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Old 04-19-2016, 11:11 PM   #1
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2016 Eagle HT 26.5 BHS Solar Installation and Off-Grid prep

Hello,
I thought I would share my solar install and off-grid prep work on our new FW.
I'll try and keep it simple. This is not a howto just trying to share back my own experience.

First off, this is still fluid as for the exact final install. I have the two Grape Solar 250W panels on the roof. That much is done. However, the rest of it I am still very much trying to zero in on the perfect match. I started with the following in hand so I tailored my install to use these items:
1. Two Grape Solar 250W panels.
2. MorningStar TS-60 MPPT charge controller + remote display
3. Two 110A/hr Marine Batteries from CostCo
4. Samco 600W Pure Sine Inverter

Adding/Buying
1. I'm adding an ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch)
2. Some breakers and heady duty DC wires to relocate the battery

Idea is the batteries and inverter up front. The ATS and charge controller near the main controller in the space under the fridge or just being the main controller.

The battery compartment now won't fit more than a single battery. So it's going to be relocated to the bigger storage area under the bedroom. I'm going to put in a plywood flooring there and a panel on the wall to store the two batteries and put the Inverter.

I would have used the Wired for Solar and wires from Jayco but they botched the job at the factory and one wire goes from the roof to the battery bank and the other to the cabinet where both the roof cables were supposed to go. The dealer and Jayco feel running new wires is the best option. I'm going to schedule that for a date in the future but we want to go camping now so I'll leave their wiring alone for now and can use it later when corrected by just moving the charge controller up front at that point.

Still very fluid. I'm open to suggestions. Here's the current diagram of the plan (attached).
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Old 04-20-2016, 05:51 AM   #2
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Good luck on the install. The charge controller should be as close to the batteries as possible to mitigate voltage drop. The cables connecting the charge controller and the batteries should be appropriately sized for the run.

Also, if you are using flooded batteries to be placed inside, make sure the batteries will be vented.
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Old 04-20-2016, 06:42 AM   #3
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??
What happened to plan B with the micro inverter?
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klassic View Post
??
What happened to plan B with the micro inverter?
Good question. Never tried it. Just the issue is to keep the micro-inverter alive I have to have pure sine on the same circuit it is feeding. To do that off the grid requires either an inverter fed 120v or generator. I thought I had that sorted by using an ATS but overnight while thinking about it (instead of sleeping) I realized if the "Controller" AKA "Battery Charger" inside the Main Controller was off I'm not going to ever charge the batteries (off the grid) and they will go flat even with the Solar Going. If I turn the thing on (controller) I now risk damaging the thing because it's now raising the voltage on the DC line that's also feeding the inverter to charge the batteries. Likely under load from the inverter the controller will be working hard to raise that voltage pushing it to max...this was all as Einstein called a "Thought Experiment" but I couldn't see how that would not be the case. So I came up with the new plan.
Just I must leave the Jayco installed wires alone or risk voiding any warranty claim I have on them doing the work to make that right. So going down the vent for the fridge/furnace is easy. I'll run the two solar extension cables down that to the same place the romex was run for the micro-inverter. Put the charge controller there. Now the DC wires going into the main controller are 4 gauge. Oddly, there's no 4 gauge wires off the battery so that's a bit of a mystery. But since those wires go to the battery I can output from the solar charge controller (TS-60) to those same wires. Essentially the output from Solar if it's a good day will really just feed right into the main controller and it will be happy and excess will be charging the batteries. I have read all manuals and as long as I set the dip switches appropriately the output from the solar charger won't be higher than the max input DC for the main controller.
All still going on in my head before I actually do it.
Also, with the micro-inverter up there on the roof still and the output going to the 120v on the main controller I am seeing at the meter (grid meter) I am using almost no power (trailer is in a shaded area so I'm not making all that much solar) so the current micro-inverter is a great idea if you always are connected to the grid.
So the TC500A micro-inverter with panels is a good option for trailers that always have a plug into the grid. I'm probably correct in thinking there's a lot of them out there like that. Just when the grid goes down the micro-inverter turns off.
Best case scenario would be I could open the micro-inverter and modify it to not have to have 120v on the line to work. Yes, if untouched and the grid goes down i risk powering the grid while it's off. I can easily fix that by unplugging from the grid. Or installing something at the box I plug the trailer into. It really screws us all that they force that on you to not be able to use this without providing it power. Defeats the purpose.
So, that's where that stands and why. For 250.00 I almost had the perfect setup but thanks to some higher power all micro-inverters are forced to be hard coded to only work when the power is on.
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:34 PM   #5
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Hmm....

