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maximum solar power possible on chevy express cargo van
#1
I havent seen anything more than 400 watts (4 100w panels).  why arent people using 24v 280 watt panels.  I see you can get 2 of them on a chevy express cargo van.  I am still trying to figure out how many batteries i need to use my computer in my van.  I will pay anything for maximum efficiency.  i hear 24v setup can make longer wire runs and is better for inverters for efficiency.  

quite a learning curve for me to learn beyond the basics of a solar setup.  here is my main appliance that will be used:  https://pcpartpicker.com/list/rD2JsJ < my new most efficient, most powerful small computer workstation.  Shows it needs about 280 watts to run, so the closest PC PSU i found was:  SilverStone Technology Strider Series Fully Modular 600W ATX Power Supply with 80 Plus Titanium PS-ST60F-TI https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CE7NUG2/?tag=pcpapi-20

any suggestions to how many batteries i will need and types and types of panels would be appreciated.  
I will also have that most efficient cooler for cold food storage and drinks but not sure which fridge is the most efficient and will be also on the solar system setup.
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#2
Are you camping/parking/boondocking where you can set up portable panels to track the sun?

If so, you can get more efficient use of the panels you have or will buy. 

But if they are flat mounted on the roof, especially in winter, this means much less power harvested per panel, per day. 

A typical PC will not need all of the power supply rating all of the time...they usually pull less than half of that as an average. Decoding video, or rendering video, and high speed gaming are the common power hogs. Well, unless you are bitcoin mining or running SETI@home software.

Cool
Never trust a camp cook with lots of shiny new pans...
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#3
you can use the larger panels, I have a 240 watt panel on my small astrovan, but I had to install it lengthwise. If you try to install sideways they will protrude over the edges of the roof. 

I originally had a smaller 120 watt panel that I install sideways and that protruded over the edges, myself I didnt like having the panel extending over the edges, it was an eyesore to me. But if that is no problem for you, you might be able install 3 of the larger 280 watt panels sideways on one of the larger vans.

But with solar and winter months its not that efficient when the panels are lying flat on the roof. With my 240 watt panel/mppt I'm maxing out at 9 amps, barely enough to run my netbook and swampcooler. I have 2 x 110ah lifepo4 and I wouldnt even think about running a desktop computer with that. A gaming laptop would be more realistic but I would only run it during the day.

Go to the hurriedyear.com website, you can see the type of solar system you need to run a desktop computer in your van, you need the type of power needed to run an air conditioner.
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#4
They're not cheap, but here is a list of computer power supplies the run on 12 volts. The smallest one is 320 watts.

https://www.powerstream.com/DC-PC-12V.htm
Einstein, when describing radio said "Wire telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull his tail in NY and he meows in LA. And radio works the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."


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The following 3 users say Thank You to Stanvan for this post:
tx2sturgis (12-10-2017), breaker1nine (12-10-2017), jonyjoe303 (12-10-2017)
#5
(12-10-2017, 11:20 AM)breaker1nine Wrote: I havent seen anything more than 400 watts (4 100w panels).  why arent people using 24v 280 watt panels.  I see you can get 2 of them on a chevy express cargo van. 

They don't need it, or want roofspace for something else like a vent.

Quote:I am still trying to figure out how many batteries i need to use my computer in my van.  I will pay anything for maximum efficiency.  i hear 24v setup can make longer wire runs and is better for inverters for efficiency.  

A laptop running off DC is going to be hard to beat for efficiency.
frater/jason in Rains county, TX
blog | Promaster van | offtopic answers
"I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong" F. Douglass
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#6
I agree now that it would be best to get a laptop because Optimus graphics switching technology and all the power savings they have vs for a desktop.  I saw some hacks for Nvidia drivers to get Optimus to work for desktops but I dont like the idea of doing that every driver update.  

i can fit 3 panasonic 330w Mono panels perfectly on roof but not sure still about anything yet.  Batteries need to last me for a day without solar production, and with a laptop i can tweak it more optimally for power savings so my batteries can last longer.  I hate wasting batteries and I thought that if i had enough solar power i can run from it most of the time so my batteries dont have to be used and wear out.  I will be chasing the sun for sure.  Much Much planning, and learning for years until i get on the road and i appreciate all the warm welcomes and advice here!
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#7
(12-11-2017, 07:29 PM)breaker1nine Wrote: ...I thought that if i had enough solar power i can run from it most of the time so my batteries dont have to be used and wear out. 

I don't know if it will reduce wear, but running bigger loads (like charging the laptop) when the system has excess power has multiple benefits:
  • gets batteries out of Bulk faster
  • keeps batteries at 100% more of the time
  • helps hit sundown fully charged
  • helps those with shunt and pwm controllers generate more power.  Probably not an issue with your large array but it's worth noting for onlookers
Thanks for the info on modern video cards.  I'd run across the Optimus term in a video context over the weekend and didn't recognize it.
frater/jason in Rains county, TX
blog | Promaster van | offtopic answers
"I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong" F. Douglass
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The following 1 user says Thank You to frater secessus for this post:
Scout (12-12-2017)
#8
I am wondering some of these same things myself. You used a phrase that has been in the back of my mind and kind of driving some of my thoughts. "chasing the sun for sure" is something I have been thinking I want to avoid. In the summer I think I want to park in the shade if possible and in the winter I can't count on much insolation. The idea of portable panels has floated around my head for a while but unless I'm really set up for a few days at a time the thought of unpacking and packing solar panels really doesn't sound enjoyable and it also ruins any stealth plans. I'm going to try to look at batteries like the other tanks on my rig and try to determine what the best capacity for my use would be. If you decided to go with a lifepo4 battery bank you would remove the requirement to top it up daily as well as give you a battery with more useable power per rating. With that switch you might get by with less solar as the lifepo4 is more efficient to charge. Hard to justify when solar panels are so cheap but if electricity is a requirement for you then finding a way to do less sun chasing might give you a bit more freedom.
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#9
If you make the (huge) investment in LFP, then a good on-demand dino juice source, either

small quiet inverter genny like Honda eu2000i, and/or

making use of alternator charging if driving an hour or two per day

is likely all you need.

Solar becomes completely optional.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to John61CT for this post:
frater secessus (12-13-2017)
#10
Quite possibly there is even another solution to charging. I don't know where the OP is located but with the use of http://www.plugshare.com (known to me for my electric car) you can set the filter for standard wall plugs and it will display the locations of mostly free outlets all over the U.S. If your electrical "tankage" can be made to last a few days then it could be refilled at some of these locations with an onboard charger. Possibly minimizing the need for a huge solar setup to only a small solar setup.
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