What appliances can I run from my motorhome or caravan solar power system?

In the last few months I have had a number of emails from people wanting to know if they can run this appliance or that appliance in their motorhome or caravan. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the answer is not just a simple “yes” or “no” – but a resounding “it depends”.

You see things have changed a lot in the solar power world in the last few years, the impossible has become possible and the impractical has become affordable. The cost of solar panels has dropped from over $10per watt (where it sat for many years) to a far more reasonable, $1per watt. This change has had a massive impact on the size of solar array that can reasonably be afforded by Joe Average.

solar-toaster

Years ago, when asked “how much solar should I put on the roof of my caravan or motorhome”, I would do some careful calculations to work out how much would be needed to cover the average daily requirement. These days, my answer is simply “cover the roof”. At a measly $1/watt, there really is not good reason to scrimp on the panel aspects of the installation.  With this change came a corresponding change to the question “what can I expect to be able to run from my solar electrical system”.

I guess to keep the purists off my back I should say first off that of course you can run almost anything from a well-designed and well-built solar electrical system. That said, there are still some practical limitations and some reasonable limits you need to be aware of.

 

A little theory (easy stuff – I promise)

I find that it often helps people understand a standalone solar electrical system if we use a water analogy…

Think of the batteries as large buckets – these buckets are able to hold a fixed amount of water (electricity). You can’t just keep putting water into a bucket when it is full. Dealing with this is the job of the solar regulator. When the battery (bucket) is full of electricity (water), the regulator (automatic valve) turns off and stops the battery bank from being overcharged.

In our water analogy, the solar panels are like a magic water-maker. These water-makers can make a few litres of water each hour (but of course only when the sun is on them). Add more panels and you will get more electricity each hour they are in the sun.

Appliances, (lights, refrigerators, TV sets etc) are like taps – when you turn them on the water (electricity) flows out of the bucket (battery) and is used up.

Great, now that we have the water analogy working, let’s think about what happens if we take just a little more water out of our buckets each day than the water-makes can replace. Clearly it won’t be long before the buckets are looking a bit empty. Now, unlike buckets, batteries are very expensive AND they hate being empty. An empty battery is a dying battery. The more empty your batteries, the faster they are dying.

It should be quite obvious by now that we MUST have enough solar panels to at least put as much electricity into our batteries as we use each day. This is absolutely critical for a successful solar electric system.

From this (using Sherlock-Holmes-type deduction) we can now answer the question – “What appliances can I run from my motorhome or caravan solar power system”. Answer – “it depends on the size of your roof”.

 

 

Other Components

There are a few other components that need to be discussed…

  • The inverter – this needs to be correctly sized to handle the maximum concurrent load. For example if you want to be able to run the toaster (say 700 watts) AND the microwave  (say 1500 watts) at the same time, you will need an inverter no smaller than 2200 watts (I’d say 2500 watts minimum to be safe). DO NOT just buy a 5000 watt inverter while telling yourself “bigger is better”. Instead, buy the smallest inverter that will do the job. Larger inverters are less efficient most of the time.
  • The solar regulator needs to be sized to handle the maximum current that the solar array can produce.
  • The batteries need to be sized to hold enough electricity to carry you over the dark times (night and bad weather). In this case bigger is better – the only downside is that they are really heavy and really expensive.

 

Practical Examples

Ok, so that is all the theory – what about real practical examples? I’m glad you asked … let’s look at our electrical system. Our system has been evolving in the ten years we have been living in our motorhome, we started with just 160 watts of solar. We have added panels and upgraded components every few years to cope with our growing electrical needs. We now have just over 1200 watts of solar on the roof, a 2000 watt inverter charger and a 40amp regulator (not MPPT). This set-up allows us to run almost anything we want in our motorhome.

We run…

  • One small (65 ltr) 24 volt freezer (normally full of fish if all is going well).
  • One large (220 ltr) 24volt fridge-freezer (set to keep beer at the correct temperature).
  • A 240v electric rice cooker (used most days – I like rice with my fish).
  • A 240v vacuum cleaner (the low voltage ones are useless in comparison).
  • A (quite power hungry) 240v television (for about 3 – 4 hrs each night).
  • Electric blankets (when it cold at night).
  • A small microwave oven.
  • A bread maker – used about two or three times each week.
  • Two laptop computers (for (an embarrassing) 5 – 6hrs each day).
  • A satellite internet system.
  • Of course we charge phones, tablets, cameras, electric helicopters (really!), use an extractor fan while cooking, run lights and all the normal stuff.

