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Old 01-15-2016, 11:23 AM   #15
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Fusing each individual panel is unnecessary since most panels, Renology and Grape among others, include blocking and bypass diodes. Even if you were to apply a direct short to the panel at the output, the output current in the case of a Renology 100 W panel would be only 5.75 A - so it wouldn't trip the breaker.

Now, replacing each fuse with a SPST switch might be interesting to know each panels contribution to power. That's one feature I could play around with from time-to-time!
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Old 01-15-2016, 11:54 AM   #16
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The problem here is....every "unnecessary" mechanical connection (Fuses, breakers, switches) introduces resistance to the circuit and cumulatively decreases efficiency of the system.
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Old 01-16-2016, 06:46 AM   #17
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1984 27' Airstream 270
Scotia , New York
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It is true, a fuse, switch, circuit breaker, undersized wire and even excessive connectors in the wiring to the controller will increase the resistance and reduce your total voltage at the controller.
I picked Klixon 2TC2 aircraft breakers because they have a low voltage drop, (about .25 volt at full current, less drop on lower currents)
I know any voltage drop is a red flag for solar but with panels that provide more voltage than the controller needs, it works for me and I can see 20 amps into the controller from 4 panels in good sun. (Yes it will be much less in poor sun)

This is page 3 of my write-up showing my estimated losses in my system
(Whoops, I just realized that I did not add in losses for the breakers in those figures)

My theory on the need for circuit breakers or fuses is; It is true that if one panel shorts it will not trip its own circuit breaker, it is the other panels tied in parallel to the shorted panel that will trip the breaker to the shorted one, allowing the remaining panels to keep supplying current.
If my 4 panels put out their nominal rated current of 5.25 amps each (going through my 7.5 amp breakers) for a total of 21 amps, and one of the panels shorts out, the breaker to that panel is going to see 15.75 amps from the remaining panels and its breaker will pop. If I had more panels without any breakers and exceeded the amp capacity of the wiring, the current coming from the good panels could burn wiring going back to the bad panel.

I may have over-engineered my system, but it works for me, and being able to pull a breaker allows me to isolate the panels one by one for maintenance or to see how they are performing.
That came in handy when 2 of my panels went bad. Vibrations from a road trip opened up some bad solder joints in the panel diode junction boxes.

I was able to determine which panels were bad inside the vehicle by pulling breakers and checking outputs of each panel. Then I pulled the bad panels and re-soldered the connection and I was back up and running in a day.
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:52 AM   #18
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Wayne. Kudos for you! You designed, purchased and installed and tested your system yourself. That's a great accomplishment and you did it in a way that teachers other DIYers, so you should be congratulated!

The engineering of these systems isn't trivial and I suspect the difficultly level prevents many folks from doing it themselves. I'm all in favor of teaching and helping folks these things.

Again, nice job!
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Old 01-17-2016, 03:37 AM   #19
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The first photo is of the disconnect switch behind the Classic's refrigerator. We have the same switch mounted behind the refrigerator of the 23D. The 80 amp switch in the second photo (nine 100 watt GS-100 panels on the roof) is in the Classic when the four Lifeline batteries we started with were outside on the trailer tongue. There is more equipment in that space after the lithium battery replaced the Lifeline batteries.

The third photo shows we used a 30 amp switch on the 23D as it has five 100 watt panels plus the red automatic disconnect switch system from AM Solar to protect the 300 amp-hour lithium battery. A similar switch system was added to the Classic with a 600 amp-hour battery. Note that all the new electrical (both Solar and 120Vac) system is installed under the street side sofa and dinette seat with no loss of storage under those two cabinets or loss of use of the sofa slide out shelf for bed use.
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Old 01-17-2016, 05:01 AM   #20
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Forgot the picture of the AM Solar disconnect for the lithium battery which is installed in both trailers.
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