you want to run your TV most of the day. But it is certainly enough for a few hours every evening, the toaster in the morning or the coffee machine. There are simple formulas out there to calculate your daily need for power. It is always good to be a little bit on the upper side, especially after solar panels have become quite affordable.

Some people just want a solar panel to trickle charge their single battery. A small panel of 60-80W will be enough for that.

Solar panels can be mounted permanently in a flat position or hinged so they can be tilted up against the sun. Clearly, the tilted mounting is far more efficient as the rays of the sun are hitting the panel in a perpendicular angle. We have tested that earlier. Watching the charge on the meter it went up when I tilted the panels and it went down when the angle became too steep or too flat.

As we are spending most of our time in one spot we will not mount the panels to the roof but have them set up on the ground. That will also give us an edge as we can turn the panels from a morning position to an evening position. 

And even if you are not a boondocker you will benefit from your solar panels, as you can be off the grid in your RV-park thus not paying for the use of their power. And if you travel long distances you have your own power supply in any overnight spot without having to run your generator (if you happen to have one)
We have a few neighbours out here, who have literally "plastered" the roof of their RV with solar panels and they don't even own a generator and still have all the power they want.

Thanks for stopping by and hopefully a full charge in your batteries.


  1. Thanks for the info on the solar panels nice explanation on your experience and needs. Hope you get over your cold fast, all that warm weather and fresh air should help. Nice pictures of your rigs interior I like your floor plan.

  2. interesting on the solar panels...we have a small one up there but I have no idea what its for...we have discussed looking into the future..good luck

  3. I met a couple last year who had enough solar and batteries to even run their microwave !!

  4. We have one 130 watt panel, a good controller and 6 volt and can usually get by with that as long as we have good cloud free sunny days. Certainly worth the investment. One more panel and at least two more batteries would be great, if we did more that 4-6 weeks of dry camping. Excellenet prices on solar panels now thou.

  5. Thanks for the info. Terry wants solar panels but I've always said we can't justify the cost since we usually boondock about two months a year. However, I really like boondocking because your neighbors aren't right on top of you but he likes running the TV/DishNetwork all day too. We have an inverter and 6 deep cell batteries. I suppose all we are lacking is a controller and the panels. Hmmm. Maybe.Thanks

  6. Maybe I'll buy him a panel for Christmas. Shhhhh -- it's a secret.


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