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Old 09-12-2016, 02:12 PM   #1
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Southwind solar

I have a 2008 Southwind with a small solar panel mounted on the air conditioner. Can I substitute a larger solar panel with same wiring?
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Old 09-12-2016, 06:07 PM   #2
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Short answer - probably not.

Long answer: The panel provides a low-amperage trickle charge to the batteries via the Battery Control Center (BCC - Look for a black plastic box in a storage compartment near the house batteries labeled "RV Custom Products"). The current is only sufficient to prevent the batteries from self-discharging during storage, and are unregulated - no solar charge controller. The panel wires on my 35A look like #14. Increasing the wattage of the panel to anything that would recharge the stock 230AH wet cells would require a (much) larger wire. How large depends on the size of the panel and the length of the run to the batteries, but can range from #10 to 4/0. Increasing the wattage much beyond the nominal power the present panel supplies would also require a solar charge controller to prevent damage to the batteries and ensure they are properly and fully charged.
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Old 09-12-2016, 07:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbschultz View Post
I have a 2008 Southwind with a small solar panel mounted on the air conditioner. Can I substitute a larger solar panel with same wiring?
if you understand how solar system works and you are doing it right, yes, you can!
#14 wire allows 32a when it's not bundled and not in an enclosed environment - this is called "chassis wiring". the opposite - "transmission wiring" - in a complete enclosed environment and multi wires bundled, it can pass 5.9a. in your case, i guess it's very close to the first scenario. you can connect panels in series to get a higher voltage like 48v or higher, use a mppt controller to regulate the charge. though the distance from the panels to the controller and battery plays a role, in an rv application, it's not that significant.

start with reading this Solar Tutorial Part I - Understanding the Basics of Boat & RV Solar Power | Roads Less Traveled or other tutorials. overtime you will be able to make it.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:09 AM   #4
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Short answer - no. Wiring is way too light. Don't know what floor plan you have but ours 32VS was very easy to wire for solar as there is a large roof space behind the 2nd AC with the refrigerator vent adjacent. I ran 10 ga wire down the fridge vent and into the storage compartment below. Two 225w residential panels in series into an mppt controller.
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Old 09-14-2016, 05:05 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. What is an mppt controller and how does it connect to the batteries?
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Old 09-15-2016, 12:48 PM   #6
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MPPT stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking. Its the more expensive flavor of the two main types of solar charge controllers. One of the things it does is allow you to use higher voltage panels on the roof to reduce the voltage loss from your smaller wires. It then converts it to 12 volts to charge your batteries.

If you don't mind a rant or two, probably the most informative and authoritative information on the web can be found on "Handy Bob's" website: https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com Well worth the reading!
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