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Old 03-23-2010, 10:40 PM   #29
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Excellent material. I have two AM solar panels being delivered tomorrow so this will be more than helpful for my installation process on 2006 Safari SE 28. Love the panel placement - I had not considered placing over the vents.

Good luck with your install.

I don't know whether I said it clearly enough but the quality & design of the AM Solar kit was excellent. Everything was shipped properly and complete with good instructions.

(I have no financial interests in their company BTW but I should be counted as one of their very satisfied customers. I hope you will be too.)

-evan
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:45 PM   #30
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Wow!, Evan,
Thanks for that great step by step.
Pics cleared up much of my questions. (Visual guy...)
AM Solar shipped to us yesterday, the panel system arrive this week. We went with the same set-up and combo, only got two panels which will be mounted port and starboard with the centre left open for now.
As we have twins in our International, the run will be a bit different however the location concept will be the same.
I was already thinking of a forward and aft "winglets". Just a snap-on aluminum " foil" to taper the leading and following edge of the panels, you know, a bit more airstream. (AM Solar, an easy add-on option).
Again, thanks, and we'll let you know how our install goes, how our 4 battery boondocking set-up works on the TinDen.
Stream Safe,
Thanks Bob.

It looks like lots of people have the same idea around here.

I'm only guessing but at your lower latitude and increased frequency of sunny days, I'll bet two panels will give you plenty of power. We have less sun and at a lower angle so I thought I should go for a three panel system.

Are you aware of any sort of spoiler system? Does AM solar have something? I would be very interested in what you come up with as the setup is just begging for some sort of 5 inch high sunroof style spoiler to block the wind from getting under the panels & smoothing out the forward edge cutting into the wind.

4 batteries should give you lots of storage. Where are you putting the 4 batteries?

Good luck with your install & happy camping.

-evan
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:54 AM   #31
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Elfirebob's solar layout

Evan,
I don't know of any specific streamline products for the panels, I'm still thinking about that.
Due to the layout of our racks, there is a huge dead space forward, where all the electronics are for additional batteries (AGM).
The controler /display too may end up on the face just below the drawer.
I never heard what you found out and why you did not use the "triangle void" down run at the forward bathroom bulkhead?
I have to agree with you, to minimize the wire run and keep the guage wire I want, drillng the hole through the roof will be the toughest part. We may stall our trip a day for an install. Heading for Arizona...Picacho, Roper, Patagonia, and Tucson. I't would be good test run for the system.
Again, thanks for your efforts in posting all that detail.
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:18 PM   #32
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Evan,
I don't know of any specific streamline products for the panels, I'm still thinking about that.
Due to the layout of our racks, there is a huge dead space forward, where all the electronics are for additional batteries (AGM).
The controler /display too may end up on the face just below the drawer.
I never heard what you found out and why you did not use the "triangle void" down run at the forward bathroom bulkhead?
I have to agree with you, to minimize the wire run and keep the guage wire I want, drillng the hole through the roof will be the toughest part. We may stall our trip a day for an install. Heading for Arizona...Picacho, Roper, Patagonia, and Tucson. I't would be good test run for the system.
Again, thanks for your efforts in posting all that detail.
Stream Safe,
Bob U-
Hi again,

A comment you made on another thread got me thinking. You mentioned that Solar panels , Bikes & BBQ's were prime targets for thieves. Looking up at the panels from street-side & from the front, I thought those no-tool fasteners made the solar panels look a little too portable and also probably would add to turbulence. So today, I replaced all those knobs with hex head SS bolts. The whole thing looks cleaner & a lot less portable.

I think that spot you've chosen would work well. I don't know whether the controller has any relay clicks or sounds to it that would be a nuisance...? The Twin Layout strikes me as quite practical. I guess you have more space for batteries but I suppose we could have some AGM's under the bed. I've been told you can't properly combine the different types of batteries (e.g. wet lead acid with AGM's) so until I find out how well our current system works, I wouldn't want to take the next step up & replace the GC batteries with AGM's.

Lewster has been a big help in providing me with feedback & advice. He feels that the one real deficiency in my setup was going for the GC batteries instead of AGM's He feels strongly that AGM is a much better way to go. That would have been a much more expensive option for me though & so balked at that. I'll see I guess. We aren't running an inverter & don't have a TV or anything so besides the lights, fans & furnace& a little bit of electronic usage (Laptop, radio etc.) I'm hoping we'll have enough juice to be able to stay out as long as we want with water (waste & supply) becoming the limiting issue.

