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QUOTE(gwbischoff @ Oct 22 2007, 02:58 PM)
Ok, I live in sunny So.Cal. (sorry nor-easters, don't hate the playa') and when our lovely sun isn't blocked by the smoke and soot from raging wildfires I could see the benfits of having a solar unit on the roof.
My question is, are these things practical? Are the one's that supposedly "trickle charge" the batteries by plugging them into the cig lighter useful? Is that even possible?
Don't need an engineering answer but I didn't think that plugging something into the 12v socket could charge the coach or engine batteries.
Solar is BS. when it comes to electricity. OK for water and heating but not electricity. Go to northerntool.com and get a clip on pole mounted 400watt wind generator for about $375. 400 watts at 12 volts is 30 ampres! Wow! Sun doesn't shine at night but the wind does blow! Even at half the capacity you are doing real good economically. Basicly it works like a GM alternator with a built in Voltage regulator mounted on a pole and driven by a fan blade. It also follows the moving wind directions.
Investing $400 in solar gets you nothing. What you get is bout 1-2 ampres that only works during the daytime and if they ever quit working you are out the money. Any electric surge, over charging your batteries from another source while hooked up, wind,water and don't forget Hail will void their 1 year warranty so obviously solar is a bad direction to go. Power companies use wind never solar.
ALSO FOLKS, If you are using AC generators to recharge your batteries, you probably are wasting lots of feul do to poor design. Did you know that an AC generator requires it's motor to run a constant full speed(usually 3600 RPM's to creat any electricity at all? Where as a 12 Volt DC generator or alternator will produce it's necessary 12 volts consistently even at idle speeds? (They should make a small bumper mounted 12 Volt DC generator with a variable throttle to run more eficiently. Thought about making one with the honda GX 50 Motor. Revs to 7,800 RPMS and weighs 9 LBS).
This means that if you have a 4,000 watt AC generator running, you are only dumping out fuel at a crazy rate of 0.7 Gal per minnute because even if you have a huge charger you still are only using about 360 watts max of the 4,000 you produced. (90% Waste factor here simply because you are using an AC charger over a DC charger)
Very poorly designed! Go buy a micro-sized generator and only use your large on-board generator when running roof air etc. Consider however that your converter box usually only trickle charges about 3-10 amps.
Here is my configuration.
I have 6 very large deep cycle batteries(I got used for $120.00(ask me where to get them at that price)) and I can apply 60 12Volt DC amps to them and they will not cook. I can push it at 90 amps. At first I started out with a portable charger (Best charger in the world is th Black and decker 40amp smart charger at Mills Fleet Farm for $93.00) I mounted it directly in the battery compartment and wired it to an exterior outlet. Later I added a Minkota MK460 4 bank on board boat battery charger (SAFETY ALLERT!! Only Digital smart chargers can be mounted near batteries safely)
Now I am considering going to a Iota http://store.solar-electric.com/bach1.html
90 amp and then possibly adding 2 more batteries. Under this configuration, I could run about a month on dry camping or a week using heavy furnace, 2 TV's, lights, music etc), then use a 1000 watt portable generator to recharge everything in 6 hours using a 90 AMP charger, would consume about 1/2 gallon of gasoline, costing about a dollar fifty a week, where as using the House generator with the house converter and only 1 or 2 huose batteies I would consume about 8 gallons of gasoline costing about $30 a day. LIKE THAT?? See these specs? http://www.campingworld.com/browse/skus/in...el/skunum=25320
Folks, it's all about battery size and heavy charging capabilities when it comes to going green.
BTW, if you ever need a new electric water pump, they (Northerntool.com)sell them not for $250 like RV stores do but rather $59-89. I converted my 2.8 GPM to a .75 GPM and changed all my faucet areators and shower head and now I get onboard water tank lasting 3 times longer or can travel with
less water (weight) etc.