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Old 08-21-2018, 11:10 PM   #1
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1kW Solar Install Expectations

We are complete Newbies to the forum, RVing and Newmar!! Been in the coach full-time for just two weeks. Been a massive learning curve and lots of challenges so far. But more on those later.

Looking for general guidance of pricing on a solar install as a future project. Have a 2015 Essex and estimate that we could potentially put 1kW to 1.2kW on the roof. With a suitable MPPT charge controller and a battery state of charge monitor and no changes to the existing AGM batteries or inverter/charge controller, what do you think is a reasonable dealer installed price??

Did get a quote from AM Solar and was bit shocked!!

Any recommendations on quality instllers in the Arizona area, as we plan to Winter there or anyone out West. Currently in S. Dakota and heading west.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:19 AM   #2
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Couple solar guys in Quartzite I've heard good things. Starlight in Yuma has a very good reputation.

As for sizing a system. I'm a believer in putting as many panels/watts as your roof will hold and can be run through s single controller. This is your most bang for the dollar system, IMHO.

For example, as I have - 1500 watts and a Midnight Solar 150 controller or similar.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:32 AM   #3
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TLWH a quote from AMSolar or some of the more reputable installers like PrecisionRV or Starlight are probably going to be similar. Quality of work from these installers is immaculate.

Folks certainly can do a DIY install and save the cost of labor which is a big piece of a pro install.

Starlight is in Phoenix, Marvin at RVPrecision is mobile and you already know where AMSolar is located.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:05 AM   #4
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1kW Solar Install Expectations

Labor was and the biggest expense at well over $100 a hour and you can save 1/2 and more buying panels controllers and all the parts online and installing yourself. I did . The work isnít particularly difficult but requires some research and planning. To include drilling holes and sealing .. a lot of what you are paying A.M. Solar and others for. If your replacing inverters and upgrading batteries your in for up 5- 10 grand .. more if lithium
AM Solar is one of the top of the line installers. You get a very pro install and absolutely pay top dollar. Install yourself or pro install 1/3 of the expense is still, I believe , a direct credit on your fed tax bill not sure when that will or has sunset
What is the expense as a total percent of the RV ? How important is a pro install ?for that matter whatís the value of solar to you ? There is no economic gain in any of this itís all about how much will you pay
You bought the RV .. whatís a few more grand
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Couple solar guys in Quartzite I've heard good things. Starlight in Yuma has a very good reputation.

As for sizing a system. I'm a believer in putting as many panels/watts as your roof will hold and can be run through s single controller.

For example, as I have - 1500 watts and a Midnight Solar 150 controller or similar.
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Originally Posted by ghaynes754 View Post
TLWH a quote from AMSolar or some of the more reputable installers like PrecisionRV or Starlight are probably going to be similar. Quality of work from these installers is immaculate.


Starlight is in Phoenix, Marvin at RVPrecision is mobile and you already know where AMSolar is located.

Thanks for the guidance. I do have a request into Marvin also.



I'm also interested in the maximum I can get up there. 1,500 watts would be great. AM Solar would only quoted 1,020 watts, as they appear to only use one standard panel in most of their installs. Plus they are booked until late November!


Gerry
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:57 AM   #6
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You should be able to get close to 2Kw on your Essex. Marvin is putting close to that on my 2017 DS 4369 in the next couple of weeks.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:02 AM   #7
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We did 1,440 watts, and had AM solar do the install.

Top notch, no worries, and everything done in a couple of days.

Plus, we are going to get the federal 30% solar tax credit this next year.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:35 AM   #8
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AM solar is the Cadillac, you will get a great install but you pay for it. I had a 740W system installed by one of their installers on my Airstream and had no complaints.

Here is some info on my experience and research that may be helpful:

I would steer clear of the RV dealers as most have no clue what they are doing.

Ask the installer: exactly what they use for panels, controller, hardware, what size wire they plan to run and where. how they plan to mount the panels on the roof and how it will integrate with your existing system. Do the research on their proposal if they are using all low end stuff Ö run.

Labor is the biggest expense. Get quality components and size the wire for maximum efficiency.

With a fiberglass roof there is no need to drill mounting holes . Panels should be installed with 3m VHB tape. If Lefty and Louie want to drill a bunch of holes in the roof run away.

Tilt mounting bracket are great if you plan to go up on the roof to get the most from your panels. I passed Ö pigs were going to fly before I was going to do that.

I would not recommend using any panels lager than 160 watts only because of the amount of flexing they will get as you roll down the road. Larger panels will flex more due to their size.

Make sure you can still walk from front to the back of your coach after the install.

The layout of the panels should attempt to minimize shadowing by the other stuff on the roof AC satellite dish ...

If you size and design the system properly you can install 1000W and add what you want and have room for later..... If all the wiring and the controller are properly sized for expansion. So you should only need panels, junction box(s) and wiring on the roof which is not that difficult to do yourself.

I believe there is still a 30% federal income tax credit in place which will help offset the cost. Some states waive the state sales tax as well. I know Florida did.

A knowledgeable installer should be giving you all this info and more if not...Ö.

Lastly you are asking the right questions. The install of solar is not a unique to Newmar thing. Research other RV forums for Solar information as well. There is a lot good information out there but you have to weed out the crap too.


