In January 2017, we met up with a gathering of 65 Escapees Xscapers RVs of every shape and size at their Xscaper’s Convergence. However, the convergence was in the desert in Quartzsite, Arizona with no utility hookups; which meant we were not tethered to an electrical pedestal. This was also our first longer term boondocking experience.
To survive out there, we needed to be able to charge our battery bank daily to accommodate power to our residential refrigerator, medical device, lights and some electronics. To recharge our batteries, we had to hook up our portable Wen Generators to manufacture electricity to power our RV’s basics.
However, the whole point of boondocking is to eliminate unnatural noise and with all the generators running, it sort of spoiled the experience. It was after that we looked into equipping our fifth wheel with solar capabilities because we enjoyed being off the grid.
Six months later…
While we were in Elkhart, Indiana that June (2017) attending the Heartland Owners Rally and getting our Landmark’s warranty service completed, Dan busied himself in between researching our solar installation process.
I can laugh now but looking back, it was as if I was married to the John Nash (Russell Crowe’s character) in the movie A Beautiful Mind (humor me!). He slept little, talked to himself (muttered calculations) and there were tons of stickie notes with mathematical figures everywhere. But that was part of the process, I guess. Configuring an RVs for solar is extremely complex.
By Dan performing the installation himself, it saved us about $7000! So, I guess that was just something that came with the territory.
Now, before you get all excited thinking this is going to be a comprehensive step-by-step instructional guide or solar supply list your RV, sorry, this isn’t it. However, we are providing some powerful resources should you entertain the thought of outfitting your own coach with solar.
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ABOUT THE SOLAR PANELS…
We purchased six (6) HIGHTEC RCL-M-165 watt panels. In our opinion, these panels are exactly what our criteria required. Fit and finish is nothing short of spectacular. They are extremely well constructed, feature multiple pre drilled mounting points, and came with 10 gauge MC-4 connections already installed. The panel frames are 40mm aluminum with 3.2mm tempered glass with mono crystalline cells.
Our 165 watt solar panels built in America by Americans on our new 12 volt panel line, they are tested full power and have full warranty. These 12 volt solar panels are ready for all of your needs. They can be used for commercial or residential settings.
They are 58.7” x 26.625” and are perfect for small spaces. They can be connected in series for 24v and 48v systems. These panels are not flimsy. They are hardy 3.2mm tempered glass fronts. The 3 buss bar mono crystalline cells make these panels perfect for low light areas. They have 40mm heavy duty frames that can be used to bolt down or clamp system. Each panel has the same diodes as all other manufacturers. Each panel has a transferable 25 year limited output warranty in which a copy will be sent in packaging. We have been in business for 10 years and are happy to bring new products to the market.
Our new solar panels arrived timely and very well packaged, demonstrating that HIGHTEC Solar truly cares about its product. The dimensions of the panels are 58.7 inches long by 26.625 inches wide. They weigh 41 pounds each. Performance specs are 18.73 volts, 8.62 amps at 165 watts. They can be wired in 12, 24 or 48 volt series.
Dan installed six of these panels and conducted a 90-day trial before writing this blog so we could be thorough and precise with our review.
They are rugged and designed to last and the weather we incurred since installing them has proven their worthiness (i.e. hot sun, hail, torrential downpours, long lasting rain, humidity, quick temperature fluctuations, etc.) Even on overcast days, we were seeing close to peak output from HIGHTEC’s solar panels.
HIGHTEC Solar Inc. offers other sized and output capacity solar panels needed for your personal install.
So now, if you see Dan up on the roof doing a happy dance, it’s because he’s celebrating the fact that he’s beat Ben Franklin at his own game! Now we CAN take our home on wheels boondocking for longer periods of time without the sounds of loud generators.