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Old 03-20-2019, 09:14 PM   #1
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Wiring for the Trickle Charging Solar Panel

Hi,
I have a sweet 2012 Timber Ridge 240RBS and I would like to intercept the wiring for the tiny factory solar panel with a solar charge controller and upgrade the panel. In other threads here I was excited to learn that the red wire coming from this solar panel goes to the control center switch for "SOLAR POWER" and from there to the hot side battery disconnect switch near the tongue. I have confirmed this on my 240RBS. So the red wire is easy to deal with and even has a built in cut-off switch in the control center - great. Where might the black wire from this solar panel go?
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:14 PM   #2
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According to the wiring diagram for our "early" 2016, the ground (white) wire from the 10W solar panel goes to a common ground point on the chassis. As you found, the positive wire goes to the battery side of the cutoff switch. Where the common ground point is ??. Do you have the front underbody area where the circuit breakers and connections are? Just back of the front cross frame member, under (or above!!) the coroplast underbelly. That is if you have the underbelly!!

Diagram states that the wiring is 16ga, maybe not enough for much more of a panel upgrade!! You should be able to "intercept" the common wire somewhere under the trailer. May take disconnecting all the ground wires at the frame and ohm them till you find the right one!!

Like yours, our 280RKS didn't have the solar option, so we only had the 10W panel. I've added 3 150W panels, a controller, and remote readout near the door by our control panel. There was a 10ga wire unused in the harness up there, and I used it to run the solar output to the batteries. Could be larger, but works well enough for me!! The 10W is still wired as orig, and used if wanted. Mostly off, but on occasionally to see if it really adds anything worthwhile when some of the big panels are shaded. Never much, but still useable!!
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:09 AM   #3
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Tuquala's right.
For any significant panel upgrade, you will want to upgrade the wiring.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuquala View Post
...goes to a common ground point on the chassis. As you found, the positive wire goes to the battery side of the cutoff switch. Where the common ground point is ??.....May take disconnecting all the ground wires at the frame and ohm them till you find the right one
That's what I was afraid of. I do have a junction area there tucked up under two menacing coroplast access panels; maybe a white 16 awg wire would stand out?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuquala View Post
There was a 10ga wire unused in the harness up there,
Wow that would be nice; how did you find that?



Quote:
Originally Posted by brulaz View Post
Tuquala's right.
For any significant panel upgrade, you will want to upgrade the wiring.
Perhaps...unless the panel upgrade was _so_ significant - voltage so high / amperage so low - that with an [assumed] 24' run of 16 awg there would be sub 3% loss at rated power. Sub 1% loss would be even better but with the extra roof penetration & wire running...I dunno.
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:00 AM   #5
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I started looking in the upper cabinet where the info/control panel is (just to left of door in our trlr) with the idea of locating the solar controller in the cabinet, and remote readout next to the panel. Lots of spaghetti up there!! If I remember correctly (3+yrs ago, both trlr and body!!) found that 10ga wire without any hookup to any switch. Probably for some other option that we didn't have in our trailer. Chased it forward to the underbelly relay area and ohm'd to make sure it was the same one. Works well, some minor loss between controller output and batteries. Not enough for me to try to be perfect in the solar area!!!

The wire run is aboot 15-18 ft as a guess as the electrical junk is mid trailer. If your panel and converter are at the rear (rear door??), yes, you may have some loss, just have to decide how much work you want to put into the solar install. If you're going to live in the trailer off grid like lots of snowbirds do in the winter, then that would be a consideration. We have gone 3-4 weeks in the woods, spring/summer/winter without needing the small generator we carry to keep the batteries up. Don't have or need an inverter so haven't prepped the trlr for such.
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SubtlyButyl View Post
...

Perhaps...unless the panel upgrade was _so_ significant - voltage so high / amperage so low - that with an [assumed] 24' run of 16 awg there would be sub 3% loss at rated power. Sub 1% loss would be even better but with the extra roof penetration & wire running...I dunno.
A Renogy 100W 12V panel, for example, says 5.27A Imp, 5.75A Isc and Blue Sea's Ampacity chart says that 16ga is good for 15' (total, both ways) at 5A and max 3% V loss. But if you can deal with 10% V drop, then 16ga is good up to 50'.

If you're running more like 30-36' and you want to restrict the V drop to 3% with 5.7A Isc, 10Ga would be better according to the Blue Sea Ampacity chart.

https://www.bluesea.com/support/arti...r_a_DC_Circuit
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tuquala View Post
...found that 10ga wire without any hookup to any switch. Probably for some other option that we didn't have in our trailer...
Wow lucky. I will do some poking around.

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Originally Posted by brulaz View Post
A Renogy 100W 12V panel, for example, says 5.27A Imp, 5.75A Isc and Blue Sea's Ampacity chart says that 16ga is good for 15' (total, both ways) at 5A and max 3% V loss. But if you can deal with 10% V drop, then 16ga is good up to 50'.
My idea is to put the charge controller up front - right near the battery - so the 12v run will be short with new heavier gauge wiring. I hope to use the existing 16 awg run between the charge controller and a Sunpower X-Series 335 watt residential panel with these surprising specs: Vmp 57.3, Imp 5.85, Voc 67.9, Isc 6.23. According to the Renogy Solar Cable Gauge Calculator, with such high voltage I can do 28' of 16 awg and stay under 3% loss.

https://www.renogy.com/calculators#tab_solar-cable
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SubtlyButyl View Post
...

I hope to use the existing 16 awg run between the charge controller and a Sunpower X-Series 335 watt residential panel with these surprising specs: Vmp 57.3, Imp 5.85, Voc 67.9, Isc 6.23. According to the Renogy Solar Cable Gauge Calculator, with such high voltage I can do 28' of 16 awg and stay under 3% loss.

https://www.renogy.com/calculators#tab_solar-cable
Ah, good choice going to a big "24V" residential panel. I did the same. Around here they're a lot cheaper per watt than the "12V" hobby panels, especially as you can occasionally get left-overs at a discount.

And that Renogy calculator looks nifty too.
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