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Old 02-22-2017, 04:44 PM   #1
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Solar Panels

Greetings Everyone!! I am very interested in putting solar panels on my x18d. I have no idea where to start or if I could even do this by myself. Also should I mound the panels on top or just get a briefcase style so I can move it to where the sun is. All input is greatly appreciated. Thanks everybody!!
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:12 PM   #2
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"Suitcase" style panels have almost no installation but you will find them a pain to set up and put away every time you move. My advise is to get some extra wattage and put it on the roof and forget about it. Added bonus: no need to plug in your TT when it's at your house. Batteries will be maintained by Mother Nature.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:59 AM   #3
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You could start here. They have a lot of good information and their kits are pretty simple to install and use.
https://www.renogy.com/
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:24 AM   #4
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We did choose the fixed route. For the past 5 summers we have had a seasonal spot and I would not want to be setting up and tearing down everytime we were going out.

Another benefit of the fixed install is that you're batteries will be charging whats being drained while you're not around.
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Old 02-27-2017, 11:17 AM   #5
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I would definitely go with a permanent install over portable panels, but I am sure there are others here that will recommend the portables so it is really a matter of preference.

The biggest decision beyond that is MPPT or PWM charge controller as this will affect what panels you buy. MPPT charge controllers do have an efficiency advantage over PWM but cost a fair bit more. You do save a bit of money on the panels though.

MPPT can utilize high voltage residential panels and will convert the panel voltage to your battery voltage.
PWM can not convert the panel voltage down so they must be paired with 12v nominal panels (usually listed as 18v panels)

If you don't want to drill holes in your roof you can get flexible panels that you can glue to your roof but they are not usually as efficient as the other options. Plus you still have to run wires somewhere so you might be drilling holes anyway but there are ways around that.

You probably would want to install between 200-300Watts of solar to begin with depending on your batteries and your power usage, but leave room in for expand-ability down the road if you need it. Use sufficient wire gauge to reduce voltage losses and use as short of wire runs as possible.

Also read everything here ( https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/ )and form your own opinion on what he provides. Most of it is good information with a bit of ranting thrown in for good measure. The battery charging puzzle is essential reading for anyone doing solar.

Battery upgrades are also an important part of the puzzle. Do you want power for one night or do you want to be able to run indefinitely with decent sun.

Let us know your plans for untethered camping and we can help you out a bit better.

Cheers
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:33 PM   #6
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Hey, great idea!

Subaru297 knows what he's talk about.

My experience is that 200 - 300 Watts could well meet your needs. But that's a guess. Before you buy anything -- be sure you know your load.

Measure it. Know how much current for how many hours before spending any money. I am serious, you could end up with a very expensive boat anchor. [IMG]file:///C:/Users/donal/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif[/IMG]

Last year I did some tent camping and needed off grid power for my CPAP. I used a single 100 w panel tied to a cheap charge controller along with an 85 AH battery. The output went to a cheap 400 Watt AC inverter. I followed the NEC for RV's and put in fuses and switches of course! The whole system was less than $300. The total ‘nameplate’ current draw of the loads was about 1.5 Amp at 120VAC for about 8 hours. That was the CPAP, phone charger and I plugged in an LED flood light too. The inverter eats some power just to stay on.

With everything powered on the system drew 4.3 Amps from the battery on the 12VDC side, so clearly the manufacturers overstate the power requirements of their devices. I did not have a current logger yet so I was surprised that overnight load led to only a 30% draw down of the available battery charge (per the controller). It worked great,

But then it sat all winter unused. Dang, I built a $300 boat anchor. Still, I want to get into solar and eventually use less grid power. So an alternate plan to use the solar power system year round could make the investment more sound.

This year I am developing a dual purpose solar generator with a Jayco 1206 RV and my garage as on-season/ off-season target loads. The 110 volt RV shore power line will plug into the Solar Generator system. No, it won’t provide 30A at 120 vac, but chances are I don’t need that much. I bought a current logger and I'm measuring full load on everything to get an idea of how big the battery bank needs to be -- or what I need to turn off.


The batteries and the control box is going under the Gaucho. I'm running an ac power cord from the control box to the same hole as the shore power cable. That way no transfer switch is needed. If I want to plug shore power into the utility, I must unplug the solar generator and visa-versa



The system will be removable and in the off season I plan to install it in my garage to power lights, security system, garage door, etc. This takes some planning in advance.

Handy Bob has a very informative blog, but by his own admission, he is a hard read, LOL.
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:46 PM   #7
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One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet are the pros of having a portable panel.

We have a 100 watt Renogy system on the roof, and a 100 watt portable panel on the ground. I plan on adding 1 more panel to the roof. 300 watts is all we should ever need.

