Energy generation and usage


We intend to fit an extensive solar array to the roof of our motorhome. This will consist of 10 solar modules each ouputting 175 watts (rated), more likely 150 watts real at 24 Volts. They will be connected to charge at 24 volts. We will use a profile system by Maytec (see links) to secure the panels to the top of the coach. Maytec profile system is used in our Simplicity Stamping Machine and simplifies design sooo much. Strong and vibration proof too, which is important when you are attaching it to the roof of a coach at 100 kph !


These coaches are fitted with HUGE alternators, with the detroit diesel one sometimes being over 200 amps. Ours is 240 amps so will have ample spare power for both house and crank battery banks. The Super Combi will charge both banks of batteries, the house at the maximum it is set up for, and the crank at 4 amps, wherever the amps are coming from.


We are not caravan park people, we prefer to camp in places where you are not kept awake all night by a noisy neighbour, or someone having a domestic.  No thanks. Nevertheless there will be occasions where shore power may be available and we will have the facility to use it. The Combi can be programmed to use whichever you like, and it will even charge the batteries on cloudy days.


A large battery bank will be fitted (coaches may have some disadvantages but also some real advantages) of about 1,200 amp hours. This bank will increase weight by approximately 1/2 a tonne, but be spread out in 2 seperate enclosures in the storage bins under the coach. The batteries will be Absorbed Glass Mat type or AGM. Calculations have been done on 4 peak sun hours per day.


We are going to use a Super Combi power management inverter. These are fairly new to this country but come from one of the largest inverter companies in the world. They are very smart inverters and can handle multiple input sources such as solar, engine alternator, generator and shore power, whatever you have to throw at them. An MPPT regulator from the same company will also control the solar input. The optional battery temperature monitor will also be fitted as the unit is smart enough to slow down charging when the battery bank is too hot. This unit will even start/stop your generator, if you have one, when required.


There will be 2 systems fitted for the supply of hot water, with some simple electronic control stuff. We are manufacturing our own heat exchanger/hot water holding tank which is insulated with closed cell foam. We will also have some pool heating hose on the roof which will solar heat our water when we are not on the move. It is surprising how quickly heat can be picked up when you pump some water up there, let it sit for awhile, then return it to the insulated tank.


Space has been found for 4 x 4 Kg gas bottles under the passenger seat. This compartment has no bottom panel so any leaking gas will fall to the ground and be safe. However we have welded in a steel plate between the gas compartment and the co pilots seat. Gas will only be used for cooking, both in the oven/range and the slide out barbie hidden in one of the bins, so we expect we will be able to go quite a few weeks with our 4 bottles.


We will not be large energy users as a couple in a well prepared home does not need to be, even if the house has wheels. Having said that we have reached a stage of life where a certain degree of comfort is attainable and even expected. As mentioned above gas will be used for both inside and outside cooking, as this is the most economical way to do it. We have purchased a small twin tub washing machine (240 volt) that will do 2 Kg at a time. As we will spend less time in the cold, it should not be too heavily taxed. All interior and exterior lighting will be LED as rapid advances are being made in this area. Comfort will be taken care of by 2 split system reverse cycle air conditioners. The one in the lounge area can be used continuously while travelling, and both (at seperate times) when stopped, depending on battery status. Of course the coach will be extensively insulated. The air cons chosen are 5 star energy efficient, drawing a mere 700 watts at 240 volts.

Decided to take advantage of all the rain and do some work on the roof. It can get very hot under the plastic roof of the shed we are building this project in, so rain and clouds meant it was the time to start up there. Lots of cutting and drilling for the anchors for the profile system, have at least the backbone in place so far will update this area in the next few days.

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Because of the subdivision I have not been able to do much for the past week. We are at the stage now where some things must be done, in order for others to proceed. Bathroom had a couple of tiny things left to do, they are now done, working on finishing the bedroom and staring on the profile system on the roof.

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