To be honest, in the winter when sunshine is a bit more difficult to find, we need to be a little more careful and if we have a few days of overcast weather, we have to either run our generator or turn the computers off (noooooooo!), but in general we manage quite well.

motorhome_solar_roof

The no-no’s

So what appliances are NOT practical to run from solar?

  • Air conditioning – the average solar/battery system will not (and should not) run an air conditioning system.
  • Electric cooking – the exception to this is microwave ovens and microwave convection cookers (when used “within reason”).
  • Electric water heating – yes, there are some exceptions involving dumping excess solar etc, but as a general rule water heating should be gas powered.
  • Electric room heating. It’s not a good idea to plug in your 2kw electric fan heater. Consider a diesel heater (or just go north) when it gets cold.

Things that are ok, but should be used with caution include:

  • Hair driers (when used for a few minutes that’s fine –  if you use your long hair for enticing princes up castle walls, it’s probably a good idea to dry it in the sun.)
  • Coffee makes, these use quite a lot of power, but generally only for a short time.
  • Electric fry pans – this is really cooking with electricity – use with care.

 

Conclusion

I hope from our example you can see that a properly sized and setup electrical system can allow a caravan or motorhome to be a home-away-from-home and run almost any electrical appliance you could want. So, cover your roof in solar panels, buy the right sized inverter and enjoy travelling Australia (and try to leave some fish for us!).

 

As always we welcome your feedback and questions. Just use the “leave a reply” box at the bottom of the page; we would love to hear from you.

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39 Responses to “What appliances can I run from my motorhome or caravan solar power system?”

  1. John Stephen Says:

    We noticed your comment about non 240 volt vacuum cleaners coming in last.

    Well we found one that impressed us greatly; a Dyson DC34 Animal. It has a motorised beater to pick up the most stubborn pet hair (we have a small Jack Russell who sheds badly). We found this machine better than full sized cleaners around our caravan, admittedly it is only 17 ft, but the dirt and hair we get is seriously heavy work. The only drawback is that it runs for 13 to 15 minutes before needing a recharge, but we manage to get through Ok on that. It cleans velour upholstery better than anything we have used before and best of all it is very lightweight. http://www.dyson.com.au/vacuumcleaners/handhelds/dc34/dc34.aspx?gclid=CL76kqb72boCFUUwpAodfCUAJA

  2. Brett Says:

    Hello Gavin

    Thank you for the information that you are providing for people here on your site.

    I have a question for you. you have said that your motorhome has 1200 watts of water in the buckets. Could you please let me know how many buckets I will need to hold that amount of energy?

    Brett

  3. Hobo Says:

    Battery capacity in a motorhome is always a compromise between weight, cost and storage. We have 6 eight-volt flooded batteries each with a capacity rating of 211amp hours giving a total of 422ah at 24v (or 10kwHrs). Our average discharge with this setup over 394 cycles (days) is 13.3% (86.7% remaining in the bank). I feel that we could do with a little more battery capacity as we are often fully charged by 11am.
    The batteries are golf buggy batteries wired in two banks of three batteries.

  4. Adrian Bartlett Says:

    Hi Gavin,

    Thanks for the good info.

    We have 240 ah @ 12V, and plenty of solar 640W, so fully charged mid morning.

    Does a large currency draw, e.g. from a coffee machine of around 90 amps, cause any damage to the battery? We have enough power, I am just worried that the large current draw relative to the size of the batteries may not be healthy?

    Also there are plenty of cheap no name brand inverters available e.g: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-GenPower-1500W-3000W-Power-Inverter-Pure-Sine-Wave-12V-240V-Camping-/380776044798?pt=AU_Boat_Parts_Accessories&hash=item58a80558fe&_uhb=1. Are these cheaper inverters OK, or is it better to go with a name brand?

    Cheers
    Adrian.

  5. Hobo Says:

    Hi Adrian,
    90amps is probably not too rough on your batteries (AGM I think??) – I don’t think it will cause any damage.
    I have had a very bad run with cheap inverters (eBay etc) – I personally would not trust any no-name brand to power anything I care about.
    My brother-in-law currently uses a large eBay purchased inverter as a door stop. This is the only thing it seems to be able to do well.

    Cheers

  6. Adrian Bartlett Says:

    Hi Gavin,

    Thanks for the info.

    cheers

  7. Winifred Says:

    Hello there,

    I have been told that my solar panel on the roof of my camper van is putting in too much power and could be doing the battery harm. The regulator is under the panel on the roof. Should I get another regulator put in close to where the solar wiring connects to the battery?
    My solar panel is 170W and the agm battery is 120amp.

