Can I get by with
only solar in my motorhome?
We recently added two 120w panels, they live on the Landcruiser roof and can be used for the 'cruiser batteries, or plugged into the motorhome.
We're carefull about our power consumption but don't skimp on the use of appliances. However if you are prepared to be more frugal you can easily live without a generator and with a smaller system.
How much will a solar system cost?
How fast can I charge my house batteries?
What this means is that you cannot simply put a massive generator in the rig to charge the batteries in 5 minutes.
How much of a battery's capacity can I use?
The newer AGM batteries do not have this limitation. They can apparently sustain hundreds (even thousands) of deep discharges without failure.
Is it worth the effort to tilt the solar panels to
the optimal angle?
Once again though you should think about your lifestyle. If you spend a lot of time in the South and/or winter months the sun will have a much lower angle and tilting the panels becomes more reasonable.
However mosty people buy a motorhome to spend more time in the warmer northern climates. The sun is much higher in the sky as you approach the tropics so there is even less argument for tilting.
Having said that, tilting and rotating does make quite a difference, it's just that normally the hardware involved is normally too difficult to implement.
What about a removable panel so I can park in the
Larger rigs can usually have several panels so I think this technique is not practical for them.
When calculating usage how many hours of sunlight
should I assume?
For example in Perth you will get nearly 8 hours in January. While in Launceston, if you blink you'll miss the 2.5 hours of sunlight available in June.
One anomaly is that most far north locations get more sunlight in winter, presumably because of the high amount of cloud during the wet season. This may be a good argument for using the new Unisol broad-spectrum panels that are supposed to be more efficient in overcast conditions.
Can I run air conditioning from a solar system?
Naturally this depends on the size of your battery bank but to give you an idea--using a very large battery bank of 8 185ah batteries weighing in at about 400kgs, and assuming a max allowable 20% discharge, you could run the airconditioner for about 1-2 hours. That's not counting your other appliances.
In short, if you intend to bush camp then be prepared to run the generator or go without airconditioning.