RV Solar Series: Analysis & Conclusions is the summary to the testing page. The testing page has more meat and this page details what happened. I also offer theories as to what could have happened with different decisions. We are very happy with the results and look forward to more off-grid camping that will be coming up.
Our solar installation met the design goal of a fully charged battery and gave us extra electricity during the day to enjoy our RV, assuming sunshine.
Could I have done the same thing with less solar?
After all, I said that most of the potential energy was wasted. The answer is yes, but there are some reservations in the answer. Remember my test was in March; my solar setup was designed for a recharge on the shortest day of the year. So given my design was for the shortest sunny day, my system was oversized for the remainder of the year.
Another way I could have done the same thing with less solar was by using a portable panel that I could point at the sun early in the charge cycle. The biggest determent in my system design is that the panels are flat. Panels Oriented to the sun when the battery was most in need during the bulk stage of charging are way better.
Pointed at the Sun
Three hundred watts of solar panels, pointed at the sun for the first two hours of the day and then tracked towards the sun for the next three hours would have recharged the battery faster. If moved again in the afternoon they would have produced more energy for float stage. Running the house with the extra energy would have been easier than my fixed 700 watt flat array.
So my conclusion is that I could generate more and use more in a day, and still hit 100% battery charge by the end of the day. If I needed more than about 180 amps I would need more panels or a portable panel. Pointing at the sun is a great way to get more energy from a panel.
Would more solar panels make the system better? Yes and no. If my array were twice the size, I may have been able to make twice the energy on cloudy days. Possibly I would have not had to run the generator. That also means on those sunny days, even more of my panels would have only shaded the roof for most of the day. Shading the roof, in the summer is a very good thing. I cannot justify twice the price to get less than twenty percent greater benefit. Still, it is attractive, because no one has yet to say they installed too big a solar system. Usually use will rise to consume all the extra energy.
RV Solar Series: Analysis & Conclusions isn’t the end of the story we still need more testing but are very satisfied so far.
Update: January 11, 2020, Our solar install continues to work well for us. Does Solar work well compared to multiple other systems on other RVs all at the same time at the same location? Find out at this post, all the details are in the comments. Xcapers Bash Solar Data Collection