    Also I have taped around the front & side edges of the solar panel to stop dust/wind going thru where it is fitted to the roof, the same person advised me that this is bad thing to do as it should have air around it.

    Your advise will be gratefully appreciated
    Regards Winifred

  8. Hobo Says:

    Hi Winifred,
    if the voltage is getting above 14v it will kill the battery in no time. I strongly recommend you replace the regulator immediately. AGM batteries HATE being over charged.

    The advice regarding the air around the panels is correct (assuming that they are not amorphous panels). It is very important to allow the panels to get as much air around them as possible to have them stay as cool as possible.

    see this page http://hobohome.com/news/?p=491

    I hope this helps.

  9. Greg Says:

    Not being expert at electricity needs while on the road and in anticipation of that need, I contacted an expert, a guy who runs 4WD/camping holidays anywhere and everywhere in Australia that is legal to take off road cars and/or vans on and who has been doing this since the 70s. While his personal needs are small because he has a VERY small pop up that looks like it folds outwars from a small trailer you would see on the back of tiny cars going to the dump, he is aware of needs for different people who all see things differently.

    I was of the opinion that solar panels didnt give enough electricity if in the shade, if it was pouring rain or if the panels were just dusty. He showed me his solar panels he bought within the last 18 months. They work even under a FULL MOON on a clear night, to collect power and as he said, sure if you get them covered with mud you are going to have to clean them if you want them to work but he has camped under a tree in the pouring rain and STILL got enough power. He says technology in the last few years has changed that way and he also proved it to me by turning everything on when his camper was inside his garage, with the garage door open and only reflected sunlight from windows and open doorway reaching the solar panel, not anything direct.

    With that in mind I am starting to wonder what I really need. He has only four panels of about 8 inches by 8 inches and he powers many electrical things off it while away. The one thing he doesnt do is have a deep cell battery any longer as he doesnt seem to need it most of the time and he doesnt have a TV in his camper trailer either. Seeing that when free camping, any noisy generator usually finds itself disabled and unable to start without replacing one thing or another, I really think my power needs will have to be solar. I can charge my laptop and phone off a car charger but if you use GPS constantly you can be sure your car charger is only keeping pace, not charging. The laptop charger does a remarkably good job (19.5V DC). I can also charge my phone from the USB port of my laptop if I have to do so. However, I like my TV, DVD player and various other things that require power and my wife loves, more than me, her GHD straightener!

    So, Gavin, are your solar panels the LATEST ones if they dont power the same as this tour operator guy’s does?

    Greg.

  10. Hobo Says:

    Hi Greg,
    An interesting story, but I’m afraid not really very factual. The reality is quite simply that photovoltaic cells are designed to be exposed to full sun. While it is true that there have been some advances in the production of panels in the last few years, most of the advances have been in the ability to produce them at lower cost. Panels I the early 90’s were typically around 11% efficient and cost > $10/watt. Today’s panels are around 17% efficient and cost around $1/watt (in full sun ie 1000w/m2). The actual technology has not changed very much at all – they still used a doped silicon that when struck by high intensity photons, loses an electron. I have dealt with and installed hundreds of panels of all types and have never seen (or heard of) a panel that produces anything useful in moonlight – that is simply just not possible (this is just basic physics – you can’t make energy from nothing).
    As for the demonstration in the garage, surly the items using power were drawing current from a battery – not from the panels directly. Ask him to leave all items running I the garage for a week and then see what the state of the battery looks like (it will be destroyed).
    Some panels are sold as “shade tolerant” – a panel that is not shade tolerant will typically dramatically reduce its output when even slightly shaded (eg 90% reduction with just 5% shaded area) – shade tolerant panels (fitted with bypass diodes) will demonstrate a far more acceptable reduction (eg 10% drop with a 5% area shaded).
    However, nobody in their right mind would run panels in shade (or covered in mud) – it would be like buying a V8 commodore and taking 6 of the spark plug leads off – why buy a V8 then toss 6 of the cylinders away? Solar panels are designed to be exposed to full sun.

    Sadly like most things in life, there are no free lunches. If power produced is less than power used the result will be a flat battery – end of story.

