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Old 06-02-2016, 03:18 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2016
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Solar setup questions

I will start this like so many others have in the past by apologising for my total lack of knowledge about solar, motors, solenoids, watts, volts, amps, awgs, etc etc etc….including my old truck and camper.

I own a 95 ford f250 with a 94 lance camper. It is currently stored in southern Baja where we use it to fish, surf and boondock. Our electrical needs are small. We need 12v power to charge cameras, laptops, iPads, led lights, water pump, fridge thermostat and panel, fantastic fan, car stereo, and jacks when arriving and leaving. Needless to say, it is hot and sunny 90% of the time and we need solar. The camper is all original, it has an inverter for charging the house battery and for powering the 12v system when hooked up to shore power or to a small generator. Without using the lights, just the water pump and the jacks, the battery drain is impressive. Apparently the propane refrigerator uses power and there is probably power drain elsewhere. We have been dependent on a small ryobi generator but it uses the house inverter/charger that just does not seem to be efficient. We purchased a new napa marine 12v deep cell, but have not maintained a proper charge from the start. I looked into buying two 100w solar panels when I was in Baja and was given a quote of 103$ per panel, it seemed very reasonable, so now comes the interesting part of figuring all this out and trying to make it work. I am heading back to Baja in late September and would most likely have to bring everything with me from the US for the set up besides the panels, and maybe a few cables. This makes my planning (and understanding) even more important as I will need all the right parts. What are the chances of that? So here are lots of questions.

The first modification I would like to know more about is for the truck to charge the camper battery when running or driving. The continuous duty 12 V direct current solenoid seems to be the perfect solution, but as I want to buy two 6v golf cart batteries and solar, how would the wiring work? It would make sense to connect to the positive of the two 6v batteries but what about a controller? Could this system overcharge the batteries on long drives? Would it be possible to route the pos wire from solenoid through the solar controller? Another important issue is this solenoid cable to the camper would need some sort of plug for when the camper is off the truck. What kind of plug/disconnectors should I be using? What awg wire for all this? Is there a way to use the existing camper-truck plug with all the prongs?

Next is the solar system. I can order 2 conermex cnx-100 watt panels and have them delivered to Cabo where the camper is stored. I have done lots of googling and reading and sometimes think this could work, other times I think what the … am I getting into. Anyway, I made a nice little schematic of what I am hoping could work, with a list of my choices. I selected a morningstar ps-30m controller and an xantrex 1000 prowatt inverter from my extensive googling, none of which i have purchased yet so if anyone has any reason to think my choices are bad, do not hesitate to let me know. I have included some circuit breakers and fuses. Am I missing anything? The camper has its own existing 12v system that functions. When plugged into shore power it also has its own inverter that charges the 12v batteries, it is the original inverter from 1994. The fan noise is loud and I imagine it is totally inefficient but changing it would mean too much effort especially down in Baja. Will the existing system and the new solar system with inverter co-exist without a problem? The existing battery location is kind of small and would just barely fit two 6v batteries, so I would have to extend the existing cable to the new battery location. I am considering putting the two batteries above the sink where there is an cabinet to put a tv. There is an antenna outlet too that goes to the roof, maybe I can get rid of the antenna and use the hole for panel wires. The existing wires, the solar wires from controller, the solenoid cable from truck and the inverter wires make for a lot of wires and fuses. This seems to be the heart of the system and the most important to get correct the first time. How and where should i use busbars? What awg wires will i need? I found some information but not easy as all systems differ. Will I need more breakers and/or fuses for this setup than the ones on the plan? With this choice of controller would it be possible to add another 100w panel in the future? I have lots more questions, I’m just not sure what they are yet.

I've never done anything like this before and am learning and building from the ground up so thanks in advance for your patience. I also want to do my best to keep this as simple and maintenance free as possible as everything in Baja is a little complicated. So any advice, suggestions and or opinions in layman’s terms would be much appreciated.
Muchas gracias, Jancsi[IMG][/IMG]

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Old 06-02-2016, 05:41 PM   #2
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Here are some links to help you with your learning Journey. I installed my first rv/solar myself. There is a lot to learn.

RV Electrical

RV Solar Electric Store

Home This guy is in Yuma, AZ and has installed the solar on 2 rigs for me. I am pleased with his knowledge and workmanship.

solarseller.com alternative energy by John Drake Services, Inc. should you decide to DIY, this is a great source for items. If you call him, he has suggestions too.

MADP, Jeep, Blue Ox, SMI AFO, Solar: 900w/672a, Amish cooling unit, Lifetime: SKP & Days End
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Old 06-02-2016, 10:07 PM   #3
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I don't have time to get too deep into this right now but one thing I wanted to clarify for you is the factory installed battery charger is NOT an inverter, which I think is what you are referring to it as. An inverter takes 12v from the batteries and makes it into 110v to run household items.
Seconldly if you install 2 6v batteries and wire them in to the truck to charge them you DO NOT connect both positive posts to the positive wire running form the truck. that will fry your batteries and could start a fire. when you wire 6v batteries in a 12v system you need to connect them in series which means the + from one battery runs straight to the - on the other battery. you are then left with 1 + and 1 - left on OPPOSITE batteries that are not connected to anything, those 2 are now your positive and negative you hook into the camper power and truck power.
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Old 06-04-2016, 03:16 PM   #4
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Thanks for your replies, I very appreciate your time. I do have lots to learn, the project is interesting and the more I read the more I feel it is feasible. The links are perfect. Thanks again.
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Old 06-05-2016, 10:00 AM   #5
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Recommend you also look at the 'AM Solar' website - they specialize in RV solar, sell and install components and have been very helpful with advise. As you figure our your amp hour needs/day you may need more battery storage capacity given that you can only use ~ 50% of total battery capacity (for any battery type other than lithium).

Your generator's capabilities should also be part of the design / build / cost considerations - in combination with a solar set-up it can provide some really nice flexibility at a low cost ...

Let us know how its going as you proceed ... there are many others on the same path you are and your experience will help them a lot ... safe travels ...
2015 Itasca Ellipse | 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
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