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Old 08-28-2007, 11:42 PM   #1
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solar panels for my 22' flying cloud

i'm looking into solar panel setup for my flying cloud. the FC has 3 roof vents so i can fit two kyocera 85W panels between each of the vents (one thought was to eliminate the middle vent and go with a kyocera 130W panel and an 85W panel for a total of 215W, but i think i want to keep the middle vent).

DISCLAIMER: the following info is not based on any real experience as my FC is still apart. HOWEVER, i've been pouring through rv electric website and am solar for info, so my assumptions are just that, assumptions. i'm not able to make any real world caluclations. i think my 30 amp hours a day is a good enough assumption for planning for right now (i'm an experienced backpacker/tent camper so conserving power will not be difficult for me and would consider myself to be a conservative user). with that disclaimer out of the way, the following are my thoughts so far.

so i'll have 170W of panels which will produce on average about 48 amp hours a day. assuming an average use of 30 amp hours a day for consumption, the 170W panels should be fine.

i'm assuming i'll have a battery bank of 210 amp hours of which 80% is usable and i can theoretically consume 50% of that or 85 amp hours per day (but based on my calculation above, i would only be consuming 30 amp hours a day, so in theory i could boondock for three days without charging the batteries).

my questions are the following;

based on my 170W panels and 30 amp hours per day assumption, is it even necessary to consider adding another 85 solar panel that can be placed on the ground and moved around as needed? or is that additional panel overkill?

also, should i consider increasing the battery bank size?

is 30 amp hours consumption per day realistic for planning purposes, even if i consider myself a conservative user?

what should i be looking at for a controller? i've looked at several on the various websites but haven't been able to study it enough to understand what would work.
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:22 AM   #2
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Hey, David...

I don't feel qaulified to answer your questions, but here's a thread you might want to review...it was started by SilverGate (who has a 2007 23' Safari) and deals with factory-installed solar panels ... He does a tremendous job of detailing the components involved in the factory set-up, including charge controller and monitoring display panel. We have a factory solar panel on our Bambi and I uploaded a few other items to that thread that may be useful, too. (I can also get you the electrical schematics, etc that I didn't include in the uploads I made if you want them.)

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f448...tem-35476.html

Good luck with the project...its sounds like you are going to have a monster solar system!

Happy Solar Trails...
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:45 AM   #3
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You can visit the Sierra Nevada Unit web site at:

http://sierranevadaairstreams.org/ow...uvt/index.html

for a copy of my article on installing two 130 Kycoera panels on our 25' CCD. It also includes links to a more verbose description of the installion and a photo album showing the work.

I didn't do a detailed analysis of our loads because we had some experience with solar in our first Airstream, a 22' CCD with a 50 watt panel. We like to boondock or stay at campgrounds that don't typically have hookups and only use an inveter to operate out flat panel TV and charge various devices; computer, electric broom, camera batteries, etc.

I purchased the largest panels I could find that would fit on our 25' CCD. I do believe that our install could easily support a larger battery capacity but there is no way to easily add capacity unless I move them inside and under the front sofa. What I thought I would do as an alternative is carry a Group 27 Gell battery in a separate plastic battery box with us in cooler weather so we can connect it up as needed. This separate battery has a dual purpose, i use it to power my amateur radio gear also.

BTW, you might note that I have our panels wired in series for a nominal 24 volt system and use a MPPT (maximum power point tracking) charge controller to convert the charge voltage and current down to the 12 volt system. The article details my reasons for the series installtion but the MPPT charge controllers have advantages even with a 12 volt system.
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Old 08-29-2007, 01:01 AM   #4
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Amps per day??

David - you have a good start on figuring battery capacity and solar charging output.

We're solar proponents - have 6 75 watt Siemens on our boat & 2 - 85 W on our 34'. Our previous '74 31' had 2 75 Siemens with 330 AH of AGM batteries.

