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Old 03-26-2010, 11:51 AM   #43
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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

Thank you Joe. There are are always an amazing number of decisions that need to be made during these sorts of projects. I hope that others might find some of my experience helpful; even if only as to knowing what not to do.

-evan
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:31 PM   #44
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Evan - I noticed the panels looked different. Is the center panel the new AM100-M monocrystalline panel? I have a the same system, but with 1 AM100 and am planning to add 1 AM100-M. Curious how well they played together. Thanks!
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Old 03-26-2010, 01:38 PM   #45
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There are some people who install AGM's inside because they are supposed to be sealed. But some say they have vents and therefore it may not be wise to put them inside. I do not know the conclusive answer, but given the nature of battery gases, I think if I were thinking of installing AGM's inside, I'd want to know.

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Old 03-26-2010, 01:49 PM   #46
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The Prius uses an AGM battery for 12 volts, and it is stored in the trunk. It has vent tubes to the outside in case it out-gasses.
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Old 03-26-2010, 03:23 PM   #47
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Evan - I noticed the panels looked different. Is the center panel the new AM100-M monocrystalline panel? I have a the same system, but with 1 AM100 and am planning to add 1 AM100-M. Curious how well they played together. Thanks!
That was a pretty astute observation ostream.

I didn't mention that I initially ordered the two panel kit & later decided that I would get a third panel. The third panel from AM Solar does look a little different & has a very different wiring harness (Heat sealed connectors & no connector box). I just thought they were cosmetically different & it never occurred to me that they might be a different technology. AM Solar made no mention of any incompatibility issues. I'll have to ask,but I doubt that there will be a problem. (Maybe you should ask Roger at AM Solar & see what he says. I'd be interested in his answer but I may email him too.)

Under cloudy skies when I was wiring the panels they all registered similar voltages to each other (around 24V)but their current producing capabilities may vary I suppose.

I'll let you know if there seem to be any issues.

-evan
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:22 PM   #48
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Evan: You're Hired!

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing it.

Randy Bowman
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Old 03-27-2010, 09:21 AM   #49
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That was a pretty astute observation ostream.

(Maybe you should ask Roger at AM Solar & see what he says. I'd be interested in his answer but I may email him too.)

-evan
From Roger - "AM100 is a polycrystalline panel, AM100-M is a monocrystalline panel (a little better performance in lower light conditions). Functional specifications for both panels are almost identical (we designed the AM100-M to be compatible with the AM100). Physical dimensions for both panels are the same."


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Old 03-27-2010, 09:42 AM   #50
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You're probably right. In retrospect, I could have probably got away with using the factory pre-wire with the 3 panels (~35 amps max?) . I didn't want to compromise on all this though & went with the higher spec. Would I do it again?

I'm not sure but I suspect that knowing what I know now, I might install the panels using the stock pre-wire & if I were seeing currents in the 30 + range add the 8 AWG wire as a revision.

-evan
An easy work around in that situation would be to wire the panels in series and or parallel depending on how many panels you have so that you are sending 24v to the charge controller. This will decrease the required wire size due to the higher voltage. The caveat is that your charge controller must be capable of accepting the higher voltages and outputting the desired voltage of your system. Most charge controller companies have MPPTs that are capable of doing this.
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Old 03-27-2010, 10:55 AM   #51
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From Roger - "AM100 is a polycrystalline panel, AM100-M is a monocrystalline panel (a little better performance in lower light conditions). Functional specifications for both panels are almost identical (we designed the AM100-M to be compatible with the AM100). Physical dimensions for both panels are the same."


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Thanks ostream,

That's a pretty definitve answer. I am impressed that I am getting pretty good output from the system even with fairly low angle or overcast skies.

Yesterday at around 5pm with milky sun, I put on all the overhead halogens & was seeing 9 amps of charging current.

I'm pleased so far.

- evan
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:01 AM   #52
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An easy work around in that situation would be to wire the panels in series and or parallel depending on how many panels you have so that you are sending 24v to the charge controller. This will decrease the required wire size due to the higher voltage. The caveat is that your charge controller must be capable of accepting the higher voltages and outputting the desired voltage of your system. Most charge controller companies have MPPTs that are capable of doing this.
Hi Overlander

The panels produce 24 V output. In parallel, they don't overload the controller which would not handle 48 V from a series install.

The wiring as it is should do the job and I don't think it will have any significant voltage drop with the wiring as it is.

Now if we were to want to go to more than 4 panels, that would require a whole re-design.

-evan
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:50 PM   #53
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Yesterday at around 5pm with milky sun, I put on all the overhead halogens & was seeing 9 amps of charging current.

- evan
Now is the time to get LED's to replace the halogens and save even more battery power. But some LED's don't fit the reading lights as well because the pins are too short. I made some adaptations to get them to fit.

Gene
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Old 03-28-2010, 12:31 AM   #54
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Now is the time to get LED's to replace the halogens and save even more battery power. But some LED's don't fit the reading lights as well because the pins are too short. I made some adaptations to get them to fit.

Gene

Ha! ...we've had this discussion before. We've grappled with many of the same issues it seems

I know the Halogens are real power hogs but I do like the quality of their light & especially with the dimmers, they can give a very nice mood to our little nest. (Most of the current LED's will not allow dimming I understand although there are some newer ones out now that can be dimmed.)

I have replaced the reading light halogens as well as half of the dual light fixtures in the bathroom & kitchen with LEDs . I have yet to find any that have a truly pleasing spectrum though. They are either too cool or the Warm white ones have a very sickly green hue to them. I too got caught buying LED's that were too short & had to solder finishing nail extensions onto them to get them to fit the reading light fixtures.

Cheers.

-evan
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:33 AM   #55
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I love solar panels and if I could afford it I would cover my entire RV with them!! Nice work!
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Old 04-09-2010, 08:23 AM   #56
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now that you have the panels installed, what will they run? is it just like being plugged in to 30 amps (full use of AC, TV, etc.)? thx.
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