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Old 06-25-2011, 12:41 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post

This means a 2nd trip to the auto parts store or the hardware store—15 miles each way. I have to decide whose very high prices I want to deal with today.

Yesterday I was doing three projects at once—stop one when I needed something from the store and start another until I had to stop….

Gene
I find that there exists an irrefutable rule - each project takes 3 trips to the hardware store, or trips to 3 different hardware stores, to complete. Based on that, you seem way under budget!
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Old 06-25-2011, 02:48 PM   #184
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I guess since I'm doing several projects at once: fix belly pan rivets, install new converter, install new batteries, I'm way ahead. Today is the 2rd trip to auto store where the parts are better quality sometimes; hardware was several days ago. I cut the front of the converter off—the grinding wheel we got at Ace Hardware couldn't handle it and my worn out carbide hacksaw blade was a little better. The Sawzall with carbide blades made it relatively easy, though that doesn't mean easy. Luckily I had those blades from some ling forgotten project. Before you cut off the front of the old converter, drill holes for screws or rivets so you can match the piece properly and make sure when you put it together all the flangers go the right directions—they go different ways and it can be confusing. Temp in the shop must be well up in the 90's and I'll be able to wrestle tonight below my weight class—I wonder if Barb wants to wrestle?

The Parallax converter has 2 wires—blue and white—for the batteries. They are connected to the 12 V side of the breaker and fuse (upper) panel. The white goes to the big terminal for a ground on the right front of that panel. The blue (which should be red or black as those are standard positive terminal battery colors) goes to a connection between two 30 amp 12 v. fuses. Both these wires go into the back of the converter. Detach both so you can get the upper panel and converter apart. You can access the other ends once you get the converter out by disconnecting them by drilling out the rivets around the fan and pushing the screen and fan out of the way and cutting the wires there so you have plenty of wire to connect to the battery terminals on the new converter. Did I do that? Not exactly, I cut the whote one because it looked long enough, but then I realized the blue wasn't and disconnected it on the 12 v. fuse panel and cut the other end under the converter fan. I sure hope the white one is long enough.

There are 2 wires (black and white) coming out of the bottom of the 120 v. side of the breaker panel. They are braided wire and appear to be #12, but may be #10 and they get connected to the 120 input to the new converter. There is a #10 ground wire at the back of that panel that I will have to cut and bring together another ground to the converter's large ground terminal and to the green wire that is in the 120 v. input wire to the converter.

This is not terribly difficult so far as the electrical part, but I've done a lot of wiring and it does help to have some experience identifying what is what, knowing where to look and reading the color codes, especially when they are a bit different than they should be. On the Parallax, blue means black or red—hot or positive. I confirmed that by seeing how the white was attached to a ground. The black and white wires for 120 v. were tested with a multimeter when we temporarily turned on the shore power.

Off to the auto parts store. This should be done this afternoon, maybe. Photos later, really!

Gene
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:47 PM   #185
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It's done! well, almost—gotta check voltages for charging via solar system tomorrow. I'm too stupid by now to know. It was 95˚ in the trailer.

The hardest part was getting the grounds twisted together in a small space that is not easy to get two hands and a linesmen's pliers and a heavy duty needle nose plier into. Two grounds appeared to be #8 solid core and I had some #10 solid core . Twisting them around each other to get a solid ground took what seemed like an hour. Then just attaching wires to the converter, screwing it to the floor—rear screw was very difficult and other rear screw was impossible, so 3 screws it is. Put the parts I cut off the old converter in and when out to the batteries.

They had 12.9 v. each. I attached all the cables including the new cable to connect the positives for both batteries and we heard the water pump going. A nice sound as it meant things were working. The tops of the battery terminals are pretty close to the door, but there's enough space. The cables to the trailer are crunched in to fit.

By the time I got into the trailer again, batteries were up to 13.4 v. on the solar panel alone and checked voltages at the 12 v. panel. Turned on shore power and 120 v. and proper polarity at several receptacles. That was good enough for now.

