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Old 06-04-2015, 05:42 PM   #211
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Great job, but not an easy one to be sure. I was fortunate enough to accidentally walk into an Airstream Shop before I purchased my 2012 28ft FC and seeing the effort that went into retrofitting solar onto a trailer. That was a "I've seen God" moment and I knew factory solar was a must. I didn't know it at the time but in 2012 the trailers came with a solar pre-wire as std. equipment. The cost for my two panels from the factory (installed) was $2950.
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Old 06-04-2015, 07:04 PM   #212
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Yes, I understand that there is a relation but I was concerned over the 10' limit on a particular gauge without the amperage part.

Here is something I found to be helpful:

American Wire Gauge table and AWG Electrical Current Load Limits with skin depth frequencies and wire breaking strength

It is a chart that gives resistance rating, diameter of wire, gauge, and power transfer rating then provides a calculator for applying it to length of wire for an application.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:29 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
I just found this thread and although it is older, wanted to subscribe. I am looking for where to place my controller. I do not know if advice has changed since 2010 and this thread's beginning but the solar company people (three different companies) are telling me that the controller needs to be within 5-6 feet of the battery run- CLOSE to the battery bank. I have a front sofa model with little cabinet in the front. My only cabinet is right against the wall by the fridge and also the solar prewire. That area makes the most sense BUT it is more like 8 feet from the battery using the 10 awg battery prewire. Thoughts?
I'm a big fan of using the existing solar pre-wire. Since your system is only delivering 9 A and you're thinking of adding an additional 16 feet, 8 feet per conductor of 10 gauge wire, the additional loss will only be 9 A * 16 ohms/1000 ft = 0.15 V. I'm assuming that you're describing a single panel system where the panel is rated around 150 W. This means the additional wires adds an additional loss of less than 1% to your existing wiring losses.

10 gauge wire is more than sufficient to carry 9 A. Even better, if you choose to add additional panels (same size hopefully), then add them in series and use a MPPT solar charger. This way the current stays the same and your losses are halved!
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Old 06-04-2015, 11:12 PM   #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgwatkin View Post
Great job, but not an easy one to be sure. I was fortunate enough to accidentally walk into an Airstream Shop before I purchased my 2012 28ft FC and seeing the effort that went into retrofitting solar onto a trailer. That was a "I've seen God" moment and I knew factory solar was a must. I didn't know it at the time but in 2012 the trailers came with a solar pre-wire as std. equipment. The cost for my two panels from the factory (installed) was $2950.

Interesting observation. I can show you dozens of photos of properly installed solar charging systems that run rings around anything the factory does, along with the same number of 'rat's nest' wiring jobs straight from the factory that I have corrected and re-installed the way they should have been done on assembly!

Once you get much over the 100 watts that the factory installs with their minimal 10 AWG wire in extra long runs, along with the totally incapable matchbook sized solar controller, I'm afraid that they are out of their league.
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:27 PM   #215
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I agree with lewster and will add the factory overcharges for the systems they install. So do some dealers. I, even more ignorant when we bought the trailer than I am now, had the dealer put on a 100 w. unit. The dealer was so dumb they didn't even know there was a factory installed 10 awg cable and installed a second cable. The unit they installed only lasted a few years and by then the company that made it had gone bankrupt, so the warranty was worthless.

That's when Lew showed up (we offered food, something Lew appreciates, though it hasn't worked since) and we spent a day troubleshooting the dealer system, finally realizing it was a piece of crap. Lew put in a new system and all is well. 200 watts and it cost less than the factory system (even with the food).

The prewired 10 awg cable has been installed for a long time now—ours had one in 2007, and it had been done for some years before.

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Old 06-14-2015, 10:25 PM   #216
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Did someone say.......FOOD '!?!?!?!?