A big factor for us doing both is that our camper isn't always in full sun and being able to 'gather' 100 watts of power remotely is a big bonus when needed. If I don't need the extra power, that panel doesn't get setup.
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:30 PM   #8
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Solar Idea's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tbeuler View Post
Greetings Everyone!! I am very interested in putting solar panels on my x18d. I have no idea where to start or if I could even do this by myself. Also should I mound the panels on top or just get a briefcase style so I can move it to where the sun is. All input is greatly appreciated. Thanks everybody!!
We used what's called an industrial panel 275 watts 60 cell about $250.00 per panel. We spent the extra money on an mppt 30 amp blue sky controller. You really get what you pay for. Mine has been functioning flawlessly for about a year. We live in Az and worked with a company in Flagstaff, AZ Wind and Sun. Great web site and if you call them they will give you lots of free advice. Happy Trails
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:30 PM   #9
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We have portable panels, 2x100W. They are a bit of a pain to carry. However, they allow us to almost always park in a shady spot, which makes a huge difference in how hot the trailer gets. Also, we travel with our cat, I would hate to leave her in the trailer, broiling in the hot sun, while we are out and about.
It also allows us to get by with about 1/2 the solar power that you would need for roof mounted panels as we get several hours of sun that the roof mounted panels do not get.
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Old 03-04-2017, 03:55 PM   #10
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Here is our new set up.

This is our system. Starting with one panel, but I expect to go to at least two. 12v 100w Grape Solar PV, SportRack, Link Solar bracket. Additional will be in parallel.

I don't care for the bracket for this application. I'm designing my own to make it easier to change direction and store flat for travel.

Inside under the gaucho -- two 6v 220AH UB62000 AGM batteries in series. Can go to four if needed.

I'm building a box for the controls so I can remove it from the RV and set it up in my garage during the off season. Inside the box: Bogart Engineering Solar Charger SC2030 and TM-2030-A meter, Samlex 1500W inverter, fuses, switches, shunt, etc.

Transfer Switch will be manual. I'll post a picture when it is finished.
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Old 03-04-2017, 07:52 PM   #11
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I use a single renogy solar suitcase, 100 W.

It has greatly cut down on my generator use. In fact, I rarely use the generator to charge the batteries. I will only use the generator when I need 110 power.

We like to camp in forests and national parks. Lots of shade so roof panel will often be rendered ineffective. With a portable I can seek out that small patch of sun.

One day I may put a panel on the roof too, but for now I am very pleased with my portable setup.

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Old 05-26-2017, 05:20 AM   #12
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Our solar kit

After doing some research, this is our solar kit installed on our 212 qbw. Thanks Mustang for the wire mold idea.
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Old 05-26-2017, 07:24 AM   #13
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I was thinking of installing one 340 w panel rather than two or three. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to this?
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:02 AM   #14
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I've never seen a 340 W panel. I would imagine it is quite large. Make sure you have open roof space that will accommodate it before purchasing it.

Looked up an LG one and it is over 6 feet long....
Weight 45 lbs.
Length 77.17 in.
Width 39.37 in.

You will also need an MPPT charger as it is a high voltage panel. The only other disadvantage I see is that shading can basically shut off all your power. If you have two panels wired in parallel then you have better odds of being in the sun. Shade might shut off one panel but the other one may still be working.
If you wire them in series to take advantage of the higher voltage then you would lose that advantage anyway.

Cheers
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Old 05-26-2017, 10:39 AM   #15
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The panel I want to use is the same size, it has a 1" hail rating on it that was appealing to me. I can only add one battery for a total of two. I have a fabrication shop working on a frame to hold a double slide out battery tray,and have ordered a larger cargo door to install once completed.

So my thinking is that one large panel should give me plenty of power to recharge batteries. (Looking at 2 t105s).The coach came with one interstate marine. By the time I run the leveler and roll out the 3 slide outs it is at 11.5 volts. Not the best setup.
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Old 05-26-2017, 11:06 AM   #16
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I'm with @ensign. I have a small 40W portable panel (Coleman). It is great for state/provincial park camping because you can follow the sun with it. My TT is usually parked in a shady spot, so rooftop mounted is not practical. I have about 20ft of extension wire on it. Quick connects with the pigtail and controller mounted to the battery box.

I converted our 19H to all LED lighting, and we are very frugal with power usage when boondocking, so I find the 40W can keep the battery easily topped up for a long weekend.

When I am in my storage lot, I pop it onto the roof of the TT. Since there is no shade there, it works great for keeping the battery topped up for the next trip.

For travel it packs up in under 1 minute, and slides right into the storage bay. I use the original packing box with the Styrofoam to protect the panel surface in transit.
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Old 05-26-2017, 05:14 PM   #17
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Bobman, like Subaru said if only one panel and it's shaded you lose your input, but if you have the room it should work. Also if you would need to expand your watts make sure you can add to that panel.
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