Xcapers Bash Solar Data Collection and analysis. As you know, the Xcapers Bash is 100% off-grid. Many RVs have solar to recharge RV batteries, some only have generators. This represents a huge opportunity to get same-day, same-weather, day-by-day electric data from hundreds of RV battery users – with and without solar recharging. Thanks for contributing to the Xcapers Bash Solar Data Collection.
Please add your Xcapers Bash Solar Data to your results daily.
Please use the comments section to include the following items as appropriate.
- Date of report (if different than the day uploaded)
- Total Solar panel coverage in Watts (i.e. 700)
- Battery type: ( i.e. Lead Acid or Sealed Lead Acid or Gel or Lithium)
- Battery size in usable Amp Hours ( i.e. 150)
- Minimum and maximum battery state of charge for that day ( i.e. 60% @ sunrise – 95% @ sunset)
- Generator run time ( if applicable)
The state of charge is according to your ability to measure or estimate. All Solar Data is useful, the better the Solar Data the more meaningful the results.
This Xcapers Bash Solar Data, once aggregation is complete will help one of the BASH sponsors Battleborn Batteries. Battleborn has not paid to gather this data. The data will only be provided to them at the end of the test in aggregate (without charge).
I have nothing to sell, your responses will NOT be used for marketing of any kind.
All responses will be stripped of personal data including email addresses prior to analysis.
The final results will be presented in a follow-on blog post after data collection is analyzed for your information and amusement. (Edit, the test results are contained within this post.)
Your Xcapers Bash Solar Data collected will provide for multiple data analyses and the comments here are the raw data for everyone to use and compare.
You can find additional information pertaining to the kind of data and (my) conclusions about solar battery charging on this website at FoxRVTravel Solar Series.
The purpose of Xcapers Bash Solar Data Collection is to help each other.
Comments require approval to be posted –do not expect to see your comment immediately.
Bash Solar Data Analysis / Observations
Bash Solar Test Data Analysis / Observations. At the Xcapers 2020 BASH, we took the opportunity to gather user inputs for our BASH Solar Test Data Analysis. There were 400 RVs and no hookups for more than a week. These are the lessons learned. We gathered results from the Bash(ers), usually on a daily basis to see how our friends were able to recharge their batteries. I have not heard of too many super-sized failures (only one – description later). Most batteries survived, a little worse for the wear. As always, there are other interpretations, please comment. You can find the original data in our previous post. I am depending on the readers to draw their own conclusions from the raw data, not just my analysis and observations.
BASH Solar Test Analysis / Observations
If your name is David, you are likely to report a huge solar energy production, with a very large system and impressive battery bank. We had input from three different David(s). Thank you, and all others who contributed.
Solar Data collection is difficult because daily usage is not the intended direct goal, rather we have measured how you recharge your battery. Thus we are attempting to measure usage indirectly. This does not invalidate the solar data collected. In addition to recharging batteries, usage can be calculated if the energy produced is recorded but not used for battery recharging.
Secondly, because the system sizes vary greatly between 300 watts to about 4000 watts of panels; the solar data collection does not represent needs — just abilities. The person with the smaller system size and obviously much lower investment are happy with their results — the person with the much larger system, who uses his solar accompanied by his generator to heat the RV is also happy.
Pers (link at the end) also used his “extra solar” to heat his water, rather than letting the electricity to be unused (like I do).
David also heated his RV with his solar and batteries and used a very efficient heat pump LG mini-split (not an RV air conditioner/heat pump). I used propane and burned through 3/4 of a tank of propane (12 gallons) in the last ten days.
Observations proved by solar data collection (most observations are obvious)
Lithium batteries recharge faster at higher rates and are more likely to achieve full recharge earlier in the day. This lithium advantage allows more use during the day, holding the 100% state of charge until the end of the charging period (nothing new here).
Shade can kill energy production (also nothing new). At least one person having a big (more than 1000 watts of solar) had shading problems on almost half of the collectors. This production greatly.
Another neighbor created shade by tilting panels in his front row and shading his panels in his back row. The next day he lowered the front row panels eliminating the shade on the rear panels and had better results.
Tilting panels, in the winter, clearly produced much more energy than flat panels. I have heard the phrase, just add an additional panel, it is less expensive than a tilting system. One additional panel does compensate for lower power production somewhat. A better phrase would be — to double your system size if you want to equal the output of a tilted system in December/January.
Portable panels can beat fixed-mounted versions by a large margin. Especially if used to track the sun throughout the day. Honestly, portable solar panels kicked out way more than flat-mounted panels.
The biggest system in the test was used to create heat for the RV where my system, on the small side, ran the electricity, and propane was used to heat the RV.
Design Criteria Observations
The relationship between panel sizes (watts) to battery bank capacity (amp/hrs) is a very suspect thumb rule in sizing a purchase. This is not a good way to design a solar charging system. If this were the main design criteria, represented by the salesman – you are talking to the wrong company. Rather than this, a battery bank should be big enough to cover use. Panels should be sized to recharge the battery bank in a given period. Starting with needs is a much better method to determine the system size. Since during the data collection period, we only had sunny days, our observations don’t include any recovery periods after cloudy days.
Actually, this sizing criterion is a huge improvement. In 2018 I listened to two different RV experts say the statement “you can’t recharge batteries using solar” twice on the same day.
Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (such as Battleborn — Bash sponsors) are much more likely to be fully recharged by the end of the charge period than a lead-acid battery bank. However, if you have functional, sufficiently sized, Lead-Acid batteries, they don’t disqualify you from successfully operating on a solar battery charger.
The biggest (temporary) failure was an 1800-watt solar coupled with 1000 amp-hours of lithium batteries. It plainly did not work — at all. By now, I am sure that it has been fixed.
No Solar with Lithium
Stories, but no data was provided by one person, who used a moderately sized lithium battery setup with 300 amp hours of usable energy. He recharged his batteries daily with a generator/charger. He went from nearly dead batteries to nearly full batteries within 3 hours of generator run time each day. The bottleneck in his system was his inverter/charger which was only capable of producing 100 amps per hour. (I say “only” because his inverter/charger is about four times faster than my inverter/charger.) His batteries were capable of charging three times faster than his inverter/charger could supply.
Compared to my 700-watt collector coupled with my 150 amp hour usable battery. I could have, and perhaps should have, spent my money on a better charger and lithium batteries rather than solar panels. The cost would have been much more than my solar, but would not suffer from cloudy days – ever.
To expand on my system, I went for my first year of full-time RV travel charging my lead-acid only using my generator. I monitored my discharging and recharging with a battery monitor. I used about 120 amp-hours each night (and still do). For me to replace a full discharge, I ran my generator 2 hours a day. Two hours of generator run time each day would charge my batteries back to about 80% full. To recharge the last 20% of my battery capacity would have required an additional 4 hours of generator time.
Brew your own dominated.
Stories abound, systems that functioned well, seemed to almost all be installed by the owners. Two of the biggest “failures” were commercially installed by “experts”. Even systems that had top-grade equipment including lithium batteries were not equal to simple systems that were constructed by owners. I think a large part of the success was due to owners monitoring and conserving energy and understanding how batteries recharge.
Someday I will join the cool kids and get lithium batteries.
The number one thing I learned is that my adequate system is merely adequate, but I already knew that.
Pers had the most impressive system, and the most solar data his website is 100offgrid.com. Pers not only covered his RV but also covered a trailer with panels.
Additional information can be found on our solar series. This documents our RVs solar battery charger and the reasons for some of my decision-making.