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Old 06-24-2015, 10:36 AM   #71
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Old 09-07-2015, 08:26 AM   #72
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To angle or not?

Thanks for your post? We are soon to get our first trailer, a 2016 Classic. I benefited from your post as I believe I too want solar but opted not to have the factory system installed. I have read the AM Solar website - very helpful. Do you have to get on the roof to angle the panels in order to get the effectiveness you spoke of? Did you maximize the number of panels given your Northwest U.S. location?

Thanks for any advice you may offer.

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Originally Posted by tfmkevin View Post
That depends on what you expect, what solar panels you add, and what batteries you use.

If you want to run your air conditioner while boondocking - no, they do not. You'll need either 2 generators or one huge generator for that. No amount of solar that you can fit on a trailer will operate your AC in any reasonable way.

If you want to run forced-air heater overnight in cold weather... maybe. It depends on how much battery capacity you have and if you add enough solar to replace during the day what the heater drains at night.

If you want to run lights, water pump, vent fans, and other light-duty electrics, definitely yes. Solar will do a great job.

The important thing is to size the solar system to your power needs, and to match the battery capacity as well. You need enough solar to replace your daily power use during the effective hours, and enough battery capacity to make up for the gaps when there is little or no solar output.

We have a very large solar system installed on our Airstream, and we have never owned a generator. We could boondock indefinitely (from a power point of view) as the solar system keeps our batteries well charged. We run lights (LED), pump, heater, TVs, laptops/chargers, espresso machine, microwave, wifi router, stereo, and other small electric/electronic appliances. We cannot run the air conditioner or blowdriers while boondocking. We camp in the Pacific Northwest where direct sun is not plentiful, and where most campsites have at least partial shade. We sized our system accordingly.

Our system was installed by AM Solar - it is 5 panels (3x100W plus 2X50W), a MPPT charge controller, an inverter/converter/charger, and 6 AGM golf-cart size batteries. It cost substantially more than a generator, but it is silent, trouble-free, maintenance-free, and clean.
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Old 09-07-2015, 03:30 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by tfmkevin View Post
That depends on what you expect, what solar panels you add, and what batteries you use.

If you want to run your air conditioner while boondocking - no, they do not. You'll need either 2 generators or one huge generator for that. No amount of solar that you can fit on a trailer will operate your AC in any reasonable way.

If you want to run forced-air heater overnight in cold weather... maybe. It depends on how much battery capacity you have and if you add enough solar to replace during the day what the heater drains at night.

If you want to run lights, water pump, vent fans, and other light-duty electrics, definitely yes. Solar will do a great job.

The important thing is to size the solar system to your power needs, and to match the battery capacity as well. You need enough solar to replace your daily power use during the effective hours, and enough battery capacity to make up for the gaps when there is little or no solar output.

We have a very large solar system installed on our Airstream, and we have never owned a generator. We could boondock indefinitely (from a power point of view) as the solar system keeps our batteries well charged. We run lights (LED), pump, heater, TVs, laptops/chargers, espresso machine, microwave, wifi router, stereo, and other small electric/electronic appliances. We cannot run the air conditioner or blowdriers while boondocking. We camp in the Pacific Northwest where direct sun is not plentiful, and where most campsites have at least partial shade. We sized our system accordingly.

Our system was installed by AM Solar - it is 5 panels (3x100W plus 2X50W), a MPPT charge controller, an inverter/converter/charger, and 6 AGM golf-cart size batteries. It cost substantially more than a generator, but it is silent, trouble-free, maintenance-free, and clean.

Sorry, but you are a bit behind the technology curve. I can give you a solar/ lithium battery/ hybrid inverter system that will operate a single A/C SOLELY FROM THE BATTERIES for up to 4 hours (600 A/H lithium) and longer with a larger lithium. I have several of these systems in operation presently.

In addition, a 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter/charger when coupled with a single 2000 watt generator will start and run a single 13.5K roof A/C for as long as you have fuel for the generator to operate.

Be careful about making blanket statements when considering what can and can not be operated by the new battery/solar/inverter systems available today. Energy technology is advancing at very rapidly, making things possible that were unthinkable just a few years ago.


