Blog #1 - Learning about Solar Power for our School Bus
It can be very easy to get overwhelmed if you have a large task in front of you, especially one that you don't have much experience in. This past week I have been voraciously reading anything I can get my hands on relating to solar power and how to install a fully operational system into our school bus.
Reading so much material didn't do much to calm my nerves about the installation, as most of what I was reading I struggled to understand. There may be guides to installing your solar system in your RV but because each setup is so different it can be hard to actually find the information that you are specifically looking for.
As such, my primary source of learning was the skoolie conversion forums and various blog post articles from individual bloggers.
Before I dove head first into all of this research, I basically pre-decided that it was too complicated and I didn't want to subject myself to having to learn each little bit of individual knowledge required to build this system. I was ready to contract an electrician.
Getting an electrician, however, would add an additional price tag to the conversion. In addition to this, they would primarily have experience working with home electrical systems and wouldn't necessarily know what the best setup is for an off-grid RV/School bus.
I felt pretty overwhelmed at the start of this process and I soon realised that I felt the exact same way now as I did when I was back in school trying to learn some complicated mathematical equations. I was reverting back to some deep old habits and emotions that probably hadn't shown themselves in over 8 years.
As much as I hated to admit it, I decided I had no choice but to learn how to do the setup myself. There are two of us -Laura and I - doing this conversion and I decided to just get into the material and teach myself the electrical side of things first, and then to teach Laura later. I did this because it would be easier just to get a basic understanding for myself first and I also do better learning on my own. Laura could then focus on other things that needed to be focused on as well and we could catch each other up after with what we have learned.
Over the course of this past week I have learned:
- How many Watts we will be needing from our solar panels
- What a solar controller is and why it is necessary for all solar systems
- Whether I should buy the new and more efficient MPPT controller or the older PWM controller
- How many Amp Hours we will need from our battery bank in order to manage our energy needs
- How to minimize resistance in the wires and what thicknesses will be needed for each area
- What an Inverter is and why I will need one for my 110v appliances
- The difference between modified sine wave inverters and pure sine wave inverters
- Different deep cycle battery types and the differences between them
- Why most people recommend using 6v Golf Cart Batteries vs traditional deep cycle batteries
- How to wire the circuits and power points
I won't go in-depth on these separate topics as I don't want this to turn into a Skoolie Blog but if you'd like to learn about this stuff I will be explaining everything on our new Youtube Channel. There is nothing on there yet but there will be soon!
Sometimes you've just gotta bite the bullet and put your head down. That's what I have learned from this and it is probably something that I had more success with right now than my entire time at school. What a difference it makes when you actually care about WHY you are doing it eh?
Wouldn't it be great if school took your interests into account before making you 'memorize' things...
Thank you for reading!
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