This Solar Thing is Quite Exciting!

WYOFamily

New Member
Greetings all,

i have no experience with solar power, I have never experimented with it but last year I bought a cargo trailer and want to convert it to a camper. i hope to be able to garner enough knowledge here that I can start piecing things together quickl.

the trailer is 18ft x 8.5 feet. I was thinking 800 watts of panels and 400-600ah of lithium batteries. I bought Wills book and have been gorging on his YouTube channel.

Looking forward to reading about your experiences and systems.
 

alcook62

Don't Be A Casualty - Cut the Cord
Greetings all,

i have no experience with solar power, I have never experimented with it but last year I bought a cargo trailer and want to convert it to a camper. i hope to be able to garner enough knowledge here that I can start piecing things together quickl.

the trailer is 18ft x 8.5 feet. I was thinking 800 watts of panels and 400-600ah of lithium batteries. I bought Wills book and have been gorging on his YouTube channel.

Looking forward to reading about your experiences and systems.
Welcome from a fellow Cowboy State member.
 

rmaddy

Solar Addict
I just finished converting a 7x14 cargo trailer. Been living in it for almost four weeks now. I got 990W of solar. You could get more than 800 on your bigger trailer if needed. I can run a 5000BTU A/C all day on my solar on a decent day.

Don't buy any components until you have worked out your whole system. Do an energy audit and get a realistic understanding of your electrical needs. Then work out how much battery and solar you will really need.

Welcome to the fun.

IMG_71A74B03B54F-1.jpeg
 

WYOFamily

New Member
I just finished converting a 7x14 cargo trailer. Been living in it for almost four weeks now. I got 990W of solar. You could get more than 800 on your bigger trailer if needed. I can run a 5000BTU A/C all day on my solar on a decent day.

Don't buy any components until you have worked out your whole system. Do an energy audit and get a realistic understanding of your electrical needs. Then work out how much battery and solar you will really need.

Welcome to the fun.

View attachment 64719
Wow! Amazing! What do you power and what brands did you go with. You did an awesome job!
 

rmaddy

Solar Addict
When the A/C isn't on my power needs are actually meager. I did a 24V setup with a 24V fridge, 24V water pump, 12V LED lights wired in series so they use 24V. My mobile router for Internet is also 24V. I have a 12V fuse box as well for the roof fans, 12V sockets (just like in a car) which I use to charge my phone and laptop. I use propane for cooking, heat, and for hot water (I have a tank-free ventless water heater). I ran a few 120V outlets that I rarely use. My inverter hasn't been on in 5 days. But it's supposed to be 90 tomorrow so I might have to get the A/C going.

My main components are 2 12V 206Ah SOK batteries (in series for 24V). A Victron MultiPlus 24V/2000W inverter/charger (more than enough for the A/C which only uses 425W at full power). A Victron 150/45 solar charge controller. 3 330W Silfab 330BL solar panels. Two Maxxair roof fans (I wish they were 24V). The rest is various fuses, breakers, and wires. I have a 30A shore power plug but I haven't used it since the solar was installed. The solar has been plenty.
 

WYOFamily

New Member
When the A/C isn't on my power needs are actually meager. I did a 24V setup with a 24V fridge, 24V water pump, 12V LED lights wired in series so they use 24V. My mobile router for Internet is also 24V. I have a 12V fuse box as well for the roof fans, 12V sockets (just like in a car) which I use to charge my phone and laptop. I use propane for cooking, heat, and for hot water (I have a tank-free ventless water heater). I ran a few 120V outlets that I rarely use. My inverter hasn't been on in 5 days. But it's supposed to be 90 tomorrow so I might have to get the A/C going.

My main components are 2 12V 206Ah SOK batteries (in series for 24V). A Victron MultiPlus 24V/2000W inverter/charger (more than enough for the A/C which only uses 425W at full power). A Victron 150/45 solar charge controller. 3 330W Silfab 330BL solar panels. Two Maxxair roof fans (I wish they were 24V). The rest is various fuses, breakers, and wires. I have a 30A shore power plug but I haven't used it since the solar was installed. The solar has been plenty.
Wow, this sounds very much like what I’m thinking. I was certainly debating over 12v vs 24v. What made the decision for you to go 24v? Would you recommend that for me? The trailer is a camping / retreat trailer. Will mostly be for weekend mountain camping but will also be an emergency rig. I want to get a fridge for it. It has a 13000btu AC but I know that I’ll have to scale down if I even want to think about using solar to cool it off.
 

rmaddy

Solar Addict
24V leads to smaller wires, fuses, and breakers for the most part. Certainly if you want a 3kW inverter you should seriously consider 24V. If you want an even bigger inverter consider 48V.

