Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Solar Power Setup In The Desert

1,2,3,…and Christmas is all over. Wow and here we are approaching a new year at record speed.

I thought it best to elaborate a bit about our solar setup. It’s all fixed up and producing a lot of power. Our Generator will soon be out of work. (I still have to get 2 more batteries)

Here is what I did:
1-DSC_1088We got 2 solar panels at 235W each. Together they are capable of feeding DC power at about 33-34amp into the batteries. You might compare that to 6amp from a small conventional battery charger.

The two panels are connected plus to plus, minus to minus which is a parallel connection. That way the voltage stays the same. I measured the output voltage at about 24V.

Plus and minus are then fed into a charge controller which can be set at various desired voltages. Ours is set at 14.6V. The charge controller prevents overcharging (cooking) the batteries. The controller runs a plus and a minus wire gauge 6 to the battery’s plus and minus terminal.

A gauge 2 wire (plus and minus) runs from the battery to the inverter, producing 2000W AC and capable of a 4000W peak load.

I have run an AC cord from the inverter to an outside receptacle. That way I can plug in the trailers AC cable thus receiving 120V AC at all inside and outside receptacles.

Currently we have about a total of 190Amp of battery capacity. We will add on another 2 6V golf cart batteries. I will build a battery box mounted on the tongue of the trailer. Our trailer came with a 12V deep cycle battery. The ideal thing is to have either 6V or 12V batteries. But since I don’t want to throw away neither the 6Vs nor the 12V we will run them together for a few years.

1-DSC_1086Every rig offers different possibilities of where to mount solar panels, charge controller and inverter. We have our solar panels on the ground, while controller and inverter are mounted on the inside of the front wall in a storage under the bed room. For total techno freaks digital panels are available showing information about current charge voltage and amps as well as battery temperature and  what charging state the batteries are at. I decided to keep it simple. If I want to know what charge level my batteries are at I connect a meter to them. I have an older non-digital voltmeter, showing that the voltage stays at 14.6V.
Besides of that the trailer has a light indicator panels for the batteries inside. Shortly after sunrise it shows a full charge.

Other than working with the solar setup we have mostly spent the last two days with food preparations and eating. It’s part of the fun to hang out with friends and enjoying each-other’s company.
1-DSC_1125       1-DSC_1116  
Given the costs of U.S. medical services, I have managed to keep the food intake under critical levels. :-))

1-DSC_1105 1-DSC_1099 1-DSC_1101 On Christmas Eve we went to church. Over several years we have been attending the candlelight service at the Grace Lutheran Church in El Centro. Every year the young pastor remembers that we have been there the previous year. They have a beautiful church and we like to go there.

Even though the weather has been on the cooler side we are very blessed that we do not encounter any tornadoes like they did in the deep south from Florida to Alabama. Being in any RV is not a safe place when a tornado hits.

Today we are expecting high winds in the valley so we have closed the hatches, rolled up the awning and hope we won’t get too much dust blowing.
And that’s all for today folks.

Thanks for stopping by again!


  1. Looks like almost have your solar system completely operational, good job.

  2. nice job on the solar system you have set up!! sure hope the wind storm didn't create too much dust!

  3. Thanks for the pics of the solar.

  4. Wind storms are the pits! Did I tell you that I really do not like wind storms????

  5. Right now I have (2) 135W Panels and (2) 6V Batteries. Was hoping to add to it this year but not in the budget.

    Are you going to keep them portable or at some point mount them on the trailer ?

  6. Thanks for the pics and explanation of your solar system. It seems very efficient. Good job!

  7. 12v or 24v how can you use it I was thinking about using 2 100 wt panels 12v after seeing your setup I'm stumped one panel is better then 2 all I'm doing is dry camping and would like to keep my 2 6v GC battery's up can one use 1 230 wt panel to keep the battery's charged (panel ,, controller,, then to battery's ) or am I missing something
    Hope your days sunny mister Ed

    1. No, you aren't missing anything here. You can use a 230W Panel to feed your 2 batteries. You are probably having a bit of an overcapacity on the panel side though. But at least you get full voltage early in the morning after sunrise. A 100W panel will probably have an output of about 15-16V. The bigger panels have higher voltage, but your controller will take care of it. For a 230W panel you are OK with a 20amps controller. If you go higher with higher amps on the controller you can expand your solar array later.

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  9. Love your use of solar energy. We have thought of getting one for our van.


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