Are Solar Panels Right for You?
Simply put, solar power uses the sun’s energy to charge 12-volt DC appliances like lighting, stereos, TV, and other appliances. Although solar power is free, solar panels can be expensive. Are they worth the cost?
If you’re serious about exploring the back country, enjoying the solitude of desert camping, experiencing the quiet of the outdoors, wanting to cut the umbilical cord to commercial power hookups or simply shrinking your carbon footprint, then yes, solar power is right for you.
Solar systems are clean, quiet and require minimum maintenance. The main considerations are cost, space, weight and efficiency. If you’re reluctant to go solar, remember that you don’t have to go all in all at once. You can add or modify your system, and you can continue using commercial hook-ups (either as a backup plan or as your primary power source).
Solar Power Panel Sizes
The most cost-effective solar panels are larger ones (rated at 100 to 120 watts). Opt for the fewest number of panels and batteries in the beginning. You can always add more at a later time.
Since everyone’s power usage / requirements are different, you’ll need to calculate your anticipated power usage. Simply multiply the estimated hours of use by the approximate current (amps @ 12 volts) for the amp hours consumed.
Keeping Cool with Solar
There isn’t enough space on the roof of even the largest luxury coach to hold the number of solar power panels it would take to power an air-conditioning unit. However, a 750 cfm fan is rated at 2.5 amps and can easily be powered with solar panels.
How to Power AC Appliances
There are two choices for AC appliances: either use a generator or other backup power source when using AC appliances, or invest in an inverter, which will convert the AC amps to 12-volt DC output.
You’ll need to plan properly to keep your batteries fully charged. Some important factors about managing solar power:
– Mount your panels on the roof, near the refrigerator vent
– Aim the panels toward the sun for maximum output
– Purchase a charge controller to prevent battery overcharging
– Be resourceful and conserve energy
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