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Old 09-07-2015, 03:59 PM   #74
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We were able to install eight AM Solar 100 watt panels on our 2014 31' Classic and five of the same panels on our 2015 23D.

The Classic has the TriStar 60 MPPT solar charge controller while the 23D has the BlueSky 3024iL solar charge controller.

The Classic has a Magnum MS-2812 converter/inverter/charger while the 23D has the Magnum MSH-3012. The 2812 has two 30 amp rated contacts since our Classic has the 50 amp service which is two hot leads. The 3012 has a single 60 amp rated contact, but could also argument our 2,000 watt generator to run the 13,500 BTU air conditioner.

The Classic has a 600 amp-hour lithium iron phosphate battery while the 23D has the same type but rated 300 amp-hours. Both trailers have remote displays for both the Magnum and the solar charge controller.

Having enough real solar energy available (the advertised ratings are laboratory numbers with real outputs on high quality panels approaching 75% of the advertised rating) coupled with our batteries that can provide up to 85% of their rated power makes remote camping much easier when the furnace blower has to run all night. We can power any AC device we want without worrying about running out of power.
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Old 09-07-2015, 06:22 PM   #75
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Sorry, but you are a bit behind the technology curve.
Lew, this is an old thread recently resurrected. The quoted text from Kevin is from 2011, which is when this thread was started.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:40 PM   #76
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Solar panels vs Generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshAirStmr View Post
Lew, this is an old thread recently resurrected. The quoted text from Kevin is from 2011, which is when this thread was started.

That's what one gets when you answer from an iPhone. Lots of info doesn't display. It was a quote of a quote. :-((


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Old 01-25-2016, 07:21 AM   #77
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Here is a new video from the Wynns that may be of interest. I would be interested to read Lew's opinion of what they say.
Our 960 Watt RV Solar Install – A Step by Step Guide
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Old 01-25-2016, 08:42 PM   #78
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Here is a new video from the Wynns that may be of interest. I would be interested to read Lew's opinion of what they say.
Our 960 Watt RV Solar Install – A Step by Step Guide
Marty,

First, a bit of history on the Wynns. Nice folks, but they push whatever products they get free or cheap. THEY ARE FACTORY SPONSORED!!!! Brings to mind a video of them dancing on their new Go-Power flex panels that were placed on the roof of their last RV. Between the shiny, slippery surface of the panels and the rat's nest of cables that were in place, they got tangled up and almost fell off their roof!!!

Another point: if their last installation of flex panels was so successful, why have they now gone top hard solar modules at 160 watts each???? Again, they push what they get for free or cheap! (I have also posted on my 16 month trial with 500 watts of Grape Solar's Photo Flex panels on my Sprinter roof).

Notice they mentioned Go-Power a few times and Fleetwood also. They obviously got compensation or promotional accommodation from both. Their choice of an Outback charge controller was a good one, but they never mentioned that, nor the fact that their series array connections will be giving them an array output of approx. 100 VDC !!! Nothing wrong with that so long as your solar charge controller can handle that level of voltage. They are probably using the Outback FLEXmax 80 solar charge controller, as this is capable of 150VDC maximum input.

They also mentioned that the cabling from the roof entry point to the solar charge controller was 10AWG. Sorry, but even at that high voltage……. it's seriously deficient for that amount of amperage that their panels are supposed to be producing and the length of their cable run from the roof to their charge controller. And BTW, those panels look great when tilted for completely unobstructed sun exposure, but for all practical purposes, they will be flat on their roof the majority of the time and their array will be partially shaded by their roof A/C units and other roof based items. They should have spent considerably more effort in panel placement with potential shading being the main consideration….especially for a series connected array!!!

Nothing wrong with placing all of your panels in series, but if you have ANY ISSUES with one of the 6 panels in the string…….like partial shading…..you will effectively loose the entire array! After spending all of those dollars for equipment (of course, they got a lot of it FREE!!), I would not chance a system failure like that….preferring to connect all panels in parallel thru a dual bus combiner box to assure for maximum performance in the event of a single module failure.

