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Old 07-06-2019, 10:09 AM   #1
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The great Solar Project

Ok, so as some of you know I have been threatening to add a solar system to my 01 36FDDS for some time.

I started last year by adding 660A of AGM batteries that I bought on CL for $560 and got it all cabled in and is working out to be more than enough storage. Last winter however we put LOTS of hours on the generator keeping them charged so............Solar system going in.

When finished we'll have 1600W of panels going through a 100A MPPT controller so essentially we will have the ability to charge our batteries at 100A from either shore power or from the sun

I started earlier this week by mounting the panels on the roof using tilt mounts on all panels so we can get up to 30% more output during the winter months.

The controller and associated wiring will be in the compartment with the inverter which in our coach in at the bottom of the bedroom dresser.

So far I have the panels mounted, and the Solar controller installed and the output side wired. The wiring between the panels and into the coach is waiting on materials which were delayed in shipping as a result of the holiday and hopefully, I can get my hands on today.........as we're leaving for a 10-day trip Wednesday

The cabling from the panels will enter the roof at the top of the dresser and will run into the lower compartment where I will add combiner/breaker box as well.

Here's where we are so far......any thoughts?
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Old 07-06-2019, 11:24 AM   #2
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When can you start on ours?

Is it hot in Havasu?
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Old 07-06-2019, 04:34 PM   #3
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You win the solar power war


Looking forward to hearing how it all works out for you.
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Old 07-06-2019, 04:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVPioneer View Post
When can you start on ours?

Is it hot in Havasu?
Is the Pope Catholic???

Actually, all roof work is done before 9 AM and that's not bad at all. The interior work is in the AC. I still have more Roof work to do and the parts don't come in till Monday so I'll be up there on Tuesday morning. Once I get that wiring done and fed into the cabinet then I should have another 2-3 hour inside and I'll flip the switch......hopefully no issues and everything works as I'm hitting the road for 2 weeks on Wednesday
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Old 07-06-2019, 10:24 PM   #5
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Hi Paul,
I see we are at the same stage of install progress.
My charge controller and all the other goodies are mounted in the battery bay and the BVM712 monitor upstairs for good Bluetooth reception.
Today I started to manufacture the tilting feed from Al angle material.
One item I noticed in your layout, if the tilting of one panel will just put 10% of shade on the other the whole system suffers on output big time.
If I have one suggestion then it is to use a combiner box on top of the roof and run every panel separate into a terminal strip inside the box. Now this gives you the option to change them to a series / parallel configuration within the box instead of re-running the wires again.
My big learning on solar was how the shading effects the performance, its amazing. So lets say you would only choose to put up some panels tilted and some flat the gain in output of the whole system would be negligible.
Here a vid from the Wynns:



watch what happens in the moment the last panel gets tilted the Amps jump up significantly.
Anyways hope all your install goes smooth. Best of luck !!
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Old 07-06-2019, 10:52 PM   #6
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You might also want to check out their video on what happens when you shade panels, it ain't pretty. Here's the link:
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Old 07-06-2019, 11:04 PM   #7
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You have designed and built a very nice solar system. A key data item omitted so far is your daily energy usage. How many Hhrs do you typically use in a day?

With lower sun angles you may be able to do fine by tilting the north panels as planned but only tilt the south side bank less than target angle or leave them flat.

I installed 1050 watts for 460 AHrs LA batteries with a Morningstar 60 amp controller. Even in Alaska with low sun angles the batteries were almost always fully recharged (100%) before 10:00 am. All panels are mounted flat.
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Old 07-07-2019, 01:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpine06 View Post
Hi Paul,
I see we are at the same stage of install progress.
My charge controller and all the other goodies are mounted in the battery bay and the BVM712 monitor upstairs for good Bluetooth reception.
Today I started to manufacture the tilting feed from Al angle material.
One item I noticed in your layout, if the tilting of one panel will just put 10% of shade on the other the whole system suffers on output big time.
If I have one suggestion then it is to use a combiner box on top of the roof and run every panel separate into a terminal strip inside the box. Now this gives you the option to change them to a series / parallel configuration within the box instead of re-running the wires again.
My big learning on solar was how the shading effects the performance, its amazing. So lets say you would only choose to put up some panels tilted and some flat the gain in output of the whole system would be negligible.
Here a vid from the Wynns:



watch what happens in the moment the last panel gets tilted the Amps jump up significantly.
Anyways hope all your install goes smooth. Best of luck !!
Joerg
Thanks Jeorg......I appreciate the input!!

This is actually my 3rd Solar system (2 RV and one Grid Tied at home) and you are 100% right on the shading!!!

I am doing this system somewhere in the middle with 4 sets of 2 panels in series. I am doing this for many of the reasons that are mentioned in this video as well as keeping within the parameters of the solar controller with this many panels.

I have intentionally "Over Paneled" so that I will be able to make max power from the system without the need to tilt in most cases but during the dead of winter I will have the option to tilt at least some of the panels.

I also have some sets that are close enough to shade each other and in that case, I plan to use shorter tilt bars to help mitigate shading!

The Solar controller can only put out 100A on the charge side and I should be able to stay pretty close to this number when needed and will only tilt when we fall below this number
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Old 07-07-2019, 02:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rarebear.nm View Post
You have designed and built a very nice solar system. A key data item omitted so far is your daily energy usage. How many Hours do you typically use in a day?

