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Solar & Inverter starting point advice

kfp673
Explorer II
Explorer II
Hello All,

We seem to be dry camping more and more over the past 2 years. Mostly in state forrest land with dedicated sites but the sites are roughly 1/4-1/2 mile between each site. This spring I upgraded from a single 12v to dual 6V batteries. Now when camping in 40 degree nights my furnace makes it well into the morning and even into the afternoon vs 3 or 4am with the old 12v. So our current routine is running generator for about 2 hours in the morning while we make coffee and breakfast, and then about 2 hours in the evening as my kids are winding down and watching a movie before bed. The rest of the day and all night I prefer to leave generators off and 4 hours seems to be enough to charge the batteries enough to hold over another night.

Anyway,I'd love to cut that back even further and give the ability to run a coffee maker, TV, and other devices off 12v. Please point me in a direction of where to start looking at inverters. Are there good posts explaining how and where to install them? Also, what size solar kit is fairly affordable and makes enough power to maybe cut an hour or two off my generator running?

Thanks!
18 REPLIES 18

afidel
Explorer II
Explorer II
The solution to coffee is either a stovetop unit, french press, or freeze dried (instant). Then all you need is to power the TV, easily accomplished with a $25 car inverter and a cigarette outlet added to an existing 12V high drain line or directly to the 12V distribution panel in your converter (mine has 4 unpopulated slots, just add wiring and a 12V fuse)
2019 Dutchman Kodiak 293RLSL
2015 GMC 1500 Sierra 4x4 5.3 3.42 full bed
Equalizer 10k WDH

allen8106
Explorer
Explorer
kfp673 wrote:
Hello All,

We seem to be dry camping more and more over the past 2 years. Mostly in state forrest land with dedicated sites but the sites are roughly 1/4-1/2 mile between each site. This spring I upgraded from a single 12v to dual 6V batteries. Now when camping in 40 degree nights my furnace makes it well into the morning and even into the afternoon vs 3 or 4am with the old 12v. So our current routine is running generator for about 2 hours in the morning while we make coffee and breakfast, and then about 2 hours in the evening as my kids are winding down and watching a movie before bed. The rest of the day and all night I prefer to leave generators off and 4 hours seems to be enough to charge the batteries enough to hold over another night.

Anyway,I'd love to cut that back even further and give the ability to run a coffee maker, TV, and other devices off 12v. Please point me in a direction of where to start looking at inverters. Are there good posts explaining how and where to install them? Also, what size solar kit is fairly affordable and makes enough power to maybe cut an hour or two off my generator running?

Thanks!


So here's what i did. This isn't the only way but I'm all in for about $2300 total.

4-130 watt Kyocera used panels from Craigslist. $260
1-Magnum 1000 watt MMS1012 inverter/charger. $737
1-Magnum MM-RC50 inverter remote. $172
2 Crown 240 ah CR-240 batteries. $270
1-Bogart TM-2030-RV battery monitor.$158
1-Morningstar TS-45 charge controller. $143
1- 500 amp shunt. $34
Misc hardware & wiring $500.

The only this I wish i had done differently would be to get a larger inverter. I installed a 1000 watt and wish it was at least a 2000 watt.

We watch TV, run the furnace over night, charge the laptop, charge two phones and run my wifes CPAP machine. Batteries are at about 65%-70% by morning and back to 100% by 1:00-2:00. Basically the system works flawlessly for us.
2010 Eagle Super Lite 315RLDS
2018 GMC Sierra 3500HD 6.6L Duramax

2010 Nights 45
2011 Nights 70
2012 Nights 144
2013 Nights 46
2014 Nights 49
2015 Nights 57
2016 Nights 73
2017 Nights 40
2018 Nights 56
2019 Nights 76
2020 Nights 68

ReneeG
Explorer
Explorer
We have 300 watts of solar and 4 6v deep cycle Trojan batteries. We can easily run our TV and a computer, but we have a stove top percolator for coffee and don't use anything else off the batteries and inverter other than a Cpap which can run all night without the heated hose and barely draw any power. We don't have kids that camp with us so in 40 degree weather, we don't run the furnace. In fact, if it is going to be mid 30's, we don't run the furnace. The first person up starts the furnace and the Buddy heater if necessary. If we have hookups at a forest service campground, then we also run our fireplace (hey, I know that wasn't part of your question, but it's so nice to have the fireplace).
2011 Bighorn 3055RL, 2011 F350 DRW 6.7L 4x4 Diesel Lariat and Hensley TrailerSaver BD3, 1992 Jeep ZJ and 1978 Coleman Concord Pop-Up for remote camping
Dave & Renee plus (Champ, Molly, Paris, Missy, and Maggie in spirit), Mica, Mabel, and Melton

