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Waiting for the Sun

February 18th, 2011

Our solar panel

Our solar panel… installed

After three years on the road and using a generator, we’ve finally managed to get a solar panel on the roof. The problem with getting the ‘best’ price on solar panels is that we never managed to be in the right place at the right time until this winter. We had to do a local pickup from the warehouse in Phoenix in order to get a single panel in the size / price range we wanted. On the plus side, during the three years we spent trying to figure out how to get a panel, prices dropped significantly. For what we would have paid to get a panel three years ago, we could have easily afforded two today.

On our way to RTR, we picked up the panel. The trouble was the size of the panel! We had to put it on the bed as that was the only safe spot large enough to hold it… which meant Jenn and I, plus the dog and a cat or two slept on the couch our first night in Quartzsite. Comfy.

The next morning, we hit Solar Bill’s shop to pick up some wiring to make a connector for the camper and headed over to RTR. Our first afternoon was spent installing the panel and controller, which probably seemed anti-social to some folks, but I wasn’t going to spend another night on the couch.

Our solar panel is slightly tilted

Our solar panel is tilted…slightly

It’s over a month later and we’ve only run the generator for power tools and a quick charge up right after the installation. I’m sure that’ll change once we leave the desert, but I think we’ll have a lot less generator hassles in the future.

It’s too bad we abused the batteries for three years with constant deep discharges. I think we’ll still get a few years out of them, but they and the inverter are probably the next ‘big ticket’ upgrades. There are also a few smaller tweaks we may do in the future, but even as it stands, I’m loving the ‘free’ electricity that requires so little work from me.

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6 Responses to “Waiting for the Sun”

  1. cyndi says:

    Glad to hear the solar is working out for you. I need you to perfect all systems so you can install mine, next year!

    Take good care!

    Cyndi and Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

  2. Linda says:

    We love ours, as well. Today — when it rained — we ran our gennie for the first time in weeks for more than a bit of microwaving or the odd power tool. There’s a nice solar place up in Mt. Shasta should you ever go that way. That’s where we bought our batteries.

  3. Fred Deffinbaugh says:

    Ha, my neighbor at Campbellille KY (you probably know him) had a 2 pannel solar sysem on his 200K motorhome that was electrically tlted for maximum efficency. Apperently it supplied enough electricity for lights and television when camping at Quartzsite AZ for the winter. Ive been thiking of doing the same.

  4. Hitek Homeless says:

    So far, we’ve had a few days with rain or heavy cloud cover all day, and we’ve had enough juice in the battery bank to make it through the day without firing up the generator. There’s no way we’d get through a rainy week in Washington without the generator, but a day or two looks doable right now even with the abused batteries. I’m still hoping that one day I’ll talk Jenn into a laptop with a screen that’s smaller than 47″. *ducks*

    • John says:

      Hi! Can you tell me the name of the store in Phoenix that you got your solar panel? I’m in Tucson and it might be worth the trip if the price is right. I’ve got 30amp service at my home base lot but I’m planing to only use the shore power for the AC and Microwave. I could use the solar panel for everything else. I’m thinking that through the winter I’d hardly have an electric bill. My June electric bill was around $70.00 and then my July bill was $128! I did nothing different and the temps were the same both months. I’ve got to get off the grid eventually.

      • Hitek Homeless says:

        sunelec.com is their website. Look at the ‘sun’ panels as these are blemished panels from the manufacturer at a significant discount. If you look close, you will be able to figure out the specific manufacturer based on the specs. Ours is one of the evergreen solar panels – no complaints.

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