Introduction: Hi-top Van Solar Power
The Hi-top van is now transitioning from a work vehicle to a toy hauler/sort-of RV.
When riding motorcycles or just camping, it's nice to have off-grid power. I had some solar panels, but they were poly whatever, aluminum framed and I didn't build the roof with them in mind....Was kinda bummed...Then, enter the monocrystaline (sp) flexible solar panels.....They are smaller, fit the roof, and were easy to mount. 2- 100 watt panels were pricey, $230, they are getting cheaper on-line delivered. I mounted them with 6 screws each and caulked the perimeter with White gutter caulking, then, wired them in through the roof, causing around the holes. They showed that around 6 amps would be going through the wires, so 14 Ga. was adequate for the 10' run to the controllers. 1 controller (PMW) per panel was used 1: because they are $10 and 2: if a panel goes out and two are hooked to the same controller, you get no power.
The system has 2 105 Amp., deep cycle, 12V batteries, a 3000/2000 watt inverter, connected with 1 #4 wire PER battery terminal.....This runs a 15 AMP 120V appliance (15A x 120V + 1800 Watts) less than half an hour. So electric heaters and ovens are not very practical. Microwaves work just fine....for breakfast.
The van has a cooler, thermoelectric, but maybe a generator and a fridge may work better..not sure yet.
Anyway, this is about the solar system, with 200 Watts of panels.
Step 1: Batteries - Cables - Energy Storage - Lots of "Potential"
Ya gotta have batteries....really, the more Amps, the better. The solar panels are like biking up a hill.
Using the batteries, is like coasting downhill.
It takes way longer to bike uphill than to coast down.
Those wheel wells seem to always get in the way of cargo. But, look! They make a great place to put the batteries. The work van had a shelf just in the right place....so the shelf support got a hole to hold the battery cables, which then hooked up to the inverter.
Step 2: Charge Controllers and the Inverter - Time to Eat!
The charge controllers first get wired (14 min.-10 ga.) to the batteries (per instructions). The solar panels get wired (14Ga) to the charge controllers, the wires are run behind the panelling. The batteries are connected to the inverter (4 ga min. each battery).
120V appliances then can be plugged into the inverter.
"Hi-top" has the inverter easily accessible to outside, to allow an extension cord, etc. for convenience.
The picture shows the microwave lit be 120V....It doesn't even hiccup to run the microwave (1500 Watts)
a worm drive saw, 45 lb jack hammer, a 5000 btu air conditioner.....but it does not like any but the smallest