I considered using that dead space you refer to but I wanted the controller in a more visible spot as well as the ability to monitor the entry point of the wire through the roof to make sure there were no leaks at any point in the future. Now that I have the Rooftop Combiner box in place though, I don't think it's that likely to leak anyway. Although it seems rather alarming to drill through the roof, it really isn't as vulnerable a hole as those #$%&*#@ plumbing vents. When you're up there doing your install, I'd suggest that you take a long hard look at yours.

We're heading out to the deserts of Utah soon for a few weeks & hope to have a chance to really stress the system.

I'll be interested to hear how you find your system works for you in your adventure...

All the best.


-evan
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:07 AM   #33
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Very nice thread, Evan. With solar panels in my future for the '56, your thread has been a good resource. Even though I personally won't be installing them, it's nice to see an installation like yours.
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:25 AM   #34
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Terrific thread

Thanks for this very informative thread and photo essay. For those of us contemplating solar installation, your thread is very helpful. Hank
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:21 AM   #35
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Although AGM batteries are fine in their own right and give you more options, I don't see how choosing to go with Golf Cart Batteries is a bad choice. LOTS of RVers use GC batteries, myself included.

I respect Lew's opinions quite a bit (he helped guide me in installing my Freedom 10 Inverter-Charger) and would be interested to know exactly why he said AGMs were a better choice.
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Old 03-25-2010, 04:27 PM   #36
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Some final points

Evan,
Just some final points before we head out in the morning;

So today, I replaced all those knobs with hex head SS bolts. The whole thing looks cleaner & a lot less portable.
-Great Idea, I have to agree that the knobs make it look easy.

I don't know whether the controller has any relay clicks or sounds to it that would be a nuisance...?

-Had not thought of that, I’ll call AM Solar and ask about noise, wait a minute, with all the snoring going on…

I've been told you can't properly combine the different types of batteries.
-We plan on installing all four next year.

We aren't running an inverter & don't have a TV or anything so besides the lights, fans & furnace& a little bit of electronic usage (Laptop, radio etc.) I'm hoping we'll have enough juice to be able to stay out as long as we want with water (waste & supply) becoming the limiting issue.

-Lifestyle has a lot to do with length of stay, we’re pretty conservative with cooling Corona’s the priority.

I considered using that dead space you refer to but I wanted the controller in a more visible spot as well as the ability to monitor the entry point of the wire through the roof to make sure there were no leaks at any point in the future. Now that I have the Rooftop Combiner box in place though, I don't think it's that likely to leak anyway.

-For all the reasons you state, the ceiling/roof hole will be the same, thanks.

When you're up there doing your install, I'd suggest that you take a long hard look at yours.
-Will do, I’ll let you know if the ‘70s square gasket is found, kinda like Geocaching…

We're heading out to the deserts of Utah soon for a few weeks & hope to have a chance to really stress the system.

-Have fun, love most of Utah…Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico.

I'll be interested to hear how you find your system works for you in your adventure...

-We’ve decided to do our install after getting back from this run, panels should arrive today maybe. We will let you know and post some “twin bed” install points. (I modified the beds to come together, kinda like a queen for really cold nights!)


Stream Safe,
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:44 PM   #37
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Evan,

Good series of posts on your installation. I have some questions:

1. The soil stack (the black tank vent) will give off some acidic fumes. I think they will be mild acid fumes, but over time it may have an effect on the bottom of the panel. Have you considered that?

2. I see an access panel over the battery buss compartment—did you cut that out? I don't remember such a panel under our mattress. It's a good idea because otherwise it's very hard to get to the compartment.

3. Those vents have a history of leaking pretty quickly. I'm going to get up there and look at mine soon, something I have been avoiding for as long as I can.

4. I like the way you raised the top of the battery box. I hope to get an in-person look at the adaptation when you are in the Southwest in a few weeks. I don't know the answer between AGM's and Golf Cart, but I've read some battery threads which made me feel insane after a while.

5. It looks like there's plastic over the carpet under the bed by the exterior access door—good choice. That door can lead a little and I taped down Visqueen over the carpet long ago.

Gene
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:56 PM   #38
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Outstanding post eheffa!! Thanks for the "guided tour" through your installation. Your post illustrated quite a few of the my concerns regarding solar panel installs. Kudos.