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Old 06-17-2015, 06:10 AM   #217
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Quote:
10 gauge wire is more than sufficient to carry 9 A. Even better, if you choose to add additional panels (same size hopefully), then add them in series and use a MPPT solar charger. This way the current stays the same and your losses are halved!
That is why I like the forum because you hear various sides and it helps when doing a project. I have been scouring info on RV solar and there is a lot written on wire gauge- to go bigger. One write-up I found said to go 2-3 sizes bigger than needed. I kinda believe that is what I am doing using the factory wiring. It is 10 gauge right? According to the AWG rating for 10 gauge, it is rated 15 amps for power transmission. The second concern is length (compute loss) as you mention Alano. If I am correct, I am looking at around 12' of connector cable to the factory wires and guessing 6-8' for the factory run to the controller. The controller is really close to the battery which I read is what you want. So, it looks to be around 20' for wiring. By the chart I am exactly 2-3 sizes bigger than needed with my panel. Now a 250 watt system would add length and also take it to the max rating- not recommended from writings. I would think that 200 would be more a stopping point with factory wiring by the chart anyway. The Morning Star monitor and controller are hopefully good ones. I read they were but I guess time will tell. The way I am going about this with a suitcase/controller, a front panel/controller and roof panel/controller is different but I gain flexibility even if it requires manual tracking of the first two.
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Old 06-17-2015, 11:33 AM   #218
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The factory wiring is #10 AWG. The 15 A power transmission limits are by all accounts very very conservative and do not represent hard and true limits. In my opinion it's better to calculate your losses and decide if they are acceptable to you.

I installed at 400 W system using the #10 AWG solar pre-wiring. I was able to do this by connecting the panels in a series/parallel configuration. This requires the use of a MPPT solar charger. With this setup the current is only 10.6 A and the voltage is 37.8 V. The resistance loses due to the pre-wires in this configuration is less than 2%!

It's a good idea to install a disconnect switch between the solar array and the solar controller as well as fuse the positive connection from the solar controller to the battery.

Good luck with your system.
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:23 PM   #219
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I'm looking at using the pre-wiring on my 23D since I'm only going to be adding 2x100 watt panels. Would I still need to drill a hole in the roof? I know the wire is in my fantastic fan in the rear. The 23D doesn't have a fridge vent on the roof it's on the street side. Also, planning on using the Renogy flexible panels. I do plan on upgrading to Lithium at some point in the vary near future. Could you recommend a controller that would work with my standard group 24 batteries now but would also handle Lithium after that?

Thank you,

Ray
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:37 PM   #220
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I currently have (2) factory 53 watt panels on my 28ft FC. I would like to upgrade to something more like (2) 100 watt panels. Does anyone have an estimate what it would cost me to have this done, parts+labor. I live in Calif.
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:39 PM   #221
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Ray,

Yes, you will need to drill a hole in the roof. Use a combiner box on the roof to provide an enclosure to connect the roof mounted panels to the solar pre-wiring. AM Solar sells these boxes and also supplies the wiring you'll need to connect the panels and provide waterproof connectors for the combiner box.

I would recommend that you connect two panels in series and buy the Blue Sky Solar Boost 3024 controller. Get the IPN pro remote too since it's a good battery monitor. By connecting your panels in series using a MPPT controller you'll reduce the losses in the solar pre-wires by half! Any good solar setup requires a battery monitor so you know how different loads deplete your batteries and when you system is fully charged. The Blue Sky controllers are programmable so you'll be able to adjust the settings to be compatible with Lithium cells.

Good luck with your system.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:01 PM   #222
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Al,

Thank you very much. That is what I was looking for. I was planning on getting the AM Solar's box. Good advise on the running them in series, I've been reading your posts with rodsterinfl on running in series and I was thinking of doing just that.

Thank you,

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Old 06-17-2015, 04:25 PM   #223
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Series connections is one way to go...... But be prepared for almost no solar charging if one of the panels is even slightly shaded. This is the primary reason we don't use series canine croons for our installations.

We looked at this issue long and hard a while ago and determined that we got more usable charging from parallel connections.

As always........ YMMV!


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Old 06-17-2015, 04:59 PM   #224
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The series/parallel debate continues, but there are many factors that play into it. The panels you choose often come equipped with bypass diodes to mitigate the effects of shading. A fast-acting MPPT controller will always find the optimum operating point for extracting energy from the solar panels. These choices will affect the performance of the system.

From a purely theoretical view, I believe the series/parallel differences to be negligible, even when one considers shading. The more practical viewpoint is that a parallel arrangement is better. There's not a lot of really good parallel data out there that's convincing for us EE's. So for me the opportunity to reuse the existing solar pre-wiring and be able to install the system myself with relative ease won out. Since the MPPT controller and battery monitor cost was in the neighborhood of $500 and the cost of (4) 100 W Renology panels was only $142 each, I could afford a few extra watts to spare if one of more of the panels became full or partially obscured.
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