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Old 07-08-2016, 08:32 AM   #1
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Has anyone added roof-mount solar to class-c Sprinter?

Wife and I are about to begin new ventures as we ready to purchase a class-c Sprinter, lease our home, and drive into a year of travel as we search for a new homestead. While we feel confident about our class-c MB Sprinter decision, we have not yet decided which make. We are persuaded toward a 2016/17 single slide unit with the diner, closet, and queen bed on the port side. However, I wish to add a few things to the motorhome which I believe will greatly enhance our boondocking comfort. While most of the things I wish to add are quiet simple, three items concern me because of available space or necessary coach modification, these are: 1) 300 watts roof-mount photo-voltaic, 2) whole-house reverse osmosis for freshwater, and 3) shore AC power surge protection.

In this thread, I would like to focus on the photo-voltaic solar panels, and leave the other two topics to another thread. I have already calculated my average daily power consumption and have concluded that 300 watts with a MPPT controller will generally satisfy my daily energy recharge rate on a weekly schedule (already compensated for a flat panel roof-mount with seasonal variation). I am, however, concerned about available roof real estate for two solar panels on a class-c Sprinters. Has anyone here accomplished such installations with ideas and experience about how I should proceed?
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:44 AM   #2
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How large is your battery bank? My 2016 Melbourne only has room for 1 battery maybe in the 120Ah range unless I do some modifications. Plenty of room up top for solar though. You should have no problem fitting 2 panels on the Melbourne if that is what you are getting and if they haven't changed things in the 2017 model.


What are your daily power needs?
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Old 07-08-2016, 10:48 AM   #3
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Greetings Pfflyer. Thank you for your comment. I believe the Melbourne (2016/17) come with a single group-27 battery, with room for a second … at least that what I seen at the dealer the other day. I would like a total of three batteries, but the third battery is physically impractical and not entirely necessary. I have not actually seen the Melbourne roof, so I am encouraged by your words. Estimating daily power consumption is, of course, is a somewhat inaccurate endeavor, normally classified as a WAG … but since I am a retired engineer I get to call it a SWAG, or Scientific Wild-Ass-Guess.
However, without getting into the details, I estimate average daily consumption at about 1000 watts, with first and last day on site at about 1500 watts. In a perfect world this could be maintained with less than my desired 300 watts of roof mount solar, but nothing is perfect, and I don't want to always clean the panels. With this, and limited water supply, I feel we can with reasonable comfort and care, enjoy about a week of dry camping with any charge deficit being balanced when hooked up to shore AC.
I have read at other forums where many folks simply glue the solar panel mounting hardware to the roof skin without regard to making structural tie with roof rafters. This mounting technique concerns me as it does not seem structurally adequate to stabilize panel vibration from eventually causing roof membrane damage and substrate separation.
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Old 07-08-2016, 11:08 AM   #4
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There is only room on mine for 1 battery with the existing tray. Haven't measured but I don't think there would be enough room for a new tray end to end utilizing a slide through the existing access door. Installing a tray up from underneath there should be enough room for 2 maybe 3 positioning the batteries at 90 deg from the factory install. The access door would then be used to just look at the batteries and access to your work. A 250Ah bank in worse case scenario would be the minimum bank size I would use with your usage. Of course you do have an onboard generator if you could use it where you camp, for your daily high watt usage or to offset any short comings of your solar.
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Old 07-08-2016, 12:11 PM   #5
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Here are a few links to others that have modified their battery trays to accommodate an extra house battery.

http://www.jaycoowners.com/forums/f3...tml#post213481

http://www.jaycoowners.com/forums/f3...ade-35420.html

If this is not something you are interested in doing, you may want to look at AGM batteries (no venting needed) and mount them in one of your storage areas. Normally with (2) 6 volt deep cycle batteries you will get more Ah, you an get higher Ah ratings with 12Volt batteries, but you will may a lot more. If you are looking at 3 batteries then you need to stick with 12Volt batteries.

Adding a few SOLAR panels to the top of your RV should not be an issue. I would go with 260 watt panel to start with, 2 would be even better.

You may have an issue at checking the water levels of the batteries if they are in a tight area, need to allow for extra battery cable length for the tray movement.

We have an RVing with SOLAR Social Group here. It may answer some of your SOLAR/Battery questions.

Good Luck

Don
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Old 07-11-2016, 08:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfflyer View Post
There is only room on mine for 1 battery with the existing tray. Haven't measured but I don't think there would be enough room for a new tray end to end utilizing a slide through the existing access door. Installing a tray up from underneath there should be enough room for 2 maybe 3 positioning the batteries at 90 deg from the factory install. The access door would then be used to just look at the batteries and access to your work. A 250Ah bank in worse case scenario would be the minimum bank size I would use with your usage. Of course you do have an onboard generator if you could use it where you camp, for your daily high watt usage or to offset any short comings of your solar.
Space for only a single battery would be a deal-killer for me. While a third battery is unnecessary, I do minimally need two ... and, as you say ... is the onboard generator.
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Old 07-11-2016, 09:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mustang65 View Post
Here are a few links ...
...
...
We have an RVing with SOLAR Social Group here. It may answer some of your SOLAR/Battery questions.
Good Luck
Don
(edited to reduce)

Thanks, I will read those suggestions.
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