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Discussion Starter #1
I'm converting my Promaster into a camper, and eventually, I want to do a full, nice conversion, with solar and cabinets and blah blah blah. But right now, I just need to get it to be reasonably comfortable so I can get on the road ASAP. I'm trying to figure out about electrical stuff now, and I had a few dumb-ass, newbie questions I'm hoping someone here can help with.

I've gotten a pair of Optimus Blue Top 55 AH batteries installed, with charging off the alternator but no solar installed yet. I also happen to have a folding 80-watt solar panel, but I don't have any other solar equipment. So here's the first dumb-ass question: Can I just connect my solar panel to my batteries and charge them up a bit without harming the batteries, given that I don't have a controller or anything else that you ordinarily put in a PV system? As is probably obvious from this question, I don't really know what those other components do.

My second set of questions is about an inverter. I'd like to get one, and it seems like it makes sense to get a good one that I'll use long-term. And it seems like those get hard-wired to the battery. How big a task is that? Also, do I need to put in a breaker or anything else to be able to run some things off the battery, like my computer and, for brief periods, an electric kettle? And how do I decide if I need to pay the extra cost for a pure sine wave or settle for a modified sine wave? Seems like the pure sine wave ones are a LOT pricier.

TIA!
 

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Your questions don’t rise (sink) to the level of dum-ass yet, keep trying!
1. Many folding solar panels have a controller. Check to see if yours does. If not: https://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-7-A...288226&sr=8-1&keywords=solar+controller+7+amp
2. Near where the batteries are located I’d install a fuse and one or two outlets. The fuse can be just for this one circuit so 15 amps will be fine, near the + battery terminal (red) https://www.amazon.com/Tonsiki-Moto...&qid=1499288013&sr=8-1&keywords=12+volt+plugs Fuse block https://www.amazon.com/Circuit-Stan...99288058&sr=8-17&keywords=12+volt+fuse+holder
3.The inverter can be modified sine wave UNLESS you install an induction cooktop or some esoteric appliance. This one is large enough to run what you need now like tools, vacuum and would run a small microwave in the future. It comes with an install kit and remote (very handy) It has USB plugs but use the ones above and dont turn this on unless you need 120V AC to save power. https://www.amazon.com/KRIËGER-KR15...UTF8&qid=1499287927&sr=8-11&keywords=inverter
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Awesome! I just learned that when my batteries were installed, a fuse box was installed too (though I haven't found it yet -- haha!). I'll bet you're right about the solar panel, so that's great news too. And thanks for the inverter recommendation.
 

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Julie, I was most interested in your CFS experience. Mine with SLE was similar. While your enemy is mold, mine is UV in the 320-400 nm range. To go from wondering whether you'll be able to walk at all to serious hiking is a journey few experience.

Welcome. You're gonna love the life this van affords.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow -- I hadn't heard about UV in that range being an issue for people. Fascinating. How'd you figure it out? Do you live in your van full-time, and does that allow you to avoid it?

I think the van will be tremendous for me -- just have to get it set up enough. Trying to leave ASAP and head for the hills to give my body a great big break from mold, for a couple of months.
 

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Julie, Arizona. Avoid the monsoon season. Best to you both with any challenge life brings.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK, another at least somewhat dumbass question about solar. I talked to AM solar about getting a package from them that would give me 200 watts of solar panels, with a controller that could handle up to 450 watts. They quoted me about $1400 for everything I'd need for that, except of course for batteries. But, my little 80-watt folding solar panel comes with a controller, so... Couldn't I just get a folding 120-watt panel, like, say, this one that costs $235, connect it to my battery and stick it in the sun, and be done with it? I mean, OK, I wouldn't be charging my batteries while I'm driving, but on the other hand, I could park in the shade and put the solar panels where they'd be more effective, and in the wintertime, I can tilt them to get much better efficiency. What is the extra $1165 getting me?
 

