ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Technology»
  • Renewable & Alternative Energy

My First Solar Kit

Updated on November 7, 2013
Boondocking in Georgia with My First Solar Kit Setup
Boondocking in Georgia with My First Solar Kit Setup | Source

Go Solar

My first solar kit cost a total of $305.43. It included a 15 watt solar panel, a 100 watt solar controller, 2 inverter cables, a solar mounting kit, a 750 watt power inverter, additional solar connections and adapters, and a 12 volt deep cycle battery. The whole (home made kit) came from Harbor Freight, except for the 12 volt deep cycle battery.

I purchased the solar system to help charge my batteries on an RV. Now that I understand the setup I could have done things differently. Although I'm happy with the setup and it works great, I should have purchase a solar panel with a higher wattage.

I'm guessing that my 15 watt solar panel is only producing about 8 amps a day. If I had purchased a panel with let's say 95 watts I could be producing about 48 amps per day. Every electric item in the RV has a amp per hr rating. Let's take the TV. My TV is not really a traditional TV set. I use my notebook and a additional 26 inch monitor. This setup allows me to watch Netflix, play a DVD, or watch YouTube.

The notebook and the monitor both use 1 amps each. That's 2 amps per hour, but I'm only generating 8 amps all day. Now my movie time has been cut to 4 hours. I course I could use the energy already stored in my batteries, but it's recommended not to run your batteries down more the 50%.

Go Power Solar Kit

Cast your vote for Go Power Solar Kit

Pictures of the RV

My Aliner
My Aliner | Source
Inside look at my Aliner
Inside look at my Aliner | Source
Inside look at my Aliner
Inside look at my Aliner | Source

More Solar Power

I do have other needs for power. I love coffee and drink it almost all day and I'm not talking about that instant stuff. I also use the microwave from time to time. If I had purchase the Go Power 95 watt solar kit I could be generating more power. Now, most of my camping trip come with the full hook-up, but I would love to dry camp from time to time.

The 95 watt Go Power solar kit comes with a 30 amp digital regulator which is the same thing as a charge controller. The manufactures of the panel says the unit produces 5.45 amps per hour which is right in line with my math above of 48 amps per day.

Let's see what I spend and what it would have cost for more power!

Remember, my total cost for my current solar kit from Harbor Freight was $305.43. The current price for the Go Power Solar system is $587.99. I would still have had to purchased the inverter cables and the 750 watt power inverter but not the extra 12 volt deep cycle battery. That comes to the grand total of $697.97 a difference of $392.54. The need for the
additional battery would have been eliminated because I would have been generating enough power per day for my needs.

Because I had already purchased my system and didn't really want to go through the process of selling used items. So, I had my tow vehicle altered. I forgot to say, my RV is a travel trailer. I spend about $300 to have my tow vehicle charge the RV while I'm driving down the road.

I'm not unhappy with my system. I was able to install the Harbor Freight unit by myself which is a source of pride.

Why Go Solar

I wanted a solar system on the RV so that I could camp anywhere and have power. Although I camp at campsites that offer full hook-up (water, electric, and sewer) I do want to dry camp sometimes. I recently dry camped in Georgia. It was great for the first 3 days, because after that I was out of power. I wasn't monitoring how much power I was using and the third day was spend with no TV and no coffee.

I packed up and headed home. What I didn't realize is that I could have just hooked the RV to my tow vehicle and idle for awhile to recharge my batteries. Nevertheless, it was a lesson learned. I should have been monitoring my power usage and I should have at least for 15 - 30 minutes ran the tow vehicle while hooked to the RV. I could have extended my trip. Next time!

I would love to here of your solar setup. Please post how you install, use, want to use your solar power systems in the section provided below.

Have You Gone Solar?

See results

Other Usage For My First Solar Kit

Now that I have gone solar I see many other ways to use the system. We recently had a power outage. Guess where I went? You got it, the RV. I cooked my dinner on the propane stove and watching DVD's powered by the energy I have been collecting in those batteries. My neighbor, who is also a good friend saw the lights on and came over for a cup of coffee. That's right, in the RV. She thought I was crazy when I told her I wanted an RV, but looks who's crazy now.

I'm not a prepper but I do find myself watching a lot of Doomsday Prepper on A&E. Guess what, I think an RV is a great prepper's vehicle. You have everything. My RV has a bathroom (toilet and shower), 3 burner propane cook top, 3 way refrigerator, coffee machine, microwave, Queen bed, entertainment, and can produce its own power.

How I Installed My Solar Kit

I purchased the following items:

  • 15 watt solar panel
  • 100 watt solar charge controller
  • 2 inverter cables
  • Solar mounting kit
  • 750 watt power inverter
  • Additional solar connections and adapters kit
  • Additional 12 volt deep cycle battery

I used to 2 inverter cables to connect the (2) 12 volt deep cycle batteries, to function as a battery bank. One came with the RV and the other was purchase for 88.49 for Napa. The batteries were connected in parallel which means negative to negative and positive to positive. Each battery has about 114 amp hour. That means I now have 228 amp hours of power available to me.

I located a good position for the 100 watt solar charge controller and connect it to the lead battery. Be sure to connect the positive and negative connections correctly. Now it's time to connect the 15 watt solar panel. My panel connection cord wasn't long enough, that's why I purchased the additional connections and adapters kit for $8.99. After connecting the extend and the solar panel, I then connected the solar panel to the charge controller.

I purchased the mounting rack for $9.99 because I didn't want to drill holes in the RV. The mounting rack allows me to move the solar panel to any position that is best to collect the power of the sun.

I know you are wondering how to you get the power out of the batteries. Using the lead battery I connected the 750 watt power inverter that I purchased for $59.99. Remember to connect the positive and negative connection correctly. Also, buy a power inverter that meets the demand of your power usages. I should have purchase a 1000 watt power inverter.

The setup was easy and took about 45 minutes.

Test Your Solar Knowledge

view quiz statistics


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Nice hub, ysdata. I live off the grid and we rely on our solar system year-round. I also have outdoor motion detector lights, indoor lights, and electric fences powered separately (also solar). During summer I cook with a solar oven. My refrigerator runs off LPG and in winter we use a wood-burner stove for heat and also some of our cooking. We do have a gas stove as well but I try to use it as little as possible.

      Like you, we get lots of visitors when the power grid goes down. lol. I've written a bunch of hubs about our off-grid lifestyle if you're interested in taking a look.

      Voted up ++