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Old 12-06-2014, 08:42 AM   #1
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Question How to hard wire solar panels into RV electric Service

Hi, does anyone know how to wire in solar panels to the rv electric box. I have a generator as well. I am installing 4 100w panels on the roof and adding 5 deep cell batteries to the existing one giving me a 6 battery acc. bank and a separate starting battery. I would also like these wired in to the alternator charging system as well for emergency and travel charging. Thanks
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Old 12-06-2014, 08:46 AM   #2
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Rockymntnman: The solar panels will wire to a charge controller. The charge controller will wire to the coach battery bank. I've never seen a system that would allow you to go directly from the PV to the circuit breaker box (if that is what you are asking). Can you clarify what you are trying to do? \ken
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Old 12-06-2014, 09:04 AM   #3
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Yes, I think that is what I was thinking, That the panels to the charge controller and there to the battery bank and then I wasn't sure where to next, I guess. I thought of wiring a plug outlet to the bank and then plugging in the AC line to that, as I have to for the generator, or to a pay site Elec. Hook up. I have an 8000w continuous and 16,000w peak power inverter that i was going to wire in from the bank but I didn't know if it would work by just plugging my AC power supply cord right into the Inverter, or if wiring the inverter into the built in coach inverter box would be best. Thank You For your help
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Old 12-06-2014, 09:16 AM   #4
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Yes ... the inverter will be connected to the coach battery bank. Your AC connections will come off the inverter, either from a built in 120VAC outlet, or through a power distribution box (circuit breaker box) that distributes power through a typical house-type wiring scheme. \ken
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Old 12-06-2014, 09:19 AM   #5
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PS. You have an "...8000w continuous and 16,000w peak power inverter..."? The overhead on that is going to be quite a drain on those batteries, I'm thinking. Might consider something less beefy (I guess it depends on the size of your RV, the number of batteries, and what you are powering, tho). How big does that wire have to be between the batteries and the inverter for a system that large?!? \ken
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Old 12-21-2014, 12:32 AM   #6
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8000W Inverter

Hi Ken, You ask a very good question that I cannot answer yet. I went with the 8000 watt inverter based on 3 people possibly using their computers at the same time, vacuum, blow dryers, curling irons, and whatcha macallit gadgets women use these days, plus roof top AC, microwave and TV + Satellite Dish and knowing very little about electric and how to estimate how long each of these items will be used each day. So what i tried was turning on as many of these at the same time and taking a usage reading which was around 10,000 KWs, then figured it would be highly unlikely that they would all be used at the same time, so I figured the 8000 watt unit would be able to handle what ever we threw at it. How fast it will drain my power bank is yet unknown. We will be leaving tomorrow for a month at the Grand Canyon for the first test run.
As far as prices went, I spent months bidding on Inverters from 3000, 5000, 8000 and 10,000 watts continuous, and finally snagged an 8000 watt for under $300.
Now I have to admit that its much bigger than I expected, and had to get creative in order to come up with a place to install it. It also says its a Grid Tie Inverter which I did not see when bidding on it, nor do I know the difference between a Grid Tie Inverter versus an Off Grid Inverter, and its a modified sine which I was told when using a modified sine wave for powering electronics like computers you should go higher in watts than needed compared to a pure sine.
I was also under the impression that it wasn't the size of the inverter but rather the actual electric usage that depleted the power bank and figured we would adjust our usage by just living as we normally would if we were plugged in and seeing how long our power lasted. I have been trying to determine how many batteries + solar panels would = what size inverter but never found anyone who could tell me what quantity of these an average RV system has. So I decided to just try a 6-125ah 12 volt battery bank, 4-100 watt panels, a 30 amp charge controller and an 8000 watt inverter and see how it goes.
I have about $1300 into this system so far and thought I did pretty good investment wise, but won't know until I actually put it to use. Trial and error seemed to be the best way to accurately figure all this out, because trying to figure out how much power a computer alone uses was nearly impossible because of all the variables, such as when it starts for instance, it uses more power for a short time, then a reduced amount while in use, then an even lesser amount when idle, and none of these readings seemed to be the same each time.
I would like to hear from someone that has been using solar power and has some examples of how much power they get from how many solar panels / batteries, powering what for how long so I had some type of reference at least, but haven't received any feedback about actual usage yet. Anything you can share with me about any of this would be most welcome because I am truly just guessing and hoping I am on the right track! I will post some results after we have tried this out for awhile. Thank You all for your input, its most welcome and helpful! Happy Trails and a Merry Christmas Friends, Stay Safe Always
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Old 12-21-2014, 12:50 AM   #7
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I forgot to mention i used 1 inch fine strand copper wire for wiring the batteries together and from the batteries to the inverter from an old welder that no longer worked and I have yet to find or figure out what size / type fuses I need to wire in and where they should go so if you can help me with this I would be most grateful! Thank You All

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Old 12-21-2014, 08:01 AM   #8
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A few points, you need to understand:


An 8000 watt inverter will draw 675 amps DC ( 8000 / 12.4 ) from your batteries, at full load putting out 67 amps AC ( 8000 / 115 ). Your batteries, that you should only discharge to 50 %, will be dead in less then an hour.


