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Old 02-22-2024, 12:07 PM   #1
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2017 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Stillwater , Minnesota
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Solar Panel Help

Our 2017 Interstate Airstream RV had a solar panel and other solar panel related parts which stopped working over a year ago. We live in Minnesota and are looking for a reputable and knowledgeable repair person to get our solar charging capability functioning again. We have purchased a new 100 Watt 12 volt rigid Renogy Solar Panel. Does anyone know of a good person in the Minneapolis Saint Paul metro area who can install the panel and also the recommended upgrade of Victron Energy related components?
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Old 02-23-2024, 08:53 AM   #2
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Our 2017 Interstate Airstream RV had a solar panel and other solar panel related parts which stopped working over a year ago. We live in Minnesota and are looking for a reputable and knowledgeable repair person to get our solar charging capability functioning again. We have purchased a new 100 Watt 12 volt rigid Renogy Solar Panel. Does anyone know of a good person in the Minneapolis Saint Paul metro area who can install the panel and also the recommended upgrade of Victron Energy related components?
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FWIW, when you find an installer, I'd suggest mounting 3 panels to your rooftop. 100 W will not do much to keep your house batteries charged. 3 panels will fit ....photo of our 2015:
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Old 02-26-2024, 11:47 AM   #3
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Hi! I'm from Minnesota but I don't know any installers and I have a trailer. However, I installed all our Victron equipment, so I know a little about that and solar.

I'd agree with @RR, if you're going to add solar might as well get as much as you can up there. I'd also say that it's best to have all your panels match as far as voltage. The Renogy panels aren't that expensive, so maybe I'd ditch the existing one. If you're a DIY person, I know there are mounting kits where you don't have to drill holes, etc. I'd guess there's a box with more than one connection available (on trailers it's standard), so it's a matter of connecting them there.

I have a Victron Smart 100|30 MPPT solar charger for my panels which will support at least 4-5, 100W panels. (With two panels you can get away with 75|15). It should be easy to swap with your existing controller. In fact, if that's the issue with the current panel, you could get one and see if it fixes the problem. It has a Bluetooth interface that makes it easy to track everything. I also have a Victron Shunt to monitor batteries, but not required. Replacing the charger with Victron might be more involved, I know nothing about Interstates however.
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Old 02-27-2024, 07:28 AM   #4
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Another option would be to buy portable suite case panels. That's how we first addressed the woeful 100W flex panel that came OEM. We started with a 200W Zamp and plugged that directly into our coach batteries. We were able to use the battery vent opening to run the connection directly to our batteries.
We added the fixed 300W Renogy panels a few years later.
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Old 02-27-2024, 08:14 AM   #5
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Another option would be to buy portable suite case panels. That's how we first addressed the woeful 100W flex panel that came OEM. We started with a 200W Zamp and plugged that directly into our coach batteries.
There's a lot to be said for a 'Solar Suitcase'. Mainly that you can aim it at the Sun and with an extension (I have a 30' 8 AWG) which allows me to move the panel into the Sun while the trailer sits in the shade.
Admittedly, my panel is puny, a mere 100 w. chosen for cost, size and weight. It included the controller, and I don't have all the Victron bells and whistles, but that's okay.
I have an adapter that takes it from the MC-4's to a SAE-2 so I can plug directly into the Zamp plug on the battery box.

For the trailer folks, I've toyed with the concept of a topper on the truck, and as many solar panels that can fit there. It avoids the leak worry, the truck can be in the Sun, security is not an issue, and I could run an Anderson connector to the trailer.
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Old 02-27-2024, 08:26 AM   #6
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It may be a good idea to have 100 watts for the chassis battery and 200 watts for the house batteries.
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