Solar vs generators??

golfbum

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Dec 5, 2017
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Have always had issues with my camper while dry camping/hunting for extended trips.

Looking into better/best options for keeping batteries charged while on extended trips. Ideally i would like to leave my trailer as a base camp for 2-3 weeks at a time on the mountain. Currently have two 12v deep cycle batteries but considering going to lithium or AGM batteries (but they are pricey).

Am i better off just running a generator while at camp to try keep batteries charged or investing into a solar setup (400watts)? The solar setup would run me around $1000 setup and installed.

Looking for what others have done that works.

Thanks
 
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Apr 18, 2019
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What time of year are you doing this and does the area have a lot of cloud cover generally? If there is high chance of snow or clouds, you’re going to end up bringing a generator anyway.

If you’re not running electric intensive stuff constantly, seems like a cheap generator would be a lot simpler and cost effective. If you’re constantly draining, you may need solar or both.
 

Marbles

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If you get a lot of sun, solar will be quiet. A Honda 2200i would be more versatile and useful in other situations, but it makes noise. Better batteries will help with any set-up, but unless the upgrade will get you through, it would be the last of the 3 choices I would go for, especially as batteries are consumables.

If you can go a week on your current battery bank, then running a generator for 6 hours or so over the course of a week does not sound too bad, but running it for a few hours every day would suck. Of course, if you use a lot of power, getting a solar unit that will keep up becomes more expensive.

I don't have much experience, so this is more to help you think it through than to give advice.
 

ben h

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I'm wrestling with this problem as well. I setup my mobile office in the back of my trailer and need to run these monitors, computer, Star Link and some lights. I think about 200 minimum to 400 watts is what I need to accomplish this. I've been looking at power stations such as this www.bluettipower.com/products/bluetti-ac200max-expandable-power-station and the more watt-hours you need the $ goes up. I have a generator, but don't wat to run it all day. In my mind I could run the generator an hr or 2 each day to charge the power station back up, but I haven't tried it yet.

This setup works pretty sweet for me, I've been working remotely at my family's cabin for over a month, but want to be mobile by the time the archery hunt starts in august.

trailer work setup.JPEG
 
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11boo

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If you are considering roof mount panels that’ll make it hard to park in the shade, but they probably won’t get stolen.
Some folding panels with enough wire to be able to set up in the sun worked for me, and never got stolen.
 

Tmac

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Li Time has some affordable and highly rated Lithium battery options. 12v 100 amp batteries for under $300. You get much longer run times from lithium vs regular batteries because of the way they operate. That alone will help. Hard to say if solar is enough, odds are you’d need a small generator for backup. Small quiet Honda/Yamaha, even a 1,000 watt model may be enough. Pick up a used one.
 

Paradox

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First off, convert to 6 volt batteries wired in series. That will double your usable amps. I think Costco or Sam’s club (can’t remember which) has the golf cart batteries at a decent price. Next convert every light to leds. You can get a led light for every application. (I have used M4 leds)
Now you can decide how much juice you really need. I had a fifth wheel set up with 300 watts solar and a good monitor. Used it for a week in Colorado to deer hunt. I brought a generator just in case but never used it. If you need to use the tv, microwave, etc you are talking inverter and more solar and/or batteries (and money).
Look into rv sites and you will find scads of info on solar
You can pm me for more info as I have been through it already
 

Fowl Play

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What kind of energy usage are you doing in camp? Also, how cold are the temps you're hunting in? When you start getting below freezing you really should have heaters on lead acid and definitely need heaters on lithium. You can buy lithium batteries with integrated heaters. Lithium storage is far superior like others have mentioned.

I have a pretty extensive off-grid capable system in my trailer. 1320w of solar, 800ah of lithium, 6kw generator. The solar is sweet when you have sunshine and panels aren't covered in snow. If I could only have one, I would go generator with lithium storage -- works in all weather conditions.
 
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Phaseolus

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Feb 25, 2018
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I’ve got both on my slide in camper. I upgraded from 125 watts to 400 last winter and that makes a difference, especially on cloudy days. I also have a portable 150 watt panel for summer camping in the shade. I’ve got a 2000 watt pure sine wave converter to run computers etc. We almost never use the 2500 watt generator but it’s nice to have as a backup. We can charge my Wife’s EMtn bike easily off of this system. I bought two 200 watt panels from Renogy for $400 and reused the old 30 amp PWM charge converter. The install was pretty easy, no need to pay someone to do it if you are reasonably handy. A newer MPPT charge converter is more efficient and a better choice if buying new. I really hate listening to generators, even my own, if your power needs are modest I’d go with solar but it is nice to have both. Using the furnace is the biggest energy draw and with two group 31 batteries I can’t run it overnight.
 