With lower sun angles you may be able to do fine by tilting the north panels as planned but only tilt the south side bank less than target angle or leave them flat.

I installed 1050 watts for 460 AHrs LA batteries with a Morningstar 60 amp controller. Even in Alaska with low sun angles the batteries were almost always fully recharged (100%) before 10:00 am. All panels are mounted flat.
That's great input Fred.....thanks!!

We currently, have 660AH of AGM batteries and we typically will use between 150 - 200 AH per day when boondocking, including Satellite TV/DVR, etc so with 1600W it looks like we should be good on paper at least.....but the real world is not always the same as on paper....right??

Additionally, we are planning to change out to residential fridge later this year which should use an additional 50 - 80AH per day based on what I can tell so unless we end up in some awful weather we shouldn't need the generator much unless we need to fire off the AC units......we hope!!
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Old 07-07-2019, 02:36 PM   #10
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I understand you already have your solar panels in place. So this comment is really for other readers.

There is considerable out-of-date info on the RV forums about shading on solar panels. Whereas, no solar solar panel will produce 100% in the shade, there are some panels on the market that perform much better than others in partial shade. To make a point there are at least six companies selling double sided panels. The back side uses indirect and scattered light to produce enough power to make the double side economical. Point- newer panel technology does not "die" with a pencil beam of shade across one panel.

I used Silfab mono 350 watt panels and real worlds results were much better than thought. What I did not mention above while in Alaska with low sun angles and camped under trees my system recharged the battery bank to 100% by 9-10:00am. Only once in four months did the recharge time go past noon, and that was when I had 1/4 snow on the panels while parked under trees.

I know many solar panels on the market today could not function this well.

When I turned on the solar, I also turned off the breakers to the converters and have never turned them back on. My solar system generates 100% of our 12 volt power requirements.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rarebear.nm View Post
I understand you already have your solar panels in place. So this comment is really for other readers.

There is considerable out-of-date info on the RV forums about shading on solar panels. Whereas, no solar solar panel will produce 100% in the shade, there are some panels on the market that perform much better than others in partial shade. To make a point there are at least six companies selling double sided panels. The back side uses indirect and scattered light to produce enough power to make the double side economical. Point- newer panel technology does not "die" with a pencil beam of shade across one panel.

I used Silfab mono 350 watt panels and real worlds results were much better than thought. What I did not mention above while in Alaska with low sun angles and camped under trees my system recharged the battery bank to 100% by 9-10:00am. Only once in four months did the recharge time go past noon, and that was when I had 1/4 snow on the panels while parked under trees.

I know many solar panels on the market today could not function this well.

When I turned on the solar, I also turned off the breakers to the converters and have never turned them back on. My solar system generates 100% of our 12-volt power requirements.
I agree....looked long and hard at those panels and really wanted to go with the 2-1 panels but I just couldn't make them work on my roof with the way my vents were positioned

I think you're right these panels can make a huge difference!!

FYI....looking at my Residential panels today which uses micro-inverters so the same as parallel wiring on an RV, and I can absolutely tell that my neighbor's trees need trimming again as the 3 panels affected are down 30% vs. the ones right next to them with no shade
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:50 PM   #12
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Like many other roofs I had a vent placement problem as well. In order to use the panels I wanted I fabricated custom Z mounts for the panels. I took 1/4 thick 3" x 5" aluminum angle cut them into 6" long sections and bolted them back to back on the 5" side. By adjusting the bolting pattern I was able to clear all of the pipe vents and deal with the various angle of the roof. Because of the size of these panels, about 49 x 78", I used 6 mounting brackets for each panel. All stainless steel hardware. In the end each panel has three feet x 3" of mounting surface area. No problems after 15,000 miles. Also no vent problems either.

I think you'll have a first rate solar system. IMO- it pays to do your homework, work out the math and design what you need/want.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:33 AM   #13
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bracket

Hey Paul, Fred,
how did you decide to mount the Solar panels ... I mean fastening the bracket on the roof itself? Screws?
I have 120W panels and started yesterday to make custom brackets for them as I liked a little bit bigger foot so I can just glue them down with VHB Tape ... still not 100% sure about that. Somehow the wind resistance on a panel that big my gut tells me to use a screw somewhere. AM Solar is gluing them down on fiberglass roofs for years now and claims they never had a problem ...
Fred if you have a pic that would be very nice ...
thx
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:57 AM   #14
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I have EPDM roof with a 3/8 - 1/2 plywood deck under it. It's an Excel and is heavy. When I mounted the panels, I placed the panel, with two other guys, marked the outline of the mounts and moved the panel little bit. Then applied a generous amount of Dicore self leveling in the outline. Moved the panel back in place and set four #14 SS screws. Used #14 for screw bite surface area. Then covered the entire area with more Dicore, including the inside edge under the panel.

I do not know what you have for a substrate under the fiberglass. On our MH with a fiberglass roof the substrate is only 1/8 plywood bonded to a foam core. Not much for a screw to bite into. If I were to use a screw up there, I'd use some kind of expanding system. On some boats, they drill an oversize hole, and fill the cavity with epoxy for the screw to bit in. Never done it myself. If I get a chance I'll snap a pic for you.
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