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Old 08-12-2019, 01:18 PM   #1
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Factory Solar Panels and Batteries

This is for the folks that have some knowledge of the Factory Solar panels installed on our coaches and those with solar knowledge...cause I am clueless at this point
We have an 04 Intrigue that has 3 Panels on the roof and the solar control panel in the back and have a few questions:
What are the size of the panels in terms of wattage on the coach.
We have 2 brand new 8D Batteries for House batteries (not sure of AH yet. Coach is in the shop) and will be running a newly installed Samsung RF18 refer off of the inverter.
What can we expect when we are dry camping as far as a bit of support from the solar system?


Thanks for any Info as always,
Greg
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:51 PM   #2
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I have zero info on OEM installed solar in 2004. Was not aware that CC did this. (Was it possibly a Dealer installed option?). And the OEM Inverter/Charger, and it's remote panel, do not have great info to actively manage the house battery.

2 8D house batteries, will be in the range of 235-260AH's each. So for ease of math, let's say 250AH X's 2 for 500AH's Total House Bank. 50% useable would give you 250AH's available.

So if you were at 100% SOC as the sun went down, and say without too much conservation and feeding the fridge all night too you consumed 150AH, heck use 175AH's until the sun comes up. You can see you've consumed a good hunk of your available SOC, and not much leftover last contingency.

=====

Suggest to start. You get a multimeter and when the sun is shining high above, get a voltage reading going into your battery bank. Or, if the OEM (Or Dealer(?)) installed Solar Controller has Amps readings display, see what they reflect.

In 2004, I'd be surprised if each panel has more then 150W, maybe even 100W. So somewhere between 300-450W total. And rule of thumb in average conditions, a yield of 6-8Amps per 100W is realistic. So 24 to maybe 52 potential AH's per hour output. Let's conservatively say 30AH's.

If 150AH's wer consumed overnight, and 30AH's per hour were available in peak sun conditions - it would take 5 hours to 'replenish' your consumed AH's back into the battery.

But of course, even in daylight, your coach is consuming AH's. So that needs to be subtracted from the 30AH's possibly coming in.

So say your consuming a conservative 15AH's, that would be taken away from the 30AH's coming in from the solar in this example. So to replenish the 150AH's consumed overnight, you'd need 10 hours of peak sunshine...

The reality is as the sun comes up, and later in the day starts to fade, you'd see maybe 4-5 hours of peak sunshine yielding, and less in the early, and later, parts of the day.

=====

My bet is if you plan to boon dock often, that you will find the older solar panels and probably PWM controller, will not support a full recharge of your battery bank by themselves.

Suggest you add a Solar Monitor that measures In/Out of AMP hours, via a Shunt Valve. Go use our coach with the residential fridge, and see how things go. You may need to run the generator longer then you want to at first. But get a feel for how things are going.

Then decide if you want to either add more AH's via additional batteries, and or, add more solar to produce higher yield from the sun.

=====

Sorry if this was rambling more then normal for me... But lots of unknown, at least to my thinking. And the actual usage of the new battery bank of 8D's and the residential, will tell you what is going on.

Lots of good reading on this subject. So once you get more specifics and actuals - you can map out what, if anything, you want to do.

Best to you,
Smitty
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:20 AM   #3
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Thanks Smitty,
Pretty much figured we would have to run the generator.
But was thinking of shutting off the refer during the night. Figured the freezer and fridge would maintain good temperatures for 8-10 hours without anyone grabbing a snack of course
Will talk to Jim at Premier when we go to pick the coach up end of the week. And see if anyone has any knowledge of the solar system. It is well installed


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Old 08-13-2019, 07:03 AM   #4
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I think some actual users of that fridge will chime in here and give you actual AH numbers.

I believe you will use 100 AH, or less, in a 24 hour day, as long as the ice maker off.

Shutting the fridge off at night just makes it work that much harder in the morning cooling it back down. You won't get much solar until 10 AM or so and that's a long time to let your food get warm.

50% discharge will give you double the cycles of going down deeper but for each deeper discharge ( down to 20% ), you loose a day of life.
Unless you are living off grid, its an insignificant loss, with 300 or more full discharge cycles in the battery bank..

An occasional deeper discharge will do no harm, as long as you don't go below about 10% state of charge.

You also want to keep in the back of your mind that when the 8D batteries stop performing as you would like, think about going with 4 or maybe 6, 6 volt deep cycle batteries.
6 volt batteries are built for deep cycling, ( electric golf cars ) where the 8D ( except a few brands ) are just a combo type cranking/deep cycle design, that will give you less cycle life in your situation.

If you can find the watt output of the panels, you can get a rough idea of how will they will in recharging your batteries.

Even 300 watts of solar, X 5 hours of good sun will replace 40 or more AHs back into the battery while still powering the fridge..

Last thing to investigate is the idle draw of your inverter. Some large inverters use more battery energy just being on, then the fridge uses to run. Many install smaller dedicated, high effecency, inverters and leave the power hungry ones off unless needed for short term use.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:32 AM   #5
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We have that setup too and I'm wondering if it can be modernized just by changing the panels to the newer higher capacity ones.
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Old 08-15-2019, 03:54 PM   #6
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We have gone over 20 hours without power to a Samsung refer. Everything was still frozen, and the refer side was still within safe limits (38 degrees). You just can't stand there with the door open looking for something
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:47 PM   #7
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The solar from that era is likely an aftermarket item. First, look at the gauge of the wires from roof to the battery bay. It might be #16, #14 or #12 (if it's #10 you got a winning lottery). Certainly you can make use of that wires, with higher voltage panels and MPPT controllers, you can make out of a decent system.
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:41 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the great replies.
I have been doing a bit a research and once back at the coach see the controller was made by Heliotrope Solar now bought out or name changed to AM Solar in Eugene, Oregon.
Unfortunately just found that out now to late to pay them a visit today. Heading back to Burien, Wa tomorrow.
What I have read is that the Heliotrope controllers were junk so will do some more research as to a replacement once I get some time to ensure the 15 year old panels are still functional.
More interested in getting the ole coach into running shape at this point
Appreciate any more information on the Solar
Also found out today they did not place the Samsung RF18 on an inverter circuit. Will find out why next week.

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:59 PM   #9
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I have 200 watt panel and about 750AH with a residential fridge and got 3 days out of it to a 50% discharge while not using anything else in the coach, sitting in my yard. Full summer sun.

I too think there is no advantage to turning off the fridge at night. You will save something by turning off the inverter but it is very small. More if it running TV's etc. BTW I have a master switch to kill the TVs when not using them.

I find a greater value in the solar by keeping everything charged in storage, no need to plug in.

In the summer I plan to run the AC & generator late afternoon anyway and it charges the batteries. The solar just helps to keep the system at a higher charge level, no need to take it down real low which help battery life.

I good battery monitor will tell you a lot and buy a DC amp clamp tester to really monitor what is happening.
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