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Old 10-03-2019, 05:34 PM   #1
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Solar Upgrade - 6/2 Wire Fish

I am upgrading my 2015 AI Lounge EXT's Solar System with AMSolar's Victron Complete Solar charging kit (30A) with the Victron 100/30 Solar controller, Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor kit and 2x100W of Solar Panels.



I will also be replacing my BIM with the Blue Sea ACR as others have. I noticed the gap in charge after running the motor after boondocking.



I'm super excited about this project!!!



In the Solar effort I am upgrading my roof to Solar Controller cabling as AMSolar supplies new 6/2 cabling with this kit.


My question: Has anyone run new wiring from the roof to the road side cabinet where the solar controller resides? Can anyone suggest methods (fish wire?), best access points and the routes that make the work less painful and/or easier/better? Any hints, clues and insights on cable routing are appreciated.



I also want to thank everyone (Lewster, Wachuko, Alex AVI, Pahaska, Boxster 1971, FlyfishinRVr, et al) who have blazed the trails before me and have provided so much experience and info on how these upgrades are accomplished. I really got a lot out of your posts to this forum.


Thanks in advance,

Dave


P.S. I will be adding more batteries (thinking of 4 GPL-4CTs in the rear storage area wiring and venting as Ryoungca has done) and another 100W panel sometime in the future.
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Old 10-03-2019, 07:52 PM   #2
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Question

Just curious... if you are doing all this... and I do not know if budget allows...

Why not change the inverter for one compatible with Lithium and just add two Lithium batteries... better than 4 AGMs, less weight, about the same capacity.

The cost of four AGM batteries (at least the Lifeline) is around US$1K... two Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery - 100Ah 12v with Built-in BMS would be US$1,900.00 (there might be less expensive options, but not by much) plus the cost of a lithium compatible inverter/charger unit...

I am just thinking that if you are making all this expense, why not do it for something that would last longer and be less prone to getting damage by drain...

Just my



By the way... this is what I am planning to do when my AGM go bad...

Best of luck on the task at hand and reach out for any questions you might have...

I recall one thread that mentioned replacing the exiting wiring with thicker one... trying to find it to share the link...
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Old 10-03-2019, 08:25 PM   #3
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I'm just completing my 200ah lithium battery upgrade. Just know you'll need more than a battery and an inverter/charger swap. You'll also need a lithium compatible DC-DC battery charger if you want to properly isolate & charge batteries. Also, you'll need a lithium compatible solar controller and a State of Charge Monitor with shunt.

You can add 200ah of batteries and the rest with Renogy products (if you get them on sale) for about $2700. If you go with Battleborn and Victron, add an additional $1200 on top of that amount. And that's before paying for the install. Ask me how I know.

EDIT: If by chance the Interstate electrical in recent years is anything like the Avenue's in 2012 (below), I may be of assistance to others planning a lithium battery upgrade.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:25 AM   #4
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Good point, forgot that...

Can you list the components you used on your Lithium build? Brand and model?
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:42 AM   #5
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Hereís a link to my upgrade completed in the spring of this year:
2015 GT 300 Ah Lithionics Battery Upgrade
http://www.airforums.com/forums/show....php?p=2229431

I have been using the AI as my daily driver since the upgrade with fridge and freezer running and the system has worked flawlessly.
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:48 AM   #6
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Wachuko, lithium is definitely a consideration thanks. The reason I chose agms for now is I do winter camping up north. If at sometime in the future I stay south and warm, lithium will be back on the list. As you pointed out, I will be a few steps in that direction with this setup.



I did read lewster's post about running cables in another's AI ( from 2014, I think). But alas not much detail other than he ran them behind the upper lockers. I will be scouting around them to see if I can determine a good route. My AI is at a storage facility so that makes things a bit cumbersome for projects. Such is life in the city.


Thanks!
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Old 10-04-2019, 06:53 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info on the lithium upgrades guys.
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Old 10-04-2019, 07:21 AM   #8
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New thin, low profile solar panels?

