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Old 06-14-2024, 06:49 PM   #1
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2003 30' Classic S/O
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: May 2023
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Need a Solar Inverter/Charger recommendation

Hi all,

I need a suggestion on the best Solar Inverter/Charger to hook up to my existing solar panel set-up on my 2003 Classic w/ S/O.

For context, I had a Renogy 3000W 12V inverter/charger, and it has been TOTAL JUNK. I had to replace the first one within 4 months, and the 2nd one has now went out on my first trip of this year, ruining both trips because without that working, I couldnít even get shore power to work. And to make things even worse, Renogy wonít honor the 2nd inverter since I opened the support ticket 3 days after the 1 year warranty on the first inverter that had to be replaced even though I've only had the 2nd inverter for 4 months. Just pathetic how poor their customer support is and how they wonít stand by their products. They did offer me a whopping 10% discount if I would buy a 3rd inverter.

DO NOT BUY RENOGY PRODUCTS, I HIGHLY ADVISE AGAINST IT

Iím looking for a suggestion on a great solar inverter/charger product that will allow me to boondock and live off the grid. I currently have 8 renogy panels and 4 renogy lithium batteries. I am also going to have my (new) electrician wire a new non-Renogy inverter in such a way that if it goes out, I can still plug into shore power or a generator. I learned that the hard way! Not sure if that's a bypass circuit or ?

Also, another question for the community. I want to add 2 more batteries into my set-up because it never seemed like I got enough battery life without needing a boost, so can I add in Battleborn batteries (or a really good similar brand) with the 4 existing renogy batteries without poor results from the mismatch?

And with the new inverter, do I need a new charge controller that matches the new inverter brand, or can I (unfortunately) use the existing renogy controller in order to save money at this stage and maybe change out later?

Thank you for any suggestions or help that you can provide me, very much appreciated!
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Old 06-14-2024, 08:27 PM   #2
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Buckstream, sorry for your sad situation. When I was working on our solar system, trying to figure out what I needed and where it would fit, I started out wanting separate boxes for the inverter, charger, solar controller, etc. I quickly learned how expensive that would be and how much space and weight it would take. I ended up going with a Victron solar controller and a Victron MultiPlus II inverter/charger/converter.


We're "boondocking" right now at a FHU 50A site because there are thunderstorms around. Yes, I have a Hughes Power Watchdog, but it is just as easy to unplug and stow the shore power cord.


Victron stuff isn't cheap, but so far it seems to be well worth the money. The MultiPlus II switches from shore power to battery power so quickly that the microwave clock doesn't even blink. The only time it hasn't done what I expected was when I didn't do what I was supposed to do, and it did exactly what it was supposed to do.
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Old 06-14-2024, 09:04 PM   #3
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Victron equipment really is the gold standard and their solar smart charge controllers are the way to go. They are found in thousands of Airstreams. I’d recommend the Smart Solar 100/30 or 100/50.

If you are going to replace the inverter/charger, get the Victron Multiplus 3000. Many many of us have that unit.

You’d also want a Victron battery monitor, either the BMV712 if you want a display or the Victron SmartShunt if you are fine using your phone to see battery level.

The Victron has a built in transfer switch and wants to be the one handling the switching of power from the line or batteries. It will even mix the two. If you want a backup for taking that completely out of the system in case of failure that would be unusual. Victron stuff is super reliable and most people don’t bother

You shouldn’t mix batteries from different vendors. They even recommend not mixing new batteries with used batteries if those used batteries have much useage on them.

This isn’t a job for the typical electrician. You’ll want someone with experience with RV power systems.
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Old 06-16-2024, 07:49 PM   #4
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"This isn’t a job for the typical electrician. You’ll want someone with experience with RV power systems." Very true. Witness how many times people have had the local electrician wire in a 30A outlet for their RV. The electrician looks at the cord and wires up a 240V outlet suitable for an electric clothes drier. OOPS!


I put in a 24V system, which means that I have an extra component (an Orion 24-12 converter) and was told that if I had anyone else work on the system that I should be very careful because they might not be familiar with a 24 volt system.
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Old 06-16-2024, 08:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
"This isnít a job for the typical electrician. Youíll want someone with experience with RV power systems." Very true. Witness how many times people have had the local electrician wire in a 30A outlet for their RV. The electrician looks at the cord and wires up a 240V outlet suitable for an electric clothes drier. OOPS!