    To correctly determine how much solar is required, it is necessary to work out how much power is required each day – add about 10% (to account for losses) and that number is the minimum amount for solar required to remain autonomous. If you charge your batteries from the vehicle alternator, this figure can be reduced to account t for that.
    With solar panels at an all time low cost (around $1 per watt) there is simply no reason to under cater. It’s just not worth the hassle and potential damage to costly battery’s .

    I hope this helps.

  11. PaulnSans Says:

    Hi Gavin

    Can I charge a car jumper pack (ex Repco) on my 12v solar system through the jumper cables as opposed to the supplied plug pack as I don’t have an inverter on my simple camping – solar setup? I figured it’ll be the same as going straight onto the terminals of a normal car battery but thought I might ask an expert :o)

    Thanks mate
    Paul

  12. PaulnSans Says:

    Sorry there were two but I didn’t remember the second one at the time of writing the previous 🙁

    Does an inverter play with both the voltage AND the current or just the voltage? ie, if an appliance draws 1500W @ 240v so therefore draws 10.42amps, is this the same figure seen on the 12/24v sold of it and is therefore the figure we use in our solar needs / calculations or does the AMP’s figure differ on the 12/24v side of the inverter?

    Thanks again
    Paul

  13. PaulnSans Says:

    I think this might now constitute stalking…

    Another one again:

    (iii) On the back of my portable solar panel is an attached regulator. It has inputs for the two panels then an output for the battery connection and an another output for a load eg lights. The panel array is a portable 2 panel setup and I believe that they are 2 x 85w panels giving me a 170w capability. I say “believe” because I purchased them 18 – 24 months ago when I was feeling a little like Rockerfeller but at the time hadn’t had any more of the setup. I’m now getting that all together now hence the 50 million questions.

    If I’m going to run ‘stuff’ off this setup do I use the load output on the regulator or can I wire up a neat and tidy setup to run it off the battery terminals?

    The reason I ask is that the panels will be out in the sun and my battery and fridge will be in the shade some 5 – 8 metres away. I’d need to run another cable from the ‘Output’ terminal on the regulator which is attached to the back of the panels and I’d like to avoid that unsightly mess when out bush. Just another cable for someone to trip on and to detract from the native bush appearance of our campsite!

    Thanks again mate.
    Paul 🙂

  14. PaulnSans Says:

    Okay I concede this is getting ridiculous…..

    In a reply to Winifred above, you’ve stated that if the regulator is putting out more than 14v it needs to be replaced and that AGM batteries hate being overcharged.

    Over the very sunny West Australian weekend we’ve just had, I measured the output from my regulator (at the output screws on the regulator at around 16 – 17 volts. I was going to buy a 120ah AGM battery so am a little alarmed at the aforementioned statement.

    Is my regulator not good (it hasn’t even been used yet the little buggar) or am I misunderstanding something here?

    I want to stick to buying an AGM battery (based on info on this site) so I best get a handle on this regulator / voltage issue 🙂

    Paul (again)

  15. Hobo Says:

    Hi Paul,
    Measuring the output voltage from a regulator that is not connected to a battery does not provide a true picture of what will happen once a battery is connected. I think it is VERY unlikely that any regulator (that is worth having) would allow the voltage to rise to these dangerous levels once a battery is connected. I suggest you connect a battery then check the voltage at the battery terminals every hour or so.
    Cheers

  16. Hobo Says:

    Connecting to the load terminals on the regulator is functionally identical to connecting (via a fuse) to the battery terminals – with one exception…
    The regulator has a function called “low voltage disconnect”. Using the regulator load terminals will allow the regulator to disconnect any appliances or lights IF the battery terminal voltage falls below a preset level. This prevents over discharge and thus damage to the battery bank.
    If you want/need this feature, you must use the load terminals to feed the devices and lights.
    Cheers

  17. Hobo Says:

    Ohms law requires an inverter to “play” with both voltage and current. Example:
    A device that draws 1amp at 240v (on the high voltage side of the inverter) will cause the inverter to draw 20amps from a 12v battery (plus a little more to account for inversion losses).
    Watts (power) is equal to volts times amps – this is true on both sides of an inverter.
    On the high voltage side – 240v x 1a = 240w
    On the battery side – 12v x 20a = 240w
    The wattage is Always the same no matter what you do to the voltage (excluding losses).

  18. Hobo Says:

    Short answer .. It depends.
    The plug pack may have more functions than just voltage conversion. It may have circuitry to prevent overcharging and current limiting. It is also true that the ability to charge the internal battery may require a voltage higher than the vehicle battery can provide.
    I would not try it, the risk of damage is high.

