Mobile unit?

BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
I was discussing the setup of a small solar system with my neighbor. This would be primarily for our RV trailer that is parked on our property 200 miles away and totally off-grid. He suggested building the system in the back of my pickup instead of leaving it unattended at the property for long periods of time (2 to 6 weeks). That way I could monitor it better and not worry about theft.

He thinks I could install 2-3 panels on a rack over the bed and then make a box for the batteries and controller and such. I guess my main question is - would the vibration from driving 200 miles one way cause too much wear on the batteries? I remember seeing somewhere that your generator should not be setup in your battery shed as the vibration on the floor would be hard on your batteries. If it makes a difference, 180 of those 200 miles is paved highway, but the last 20 miles are gravel and the last 8 are dirt that can be rough at times.

The panels (whole setup) would have to be easily removable from the rack, as sometimes I have to park in an area where they might get stolen.

Does this idea have any merit or should I just install it to the trailer and leave it there?
12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,362 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?

    You could consider using golf cart batteries - they are designed to take a bit of beating. What size system are you looking at? 12V ? 24V? 400ah batteries 600am batteries 100ah batteries ??

    You could mount a panel on the RV, and leave that to keep a battery box under the RV topped off, and have a portable rack in the RV you would deploy while there.

    Or skip PV and just use a small generator to keep batteries charged 2x a day and a inverter for silent power.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?

    Vibration doesn't hurt batteries. Sometimes it even helps. Physical shock hurts batteries. If the batteries are secured so that they don't actually "bounce around" they'll be just as safe as the one that starts your truck.

    You should use proper deep cycle batteries like Mike said. His suggestion of skipping the PV in favour of generator charging is also good, depending on how often/long you stay at the trailer. Solar power is an expensive investment, so the more it is used the better the return.

    Building a unit into your truck bed will eliminate the truck bed for all practical purposes. Maybe you could build it on a small utility trailer instead. That way it could be secured independent of the truck.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?
    BoFuller wrote: »
    I was discussing the setup of a small solar system with my neighbor. This would be primarily for our RV trailer that is parked on our property 200 miles away and totally off-grid. He suggested building the system in the back of my pickup instead of leaving it unattended at the property for long periods of time (2 to 6 weeks). That way I could monitor it better and not worry about theft.

    He thinks I could install 2-3 panels on a rack over the bed and then make a box for the batteries and controller and such. I guess my main question is - would the vibration from driving 200 miles one way cause too much wear on the batteries? I remember seeing somewhere that your generator should not be setup in your battery shed as the vibration on the floor would be hard on your batteries. If it makes a difference, 180 of those 200 miles is paved highway, but the last 20 miles are gravel and the last 8 are dirt that can be rough at times.

    The panels (whole setup) would have to be easily removable from the rack, as sometimes I have to park in an area where they might get stolen.

    Does this idea have any merit or should I just install it to the trailer and leave it there?

    bo,
    i will concur that vibration is fine and can actually help the batteries to a point. you don't want the batteries knocked around like you would be off-roading wildly though and of course they should be anchored. i would cushion them on the bottom and sides to avoid nicks, punctures, and small movements wearing through the battery casings. also, have the batteries properly covered to avoid some dirt and weather aspects.

    i would agree to not have batteries near a generator, but not because of vibrations as problems with the batteries and wiring while a hot generator is running could be dangerous at times. even the fuel in the same area of batteries is not such a good idea.

    if you feel you could keep a better eye on the system being in the truck as opposed to unattended at the rv then fine. mounting, aiming, and keeping pvs safe on a truck, barring the possibility of theft and vandalism occurring on the truck too, is not going to be as easily done as you may think and being on the truck is more visible to others than a few flat pvs on the roof of the rv there's a risk no matter what way you go about it.
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?

    Thanks for all the input. I think I'll stick with an installation on the RV. Lugging those batteries around in the pickup is going to kill my already worthless gas mileage. Not to mention the wind resistance of the rack with panels.
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?

    now those are aspects even i did not think of, but some of this is true for the rv too if you go to move it.
  • BoFullerBoFuller Solar Expert Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?
    niel wrote: »
    now those are aspects even i did not think of, but some of this is true for the rv too if you go to move it.

    Yes, but I will probably one it once a year, while the truck I drive everyday. ;)
    12 Kyocera 235 panels, 3 Gyll LiFePO4 batteries (previously 16 Trojan L16 RE-B batteries), Outback 3600W 48V system, Generac 11K propane backup generator, NW AZ, off grid, 6,000 ft (system installed in April 2015)

  • ShadowcatcherShadowcatcher Solar Expert Posts: 228 ✭✭✭
    Re: Mobile unit?

    Our main solar panel is secured to the top of our with six heavy duty ABS plastic mounts. These were secured to the top of our teardrop using 3M VHB tape. The mounts have recesses holes for screws preventing getting vise grips/channel locks on them and I found security screws not in the Harbor Freight 100 piece security screw bit set. If some one is determined enough then no matter what you do they will succeed in steeling your panel(s). Having them attached flat to the roof means less efficiency but less visibility.
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