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Old 01-02-2012, 03:08 PM   #1
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Monaco stock PV controller

The coach came with the standard RV-30 charge controller and 1 panel up top. I plan on doing a fair amount of boondocking this year, so I'm thinking about an upgrade.

I don't plan to put a system together that will completely handle all charging requirements as I don't mind running the gen here and there. However, it does seem reasonable to upgrade the system to the limit of the installed Charge Controller etc. Much of the system cost is in those already installed components.

I've done some research on the existing controller. It's made by Heliotrope Industries and appears to be a 30 Amp unit (3 stage). I can find nothing about the factory panel though. I would assume that the factory panel wouldn't be compatible with anything made now anyways.

So to the questions:

1. Will new 18 volt panels do the job?
2. At 18 volts I could place up to about 500 watts of panels, correct?
3. I know I'm missing something important here....what is it?
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:13 AM   #2
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Looking at the specifications for the HPV 30-D you can actually go with 600 W worth of panels and since it is an MPPT controller you could actually go with a higher wattage with the expectation that it would make up for inefficiencies in the system, including lack of sun.
How well this works is going to be largely dependent on how it was wired into your motorhome, did they use large enough gauge wire (I'm willing to bet they didn't). go down to the boon docking section and look at the "solar that really works" discussion. With some conservation efforts i.e. LED lights you may well not have to run your generator much if at all most of the time.
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:59 AM   #3
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Thanks Shadowcatche. I have read all the solar threads and followed a few member installs as well.

The part number you reference is a newer model charge controller...I don't believe mine is MPPT and I'm sure that you're correct about the lacking factory install. I will deal with that as well, but down the road. For now I'm just thinking about 350 or so watts up top utilizing new efficient panels that can be expanded in the future if I choose. I figure that will handle most of my summer time usage.

So, I guess the real question is: Will 18 Volt panels work within the limits of the existing CC? They seem to be pretty standard and easy to find, plus the first one will fit in my existing mount. I'd only need to add one set of new mounts to the roof.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:47 AM   #4
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It would be interesting to find out information concerning your controller It may well be an MPPT controller even though an older model, depends on the model. Even for the PWM models a very advanced algorithm for charging. 18V is going to be safe no matter what, as you have to have more V than the batteries to charge. I was impressed with the apparent quality of the controller.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:33 PM   #5
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Tylerdmoore, I have the same set up it sounds like and I'm looking to do the same, (add another panel or two on the roof). I have a 2001 Signature that has not been charging the engine batteries as it should. While the inverter will charge the house batteries, once they are fully charged, the inverter for some reason is not switching over to charge the starter batterries. I also have the RV-30D Charge Controller along with the Trace RC7 GS Remote Controller. I will be following your thread to see what you come up with on the panels and assembly.

Thanks
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonGott View Post
Tylerdmoore, I have the same set up it sounds like and I'm looking to do the same, (add another panel or two on the roof). I have a 2001 Signature that has not been charging the engine batteries as it should. While the inverter will charge the house batteries, once they are fully charged, the inverter for some reason is not switching over to charge the starter batterries. I also have the RV-30D Charge Controller along with the Trace RC7 GS Remote Controller. I will be following your thread to see what you come up with on the panels and assembly.

Thanks
Don
Yes it does sound like very similar systems Don. My Trace INV / CHRG charges both banks at the same time though.

As for the panels...I can't find any info regarding the manufacturer or wattage . At this point I'm assuming that it won't be compatible with anything purchased today. My plan is to replace the existing panel with 2 or 3 new panels to achieve a total wattage of around 400. This should cover my needs well and be within the scope of the existing Charge controller. Wiring updates will be needed though to make it perform as desired.
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:05 PM   #7
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Yes it does sound like very similar systems Don. My Trace INV / CHRG charges both banks at the same time though.

As for the panels...I can't find any info regarding the manufacturer or wattage . At this point I'm assuming that it won't be compatible with anything purchased today. My plan is to replace the existing panel with 2 or 3 new panels to achieve a total wattage of around 400. This should cover my needs well and be within the scope of the existing Charge controller. Wiring updates will be needed though to make it perform as desired.
Cool, it sounds like you are wanting to do the same there as me. I will follow your thread. Good luck on that one because I will be following your lead........ As for my battery banks charging, I did not know that it did both at the same time. I thought it focused on one then the other. The owners manual does not offer enough info on this so it does not suprise me that I have it wrong. But, the way you say it should be working does tell me that it is not charging my starter batteries while my house batteries are charging. Because I have put a volt meter on the batteries while charging and while the house batterries are recieving 14.2 volts the starter batteries are showing only 12.4. If they were charging at the same time, they should be showing the same charge rate......... correct?