FWIW, according to Zamp's site, their new Obsidianís solar panels are as thin as a flexible panel, with the efficiency and longevity of a standard panel with more mounting options than any other solar panel system

https://www.zampsolar.com/obsidian
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rig Rat View Post
FWIW, according to Zamp's site, their new Obsidian’s solar panels are as thin as a flexible panel, with the efficiency and longevity of a standard panel with more mounting options than any other solar panel system

https://www.zampsolar.com/obsidian
Nice!! Even better!!

EDIT: I take that back... those cost the same as the flexible panels!!! Unless $ is not an issue...

https://www.zampsolar.com/store/obsi...olar-panel-kit

Still better to go with the regular ones... can almost buy three for the price of one of the flexibles (that do not last as long) or one of these new ones (that I have to admit, look great and like the lower profile)... But being in the roof and doing the same work, I would go with the lower cost option...
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wachuko View Post
Good point, forgot that...

Can you list the components you used on your Lithium build? Brand and model?

Don't want to hijack this thread any further, so PM sent.
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Old 10-05-2019, 07:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by dw2650 View Post
I am upgrading my 2015 AI Lounge EXT's Solar System with AMSolar's Victron Complete Solar charging kit (30A) with the Victron 100/30 Solar controller, Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor kit and 2x100W of Solar Panels.

In the Solar effort I am upgrading my roof to Solar Controller cabling as AMSolar supplies new 6/2 cabling with this kit.

My question: Has anyone run new wiring from the roof to the road side cabinet where the solar controller resides? Can anyone suggest methods (fish wire?), best access points and the routes that make the work less painful and/or easier/better? Any hints, clues and insights on cable routing are appreciated.


I added 2x100 solar panels 18 months ago, 300W total, like you. At first I wired in Series cause I was paranoid about exceeding the OEM 10ga wire rating. But the penalty from partial blocking of any part of the array is huge and this led me to re-wire as parallel.

This chart says 15A is max for 10gauge wire. Although theoretically 300W of solar can generate 15A, in real world conditions it doesn't get up that high. Their calculator says there's about a 3% voltage drop after pushing 15A @20V down 15ft of wire.

https://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm

If I missed something here, someone will catch it I'm sure.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tronadora View Post
I added 2x100 solar panels 18 months ago, 300W total, like you. At first I wired in Series cause I was paranoid about exceeding the OEM 10ga wire rating. But the penalty from partial blocking of any part of the array is huge and this led me to re-wire as parallel.

This chart says 15A is max for 10gauge wire. Although theoretically 300W of solar can generate 15A, in real world conditions it doesn't get up that high. Their calculator says there's about a 3% voltage drop after pushing 15A @20V down 15ft of wire.

https://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm

If I missed something here, someone will catch it I'm sure.

Tronadora,

Thanks for the link. The 10ga wiring is good up to the point you've stated. Thereafter it's suspect. I noticed that when I'm charging my batteries I'm pulling around 9A during the Bulk Charge Phase.



I'm thinking of that Bulk Charge Phase happening on a bright sunny morning with my panels tilted up toward the morning sun after a night of camping (when my batteries have been depleted). Now while that's happening I'll add the load of running a coffee maker or the microwave off the inverter and I'm now I'm way over 15A. The panels I purchased will be delivering 7.7A each easily on a bright sunny day so that's a 23.1A source of power I'd like to use whenever I can.



So by beefing up the wiring to 6ga. I am figuring I can charge my batteries and simultaneously make some coffee then possibly warm up breakfast in the Microwave (on a brisk day) without slowing down the battery charge process with the excess amperage. No need worry about all that current being drawn through the 10ga. wire anymore.


Hope that makes sense.


Thanks again!
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:05 PM   #13
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I tried to reply several times over the weekend but my phone was acting quirky. I was typed a couple of messages and I lost them before I could send them. Just disappeared and returned me to the login screen... So frustrating



I was able to install the Victron Battery Monitor and Solar Charger this weekend. I rearranged every component under the road side seat and made room for the ACR but haven't installed it yet. I wanted to be sure everything was going to power up again before I added another layer of complication to troubleshoot through if something went wrong.

