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Old 02-19-2014, 11:47 AM   #1
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1987 32' Excella
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Solar Controller

This post is for information purposes.

When I had my LY motor-home, I had a 124-watt PV (photo-voltaic) panel (AKA solar panel) installed while I was at the International in Madison. This was done by Camping World, who were the designated/upgrade people. The controller there installed was a 30-amp one (can't remember the brand), and it had failed about a year or so later. Camping world replaced it under warranty, and for the most part it was just adequate.

Since I do some extended boondocking, and since I sleep with a CPAP unit, the solar charging system had taken on a level of importance.

When I sold the LY motorhome and bought my current Excella, it came with 225-watts of solar panels, 4 AGM batteries & a Trace inverter/charger. However, the solar controller was broken (the PO had tried to dissemble it, and it was missing parts). So I looked around until I was able to buy a 30-amp controller branded "Blue Planet" that was identical to the one I had had in the LY motorhome. One of the things I noticed was that it never really complete the charge of the batteries - the first day they reached maybe 12.7-volts, but each succeeding day the batteries topped at less and less voltage, topping out at 11.5 volts. As a result, I made the decision to look into getting a new controller.

While passing through Quarzsite AZ (where solar is a big item), I changed the contoller for a Blue Sky 3000i, it is an MPPV type of controller that has boost built in - i.e., it is a 3-stage controller. t the same time, since there was a sale on 140-watt PV panels (less than 1/2 what I paid for the 124-watt one I bought at Madison), I opted to add another panel, bringing my solar panels up to 365-watts. This necessitated, as well, getting heavier wiring from the controller to the batteries. The wiring from the panels was: 10AWG from the 225-watts + 10AWG from the 140-watt new panel. Since the original wiring was 10AWG from the controller to the batteries, the minimum requirement was 8AWG; however, the cost differential to go to 6AWG was about $50, so I opted for the 6AWG.

For the first time I now show that my controller has an output of 14.4 volts. The Blue Sky 3000i has a setup menu that allows all the parameters of the controller to be configured.
I'm providing this information for those who intend to install or upgrade their solar charging system.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:11 PM   #2
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Interesting trip with the systems. Do you do a lot of boondocking, is that why you can use a nice charging system?
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:04 PM   #3
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When I installed my solar I went with a Blue Sky 3000i a year ago - have been very happy with it - it performs in the background perfectly and gives required info for monitoring the batteries and solar input.
A bonus is the support from the manufacturer - they are in California and the owner/inventor is very helpful and helped me through the insulation when I bought the wrong size (to small) controller.
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
Interesting trip with the systems. Do you do a lot of boondocking, is that why you can use a nice charging system?
Yes, I do a fair bit of boondocking. In fact, we spent a week at "the steps", state owned land between Parker AZ and Lake Havasu City AZ just last week. We have a number of friends that are part of a boondocking group. In past I have spent as long as 3 weeks out in the BLM land at Quartzsite. The limiting factor, of course, is the waste tank - when it gets full we have to find a dump station. Like you we reside in Ottawa Ontario, so it is a nice hike - about 12-15000 miles round trip for the winter.
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