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Ground mounted solar panels


ok-rver
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New to MH. No solar on roof, 2004 HR Scepter, 40 ft diesel. On the 10 or so trips we have taken, about half have been parked in the shade. Installed solar on sailboat so pretty familiar with the equipment. some of the boats we traveled with could tilt panels to get best orientation or some even had panels on tilt/rotation mounts to manually track the sun. They typically got 20 % to 40% more output, much closer to the rated wattage of their panels. 

We plane to spend Jan/Feb/Mar on the Gulf coast of Texas. RV park does not have big trees. Electricity is $0.14 a kilowatt. Been told $50 electric bills are typical. If you had enough solar, you might provide half of that during the day with enough panels.

Does anyone have ground mounted panels and do you track the sun during the day? Panels are getting pretty inexpensive and thinking about maybe building slide in rack in basement to hold 2 or 3 200 watt panels. Last winter was brutal with the power outages. Having the solar panels might have reduced the need to run generator. 

Not sure how must boondocking with out shore power we will do in the future. Just a mental thought process as it probably does not make economic sense. 

 

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I actually started looking for a couple of panels myself.

I have 325 watt on the roof but like you say, because they are flat mounted they don't get the full benefit of the sun and worse if there is any potential shading.  I took a trip this summer and my current solar definitely helped, on days of full sun I didn't have to run the generator at all but this was rare.   Plus, if there was an opportunity to park in the shade during +90F days that's where I parked.   I thought if I had ~400 watt of portable panels it might be enough to keep my batteries charged.   I could leave the existing system in place and add a separate charge controller in the basement compartment and use a heavy duty extension cord  to hook the portables up.  You can move the portable to either side of the coach and get full sun.  A simple adjustable  frame would allow different angle of tilt. 

Finding panels that will easily fit in my basement and/or making a rack to carry them on the back.  

But it will be hard to justify the cost since on my last trip I only had to run my generator ~1 hour a day, this was during the summer with long sun days.  So figure a couple hours a day of generator time.  When the generator was running I also used the time use the electric water heater and possibly run the microwave.  If you frequently move the engine tops the batteries off.    So I don't know if the economics will work but having the flexibility to not run the generator would be good. 

I'll be watching this thread.

Edited by jacwjames
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Howdy to all of my new, helpful, appreciated friends. We dry camp a lot in the windy Cal. desserts. My 2x100 watt panels r on pivotal stands. I generally adjust them in the morning before we leave for a 4x4 ride. Bk from a ride I readjust their angle n direction. I get between 10-15A. I’m using n old heavy duty construction extension cord. I have a 15 amp fuse holder in line n all is good. Gen time is reduced. 
Like a previous note, we were camped under a great shade tree in the forrest. So minimal solar input. 50-75’ of extension cord gives u the best of both options for solar n shade for ur coach. 

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We had a couple 100 watt hard panels that we hinged together and used in the ground. About $250 in panel kit & parts. That was nice, but a bit heavy (30 lbs) & cumbersome to stow. This month we bought a folding flexible 200w panel and moved the hard panels to the roof. So much better this way. We have the hard panels always available and the folding panels weight 9 lbs and store anywhere at only 1" thick. In our case, they stow in a small gap next to our sofa behind the driver. I built a simple PVC pipe tilting stand so I can tilt them if I want. Happier camper.

https://www.amazon.com/DOKIO-Foldable-Monocrystalline-Inverter-Controller/dp/B075SZMFP2/

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This looks interesting, how big are the panels. 

Can you provide a picture of the PVC frame.

This might be what I'm looking for.  Price seems reasonable for the whole system and since you can move/tilt the panels would be more efficient then roof/flat mounted. 

Any concern on theft, do you leave them out if you are away from coach?

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1 hour ago, jacwjames said:

This looks interesting, how big are the panels. 

Can you provide a picture of the PVC frame.

This might be what I'm looking for.  Price seems reasonable for the whole system and since you can move/tilt the panels would be more efficient then roof/flat mounted. 

Any concern on theft, do you leave them out if you are away from coach?

The flexible panels aren't designed to be left out, won't hold up in the weather over time I'm sure. But they are super easy to stow & deploy. They would be easy to steal. They measure about 84"x29" when deployed, 21x29x1" folded.

Here are a few photos. The panels have velcro on the back for folding, so I put mating pieces on the PVC pipe to hold them in place. I also have a few photo sandbags that I can set on the PVC legs if I feel it needs some anchoring. The tilt legs are in 2 pieces which allows for just about any angle.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P217V6H/

Tilt on the roof is nice, but it's often not worth the climb & fuss. It's so easy to move the ground panels to point or tilt for early or late in the day to boost a fair amount, or to get them out from under shade.

 

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