I put in a 24V system, which means that I have an extra component (an Orion 24-12 converter) and was told that if I had anyone else work on the system that I should be very careful because they might not be familiar with a 24 volt system.
Proper labeling will also go a long way with this. Even if you don't plan on having anyone else touch your system, things happen and suddenly there's a need. I've always labeled things assuming that someone else was going to need to work on it at some point to avoid problems as much as possible.
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Old 06-17-2024, 01:20 PM   #6
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2003 30' Classic S/O
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Hi David (kbOzke),

Thanks a lot for the advice, really appreciated. From what you and Dale Yokum said, Victron seems to be the way to go here. I’m talking to a local dealer later today about the MultiPlus-II, either the 3000VA or 5000VA. Is the difference really just a matter of more energy conversion

I only have a 30amp cord on my trailer, does that change anything in terms of components chosen? Is there enough of a reason to upgrade to a 50amp cord? Also, I only have 1 AC unit mid-ship but that never gets cold air back to the rear bedroom too well, so I am thinking of putting a 2nd AC unti in place of the vent in the bedroom ceiling. Would that alter any component installation considerations?

Thank you again!
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Old 06-17-2024, 01:34 PM   #7
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2003 30' Classic S/O
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Hi Dale,

Thanks for your advice as well. It sounds like from what you and David said is that I will have to change out my controller to match the inverter/charger? I kind of figured that but after dropping all that money into trash renogy products, it’s painful having to do this all over again just one year later.

Thanks also for the info on the tranfer switch built into the Victron, this is where the renogy product has been a HUGE failure. Question though: if the Victron inverter/charger goes out for some reason, i.e. no power, it won’t come on, is it still possible to plug into shore power and be up and running with AC and AC outlet power? Because the renogy wouldn’t power on, I had to end a 3 week trip after 3 days because 95 degrees in the desert without air conditioning is a no go situation! That’s the problem I want to be able to overcome via my idea of a switch or bypass circuit….further thoughts on this?

In terms of the batteries, I might try to get another year from the renogy batteries to save on costs this year, but 1 of the 4 renogy batteries is only reading about 9.6V, could I get that boosted up with my battery charger? I haven’t tried yet as I try to wrap my head around everything going on first. Reading up on it says the battery isn’t useless until it gets to about 3V or so.

And yes, the electrician I used for the original set-up is an RV only electrician, but I might switch to another RV only electrician to get a different perspective. Would you guys recommend having an Airstream dealer handle this (higher cost but maybe more experience?), or stay with an RV specific electrician?

Thank you again, much appreciated!
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Old 06-17-2024, 04:59 PM   #8
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You could put pigtails on the Victron, so you plug the shore power cable into the Victron and have the Victron plugged into your breaker panel. If you wanted to bypass the Victron you would simply unplug the shore power cable from the Victron and plug it into your breaker panel. That would power all of your 120 volt circuits, but none of your 12 volt circuits.


I chose to hardwire everything in my system, but you can do as you wish.
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Old 06-18-2024, 09:47 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by BuckStream View Post
Hi Dale,

Thanks for your advice as well. It sounds like from what you and David said is that I will have to change out my controller to match the inverter/charger? I kind of figured that but after dropping all that money into trash renogy products, it’s painful having to do this all over again just one year later.

Thanks also for the info on the tranfer switch built into the Victron, this is where the renogy product has been a HUGE failure. Question though: if the Victron inverter/charger goes out for some reason, i.e. no power, it won’t come on, is it still possible to plug into shore power and be up and running with AC and AC outlet power? Because the renogy wouldn’t power on, I had to end a 3 week trip after 3 days because 95 degrees in the desert without air conditioning is a no go situation! That’s the problem I want to be able to overcome via my idea of a switch or bypass circuit….further thoughts on this?

In terms of the batteries, I might try to get another year from the renogy batteries to save on costs this year, but 1 of the 4 renogy batteries is only reading about 9.6V, could I get that boosted up with my battery charger? I haven’t tried yet as I try to wrap my head around everything going on first. Reading up on it says the battery isn’t useless until it gets to about 3V or so.

And yes, the electrician I used for the original set-up is an RV only electrician, but I might switch to another RV only electrician to get a different perspective. Would you guys recommend having an Airstream dealer handle this (higher cost but maybe more experience?), or stay with an RV specific electrician?

Thank you again, much appreciated!
There’s not much reason to install (or fit in) a 5K unit if you only have 30A service and a single AC. People with 50a service, and two ACs, usually choose the Victron Quattro II as the inverter. This allows it to pass through two 30a circuits. It still only inverts 3000VA so when on batteries you can still only run one AC (usually for only a short time.). Converting a 30a trailer to 50a is an unusual thing. Not a giant deal if you were only going to run a second AC and maybe the electric side of the hot water heater, off the new leg but the complexity mounts since you really should install a new electrical panel. Note that there’s not a easy way to get the power up to that new AC so that wire will likely have to run on the surface for a while.

I suppose there’s a failure mode where the Victron dies and won’t pass through shore current but designing the extra complexity for that rare occurrence is not something most people do.

I would never, ever, have the Airstream dealer install a power system of this type. They seldom have that expertise and will charge you double to boot. You need someone who does this kind of thing routinely.

There’s certainly something amiss with the battery at 9ish volts. Below 12v lithium batteries are pretty much depleted. You can try charging it at the recommended voltage with a standalone charger and see if you can bring it back to life.
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