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Old 11-10-2018, 09:25 AM   #1
3 Rivet Member
2019 22' Sport
Quartzsite , Arizona
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 189
Solar Repair/Upgrade Safety...


Asked this the wrong way previously. I have worked on auto and house electrical and know the procedure BUT with a solar system always providing some sort of charge I'm not sure how to "disable" it or safely disconnect to say add a battery of a Victron monitor.

I know it's a low watt situation but perhaps the panels are sensitive and easy to short out... Obviously I have no clue and would like some direction before I just unhook the battery and or add Victron shunts etc....

Any good books or concise websites dealing with this?



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Old 11-10-2018, 09:30 AM   #2
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2017 25' Flying Cloud
Apollo Beach , Florida
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Posts: 478
Covering the solar panels allows you to safely work on the solar panel output wires. Also disconnect from shore power and then remove the negative battery cables to eliminate all power sources to your Airstream. Make sure you turn off all possible loads on the battery before disconnecting the negative cables to reduce possible arcing.

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Old 11-10-2018, 09:31 AM   #3
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1974 25' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
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Your panels should have a disconnect breaker that you can trip to separate the panels from the controller. If you need to ‘safe’ the panels themselves, cover them up...
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Old 11-10-2018, 12:18 PM   #4
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2018 25' Flying Cloud
Portland , Oregon
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If it makes you feel any better the panels themselves don’t mind being shorted. In fact that’s how they measure their output current, just thrown an ameter across the wires! Now if you had a bunch in parallel you could get some exciting sparks on the trunk feeding down from the roof and, I suppose, melt some insulation if the system’s wiring wasn’t rated properly, but the panels will be fine.

Of course be VERY careful creating sparks around lead acid batteries as hydrogen is a byproduct!
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Old 11-10-2018, 01:32 PM   #5
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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With a normal RV solar setup, you are talking about a low voltage / current limited system. You can get sparks, but it's no more lethal than a 12V car electrical system (which has way more energy). With proper wire and fusing, even shorts are not going to create a hazard. As mentioned above, they will not damage your panels.

With a stock setup, pulling the fuse between the panels and the converter is the simple way to be 100% sure the system is power down.

Indeed on the other side of the solar charger, you have a battery. Even with proper fusing, you can get quite a bit of energy out of a battery. If you get past the fusing (like hit across the terminals) the current can be enough to melt things. That's the side of the circuit you should be concerned about in terms of damaging stuff.

Why bother with these distinctions? It is indeed far easier to simply say that all electrical circuits of any sort are hazardous and you must take a long list of precautions with all of them. Yes that sounds a lot easier to understand. There are a couple of gotchas. One is that it simply is not true. The next is that coming up with a procedure that treats changing a battery in a flashlight just like working on a 13KV power line gets a bit insane. Treating all electricity equally does not allow you to understand what's going on and reasonably evaluate what you should do in a given case ....

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