Tag Archives: solar

RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road

RV fridges come in all sizes, and more importantly as a single 12V or three-way unit.

For years, the three-way fridge has been the traditional unit for use in RV’s, yet it had two major drawbacks:

  • The absorption type fridge requires leveling of the vehicle.
  • It has complicated power source requirements: 12V + 120V wiring and propane tanks.

That all changed with the advent of the Danfoss compressor. Refrigerators equipped with these compressors are energy efficient, highly reliable and compact. Connected to batteries, as a 12V power source, these fridges can run for days and indefinitely when connected to solar panels. No more restrictions when traveling through tunnels (propane) and more opportunities to build a propane-free conversion van. Continue reading RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road

Is The RV At The Forefront Of Low Voltage Home Wiring?

There are many similarities between a solar installation in an RV and a regular single-family home. OK, some differences are quite fundamental, like the total number of available PV panels and their orientation, yet with respect to the system wiring, differences are less apparent.

The RV and the Marine environment have accumulated heaps of solar technical knowhow, that is directly applicable to home construction. And the major increases in efficiency of Photovoltaic panels in recent years, Continue reading Is The RV At The Forefront Of Low Voltage Home Wiring?

“Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

Long before I install solar in my RV, I have to think about power use of my electronics, that is the amps and type of voltage (12V/110V). Computer use in a RV has become easier since laptops became available. Battery use is always an issue in a recreational vehicle and certainly with computers that may use little, but are in use a lot. Trying to keep electrical demand to a minimum is always a priority, since it directly translates into a longer boondocking experience.

Intel developed the low energy Atom chip line used in the NUC’s (Next Unit of Computing) small form factor PC’s with a similar technology as what’s used in the so popular tablets. Continue reading “Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

Fulltime RVing Is The Right Choice (If You Can!)

Before deciding to convert your own cargo van, you should find out if full-time living in an RV will fit your lifestyle and your budget. Or you may choose for extended RV camping, where you use leave home for a few months, like the Canadian snowbirds each winter.

You can go from a small Class B van, all the way up to a full-size bus or choose to go with a truck/trailer combination, with the latter having a separate vehicle to drive with. Cost varies between a few $1,000’s for a used van with mattress and a few cabinets, up to a $500,000 for your dream bus.
Continue reading Fulltime RVing Is The Right Choice (If You Can!)

8 Critical Elements Of A Modern Van Conversion

THERE ARE MANY REASONS TO HAVE A CONVERSION VAN. MOST FOLKS WILL USE IT FOR AFFORDABLE TRAVEL, AND SOME DOING THE MORE EXTREME BOONDOCKING AND EVEN LESS LIVING IN IT PERMANENTLY.

Some use it as their mobile office, while traveling around the country, others have made it part of the Tiny House Movement.

For me it is all about mobility and extended stays, while preserving functionality and comfort.

1. Independence:

Generators have been a source of irritation for many RV’rs for a long time, but their time has come, unless you have an air-conditioner to run. Solar panels have come a long way and even the smaller RVs can support multiple panels with ease. Especially the new high efficiency flexible solar panels that can be fit and hidden on top of the roofs of most cargo vans.

Continue reading 8 Critical Elements Of A Modern Van Conversion

Solar Panel Guide (2)

New approaches for small RV’s.

PHOTOVOLTAIC FACTS

After I introduced Semi Flexible Solar Panels in my previous post, questions remain about the performance of these new semi flexible modules.
semi-flex-solar-panel

SOLAR PANEL TYPES
Rigid Residential Flexible
Amorphous Thin Film Semi Flexible
average cost per watt 1 $ 0.80-2.00 $ 1.50 $ 2.00-7.00
low light performance average good good 2
high heat performance average good good 2
efficiency 15 watt/sf 5.5 watt/sf 15 watt/sf
weight 40 oz/sf 11 oz/sf 7.5 oz/sf
roof penetration yes no no
warranty 20-25 yrs 20 yrs 10 yrs 3
1 2014
2 Several unconfirmed user tests indicate low light and high heat performance are less than rigid panels.
3 Misuse of the limited flexibility is often given as a reason for the shorter warranty period. Product life maybe similar to rigid panels.

As a general indication, prices for these panels are double that of regular rigid modules. For that, you’ll get a substantial weight reduction and a more aesthetically pleasing finish and maybe even some improved fuel mileage.

High heat performance is probably the biggest drawback, where some users indicate a considerable performance drop during the hottest part of the day. Under low light circumstances, they seem to under perform too, however no significant amount of energy is produced those times of the day anyway.
Continue reading Solar Panel Guide (2)

Solar Panel Guide (1)

New approaches for small RV’s.

THIS DECADE HAS SEEN MANY ADVANCES IN SOLAR PANEL RESEARCH, WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF A WIDE ARRAY OF NEW MATERIALS, WHICH IS CHANGING RV LIFE.

Less important to the big rigs, that have large, flat roofs to support a large numbers of panels, the smaller Class B RV’s and Cargo Van Conversions tend to have preciously little room for sufficient solar power generating equipment. And those with curved roofs (p.e. converted vans or Airstreams) are even less fortunate. Another concern for smaller vehicles is overall weight, as their restricted payloads limit installation of an extensive photovoltaic system.

flex-solar-panelMost often the rigid residential solar modules have been adapted for use by RV’s, but flexible panels started to make inroads a few years ago. These low-efficiency panels offered no solution for the Class B traveler, as they came in clumsy sizes and needed more, lacking, roof space.
Continue reading Solar Panel Guide (1)

12V Fan Switch

Recently a fan was installed to cool the solar components, like controller, battery charger, etc. As it is not necessary to run the fan continuously, a switch can regulate its use.

Radio Shack sells this 12V switch with a ground (+), a power (-) and a accessory spade.

Right now there is a wire running to the batteries, a 12V socket, the fan and the switch that have to be interconnected.
First the red (-) fan wire gets a connector.

102103After crimping the tiny wire, a little bit of solder is applied for an improved connection.

100For increased longevity of these joints, this assortment of heat shrink was acquired from Harbor Freight.

104The fan wire plug is finished by adding the heat shrink.

After adding all the required plugs to the different wires, we move from the workshop to the van to make the final connections.

Continue reading 12V Fan Switch