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Old 10-01-2017, 11:23 PM   #41
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I was getting this notification on my phone - doesn't indicate which forum.
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Old 10-02-2017, 06:02 AM   #42
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The Atkinson controller is junk compared to victron. The Atkinson controller that was installed constantly read 25% when batteries where 100%. Caused no end of concern and confusion. I sent it back to them and they said it was working fine. In the end they figured out what was wrong with it. Replacing it with a victron + bluetooth was a far better solution. Running new 6awg wires isn't that hard. Am solar can sell you everything you need or Lew can do it. The hardest part is the emotional aspect of drilling a hole in your roof .
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:06 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by blkmagikca View Post
I was getting this notification on my phone - doesn't indicate which forum.
No worries, it happens a fair amount.

Anyway, it gave a good opportunity to remind folks that while MPPT solar charge controllers are more expensive up front, they can save a whole lot of hassle and much greater expense down the line.
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Old 10-02-2017, 11:01 AM   #44
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"All that goes away if you use a MPPT charge controller and wire your panels in series."

Agreed! MPPT controllers, unlike PWM types, milk every last drop of juice from your panels. I often see a 20% or more boost in amps. And nowadays they're so affordable (e.g., Victron's $99 75/15) that I wouldn't consider going any other way.

And series wiring lets you take maximum advantage of an MPPT controller. I wire my panels in pairs--each pair of panels connected in series for 36 V, then several pairs wired in parallel with each other for increased amperage. Doubling the voltage this way cuts voltage drop in half, or looking at it another way, lets you use smaller gauge wire (e.g., AWG 8 instead of AWG 6) for the same voltage drop.

Some folks still shy away from series-wiring solar panels because shading one panel reduces the output of all panels in that series string, but with series-parallel pairs as described, I haven't found that to be a problem.
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Old 10-02-2017, 11:46 AM   #45
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Some folks still shy away from series-wiring solar panels because shading one panel reduces the output of all panels in that series string, but with series-parallel pairs as described, I haven't found that to be a problem.
Series-parallel is definitely the way to go on larger installations if shading is a problem, but given the small number of panels that will fit on our vans (3), I think putting them all in series is probably your best bet.
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Old 10-22-2017, 02:26 PM   #46
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Thanks for the write-up. I have ordered the Renogy parts, expect arrival soon.

Looking under the driver jump seat. On my 2017
grand tour ext, the solar negative doesn't connect to the Atkinson controller. Instead it connects to a wire which disappears into a wiring harness. Do a just cut this wire and connect to the Renogy controller? If so, what about the other end of this disconnected wire? Cap-it -off or connect to ground or something else?

Any suggestions? Just answered my own question..

Why could I not find this before I posted??? I promise I looked...

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I see the three wires (red/black/yellow) that you extended that used to be connected to the Atkinson controller. Where did you get the green wire from? Which I assume is or connected to the negative wire from the PV panel? According to the wiring diagram that's usually connected to a negative battery terminal. I'm going to be replacing the Atkinson with a Victron 100/15.
Both the + and - from the panel (yellow and green wires) can be found under that jump seat. They get split and the + goes to the Atkinson while the - goes to the nearest ground. On my coach, they chose the ground stud on the BIM. There's plenty of lead length so it's pretty simple to cut the PV wires and attach them to your controller of choice.
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Old 10-22-2017, 02:45 PM   #47
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Thanks for the write-up. I have ordered the Renogy parts, expect arrival soon.
.
.
Why could I not find this before I posted??? I promise I looked...

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Both the + and - from the panel (yellow and green wires) can be found under that jump seat. They get split and the + goes to the Atkinson while the - goes to the nearest ground. On my coach, they chose the ground stud on the BIM. There's plenty of lead length so it's pretty simple to cut the PV wires and attach them to your controller of choice.
LOL. No worries. Glad you found the answer.

I think you will be very happy with the new controller. My batteries thank me every time I'm at the coach.
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Old 12-05-2017, 01:17 PM   #48
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I have followed this thread with great interest, as we have a 2015 Interstate Grand Tour and have struggled to maintain our battery charge while dry camping. Based on what I am learning from this forum, we have come up with a tentative plan: 1) Add 2 GP-Flex-100E solar panes (we currently have 1), 2) replace the Atkinson solar controller with a Victron BlueSolar 100/30 solar controller with fondle, 3) possibly replace our Lifeline 12v batteries with 6v batteries.

