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Recommended Flexible Solar Panels and Battery for Off-Grid/Boondocking With Travel Trailer

Question:

Solar configuration. I have a 2021 20 ft Gulf Stream travel trailer that I would like to install flexible solar panels. Would like to have some power remaining in the morning before system starts charging again. Boondocking. Trailer has a WF8935PEC 30 amp controller with one 88 amp hrs deep cycle battery. Would like to change to lithium batteries. Was informed from manufacture that I would need to change controller to a WF8955 LIS-MBA 55 amp and make sure I have at least 8 gauge wire to battery. Usage: Watts: TV 66w, microwave 1350w, radio 60w, furnace fan 50w, cell ph chargers11w, Wattage on the following unknown: LED lights, stove hood fan, water pump, vent fan, hairdryer, Will only run microwave by itself and very conservative on power usage. Total usage for one day: TV 4hrs, lights 3 hrs, radio 3 hrs, microwave 30 mins, stove hood fan 30 mins, water pump 30 mins, vent fan 30 mins, hairdryer 10 mins, cell phs always on, router/modem for TV and internet always on. Lap top 2 hrs.

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Expert Reply:

Changing to a lithium chemistry battery bank is definitely a good choice if wanting to arrange at truly off-grid system. From your list of estimated usage, you should plan on in excess of a 1,500 watts per 24 hour period or close to 140AH. I suggest nothing less than a 200AH battery bank and at least 300 watts of solar panel to provide charge. Having a 1.5 to 1 ratio of solar panel rating to battery AH is minimum. If you choose to increase over that, then all the better but at minimum have 1.5 watts of solar to each 1 AH in your battery banks potential.

For off-grid/boondocking I prefer redundancy of being able to provide charge to the battery bank so I suggest you consider adding a small inverter generator to your system too. This not only allows for abilty to charge the battery bank if weather conditions prevented a full recovery but also supports in recovery if unexpected excess usage occurred. Or simply plan to start the generator at meal prep time to support microwave usage and saving the energy stored in the battery bank for evenings/overnight.

For a flexible solar panel kit, the 200 Watt Go Power Solar Flex Charging System with Digital Solar Controller, # 34272628 is available with 30-Amp PWM solar controller. This is two 100 watt flexible monocrystalline solar panels but you will want the Go Power Solar Flex Expansion Kit, # 34272629 too that adds the third 100 watt panel. These are 5.68 amps per panel so you can add additional panels without needing to change charge controller. In addition, you can consider adding the 100 Watt Go Power DuraLite Portable Solar Panel with Digital Solar Controller, # GP66FR. This lightweight, portable solar charging system lets you place the solar panel where you need it for maximum sunlight. The foldable 100-watt panel lets you park in the shade which will add to comfort in the travel trailer but have negative impact on the roof mounted panels, offset that by augmenting the system with the portable panel.

For your battery bank, I suggest at least two (three if budget allows) of the Power Sonic RV Lithium Battery, # PS94FR. This is a Group 27, 12V - 100 AH battery.

And finally, I recommend you consider a generator. Either the A-iPower 2,000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator, # 289-SUA2000i or the A-iPower 3,800-Watt Portable Inverter Generators, # 289-SUA2000i-2.

Please note the linked product review videos below and that I also attached a link to several help articles on RV solar panels that I hope you find of value.

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Michael R

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