Disclaimer: I'm a newb on the forums with a new setup but I'm no dummy and can get things done. Also, and maybe most importantly, I did spend the last two hours (at least) reading through this solar forum so I'm not coming in asking you to just repeat everything for my sake. At least I don't think I am.
Okay, here's my van.
We are a family of five (three kids ages 13, 14, 15 - no kidding!) who spend alot of time in Baja on remote beaches (San Francisquito) for days at a time and on the lonely, remote roads that lead to them and Jesuit missions, etc.
What we want to accomplish with the solar setup: We'll be running an ARB fridge, LED internal lights at night for reading, and charging portable DVD players, iPods, laptops, etc. On some of the long winter nights coming up, those nights may last for 12 hours or so.
I have not built my battery bank yet but will go as high capacity with AGMs as I can.
Now, cost is not the biggest factor - value is. My main concern is having the panels stolen while we're away from the van. It would be optimal if I could permanently mount them on top of the rear pop-up where thieves wouldn't even be able to see them, but if someone can recommend another solution for portable panels, I would likely go that way so that they can be positioned better and moved to other vehicles.
Or is solar expensive overkill for my needs and just design a high-capacity AGM bank charged by the alternator?
What do you guys think?