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wowzers

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Upgrading to 6v batteries in series will be a big improvement.
First off, convert to 6 volt batteries wired in series. That will double your usable amps. I think Costco or Sam’s club (can’t remember which) has the golf cart batteries at a decent price. Next convert every light to leds. You can get a led light for every application. (I have used M4 leds)
Now you can decide how much juice you really need. I had a fifth wheel set up with 300 watts solar and a good monitor. Used it for a week in Colorado to deer hunt. I brought a generator just in case but never used it. If you need to use the tv, microwave, etc you are talking inverter and more solar and/or batteries (and money).
Look into rv sites and you will find scads of info on solar
You can pm me for more info as I have been through it already
Was going to say going to a real deep cycle battery will make a huge difference. I had two L16s in series in my little trailer and I kept it charged with a 100w. I still kept a little generator to top off if needed.
 

jonlarkin

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May 25, 2024
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I just run a generator. Batteries seem to not do great with stock trickle charger on my unit.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Elk97

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I put 4-100 watt panels on the top of our trailer so I don't have to worry about leaving the fridge and furnace on if I'm hunting from a remote camp for several days. Has worked great if you can park with a pretty clear view of the sky (not too many trees). I've got two golf cart 6 volt batteries for 230 amp hours of storage. Lithium would be nice so I could discharge to 0 and get the full 200 amp hours but they are spendy.. If you go solar use a good (Victron) MPPT charge controller and big enough cables to minimize voltage loss. I also have a Honda 2200 gen set, but it hardly ever gets used anymore except if it's really cold or we're in the trees.
 

wapitibob

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I use 2, 12V true deep cycle cart batteries in the trailer along with a 180W solar panel. The panel keeps my batteries full, especially when the heater runs at night. That was the purpose for the solar. For 120V I have a Honda 2200i which will also kick over my roof air albeit a cpl tries to get it going. If I was younger or had a 13,000 BTU roof air, I would get the Predator 3000i/3500i from harbor freight. Buddy has one and is quieter than my 2200. I'm just too old to lift it.
For the lithium, I have 2, 100AH LiTimes in my boat. 24V trolling motor runs at trolling speed all day and it takes less than an hour to charge each battery with a 12v 20 amp charger. They're stupid light, no corrosion or crud all over the posts or top of the battery.
 

Fuzzy684

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May 17, 2024
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We have and use both!

We have 800+ watts of solar, plus a little Honda 2K generator.

We use a lot of battery as during our typical hunts, nights are often in teens to single digits. A large camper, and with water in the system …..we must keep the forced air furnace running to keep tanks warm.

If we have mild temperatures with clear days…..we can go two to three days without using the generator. If very cool and overcast…..the generator will see use everyday for 2 or 3 hours.

If you can only have one……a generator!
 

flatelk

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Jun 20, 2023
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Personally, Both. Both is good.

Each have significantly different strengths and weaknesses. They should compliment each other. If there's a cloudy day or week, then fire up the generator - multi-fuel can have the fuels store for a while such as propane.

But on sunny days, if you have enough solar panels, you can run off of that- but it's certainly more expensive with the panels + the significant battery bank you would need.
 
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Jul 4, 2023
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I have a 10kw solar array but I also have a natural gas 21kw standby generator. Solar is great for lowering your electric bill but it basically sucks for standby power batteries require maintenance unless you buy the batteries that don't but they are extremely expensive.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2016
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West Virginia
Have always had issues with my camper while dry camping/hunting for extended trips.

Looking into better/best options for keeping batteries charged while on extended trips. Ideally i would like to leave my trailer as a base camp for 2-3 weeks at a time on the mountain. Currently have two 12v deep cycle batteries but considering going to lithium or AGM batteries (but they are pricey).

Am i better off just running a generator while at camp to try keep batteries charged or investing into a solar setup (400watts)? The solar setup would run me around $1000 setup and installed.

Looking for what others have done that works.

Thanks
$1000 will buy a very quiet and reliable 3500-5500 watt generator. That will run household appliances during power outages. Buy the generator
 
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Fort Myers , FL
Personally I would spend what money I was willing to pump into the project on upgrading my batteries and use my generator to charge. Especially if I already have a generator. I can always count on my generator to start up and charge my batteries but I no matter what I do or spent I cant control the weather.
 
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