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Old 07-16-2015, 01:51 PM   #1
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Question Solar Installation - What do I need

I'm new to the solar thing and I'm finding camper repair places around san diego don't seem to want to take on wiring my solar system. Don't know if the just don't want to mess with a Lance or what. So I'm starting here to lay out a plan for a DIY job.
I've recently put an 85 Watt Renogy Solar panel on my Lance Camper (2004 825) and currently just run the wires down the side directly to my battery once parked. It works great. Now I'd like to hard wire the system down through my roof and connect it to the electrical system. It's a 2004 Lance Lite.
The Lance was not factory plumbed for solar. There is an antenna mounted on the roof I do not use. I'm thinking perhaps running cables through the antenna opening. Any recommendations? Once inside, I need to figure out how to route the cables. There must be tricks for doing this! But I'll need to know where the cables need to go. The battery already has it's place. So then where's the best place to mount a controller and a circuit breaker and whaever else is needed.
Appreciate any help from you all.
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Old 07-16-2015, 02:04 PM   #2
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There is a lot of info about solar on LOA

Forums Directory | Lance Owners of America
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Old 07-16-2015, 08:25 PM   #3
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If you are serious about solar and want your solar to support off-line camping (boondocking), I strongly recommend reading the info on Jack Mayer's web site - RV Electrical - also "the twelve volt side of life" - The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1).

Over the past 6+ months and with the insights gleaned from the above and many more sources plus many questions on this and the Escapee's forums, I have installed a 1,000 Watt system in our trailer that is working just as expected. Be very careful of dealers offering to sell their solar packages -- many of them will not meet the demands of day to day operation.

So your first task is to decide what you really want to accomplish with solar.
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:02 PM   #4
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That sounds like good info.
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Old 07-17-2015, 10:44 AM   #5
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Thanks for the resources

Thanks for pointing me toward some resources. I think it will be fun to plan this thing out. Next step is joining LOA.
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Old 07-17-2015, 11:49 AM   #6
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Good move. Good luck on your project.
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Old 07-17-2015, 12:35 PM   #7
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Here is some info on my solar install, may be useful to you.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 46 views)
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Old 07-18-2015, 09:00 AM   #8
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RE Solar Install

You'll at a minimum need to have a charge controller, a means to disconnect the solar module from the charge controller, a means to disconnect the charge controller from the battery, and a fuse or circuit breaker between the charge controller and the battery. I'd recommend that you design the system to be able to add a couple more modules. Once you have things working with one the natural tendency is to want to add a couple more if roof space permits it, and PV systems are notoriously difficult to re-design and upgrade once things are in. Keep in mind that the National Electrical Code requirements for PV systems does not necessarily apply to RVs at this time, but it is better to ere on the side of caution and have a safe installation than to have to use the roof escape hatch in the middle of a moonless night as the flames lick at your heels.

The better charge controllers will have a means to adjust the bulk charging voltage setting so that you get the maximum amount of charge into the battery, but for a small system the controller is unlikely to have an actual voltage adjustment. The better small charge controllers, like the Morningstar ProStar have a switch that allows you to select the battery type and adjusts the charging voltage accordingly.

As for running the wiring, the easiest route between the solar module(s) and the battery is usually via the refrigerator vent and the cavity behind the fridge. Various wiring methods can be used to get up to the module. If the module already has connectors on its wires it is usually easiest to simply buy a Type XHHW-2 extension cable and cut it in half so that you have a male and a female end to connect up to the module wiring. You can drill a hole in the side of the refrigerator vent flange and route the wiring down to the charge controller. If you put a pair of Anderson PowerPole connectors on either side of the charge controller you'll have a simple means to disconnect things, but be aware that they require a special crimper or a good soldering job to make the connection between the contact barrel and the wire. Regular crimpers distort the shape of the barrels making it nearly impossible to insert the crimped barrel into the plastic housing.

The controller should be located as near as possible to the battery, but not in the battery compartment. Be slightly generous with the size of the wiring, keeping in mind that on a 12V system the voltage losses in the wiring add up quickly and will cause problems with inadequate voltage to adequately charge the system.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:39 PM   #9
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Go to TruckcamperMagazine.com this week. There is a great article on Solar installation.
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:44 PM   #10
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Those Anderson connectors look nice. 15$ for 10 dual connectors? But why isnt just ok to unscrew the wires from the charge controller? And while I'm asking what is the best online fuse for between the solar panel and controller. I will install a single 100 w panel at first at 6 amps max or is it 8. But I am planning for a 2nd panel just in case. What size fuse? 20 amp
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkski View Post
Those Anderson connectors look nice. 15$ for 10 dual connectors? But why isnt just ok to unscrew the wires from the charge controller? And while I'm asking what is the best online fuse for between the solar panel and controller. I will install a single 100 w panel at first at 6 amps max or is it 8. But I am planning for a 2nd panel just in case. What size fuse? 20 amp
If you fuse the solar panel it needs to be able to carry all of the current the panel can produce. Being the current producer it will never produce more then the panels highest output and never blow the fuse. Just use a switch.

Even 2, 100 watt panels won't melt the wires that come with it. Fuse the output of the controller.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:19 PM   #12
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PowerPole Connectors, PV Fuses/CBs

The reason that you don't want to unscrew the wires for disconnection is that the terminals will eventually wear out and you run the risk of causing damage at the terminals due to arcing as the circuit is disconnected.

The reason for a fuse or circuit breaker between the PV module and the charge controller is that if there is an internal failure of the charge controller whereby the energy from the battery might backfeed into a fault in the module wiring there would be some protection. (156% of the Imp (maximum power current) is the minimum fuse size, the maximum is usually given on the module.) This is an unlikely scenario, but planning for it after the fact is too late.
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