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Old 04-11-2009, 05:18 PM   #1
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Solar installation

I am purchasing a newer 2006 Camelot and it does not have solar yet. I am looking for some recommendations on how many panels and where in the SF or Sacramento area for installations. I know the Monaco is pre wired for solar panels but don't want too many holes in the roof. Any thoughts?
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Old 04-12-2009, 11:13 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wetank View Post
I am purchasing a newer 2006 Camelot and it does not have solar yet. I am looking for some recommendations on how many panels and where in the SF or Sacramento area for installations. I know the Monaco is pre wired for solar panels but don't want too many holes in the roof. Any thoughts?
We used to live in the Sacramento area about 5 years ago and I can't recommend any solar installers there. When we had our solar panels installed while we lived there and I couldn't find anybody that specialized in RV solar installations. Eventually, I took our 5th wheel to a local RV dealer to have it done. They did an OK job, but I had to give them very specific information on what to do and how to wire the system.

We had solar panels installed on our 2007 Monaco Diplomat last July. I had heard that AM Solar in Eugene, Oregon was good at installing systems on RVs. I checked them out and they have a very good reputation. We took our motorhome to them and they installed 3 panels, a specialized solar controller and 4 new AGM batteries. Their panels and solar controller are built to their specifications to get as much solar energy into the batteries as possible. Further, one of their solar controllers handles charging of your chassis battery if that is not already provided in your coach.

They did a very professional installation and in my opinion really know what they are doing. I asked them about using the solar prep wiring on the Diplomat and they were not comfortable drilling a hole in the roof (where the arrow indicates the solar wire is located) and rooting around with the hope of finding the factory wire. Plus they felt that size of the wiring might not be the right gauge for 3 solar panels. Also, they do not drill holes in the roof to mount the panels (which I happen to think is a good idea). Instead, they use a 3M glue to attach them. They brought the wiring into the rear closet and mounted the controller in the inverter compartment. I was very impressed with the installation quality. However, as is usually the case with solar systems it was not inexpensive.

Now, as to the number of panels you need, I will relate our experience. To help me decide how many we needed, the folks at AM Solar had us turn off all electrical systems and they turned off the switches to the chassis and house batteries. Theoretically, there was nothing powered in the rig. Then they measured the amperage flow out of the batteries. We had nearly an amp of draw with everything off and unpowered. With no external power source (e.g., solar, shore power) that would draw down our battery bank in short order. They said I probably needed one panel just to handle these parasite loads (LP & Carbon Dioxide detectors, EMS system memory, etc.). One amp doesn't sound like a lot, but over 24 hours it will eat up 24 amps of battery power. Adding a second panel would provide us with some power we could actually use for lights, water pump, and other basic 12V systems. Adding a third panel would provide enough power to occasionally run the TV, DVD, etc. off the inverter.

In actual use, I find three solar panels provide us most of what we want while boondocking. I don't want to scrimp too much on the electricity we use. At night we watch a few hours of TV using the DVD or our satellite TV receiver. Plus, we use our computers regularly. Further, in the morning we run our electric coffee maker. So, from a boondocking standpoint we use a lot of electricity. Our three panel system keeps up pretty well with our usage. However, generally we start up the generator and run it for 15-20 minutes in the morning when we run the coffee maker. This handles the high draw of the coffee maker and at the same time provides some bulk charging of the house batteries. The solar panels do the rest during the day. Just for information the combined output of our three 100 watt solar panels is about 18 amps/hour during strong sunlight.

Sorry for the long message, I ended up writing more than I intended initially. As you have no doubt gathered I strongly recommend AM Solar in Euguene if you can find the time to get up there. Check out their website (http://www.amsolar.com) for more information.

Bill
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Old 04-12-2009, 11:48 AM   #3
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Hello Wetank.

I have a 2007 camelot pdq with the AM Solar system installed. I did the installation myself using screws to attach the panels. Wasn't sure about the 3M adheisive but it seems to be working well for others. I too used a different supply wire rather then the Monaco preinstall. I was able to route the wire from just above the wall between the toilet area and kitchen. AM Solar was wonderful to work with both in choosing a system and installation.
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:30 PM   #4
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Cool, thanks for the indepth info and sharing your experience/
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Old 04-13-2009, 12:24 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input regarding AM Solar. I like the idea of not putting anymore hole into the roof than is necessary. I had also heard that one panel would most likely cover the parasitic load and that two or three was advisable. My old rig had three panels and they seemed to keep everything charged and working fine. Sounds like a trip to Oregon is worth the time. I was thinking about a 200 amp panel but maybe the 300 amp would be best. The newer rigs dray more power.

Thanks
Bill
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Old 04-14-2009, 06:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wetank View Post
I am purchasing a newer 2006 Camelot and it does not have solar yet. I am looking for some recommendations on how many panels and where in the SF or Sacramento area for installations. I know the Monaco is pre wired for solar panels but don't want too many holes in the roof. Any thoughts?

Hi there,
First of of all, are you gonna Boondock a lot of times, if so go for it. I installed mine and i got all the theories/infos from this website, very practical MH electrical source of info. Thanks.
http://bart.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/12volt/12volta.htm
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