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Thread: Solar panels, inverters, and how not to electrocute myself.

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    Solar panels, inverters, and how not to electrocute myself.



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    Hello!

    I am very, very stupid when it comes to electrics and currents and watts and voltage etc.

    BUT I have a 200w solar panel on my motorhome, it charges two batteries (I'm thinking of getting a third for wildcamping) and from what I can gather that only sends power to two 12v plugs.

    I don't need electricity for much, but certainly a few bits. So is there an inverter anyone recommends? And is it normal for the solar power not to go to the 3 point plugs?

    How can I basically get the most out of the power I have?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miranda View Post
    Hello!

    I am very, very stupid when it comes to electrics and currents and watts and voltage etc.

    BUT I have a 200w solar panel on my motorhome, it charges two batteries (I'm thinking of getting a third for wildcamping) and from what I can gather that only sends power to two 12v plugs.

    I don't need electricity for much, but certainly a few bits. So is there an inverter anyone recommends? And is it normal for the solar power not to go to the 3 point plugs?

    How can I basically get the most out of the power I have?
    You are demonstrating a definate lack of knowledge it must be admitted

    3-point plugs = household style mains plugs you mean? if so, they are 240AC sockets and totally different to 12V DC that your battery provides.

    Inverters? Question is what Mains (240AC) devices do you want to run in the van? Knowing that will help get you the right advice.

    I strongly recommend whatever you end up doing, you get someone to fit it for you and maybe watch and ask what they are doing to learn some more for the next time.
    Fed up with the Whingers and Moaners. PMs Turned Off. Sayonara
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  3. #3

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    Before you go investing on an inverter you need to determine what your energy needs are. 200w of solar and two batteries(of what size?) is a lot of energy.

    What do you intend to power?

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    Why do you require a inverter,most stuff works at 12v like tv laptop charger,lights ,toilet flush,every thing else is norm on gas like cooker fridge heating etc.
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    I'm going to be full time in the MH, so power would be needed for things like kitchen equipment, microwave, laptops (which don't have 12v plugs) printer, hairdryer, kettle, etc.

    Just normal household stuff, really.

    I've brought an inverter which just plugs in to one of the 12v sockets rather than has to be fitted - is that something different?

    As was mentioned - 200w is a lot of power, and it just seems a shame that it's all just going to one plug. Is there a way I can get the power into the whole system?

  6. #6

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    200w is very little power and will keep batterys up in summer for normal use,to power kettles you will require a very large inverter about 3000w which would flatten batterys very quick,so a large bank of 4 or more would be required.
    Second ,laptops can be charged from 12v with a plug in voltage buck taking volts up to around 19v,there about 20 on ebay at most.
    Why not use a ketle on gas and better still fit refillable gas tanks like gasit or gaslow,take a few years to pay for its self but well worth it.
    Microwave will require a inverter of at least 2000 to 2500w to run a 850w/900w unit .
    Only dirty people wash

  7. #7

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    Hi Miranda

    The plug-in inverter that you've mentioned isn't really up to much in my experience - they're usually only about 150 or 300w. You need a more powerful inverter connected to the batteries with some kind of isolation switch to turn it on and off when required because just having the inverter switched on is using battery power. You also need an inverter that's rated considerably higher than the most powerful item you'll be using - ie, if your hairdryer is 2100w you'll likely need a 3000w inverter. There are 2 different types... pure sine wave and moderated sine wave (I think!). The pure sine ones are needed for some equipment that demands a completely stable supply and they're usually a lot more expensive. Using an inverter for lots of 240v equipment will drain the leisure batteries really quickly. I know a lot of people on here have masses of solar power and humongous battery banks, so can run microwaves, toasters, induction hobs, etc, but I'll tell you about my more modest setup to give you a rough idea.

    I've got a 245w solar panel and 2 leisure batteries, totalling 260ah. I've also got a 2000w inverter that I only really ever use for my 1500w hairdryer and/or a 500w brush/blower. When I use the hairdryer for 10 minutes, my batteries go down from totally full to around 70%. I've been told I should never ever run the batteries down below 40%. On a sunny day, the solar soon charges everything back up again but I wouldn't want to run another high wattage, 240v gizmo too soon.

    Everything else I run either on 12v or gas, ie hob kettle and USB laptop/iPad/phone charging. You can get some usb sockets connected to your 12v circuit and mounted where you need them. You can buy a 12v charger for most laptops on Amazon or Ebay... I found one for mine that adapts 12v to 19v somehow and draws 5.2amp from the batteries... much more efficient than converting 12v to 240v via an inverter then all the way back down to whatever your laptop needs via the power controller on the laptop lead. IMHO, your list of 240v equipment sounds a tad ambitious to be brutally honest.. See if you can find gas or 12v alternatives to some and get a good inverter professionally installed for the stuff you can't cope without. The other option is to use sites with electric hook up. By the way, don't bother trying a 12v hairdryer... it would struggle to blow out a candle flame!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miranda View Post
    I'm going to be full time in the MH, so power would be needed for things like kitchen equipment, microwave, laptops (which don't have 12v plugs) printer, hairdryer, kettle, etc.

    Just normal household stuff, really.

    I've brought an inverter which just plugs in to one of the 12v sockets rather than has to be fitted - is that something different?

    As was mentioned - 200w is a lot of power, and it just seems a shame that it's all just going to one plug. Is there a way I can get the power into the whole system?
    You can get by without mains appliances, I'd encourage you to use gas and 12v as much as you can. Fridge runs on gas, you cook on gas, for laptops it's a lot more efficient to buy a cigarette lighter adapter from eBay than to run it through an inverter. Kettle - gas. Hairdryer - towel. Microwave - pan or grill. Printer - you can get 12v printers but how often do you use one? Save whatever you want to print onto a USB stick and go into a print shop, post office, campsite office etc. Mains appliances will absolutely hammer your batteries and you can live without them. Just IMHO

  9. #9

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    Your new to all this that’s fine. Try thinking differently, instead of thinking how do I get these items working, think how else can I power them all. The alternatives are normally cheaper in the long run and much easier to manage when on the road ie gas easily available, 12v products don’t draw much power etc
    Last edited by phillybarbour; 07-06-2019 at 19:14.
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  10. #10

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    Here is some of the kit we all use.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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