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Old 04-16-2018, 05:53 PM   #1
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Help! Solar confusion.

My ex husband (in a bizare act of generosity) gifted me with 4 250w solar panels.

I'm in a new (ish) 2018 TT and I plan to be off grid with it within the next 2 months.

Now that I have the panels what else do I need?

I know I need more batteries than the 2 my rv came with but what kind?

If I want to still be able to run a movie for my daughter on the tv, and run internet.....
I'm just super confused
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:29 PM   #2
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First off, I am just beginning to research as well so take this with a grain of salt. Here are some things:

- A controller is the interface between the panels and batteries. You’ll need one.
- 1000W total is a lot which may require a beefier than usual controller
- The wiring you are pointing to is gerneally used for small panels and the wire gauge is probably too small for your use
- An inverter is used to turn the DC power from your batteries to AC to run your TV, you’ll need one.
- In this YouTube video the guy users an all in one controller, charger, and inverter which seemed convenient.
- Here’s all you probably wanted to know about batteries. State of Charge: Your Camper/RV May Be Killing Your Battery Bank | PopUpBackpacker

Unless you know a fair bit about electricity there’s a lot to research before doing the self install.
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:32 PM   #3
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If anyone can recommend some brands that would rock
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by FarQuackFarms View Post
If anyone can recommend some brands that would rock
I can recommend a Samlex inverter.
600 watt model runs a 32" LCD TV fine.....all night.....all day. Marathon episode of Blue Bloods.....
And 110 volt power for the laptop charger.

Your solar panels only charge the batteries to keep them fully charged in daylight hours. At the end of the day, those batteries should have a full charge unless you go power hungry and the solar output cannot keep up.....not likely with 1000 watt solar output.

Those batteries provide power to the inverter (changes 12 volt input to 110V household current output......for the TV and most likely the laptop charger.

Two 6 volt batteries linked together has out more amperage capacity than a single 12v battery..

You'll make it.....hang in there and always remind yourself.....you're on battery power and not the local power companies line.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:05 PM   #5
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Your photos show "power on the side".....it's ready for a solar setup.
Just plug in the one prong/one socket plug into that receptacle (called an SAE connector)

BAM......power is now surging into the battery(s) and keeping them charged and ready.

I use a portable solar deal (suitcase) so a roof cabling could be different.

Experts will be along soon to guide you
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:15 AM   #6
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Your photos show "power on the side".....it's ready for a solar setup.
Just plug in the one prong/one socket plug into that receptacle (called an SAE connector)

BAM......power is now surging into the battery(s) and keeping them charged and ready.

I use a portable solar deal (suitcase) so a roof cabling could be different.

Experts will be along soon to guide you
So, if the unit has the plug and sticker saying SOLAR READY, all I need is SOLAR panels. The controller to charge the batteries is already installed?
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:51 AM   #7
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No, and yes....the Solar Ready sticker is misleading. The solar “suitcase” he’s referring to has a built in charge controller (most do unless ordered without). This little port is only for those small little cheap solar panels that keep your little factory battery topped off while sitting. It’s thin wiring and not meant to safely and efficiently carry higher wattage energy from bigger solar arrays. If your wanting bigger batteries (a battery bank) and bigger solar panels so you can be “off grid” boondocking without power then you need a real system. There is no charge controller already on your camper.
Look at the Solar sub-forum here for tons of info that’s been covered many times over. Look at companies like Renogy to get an idea of what your getting into and what you need to get going. Their customer service is top notch and they will walk you through an install.

Read, research and make sure you know what your doing. You don’t want to burn your trailer to the ground by hacking together something dangerous that you don’t understand. Solar is easy if you have the right components and understand how it all works.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:37 AM   #8
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So, if the unit has the plug and sticker saying SOLAR READY, all I need is SOLAR panels. The controller to charge the batteries is already installed?
No......that outlet is just for the wiring that goes to the battery(s)
This outlet precludes having to use alligator style clamps or ring connectors directly to the battery(s)
A charge controller will be needed along the line, downhill from the panel(s)


Caveat>>>>I am by no means an expert....just a casual user of the portable "suitcase" design units with an integrated charge controller.
I simply unfold the unit (2 60 watt panels) plug in the SAE connector to that "on the side" outlet and the power flows to the battery(s) at around <5> amps in midday sun.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:19 AM   #9
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redsnapper....

What brand 120-watt suitcase solar do you like?

Most panels that I have found are 100-watt, but 20 more watts is way better.

