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Old 03-19-2018, 10:22 AM   #1
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Smile More solar for our Dynasty

Good morning, we would like to add more solar panels to our 2005 Dynasty. With this I'm thinking we need to upgrade our solar charge controller. Can any of you help me with the physical location of the existing controller, and / or what make and model of controller it is? I think we have now (1) 100 solar panel. We would like to change that to either (4) 100 panels or (3) 160 panels. Does anyone have a recommendation for a charge controller ?? Thanks in advance for your help and recommends. Harvey
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:16 AM   #2
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I just replaced the Heliotrope controller (had a bad diode and was putting out 15+ volts) - it was located in the middle of the coach on the ceiling of the rear of the three bays.

I didn't do the work, but my tech extended the wires from the middle of the coach to a spot near the passenger side bay door to install the new controller.

The new controller is an Enerwatt EWC 30, a relatively cheap controller at around $100. My tech has installed a few of them with no problems. At present it only charges the house side (the Heliotrope was connected to both banks) and if I want to charge the chassis batteries at the same time I'd have to install a second controller.
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:16 AM   #3
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Your current solar controller may be mounted in several locations.
Heliotrope RV-45D Controller Location
Mounted to the ceiling of your large basement storage bay
Mounted behind the bedroom TV
Mounted behind the bedroom electrical panel
Mounted in the battery bay

They are Heliotrope RV45D charge controllers. Your current controller may handle four 100W or even three 160W panels as long as they do not exceed 45amps. Remember not to confuse amps with watts when discussing solar.
Link to Heliotrope manual:
beaveramb.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=6283.0;attach=5396

Also, you will find lots of solar info here:
http://www.irv2.com/forums/f56/


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Old 03-19-2018, 11:25 AM   #4
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What is your goal or what kind of problem do you have with your 100w system? Solar is a battery charger. Do you want to charge your batteries while the rig is in storage? 1x100w panel gives you about 5a output and you can count on 5 hrs of sun per day. So that's a 5a trickle charger. More panels, more output, but you are, in the end, only charging your batteries in less time.

You might think about increasing your battery bank capacity first, then add more solar later. Change all lights to LEDs, Depends on your needs.
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Old 03-19-2018, 12:21 PM   #5
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Bill asks a good question - I put two large panels on with the intention of being able to run an electric fridge off solar during daylight hours, and keep the batteries fully charged.
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:41 PM   #6
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Smile More solar for our Dynasty

Thanks all for your replys.

What is your goal or what kind of problem do you have with your 100w system? Solar is a battery charger. Do you want to charge your batteries while the rig is in storage? 1x100w panel gives you about 5a output and you can count on 5 hrs of sun per day. So that's a 5a trickle charger. More panels, more output, but you are, in the end, only charging your batteries in less time.

You might think about increasing your battery bank capacity first, then add more solar later. Change all lights to LEDs, Depends on your needs.
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Bill, to answer your questions:
1) we do not have a problem, and we do not boondock very often. We are going to Alaska this summer...which means we may have quite a few days when we will not be hooked to shore power. So far we still have the 2-way Norcold refrigerator.
2) We would like to take advantage of the long hours per day of sunlight in the northwest. I would just like to have more solar charging to keep our house batteries topped up through the day for lights, TV, the fridge, etc. I do expect to run the generator for an hour in the AM, and maybe a 1/2 hour for our evening meal.
3) We are running (4) new Trojan T145 house batteries, that are 260 AH each.

Thanks again for your thoughts, and your help
Harvey
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Old 03-19-2018, 04:03 PM   #7
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I currently have 7 100w panels on the roof and still using the factory Heliotrope 45D controller, works well for me so far.

I had to upgrade the wiring as Monaco undersized it even for one panel... the wire from controller to batteries was too small causing enough voltage drop that even the single factory panel (before I added more), even though was putting out 5a on a sunny day, was doing nothing to actually charge the batteries.

Fortunately they put the inverter in the same bay as the solar controller, so I just ran #2 wire from controller to existing batt cables going to inverter. No voltage drop now.

The wire coming down off the roof could stand to be bigger also, I have not done that yet but sufficient for now.
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Old 03-19-2018, 04:14 PM   #8
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LSBEH; so more solar so your batteries charge more quickly. We have about 12 hrs of sun right now (spring equinox) but even so, solar production isn't much before 10am nor after 3pm; On your Alaska trip, latitude works against you, not for you (low sun angle). I would still count on 5 hrs/day. More clouds as you venture north, too.

To charge your batteries, you want to minimize voltage drop between the roof and your solar controller, which should wind up close to the batteries for the same reason. Depending on the length of run, #6 wire from the roof to the controller should do. Note that 400w of solar will give you about 20amps charging or 100a per day. If you use more juice, or its cloudy/rainy, well, there goes the solar production.

More panels, the better. I think you might be better off running your gen. I think you will wind up running it about 4 hrs/day if not on shore power or travelling. Especially as you will be using the furnace more.

Not trying to discourage you, as solar is great, you just need to have reasonable expectations.

Have a great trip to AK!
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Old 03-19-2018, 04:24 PM   #9
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Harvey, I added 3 200w panels and removed the 100W panel as it was not compatible with the new setup. 600W was about as much as the 45amp Heliotrope could handle without replacing that and going bigger. The wire needed to be bigger too due to line loss as mentioned. I added two batteries where the chassis batteries where and then moved those to the back end of the coach in the engine compartment. Upgraded all the house batteries to Trojan T-145's. I should also add that I have the Samsung residential refer too. In addition I changed out the Magnum remote to the ME-ARC50 and added the Magnum battery monitoring kit (BMK). With those two new items I can better monitor the batteries and their state of charge (SOC). Also this gives me much better control of the auto gen start (AGS) as to when and how it functions.

With these changes I hope to be able to manage my batteries better keeping them as healthy as possible all the while keeping my generator use to a minimum.

Hope this helps, there are probably other ways to work this probably less expensive ways too but who knows. This is just what I have done.

Good luck

Steve
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:04 PM   #10
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Just a thought, but you might consider changing out that controller for a good mppt controller and upping your panel voltage, and thus avoid running new heavier gauge wiring up top
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Old 03-21-2018, 08:51 AM   #11
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More Solar for our Dynasty

Ok folks 🤔
I have decided that this project is going to include a new MPPT charge controller. Would any of you recommend one that can charge two sets of batteries in priority (house batteries first, then chassis batteries, or viseversa). Thanks in advance for your recommendations. LSBEH
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Old 03-21-2018, 02:21 PM   #12
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The solar charge controller recommend to me was a Morningstar TriStar 60 MPPT controller.
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