  19. PaulnSans Says:

    Thanks for the answers above Gavin.

    Re the load terminals, I have just bought a Victron 600S battery monitor. Does that go through the load terminals now as well or does the whole set up now change and I have to go back to the terminals using the shunt on same?

    (A lot can happen when you’re sitting around on the computer at work, cashed up and wanting to ‘buy’ stuff!!) 🙂

    I’m getting the following battery box modified (now that I’ve discussed the issue enough with the JTS crew – notwithstanding what I’ve said elsewhere on this site) for the VBM and all lines are fused so does this change any of your thoughts please mate?
    http://www.jtsonline.com.au/12-volt-products/battery-box/dss-power-easy-box-digital-meter.html

    Background: Al I want to run is some LED lighting and an Engel (or two from time to time if the group is big and we need to use more than one). So the setup is just the above portable solar panels feeding ONE 120aH battery (in the box) and which will run the said lights and Engel(s). The VBM will be installed into the battery box in lieu of their current digital volt meter so that I can have something to play with 🙂

  20. Hobo Says:

    The Battery monitor must be wired to “see” all current. This means that the shunt is wired directly to the battery terminal. The monitor has a volt sense wire – this too is wired to the terminal (via a fuse).

  21. Winifred Says:

    Hello Gavin,

    Thank you for your advise regarding my query of 20th Jan 2014. I have removed the taping from around the solar panel and after reading your link to air circulation around the panel, am happy with it now.

    However, in connection with the the voltage to the battery, I spoke with the company who made my battery and they said that my one is good at a float of 13.70.? Do you still suggest I get another regulator?

    I have just arrived in Melb to get the brakes done and will go ahead with the new regulator if you say so before I head back to WA.

    Cheers Winifred

  22. Hobo Says:

    If the solar regulator is allowing the battery voltage to get above 14v, then I would replace it as quickly as you can. Be sure to get one that has a mode for AGM batteries.

  23. Brett Says:

    Can a ingle fridge be supplied directly from a 120 watt portable regulated soler kit or do I need to do it via a battery

  24. Hobo Says:

    You must have a battery connected. Connecting a panel directly to the fridge is very likely to damage the fridge.

  25. Winifred Says:

    Will do Gavin, thank you so much for the advise. Cheers Winifred

  26. Paul Says:

    G’day
    Finally I have found A place to get the information I need to forefill my bucket list request ‘ build A motor home’
    This sight has given me new insperation with easy to understand information people can use
    My question for you , Lighting , A friend of mine purchest a profesionealey built motor home and it has led light strips which do a good job and look awsome are these a good ecenomical choise or not ?

    cheers Paul

  27. Hobo Says:

    Yes, they are quite economical to run – but the down side is the light is very directional. Fine for reading or working, no so great for general room lighting.

  28. Colin Says:

    I enjoyed reading your stuff as we have just bought a Motorhome.
    My wife would like a hair dryer in the vanity so I suggested we buy a 12 volt one which should be good enough to do the job.
    When I came to installing a cig lighter socket for the hair dryer to plug into I ran into a problem so I rang Avida ( Winnebago ) who said if I was tapping into the power of a light switch it will work but after 1 minute it would burn out the complete control Box wiring. ( why would they sell a 12 volt hair dryer specifically designed for a motorhome if it can burn verything out.)
    Now I have already mounted the cig sockey in the vanity, it would be difficult to make things back the way they were so I was wondering if you think the best way to do this is to run a cable directly from the battery to the cig socket underneath the vehicle ?
    Regards
    Colin.

  29. Hobo Says:

    12v hairdriers are a bad idea. A typical hairdrier is rated at about 1000w. That is no issue at 240v as it will only draw about 4.1 amps (no problem for a 10a 240v socket). However, at 12v your 1000w hairdrier will draw a wire melting 83amps. Even if we assume that the manufacturers of the hairdrier de-rated it to just 500w, 42amps is going to cause some serious heating in any cable less than about 16mm in size.
    The ideal solution would be to have the wife put her head out the window while you drive 🙂 – failing this a reasonably sized inverter and a 240v hairdrier would be your best option.
    Be aware that regardless of what voltage the hairdrier is rated for, it will require considerable power from the battery system.

    I suspect that this is not the news you wanted to hear – sorry.

  30. Brian Says:

    Hi mate, just wanted to say thanks for the great article, it’s well written and very easy to comprehend, and the examples of what can and can’t be run really helped aswell.