Thanks
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:03 AM   #10
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redsnapper....

What brand 120-watt suitcase solar do you like?

Most panels that I have found are 100-watt, but 20 more watts is way better.

Thanks
I use this......120W
Portable Solar Kits (80 or 120 watts) | Go Power!

https://www.amazon.com/Go-Power-GP-P...ywords=gopower

Set up is so simple.....even a caveman (woman) could do it

Renogy is another brand at a lower price.
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:59 AM   #11
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:16 AM   #12
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So I feel dumb cuz I'm looking for the solar thread and not finding it (might be cuz I'm on my phone)
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:35 AM   #13
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I wonder why Go Power is so proud of their panels, compared to everyone else.
Highly rated and top of the line?
Good quality Anderson connectors?
Multi display controller....amp output/percentage of charge/Ah status
Comes with a very nice nylon fabric zippered case?
Comes with 3 different ways to connect.....
SAE plug for "solar ready" outlet......alligator clips.....ring connectors.

Need a remote battery charged up while camping (boat maybe) connect the alligator clips.....BAM.....battery charging
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:09 AM   #14
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https://www.jaycoowners.com/forums/g...ith+solar.html Should get you to the solar group
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Old 04-17-2018, 02:30 PM   #15
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You might also consider sending a private message to Mustang65. He moderates the solar social group on this site and usually chimes in and provides lots of good information or points you there if you get confused after reading all the various threads.

Basically you may want to provide your rving style such as how many days do you anticipate not being plugged in before connecting to shore power, are you planning on being in areas with many cloudy or rainy days in succession, do you need to run microwave, what kind of budget you have, current battery and amp hour capacity of your battery bank.

In addition the AMSolar, Renogy, and GoPower websites have good primer information on adding solar to rvs.
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Old 04-17-2018, 02:39 PM   #16
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Thank you, I will message him.

Yeah I plan on no shore power. We are going to use the rv as our starter cabin on a completely undeveloped big bit of land. Nearest town is Lakeview Oregon. And id like to be able to live somewhat normally (the transition is going to be easier if the kids can still have microwave popcorn and movies on the computer)

I have the 2 batteries that came with my rv, but we are planning to get more.
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Old 04-17-2018, 03:15 PM   #17
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I was going to chime in and say you won't need the 1000 watts provided by those panels but if you want to occasionally run a microwave you probably will.

What size trailer is it and is there room for 4 residential panels on the roof?
Can you list the specs of the solar panels you got?

I would ignore the factory "solar ready" wires if you are using all 4 panels. You will need heavier gauge wiring.

For a basic solar system you will have.....
  • Solar panels wired to a charge controller.
  • Then charge controller wired to batterries.
  • Batteries wired to an inverter.
  • Inverter wired into the RV electrical panel.

I would look for a Morningstar Tristar 45 amp MPPT charge controller. ~$500
If you want to run a microwave you will need a good battery bank. At least 4 good GC2 6v batteries. Trojan T105 are a good brand.
You will probably need around a 2000W inverter. A microwave is a large draw device and will pull 1000 to 1200Watts from the inverter which will be pulling 80 to 100 amps from your batteries. A Xantrex inverter/charger would be a good one. Make sure to get a pure sine wave inverter if you are powering your entire rv as you may have some sensitive electronics that don't like the cheaper modified sine wave inverter output.
Also keep in mind you will need some sort of transfer switch so when your trailer is running off batteries the converter is not trying to charge the batteries.

You will also need some good wire to connect everything together, brackets to attach the panels to the roof, roof sealant, fuses, breakers, miscellaneous connectors, and someone very handy to put it all together.

Hopefully that helps. This is a large project but has been done many times. Having a large draw device like the microwave adds to the complexity or size of all the equipment needed but it is still achievable.

Now if you want to add air conditioning off grid that is another story. Still achievable but it will add serious cost to the system.

Cheers
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:14 AM   #18
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Hi

Sounds like you and the kids are in for a real adventure. Good Luck!!!

Before I continue, you will need to learn how to live the "SOLAR LIFESTYLE". Keeping an eye on your electricity is needed or your battery $$$ will go down the drain. Kids included in the learning!

I could go into great detail here, but I think it would scare you more than encourage you. My thoughts are to tackle your project one requirement at a time. So, first off I need a little more information from you.