One extended glitch happened... I had a cross threaded bolt on the isolation ground terminal where all the grounds combine. I had to muscle it just enough room to get a hacksaw blade in there to hand cut through the bolt. I don't know if the previous owner did that or it came from the factory like that. Man, that was disappointing. After hand cutting through the post and removing the rest of the bolt from the housing it cost $1.60 for a new bolt and fresh lock washers. If I were only getting paid by the hour... Oh, and it was mid 90's and no air conditioner



But I put it all back together and viola! Everything powered up perfectly and I updated the software and firmware for each unit. My old original Solar panel on the roof was/is completely shot. In full sun it measures voltage but not steadily, at all. It fluctuates so badly barely any amperage can be produced by the new Charge Controller after I depleted the batteries below 12.6v for the test. Oh well. That's why I have new Solar Panels! (And will probably get the 3rd one sooner rather than later)



Anyway...



I still need to find a decent route to run the 6/2 cable from the roof down. Thinking of checking behind the access door on the wall between the bath and curbside seat. I remember looking before and there may be some wires already running there that go under and across to the Electronics center under the road side seat. Hopefully there is enough space to get the wires through there.



I also need to install the new solar panels on the roof. I'll need to wait for my son to give me a hand with those. Not terribly heavy, just cumbersome to haul up a ladder on my own.


Thanks again everyone. I'm still open to any suggestions from the best cable routers! These 6/2 cables are monsters compared to the 10-12 ga wiring found elsewhere. I gotta find a way!
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:39 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by dw2650 View Post
Tronadora,

Thanks for the link. The 10ga wiring is good up to the point you've stated. Thereafter it's suspect. I noticed that when I'm charging my batteries I'm pulling around 9A during the Bulk Charge Phase.

I'm thinking of that Bulk Charge Phase happening on a bright sunny morning with my panels tilted up toward the morning sun after a night of camping (when my batteries have been depleted). Now while that's happening I'll add the load of running a coffee maker or the microwave off the inverter and I'm now I'm way over 15A. The panels I purchased will be delivering 7.7A each easily on a bright sunny day so that's a 23.1A source of power I'd like to use whenever I can.

So by beefing up the wiring to 6ga. I am figuring I can charge my batteries and simultaneously make some coffee then possibly warm up breakfast in the Microwave (on a brisk day) without slowing down the battery charge process with the excess amperage. No need worry about all that current being drawn through the 10ga. wire anymore.


Hope that makes sense.


Thanks again!

dw6250 - When you talk of your panels bringing in 9A, then adding load to your system by turning on appliances, this does not put more amps through the 10ga wire that is coming from the roof.

I use the Victron 100/30 solar charge controller and the Victron BMV-712 with apps on my phone to see what's happening. If I'm getting 9A from solar and that is being sent to the batteries, but I'm using 15A to power things, the batteries are having to make up the difference and my BMV will show a negative 6 amps.

Again, I would not worry about your 10ga solar wire with 300W of solar. The maximum I've ever seen come from my 300W is 285W. High noon, no pollution, longest day in Oregon, panels mostly flat. At say 20V from the panels that is 14 amps. Now if I saw this regularly, I might think gee I could get 20 more watts or whatever if I only had a fatter wire. But I don't... and I almost never see more than 240W (12 amps) coming from solar.

So in this case, the solar panels capture my maximum 20V x 14A = 280W, sending it down the 10ga wire to the solar charge controller, which converts it to 13.4V x 20.9A = 280W and that higher amperage is then traveling along fatter wires inside the coach.

Cheers
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:14 AM   #15
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Hi Tronadora,

I agree that your system works as you've defined. You seem to be happy with it's performance and that's great. These are great products!

In my view though I see some potential being left on the table by not increasing the size of the wiring. I am going to put on my nerd hat now and try to explain my thinking behind this.


