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Old 11-04-2015, 11:55 AM   #15
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One can calculate lift on something like a solar panel or other planar element of similar aspect ratio, OR, one can drive down IH-45 and get an empirical feel for the phenomenon by observing nonsense such as this:
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:23 PM   #16
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Re: solar in general - So how do owners of Interstates with existing solar systems clean their panels? I'm assuming this needs to be done routinely?

Right now, I have a giant splat of bird poo on top of my A/C cover. If our panels were installed, then it would be shading in a way that would kill the efficiency of the panels until such time as it was removed. In our area, we have a large assortment of marine and estuarine birds - waterfowl - all of which excrete profusely. This kind of bird splatter is inevitable. Even without it, I've noticed that our roof gets dirty very quickly, with general grime.

This is one of the reasons why I wanted the ten-foot version of Telesteps. I'm assuming I'm going to have to get up there routinely to clean, possibly while on the road, especially given that I want the most remote boondocking locations that I can manage to find (which tend to have the most birds). Here's another pic with the Telesteps in place with the pipe wrap to protect the side of the Interstate, and also I've begun using a rubber bungee to lash it securely at the top. I'm quite pleased with it. I find it very comfortable getting on and off the roof.
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:30 PM   #17
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Retrofitting solar in a T1N Interstate

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I just received an email from Costco and they have Grape Solar 100 watt panels for about $135 as an online sale. Don't know if they are the same ones from AM Solar but seem to be a good deal.

Dennis

They are NOT the GS-100 panels. The only ones Grape Solar has not are considerably larger.


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Old 11-04-2015, 12:44 PM   #18
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They are NOT the GS-100 panels. The only ones Grape Solar has not are considerably larger.


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Correct - my husband noted that those offered by Costco are different sizes and also it's a question of monocrystalline (more expensive) vs. polycrystalline (less expensive)... I haven't checked the spec sheets but I wonder if the Costco version is not as efficient as a result.
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Old 11-04-2015, 02:35 PM   #19
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Yes, these are not the same as AM Solar's panels. These are indeed the polycrystalline model. I did install one of these on my AI to replace the puny 50 watt panel. It is a bit larger than the monocrystalline panels and that required me to add standoffs to clear the bathroom vent, in that I could not avoid it with that panel. It works as specified. I have since purchased 2 of AM Solar's panels, along with a MPPT controller....and all the accessories.... Their ratings are very close and I will expand my project soon. We will see how they play together soon.
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:18 PM   #20
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In order to derive maximum output from any MPPT controller, all panels should be within 0.2 VDC of each other in their output voltage.

Greater differences in output voltage will confuse the MPPT module during it's sampling and will result in decreased solar charge boost, or even none at all.


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Old 11-04-2015, 07:45 PM   #21
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Lew, this is what you and I discussed earlier. If it turns out to be an issue, I will dump the polycrystalline panel.


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Old 11-04-2015, 08:46 PM   #22
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I'm no solar expert but if you wire the panels in series it shouldn't matter if the voltages are different.
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Old 11-04-2015, 08:50 PM   #23
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Retrofitting solar in a T1N Interstate

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I'm no solar expert but if you wire the panels in series it shouldn't matter if the voltages are different.

Yes it will. It's similar to using two different types if batteries or ones of different age in the same battery bank.


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Old 11-04-2015, 09:33 PM   #24
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My panels are in parallel, not series. A 12 volt system.....The voltage balance is important as Lew points out, especially with a MPPT controller.


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Old 11-04-2015, 09:44 PM   #25
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Sorry guys....seems we are getting off topic for the OP.


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Old 11-04-2015, 10:03 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
Re: solar in general - So how do owners of Interstates with existing solar systems clean their panels? I'm assuming this needs to be done routinely?
When I go to the Blue Beacon truck wash, they clean the roof— but once I forgot to close the roof vents first! Fortunately the only one that leaked was the one in the wet bath…

Other than that, I just let the periodic New Orleans thunderstorms take care of it, and they seem to do the job pretty well.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:44 PM   #27
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One of the three panels loosely dry-fit to get a feel for how the rail system ought to be designed. Not the best pic - taken after dark by me standing on the roof and holding my iPhone above my head.

At lower photo right, you can see a black device poking out from the edge of the fridge vent shroud... that's the "combiner box", where the wire run feeds downward into the coach.

In an unrelated event, our original Dometic 2351 fridge died and we just finished installing a replacement this evening. The timing of the death was auspicious, however, as with the old fridge ripped out, the wire could be run.

I'll publish a blog post with greater detail once we get the whole project finished.
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Old 12-27-2015, 05:56 PM   #28
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Santa Claus brought the 80/20 frame pieces, stainless steel hardware, and even a new drill press. Perhaps most importantly, a bit of free time has come with the holidays, so we are making progress on this solar project. I'm starting a series of blog posts with details, but for now, here's a money shot of the completed 3-panel frame. Weight of this portion - 76 pounds, of which 42 pounds are the panels themselves.
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