I am also not a fan of the MC-4 cable connectors (which they use repeatedly) and especially the cable entry apparatus. They still rely on too many connections that are prone to failure (no crimping…only push-in connections) which lead to potential voltage drop.

Any 960 watt solar array, when properly coupled to the right solar charge controller using the proper sized cables should produce up to 60 amps to the batteries in full sun around solar 'noon' from an MPPT controller. I have previously posted a couple of shots of a 1920 watt array that I placed on a Winnebago motor home that gets just over 100 amps to the batteries with a practical maximum of 120 amps.

This system employed 3 individual solar charge controllers (Blue Sky 3024iL rated at 40 amps @ 12VDC) in parallel controlled by a single Blue Sky iPN-PRO remote, which has a capacity of monitoring up to 8 separate solar charge controllers for very large arrays.

Some of their cautions are indeed valid; specifically being certain that your chosen installer (or yourself if DIY) is intimately familiar with the parameters of the system, choosing your components wisely to be certain that they will match your needs, and most of all, having an installer (including yourself) that will not only follow code, but will do a complete, neat and professional job.

Anything else?
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Old 01-26-2016, 12:23 AM   #79
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Hi, I know, I wouldn't climb on the roof to tilt the solar panels.
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Old 01-26-2016, 12:30 AM   #80
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I respectfully disagree with Lew on a few points:

1. 10 AWG wire can quite easily handle the 960 W series connected array with low loss. Let's say the output voltage is 100 V, then the current is 960W/100V = 9.6A. If we assume the 10 AWG wire pair runs 75/2 feet, then the total wire length is 75', and the losses are 75'/1000'/millohm = .075 ohm. At 9.6A the voltage drop is 0.72V. So the voltage loss due to the 10 AWG wires represents a loss of 0.72/100 = 0.72%. Not too shabby!

2. Panels typically have bypass diodes. If one or more of the panels happens to be in shade, then the bypass diodes will pass current and the MPPT controller will find a new operating point. Losing the entire array would be incorrect.
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:19 AM   #81
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Thank you, Lew and Alano. There is so much to learn.
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:28 AM   #82
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The Wynns are sponsored and not technical people. Just watch Jason's video on installing a composting toilet. They just have really good production value because that's what they do professionally. And that create the air of authority.

But they're not the only ones who are trying to sell something.
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Old 01-26-2016, 06:38 AM   #83
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Our GS-100 solar panels are sold as having a 5.5 amp output so five of them (like on our 23D) are capable of a 27.5 amp current which exceeds the continuous load rating of #10 wire which is 24 amps per the National Electric Code. On our Classic with nine of the same panels, they current generated would approach 49.5 amps which greatly exceeds the 30 amp maximum current rating of #10 wire.

The TriStar 60 MPPT remote display has shown 600 watts coming off the existing eight solar panels, Dividing by the nominal 12.5 VDC means 48 amps of current. Dividing by 18 Vdc would be 33.3 amps. So #10 wire lacks the amperage capacity for our installation before even considering voltage drop.
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Old 01-26-2016, 10:03 AM   #84
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I still have my GS print out I got with my latest panel. My GS-135 is rated at 7.71 IMP and the GS-100 is rated at 5.7 IMP. So 7.71 amps *3 = 23.13amps + 5.70amps =28.83amps.

Quote:
1. 10 AWG wire can quite easily handle the 960 W series connected array with low loss. Let's say the output voltage is 100 V, then the current is 960W/100V = 9.6A. If we assume the 10 AWG wire pair runs 75/2 feet, then the total wire length is 75', and the losses are 75'/1000'/millohm = .075 ohm. At 9.6A the voltage drop is 0.72V. So the voltage loss due to the 10 AWG wires represents a loss of 0.72/100 = 0.72%. Not too shabby!
I'm not sure how you arrived at this. If I use the Vpm rating of my panels and do 17.5 * 4 I get 70 volts. Following your math example

500W/70V = 7.14A - Pretty sure my system is putting out more than 7.14 amps.

Once upon a time. I use this as my handy guide for wiring.
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