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Old 04-17-2015, 12:46 PM   #1
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Ok, I give up!

While I do not yet own a TT, I probably have a 23RB moving merrily down the assembly line about now, since delivery to me is scheduled next month.

A number of things come to mind that I want to do to the TT fairly soon after enjoying a "shake-down" trip for 3-4 days to a nearby national forest.

At the top of the list is getting the trailer equipped with solar panels..400W more or less.

Here is where the fun begins. First, probably with good reason, DW insists I must get no higher off the ground than my physical height. Second, while I understand and can competently do the solar panel installations on the roof and complete the electrical work, I do not have any experience as to how supportive the roof is to human weight or the best sites for four, rooftop, 100W panels. Clearly this leaves this entire option open to contracted service.

Curiously, vigorous and in-depth internet searches for RV solar panel installers only identify a couple of what appear to be competent contractors and they are as far away as Washington State. Nothing noteworthy identified for Florida, even though we citizens use the motto "Sunshine State."

So, is there any one who has had a buying and installation experience, like I have described above, anywhere within Florida? If so, I would be most grateful for your information, commentary and advice. Will have trailer, could travel...

Regards,
Bob
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Old 04-17-2015, 12:57 PM   #2
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I can't help much at all with the install recommendations but I can help with the roof question. It is advertised as one of the strongest in the business and should support you just fine.

https://youtu.be/Sgmts9CVzGw
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:09 PM   #3
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You asked is there any one who has had a buying and installation experience ... anywhere within Florida?

I can't answer that question.

However, to get some insightful feedback for your planned solar project, you might want to follow-up and provide more details about (1) your level of experience re: RV electrical systems, with an emphasis on 12VDC, and (2) your "off-the-grid" anticipated usage. For example, a random, 3-4 day excursion off-the-grid does not require solar panels; you can (will) have sufficient energy via the use of 2-4 batteries (preferably golf cart batteries). On the other hand, if you primarily will be going to off-the-grid locations for extended time periods, solar panels are something to consider. If that is the case, you'll need to know your energy demands so that you can design/implement the correct solar panel configuration. Finally, your understanding of the foregoing will help you ensure that an installer, whoever it may be, does the work correctly (most don't). There is much info available via the internet; however, folks on this forum will be happy to help, too, but knowing your level of understanding of RV electrical systems and your energy needs will provide a focused response. Congrats on your new TT ... Enjoy!
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:31 PM   #4
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WIBadger:

Thank-you for your response. I was once a licensed residential electrical contractor, have a four year degree in physical electronics, currently use 24VDC in several private applications and know how to trace down and understand electrical circuits. I am not intimidated about a solar project. As stated earlier, my concern is focused on finding a competent installer.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:35 PM   #5
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This also doesn't answer you question but I saw this recently and thought I'd pass it on. Seemed like a good deal for 400W.

http://www.costco.com/Grape-Solar-40...100111497.html
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Old 04-17-2015, 02:41 PM   #6
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From what is sounds like you are a more competent installer than any you will find.

The reading that I have been doing on the subject tells me that most installers get it wrong and don't create an efficient install anyway. Long wire runs with too small of wire (voltage drops).
Installing panels that are shaded by vent covers or AC units (voltage drops or completely useless panels).
Not taking advantage of putting panels in series to transmit higher voltage from panels (less voltage drop)....

Do a bit of reading to figure out the ideal equipment you want and install it yourself. You will likely do a better job than any installer you find.

Cheers
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Old 04-17-2015, 03:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subaru297 View Post
From what is sounds like you are a more competent installer than any you will find.

The reading that I have been doing on the subject tells me that most installers get it wrong and don't create an efficient install anyway. Long wire runs with too small of wire (voltage drops).
Installing panels that are shaded by vent covers or AC units (voltage drops or completely useless panels).
Not taking advantage of putting panels in series to transmit higher voltage from panels (less voltage drop)....

Do a bit of reading to figure out the ideal equipment you want and install it yourself. You will likely do a better job than any installer you find.

Cheers
The above is all true. I have done a lot of research for installing a system on my next trailer as I plan to full time it for 6 months at a time in the winters. Long wire runs with the wrong wire size makes a system ineffective.

