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Old 04-13-2015, 04:56 AM   #113
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Marty, your 300-watt Renogy setup with the TM2030 and the Bogart SC-2030 sounds like just what I am planning to install, except I'm going with rigid panels. All things being equal, what battery setup will you have? I want to leave room for expansion (and a possible inverter) in the future. Also either two of the Lifeline GPL-4CT or two of the GPL-6CT AGMs. Is this enough? We don't plan on using the air conditioning or microwave when boondocking; have all LED lighting and catalytic heater. Thought I'd leave room to expand to four of the six-volt AGMs if need be. I'm curious to know how you will configure yours.
Initially, my batteries are just the 2 ACDelco Voyager II 12-volt deep cycle batteries (manufactured November 2012) that came with my 2007 Safari when I got it last fall. Placement of a larger battery bank is something I don't want to deal with at this time, until I learn from others and gain experience using my Airstream.
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Old 04-13-2015, 05:22 AM   #114
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I like my flexible panels. I have 3 120 watt panels. It's been only 3 months since I installed them, but what I like is they conform to the roof so not only are they not visible from the ground, but because the roof is curved water runs off and does not puddle nor do they collect dirt. The jury's still out and it's too early to comment on whether they will get scratched or last 10 years, but so far so good.

Also, because the roof is curved the panels wrap around and catch the sun's rays earlier and later in the day than if they were flat.

They work just fine and are more than adequate for my needs.
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Old 04-13-2015, 05:57 AM   #115
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I like my flexible panels. I have 3 120 watt panels. It's been only 3 months since I installed them, but what I like is they conform to the roof so not only are they not visible from the ground, but because the roof is curved water runs off and does not puddle nor do they collect dirt. The jury's still out and it's too early to comment on whether they will get scratched or last 10 years, but so far so good.

Also, because the roof is curved the panels wrap around and catch the sun's rays earlier and later in the day than if they were flat.

They work just fine and are more than adequate for my needs.
Fred,

Glad that you are happy with your flex panels. Just for clarification; we did a study on the output from the sun as it moves across the curvature of the panels. While the outer edge of left side may be facing the sun for a better angle, the opposite edge (right side) is facing away and receives considerably less solar radiance. It sort of evens out..........more for one side but less for the other.

In addition, we also found that any flex panel, regardless of manufacturer, is less sensitive than a hard panel of the same wattage rating. I have 5-100 watt flex panels on the roof of my service van (they replaced 5-100 watt hard panels), and while they still charge my 200 amp/hour lithium battery quickly, I never get the same amount of amperage from these panels as I was getting from my hard panels.

Example: when needed, the 500 watts of hard panels would put up to 35 amps into the batteries during solar noon (thru a Blue Sky 3024iL controller and iPN-PRO remote). I have never seen more than 24 amps from the flex panels thru the same electronics. They simply are not as sensitive as hard panels.

I believe this is due to their coating. If you look at your photo, the reflection from the surface of the panels is easily visible. Hard panels do not exhibit this, and I feel that this reflectivity contributes to the lack of sensitivity. In addition, the surface mounting of the flex panels causes them to operate at a higher temperature, as cooling air can not reach the back. I believe that both of these factors contribute directly to the loss of efficiency seen in the flex panels.

We did a test a while back on flex vs. hard panels (both from Grape Solar) and found that there was a 93 watt output from a hard panel where the flex panel showed a maximum of 75 watts. This was a side-by-side test.

They do look great on a roof....though.
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Old 04-13-2015, 06:28 AM   #116
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Lewster,

I don't doubt what you're saying. I'm just saying they keep my 2 Grp27 lead acid batteries fully charged and do so early in the day. Yes, I plan to replace these with either 2 6v or 3 Grp27 AGMs when these peter out.

I have a 1000 watt inverter which meets my needs. My Midnite Solar Kid controller has completely adjustable charging parameters for each of the 4 charging stages. Also, the Midnite has replacement fuses which the Blue Sky I had did not. How do I know this. I got careless and shorted my Blue Sky while I was installing it.....should have been more careful, but bottom line is that it killed the controller and it was a total loss. I can't help but believe a fuse would have blown in the Midnite Solar thus saving it. Expensive lesson.
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Old 04-13-2015, 06:43 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by acstokes View Post
I like my flexible panels. I have 3 120 watt panels. It's been only 3 months since I installed them, but what I like is they conform to the roof so not only are they not visible from the ground, but because the roof is curved water runs off and does not puddle nor do they collect dirt. The jury's still out and it's too early to comment on whether they will get scratched or last 10 years, but so far so good.

Also, because the roof is curved the panels wrap around and catch the sun's rays earlier and later in the day than if they were flat.

They work just fine and are more than adequate for my needs.
Fred - What brand are your 3 flexible solar panels? Where did you buy them and are you happy with the vendor?
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Old 04-13-2015, 07:00 AM   #118
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When mentioning four Lifeline model 6ct 6Vdc at 300 amp hour batteries, one needs to consider where the 372 pounds of batteries will be placed.
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Old 04-13-2015, 07:08 AM   #119
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Marty,

I bought these off eBay:

100 watt Solar Panel

As I said above, I've only had them about 3 months and I'm very pleased with them so far. At this point I can only say for certain that they work and are quite a bit less expensive than some other brands I researched. The company's service was good and they arrived promptly.