I see a solar charging system as a Cascade Amplifier with a Boost Converter on its second stage... The first amplifier is the Solar Panel(s) taking in the sun's rays (it's input) and converting it into voltage (V) and current (I) as it's output. Those are fed to the Victron Charge Controller (in this case the second amplifier and a boost converter in the cascaded system). The Victron Charge Controller Amplifies Voltage and Boosts Current to provide a three stage (Bulk, Absorb and Float) V and a corresponding I as it's output (this output we can use as we see fit by attaching loads to it).



From my understanding of Cascade Amplifiers and Boost Converters like these, the key to EFFICIENT CURRENT GAIN is to present the second amplifier with as low of an impedance as possible. This is explained in detail in the sources I will provide below. The Boost Converter resource has a Boost Converter Animation and circuit diagram that shows the basic internal workings.



With current gain and efficiency as our basis we aren't so much concerned with providing 12v or 20v to the Victron Charger as much as we should be concerned about providing as much CURRENT as possible to the charger's input from the Solar Panels. In that effort we need to reduce impedance from the output of the first amplifier to the input the second (impedance hinders current). This is where the wire gauge discussion applies.



In DC circuitry impedance(Z)=resitance(Ω).



20 ft of 10ga wire presents 0.0200 Ω resistance to the input of the Victron Charger.

20 ft of 6ga which presents 0.0079 Ω to the input of the Victron Charger.



This difference can greatly affect the efficiency of the overall system and hence what the Victron Charger can produce in terms of current to *all loads* it's serving.


Resources:
http://www.learnabout-electronics.or...plifiers11.php
http://www.learnabout-electronics.org/PSU/psu32.php
https://www.inchcalculator.com/wire-...ce-calculator/


In summary I'm using the 6ga wire. I choose to do so based on my understanding of this type of system. I may be looking at some portion(s) of this wrong but I don't think I'm far off.


Regarding my OP: I did some more hunting around and think I have a route that'll work for me. I found some hints as to the routes to take from these threads and visually confirming them in my AI:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...on-193417.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...on-192179.html


Thanks for the inspirational dialog! I love this forum!
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:05 AM   #16
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dw6250 -
HA! Well now you've sent me to school, and I was never that competent in the electrical class I took. My eyes are glossed over with those diagrams.


Being always wanting to learn without paying for actual tuition... to summarize, are you thinking you NEED beefier wire from the panels, which then feeds into your added current boosting device? Or is it just your preference to avoid introducing 0.0200 Ω resistance?
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:17 AM   #17
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In a "sink" current (providing current) situation like this one, we can look at the electrical current flow issues like a water pipeline flow this might help illustrate it better. Think about water flow and the goal is to get as much water flowing as possible.



Think of each 10ga wire coming from the solar panel as a pipe and that pipe has the ability to provide 15A of current flow. Times that by 3 pipes for a potential of 45A of current flow (illustrating the three solar panels each with 10ga pipes). Now we combine the pipes into a box (a potential clog point if we don't keep the water flowing). If we stick another 15A pipe on the output of that box guess how much current flow you get? Answer: 15A of flow.


The box we are piping into is not an issue other than it was the point in which we introduced the clog point. Nor is the pipes leading to the box (the 3x 15A pipes). The bottleneck and clog in our system is the 15A output pipe! We should have installed a 45A pipe there to keep all the water flowing freely.



Hope this helps.
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Old 10-09-2019, 11:40 AM   #18
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dw2650,

I have a solution for your roof access problem. Why donít you give me a call to discuss. 541-490-6357. Thanks!
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Old 10-13-2019, 06:58 PM   #19
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Fishing spot

I did the whole Lithium thing and when adding more solar to the roof I put the AM Solar rooftop connection box directly over the side closet, which is right next to the twin bed with the solar controller and batteries, etc. A short run and fairly straight forward.

Have fun

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Old 10-14-2019, 08:15 AM   #20
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After re-reading the above I want to add I suggest going with #6 copper wire -, less resistance and less power loss..
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