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Old 03-13-2018, 09:08 PM   #1
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Adding Solar to Allegro 34PA 2018

Thinking of adding Solar on the roof. Interested on suggestions on how much is enough and any brand experience/recommendations.

Planning on a mixed varity of RVing but will include dry camping up to 7 days. Just my wife, me and 2 dogs. We are just getting started on our adventures with our new 2018 34 PA. Supposed to be pre-wired for solar on the roof.

Much to learn. Not much expertise to share just yet.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:49 PM   #2
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I'm in the camp of go big with RV solar arrays. With losses from specified production from flat mounting, latitude, and low winter sun actual realized production is 15-50% reduced. Plus add shading impact from roof objects.

I have 1500w in three strings. Using narrow panels along each side of the roof and across the rear.
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:58 PM   #3
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My rig came with 400 watts of solar, pretty much just a battery maintainer for my 4 8D batteries.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:07 PM   #4
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You may wish to check with Tiffin as to how much solar the pre-wiring will support and be prepared to have new wiring included for solar greater than just battery trickle charging.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:49 PM   #5
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Solar is a scam! The exception is maintaining the charge on batteries when not in use.

I am retired from the making electricity business. A couple of times I have gone over to ask how folks with solar panels about them. I stop when I hear their generator running.

The downside to boondocking is listening to the generator running for an hour or so a day. The solution is not hauling solar panels around.
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Old 03-14-2018, 02:12 AM   #6
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Tiffin typically installs one pair of #6 routed to a control panel area and then onto the batteries. Depending on if you are satisfied with designs that conform to this whether its adequate.

I'm not a fan of such solar prewire - I like multiple strings combined near the controller near the batteries.
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Old 03-14-2018, 02:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by followingsea View Post
Solar is a scam! The exception is maintaining the charge on batteries when not in use.

I am retired from the making electricity business. A couple of times I have gone over to ask how folks with solar panels about them. I stop when I hear their generator running.

The downside to boondocking is listening to the generator running for an hour or so a day. The solution is not hauling solar panels around.
Interesting perspective.

I've had two coaches with solar flat mounted (no tilting as I can't climb to the roof). As commented above - 1500w in three strings. Using narrow panels along each side of the roof and across the rear.

Dry camp primarily in the southwest deserts in the winter. So external shading not an issue but internal shading is combined with low winter sun. We recently spent six+ weeks of January and February dry camping in southern and northern Arizona.

We typically charge to float our battery bank of six GC2 wet batteries each day and continue to maintain float till losing sunlight. We are not very frugal with power use - typically operating two televisions and satelite controllers, computers, sewing machine, lighting, etc. till midnight or later.

No generator operation needed unless it is a cold night requiring a lot of propane furnace operation - then a evening generator run of an hour or two is needed to ensure we have enough battery through the night.

Without solar we would be running generator every day for several hours.

I would like to install a catalytic heater (had one in previous coach) and some additional battery capacity as this would eliminate the fan of the furnace and do away with most all generator usage. Will maybe do so next needed to install new batteries.
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Old 03-14-2018, 05:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ljwt330 View Post
You may wish to check with Tiffin as to how much solar the pre-wiring will support and be prepared to have new wiring included for solar greater than just battery trickle charging.


I agree that this too should be your starting point. I only have 1-100w panel for maintaining when stored. It does an excellent job even during the winter in the Midwest. It's not a scam.
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Old 03-14-2018, 03:24 PM   #9
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You can get an upgrade to 4 gauge wire.

I didn't think to ask for multiple pairs.
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:22 AM   #10
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Adding Solar

Wow,
Thanks for all the quick replys. I agree my first step is to find out what size wire and capacity Tiffin installed in the pre-wire. I'm guessing not big enough if I should go big on panels.

My maintanence shop suggested maybe adding 2 more 6v batteries to the 4 I already have for more capacity. Being a gasses, I concerned about the extra weight as well.

Does anyone have actual experience with those thin flexible do-it-yourself panels I saw a year or two ago at a RV show?
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:31 AM   #11
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Subscribing.....

I'm in the same boat, just picked up an 18 32SA last week and want to add solar as we boondock quite a bit. Mine has the pre wiring as well, found them near the batteries but need to look more to determine the size.
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Interesting perspective.

I've had two coaches with solar flat mounted (no tilting as I can't climb to the roof). As commented above - 1500w in three strings. Using narrow panels along each side of the roof and across the rear.

Dry camp primarily in the southwest deserts in the winter. So external shading not an issue but internal shading is combined with low winter sun. We recently spent six+ weeks of January and February dry camping in southern and northern Arizona.

We typically charge to float our battery bank of six GC2 wet batteries each day and continue to maintain float till losing sunlight. We are not very frugal with power use - typically operating two televisions and satelite controllers, computers, sewing machine, lighting, etc. till midnight or later.

No generator operation needed unless it is a cold night requiring a lot of propane furnace operation - then a evening generator run of an hour or two is needed to ensure we have enough battery through the night.

Without solar we would be running generator every day for several hours.

I would like to install a catalytic heater (had one in previous coach) and some additional battery capacity as this would eliminate the fan of the furnace and do away with most all generator usage. Will maybe do so next needed to install new batteries.
Hi Vince

By scam I am referring the cost of something to the benefit it provides. For example, before integrated circuits I could turn on the RV air conditioner by turning a knob to the 'on' position.

Recently I had the electronic comfort control station (no longer supported) refurbished to the tune of $150. The fact that there is aftermarket for electronic cards says a lot. Total violation of the KISS principle.

The benefit of electricity is huge compared to the cost. There are several ways ways I have charged batteries in the motorhome off grid. Start the engine and use the alternator. Use the installed ONAN generator. And old reliable is our $88 Harbor Freight 500 watt noise maker. I also use two 20 watt solar panels to maintain the charge on each of the batteries on our sailboat.

My estimate is that making electricity cost about $1/day for fuel compared to $0.10/day when using propane for frig and hot water.

Since we boondock mostly in trees of the PNW, solar is not a good choice for us. We also run the generator when we are doing chores so there is alway a period where noise is not a problem.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:30 PM   #13
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Just verified that my 2018 32SA came with #8 wire for solar.
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Old 03-17-2018, 02:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by followingsea View Post
Hi Vince

By scam I am referring the cost of something to the benefit it provides. For example, before integrated circuits I could turn on the RV air conditioner by turning a knob to the 'on' position.

Recently I had the electronic comfort control station (no longer supported) refurbished to the tune of $150. The fact that there is aftermarket for electronic cards says a lot. Total violation of the KISS principle.

The benefit of electricity is huge compared to the cost. There are several ways ways I have charged batteries in the motorhome off grid. Start the engine and use the alternator. Use the installed ONAN generator. And old reliable is our $88 Harbor Freight 500 watt noise maker. I also use two 20 watt solar panels to maintain the charge on each of the batteries on our sailboat.

My estimate is that making electricity cost about $1/day for fuel compared to $0.10/day when using propane for frig and hot water.

Since we boondock mostly in trees of the PNW, solar is not a good choice for us. We also run the generator when we are doing chores so there is alway a period where noise is not a problem.
I know I, and I think most others, know RV solar is typically not cost justifiable from a ROI persoective. But with RV solar its typically not about cost justification...

I also have 28 250w panels grid tied on my Sticks and Bricks. This was totally about cost justification. April will be four years installed - sometime later in this year will be my break even point.
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