My conversion was simple enough because I never touched the trailer's existing 12V wiring. The trailer's brake battery was left as-is. All of the trailer's exterior lights and wiring were left as-is and are still powered by the 7-pin connection to the tow vehicle. Everything I added was completely separate.

You may have more to work out since your trailer has the A/C. I have no idea how that is powered and what it would take to add the solar system and house batteries to that setup.
 

WYOFamily

New Member
24V leads to smaller wires, fuses, and breakers for the most part. Certainly if you want a 3kW inverter you should seriously consider 24V. If you want an even bigger inverter consider 48V.

My conversion was simple enough because I never touched the trailer's existing 12V wiring. The trailer's brake battery was left as-is. All of the trailer's exterior lights and wiring were left as-is and are still powered by the 7-pin connection to the tow vehicle. Everything I added was completely separate.

You may have more to work out since your trailer has the A/C. I have no idea how that is powered and what it would take to add the solar system and house batteries to that setup.
I really appreciate the insight. I will leave the battery for the trailer and the solar will be autonomous. I will only use the large AC if hooked to shore power. Thanks for your contribution.
 

curiouscarbon

Science Penguin
if you want to run air conditioner from inverter, that’s one vote for 24v from me

if you are certain you will only power air conditioner from grid, that’s one vote for 12v from me.

i will be using a victron multiplus 24/3000 in my build that is of somewhat similar scale. the 12 volt version of the multiplus should be just as good.

i eventually went with 24V because working on 48V scares me still and 12V means i need to push more amps than i want to in order to run air conditioner or blow dryer. 24v keeps wire thickness more manageable than 12v while making more power available.

hope this helps 🙂 from where i stand, either 12v or 24v sound appropriate depending on further needs clarification.

cheers!
 

A.Justice

Swears he didn't start that fire.
I just finished converting a 7x14 cargo trailer. Been living in it for almost four weeks now. I got 990W of solar. You could get more than 800 on your bigger trailer if needed. I can run a 5000BTU A/C all day on my solar on a decent day.
What kind of air conditioning unit do you have on that, and how is it mounted? I'm in the process of building a small one (6x11), and I'm at the point where I would like to install climate control. I've been looking for people who have done something similar, but there's not a lot who have installed air conditioning, from scratch, on a small trailer.
 

rmaddy

Solar Addict
What kind of air conditioning unit do you have on that, and how is it mounted?
I ended up with a Frigidaire model FFRE053WAE. It's a small 5000BTU window unit. They have a few 5000BTU units but this one seemed to be the smallest physically and reasonably efficient at 430W when running full blast. I was able to get it from Home Depot earlier this summer.

I'll see if I can get some good pictures later today of how I installed it. But basically I built an access door in the V-nose of my trailer and I put the A/C on drawer slides. This way the A/C is secure inside the trailer when not in use. When I do need it I can open the access door and slide the A/C into position. For now I'm stuffing some foam rubber around the unit once it's in position.
 

WYOFamily

New Member
if you want to run air conditioner from inverter, that’s one vote for 24v from me

if you are certain you will only power air conditioner from grid, that’s one vote for 12v from me.

i will be using a victron multiplus 24/3000 in my build that is of somewhat similar scale. the 12 volt version of the multiplus should be just as good.

i eventually went with 24V because working on 48V scares me still and 12V means i need to push more amps than i want to in order to run air conditioner or blow dryer. 24v keeps wire thickness more manageable than 12v while making more power available.

hope this helps 🙂 from where i stand, either 12v or 24v sound appropriate depending on further needs clarification.

cheers!
This is great information. I’m going to look at some options but I think you’ve swayed me towards 24v.
 

WYOFamily

New Member
Well, I bought 2 x SOK 206ah batteries. I figured while they were in stock I should jump on them. Now to figure out the rest of the system around them.
 

rmaddy

Solar Addict
Good choice. I've been happy with my SOK batteries.

A few things to keep in mind with the batteries. They have a rated max continuous discharge of 100A. If you put the two batteries in series you have 24V with 100A max discharge (2400W). If you put them in parallel you have 12V with 200A max discharge (2400W). Either way you want to keep your inverter below 2400W to avoid asking the batteries for more amps than the rated max continuous.

If you put the batteries in series for 24V you will want to first wire them together in parallel. Then connect a 12V LiFePO4 friendly battery charger. Put the positive lead on one battery and the negative lead on the other. Charge the batteries to 100% SOC. Once charged you can disconnect the charger but keep the batteries connected in parallel overnight so they stay at the same SOC. After that you can set them up in series as needed. At first I simply fully charged each of my two batteries one at a time and then put them in series. I then had some issues when they were being charged in my system. The two batteries got way out of balance when very close to 100%. Once I performed the steps I just outlined they have been working together very well. I doubt this is specific to SOK batteries. Those steps should be done with any batteries that will be put in series.
 
Top