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  • Solar "Generators" - Any advice?

    It's time to uncover the teardrop and start getting her ready for the season... which also means it's time to tinker and upgrade. 😅

    We've got an outlet set up for when we're at a site with electricity but have been basically been relying on car chargers and a few pocket-sized charging packs to keep our phones charged. We've been looking to upgrade and have something that would be able to charge our laptops, run some basic LED lights, plug in some fans, and that we can recharge with some solar panels. I've been looking at ones like these (Yeti Goal Zero and Jackery seem to be the most popular) but I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger.

    Anyone have any experience with these or other small generators/batteries to use when boondocking? What should I be considering as I compare them?


    Obligatory Picture of our rig below:
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  • #2
    First Question what size solar generator were you considering? Did you consider a solar panel and AGM battery set up? Budget? Is your Birch Camper the 5 x 8? I can send you Images of my renogy solar set up.

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    • #3
      You Tubers called "Playing with Sticks" and "Cosmo Weems" have reviews of "solar generators". "Solar Generator" is a marketing term and they are compatible for solar use but they don't charge without additional solar equipment or, obviously, 120v shore power source. They are better than the small pocket power packs though.



      To me they are a very portable but expensive, limited use application unless you camp for just a couple nights and only want to charge phones or other electronics. A Jackery 500 is $500. It gives you 518 watt hours of power however most users will not drain these down under 20% so really you are getting 400+ wh. So add up the watts your appliances use, multiply the number of expected hours of use per day and you will have an idea of what 400 watt hours will give you.

      A laptop uses about 60-90w per hour average depending on usage (less than 480w overnight charging only). A cell phone charging is about 6w or 48w overnight. 12v fans use anywhere from ~2w (120mm computer case fan) and ~40w (fantastic fan).

      A solar generator may be a good choice if you don't mind the expense and want a quick solution to powering some electronics. The less you drain the unit completely the longer life it will have. Adding a solar panel to the system will improve life of the unit (less deep drains) and extend your trips power capacity. It's easy to make a solar panel suitcase that can be stowed away in your camper of car. I built one for my son and can give details of interested. Ready made units are about double the homemade cost.

      Another You Tuber, Will Prose has some interesting reviews... Warning, heavy on tech details. But he is considered one of the best independent reviewers.



      Tim

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      • #4
        So this winter I've taking on the job of redoing our complete Electrical including more solar. as for solar power stations I'm a huge fan of Blueitt Solar power stations. I use a EB3A 268.8 Wh on the shelf in our cabin to charge all electronics and maybe a movie in bad weather on the Ipad, in the Galley I have a AC180 1152Wh power station that I use for AC appliances when needed. Currently adding a Renogy 200W panel on the roof with another Portable Blueitti PV 200W panel on the ground in Series if needed. with a 100Ah LiPo4 battery in Galley as well and we can go a couple weeks before I need to worry about Electricity. hers a picture of the equipment Iam getting ready to install. working on wire and fuse size, hopefully have it all installed soon.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jesse View Post
          So this winter I've taking on the job of redoing our complete Electrical including more solar. as for solar power stations I'm a huge fan of Blueitt Solar power stations. I use a EB3A 268.8 Wh on the shelf in our cabin to charge all electronics and maybe a movie in bad weather on the Ipad, in the Galley I have a AC180 1152Wh power station that I use for AC appliances when needed. Currently adding a Renogy 200W panel on the roof with another Portable Blueitti PV 200W panel on the ground in Series if needed. with a 100Ah LiPo4 battery in Galley as well and we can go a couple weeks before I need to worry about Electricity. hers a picture of the equipment Iam getting ready to install. working on wire and fuse size, hopefully have it all installed soon.


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          Nice stash! I'm a big fan of Victron. Although I think half my camper budget went to just them. And I've been following reviews on the LiTime batteries since back when they were called AmpreTime. They're on my shopping list but I just haven't bit the bullet yet. Going to pick up two to replace my cheap AGM deep cycles.

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          • #6
            Check out 'Redodo' for Lifepo4 batteries.
            They have self heating batteries.
            You can damage a lithium battery charging it in freezing weather.

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            • #7
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              Might want to look into Blueitti if I was you, more reliable and cost effective. First you need to do a electrical Audit, to find out how much you think your going to need, I would either google it or check YouTube, there a lot of great videos on how to perform your audit. I have the Blueitti EB3A that sits on my shelf in our sleeping area to charge all our electronics its 268.8 Wh Lipo4 battery, we can go a couple weeks plus before I need to charge. My post is above about my upgrade with Electrical in our Hiker Trailer I also installed a Renogy 200W Panel on Tilt Brackets to angle to the sun, which Keeps our LiTime 100AH battery fully charged to run our trailer. as another back up option that I haven't had to use yet is our Blueitti AC180 Solar Generator which has a 1152 Wh Lipo battery in it, essentially equals another 100AH battery. my goal with that is by chance our on board battery gets depleted I can plug our camper into it to run it completely while house battery is re-charging by solar or shore power. It also has 4 AC Plugs that fills our needs on that aspect. I also use a Blueitti PV 200W portable panel that I can deploy on the ground to chase the sun if needed. check out Blueitti.com for package deals. look at there new model AC200L it simplifies things with a RV plug to plug into. If you need help or have any other questions feel free to reach out. Cheers.

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