I’ve been in Serenity for about a month now, but before I even bought her I knew I was going to be doing one major upgrade–solar. My goal is to be able to camp wherever I want as much as possible which means having everything on board I need to be able to subsist without plugging in anywhere. RVs typically come with water and sewer holding tanks as well as a generator. To save on gas, moving away from generator use is key. Also, Serenity’s generator is LOUD, vibrates the entire rig, and leaks exhaust into the living quarters. Le sigh.
Solar means I can camp just about anywhere and always have electricity. Will I have an unlimited supply? No, not really. I will only have as much as my batteries can hold. While the sun is shining, yes, once my batteries are full I will be able to use the excess still coming in. But I will need to be careful once the sun goes down and on rainy or overcast days. I will also need to be careful not to use more than what is coming in as the excess I need will come from my batteries. Any high energy usage appliances will need to be run off of a generator or just not used.
Because I am going to the Van Build (Nomadic Fanatic’s Jamie Dimon puts this whole event together), I will be getting my solar installed for free. I still need to show up with all the pieces/parts. What does that mean? Well, it means everything you need to install the solar panels including the screws and brackets, the wires and appropriate connectors, and the components to turn the solar energy into electricity. OH! And also the batteries.
I went to Northern Arizona Wind & Sun, Inc. and was assisted by their team who climbed on the roof of Serenity and looked through her current electronics to determine what would fit and what I needed. I wanted to somewhat future-proof my system, meaning I wanted to have more panels and more inverter than I actually needed. I could have gone higher on the inverter, but I truly don’t think there is anything I’ll run that I will need more than what I have at the moment, especially in as small a space as Serenity is.
So, what components did I get?
2 – Canadian Solar 305 watt 60 cell monocrystalline panels
2 – Solar panel install kits with Z brackets and screws
Power cables – feet and feet of power cables (I won’t bore you with exactly what, but if you really want to know, ask in the comments and I’ll tell you.
1 – Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 solar charge controller
1 – Victron Smart battery monitor
2- Samlex 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter
1 – Battery switch (to disconnect the battery from the solar when needed)
Fuses and shrink wraps and connectors and other tidbits
I have also bought two 6-volt deep-cycle batteries which are around 230 amp-hours. This isn’t as much as I’d like. They’re also lead-acid which I really didn’t want, but I can’t justify the expense of the lithium batteries at this juncture. Though I could use the lithium down to 0% without much damage (not that I would do this, but I could) and I can only use the lead-acid down to about 50% without much damage, I just can’t see spending $1000 per 100 amp hours right now. Hopefully, one day soon I can trade out, but not just yet.
Now I’m off to the Van Build to have everything installed and start my journey on this shiny new lifestyle. Wish me luck!