Does this sound like a good plan, as we enjoy camping out more than staying at RV resorts, and we are constantly struggling with keeping our batteries up (we have stopped using our freezer altogether)? And, if so, where might we go to have the work performed? We live in Steamboat Springs, CO, a small town with very limited RV services, and our Airstream is currently spending the winter in Tucson, AZ.
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Old 12-05-2017, 08:07 PM   #49
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Does this sound like a good plan, as we enjoy camping out more than staying at RV resorts, and we are constantly struggling with keeping our batteries up (we have stopped using our freezer altogether)?
It totally depends on how you camp.

If you camp for a week and don't want to park in the sun, then the changes you mention won't help much. If you ARE willing to park in the sun, then you'd need to do a bit of analysis to determine how much energy you typically use per day vs. how much you'll bring in. With 3 x 100W panels, you should pull in about 15A mid-day. Over the course of a day, that may mean 60-80A(ish) total. As long as you don't use more than that over a 24hr period, you should be able to boondock as long as the sun shines. If it doesn't shine for 1-2 days, then you'll likely need to run the engine or the generator for a bit to fill the batteries back up. If you only stay in one spot for 1-2 days and then move on (which is what I do), then the setup you're considering should be just fine, rain or shine.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:55 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grob View Post
I have followed this thread with great interest, as we have a 2015 Interstate Grand Tour and have struggled to maintain our battery charge while dry camping. Based on what I am learning from this forum, we have come up with a tentative plan: 1) Add 2 GP-Flex-100E solar panes (we currently have 1), 2) replace the Atkinson solar controller with a Victron BlueSolar 100/30 solar controller with fondle, 3) possibly replace our Lifeline 12v batteries with 6v batteries.

Does this sound like a good plan, as we enjoy camping out more than staying at RV resorts, and we are constantly struggling with keeping our batteries up (we have stopped using our freezer altogether)?
Hello Grob:
We too have had the standard Interstate battery/boondocking issues. We self-installed two additional GP Flex panels using 3M VHB tape (so no holes) in the spring of this year and found they made a significant difference - when there is sun!

We have not yet changed out the controller, as we want something that will match the existing SunExplorer monitor. In talking with Atkinson, it appears they might have a backwards compatible MMPT controller coming out this spring, so we are waiting to see if that materializes. For us it would be the best and easiest solution, as there would be no visible modification to our Interstate!

BATTERIES: In October we replaced our 2 12v Lifeline original batteries with 4 6v Lifeline's - custom installed by Airstream in Jackson Center. They did a great install, but we cannot yet report how much storage we've gained. Still glad we did it . . . .

We too like StateParks over private RV parks; however, as FlyFishinRVr advisedly points out, 'if you don't park in the sun,' [which is so very often the case in state, federal or county parks], the additional solar panels don't always make that much difference.

When we boondocked at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta this October (before changing our 12v for 6v batteries) in full sun all day, [parking lot, no trees and good sunshine] we had great solar charging power so we even turned our freezer back on during the day. Still ran the generator for 1 hour in the AM (Nespresso machine) and same in evening....and our freezer even kept our ice cream from melting (it was soft however.)

Now with 6v things might be better - and eventually with an MMPT controller, even better yet. But, overall, I believe one still needs to accept that there is a reason we have a generator....
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Old 12-13-2017, 08:41 AM   #51
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Maybe looking into Lithium batteries like the battleborn will be more useful increase of the storage capacity.
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Old 12-13-2017, 09:21 AM   #52
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Year in review

So I sat down and looked back at the year in review.

changed solar controller
added 100w of solar
add two coach batteries
corrected bad vent situation on refrigerator

Apparently, I did all of this so my deli ham and milk wouldn't spoil when I was visiting a museum or parked overnight at Wal*Mart.

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Old 01-08-2018, 09:45 PM   #53
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Very informative and a nice write up. I too am cursing the Atkinson set up. I surmise the reason that Airstream chose it was the space. I tore into the power distribution box under the rear DS rear seat to investigate the space available. I looked at the Regony, Blue Sky and Victron products and none will fit easily in the stock location. Considered moving the 150 A fuse to make more room but this will interfere with the fuse panel when put back in place. Am looking at a few other options but none look much better than what "FLY" has accomplished. Does anyone have a solution for any of these options that is different? I like the Victron product but have not investigated the wire routing yet since new cable to the battery monitor is not compatible with RJ45 of the Atkinson. I think the Magnum inverter also has a temp compensation lead but will the Victron require a second one? What recommendations for the location of the 500A shunt for the Victron BMV? Seems like it can be added on "cable 8" in the area of the driver side rear compartment under the cup holder. Any recommendations for splice connections for the solar contoller? I like crimps best but what manufacturer/supply is best? I do not want marginal connections since I plan on having this rig for a long time.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:52 PM   #54
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"What recommendations for the location of the 500A shunt for the Victron BMV?"