    Cheers
    Brian

  31. Tony Fisher Says:

    Hi hope you are all well. I was just reading your article on solar power set up. And just wondering what kind of inverter/charger you have set. Because we are looking at the outback range and want to compare with other brands. Thanks Tony

  32. Hobo Says:

    We use Victron gear in both our bus and our shouse – I am VERY happy with the Victron inverters.
    Check out Ontop Energy – Adam is a good guy and his prices are very competitive.

  33. Gary Stephens Says:

    Might be a silly question but if I cover my motor home while not being used, will this harm the panels. I can charge them off course from home.

  34. Hobo Says:

    No, I don’t think it will cause any issues at all. It may even extend the (already long) life of the panels a little.

  35. Leon Says:

    Hi Hobo,
    Much appreciated for your replies. So I’d appreciate your views on this.
    1. A friend of mine (he has around 1.5kw of solar panels on his bus roof, I plan around 1.3kw) runs his 0.5kw inverter air conditioner (only when the sun shines). How practical would this normally be? My van gets too hot in summer; I will have to do more insulation I know.
    2. I noted that Red Dot makes 12 air conditioner for trucks. How practical will this be to run from solar? It appears that these units will use between 20 to 40 amps at 12v. which may be less than the equivalent inverter air conditioner considering the KW/BTU output of these (i.e. around 3400 BTU per KW, therefore a 2.5kw output split system will produce around 8500 BTU – this equates to the output of a .5kw split system inverter air conditioner).
    3. Is there a switch which will activate an electrical device (like an air conditioner) if the solar energy input exceeds a predetermined level? This will mean the air conditioner will only activate if say more than say 40 or 60 amps is available to flow into the battery. I think you know where I am trying to go with this. And yes, I am trying to contravene one of your no-no’s :-).
    Can I make a donation for your time?
    Thank you
    Leon

  36. Hobo Says:

    Hi Leon,

    #1 – I don’t see an issue with this. We do something similar in our Shouse, 700w AC from 5kw solar array. Because our battery bank is small, this runs only when we have full sun.
    #2 – I would doubt that a DC Aircon unit would be more efficient that an AC inverter one, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. Keep in mind that AC units do not “create cold”, they simply move heat outside. I have no first hand experience with DC aircon units.
    #3 – Nothing that I know of off the shelf. It would be simple to build one however there would be one issue that I can see … Aircon units do not like having the power removed then reapplied a few seconds later (when a cloud covers the sun for example). You could get around this by building a timer into the system to delay both the off and the on. Another way of doing this would be to use a solar controller that can be set to close a switch when the system is in float mode (plasmatronics PL series can do this) – run the AC unit only when the battery’s are in float. A more expensive approach would be to use a controller like the Midnight Classic Series that have a “Waist-Not” function designed to indicate when there is excess solar generation.

    I hope this helps

  37. natasha Says:

    I see you noted no ac. I understand why. Though I am still wondering what sized system would be needed to do it. Obviously you can always increase the size of your system to the point where it will run a full house. So i ask do you have any advice for a 2.8kw ac for a few hours a day.

  38. sam Says:

    Hi Gavin hope all is well , can you confirm the following information that i have been giving by a Victrom dealer.
    Using a Victrom multi plus 24/3000/70-16 invertor/charger ,4 6volt AGM 250ah batteries,1200w of poly-crystalline solar panels and together with a Yamaha 2400is generator with a rated output of 2kva will run a 3.5kw split system invertor air conditioner or are we breaking one of the 10 unbreakable s regards sam

  39. Hobo Says:

    This is a tricky one to answer, but I will do my best…
    AirCon units are rated on their output cooling capacity – so 3.5kva is NOT what they need to run. The actual current required depends on lots of factors (compressor design, inverter etc). For arguments sake I would suggest that a 3.5kva aircon will require about 1kw of supply.
    The Victron inverter/Charger will have no issues with this.
    1200w of solar will supply enough solar energy to run the AC unit for perhaps 4 hours each day (assuming no other loads and full sunny days)
    The Yamaha generator will run the AC, but will not charge the battery bank at the full 70amps while doing that. Thankfully, the Victron inverter/charger will manage that for you (assuming it is configured correctly) – making it a good choice for this configuration.
    The battery bank will run the AC unit for about 2.5 – 3.5hrs hrs at night before getting close to exhaustion (assuming no other loads).

    So in a nutshell – I think it will work just fine. If you go ahead with this setup, please let us know how it works out.

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