Why Solar and Batteries? Why not just batteries and generator?
Answer: We installed solar and upgrade our batteries, so we can boondock more than overnight. Our setup supplements power when we are hooked-up to 15 AMP house outlet or 30 AMP hook-ups. Our solar hook-up is ready to go when needed, automatic. It is an expense upfront and will take a year or two to make up the cost.
Generators are loud and smelly. We have to hook-up if needed. They take gas that cost money every time you use it. Generators should only run for a few hours, never overnight to be courteous to your neighbors.
NOTE: We have a generator if needed, but prefer not to use it. Mike makes sure it is in running order, in case we do need it.
How did you wire up the rig for our way of living and solar/battery power?
Answer: Below is a diagram of the setup.
Our rig is 50 AMP. Line 1 is for the water heater, dryer, converter, the two air conditioners, fireplace, fridge and outlet in bedroom to run a portable heater. Line 2 is the washer, microwave, all the plugs (except the hutch) and the TV. 12 Volt is for the lights, fridge on propane, furnace, Maxx Air fans in the kitchen and bathroom, slides and tongue jack. When we boondock we don’t have line 1.
Solar charges the batteries. The batteries run the inverter. The inverter is running half of our panel (Line 2). And shore power is running the other half.
Mike installed an AIMS Power 3000 WATT Pure SINE Power Inverter. This inverter is a direct wire connection plus has two outlets, so it puts out the full 3000 WATT power through direct wire. Our last 2000 WATT inverter only put out around 1500 WATT per outlet on the inventor (lesson we learned the hard way, beware when purchasing an inverter). It was not direct wire and was not powerful enough to run various electronics or a combination of electronics for our life style.
We upgraded our converter to a lithium style converter. The converter takes 120 and “converts” it to 12 volt. The converter is like a battery and battery charger. Your RV should come with one, we had to upgrade to lithium version to match our new batteries.
The controller is a smart controller, in that it will monitor our house batteries, charge them as needed and will not overcharge or cook the batteries, then it can charge the two truck batteries as needed. It will continually monitor and charge either as needed. This controller will also charge the RV batteries using the trucks alternator when needed, for example when it is cloudy. We think this should come in handy for our trip to Alaska as it is often cloudy and rainy up there in the summer.
We use a Victron BMV712 Smart Monitor for our solar / battery setup to keep track of how much charge our batteries have and to see if we are charging batteries from the solar panels.
I hope this was helpful and understandable, as this is a complex setup.
If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below.
Thank you and God bless.