The hold down with the giant wingnut is not holding them down well—it appeared tight yesterday. I have to look at that again. The OEM batteries sit in a tray and one hold down seems to be stable since the tops of the batteries are pretty flat where the wingnut is, but the Lifelines have some plastic parts that act as handles but are not well supported. Tightening the wingnut to them does not tie them down well. Some thinking is required. I may have to see if I can shim it in wioth some scrap wood as I don't want the batteries bouncing.

Now we have the best batteries for solar, a 3 stage charger in the converter with all sorts of sophisticated electronics, and 200 w. solar system with more sophisticated electronics. After I get the belly pan screwed in properly, we are ready to go. I'm going to make this thing into the Airstream we wanted yet.

Gene
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:41 PM   #186
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Here are the photos:

1. The Parallax converter on the shop bench.
2. The front part cut off from the rest of the converter and resting on it.
3. The new Iota converter in the space where the OEM one wasóit is somewhat smaller. I ended up twisting the grounds together, a miserable process, but should have bought a split bolt connecter and used thatóI had thought of it, but forgot about it when I went to the store.
4. The batteries crammed in the box with my special round 1/4" plywood brace to hold down and stabilize the batteries. Drill a slightly more than 3/8" hole in the center for the all thread to go through. This worked perfectly and the inspiration came while I was watching Saturday Night Live last night (between naps). I am unsure of the connection between SNL and inspiration.

Gene
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:45 PM   #187
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More photos (shield the eyes of children and the elderly):

1. Lew on the roof installing solar panels.
2. Lew in my shop cleaning wheel bearings. I think he looks a little like Hamid Karzai.

Gene
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:40 PM   #188
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Gene,

You had quite a bit more to do for your swap, I went from the
Parallel-a-gram (still functional, so to speak), to the Zyana-tax to the IOTA, got so good I could swap 'em back and forth in 20min. The Parallel sits under the workbench just in case.

Iota's been sooper, you'r 'gonna loveit.

.....or T. Leary w/beard
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:24 PM   #189
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Finally I'm getting around to posting a few photos of my install from back in May. Just to refresh you memory, everything was purchased from AM Solar, great folks to deal with.

First are a couple of photos showing my Morningstar Sunsaver 15. I went with this "smaller" controller as I think it is all I will need for my install of 150 watts worth of panels (a 100 and a 50). It's a high quality MPPT type unit. It's rated at 200 watts, but with the effective/real life outputs of panels it should be able to handle another 100w if I so decide (so far the 150 is serving my needs). I installed it under the couch near the converter. As you can see, I also installed a Buss marine style circuit breaker (In my kit, AM included a fuse, but I wanted a breaker, you can get a breaker from them too). For whatever reason I didn't want to screw the breaker into the floor so I made a quick and dirty bracket for it. AM Solar even includes labels for the wires, a nice touch. I installed the remote controller/monitor in one of the overhead panel end "blanks" worked out great. Fed the wire down behind the curtain, can't even tell it's there.
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Next you can see that I removed the fridge vent cover, installed a pass through connector and fed the wire down to the interior of the trailer. The biggest PITA of the job came next, running the wire from the fridge cabinet to the front of the trailer. I thought this would be easy as there is a wire chase that runs down the side of the trailer from under the coach to the pantry cabinet. I figured it would run all of the way to the fridge cabinet. No such luck, that would have been to easy (thanks Airstream). Instead it ended under the pantry, so I wound up having to remove that in order to feed the wires. Lots of fun on a hot day, my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap (well not really, she gave up on that side of me years ago :-) ). BTW, I used butyl tape between the cap and the body, reinstalled the cap with pop rivets and coated it all with some Dicor in case the rivets decided to leak around the centers (they are not supposed to, but why take a chance), nice and tight, seemed to work well and should hold up. Can't see the Dicor from the ground so no problem. I didn't want to get into Olympic rivets, shavers tools etc. etc. for this job. BTW I picked up a tip about removing the rivets, I used a chisel instead of drilling the out. Worked great, just be careful not to let it slip.
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Next is a view of the two panels installed on the front roof. I just used the 3M tape, no screws, and it has worked great so far. I have room for another panel or two in the back if I decide to expand the system (unlikely at this point). Again the kit came with all of the cable tie downs etc. that I needed and it made the job easy.