Joe
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:24 AM   #39
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Very nice thread, Evan. With solar panels in my future for the '56, your thread has been a good resource. Even though I personally won't be installing them, it's nice to see an installation like yours.
Thank you Sugarfoot.

-evan
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:42 AM   #40
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Evan,

Good series of posts on your installation. I have some questions:

1. The soil stack (the black tank vent) will give off some acidic fumes. I think they will be mild acid fumes, but over time it may have an effect on the bottom of the panel. Have you considered that?

2. I see an access panel over the battery buss compartment—did you cut that out? I don't remember such a panel under our mattress. It's a good idea because otherwise it's very hard to get to the compartment.

3. Those vents have a history of leaking pretty quickly. I'm going to get up there and look at mine soon, something I have been avoiding for as long as I can.

4. I like the way you raised the top of the battery box. I hope to get an in-person look at the adaptation when you are in the Southwest in a few weeks. I don't know the answer between AGM's and Golf Cart, but I've read some battery threads which made me feel insane after a while.

5. It looks like there's plastic over the carpet under the bed by the exterior access door—good choice. That door can lead a little and I taped down Visqueen over the carpet long ago.

Gene
Hi Gene,

Thanks for responding.

You raise some good points.

1> Not that I was that clever but more because of the location, the Black Water Vent is actually not covered by a panel but sits between & pretty close to the Curbside & Center panel.



Here it is just peaking out from between the two panels.


As to whether the gases emitted are going to be acidic & corrosive...hmmm I guess it isn't in use that much of the year but we'll have to see. Maybe I'll have to modify things if it proves to be a problem.

2> The access panel was there from the factory. It's not that obvious at first glance.

3> Yes. It's tempting to hope for the best & if it ain't broke...but, I think there is a real design flaw in these. The integrity of the water barrier is totally dependent on the caulk. If I hadn't drilled my "test" hole, I wold not have know that the insulation was sodden there. The aft (gray) water vent was the real leaker. The Black tank vent was only just starting to leak. I was surprised how easily the caulk came of using some of that Bleche White stuff to soften it up. With the new metal caps, I had to fiddle with the top of the pipe / cap interface to get rid of the natural gap between the pipe top & flange. I put in expanding waterproof foam gasket & caulked it all over before putting on the "lid". It's a tight fit. Hopefully it will allow some flex without failure.

4> Thanks. I hope to show you my high school metal work project in person... ;-)
The AGM's are probably better but unless you are really stressing the limits of storage & discharge, I'm not sure that they make sense for everyone. Obviously, if there is any plan to go to 4 batteries with at least 2 in the living compartment then AGM's would definitely be the way to go.

5> We seem to be singing off the same page. One of the first things I did after gasping in surprise to see carpet on the storage locker floor was to cover it up with some rubber mat. (Who decides these things?)

Thanks again Gene.

-evan
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:43 AM   #41
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Thanks for this very informative thread and photo essay. For those of us contemplating solar installation, your thread is very helpful. Hank
Thank you Hank. I had hoped it might be useful to others contemplating something like this. Perhaps people can learn from my mistakes...

-evan
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:49 AM   #42
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Although AGM batteries are fine in their own right and give you more options, I don't see how choosing to go with Golf Cart Batteries is a bad choice. LOTS of RVers use GC batteries, myself included.

I respect Lew's opinions quite a bit (he helped guide me in installing my Freedom 10 Inverter-Charger) and would be interested to know exactly why he said AGMs were a better choice.

Hi again Mike,

Thanks for the reassuring comments.

Lew's comment to me was this:

Quote:
The only place where you cheated yourself is with your batteries. AM Solar responds especially well to AGM batteries like Lifelines. In fact, they are the only batteries that I will use when I install AM Solar charging systems.

Many reasons like never having to touch them once installed, much quicker re-charge rates due to their very low internal resistance, and very low self discharge, also due to the low internal resistance.

That should be your next upgrade!
I accept the idea that the AGM's will perform better under high draw situations or if one were going to go to 4 batteries & some would have to be in the living space compartment. Then AGM would be a definite choice, but I simply wasn't sure that at more than twice the price, that they would be worth the extra cost to me. Maybe Lew is correct & I'll be upgrading in the future, but I have a hunch these GC batteries will do the job well enough. We'll see on this next trip.

-evan
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