Originally Posted by gotwood
I have a 2007 Monaco Starwood that has some cables tied up next to the battery and my paper work refers to a Solar Panel option but no one can tell me about it. Has anyone ever hooked up a panel? Do these go directly to the inverter? I was told all tralers recently built have to have the solar hook up ability, is that true? I leave my trailer on property with no power and want something to possibly run the AC outlets so my kids can watch TV? The microwave, A/C and water heater are run individually when the small 3000 watt generator is on as those I know will require a set of panels that can been seen from space, I was looking at about a single 200 watt panel max as I have a $800 budget for now.
The solar panel wires are not meant to supply direct AC voltages to you system. They're there to keep the batteries up to full charge using the available sunlight. If you need to supply AC you're looking at an expensive but not extraordinarily high investment. I would look into a DC powered TV connected to the battery for the kids to watch, it saves a great deal in work and money.That being said take a digital volt meter and check those wires for voltage. If they're at the battery voltage within .5 volts, assume they're tied direct to batteries. Now, what I would suggest is look into the 45watt solar panel kit offered by harbor freight.com. This kit comes complete with 3 panels, a charge controller,2 lights, associated wiring, and framework to allow approximately 4 amps of charge power in direct sunlight. Generallly these are around 200.00 or less on sale. This setup will help keep up with small DC loads.
Otherwise, if you have someone capable of DC electrical installations, go to sunelec.com for the lowest prices on full sized panels. The site includes links to charge controllers, and other items that may or may not be what you will need. Just remember, rule of thumb is whatever the wattage stated on the panel divide by 10 to get an average of the amps put out by it,(200w/10v=20amps) and get a charge controller that meets or (preferably exceeds) the panel/s out put. Please be aware, inverters change DC to AC, converters change AC to DC. RV's generally are equipted with Converters, that when plugged into shore power (household outlet), or using the genset, will convert the AC into DC to allow all lighting and battery charging to be done, as allow AC to the wall outlets and appliances.