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Here is a view from street side. Not for the purist, but I like it. My 15 year old daughter thinks it's cool that we have incorporated solar panels into our life!
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The system is working well so far, although with most of my camping done on shady sites it has not had a fully workout. That will come in Sept. when we go back to Assateague. I will say that even in the shade it has reduced the need to run the generator. Plus in storage, where I cannot easily keep it plugged in, I can leave the battery on with it getting a nice sweet charge, keep the understep LED light on 24/7, keep the 3 Fantastic Fans open and allow the rain sensors to close them (so far so good), this really helps to keep the interior temps down which I believe is good for the interior.

All in all the actual panel installation and electrical hookups were easy if you don't mind climbing up on the roof (I leaned a section of my fiberglass extension ladder against the canopy cover, worked out very well). It's the pulling wires part that can be a bit of a pain depending on where you are locating the combiner box on the roof (mine is under the large panel) and controller. If you are planning on tackling this job, before starting plan out your wire runs and see what may need to be removed etc.

Sorry it took so long for the photos. I didn't overkill with them as others have previously posted a number of their installs.

EDIT: BTW, I am leaving the knob fasteners on the panels for now, they will make it easy to tilt them towards the sun in the winter. Where it is stored (behind my house more or less) I am not particularly concerned about someone stealing them. As you know, others folks have switched the hand knobs out for allen screws etc. for a bit more security.
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Old 07-26-2011, 07:30 AM   #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soyboy View Post
Finally I'm getting around to posting a few photos of my install from back in May. Just to refresh you memory, everything was purchased from AM Solar, great folks to deal with.

First ....
Thanks for posting this Dennie.

It looks like you've done a very clean installation there. Very nice.

Hopefully, documenting all these variations of panel installation can be a good resource for people when they consider their own needs.

Happy camping.

-evan
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:44 AM   #191
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Thanks Evan. I felt I didn't have to go overboard on the photos because you did such a great job documenting your installation.

Dennie
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:19 AM   #192
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Possibly silly questions

Great thread, you guys are awesome!! On researching solar for my 62'GT, I have a question about the transfer switch, built in to inverter or stand alone.
Correct me if I'm wrong but, are there not three methods of charging the batteries, controlled by the transfer switch, shore power, solar, and vehicle alternator? Do the batteries charge from the vehicle and the panels as you are travelling? Or are they completely separate systems not to be linked at all? I am also wondering about winterizing and shutting off the system, can you set it to trickle charge only, or do you cover the panels, remove the batteries and store them for the off season?
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:38 AM   #193
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That's a good question, and one to which I'm not sure of the answer. What I "beleive" to be true is that when towing, if I leave my solar panel system "on" then they are charging the coach batteries (I know that part is true), plus getting some juice from the tow vehicle's alternator (which if I recall correclty has a 10 amp line to the trailer). But in this regime, if it's sunny, the solar panels wll far out-deliver the truck's alternator. Here's the interesting part: according to Lewster, who did my install, when I park, if I choose to keep the trailer "plugged in" to the truck, then the solar panels will work to charge the truck's two batteries. I don't need to do this, and have not done so, nor have I checked this out with a meter, but it "sounds right."

As to winter time, with a "modern" converter, you likely can either a.) just leave the trailer plugged in and it will maintain the proper state of charge for the coach batteries; or b.) if you are storing outside, leave the solar panel charge controller to do the same thing. I park indoors, and I do neither. Rather, I just plug in to shore power every few months for a day or so to top off the batteries and let it sit for the rest of the time, with the batteries sloooowly discharging through self-discharge, small parasitic draw from e.g. the propane / CO2 detector, etc. I used to pull my batteries over winter, but I just don't any more ... and so far, so good. (I'm sure someone will tell me I'm doing it wrong, but it seems to work for me.)
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:25 AM   #194
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NOTE:
IMHO I am convinced that the solar controller will shut the solar panel feed down when the system is being charged by the vehicle alternator.
Soyboy: At optimal output the solar might produce 12Amp.
ie: The alternator ( 100A ?) will override the solar.
To avoid this, install a shut off on the alternator line that can be used when there is good sun. This switch could be a two way solenoid activated from the cab of the TV. I have a similar solenoid on the Clipper between battery banks #1 and #2 and am just installing another between #2 and #3 bank.
With this type of switch then you could still charge (somewhat) the TV system with the solar, even if the alternator failed.
There is also a good separator from SurePower that can be used to protect both battery systems from drain.
http://www.ase-supply.com/Sure_Power...p-1314-200.htm
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:39 AM   #195
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Different solar controllers will do different things and therefore, Airsdream and Dave may be both right.