Thanks
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:10 PM   #8
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Not necessarily, my house charges at a much higher rate than the chassis. While the house batts are reading 14.5-8 the chassis may only be running 13.5-6. I believe it is programmable...not sure how to do it though, still learning that stuff LOL.
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:18 PM   #9
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Not necessarily, my house charges at a much higher rate than the chassis. While the house batts are reading 14.5-8 the chassis may only be running 13.5-6. I believe it is programmable...not sure how to do it though, still learning that stuff LOL.
Yes, I'm learning toooooooooo !!!! Something must be wrong, because when the bus is hooked up to the garage. I see that the house batteries are charging but never the starter bank. When I'm outside, I get a charge from the Solar Panel to both. That's really the only time that I've seen my starter bank reach 13.5 Thanks............
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:23 PM   #10
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On our coaches, we don't have a converter and charger as some others do...all charging power runs through the inverter/charger. If your chassis batts are not showing that they're charging then something is wrong. Check to see which model you have and search a users manual. Maybe you'll be able figure it out. I wish I could be of more help
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Old 01-09-2012, 01:17 AM   #11
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I hope to pick up my 2000 HR Imperial with factory solar on Thursday. I believe that it has a 90w panel. It has an 8 guage wire from the roof to the elec bay. I have not found any info on the charge controller it would be sweet if it was adequate for 400w. I have been looking at how to run a #4 wire from roof to charge control. If I use the refrig stack I will end up with a 30ft run. If anyone has any clue as to where to look for the charge controller I would appreciate it.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerdmoore View Post
So to the questions:

1. Will new 18 volt panels do the job?
2. At 18 volts I could place up to about 500 watts of panels, correct?
3. I know I'm missing something important here....what is it?
Short answers:
1. Yes
2. I wouldn't due to small wire size (see below)
3. See below

Long answer:
On the face of your solar controller will be the place it was manufactured. You probably have a PV type(not MPPT) Heliotrope RV-30 controller manufactured in CA and now is supported by Mike Dice of Solarconrepair http://www.solarconrepair.com/CONTROLLER_REPAIR.html . On his website it states that he no longer repairs the RV-30. We'll, he repaired mine recently, but I called him first.

The RV-30D was manufactured in OR and is a different animal and is now supported by AMSolar www.amsolar.com.

These controllers are capable of 400watts, but the wire size between the controller and the batteries is the limiting factor. If your Monaco is like mine(2000 Signature), the controller is over the refig/freezer, which is a long way(est 20 ft) from the batteries. Monaco used only #8 gauge wire from the controller to the batteries. IMO, this is fine for up to about 200 watts(2 panels). More than that is pushing it for that wire size distance. There is a wire size vs distance chart somewhere on the iRV2 forum. I hope someone will post it?

There are dip switches on the back side of your solar controller that are used set the house batteriy bank float charge voltage for the type of house batteries you have(LLA, AGM, etc). The chassis battery bank float charge voltage is not adjustable. It is preset. There is also a chart on the backside of the controller show what voltage each dip switch position gives. There is nothing in any of the Monaco owners manuals that I familar with (98-02) that mentions these dip switches. This is true for both the RV-30 and RV-30D controllers.

If I was installing a larger wire(#2) and a new controller and meter for a 3 of 4 panel(up to 400w) system, I'd install http://www.ecodirect.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=Morningstar-SunSaver-Duo-25&site=google_base with the optional temp sensor http://www.ecodirect.com/MorningStar-Remote-Meter-RM-1-p/morningstar-rm-1.htm

We hope this helps
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:06 PM   #13
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Here is a DC cable sizing calculator.
I use 5 amps/90 watt panel

DC Cable Sizing Tool - Wire Size Calculator - MM2 & AWG - solar-wind.co.uk
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:47 AM   #14
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In looking for electrical drawings and information for our 1993 coach I have found lots of CAD drawings for several years of Monaco's. Even thou it does not specify for my year what the panal size is it does for almost all the other years, all the others say 100 watts. Not sure if yours is still that size but that seems to be the common size for them.
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