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Old 08-04-2003, 08:26 PM   #1
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Solar Prewire, What Does It Mean?

We are shopping for a new International CCD and understand that they are pre-wired for solar. Could someone tell me what this means. Is it simply plug and play....bolt the panel to the roof and plug it in?

Also do you know if we could add a second battery and charge it with the panel as well?

Dot
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Old 08-04-2003, 09:22 PM   #2
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Not plug and play

Solar prewire only means that a pair of 10 guage wires are run from a point at the roof (exact location depends on model, but the owners manual tells you where) to a location near the central monitoring panel. Then another pair of 10 gauge wires are run from the monitor panel location to the 12V terminal block near the front of the trailer (this is where the battery(s) connect as well as all the 12v lamps/accessories and the charger/convertor.

To make all this work, you have to purchase solar panel(s), build or buy mounting hardware, drill holes in roof and mount the solar panels, drill another hole in the roof, fish out the solar wiring hopefully under the hole, connect the wiring to the panel(s), purchase a solar controller, install the solar controller near the central monitoring panel (ie has readouts and usually one or two switches), connect the wires from the solar panels to the solar controller, connect the wires from the 12 V terminal block to the solar controller and finally connect the wires from the solar controller to the 12V terminal block. In addition, it is recommended that you install a 12V surge protector to (similar to a whole house unit, but rated for 12V systems.

All of this is usually beyond what owners typically want to undertake as a DIY, but it can be done. I am a EE and pretty mechanically inclined so I did mine myself. I have 2, 55W panels and a MPPT solar controller. I designed the mounts myself and did the fabrication. I probably invested 20 hours of so, start to finish. Understand that solar usually means that you have simply made your batteries have a longer usage between "real" recharging. On a really clear, sunny, summer day, I can get about 45-60 amp hours of charge (assuming that there are NO daytime 12V loads. As part of my solar system, I also added a Tri-Metric battery telemetry system that allows me to actually track how many amp hours I have withdrawn and replaced. This gives us the information to make the most of the solar capability.

Once this is done, the solar panel will charge as many batteries as you have installed, given enough sunshine and time.
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Old 08-06-2003, 04:14 PM   #3
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Hey David,

If you had it to do over would you still add the solar? Or would you get a small honda gen? I think that most of our camping would be in some sort of partial shade. Hence the question...
I really like that monitor for the elec system.

Abe
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Old 08-06-2003, 05:30 PM   #4
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Would I do it again?

I have yet to buy the Honda EU2000, but it is on my "want" list. There are many factors that I like about solar. I like being to perform a battery equalization with just the push of a button, even when not plugged into 120V (this is a feature of the particular solar controller I selected). With the tow vehicle battery isolator that I selected (Hellroaring.com), I can select no connection, oneway (ie truck to trailer only), or bi-directional (ie current can flow either way). This allows me charge the trailer battery while towing during the day without putting any load on the truck alternator (ie the no connection mode). If I should have an alternator failure, I can switch from no connection or oneway to bi-directional and pull power from both the solar panels and the trailer battery to power the necessary electronics on the truck, which might be the difference in being stranded or making it to the next town. The solar panels do NOT inflict my need for 12V on anyone else, which even the quietest generator invariably imposes. Even in the shade, there is some charging during the day, so the battery capacity is extended before needing either a generator or the the tow vehicle connected to charge it.

With the capacity that most A/S roofs will accomdate (you would be surprised how little space is available even on the longer rigs), you really have to monitor your usage at night or you will find yourself on a loosing curve over a series of days. The Tri-Metric battery monitoring panel that I use not only gives me the aggregate amp-hour situation, it gives me a percentage of capacity available, so it is possible to accurately gauge power usage even for the non-technical.

So, looking back, I would have to say that I have not regretted adding solar to the Bambi and yes, I would do it again.
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Old 08-06-2003, 07:12 PM   #5
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Lightbulb

David,
Again thanks for the info. I never thought about the time in tow...
I like both the controllers that you mentioned. (for the battery and the option to control the power flow to from the truck) Just went to hellroaring.com whew.. need to be an EE to understand. Does in mount on your A/S or your sport? But I know that this has to be the deal for both protection and charging.
Hopefully we can do a hands on this saturday at the VA dealer. I have asked to meet with someone Saturday afternoon. Will hope for the best and will keep you posted!!
Should be interesting the web site says that they have the 04' Bambi in...
Abe
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Old 08-06-2003, 08:26 PM   #6
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Really not all that difficult

Abe,
The Hellroaring unit mounts under the hood of the truck near the alternator. Even though I am a EE, I think anyone that can follow well written instructions, could follow those supplied by Hellroaring. If you choose to add the Tri-Metric/solar/Hellroaring, just let me know if I can help. Good Luck with the dealer. BTW, they will probably try to convince you that they have the perfect hitch for the rig (more profit), but if you want the HH, just stand your ground and tell them no thanks. We will be in Colorado with the VAC Rocky Mnt Rally this weekend, so I will check back on Tuesday to see how things went. (yea I know, our Bambi is not vintage, but with all we did to it, it has had as much of a makeover as some of its older brethren.
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Old 08-06-2003, 08:30 PM   #7
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Have a wonderful and safe trip to CO.
Abe
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