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Home Watt Do You Need? 008-TL-Solar-Primer-Sidebar-Battery-Bank

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The basic solar-charging system consists of roof-mounted solar panels running through a combiner box, then dropping down to the charge controller and on to the batteries. Solar is typically a supplement that works seamlessly with shorepower or generator (if so equipped).
Solar Primer-Maximizing roof space results in meeting the electrical demands required when boondocking. Having such a system professionally designed and installed also maximizes the highest return on the investment, which can be sizable.
Xantrex-Choosing an Inverter If you are going to be using any AC-powered appliances, electronics or power tools, an inverter will be necessary to convert 12-volt DC from the battery bank to 120-volt AC. The size of inverter is dependent on how many watts are consumed by the item(s) you need to power. Total up those numbers, add 15 percent for a little safety margin and choose the inverter that has that rating — or a little larger. Power inverters come in two basic types: modified sine wave and pure sine wave. Without getting into the details, modified-sine-wave inverters are less expensive, but pure-sine-wave inverters, such as Xantrex’s Freedom X Series, are the ones to buy if you’re going to be powering laptops/computers, TVs, appliances and/or any digital devices. Compare inverter power consumption for the most efficiency, and pay attention to “peak” capacity, which is needed for operating items such as microwaves, refrigerators and power tools. Other must-have features for an RV-solar application include automatic overload and shut-off, thermal protection, multiple AC outlets, short-circuit and low-voltage protection, and built-in AC-to-DC battery charging (including Lithium, which cannot be connected to a charger designed for typical lead-acid batteries).

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