Well this is the master document on what I want: http://www2.enphase.com/global/files...ed-Systems.pdf

But, in a small RV it's overkill. So I'm open to something that works and my goal is no modification of anything warrantied. At the end of the day my FW is going to still be covered because I didn't modify anything, just added recommended, documented in manuals items that won't void any warranty.

However, I like to look at all options. So I Googled and saw these words: "...by adding a 120V charging battery like an APC Back UPS in front of the solar output..."
Got me thinking. Those desktop PC UPS for when the grid goes down your PC keeps working....right...plug that into the bar the solar is feeding and that UPS will hopefully energize the YC500A...plug the other end into an outlet. The output of the micro-inverter goes to the main so that is fine. Just at night the micro-inverter goes to sleep anyhow as the solar isn't making power. The APS keeps trickle charging off the outlet....
Sounds like it could work. Any thoughts?

If this is the case I can continue with the orig. plan to just put the ATS in and the Inverter (no charge controller) and turn off the "controller" when the inverter is on. That's easy to sort to be sure the controller is off when the inverter is on.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:36 PM   #6
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I would toss the micro inverters myself. They sound like a hassle and I don't really see the benefit of using them. Why do you want to use them?

With the two panels you have and the charge controller you already have a great system that will likely be more efficient than using the micro inverters. Every time to convert DC to AC and back again you are loosing energy. Even stepping the voltage down to 12 volts to charge your battery takes some energy. If you keep converting DC to AC then back to DC then back to AC (inverter) you are wasting power.

You have everything on hand already for a traditional install that is well proven and reliable without messing around with your trailers power center and the AC side of things. Keep it simple!

Cheers
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subaru297 View Post
I would toss the micro inverters myself. They sound like a hassle and I don't really see the benefit of using them. Why do you want to use them?

With the two panels you have and the charge controller you already have a great system that will likely be more efficient than using the micro inverters. Every time to convert DC to AC and back again you are loosing energy. Even stepping the voltage down to 12 volts to charge your battery takes some energy. If you keep converting DC to AC then back to DC then back to AC (inverter) you are wasting power.

You have everything on hand already for a traditional install that is well proven and reliable without messing around with your trailers power center and the AC side of things. Keep it simple!

Cheers
I can't argue that sediment at all. The same thoughts are in my mind.
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:06 PM   #8
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Ok, so, thinking about it more, the diagram above is still valid.
A new thought, to get us out on the road sooner (like Monday). I thought why don't I just build myself a 30A 120v receptacle near the inverter in the front and simply connect the shore power to that when off grid. I won't even need the transfer switch then. This is the most vanilla setup I can think of as I'm really not touching anything Jayco installed at this point even at the main controller all is just as the factory installed it.
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:26 PM   #9
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That works and has been done. Just make sure you turn off or disable your onboard converter before doing that. Otherwise you will be trying to charge your battery from your battery......
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Old 04-25-2016, 04:11 PM   #10
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update

Almost there.

I relocated the battery to the larger front compartment. Added a second one. Still need to add a vent but honestly there's tons of ventilation inside the whole front compartment I'm not too worried right now. I reverse engineered the old battery compartment. Seems everything is frame grounded even the negative on the battery. So I just relocated the Frame ground from the orig. battery area to the new one. Worked like a champ. Then ran a 4 gauge wire from the old battery positive over to the battery positive in the new area along with a 100A breaker. So, now I have double the battery (220Ah).

Solar, Charge controller. I just went with the solar wiring installed. I triple checked that the positive up there went to the cabinet by the solar ready sticker. It is seen as the white wire with the red electrical tape on it in the photo with the charge controller. That goes to a 30A breaker then to the input on the charge controller. The output is a red wire to another 30A breaker that then goes to the positive main input to that DC controller. Those are a short run down to the main controller.

From the roof connector the negative went right to the battery box area. I tied that to chassis ground. I do like the simplicity of having chassis grounded things which is how I see Jayco did things. All I did was follow their lead.

I will likely never know or find out where the white cable in the battery area and the black in the cabinet ever went. I physically followed the black to where it appeared to head up the wall to the roof behind the fridge. The battery compartment white one I can only follow a little ways where it goes into the front and probably up. Maybe the two meet somewhere unconnected. If so it will remain a mystery where.

As a note, this is proof of concept setup. I'm going to tidy things up after a day of testing. Mount the charge controller with screws, mount the inverter on the plywood, strap the batteries down, replace the cover in the cabinet. So far the layout is working out for me. I can still fit my Honda E2000 generator inside that compartment.
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