It must be located close to the battery or batteries, with a jumper from the negative terminal of the battery bank to the shunt and all other negative connections on the other terminal of the shunt. In other words,the shunt must be the only thing connected to the negative post of the battery bank. This ensures that all current flows through the shunt, which is necessary for the BMV battery monitor to do its job. Any other wiring will cause inaccurate readings.

This video explains how to set it up.
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Old 01-09-2018, 09:42 AM   #55
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For what its worth:

I had already installed the Magnum battery monitor kit and associated shunt by the time I changed from Atkinson to Blus Sky solar controller. I found that I was able to wire both the Magnum and Blue Sky wires to the shunt in parallel. They are both high impedance, so one does not mess up the other. I don't really need both monitors, but figured I use them since I had them. I found the percent charge agrees pretty well - the difference being that the lowest total capacity I can set on the Magnum is 200AH, so the SOC is a percent of 200 whereas I actually have only 160AH with the two group 24's. The Blue Sky let me set 160 AH capacity, so it's SOC is accurate.
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Old 01-09-2018, 09:54 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by Titus View Post
For what its worth:

I had already installed the Magnum battery monitor kit and associated shunt by the time I changed from Atkinson to Blus Sky solar controller. I found that I was able to wire both the Magnum and Blue Sky wires to the shunt in parallel. They are both high impedance, so one does not mess up the other. I don't really need both monitors, but figured I use them since I had them. I found the percent charge agrees pretty well - the difference being that the lowest total capacity I can set on the Magnum is 200AH, so the SOC is a percent of 200 whereas I actually have only 160AH with the two group 24's. The Blue Sky let me set 160 AH capacity, so it's SOC is accurate.
I have not done anything to the Magnum controller after installing the additional bank of batteries Should I be going in an changing settings in it??
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:41 PM   #57
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If you have the Magnum battery monitor kit installed (wasn't standard on my 2013) you need to update the capacity of the battery bank. That is used to determine % state of charge. It may also influence other parameters (charge rate?). I installed the temperature compensator, battery monitor kit, and upgraded remote (ME-RC) and I don't recall what features/parameters come with what devices. So, yes, I would check to see if any of the settings need to be updated on whatever it is that you have.
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Old 01-09-2018, 03:59 PM   #58
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I had my solar system upgraded with the Blue Sky 2512i controller and the Blue Sky IPN Remote.......discovered, and confirmed with Blue Sky, that the system will record AHRS input from the solar controller only. I still have the Magnum ME-RC for the new Magnum Hybrid Inverter and (in a box) I have a Magnum BMK (monitor). To get the input from the generator and inverter/charger I will have to reinstall the BMK in parallel with IPN Remote connections at the shunt.
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Old 01-09-2018, 04:38 PM   #59
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I spent the afternoon taking out the Atkinson. What seemed to be a simple task took quite a while. My twin bed modification limits access to the electrical area to the width between the beds. One screw holding the Atkinson came out easily; the other screw was buried deep in wiring and totally invisible, even with a lighted inspection mirror. I could not even see the wire connections to the controller for all the clutter.

I solved this by screwing a 4" square template to the back of the electronics area and cutting a hole with my SonicCrafter. Even then, I was working under the overhanging head of the bed and it was difficult to see or access the remaining screw head. I was finally able to get a screwdriver in the right place, pull the Atkinson out through the access hole, and cut off the wires.

Next task is to route wires up to the new Blue Sky controller and make a cover for the new access hole.

I am really surprised that the wires to the Atkinson are potted. Last time I ran into potting was when I was working on the moon landing hardware in Huntsville in 1965.
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Old 01-09-2018, 05:26 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Titus View Post
If you have the Magnum battery monitor kit installed (wasn't standard on my 2013) you need to update the capacity of the battery bank. That is used to determine % state of charge. It may also influence other parameters (charge rate?). I installed the temperature compensator, battery monitor kit, and upgraded remote (ME-RC) and I don't recall what features/parameters come with what devices. So, yes, I would check to see if any of the settings need to be updated on whatever it is that you have.
Thank you. Went over the manual and changed the Batt AmpHrs parameter from 200 to 400 AH to reflect the additional capacity (there is no intermediate value to select, for example, 320 AH )

I left the following parameters the same:

AC IN parameter 30 Amps
Charge Rate parameter at 50%
LBCO parameter at 11 VDC
BAT TYPE parameter AGM 1
VAC DROP parameter 100 VAC
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