Lwiddis
Explorer II
Explorer II
Whatever wire size you are considering to connect your inverter, go bigger.
Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, WindyNation 300 watt solar-Lossigy 200 AH Lithium battery. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist. 14 yr. Army -11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Install the inverter as close to the battery bank as humanly possible but not in the same compartment.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

dieseltruckdriv
Explorer II
Explorer II
As far as where to place the inverter, it will depend on your rig. I placed my current one behind my fuse/breaker box since 12 volts was easily accessible there. When I change to the larger inverter, I will mount it next to the batteries so I will have a very short run for 12 volts. My 5er came with a generator prep so I can tie 120 volts in to that. That powers an outlet that my 30 amp cord will plug in to, so no further switching will be required.

I am still debating reusing the relays to turn off the converter, or just using a light switch to shut it off.
2000 F-250 7.3 Powerstroke
2018 Arctic Fox 27-5L

dieseltruckdriv
Explorer II
Explorer II
kfp673 wrote:
Thanks all! So if I was to get a 500w inverter, where would that be installed in a travel trailer? Is it installed behind the breaker/fuse panel? Per recommendations,I will search google and youtube for inverter installation. I'd be fine adding it just to our primary TV location as that is also where we recharge laptops and phones in our camper, but just trying to wrap my head around the wiring and mounting location of the inverter itself. Thanks again!

If you can route the wiring, you could use one of these.That would give you a dedicated outlet. To make things easier, I added a couple relays to switch between shore power and inverter power at that outlet. That way we don't have to unplug from one outlet and plug in to the other when we want to watch tv.
2000 F-250 7.3 Powerstroke
2018 Arctic Fox 27-5L

kfp673
Explorer II
Explorer II
Thanks all! So if I was to get a 500w inverter, where would that be installed in a travel trailer? Is it installed behind the breaker/fuse panel? Per recommendations,I will search google and youtube for inverter installation. I'd be fine adding it just to our primary TV location as that is also where we recharge laptops and phones in our camper, but just trying to wrap my head around the wiring and mounting location of the inverter itself. Thanks again!

obiwancanoli
Explorer
Explorer
It's pricey in the short term, but Lithium batteries will give you more juice. Add solar, say, 500 watts, perhaps even a portable panel, and you should be good to go... if not, genny will help fill in the shortage

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Hi,

This website may help design a good system:

https://freecampsites.net/adding-solar/
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

wanderingaimles
Explorer
Explorer
On the coffeemaker
If you want a drip unit many of the small ones only used around 500 watts to start and after a couple minutes drop to 300 or so. And the "keep warm" cycle on mine uses about 300 watts for 10 seconds on and about 30 seconds off.
Otherwise use a single cup unit which only needs about 4 minutes to make a cup.

dieseltruckdriv
Explorer II
Explorer II
I have 400 watts of solar, two 12 volt AGM batteries, a Victron BMV 702 battery monitor, Victron 375 watt inverter and LOVE IT!

Last night it paid for itself in full. Just like last summer. No worrying about the generator noise, hauling gas, and we can watch as much tv or run the furnace as much as we want. The inverter only powers one outlet, and that is for the tv and a power strip to recharge laptops etc. It also has a remote switch so I can turn it off when it isn't needed.

I am going to add a couple hundred more watts of solar, but mainly for early spring or cloudy days. Honestly 400 watts is all we need, I just want more.

Coffee is always done with the percolator. That makes the best coffee ever!
2000 F-250 7.3 Powerstroke
2018 Arctic Fox 27-5L

Boon_Docker
Explorer II
Explorer II
If you boondock a lot solar is the best way to go.

theoldwizard1
Explorer
Explorer
The very FIRST thing you need is a GOOD battery monitor. Victron makes several from basic to ones with lots of "wiz bangs". Even the basic one, BMV-700, is good !

Once installed you will know how much energy you really ARE using !