Thanks to our friend Mark, we recently upgraded to 680 watts of solar power. Mark designed the economical system using 4 used Sharp 170 watt panels found on craigslist (LA) for $105 each. Here is a link to the panel specs. Note the 25 year warranty. http://files.sharpusa.com/Downloads/Solar/Products/sol_dow_NE170U1.pdf . On ebay we found the state of the art controller https://centrix-intl.com/details.asp?Parent2ID=2&productid=10533 and remote display https://centrix-intl.com/details.asp?Parent2ID=2&productid=11076 . Many connectors, fuses, circuit breakers and knobs we found on amazon. We made our own brackets and tilting arms using aluminum from a local metal supply house. Wire, conduit, screws, etc we obtained at the closest Home Depot. The entire package cost $1375. Two of us working two days and we got the system up and running. Mark’s expertise made it all possible, we were his helpers. The idea is that anyone can have solar with a small budget and a knowledgeable friend. Thanks Mark.
We are still getting used to having abundant electricity while boondocking off the grid. We’ve never felt very comfortable running much off our batteries. Always afraid we’d run the batts down too low. Now we see we can have 28 amps flowing into our batteries by 11 in the morning. On our mostly sunny days we can have our batteries fully charged by afternoon. During the day we can pretty much run anything on 110 volts. In the morning we can brew a pot of coffee, toast a bagel or scramble some tofu in the electric skillet. In the evening we can watch TV for a while, jump online with our laptops or read to the wee hours. From Spring thru early Fall we can use the panels laying flat on the roof of the RV. Come late Fall and Winter when the sun is lower in the sky, we will position the RV to tilt the panels southward with the simple tilting supports we’ve installed. This will maximize our power during the weakest time of year.
Thanks again to our friend Mark. We now have a basic solar system that enables us to boondock off-the-grid for as long as we like without using our diesel generator. Our adventure possibilities just got bigger.