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NC is a crappy place - for solar
Hi all,

Having left Phoenix to come out to the Raleigh NC area to be with my son’s family, I’ve noticed something... duhh. Its green here and brown there. I know, startling.   Tongue

Anyway, I have been thinking that it’s been an extra wet and overcast winter, which it probably has, yet I finally got around to looking up climate data and “what do you know”, the Raleigh area averages between 3 and 5 inches of RAIN every month, all year. That means unless its near the tropics and gets daily afternoon deluges (which it isn’t), the days are not particularly clear and sunny here...  Huh

I’ve noticed that there isn’t a single house anywhere in my driving area that has solar panels installed, nor any business.  I have seen 2, count em’, 2 commercial solar “fields” that were quite small, like sub 30 panels.  That’s it.  

Here’s Raleigh climate data (from
% of sunreaching the ground: 58%. Hours of sunshine annually: 2606. Clear days annually: 111

Here’s Phoenix:
% sunshine reaching the ground: 85%. Hours of sunshine annually: 3872. Clear days annually: 211

Sheesh!  I’ve often thought that “today would stink for trying to charge batteries” over this fall and winter, recently (February) after a streak of 9 days basically without visible sun I realized that solar out here frankly isn’t very viable.

If I hang out around here most of the year (likely), I won’t be installing solar on any van I end up with, which begs the question, “what am I going to do if I want a 12v compressor fridg and other electrical items?”  Running a gennie isn’t going to work in an urban area, and I’m not confident that a battery to battery charger system would gain me much either.  Poo.
They say when you get older two things happen, one is you lose your memory and the other, I forget.

Organized people are simply too lazy to search for stuff.
This is a problem for the super Jim

He can get solar out of an orange.
Compared to parenting, Cat herding is less complicated 
I hear ya with the cloud cover and have the same issue here in Ohio.
So, more bigger tilted panels or a really long extension cord? Undecided

I'm barely ok with 400 watts and 2-GC with 220AH's using and trying to replace about 50 AH's a day. Mostly I run a 12V fridge, led's and a fan. Once a week I need to charge full with either a genny or plug-in somewhere as the solar does not recover enough. This does get better late April and beyond.

I'm about ready to pull the plug and buy/build a 12V lifepo4 30 - 50AH portable power pack similar to a Yeti. Looking to build something along those lines as they don't need to be fully recharged ever and can sit discharged for... ever. Or so the net experts say. A partial solar charge into a lifepo4 isn't a big deal and once a week or so I'd plug it in to bring it up to 90% or better with no harm.

At least that way I could charge all the small stuff, laptop, phone, jetpack, flashlights, etc with a portable power pack, 3 or 4 times or more and not be in a panic cause I can't get a full recharge tomorrow.  
Last fall and this spring I've been topping things off with the genny in a park or truck stop and recently in the parking lot after visiting a planet fitness. On occasion I find a cheap motel that's ok with me plugging in my power cord.  

That's the best of any options I've found so far and still looking to improve. This life is too damn short, I should have started this quest 20 years ago.
[-] The following 3 users say Thank You to Matlock for this post:
  • rvpopeye (03-10-2019), TWIH (03-11-2019), Texjbird (03-13-2019)
I went to Bryson City, bottom left corner of NC, a few years ago.  A local resident told me that Nantahala means land of the mid day sun.  The trees grow perfectly straight up about 2000 feet, or so it appears.  If you are parked in a 100 ft square clearing the sun gets high enough to peek over the trees from the East at 11:30 and it's gone past the trees to the West at 12:30 (plus or minus daylight savings time).  

One of the days I was there it rained.  It was a tropical storm remnant of a hurricane from the gulf.  It was windy with horizontal rain and leaves and twigs.  It was so bad that I could not go outside to play.  The van was a rockin.

I posted a thread on crvl about my odd solar and fridge.
Basically I have a 75 amp hour (according to the sticker) group size 24 flooded trolling motor battery.  It is in the original starter battery location and serves as the starter battery.  I charge it with a 100 watt poly panel with a cheap PWM controller, the blue one on Amazon.  I have a Haier 1.7 cubic foot dorm style fridge with 1 cubic foot of insulation added inside.  It is powered by a $22 Harbor Freight 200/400 square wave inverter.  Once frozen the 8 pounds of water in the freezer compartment will keep the fridge cold 3 days.  It takes about an hour of compressor run time per day to keep it frozen, many hours to catch up when it is mostly melted.  I only run the compressor while the solar is on or while driving.  

My fridge uses very little electricity and I never run it off the battery.  Even with that, to stay in Bryson City I would need a second solar panel.  I stayed the two weeks I planned and drove once to go to the grocery store.  It is a lovely place but it's, you know, where the sun don't shine.  

The humidity doesn't directly affect solar electricity like dense shade does. I was glad to get back to central Florida where it's not that humid.
Say good night, Dick.
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to Trebor English for this post:
  • TWIH (03-11-2019)
I’m just glad that I’m not any farther west in the state, like Asheville (foot of the area mts). They get even worse weather! (% possible sunshine 59, clear days 99.)

Really not a nice thought that without some spendy lithium battery bank I can’t make solar work here.  Undecided
They say when you get older two things happen, one is you lose your memory and the other, I forget.

Organized people are simply too lazy to search for stuff.
Michigan is terrible! Last I know it was 49th in the list of the best states for solar. Minnasota was 50th.
Let me recommend the best medicine in the world, a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages. James Madison

Even on "clear" days the higher relative humidity in the air reduces the solar radiation hitting the panels. I noticed this in NE PA and NJ. When October came with crisp, clear weather, the solar panels started pumping out the amps. I had gone all summer with a 15 amp fuse between the CC and the bank with 20 amps of solar. During the summer the solar could not keep the system charged.
Temperature of the panels plays a major role in how well they work too. On a clear day at 10,000 feet a panel can actually put out more than it is rated at.

2000 Roadtrek 200 Versatile "The Beast" (it has been tamed hopefully)  I feed it and it doesn't bite me.   Angel
"The sun's rays reach the ground in Portland during 48 percent of daylight hours on average year round, for a total of 2143 hours annually. Typically on 68 days a year the sky is mainly clear, with at most 30 percent cloud cover."

why i started with alternator charging,add a bunch trees, mountains and my panel sees 4-6 hours of sun,out in the valley it's much better,best to have multiple charging options and keep your loads as light as possible
NC suks for a lot of reasons if ya ask me, I live here Smile but good comes with the nasty tho Smile

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