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Old 11-20-2019, 10:28 PM   #1
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Solar install details (1140w)

A few folks have asked for details on our solar install on our newish to us '00 Magna 36. Bear in mind hubby (James) did all of the work, so I won't include labor costs. It took him probably 25 hours to complete it. He's super detailed, including painting over the wire runs with extra topside paint we had left from our roof re-Dicoring/repainting project.

6x190 Rich Solar panels from Amz $200 each - $1200
Victron 150/100 MPPT solar controller from Amz - $785
Victron battery temp sensor from Amz - $39
EcoWorthy 28" solar panel tilting mounting brackets $39 ea - $234
lots of VHB tape, 2 awg cabling, 8 awg cabling, Eternabond, junction boxes - $275ish

The way he did the install is 2 panels combined in parallel x3 with 8 awg wire in equal lengths run to a combiner box, 2 awg through roof to solar controller w/ 250a circuit breaker, then to batteries (still 2 awg). He removed the TV antenna and covered the hole, then put a panel there. He also disconnected the Echo charger b/c he wanted to charge the chassis batteries on the alternator and the house via solar or shore power. He removed the fuses from the Echo then the blue wire from the boost solenoid (to the oil pressure side) so that when the motor runs, the boost solenoid doesn't combine the batteries.

We also replaced/added amp hours to our battery bank, going with 2 Vmax Tanks AGM 8D batteries for 700ah total. We decided against lithium because we would likely also have to replace our inverter/charger, & we were already pretty maxed out on budget by that point. We've been super impressed by the Vmax Tanks, so far (although they were a very tight fit on the battery tray, due to the fins on the case).

So without the batteries, total cost of approximately $2533.

We've now been traveling for nearly two weeks and the solar system has been absolutely great. The sun is pretty low across the sky (November) and we have not tilted the panels once - we still tend to hit float after about 5 hours of bulk/absorb. When we're more stationary, we can tilt them, although we may not need to.

It was well, well worth the time & money for us!

(not the best photo but the only one I had of the completed roof - I can get up there easily any time if anyone wants more specific shots, lemme know)
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:39 PM   #2
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Thanks SO much for that! It looks great up on the roof.
You guys went the same direction and distance I'm planning for. Solar but no lithium at first. Swap our high maintenance 8Ds for a couple of AGM 8Ds and keep on trucking.

Steve
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Old 11-21-2019, 06:23 AM   #3
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That is a very nice roof. I don't want to hi jack this thread but would love to hear the details in the prep and installation of the coating. Ours has been coated but in need again. You could pm me or maybe put it in another thread.

Also the solar is awesome too. I like your work. How did you run the wires to the bays? I am considering installing a small solar system mostly to keep batteries up when not in use. I keep coach at my shop and can't always keep it plugged in.

Why did you disconnect the echo charger? When applying solar to the house batteries it will automatically trickle charge the chassis battery. You could keep the combiner disconnected I get that part.

Nice job on both projects.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:12 AM   #4
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Definitely listening in!
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:33 AM   #5
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funjnt, I'll do a separate post on the roof. It really wasn't that technical, just a lot of elbow grease getting it clean before painting.

The wires to the solar controller went through the roof on the passenger side above the back of the bedroom TV cabinet (our '00 Magna 36 doesn't have a bedroom slide & bedroom TV is on passenger side). Wire run was straight down to the cabinet on the bottom below the TV cab where the solar controller is mounted. Then the wires from the controller go down into the wheel well and across for about a foot (which James enclosed in loom to keep them clean/dry, also sealed all holes with marine silicone and/or Dicor, depending on the location) and through to the battery bay, right behind the rear wheels. Effectively a pretty short run (3' maybe) of the 2 awg from the controller to the batteries, with the controller in a climate controlled, protected space.

I'm just the researcher/logistics specialist/purveyor of supplies and parts, hubby James is the master mechanic & electrician! I do agree that he did an amazing job on the install.
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:11 AM   #6
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Nice!!! Both the roof, and the solar install looks great!

Salute! And enjoy,
Smitty

(1250 of solar. X's4 Lifeline L16's, MidNite Classic 150 - Install 6-7 years ago, and going strong (Did replace the Lifeline's, due to not understanding the limitations of the software in the MS2812 to maintain AGM's vs Wet while in storage... Not a Lifeline problem, and I take responsibility for not recognizing until too late, that the lack of software logic to maintain AGM's properly while in a plugged in Shore Power - resulted in 'walking down' the bank of Lifeline's. Corrected by adding a Equalizing/Conditioning run every 6 weeks, to see the matts from sulfation.)
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srogers View Post
He removed the fuses from the Echo then the blue wire from the boost solenoid (to the oil pressure side) so that when the motor runs, the boost solenoid doesn't combine the batteries
Thanks for the update! What was the reason for removing the wire going to the oil pressure sending unit. I understand you didnít want the batteries combined while driving. Have you found that the alternator voltage overrides the Solar Controller, causing the Controller to reduce or shut down charging to the batteries (hope this makes sense)?

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Old 11-21-2019, 11:17 AM   #8
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Thanks for the update! What was the reason for removing the wire going to the oil pressure sending unit. I understand you didnít want the batteries combined while driving. Have you found that the alternator voltage overrides the Solar Controller, causing the Controller to reduce or shut down charging to the batteries (hope this makes sense)?

Bill
James didn't want that solenoid engaging to combine the batteries into one bank and also didn't want two sources charging the house batteries at the same time, even though we know the solar controller is smart enough to adjust...but the alternator may not be. If we think we need the alternator to also charge the house batteries, he'll reconnect the solenoid. It's basically an experiment that has been working well, so far.
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Old 11-21-2019, 12:08 PM   #9
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That is a very nice roof. I don't want to hi jack this thread but would love to hear the details in the prep and installation of the coating. Ours has been coated but in need again. You could pm me or maybe put it in another thread.
Here's the roof thread! I'm a prolific poster when I have access to wifi for the first time in a while (other than burning down our data on our Jetpack)
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Old 11-21-2019, 12:33 PM   #10
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After reviewing both threads my hats off to you! Quality work. If it had been me, I would grab an ice cold beer and sit on that roof admiring my work!
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Old 11-21-2019, 05:28 PM   #11
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Just had the time to look at the Vmax Tank XTR8D 350AH specs. Impressive AH output from a 12V 8D sized battery. The DOD spec's look very similar to the 255AH's 8D Lifeline's. And 95AH's extra per batteries, adds some good contingency. The Lifeline's 156 pounds vs Vmax Tank's 185 pounds - is the most telling variance between these two units. Well, depending upon where bought, the price differences can be different too!

I've a Vmax trolling motor battery, we use when cheating in our SeaEagle, and it's performed well. Looking forward to hearing how the Vmax Tanks hold up for you in real world usage...

I'd usually look at Lifeline first, for AGM's. Also look at Fullriver. Trojan and Crown are also AGM'ing things now too... Battery AGM competition has really changed in the last 7-8 years...

Thanks again for your write up, always good to see what others come up with as their solutions....

Smitty

(Look for my Go Fund me site soon, as I maybe jumping to Lithium earlier then I thought... We'll see...)
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:39 PM   #12
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(Look for my Go Fund me site soon, as I maybe jumping to Lithium earlier then I thought... We'll see...)

Great idea!
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Old 11-23-2019, 08:59 AM   #13
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Yes and another tool to have in ones toolbox.
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