As a commercial vendor I feel I should say I'm in no way affiliated or endorsing this company or their products.

P. S. Just noticed this link is for 100 watt panels and mine are 120 watt. Same company, but different product.
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Old 04-13-2015, 10:59 AM   #120
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Are you happy with www.bestconverter.com as your supplier for these technology items and guidance?
Yes, pricing is competitive...but perhaps more importantly, Randy is always available for advice and recommendations on a variety of equipment. I have purchased the TriMetric, Iota converter, and some other items from him. I have an order in now with him for the SeeLevel monitoring system and he has advised me on a couple of phone calls now on questions relative to that purchase and install.
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:47 PM   #121
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Also something else to consider might just be a visit to bogartengineering.com as they are the company who designed and manufactures the Trimetric and Solar controller.
There is a lot of useful information, especially in the Users Instructions for Tri-Metric, especially section 7.
Important information about battery charging to keep from killing your batteries.
Ralph is always ready to answer questions that aren't on the FAQ page.


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Old 04-15-2015, 07:37 PM   #122
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When mentioning four Lifeline model 6ct 6Vdc at 300 amp hour batteries, one needs to consider where the 372 pounds of batteries will be placed.
I think your battery bank looks mighty nice. I was curious about adding that much weight up on the tongue. If possible wouldn't an optimal place be closer to the fulcrum (the wheels)?
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:05 PM   #123
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Lew, how are the new flex panels working out so far?
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:34 PM   #124
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Lew, how are the new flex panels working out so far?
I have 5 Grape Solar 100 watt flex panels on the roof of my service van that replaced 5 GS-100 hard panels at the end of the summer. All other components remained the same; 200 amp/hour lithium battery, Magnum MS2812 2800 watt sine wave inverter and AM Solar Signature 40MPPT/4 solar controller core.

The solar is the ONLY charge source for the batteries, as I never plug in, but the system operates a Danfoss compressor fridge 24/7/365 on DC and the inverter powers battery chargers for power tools, 120VAC floodlights and the occasional drill or Sawzall.

I have noticed that even at fairly low battery levels which call for maximum charging output from the solar controller, I only have seen 22-24 amps max. going into the batteries with the MPPT boost. Compare this to the 35-38 amps that the hard panels were placing into the batteries and you can see the difference.

Last summer, we did a little comparison at AM Solar between the hard GS-100 panel and their PhotoFlex 100 panel. These were taken directly off the shelf and were not specially provided for the test (as some solar companies are apt to do). With both panels lying flat on a gravel driveway and the sun overhead at around 1:00 PM, the GS-100 panel was placing about 95 watts into the controller while the Flex was between 72-75 watts.

My theory is that to obtain a flexible membrane, plastic has to be used both in the panel backing and the face layer. It's this face layer that has a certain degree of reflectivity to it and does not admit the same level of solar radiance to the cell surface. This, coupled with lower sensitivity in low light situations (times of overcast skies or outside 'solar noon') compound the daily net reduction of charging amperage to the batteries.

In addition, the lack of heat dissipation of a surface mounted flex panel further decreases it's efficiency, as there is no room behind the panel for cooling.

This situation CAN be overcome by adding additional panels to make up the difference. My 500 watts still sufficiently charge the lithium batteries in almost any conditions, as it is well over what would normally be required for a 200 amp/hour lithium battery.

I will be removing the flex panels to do some beta testing on a new solar cell formulation, probably around mid summer. Can't talk about these yet, but some interesting new materials are finally making it to market!

I'll post on the Forum when I am able and have something to report.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:53 PM   #125
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I spent several hours today at AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon (a suburb of Eugene, OR). In addition to picking up our new battery, I was also getting the wiring information for this lithium iron phosphate 12Vdc 600 amp hour battery that will weight 168 pounds when the four 3.2Vdc 600 amp hour cells are wired in parallel. There is more to this swap out than meets the eye.

We will also have to re-program the TriStar 60 solar charge controller along with the Magnum inverter/converter to the settings for this new battery. We should be able to use all the existing 4-0 copper wiring since the new battery will be inside the coach under the front sofa.

AM Solar has quite a nice facility and would be able to work on any Airstream inside their well equipped service center. Their staff is both knowledgeable and friendly. I was glad to make the trip to gain the important details for our installation.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:01 AM   #126
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Hello Sun peeps panel mounting question here,

I am preparing to mount a regular non-flex mono panel on my roof DIY.
(I got the flexible panel mounted BTW with space underneath for cooling as per your posts) ok, back to mounting. I purchased the Renogy panel and Z bracket mount kit for RVs. I just wanted to check beforehand on mounting tips for an Airstream roof. They are Z brackets with two mounting bolts at each bracket. Has anyone used this kit? The bolts look to be sheet metal type self tapping. 1 1/4" from head top to tip and have a plastic washer. Mechanic dad thinks that the mounting screws will be fine but want opinion. Also in relation to the roof. I assume that avoidance of rivet lines are important? Any tips on location? I have a spot picked out behind the AC unit- to drill the holes use sealant and slightly mound it over the bracket. My model has a wide-open space in the rear between the vent and AC. I am looking at center of that.
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