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Old 08-22-2018, 11:31 AM   #9
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You should be able to get close to 2Kw on your Essex. Marvin is putting close to that on my 2017 DS 4369 in the next couple of weeks.
What equipment is Marvin installing and what is the approximate cost?

Where do you have to go to get the work done? How many days. Thanks
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:23 PM   #10
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Canuck

Install 1200ah of Elite Power Solutions Lithium batteries, replace current Magnum inverter/charger with the MSH3000 3000w hybrid, Magnum BMK, Magnum MagWeb for wireless control/monitoring, replace current Magnum controller with the ME-ARC50, Magnum PT-100 controller, sub panel and additional wiring.

Will build a box in the current battery bay for all of the components to be enclosed (current battery compartment is open to the environment). 180W panels (12) mounted on an IronRidge commercial rack system (same components that would mount to a home roof).

Marvin travels so we are doing the work in a storage garage bay that I rented north of Denver, CO for a couple of weeks so we can have everything opened up. Last installs on my former Airstreams were done partially outside and once in an aircraft hangar. He does a lot of installs outside.

See a good write up on Marvins work with Paul and Nina of Wheeling It with their 4 part series on their solar upgrade https://wheelingit.us/2016/02/24/the...de-part-i-why/ or his website at Precision RV - Specializing in RV Solar Power Systems and Repair.
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:34 PM   #11
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Couple solar guys in Quartzite I've heard good things. Starlight in Yuma has a very good reputation.

As for sizing a system. I'm a believer in putting as many panels/watts as your roof will hold and can be run through s single controller. This is your most bang for the dollar system, IMHO.

For example, as I have - 1500 watts and a Midnight Solar 150 controller or similar.

I have used Starlight in Yuma on 2 rigs. My current coach and the one prior. I recommend him too.
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:02 PM   #12
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Sorry I wondered off for a while - travel and some other RV and personal challenges.

I did get a quote from AM Solar but they could not fit me into their schedule until late November (that was in August, probably next year by now). I also had a good exchange with Marvin, but unfortunately he is planning to go to Florida this Winter after being away for several years. He could not recommend anyone in the Arizona area - he has reworked too many shoddy installations by others.

I also have heard of good things about Starlight also. Unfortunately we will not be in Yuma until February and wanted to get some boondocking in in January as a test run for next Summer.

Now looking at doing the installation myself. I'm a EE and OK with ladders and being on the roof. Just looking for any good examples and advice on installations.

I particularly like this layout Marvin did on a 41' Dutch Star.

2000 Watt 1200 Amp Hour Newmar Motorhome Solar Power System - Precision RV

Like the flush rack mount.

Gary, is this yours?
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:15 PM   #13
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I did a hybrid installation. Designed the system and bought all the hardware. As I can no longer do the roif climb, I hired a RV guy who had some solar install experience to do the roof work and run the wires down from the roof.


Synopsis of our solar system/install.

Fifteen 100w Renogy narrow panels mounted flat mostly down both sides of roof with a few across at the rear. Narrow panels to minimize shading from all the items in the center of the roof.

Wired in three strings of 500w each. Three pair of #10 PV wire enters the roof through a Winegard entry plate above the fresh water tank. Wiring runs down to the wet bay and then forward through the basement to the wall just aft of the battery bay (battery bay is just aft of the PS front wheel).

On that wall is a 6 slot Midnight Solar combiner box with DC circuit breaker for each string. Next to it is a Midnight Solar Classic 150 controller. #4 wire from the combiner box to controller and on to the batteries. A inline circuit breaker/disconnect is in the battery bay.

Connection is made direct to the batteries (not through the coach disconnect switch). Batteries are six 6 volt wet batteries.

Additionally there are two 100w panels made portable - to be set out as needed. Wired to the combiner box as another string with a 4th DC breaker.

We dry camp primarily in the southwest deserts in the winter desert season. Hence low winter sun can impact production upwards of 50% from rated.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:08 PM   #14
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Including hydraulic crimpers, and other misc. tools required... and before 30% tax credit...I was just at $6,000 for a DIY installation.

8 x 180w grape solar panels
AMSolar rocker mounts
AMSolar roof combiner
AMSolar 10-2 cable
AMSolar tilt kits
Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 150/100-TR charge controller
Victron Energy BMV-712 battery monitor with temp sensor
Victron Energy Venus GX for remote monitoring
GPS module
Venus GX addition remote temp sensors x 2
Micro SD memory for Venus GX
USB wifi for Venus GX
Ve.direct cables for BMV and MPPT to Venus GX
ME-BMK battery monitor kit for Magnum Energy monitoring
ME-ARC advanced remote to take advantage of ME-BMK inputs
Wire, terminals, fuse holders fuses, switches, heat shrink, a split wire loom, dicor, 3M primer, scotch brite, alcohol, rags, MC-4 connectors, inline MC-4 fuses, Solar Meter, mounting hardware and backing,

I started with 1,080 watts...and wound up going to 1,440 watts to meet demands of an eight battery, all electric, residential fridge, and oasis equipped coach.

We even have one member that has added a switch to enable one air conditioner to run off the inverter while on solar.

The install is simple...but takes a fair investment of time...and a bit of physical work to get the panels up onto the roof.

The advantage of doing it yourself...is you know intimately how it all works...and can better manage the system.
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