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My wife MaryKate (MK) and I have been discussing this dream for a decade since we met and it’s finally happened. Our health problems make winter painful, so we’re going to follow the warmth, and we’re going to do it in a solar powered Class-A motorhome. And now we’ve started a business to help others do the same, hence SolaRVs is born.
I’m Lydian, Lydie for short. My career is solar design and marketing at Mountain View Solar, for both grid-tied and off-grid systems, with years of experience designing battery based solar energy systems. As an autistic woman, my special interest has been in electricity and energy systems since I was single-digit years old, so here I am!
We put 8 SolarWorld 320w 72-cell modules on the roof of the bus (those are the big ones 37.8″x78.46″ typically used on commercial arrays). They are tied to a Schneider 60-150 charge controller in 4 parallel strings of two, which feeds a 12kWh bank of lithium iron phosphate batteries at 48vdc (4x 250aH 12v units in series). This powers a Schneider XW6848 6.8kW inverter converted to 120v operation, which has a receptacle so that the RV shore cord can be plugged directly into it. Therefore, the RV’s electrical systems remain mostly unmodified; the RV simply thinks it’s always plugged into the grid, even while going down the highway.
The beauty of this inverter is that I can limit the maximum power it pulls from grid, so even with a measly 15a 120v hookup, the system will pull from solar/batteries + grid as needed and never exceed what I tell it to, without any manual load management needed.
I did make one minor modification made to the RV electrical, that is easily reversed should we want to sell and upgrade. I removed the built in RV transfer switch and tied the generator output to the inverter’s generator input. The inverter’s internal transfer switch takes over the functionality. Should there be bad weather for many days and we’re off-grid, I can then turn the 8kW diesel gen on and charge the batteries in a couple of hours, then turn it off again, thus enjoying silence once again and barely using any diesel in the process.
The equipment as seen installed in the “basement” of the bus
Electricity flow in the system
This is generally how it’s all connected together