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Old 09-13-2014, 07:33 AM   #15
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How many of you go up on the roof to tilt the panels for more sun coverage? I do it when staying for a week or more, but usually not for shorter stays. It worked great on our Alaska trip because of all the sunshine, except for the rain of course.
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Old 09-13-2014, 08:18 AM   #16
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Ramets,

We have 5 150 watt panels on the fiver (soon to be a do). We never tilt our panels which is not to say we haven't thought about but we don't. Between 1100 and 1500 and on sunny day we're generating between 45 and 50 amps. As Lynn said, we definitely have solar on the do.
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Old 09-13-2014, 08:52 AM   #17
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Did ours a bit differently, so I'll chime in here:

We have 950 watts of panels in two [stacked] systems. One [smaller] system is tied to the chassis batteries with a Renogy 20a charge controller and the other [larger] system is tied to the coach batteries with a Morningstar TS-MPPT60. With the flip of a switch, I can change the Renogy charge controller to also charge the coach batteries.

1. Don't try to justify the cost in any way other than by peace-of-mind and peace-and-quiet. It's absolutely liberating to know you can stop anywhere and anytime you want ... and not to have to worry about power.

2. I'm one of the hacks that drilled a hole in their MH roof to route wires. I have an interior wall that was the shortest distance between the PV and the battery banks, so I drilled down into the top (and then out the bottom) using that wall as my wire chase. My combiner box and a couple tubes of Dicor cover the hole.

3. Did not install brackets that could tilt towards the sun in Spring and Fall. Prolly should have, but today's panels are more efficient in low-angle lighting and opted against it. I guess I could just add another panel to capture the 10%-15% that would be lost with my fixed mount strategy.

It's a great project ... lots of scraped knuckles, and parts and pieces, but worth it in the end!

\ken
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:18 AM   #18
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I installed 300 watts of solar which I'm going to increase to 400 watts as we are moving to a less sunny climate. I wanted to have totally off grid capability. I also wanted a mobile set up so that the M/H could be parked in the shade and the panels be placed in the sun. Made stands out of PVC piping for the panels with a 25 foot cable that connects the panels to the charge controller. Perhaps not as convenient as having the panels on the roof but it sure is nice to be able park under the shade of a tree and place the panels in the direct sunlight. Made two sets of legs to get the correct angle for both winter and summer.

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Old 09-13-2014, 11:01 AM   #19
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We have 600w flat on the roof, no tilt. In winter months and low sun days we have additional 200w in two panels made portable that get set out and optimally positioned.
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:34 AM   #20
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Only you can decide how much the lack of needing a hook up, or running the generator means to you. Many people boondock with generators running, or quieter portable generators sometimes used, and are pleased with this approach.

We too had our SP installed a bit different. We 1200W via X5 panels. Four of these are on a home roof top raised rail, that straddles the top of our large skylight that is over our shower. This lowers the heat gain, and provides noise reduction inside during hard rain and hail. The fifth panel is mounted to the roof.

We did not want to tilt panels, so added more capacity then we needed to feed our X's4 L16 Lifelines 800AH. We spent a bit more for the panels, Sharp/Panasonic 240W 48V, as these have better specs for both lower sun angle and heat in relation to power produced. And we have a MPPT too, using the Midnight Classic 150.

Returned from our first long trip with this system, and were very pleased with the results. We ran our generator for exercising, or for when we needed to run the roof AC's.

As you have probably read while researching, unless you are doing it all at once, design with the ability to add added SP capacity in the future. So wire runs, and controllers, etc. - upsize them with the potential of future expansion.

Good luck on your choices, some great resources on this board. And yes to reading the good info on AM Solar site, also read Jack Mayers and round it the research with Handy Bob Solar info too.

Have fun, be safe,
Smitty
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:55 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramets View Post
How many of you go up on the roof to tilt the panels for more sun coverage? I do it when staying for a week or more, but usually not for shorter stays. It worked great on our Alaska trip because of all the sunshine, except for the rain of course.
Quick question - Are your solar mounts fully articulated i.e. can you "tilt" and rotate the panels in 360 degrees. Otherwise it seems that you would be very limited to where and how you park, with the ass of the coach always oriented to the south?

Maybe when boondocking the "where" doesn't matter so much, you have full control, but in many national and state parks w/no hookups there are designated sites which dictate how you park. Having the panels always tilt to one orientation would also mean the patio is always exposed to X direction, which may or may not be the optimal view or best shelter from the prevailing winds or whatever.

Not saying its a bad system at all but wondering about the tradeoffs that have to be made
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:01 PM   #22
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easier to increase the panels a bit and not worry bout it.

Also when tilted you may have a high wind issue in not getting on the roof to lower them or not being there.
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:17 PM   #23
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Here's a crazy thought for the DIY'ers. On my Disco, at some point in the past someone removed the original TV antenna. Don't ask, I have no idea. But those antenna's are a bit of a dinosaur these days anyhow, at least for us (we just went Tailgater/Dish Sat. Very cool system).

The original mechanism is still in place, all intact, its just the antenna itself that's gone. What if a guy built an adapter bracket to mount a solar panel to that bracket? You could then crank it up, tilt it, rotate it to any sun declination, all from inside the coach? Pretty cool eh?

There would be some engineering, weight analysis and the like, but assuming the mechanical TV rabbit ear crank and roof would handle the small increase in weight, and clearances could be established, that might be a neat way to re-purpose the old rabbit ears system.

Just thinking outside the box here, whatta you think?
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:17 PM   #24
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I like the ingenuity, but I'd be nervous about the wind resistance of a large, elevated solar panel. My bat-wing frame was a pretty flimsy structure, as I recall, and even if it held up to a gusty wind, the screws around the base of the bat-wing are only anchored into 1/8" plywood. A falling, heavy, sharp-cornered solar panel is going to put a serious hole in a motorhome roof. Even a good, sturdy one.

I'd be interested in hearing how it works out for you, though, if you give this a try!

\ken
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:40 AM   #25
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[QUOTE=ardbark;2226836]Quick question - Are your solar mounts fully articulated i.e. can you "tilt" and rotate the panels in 360 degrees.

Can't do a 360, but they will tilt up to both sides. In Alaska had no problem getting coach situated to take advantage of that ability.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:01 PM   #26
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I like the ingenuity, but I'd be nervous about the wind resistance of a large, elevated solar panel. My bat-wing frame was a pretty flimsy structure, as I recall, and even if it held up to a gusty wind, the screws around the base of the bat-wing are only anchored into 1/8" plywood. A falling, heavy, sharp-cornered solar panel is going to put a serious hole in a motorhome roof. Even a good, sturdy one.

I'd be interested in hearing how it works out for you, though, if you give this a try!

\ken
Actually I crawled up there this afternoon and unfortunately the entire batwing mechanism is gone. However - seems whoever removed the analog antenna also removed the factory sat dish. Now *that* mechanism is pretty stout and all intact, minus the dish. LMBs are there just no dish. Like I mentioned we are Dish TV Tailgators now, so I don't care to replace the old sat dish (which probably wouldn't work with today's Dish network anyhow).

It won't happen before this next trip but maybe somewhere down the road I'll take a look at mounting some serious wattage up there and be able to find the sun from the comfort of the cockpit For now I've rigged up a tripod which should get us through just fine.
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