One thing that you might want to do is add up the amperage of all of your 12 Volt appliances, lights, etc. that you will be using in the trailer and compile a comsumption chart. There are several marine books that detail common 12V consumption; when I'm at the boat, I'll see if I can scan a table that shows basic 12V power draws.

For example, your water pump might draw 5 amps (per hour); if you run your pump for a cumulative total of 30 minutes per day, then the consumption is 2.5 amps. One 20 watt light bult would draw 1.67 amps x 3 per fixture * 4 hours = 20 amps . . .

So, consider what you will be running. That's the best way to estimate what your usage will be.
We've installed more efficient 12V lighting in our rigs - check out Doctor LED, Dr. LED, is a designer and manufacturer of LED-based lighting solutions for landscape, marine, boat, RVs, cars, solar panel, interior, and outdoor applications. - new, low draw (.1 amp) led lights that have a warm, incandescent glow ( not the cool blue led cast)
Also, there are several 3 -4 stage solar charge regulators that make more efficient usage of the solar input - Blue Skies, Morningstar, AM Solar.

Keep in mind that solar panels become less efficient as the temperatures increase - in 110 degree weather, we've seen the panel output drastically reduce!

FYI, at 70-80 degrees, we've seen up to 25 amps from our 6 boat panels peak output; our "theoretical" output is 26.4 amps. This only lasts about 1.5 hours, with best charging running about 5-6 hours per day.
The 2 panels on the trailer maxed out around 7 amps.

Even when the sky is overcast, we still have charging, except the input is drastically decreased.
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:08 AM   #5
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david,
you might want to use an ammeter to test the actual current draw of what you use. a helper would be handy ;-) one reads the meter, the other flips switches. this way you get actual usage, including any resistance in the wiring. i'm interested in a similar setup. do they make solar awnings? ;-)
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Old 08-31-2007, 04:58 AM   #6
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I have been thinking about a solar panel system on my 1959 Flying Cloud too. I will be watching with interest how you go about this project. I live in the Florida Panhandle so we have plenty of sun to use a system like this. My main thinking would be fans and limited power use items. We plan on using the AS over at the beach. Trying to figure the best way to go. But the list of things to do is getting longer all the time.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:50 PM   #7
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I've been extremely happy with the HPV-22B boost controller from AM Solar. For years I have been looking at solar systems/controllers and this controller is the way to go for a little extra umph on the charging side. It is doing an excellent job of handling the 265 watts on my Sovereign roof. I'm running only one 115 amp hr. 12 volt battery and the panels have kept the battery at full charge on a sunny day with both Fantastic Vent fans running on high speed. I think your battery bank is large enough so before I would spend more money on an additional panel, I'd test her out over a few days to see what is going on with a good controller. To get the whole picture, buy a Trimetrics from Bogart Manufacturing and wire it into the system. It will let you know amperage draw from each appliance and exactly how full your battery is. I would not draw more than 50% from your battery bank rather than the 80% stated to make your batteries last.
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Old 10-19-2007, 11:52 PM   #8
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craig, great solar info as always.

so this is the package i'm looking at;

https://ssl4.westserver.net/rvsolare.../orderform.htm

it's the super panel kit which will be an 85 watt kyocera panel, wiring, etc. i'll also get the hpv 22B which they sell here as well. then i'll also get another 85 watt panel.

is this the battery monitor you were suggesting?

TriMetric Battery System Monitor

i'm still trying to figure out what i want for the batteries.

so for about $1400 bucks or so (not counting the batteries), i'd have a pretty complete solar system for my trailer.
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Old 10-20-2007, 08:43 PM   #9
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David,
RV Solar Electric is also a good company and the 85 watt Kyocera panel should fit your needs if you have figured where you are going to mount it. I just replaced the Walmart Everstart battery in my trailer and figure it is 4 years old. It had been run down to 10.5 volts several times lately due to not turning on the solar panels and the wife disconnecting the power cord while the Fantastic Vent fans were running all day on medium. I have since found that the battery is OK so I will use it for emergencies. I replaced it with a Trojan 12 volt 27 MTH and it has done well on solar power for the last 3 weeks at the hunting camp off grid.