Lewster has been installing AM Solar systems, although he may have used other brands sometime in the past. If he says a system he installed charges the batteries while the trailer is plugged into the tow vehicle, I'm sure it does.

Airsdream, do you have an AM Solar system? Dave, what brand do you have?

One way to check this seems to be to start the engine of the tow vehicle and check the output of the panels on the controller's read-outs. Check before starting it up too. If the batteries are fully charged, it may be hard to tell what's going on, but with a tester it should be possible to check.

Gene
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:24 PM   #196
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You are correct CrawfordGene that there is an abundance of solutions for your problems available.
I was not questioning Lew's statement that the solar would charge the TV. But, I believe, only when the alternator is not producing. (does water run uphill?)
What I have is specific to my application but I will review it here.

Here is what I did on my CLIPPER. (Cummins CT300)
I have a upgraded Delco SI 22 130A alternator, charging 2 X HD gp 31 wet cell starting batteries, bank #1, and have removed the ISOLATOR because of the voltage drop across the diodes.

I have installed a SurePower 1315-200 SEPARATOR.(replaces the isolator) and allows charging both ways over 13.2V.
I have installed a cockpit controlled solenoid between the chassis and the ISOALTOR so I can manually control the combined or separate charge from either battery bank.
I have 4 X 6V T105's for the house bank #2.
I have one Trojan deep cycle wet cell 12V up front for the electronics. (Battery bank #3)
This has a charge line from the house battery circuit and another tie to the chassis circuit, which both have manual switches at this time in the cockpit that I control as needed.
(I am presently installing another SurePower separator in this line to allow unattended operation on the 3 battery banks.)
Xantrex Freedom Inverter Charger 2000 Watt 12 VDC 3 stage charger for the house #2 battery bank. (will charge all if switches and solenoid activated. AUX diesel 7000W slightly used.
All system are monitored in the cockpit with DIGITAL VOLT GAUGES.
SOLAR: 40W Polycrystalline, charge controller, (manual switch to feed chassis or house depending on the need) Can be left on either, depending on solenoid setting between battery bank #1 or #2.
253W Polycrystalline panels (4) run thru a MMPT controller to the #2 battery bank.
40W Polycrystaline panels (no charge controller) to the #3 battery up front. Powers a 1000W invertor for the electronics.

My experience with this setup is:
While camping, if the sun is shinning next day, I can boomdock overnight and leave the
house batteries on all the SOLAR and they will completely charge. (in this case I have the solenoid between 1&2 bank connected so that any solar over capacity goes to the chassis battery. If not using the #3 invertor I will tie this panel in also to the house.
When travelling during the sunny day after boomdocking, I will separate the #1, #2, #3 banks. This allows SOLAR to charge the #2 and #3 and the Delco to run the chassis load of DRL, AC, fans, etc.
In theory I should get better fuelmileage as the alternator is not running the # 2 or #3 if not necessary.

NOTE: THE SOLAR WILL NOT PRODUCE IF YOU ARE CHARGING FROM THE ALTERNATOR AT THE SAME TIME AS THE CONTROLLER WILL SIGNAL THE BATTERIES ARE AT CAPACITY.

ALWAYS DOCUMENT UPGRADES SO THAT FUTURE SERVICE WILL BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT UNNECESSARY EXPLORATION COST.

Dave


Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Different solar controllers will do different things and therefore, Airsdream and Dave may be both right.

Lewster has been installing AM Solar systems, although he may have used other brands sometime in the past. If he says a system he installed charges the batteries while the trailer is plugged into the tow vehicle, I'm sure it does.

Airsdream, do you have an AM Solar system? Dave, what brand do you have?

One way to check this seems to be to start the engine of the tow vehicle and check the output of the panels on the controller's read-outs. Check before starting it up too. If the batteries are fully charged, it may be hard to tell what's going on, but with a tester it should be possible to check.

Gene
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