We have gone solar. Finding the parts in Anchorage was a challenge, but the installation went without a hitch and the system appears to be working beautifully. We haven’t seen any solar panels on Alaskan RVs and debated waiting until we got Outside for the install. But we decided to see if we could get it done in Anchorage and are glad we did. Everyone involved was enthusiastic and helpful and the work was completed faster than we expected. How sweet is that?
We have three panels running down one side of the trailer roof. The roof is rounded, giving the panels a slight natural tilt. We did not want to have to manually tilt the panels (the less chores the better), but the permanent tilt means that we will have to keep the sun direction in mind when picking campsites. We originally sized the system for two panels but decided to add a third so we could avoid the hassle of climbing a ladder to adjust the panel angles
The wiring from the panels runs into the interior through the refrigerator vent and then along the underside to the MPPT charge controller. The charge controller is neatly tucked into a panel under a closet on one side of our bed. It regulates the voltage to keep the batteries from overcharging and lets us know the amount of power produced by the panels and the state of battery charge. On a sunny day it provides up to 15 amps for several hours, which is more than enough to charge the batteries.
A 600 watt pure sine wave inverter is installed in the matching panel on the other side of our bed. It takes 12 volt DC from the batteries and converts it to 120 volt AC, allowing us to keep our electronics charged and to power the TV while dry camping during football season.
Finally, we upgraded the batteries to two 6 volt AGMs wired in series, which are mounted on the same battery mounts as the previous ones, with an added custom cover to keep water from pooling.
George did a tremendous amount of research to see what would work best for our needs without breaking the bank. It looks like the research paid off. So far, we are impressed with how fast the panels charge the batteries, even without full sun. Of course, it is way too early to tell how everything will work in the long run. But, for now, I’m tickled with the idea that we can get our electric needs from the sun. We are already plotting a home solar system for when we come in off the road.