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Old 12-07-2015, 02:45 PM   #1
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Preparing for future solar upgrade during current reno

We have just begun a full renovation of our "new to us" 1964 Overlander LY. What should I know/do now to ensure a future solar system install goes as painlessly as possible? I expect to install a new power converter/system and two 6v AGM batteries.


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Old 12-07-2015, 04:46 PM   #2
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I'd think about where you want to lay out your panels on the roof, and how many you can fit. And I'd plan where you would run the wire from the roof combiner box, to the controller, which should be as close as possible to the batteries, and where they will be located.

And you might want to pre-wire the run from the roof to the batteries were your solar controller will be with 4 or 6 awg wire.
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Old 12-07-2015, 05:32 PM   #3
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Is the size or brand of converter important?


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Old 12-07-2015, 07:29 PM   #4
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Depends who you ask, for AGM's you'll want at least a 4-stage converter. A programable one will let you really dial things in.
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Old 12-07-2015, 09:56 PM   #5
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We were able to fit five AM Solar 100 watt panels on the roof of our 2015 23D. We currently have eight of those panels on the roof of a 31' Classic with room for two more panels. We removed the WineGard manual crank batwing antennas on both trailers and replaced them with the WineGard automatic Rayzar antennas.. Where that batwing antenna rested on the roof is enough space for a 100 watt solar panel.

So getting some cardboard boxes cut out to the size of the proposed solar panels, one can move them around on the roof to see what might fit.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:56 PM   #6
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Hopefully the 2 Maxx Air fans and A/C will be installed in the next week or two. I'd like to find room for 2 panels now, and identify space for a possible upgrade later. Cardboard boxes sound like a good way to visualize the space. Thanks!


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Old 12-08-2015, 10:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by switz View Post
So getting some cardboard boxes cut out to the size of the proposed solar panels, one can move them around on the roof to see what might fit.
That's a great idea, and in fact I did the very same thing before ordering my solar from AMSolar.



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Old 12-08-2015, 06:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
And you might want to pre-wire the run from the roof to the batteries were your solar controller will be with 4 or 6 awg wire.
I agree that "fat" wires are important, but you may be able to have shorter wire runs and be able to use 6 or 8 awg instead. While your trailer is gutted is a good time to run shorter wire than is required when you have a finished interior and need to do a longer run through the refrigerator vent.

Quote:
Depends who you ask, for AGM's you'll want at least a 4-stage converter. A programable one will let you really dial things in.
When you buy a converter, go ahead and spring for a 4-stage one because that's what's needed for programming to AGM charge parameters. However, a converter becomes less important with solar. A year ago, I installed a 600 watt solar system and unplugged my 4-stage converter. I haven't used my converter since. All my battery charging is now done via a solar controller which can also be set to the charge parameters AGMs require. Even with less a less wattage system, you should be able to keep your batteries charged via solar until you run into a string of cloudy days or store your AS where it can't get full sunlight.
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Old 12-08-2015, 08:03 PM   #9
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So can I just avoid buying the converter? Use the money for an extra solar panel :-)


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Old 12-08-2015, 08:11 PM   #10
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Without a converter, how does shore power interface with the trailer?


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Old 12-08-2015, 09:02 PM   #11
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We are now able to install the ninth 100 watt solar panel to the Classic in the space formerly occupied by the WineGard batwing crank-up television antenna.

The GS-100 panels (roughly 21" x 41" ) from AM Solar can each generate about 5.5 amps on a great sun-shiney day. Since the panels can generate over 17.5 Vdc, the TriStar 60 MPPT solar charge controller usually will boost the charging amps around 20% as the voltage is dropped to 12 volts nominal, so the 49.5 amps of solar panel current can approach 59 amps per hour into the 600 amp hour lithium battery.

That charge rate makes for a quick recovery of battery energy for the next night.
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:35 PM   #12
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Caroyl,

We're missing a lot of important information here starting with what are your solar needs and goals? This needs to be determined upfront so that your system and components can be appropriately sized. You've said you plan on having 2-6v AGM batteries. You're talking 260 -300 amp hours of capacity which is about 100 ah more than 2- 12v Grp 24 batteries. This is a good size battery bank for several days to a week of boondocking, but to keep them charged fully on a daily basis means you'll need 400 - 600 watts of solar panels and a commensurate size solar controller and inverter. Otherwise, you'll need to be regularly connected to shore power with a good quality 4-stage converter. So, if you plan to always or mostly be on shore power you would be better off with 2- 12v Grp 24s or 27s.

The reason I say this is because batteries like to be fully charged and often. You don't want them to spend much time in a partially charged or depleted condition. Ideally, for longest life batteries should be either fully charged and not used or recharged as soon as possible during or after use. 2-6 volt batteries may actually be overkill unless you can keep them charged on a regular basis. Therefore, you will need to size your solar system accordingly.

The more you intend to stay on shore power and the lower your solar wattage, the more you will be dependent on a quality 4-stage converter to meet the AGM batteries charging parameters and provide long battery life. With a large enough solar system and the more boondocking you do, a 4-stage converter becomes less important to the point of being unnecessary.
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Old 12-10-2015, 12:43 AM   #13
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Which charger/converter do y'all recommend? Brand, model, amps?? Good quality and capacity at a reasonable price point 😃


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Old 12-10-2015, 06:53 AM   #14
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Caroyl,

Some popular, inexpensive 4-stage converters are the Power Max Boondocker PM4B series charger/converters sold by Best Converters.

Here's a link: Powermax Boondocker Converters

I have a PM4B-60 although I no longer use it because my solar system takes care of all my charging needs.
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