Your solar will make about 29 amps an hour, on a bright sunny day, ( 400 watts / 13.5 volts ) for about 5 and a half hours a day. That is a total of about 160 amp hours a day.


I had a less expensive ( cheap ) 2500 watt inverter and it used 4 amps, just being hooked up to the batteries. Over 24 hours it would use 96 amp hours ( 4 X 24 ), almost half of your battery capacity. So you need to check the "at idle" specs on your inverter.


I now have 840 amp hours of 6 volt Golf Cart batteries, a Xantrex SW2000 watt inverter and 675 watts of solar panels. I can run 2 computers and the TV for 5 or 6 hours a day, some microwave use, an electric coffee maker and a small household refrigerator, without running my generator, unless it rains a few days


My small Air Conditioner uses 8 amps at 115 volts AC, which calculates to 99 amps at 12.4 volts ( 8 X 12.4 ) an hour, so If I ran it 4 hours, with nothing else my batteries would be discharged. I don't run the AC off the inverter.


There are lots of sites that can help you with setting up off grid living, Solar Bob comes to mind.


I know it can be confusing, it was to me at first, but good luck with your setup.


Oh, yes you can plug the power cord into the inverter and power the M/H, but you need to turn off the charger, since it will try to charge the batteries from the batteries, something science hasn't figured out yet.
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Old 12-24-2014, 06:29 AM   #9
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Attached is a write up of my RV / solar system. Wiring diagram inside. I use a large inverter wired for whole coach (shore power cord plugged into inverter) on combination with smaller point of use inverters. This allows for flexibility and most efficient inverter for the need at hand.

Additional wiring diagram examples are on AMSOLAR's web site in the education section.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 98 views)
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Old 12-24-2014, 06:46 AM   #10
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I've looked at grid tie inverters, and my understanding is that they will only operate while synchronized to the "grid" AC wiring. Their purpose is to feed solar or wind power directly into the AC power grid, reducing your homes consumption of power through the meter, or to run the meter backwards (special "net metering" meter needed here) if your solar produces more power than the house needs at that moment. When the "normal" AC power shuts down, the inverter does too - protects utility line workers from coming in contact with "energized" wires being fed from your solar setup.

I'm worried too that by going with the cheapest inverter you could find, it's made of very poor quality and could damage expensive electronics in your RV. Most people go with 2,000 - 4,000 watts of pure sine wave inverter......this usually costs $2000+ for a quality unit.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:04 AM   #11
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Me thinks it was a valiant effort to try and be able to run the rooftop AC on solar and battery power. Anyone on a budget (like most of us are) of any kind is not likely to be able to do so.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:32 AM   #12
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RockyMtn...There have been several really good points offered.

1. The inverter uses power too
2. Several inverters can be better than one if you have a good handle on your power using needs
3. A good infrastructure (wired network) is very important
4. In a world of normal....trying to be normal and using solar and batteries to make normal happen might be impossible. You will always be required to change your energy use habits if expecting solar to sustain you in your RV.

All that being summarized....I too took the VSHEETS design and made 5 ea 100w solar panels work for me. I have 4 ea batteries....and I observe the golden rule....Try never to discharge less than 70%....and NEVER less than 50%. By careful manipulation of my power use habits and vigilance observing the lights on the battery monitor (I have that MidNite Battery Capacity Meter) you can form good habits.
I have a 3000W chinese made PSW inverter and 2 ea 150w inverters for the electronics in the RV. The big guy will (as mentioned) abuse the amount of battery stored power quickly. My panels can not keep up with the draw that the big inverter can apply even if it is not being used it is drawing on the batteries to maintain itself. So I have installed the REMOTE ON/Off switch that was made for it. The switch allows me to use the big inverter for vacuuming, minor coffee making, day time crock pot use, microwave use (minimal) and other small tasks. You find that the batteries power will drain off quicker than you think when you are not planning ahead. So you train yourself to be cautious and as you build better use habits....small power generation and inverters just work well.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:57 AM   #13
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PASDAD....I am using a chinese made PSW inverter most likely one similar to that of Rockymtn....thus far it has proven itself to be very good. New Advanced Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter 5000 10000 Watt DC to AC 12V to 120V | eBay

Mine is similar to this but a 3000W model... in my book the price I paid opened the door to the testing which opened the door to similar purchases that will soon run the brick and mortar project I am working on for solar.
Sometimes they just work!
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Old 12-24-2014, 09:08 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Gocoffeer View Post
PASDAD....I am using a chinese made PSW inverter most likely one similar to that of Rockymtn....thus far it has proven itself to be very good. New Advanced Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter 5000 10000 Watt DC to AC 12V to 120V | eBay

Mine is similar to this but a 3000W model... in my book the price I paid opened the door to the testing which opened the door to similar purchases that will soon run the brick and mortar project I am working on for solar.
Sometimes they just work!

Yours is at least pure sine wave...... What worries me most about Rockymountain's inverter is it MSW and 8000 watts for less than $300 ! How much did you pay for your 3000 watt Chinese unit?
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