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Old 03-27-2017, 09:32 PM   #1
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Franks solar upgrade on a 2016 FC 27'

Well after persevering through my Lithium battery and inverter upgrade its time to get started on my solar install. My 2016 FC came with the factory installed solar package which is inadequate for our boondocking plans. I selected the Victron Blue Solar mppt 100/50 controller to go along with my Multiplus 3000 inverter/charger and BMV-702 battery monitor and and a Lithionics 330AH lithium battery. I considered several different solar panels. I really liked the AM Solar SP100 and the Renogy Eclispe panels because of their smaller foot print, efficiency, and bypass diodes. But in the end I went with the 4 Renogy 100Ds because I got a good deal on the Renogy Ebay store and they have similar features to the other two except they are a few inches longer. Before I describe my install I want to say how grateful I am to all those who responded to questions as I planned my project or posted about their project so I could learn from it!
After considering lots of options for how to mount the panels I just bought some 2 by 4 inch aluminum angle and cut it in two inch pieces to make enough feet for 4 panels for about $25. Who knew you could cut aluminum angle with a carbide finish blade (saw this on a youtube video), however I don’t think I'd use a blade I cared about.
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Now it’s time to gather supplies out on the trailer. I used the Lewster method of VHB tape and Sikaflex 221 with my own twist on it. I used a piece of tape and two beads of Sikaflex on the bottom of the foot. Then covered all the edges with Sikaflex. Cleaned all surfaces with carb cleaner first.
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I custom cut the height of the feet to get the panels close to level but left a little pitch for water and dirt to runoff—as other here have suggested.
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One panel done, three to go. Will update this post in a couple of days as I get the other panels mounted and everthing wired.-- Frank
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:54 PM   #2
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No drilling / holes in the roof... I like it. Will you wire in series or parallel?
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:16 PM   #3
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Two panels in series on each side joined in parallel. At least to start I'm using the factory installed 10 gauge wire from the roof to the controller, so following Alano's advice to minimize voltage drop by doubling the voltage by putting two panels in series. -- Frank
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Old 03-27-2017, 11:10 PM   #4
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Nice, but wonder if you should go a little wider on those supports and throw a second bolt/nut through the panel for two on each support instead of one?
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Old 03-27-2017, 11:19 PM   #5
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Looks good Frank! For what it's worth, the am solar panels and install kits only use one bolt, so I'm sure that is fine..
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Old 03-27-2017, 11:23 PM   #6
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Probably true. Just the one in front by the wire looks like it wants to rotate. May be a bracket width issue.
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Old 03-28-2017, 12:30 PM   #7
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Probably a camera angle effect. You can pull hard an any part of it and it doesn't budge, feet sit flat on the roof--its not going anywhere.--Frank
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Old 03-28-2017, 01:52 PM   #8
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Looks good, Question is cost doing it yourself or at AS Dealer or some other company?
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Old 03-28-2017, 02:17 PM   #9
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There is definitely potential cost savings doing it yourself and sourcing materials individually to get the best buy. However that takes a lot of time and a lot of planning, and a knowledge base to draw on to guide you. For many people it will not be worth the effort and going with time proven packages from reputable dealers mentioned on this forum is the way to go and worth the extra expense for convenience and peace of mind. Mistakes could be expensive. But, I am an obsessive DIYer and enjoy the process of designing and planning projects as much as implementing them.-- Frank
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Old 03-28-2017, 02:25 PM   #10
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Thanks, I use to be good at those things, but age and time is my enemy these days.
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Old 03-28-2017, 06:20 PM   #11
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Franks solar upgrade on a 2016 FC 27'

Frank - please keep us posted as to the real world bulk charging amps @ 14.X volts to the battery you observe with this panel configuration and your victron mppt controller. I am eager to compare notes
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:15 PM   #12
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Will do Wulfraat. I got the remaining panels mounted tonight and hopefully will get them wired tomorrow and out in the sun by the weekend to see how it performs.--Frank
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:18 PM   #13
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Really nice looking.
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:26 PM   #14
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Very sweet setup. Looks very clean.

I have 2x155w and 2x80w panels for a theoretical total of 470 watts on top of my 25' but my setup is not ideal as 2 panels kick off 17.x volts and the other 2 kick off 18.x volts which for various reasons is not a great for the victron mppt controller. So I am very interested in the amperage output to the battery from 4 perfectly matched 100w panels deliver via a victron mppt controller
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Old 03-29-2017, 01:55 PM   #15
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Of course when I asked Renogy about mounting their 100 watt panels from the side of the frame vs their pre-drilled holes in the back, I was told that drilling holes through the sides of the frames would void their warranty. Weak.

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Old 03-30-2017, 09:23 AM   #16
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Woundedpig, wish I new that before, but I was careful my holes went through the frame below the back of the panel and seal.--Frank
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Old 03-30-2017, 09:34 AM   #17
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Made a design change today. Decided I didn't want to potentially rewire in the future if I added to the system so I am abandoning the 10 AWG factory wire and running 6 AWG. It will arrive from Amazon tomorrow. I am going to run it along the vent pipe in the diagonal cavity in the front corner of the bathroom and then to the front corner of the trailer along the floor with the two pieces of 10/3 I had to run from the AC panel to the new inverter and enclosed in wire mold. Thinking of still keeping the panels wired as two parallel lines of two panels in series. --Frank
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:08 AM   #18
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Sounds like a good move to me Frank, now that you are working it and have everything out. Easier to do it now and why risk it. Undersized wire seems to be a main issue with systems that do not work.
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:26 AM   #19
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panel mount options

Regarding panel mounts, it appears to me to be an over-the-top attempt at profit-making. The end user should have more mounting options than those provided by companies such as Renogy and AMSolar. Neither of these companies provide bolt holes on the sides of the panels. Using various DIY aluminum angle mounts is obviously not in their marketing plan. AMSolar's mounts are $80 per panel, over a third the cost of their most expensive panel. Their flat mounts are 40$ per set, but the same mounts can be found elsewhere for $10/set. Their tilt bars, which are <$10 pieces of aluminum bar retail for $35. Renogy's panel tilt option is $70.
Sorry, but this is not the most laudable aspect of the industry.
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:52 AM   #20
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That was my reasoning exactly Troutboy--an extra $70 in wire and couple hours of my time is a drop in the bucket at this point. Woundedpig--that's exactly why I made my brackets. If I new about the issue with voiding the warrenty by drilling through the side I might have put a short angle on the underside using their pre-drilled holes and had my feet screw into that. But I have to say I like the simplicity of my attachment method.--Frank
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