Here is a link: https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

A very good read with more information then anyone can ever need.
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Old 04-17-2015, 03:22 PM   #8
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Thanks for posting that link. I was going to add it above but couldn't remember the name or find it. Great read!

Cheers
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:01 PM   #9
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Quahog:
















Thanks for the Grape system link through Costco. I have been aware of this system and similar ones for some time, which ultimately whetted my interest to add solar panels to the RV. While there is no Costco nearby, I believe Amazon offers virtually the same system. At issue here also is the "new" technology related to LiO deep cycle batteries that are beginning to show up in the marketplace. Power consumption can safely drop significantly below current GGM models without damage. But, there is a technology surrounding these types of batteries that prompt some careful study. It may well be I'm on the roof even though DW sez otherwise.

Bob
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Old 04-17-2015, 07:23 PM   #10
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My Jayco 23RB arrived a couple weeks ago. I have yet to spend a night in it because I have been busy installing aftermarket equipment (with the help of some friends). The solar system was finished this afternoon and seems to be working splendidly (aside from the RV dealer's mechanic hooking up all of my 6 volt batteries in parallel, which resulted in a VERY rapid charge of my batteries and a brief moment of boiling. I don't think we damaged the batteries, but time will tell.

Here is the parts list:

* Renogy 400 Watt Off-Grid RV Solar Kit ($819.99)
* Samlex PST-2000-12 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter ($626.22)
* Samlex RC-200 Remote Control for PST-2000-12 Inverter ($67.00)
* EPsolar MT50 Remote Solar Charge Controller Display ($33.92)
* Go Power! TS-30 30 Amp Automatic Transfer Switch ($79.99)
* Progressive Dynamics PD9280V Converter w/Charge Wizard ($247.71)
* Universal Power Group 6V 200 AH UB62000 G27 Batteries (4) ($ 879.80)
* Titan Universal Front ATV Steel Cargo Basket FB2020 ($79.00)
* Battery Failsafe Devices 12 Volt LCD Low Battery Alarm ($ 64.00)
* Snap Top Group Size 27 Battery Box w/Locking Lid (4) ($40.00)
* 1990 Blue Sea PowerBar 1000 - 8 3/8" Terminal Studs w/Cover ($117.21)
* Blue Sea Systems 5191 Fuse Block Terminal 30-300 Amp ($21.06)
* Samlex 100 Amp Terminal Fuse (2) (One Spare) ($54.28)
* Bussmann (CB185-100) 100 Amp Type III Circuit Breaker ($28.36)
* Electrical Outlet/Junction Box ($4.00)
* Heavy Duty Electrical & Battery Cable ($40.00)
* Great Stuff Insulating Foam ($2.57)
* Tape, Battery Lugs, Screws, Plywood, & Other Miscellaneous Parts ($22.41)

Total: $3227.52

Less 30% tax credit = $2149.53

With this configuration I estimate it will pay for itself in less than two years with me RVing full time 8+ mos. out of the year.

Basically all four of my solar panels were installed onto the roof forward of the AC. They lean to each side given the curvature of the roof, but otherwise lay flat. May add the brackets to tilt them later. The cables were run through the refrigerator vent and came out below the refrigerator, then into the breaker panel area. From there another hole was drilled under the sink. There we installed the automatic transfer switch. The cables then ran under the carriage following the propane line to the front under the bed. There I installed piece of 1/2" plywood and mounted the charge controller, inverter, etc. on it. Another piece of plywood (with wooden dowels) with holes drilled into it will be installed opposite the equipment tomorrow to provide ventilation, additional bed support, and to prevent stuff during transport falling on top of the equipment.

Four 6 volt 200 amp hour batteries fit snuggly in the ATV cage on the tongue with JUST enough room to spare for my weight distribution hitch mount. The tops of the battery boxes needed to be cut to allow for the cables so they would fit. One long metal bracket was installed around the batteries with a heavy duty lock.

Attached is are the plans I drew up. We deviated some from this plan, but you will get the general idea.
Attached Thumbnails
Solar Electric RV System Configuration.jpg  
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