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Solar Panels
When it comes to solar, as far as I am concerned the rule is to buy all you can afford! So the most important question is how much can you afford? So tell us what you have to spend  and we can advice you what to buy. Also, where are you located? The big panels have to go by freight and not regular UPS/FedEx so shipping can be expensive. But the big panels save you so much per watt, it is worth buying them.

About Batteries:
The first decision you have to make is which type of battery should you buy, lead acid or AGM.
  1. Lead acid are much cheaper but they off-gas a corrosive, dangerous gas and have to be maintained by checking the water every month or two.
  2. AGM is much more expensive but they do not off-gas and so can be safely stored inside the RV with you. They are also sealed so you never need to maintain them or check their water level.
A lot of people buy lead acid because they are cheaper, but then they don't maintain them, so they fail prematurely. If you think that is you then in the long run you will spend less by buying AGM. In my opinion the risk of off-gassing by lead acid is greatly exagerated. They only off-gas when at a high rate of charge. If you only charge them from your solar panels, it should never be an issue.  I have always kept lead acid batteries inside the vehicle with me, generally under my bed.

There are different types of batteries:
  • Starting
  • Marine
  • 12 volt deep cycle
  • Golf Cart: 6 volt deep cycle (must be bought in pairs)
You can buy all of these in both lead acid and AGM. I think golf carts are the best choice and I have a pair of AGM golf carts in my trailer right now.

As to where to put them, many people put them on the tongue of their trailers or in a storage compartment under the trailer. If you buy AGM or are not afraid of lead acid, then you can put them inside with you. That has the advantage of keeping them out of the heat and the cold.

So tell us what you have to spend on solar and I will give you my recomendations. Bob

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What bob said!

I have posted a link to these several times but here are the panels I have. They are nice panels at a good price. $1.87 per watt.
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I was thinking of going with two 185 Kyocera panels.  Would that work?  I can also afford maybe two Golf Cart AGM batteries.  Does that sound about right?  I'm near Mesa AZ.  Thanks so much everyone.... I won't be using a microwave, I'll be using my propane stove, a bit of television and my small lap top a few hours a day and a Honda 2000 generator.
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Would the ebay panels be enough for me?  I like the free shipping.    lol...  Thanks for the ebay information!
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Well since you're nearby their distribution hub (phoenix) has 210w panels for $310.

They're good for about 35-45 amps per day in the winter time with a standard charge controller and basic mounting. 90 amps in the summer. So one should be fine for you.

Your daily needs will be about

Laptop - 10 amps (2 hours x 5 amps)
15"-19" LED/LCD TV - 6 amps (2 hours x 3 amps)
800w Microwave - 12 amps (8 minutes x 1.5 amps per minute)

So you will have plenty if that is really all you use. 2 golf cart AGM's will last 4 days without any charge and the 210W panel will cover all your needs in the winter and allow you to run a fan or something 24hrs in the summer. 

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I can afford in the ball park of 1300 or 1400 by the end of March.  Mesa AZ
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You won't need to spend that much. If you come to the RTR in June in Colorado, we will install yourr system for you. I would buy the Kyocera 185 for $300 It comes with a 20 year warranty from a big japanese company that will be in business 20 years from  now. If you buy panels from Ebay, who will do the warranty work?

I have bought from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun in Flagstaff and highly recommend them. I bought a Kyocera 135 panel from them, wasn't sure how to install it, called, and the owner answered and said it was a new model panel he wasn't familiar with, so he found one on the sales floor, opened up the junction box and walked me through installation. Those are the people i want to do business with. Plus they are a family owned store and have the very best prices on name-brand panels. Learn more here:

Here is the 185 Kyocera for $300

Buy a mppt controller big enough to expand in the future. Spend your extra money on the battery bank. Four AGM golf carts would be ideal. Bob

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Buy a mppt controller big enough to expand in the future. Spend your extra money on the battery bank. Four AGM golf carts would be ideal. Bob

Keep in mind if she has a big battery bank an MPPT is virtually useless. They do not work unless you're in the bulk charge phase. At a 20-30A daily draw and 4-6v's she'd have to go like 5-6 days of absolute zero day light to just begin to get into the I-V sweep function. Somehwere around 10-15 days of clouds. And even then it would only work for maybe an hour or two until the second phase starts. On top of all that it will only provide maybe 1 or 2 extra amps at most on an 185w-17.7v system for that charging hour depending on the voltage drop to the controller. Hardly significant in the highly unlikely event that it would ever even see the MPPT phase at all.
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Yes, I'm going to definitely invest in the batteries...  I'm glad to know I will only need one panel!  That was a concern.  Thank you everyone for the help.  I can make it to Flagstaff right before the heat of Arizona really hits, and have the install there, it's closer.  Of course, I don't plan on staying in the hottest parts of Arizona in the summer either so...  lol.. 

In a few months, the Kaibab national Forest is going to have Centennial Special for RV Parks with hook ups of $25 a day.  That's a good price for the Grand Canyon!   I've never been, but will go there after I see Sedona and the Coconino National Forest.  Neat stuff.   

Thank you guys so much again for all the help!  Now I know what to get, when, and how much!  I couldn't ask for more.  "Happy Trails." 

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Check out Oak Creek Canyon while you're there. It's near Sedona.

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