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Old 01-11-2016, 02:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Cdash View Post
Just so I am clear - do MPPT controllers work on practically any voltage that current solar puts out?

SOLAR Charge Controllers (MPPT) have different specifications. I have the Moringstar TS MPPT 60 charge controller (60 amp). You can see the different watt restrictions in the picture below. If you plan on expanding your system in the future, make sure the charge controller you purchase can handle the additions. It gets EXPENSIVE when you start re-buying parts because you can not expand your system. The max voltage my MPPT controller allows from the SOLAR panels is 150VDC.

With the "solar ready" with barely adequate wire sizes, higher voltage makes better use of the installed wire. Definitely a plus to higher volt panels and likely to be locally available too.

I used residential SOLAR panels and the voltage is about 30+ volts so that is one of the main reasons. On roof mounted panels, I do not recommend connecting them in series as any shading on even a single panel will bring down the output of the entire system, whereas if in parallel the shading will only affect the output of the shaded panel and the rest will perform normally. So your "SOLAR Ready" will have to deal with more amps, if in parallel.

As to the roof - I'm not 100% against attaching panels to my roof, I'm just putting off until I know I don't have any warranty repairs that need to be done to the roof.

I went ahead and mounted mine when we got the trailer. When I talked with Jayco (when I was going to install SOLAR) she said that the warranty would only affect the roof area around the mountings of the solar panel..
If you click on Communities (above) and Social Groups and go to RVing with Solar or just this link "RVing with SOLAR" social group, I have step by step instructions on how I installed my panel (on page 2). I check it every month and after arriving at each CG, because there is a lot of air flow on the roof. After 3.5 years it is as secure as the day I installed it. Send Jayco an email to clarify what part of the warranty will be voided.
Don
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:03 PM   #12
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Basically, what Don said. In the case of my system I have it sized so that i could run the panels (3 * 235W) in series or parallel.

Series would result in 90VDC @ 7.84A = 705W. I will likely still run them in parallel to avoid shading issues, which results in 30VDC @ 23.5A = 705W. I've got the same controller as Don, so at worst I'll be at 90 out of a max 150V input.

In either case the controller will output approx 48.6A @ 14.5V = 705W to the batteries... or 58.75A @ 12V, etc, etc, etc.
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:36 PM   #13
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Don
So basically, MPPT converts voltage to battery voltage levels then controls the amperage as needed for charging? As long as voltage is under the controller max, you're good to go.

Thanks! Never really considered that they wouldn't say no to the entire roof. That's a good thought. Still may try portable for the first year to make sure we camp in areas with enough sun.

Thanks for the suggestion on the solar community - had already read everything there. Out of curiosity, why is it a social community instead another forum folder here?


Thanks guys! I'm sure there will be more, probably fuse types next....
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:43 PM   #14
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Thanks for the suggestion on the solar community - had already read everything there. Out of curiosity, why is it a social community instead another forum folder here?
Who knows, maybe I will wake up one day and there will be a new "RVing with SOLAR" forum. Then again, maybe not!

Don
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EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
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Old 01-11-2016, 10:24 PM   #15
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A lot of the answer to the question you originally asked depends on how much power you use... George camped next to me gets by just fine with 1-100 watt panel. I have 515 watts and need more.. but I like to enjoy my time and that means using the microwave, watching TV, etc.. SO you have to find one of the worksheets and calculate how much power you need in a typical day... and sizing your system accordingly. Leave room for upgrades...
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Old 01-12-2016, 08:44 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cdash View Post
So basically, MPPT converts voltage to battery voltage levels then controls the amperage as needed for charging? As long as voltage is under the controller max, you're good to go.



Thanks! Never really considered that they wouldn't say no to the entire roof. That's a good thought. Still may try portable for the first year to make sure we camp in areas with enough sun.



Thanks for the suggestion on the solar community - had already read everything there. Out of curiosity, why is it a social community instead another forum folder here?





Thanks guys! I'm sure there will be more, probably fuse types next....

Yes... MPPT will change output voltage to meet the batteries voltage and also change the amperage so that no power is lost. PWM on the other hand will change the voltage but won't up the amperage. Whatever amps come in simply go out at 12V nominal. This is why PWM only makes sense with 12V panels in RV applications.
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Old 01-12-2016, 09:15 AM   #17
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Yes... MPPT will change output voltage to meet the batteries voltage and also change the amperage so that no power is lost. PWM on the other hand will change the voltage but won't up the amperage. Whatever amps come in simply go out at 12V nominal. This is why PWM only makes sense with 12V panels in RV applications.
JMC is correct. What most people do not understand is that with the PWM controllers you are losing about 25% of the available power. So, with a 100 SOLAR watt panel (12VDC battery voltage * 6 amp SOLAR panel output = 72watts) you are wasting 28 watts. If you had (3) 100 watt SOLAR panels on the roof of your TT you would be wasting about 84 watts of SOLAR power. Almost the output of one panel.

If you use the above scenario of with a 100 watt SOLAR panel and a MPPT controller, you would be using 100% of the panels output (watts). With a 100 Watt SOLAR panel (100 Watts / 12VDC Battery voltage = 8.3 Amps). If you had (3) 100 watt SOLAR panels on the roof of your TT you would be charging at 25 amps compared to 18 Amps with the PWM controller.

So the real question is, does the extra performance warrant the additional money to purchase a MPPT controller. I think that depends on how much you discharge your batteries if you do not dry-camp, and how much you dry-camp. For just keeping your batteries topped off at 13.2VDC and do not dry camp, the PWM will be just fine. For dry camping, I would go with the MPPT controller, plus you can purchase one you can add more SOLAR panels with.

