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Old 10-10-2016, 11:11 AM   #1
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Question for those that have solar panels on their rigs who put them away for the win

When I put my rig away, I disconnect all electrical but since I have a solar panel, I have to cover it so it will not cook the electrics..


What is the downside to having the solar panel keep the batteries charged all winter ?


Thanks
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:45 AM   #2
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If you have a solar controller that has a good 3 stage charger I don't see any downside. It should just keep the batteries at float voltage which will prolong their life.
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:29 PM   #3
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I am assuming that in most good Rv's, a good 3 stage charger is standard..

So I shall try this winter. Thanks.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:06 PM   #4
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Will snow cover the panels? This could render them useless.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:12 PM   #5
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Oddly enough, yes and no. There will be snow but it won't stay long. There is a nice breeze there.

They will stop when covered but kick in when it clears but the goal here is just to park the rig and walk away withjout having to cover tghe panel and disconnect the batteries..
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grassy View Post
When I put my rig away, I disconnect all electrical but since I have a solar panel, I have to cover it so it will not cook the electrics..


What is the downside to having the solar panel keep the batteries charged all winter ?


Thanks
Are you referring to the small solar panel that comes with a lot of RVs? If so, I dont believe that they put out enough amps to hurt anything, even over the winter.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:41 PM   #7
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Yes, that's a good point....if it's the little panel that's only about 12 inches square, it's not big enough to keep the batteries charged. You would want 50 or 100 watts minimum to ensure the charge is greater than the parasitic draws.

If your panel is tiny, and you have never seen the charge controller, you probably still want to disconnect the batteries to prevent any parasitic power drain from discharging the batteries.
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Old 10-10-2016, 04:29 PM   #8
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OR you can turn your Battery switch off if you are worried about over charging..

I store the 5th wheel inside when not in use with the battery switch in off position..
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Old 10-12-2016, 12:48 AM   #9
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I leave my batteries and solar on the entire time with no issues. Solar controllers are designed not to overcharge batteries.
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Old 10-12-2016, 06:29 AM   #10
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It is either 100 or 160 watt panel. With the battery switch in the off position, you will still cook the electronics because the load has been removed so the unit goes into overdrive trying to charge it.

2 things I have found out.

1. If the batteries are a type you can fill, make sure they are topped up.
2. Crawl up top and look inside the junction box. Make sure the connections are clean and tight. Some RV'ers I know skip this important maintenance step every year or so I didn't know this was a step) , not realizing that the thermal expansion/contraction over time can loosen the connections inside the junction box. This can make for high-resistance contacts for the internal bypass diodes, which get hot enough in normal use, and can fail.

This year, the rig gets stores with the batteries connected.

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Old 10-12-2016, 06:39 AM   #11
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The current 5er doesn't have solar panels but the last one had 2x100W panels. I pulled the two batteries and put in my shop with a Battery Tender, shut everything possible off, built plywood covers for each panel then completely covered the trailer. We can get lots of winter bad stuff so wanted to protect from that possible ice storm that could leave 1-2" of ice or that 18-24 inches of snow that can linger for 2-3 months if I can't get it off before it turns to a solid pack.
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:24 PM   #12
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It is either 100 or 160 watt panel. With the battery switch in the off position, you will still cook the electronics because the load has been removed so the unit goes into overdrive trying to charge it.

I would probably just install some disconnect switches on the inputs to the controller instead of getting up on the roof to cover the panels. Normally you need these disconnects anyway to do any sort of maintenance on the controller.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:37 PM   #13
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I would probably just install some disconnect switches on the inputs to the controller instead of getting up on the roof to cover the panels. Normally you need these disconnects anyway to do any sort of maintenance on the controller.
Bingo. WE are on the same page

I first have to figure out where the electronics are for this but I quite agree and it is on my "to do" list when I pull it out of storage..it goes in on Tuesday.

Thanks..
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Old 10-21-2016, 08:29 AM   #14
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Solar panels dont need to be disconnected or covered in the winter...

Quote:
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I would probably just install some disconnect switches on the inputs to the controller instead of getting up on the roof to cover the panels. Normally you need these disconnects anyway to do any sort of maintenance on the controller.
Just so everyone knows- You don't need to cover your panels or do anything in particular- solar panels will not harm or "cook" any of your electronics if left not connected to a load. When the sun shines on them with no load they just develop a voltage but no current flows anywhere. That is just mis-information.

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