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Old 11-30-2015, 12:01 PM   #1
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Are roof solar panels a headache or benefit?

Our new diesel pusher is about ready to come out of the paint step and ready for final inspection and installation of 2 rooftop solar panels.

Been doing some research and are now worrying whether the solar panels will be of benefit or more of a headache.

Any recommendations?
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Old 11-30-2015, 12:03 PM   #2
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We only have one solar panel, which has never given any problems, but then again, we don't boondock!
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Old 11-30-2015, 12:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MSHappyCampers View Post
We only have one solar panel, which has never given any problems, but then again, we don't boondock!
Do you have any issues with breakage??
I was told that they break easily if anything hits them.
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Old 11-30-2015, 12:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmcquinn View Post
Our new diesel pusher is about ready to come out of the paint step and ready for final inspection and installation of 2 rooftop solar panels.
Been doing some research and are now worrying whether the solar panels will be of benefit or more of a headache.
Any recommendations?
dmcquinn
The one Siemens 70 watt solar panel for the house batteries on my coach has never been problematic.
However the Solarex 5 watt panel for the chassis batteries failed because of rain water intrusion.
In '06 I replaced it with another 5 watt from Harbor Freight.
I find both to be beneficial.
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Old 11-30-2015, 12:55 PM   #5
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I've had solar on two different rigs with no problems and we like to boondock. Currently have 275 watts on the roof in the MH and will add another panel when I replace the 4 12v batteries that came with it. Love the tranquillity that nature provides but still use the generator for microwave or charging on a cloudy day.


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Old 11-30-2015, 12:59 PM   #6
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We have 4 100 watt panels that were a factory option in 2009. They still work just fine or at least the charge controller shows they are.
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Old 11-30-2015, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmcquinn View Post
Do you have any issues with breakage??
I was told that they break easily if anything hits them.

I've never had any kind of problem. I don't know how susceptible to breakage they are.
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Old 11-30-2015, 01:27 PM   #8
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If rocks come from the sky during a storm then they may break but I have never heard of that type of thing happening. I did my own solar installation and have two 160 watt panels up there, one being able to tilt if I want. We very seldom go anywhere with hookups and I really enjoy being able to use my coach the way it should be used and have my batteries completely charged the next day without ever running the generator. Microwave and A/C is the only thing that requires the genny and that is not very often. Make sure you get a good battery monitor if you chose to go this route.
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Old 11-30-2015, 04:13 PM   #9
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i took down the po installed 175w 12v panels and put up 1200w 48v residential panels in this past summer. it had zero issues up to now, and expect nothing other than sufficient electric flow into the controller. obviously no headache but benefit.
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Old 11-30-2015, 04:35 PM   #10
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I have two 120 watt panels. They have been trouble free, but you do need to get up there and clean them occasionally. Hopefully the charge controller that is being installed has an equalizing function built in. This is very useful in maximizing battery life. To me one of the key benefits of a solar system is keeping the batteries up while in storage. Putting in a good battery monitor is really helpful too. The Trimetric from Bogart Engineering gives you real time info on battery state, power usage, etc.
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Old 11-30-2015, 05:44 PM   #11
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Depending on what you want the solar panels to do, two panels may or may not be enough. We have 620 watts on the roof now. I am replacing the six wet cell house batteries with Lifeline AGM's which will bump the storage up to 900 amps. My controller can handle 300 more watts, so I might add two more 160 watt panels. I have never heard of solar panels being a problem. You haven't mentioned who is installing the panels, but if it is Tiffin, you can get a lot more for your money from an independent supplier.
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Old 11-30-2015, 06:52 PM   #12
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My coach originally came with a 85 watt panel to maintain the batteries (which I question whether it would do this). The PO installed 2-125 watt panels so I now have 335 watts total. On a sunny day I can get +15 amps of charging power which in cooler climates is enough to charge the batteries to full charge and allow battery usage at night with minimal use of generator.

When I first got the coach the 2 larger panels were not charging, contacted the manufacturer and even though I was not the original purchaser they replaced, that has been ~6 years ago and they are still working great. I did a test this year on each panel by covering the other 2 to confirm their output.

IMHO I think the panels are worth it.
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Old 11-30-2015, 07:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 530ktm View Post
If rocks come from the sky during a storm then they may break but I have never heard of that type of thing happening.
My solar panel although it was not working nor has worked sense I owned the coach while parked under a Hickory nut tree several nuts hit the roof and the solar panel and it sounded like an explosion!!!! Take my word for it if you park under one of those you might have some busted glass and a not so peaceful sleep!

my .02

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Old 11-30-2015, 08:47 PM   #14
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I think that if stuff is falling out of the sky hard enough to break the solar panels the solar panels it selves will be the least of your worries. I have four on top of mine and one broke only because a 14' roller tube from the slide awning was ripped from the coach and thrown on top of the roof knocking a hole in it. They are designed to be outside and weather the elements. Just put them up there and forget about them.


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