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An over priced system. I just went through this less than a week ago but in the interest of new members. A 200 watt solar system should have a 20 amp controller not one for 450 watts. Rooftop solar is an install it once, and forget it system. I have friends with those fold out panels and they are not a good solution. Installing the panels and lead in and battery connection is very simple. The controller is key and has instructions. Just go out and buy the following:

1. 2 100 watt Monocrystalline panels from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts..._rd_wg=inGTl&refRID=JYBYEXAY79JWAGFCKG36&th=1
2. mounting kit https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Solar...rd_wg=cD4xH&psc=1&refRID=RYA5CG3H5NB32VC0NX3Q
3. solar controller https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Rover..._rd_wg=m5ZHg&refRID=82WTN8WRXP1CP3XRV2F9&th=1
4 set of combiners https://www.amazon.com/ALLPOWERS-Co...rd_wg=xqkCc&psc=1&refRID=SWRC6XN77GSMWD9WZVGQ
5 entry device https://www.amazon.com/CABLE-ENTRY-...rd_wg=FegNN&psc=1&refRID=3CESKA8EB68BYD1RFWPA
6. extra cable (only need one as it gets cut to lead in to controller) https://www.amazon.com/Signstek-Dou...8&qid=1499384114&sr=1-6&keywords=solar++cable
7 a tube of Dicor https://www.amazon.com/Dicor-Non-Le...=UTF8&qid=1499384338&sr=1-2&keywords=lap+seal

Get some help putting the panels on the roof buy some VHB tape or dicore lap seal to seal the screws and entry piece.
Price ? Less than $500 ($488.14) I could find the stuff a bit cheaper.

I know you have the batteries but these would have given you 210 amp hours of storage which is a better capacity match for the solar.
https://www.samsclub.com/sams/durac...-31dtmagm/prod3590232.ip?xid=plp:product:1:23
 

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There is a button for that. Saves additional posting and gives the poster a warm and fuzzy feeling. LOL Oh you found it! Hey I appreciate that too. You are welcome of course.
 

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Wow. Thank you so much!
Before you spend your hard earned $$$ check with us first. All is not as it is always presented when you are the customer lacking any specific knowledge.

You will find many different pov's here but they are all valid and by sifting thru them beforehand you will be able to make a far more educated decision (and possibly be more informed than the salesperson)!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So... I'm thinking of getting a Vitrifrigo 4.2 cf refrigerator (http://www.suremarineservice.com/C115IBD4-F-1.aspx). It seems like it's a bit more efficient than most fridges of that size, consuming 3.78 amps when it's on. Seem like a reasonable choice? (They don't list the price there, but it's $850.)

Also -- given that the solar is going to be a lot less expensive than I thought, would it make sense to spring for a 300-watt system? In another thread, I read that 100-watt panels really only produce about 20 amp-hours a day (in the summer). If that's right, then 300 watts would be appropriate for me 110 amp-hour batteries, discharging them 50% a day. And if the fridge runs 8 hours a day, that's 30 amp-hours right there, leaving me 25 amp-hours for everything else.
 

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I think you can do better on the fridge price. I would suggest under $700, inc shipping, certainly!

300 w of solar should be more than sufficient
 

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Discussion Starter #17
For that particular fridge? Or are you saying I should consider a different fridge? I'm not seeing a better price on that particular fridge.
 

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I know nothing about that one but I know there are several out there that have excellent review for $700 + or -. I'm sure others will chime in with their favs!
 

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...You will find many different pov's here...
But, only one KOV!

Fridgewise, I would suggest you look into ENGEL... the MR 40 or MT45. Similar in price to your selected unit but it uses less AmpHours and has been very positively reviewed here on the forum. I'm one of the Engel owners that is impressed with how well it works and how little energy it uses. Use the search button in the upper right to find out more about the Engels. (currently on sale at great prices, $629 or $669 - a better deal than most here have done!) www.engelcoolers.com
 

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But, only one KOV!

Fridgewise, I would suggest you look into ENGEL... the MR 40 or MT45. Similar in price to your selected unit but it uses less AmpHours and has been very positively reviewed here on the forum. I'm one of the Engel owners that is impressed with how well it works and how little energy it uses. Use the search button in the upper right to find out more about the Engels. (currently on sale at great prices, $629 or $669 - a better deal than most here have done!) www.engelcoolers.com
So true!

As a side note - I'm in the process of trying to buy Mrs KOV a new set of wheels and as we all know "An informed consumer always knows more than the salesperson" I've ever encountered more absolute BS and outright lies than sales managers at car dealerships are prepared to throw at you! Knowledge is power, however, and the more you know the harder it is to be taken advantage of.
 
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