Alternative Energy System


Our coach in Wellton, AZ
Includes 20 M55 solar panels on bus roof and 24 in the ground array; 4 SouthWest Power wind turbines; 24 T105 Trojan 6V LA batteries; and a 30 gallon batch type solar water heater

We began our quest for energy independence in the late 1980s. These photos show the system between
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In 2003, we became aware that Pennsylvania has more radiant energy in the summer than Arizona in the winter, so we built a rack for the back of the coach to transport the panels for the ground array between Arizona and Pennsylvania.

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The system includes two 3 kw Statpower Prosine inverters and two stacked Trace SW4024 inverters, which can supply 240VAC so we were easily able to supply power to our home in Pennsylvania

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Wiring diagram for the House<—>Coach Interface

House to Coach Interface
We used solar/inverters during daylight, battery/inverters overnight, and the coach generator, if needed, during cloudy days. This system served us well for several summers. The system could not function independent of the grid in winter because of snow and limited sun.
After we stopped traveling, the coach was permanently garaged and it became too difficult to set up the solar array. Our area is prone to power failures and we missed our alternative system. We were really happy when Ford introduced their 2021 F150 Hybrid truck with a 7.2 kw generator, and were fortunate to get one in August, 2021.

House to F150 Interface:
When Ed examined our house/coach interface, he recognized he would have to add only an input receptacle for the F150 generator to our existing system. We purchased a 30 amp Generator Power Inlet Box from Amazon.
Ed installed a neon bulb, Ne2, with an 80 ohm resistor. The assembly is insulated with shrink tubing. He drilled a small hole in the top of the inlet box and connected the bulb/resistor assembly to the L1 and L2 terminals of the inlet. When this bulb is illuminated, power is present at terminals L1 and L2. One should always be extremely vigilant when dealing with 240V power. The rubber cap should
never be removed when the bulb is illuminated. The bulb is an indicator of power BUT even if the bulb is not lit, there could be a bulb or circuit failure. Confirm there is no power to the house before removing the rubber cap from the Generator Inlet Box.
We also purchased a 25 ft generator extension cord from harbor Freight with an L14-30P at one end to connect to the F150 Generator receptacle, and an L14-30R at the other end to connect to the Generator Inlet Box in the garage. Because the house system is bonded, it is necessary to isolate neutral and ground on the generator, which we were able to do at the inlet box by separating the ground connection from the ground terminal at the receptacle end. This eliminates the incompatibility of OSHA code and the bonded system of the house.

It is important to identify the circuit breakers in the house main panel in order to manage loads and also verify that the Main Breaker actually disconnects the house from the grid. We recorded the CB list and printed a copy to keep in our Power Outage file folder so it is readily available in the event of a power failure.
Our coach had an AC Load Manager System which allowed our 50 amp coach to adequately run on 15 amp service. It automatically shifted loads and transferred varied excess power to the water heater. For the house, we have to do this manually. Having lived successfully for many years on alternative power, load management is now second nature—never turn on the toaster, microwave, and hair dryer simultaneously!
While using the generator, we intermittently monitored wire temperatures between the house and coach interface with an infrared thermometer.

Circuit Breakers

Lastly, we developed a procedure for connecting and disconnecting the F150 generator. A hard copy is stored in our Power Outage folder so it is readily available for reference in the event of a power failure.

This system has worked well for us for many years. We are not advocating or recommending that anyone duplicate this system for their application.

Procedure to connect-disconnect F150 generator