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Old 06-27-2013, 11:36 AM   #1
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Solar Panels from Costco

I just found, and ordered, two 100 watt Grape Solar panels from Costco.com. $160 each including shipping. They are aprox 27"x40" and probably will fit in a lot of places on an RV roof. I found two good locations on my new 2014 FC 20'.

Grape Solar 100 Watt Polycrystalline PV Solar Panel

Grape Solar is a company in Oregon, and the panels apparently come from China. About the same warrantee as everyone else, and by the time it runs out, the company will be long gone. There is a lot of that in the panel industry these days, unfortunately.

Shipping for other panels I have looked at has been a killer, often over $100 to have one or two delivered to you, so the Costco deal is even sweeter. If you are not happy with them, they can be returned to any Costco store.
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Old 06-27-2013, 12:18 PM   #2
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Which charge controller and mounting system will you use?
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:14 PM   #3
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I just finished my solar installation using a AM Solar kit. The Costco panels have good performance spec's but seem kind of wide. I would have had trouble with them for my situation. You'll have to come up with a mounting method, and you'll need other hardware such as a charge controller, a low resistance circuit breaker between that and the battery and a solar cutoff switch, wire and so forth. Have fun, it a great DIY project!
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:49 PM   #4
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Finished installing my AM Solar system. I did a Signature 100/25/6 Pro System. Used four 100 watt panels on my roof -- which basically means there is no real estate left for anything else. The install was very clean. Interestingly, putting the panels up was the easy part. Running heavy cabling down to the roof (used the plumbing vent...very easy), but getting all the other wiring -- battery, control wiring, charge controller, remote, etc. took a full day. Also installed two Lifeline GPL-24T's to replace the stock Interstates. Hopefully, I'm through with electrical for awhile!
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAB View Post
Finished installing my AM Solar system. I did a Signature 100/25/6 Pro System. Used four 100 watt panels on my roof -- which basically means there is no real estate left for anything else. The install was very clean. Interestingly, putting the panels up was the easy part. Running heavy cabling down to the roof (used the plumbing vent...very easy), but getting all the other wiring -- battery, control wiring, charge controller, remote, etc. took a full day. Also installed two Lifeline GPL-24T's to replace the stock Interstates. Hopefully, I'm through with electrical for awhile!
Do you have a thread or some posts with photos and a step by step walk through of your installation? I have seen many, but can't remember seeing yours.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:22 AM   #6
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I have always purchased batteries and other RV related stuff from costco. I love their we will always take it back return policy. This is pretty exciting that they offer solar panels. Has anyone seen them in stores?
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:52 AM   #7
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Amazon appears to have the same 100 Watt panel for $179 plus shipping and, in my case, 10% sales tax. Costco deal is much better.
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:32 AM   #8
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I have been doing solar systems since 1995 so I am very familiar with the parts and issues. I do volunteer solar work for the Forest Service.

I will be using a Blue Sky MPPT charge controller and the built in pre wiring on my 2014 FC.

I will be developing the mounting system when the panels arrive. I did a test fit with cardboard of the same dimensions.

When I have things apart, I will also put in a Tri Metric battery monitoring system.

I will try to take photos as the project develops. Right now all is in the shipping process and I am camping in Glacier National Park.
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Old 06-29-2013, 01:19 PM   #9
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idroba--It looks like you could be spending more on the charge controller than the two panels, depending on which Blue Sky you use. I don't understand why there is such a range in price for these controllers. I never mastered electronics but did manage to install (with the aid of Lewster) a PD9260 converter/charger and a Trimetric monitor (tip: use welding cable). Now my batteries won't get fried on shore power when the Airstream is in storage.

I'm not sure I want to go the full solar route, at least for the camping I do. First, I don't have enough "real estate" on my 19' roof for more than one panel. Plus, I boondock where running my 2000i Honda generator is not a problem. My camp neighbors at Quartzsite spend 6 months there and live totally off solar. But I have a 120 VAC television whereas they have 12 VDC sets. Running the generator for an hour or so each evening usually charges me up for the night.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:50 PM   #10
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Why not try one if these: SunRunner Signature 25/6/PRO Core | SunRunner™ Signature System Cores

It has everything you need to set up your system and has a very nice full function battery monitor also....so no need for a Tri-Metric.

PLUS!...........AM Solar has the nicest mounting system in the business!!! 40mm Rocker Foot Mount Set | for Solar Panels

WHy re-invent the wheel????
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Old 06-29-2013, 06:43 PM   #11
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LISTEN to Lewster -- he knows what he's talking about. As I posted above, AM Solar is a terrific company to work with. They had my system to me in 7 days from the time I ordered it. And, trust me, mounting the panels on the roof was the easiest part...depending on which system you buy they will supply a combiner box. You just wire each panel into this idiot proof box, then run a cable to your controller, install the remote (I already had a Tri-Metric, which I don't really need now), wire the controller to your battery(ies) along with a couple of other wires (one measures batt. temp), the other monitors how much current you take out and need to replace, and a bunch of other stuff. My trailer is in its shed, but I'll be taking it out over the 4th and expect to see my batteries charge using the sun! (Thanks, Lew, for your help with this!)
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Old 06-30-2013, 02:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 50KIP View Post
idroba--It looks like you could be spending more on the charge controller than the two panels, depending on which Blue Sky you use. I don't understand why there is such a range in price for these controllers.
(snip)
This is the MPPT charge controller I am using. $210, not too terribly bad.

Blue Sky Solar Boost SB2512iX - 25 Amp 12 Volt MPPT Charge Controller
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Old 06-30-2013, 02:39 PM   #13
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You could add a very nice battery monitor with 500 amp shunt to that controller with the iPN remote. Makes a very nice package. This is the #1 controller that I install for solar arrays up to 400 watts. Very versatile and totally adjustable with the remote unit.
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Old 07-03-2013, 06:07 PM   #14
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....and about an hour ago I pulled my Airstream out of its shed for the first time since installing the four solar panels. Green lights flashing and I am now making my own electricity. Taking SilverLeaf out for the 4th of July -- long weekend, and will take some photos of the install and post them just in case someone else decides to go the AM Solar route. 400W of solar is going to make a difference in how I use my trailer.
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