Just my thoughts,
Don
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2013 Jayco Eagle 284BHS
250Watt Grape Solar Panel, MorningStar MPPT 60 Charge Controller
1500 Watt Ramsond PSI, 2 Trojan T145 Batteries (260Ah)
2 - AirSight Wireless IP Cameras (used as rear view cameras)
EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
MagicJack Internet Phone
2012 Ford F150XLT, EcoBoost w/3.73
157" Wheel base, HD Towing Package

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Old 01-12-2016, 10:32 AM   #18
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I installed my system two summers ago after doing a lot of reading, especially on Handy Bobs site. I even corresponded with him a few times during planning and installation. If you really understand what he is saying, don't just copy someone else's installation but figure out your own requirements and put in a system that's right for you.

I ended up with two 158w panels from dmsolar (seems those have gone away - too bad they were a great deal), a Morningstar PWM controller and a small inverter. We're mostly weekenders at this point, but usually take a 2 week trip in the summer. I have come to the point where I leave my TT converter breaker off, so even on shore power for the microwave and water heater, the solar charges the batteries. The last 2 summers on our long trips our sites have been shaded until noon. Even then we are fully charged by 4 in the afternoon.

Don, I'm not sure why you say you lose 25% with a PWM charger? During the bulk charge time all of the current and voltage from the panels goes to the batteries. I stayed with PWM because buying MPPT was incrementally as expensive as adding another panel, and I would get more benefit from the latter.
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Old 01-12-2016, 11:59 AM   #19
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JMC is correct. What most people do not understand is that with the PWM controllers you are losing about 25% of the available power. So, with a 100 SOLAR watt panel (12VDC battery Wouldn't this be 100 Watts at 14.8V (if you set it to bulk charge that way) to equal 6.75 amps? Seems like it wouldn't throw away much power until your batteries are charged, but by then, it wouldn't matter because your batteries are charged? voltage * 6 amp SOLAR panel output = 72watts) you are wasting 28 watts. If you had (3) 100 watt SOLAR panels on the roof of your TT you would be wasting about 84 watts of SOLAR power. Almost the output of one panel.

If you use the above scenario of with a 100 watt SOLAR panel and a MPPT controller, you would be using 100% of the panels output (watts). With a 100 Watt SOLAR panel (100 Watts / 12VDC Battery voltage = 8.3 Amps). If you had (3) 100 watt SOLAR panels on the roof of your TT you would be charging at 25 amps compared to 18 Amps with the PWM controller.

So the real question is, does the extra performance warrant the additional money to purchase a MPPT controller. I think that depends on how much you discharge your batteries if you do not dry-camp, and how much you dry-camp. For just keeping your batteries topped off at 13.2VDC and do not dry camp, the PWM will be just fine. For dry camping, I would go with the MPPT controller, plus you can purchase one you can add more SOLAR panels with.

Just my thoughts,
Don
See above, am I missing something? Won't you get all the power through PWM until you are charged?
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Old 01-12-2016, 12:21 PM   #20
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I installed my system two summers ago after doing a lot of reading, especially on Handy Bobs site. I even corresponded with him a few times during planning and installation. If you really understand what he is saying, don't just copy someone else's installation but figure out your own requirements and put in a system that's right for you.

I ended up with two 158w panels from dmsolar (seems those have gone away - too bad they were a great deal), a Morningstar PWM controller and a small inverter. We're mostly weekenders at this point, but usually take a 2 week trip in the summer. I have come to the point where I leave my TT converter breaker off, so even on shore power for the microwave and water heater, the solar charges the batteries. The last 2 summers on our long trips our sites have been shaded until noon. Even then we are fully charged by 4 in the afternoon.
How many batteries are you running?
I am assuming 2, and your usage sound very similar to what ours has been and will continue to be, at least until the kids are gone (another 8 years or so). We take 2 weeks every summer and are usually in a National Park Campground without electric for 10 to 12 days. Everything else is weekend stuff.

I would figure out what I need, but I need to get my trailer and figure out the actual numbers are. We are fairly frugal on electricity. Usually with no hook ups, if we watched a movie, it was on a portable dvd player. Mostly just lights, water pump and possibly the furnace if it gets too chilly. Fridge would be on Propane.

Part of the real unknown for me right now, is that our new trailer will have an electric fridge in the outdoor kitchen. I am toying with the idea of a smaller inverter (say 300 watt - just a guess right now) that I can use to power that half fridge 24/7 and then we could also do a little TV/DVD off the inverter in the evenings. Not knowing the pull of this half fridge, I can't really plan it out too well yet. Will likely be another couple months before I get the trailer. Call this step my preliminary planning. Getting specifics on systems helps me gauge my results better - Are my numbers and results reasonable - and if others are doing similar things, than I must not be too off base. For instance, your usage and equipment sound pretty similar to what I am thinking I'll need.

From a sizing standpoint, if I go with 6V batteries, it will either 2 or 4 batteries. I suspect that two would meet our needs without the fridge, but not sure if I could run the fridge off of 2 or if that'll bump me to 4. Need to get it and measure usage to know. If it is too close, it would push me to 4 batteries, which would be the max I wanted to do. I'd size my solar to accommodate the number of batteries I end up with. I may very well start with two batteries and enough solar and plan for future upgrades depending on my experience.

I really do appreciate the input! Discussions like this help me quite a bit.
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