Yes, the Trimetric will fill in the blanks that the HPV-22B charge controller does not give you. They really complement each other. Let me know how your system works out.
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Old 11-05-2007, 08:33 PM   #10
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Unhappy Warranty Warning

Good Folks,
An interesting and disappointing problem with newly purchased Sharp solar panels. I received my panels a few days ago from Solatron (dba partsonsale.com on the internet). When kit with two 125 watt panels, brackets, charge controller and wire arrived the panels had a warranty update taped to them stating, "Warranty coverage does not apply when the Product is installed in a mobile or marine environment, subjected to improper voltage or power surges or abnormal environmental conditions (such as acid rain or other pollution)"

This seems to have caught the dealer by surprise and is likely caused by the 2007 shortage on panels. The brand we asked for was Kyocera and are not available for remainder of 2007. I asked the dealer why they would sell a panel for rv use which is not warranted. They suggested they would provide me a written warranty from the dealer, although their literature stridently advises against accepting a dealer warranty in lieu of mfr warranty. (http://www.partsonsale.com/gridtiequestions.html)

They're sending me the dealer warranty by snail mail. I'll not install panels until asking some help on this. I bought fully warranted panels from the dealer. They seem, accidentally or not, to have shipped panels not warranted in the use for which I purchased. Too much money tied up in the purchase to ignore the risks without sufficient consideration.

What do you think?
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Old 11-05-2007, 08:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamStreamr
Good Folks,
An interesting and disappointing problem with newly purchased Sharp solar panels. I received my panels a few days ago from Solatron (dba partsonsale.com on the internet). When kit with two 125 watt panels, brackets, charge controller and wire arrived the panels had a warranty update taped to them stating, "Warranty coverage does not apply when the Product is installed in a mobile or marine environment, subjected to improper voltage or power surges or abnormal environmental conditions (such as acid rain or other pollution)"

This seems to have caught the dealer by surprise and is likely caused by the 2007 shortage on panels. The brand we asked for was Kyocera and are not available for remainder of 2007. I asked the dealer why they would sell a panel for rv use which is not warranted. They suggested they would provide me a written warranty from the dealer, although their literature stridently advises against accepting a dealer warranty in lieu of mfr warranty. (http://www.partsonsale.com/gridtiequestions.html)

They're sending me the dealer warranty by snail mail. I'll not install panels until asking some help on this. I bought fully warranted panels from the dealer. They seem, accidentally or not, to have shipped panels not warranted in the use for which I purchased. Too much money tied up in the purchase to ignore the risks without sufficient consideration.

What do you think?
Jim,

Request a full refund and send them back at the dealers cost.

Bill
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Old 11-07-2007, 10:47 PM   #12
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Photovoltaic with wind assist?

David, your setup seems like it will work well with the small draw you are planning. I just installed a Morningstar ProStar 30M (charge controller) last weekend for a friend of ours and am very impressed with its fit & function. If you'd like to tinker with this photovoltaic installation, I'd recommend a bit more research about what components will fit your needs the best and get the pieces you need. Unfortunately, I've noticed many of the kits offered for RV's aren't tailored to the individual owner. On that note, the wife and I are kicking around the idea of putting our 2 110W Mitsubishi panels on our AS with either a Outback or Morningstar controller. We will be living in the unit full time come may (our next place will be off the grid when we move this spring) so we will also be looking for a true sine wave inverter to run misc. appliances. My main concern, & I'm sure you thought of this, is the temperature inside the AS when the sun's shining on it charging the system. I imagine you'll need a little bit of cooling (unless your out enjoying the great outdoors during the afternoon ) to inhabit the trailer during the day. Therefore, I'm considering a stand alone (portable, of course) photovoltaic array that I can lock to the TV. We're also considering a portable Air-X 400 Watt wind generator to supplement the system on cloudy (or really hot) days. I've seen portable units that utilize a mount anchored by the AS's tires.
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