Tom and Cait Morton live the RV lifestyle, roaming the U.S. and recounting their adventures in their Mortons on the Move blog. When they added a solar system to their mobile mansion, they decided to include battery storage in the form of a used Tesla Model S battery module. They explain the entire process in a set of fascinating videos.
This story by Charles Morris, which includes videos detailing the process, appeared on InsideEVs.
The Mortons’ setup is a hybrid system – that is, they have a gas-powered generator as well as solar panels, so they’ll always have plenty of power available, regardless of weather conditions. The incorporation of battery storage means that they can take advantage of solar-generated energy. They can also combine the power of the generator and the battery for high-power applications like running the A/C or cooking.
Techie Tom Morton installed the system himself. It’s a 1,200-Watt system, the total cost was around $4,000, and the Mortons expect their payback period to be between two and five years.
After installing the solar panels on the roof of their RV, and connecting them to their existing lead-acid batteries, the Mortons moved on to Phase 2, in which they upgraded the system with a lithium-ion battery.
The Mortons bought a single Tesla Model S battery module. The Model S85 has 16 of these modules, each of which stores about 5.2 kilowatt-hours of energy. In the second video, Tom explains the technical challenges he had to negotiate to incorporate the 24-volt Tesla module into his RV’s 12-volt DC system, using a 24-volt inverter and an MPPT solar charge controller – it’s “not a drop-in solution by any means.”