- What is the model/size of your TT (just to get an idea as to how much roof real-estate you have)
- Model of SOLAR panels (sticker is usually on the sides)
- Is the future location for your TT in a sunny, shaded area or mixed area? (used to figure out your roof wiring plan to use SOLAR Prewire, maybe, and is SOLAR the way you want to go)
- TT has 30 or 50 Amp service?
- Type of refrigerator in the TT? Residential? Gas/Electric?
- Need much heat up there at night?
- Are you planning on a back-up generator? ( in Oregon I would probably recommend at least a small one) If there are a lot of cloudy, rainy or SHADY days up there in Oregon you will need to, on occasion, supplement the SOLAR with a generator for those "Lack of SUNSHINE" long periods.

The simple part is done. You have the SOLAR panels. Now starts the configuration of your system which will take a little planning. Don't panic.

Project from a 30,000 foot view.

SOLAR Charge Controller: 1000 watts of SOLAR, you will need at least a 60 Amp MPPT model. I am partial to the MorningStar brand and have the MorningStar TS-60 MPPT charge controller with remote meter. There are many other mfr's out there with great products, and I am sure some of the other members will make suggestions. Usually 900 watts of SOLAR is the limit for some controllers, MorningStar 60 amp MPPT controllers will work with 1000 watts. Input and output specifications of the controller need to be reviewed.

Batteries: Normally, I would recommend no less than 400 Amp Hours of battery power for a project like this, but since this will be a main residence, with some time periods with a lot of clouds (using 2 days of little or no sun as a number), I would recommend that you have at least 600 Amp Hours of battery power (The more the better), of which you can only use 300Amp hours (battery 50% rule). You can use your microwave (best if you use it mostly during times when your panels are producing peak power). Popcorn at night is no problem. Coffee pot, no problem. TV usage will not be an issue.

INVERTER: I have a 1500 watt PSW (Pure Sine Wave) and have yet to max it out. I would recommend an 1500-2000 watt PSW inverter. Don't opt out for a non-PSW model (cheaper), your electronics will thank you.

INSTALLATION: There are 2 parts to the installation of your system. Electrical and physical mounting of the panels/electrical equipment (properly). The electrical equipment (controller, inverter, batteries) can be done by a QUALIFIED electrician that understands DC voltage requirements. As mentioned earlier the inverter can hit your batteries for 80 -100 Amps when the microwave is in use, so the cables need to be sized to carry that load from the batteries to the inverter..... The SOLAR panels, need to have the mountings sealed properly to avoid the possibility of leaks. Regular caulking is not an option here.

As I mentioned we can tackle each of the above items and others not mentioned, one at a time to make it easier on you.

I have no idea as to what your budget is so, it is difficult to make recommendations, but here is a list to follow;
1 - Purchase a SOLAR Charge Controller
2 - Purchase the batteries you need. 6 volt batteries are your best bet if you can afford them.
3 - Purchase an Inverter. I would recommend a 1500 or 2000 watt PSW inverter (microwave will be the biggest load)
4 - Figure out where you can mount all this equipment as close to the batteries as possible.
5 - Think about an electrician to do the project.
6 - Make yourself a Brandy-Manhattan (my favorite) to help with reading my response.

If you ever build a cabin on the property, you can always move the SOLAR panels and equipment to the cabin.

You can send me a PM if there is anything specific you would like to know.

Good Luck, we are here to help!

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Old 04-19-2018, 08:16 AM   #19
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Mustang makes a good point on the charge controller. The 45amp one I recommended would not handle the 1000 Watts of panels. I keep forgetting mppt controllers are rated on the output current. And apparently even the 60amp controller maxes out at 800 watts.
In reality the 60amp controller would probably be fine as the panels won't ever give you 100% of the rated power but better safe than sorry. You can run two controllers in parallel I think.

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Old 04-19-2018, 09:23 AM   #20
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Mustang makes a good point on the charge controller. The 45amp one I recommended would not handle the 1000 Watts of panels. I keep forgetting mppt controllers are rated on the output current. And apparently even the 60amp controller maxes out at 800 watts.
In reality the 60amp controller would probably be fine as the panels won't ever give you 100% of the rated power but better safe than sorry. You can run two controllers in parallel I think.

Cheers
When I was preparing to go SOLAR, I contacted MorningStar and asked if there were any issues with going over the 800 watt controller max. They said that the MAX voltage could not exceed the 150VDC Maximum, and anything over 800 watts was ignored. Even with the 4 SOLAR panels wired in series the voltage would not hit 150VDC, based on a 36VDC panel, and you are right, that the panel max will very seldom be reached.

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