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Old 08-09-2016, 05:34 PM   #1
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Solar panels

I am looking to get a solar panel to keep the batteries charged while in storage . There are so many sizes I am not sure what to get . I have a 40 ft motorhome with 4 house batteries and 2 starting batteries . They are close together so I could wire them up at the same time . So my question is what size would you recommend is there such a thing as having too much wattage or too big a solar panel . 2nd question how would I go about wiring it so all batteries get charged do I need two separate solar panel for each set of batteries. 3rd question I think the only place for me to put it is on the roof any suggestions on how to attach it so it doesn't blow off in a high wind.

Thanks in advance for the replies
Ken 40 Tuscany XTE 2013
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:53 PM   #2
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Two 100 watt panels and a Morningstar Duo charge controller. The controller is designed to handle the two separate battery banks. It has the headroom to provide for additional panels if ever desired.

Attach the panels to the roof using 3/4" stainless screws, common L mounts and dicor.
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Old 08-09-2016, 07:28 PM   #3
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Two 100-watt solar panels and 1 30-watt, and MPPT controller, all are from Renogy, works fine, no complain. Built a frame in aluminium (easy to work with, light, and easy to get from homedepot) to attach the panel. My goal is to modify the frame to tilt them and face the sun (currently looking at tinkering with arduino or raspberry pi for the orientation, but that's for the future... ). Regarding how to connect the panels, this is a subject, parallel versus serial, depending on the risk of having shadow on one of the panels.
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:45 PM   #4
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Q1- is there such a thing ad too much? The limited size of RV roofs make that unlikely. As for recommendations, depends on how much you want to spend and if you will want to add more later. One thing I did was map out my roof space on graph paper to see what size panels I could fit. I have 855 watts of various sizes (as in length and width) but similar voltage. I wired in parallel to a MPPT controller connected to 2 6v 200ah batteries wired in series for 12v bank (looking at adding 4 to 6 more in the future to give us more flexibility). I had 12v panels already for another project so I used them on the RV instead. If the size (length/width) fut use the higher voltage panels if you can. You'll get more out of them using a MPPT controller. It will also save you from using heavier cable from the panels to the charge controller.

As a general guideline I have seen for off grids solar/battery setups is that you want at least 10% of the ah of your batter bank in solar. Example I have 200ah 12v battery bank so a healthy charge would be 20amps of solar. 20amps*12v=240watts. You also want to check with the battery manufacturer to ensure you don't over charge to quickly and burn up the battery. I checked with my agm battery manufacturer and since my panels are mounted flat it is unlikely I will see the full amps from my solar so I am within the range.

Q2- how to wire both banks? As mentioned there are charge controllers that can handle 2 battery banks. I do recommend a MPPT controller to get the most out of the solar panels. Blue Sky makes a nice MPPT controller (solar boost) that would do the trick as well as the one mentioned before.

Q3-where to put the panels? As suggested, attach the panel or panels to the roof properly. There are a lit if YouTube videos or do what I did and pay a professional to do the roof work.

My 2 cents
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:51 PM   #5
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I got three 300 watt panels which are huge, mainly for fulltiming with a residential refrigerator. With clear summer skies it is way too much, but I suspect with rainy overcast winters, it will be just right. A 30 amp controller can handle 500 watts of panels, a 60 amp up to 1000 watts. Make sure the controller is MPPT.
https://www.amazon.com/Morningstar-T...amp+controller
https://www.amazon.com/Morningstar-T...r+remote+meter
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:00 AM   #6
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Ken
Here is a site with a lot of Solar Info
RV Solar Education

My MH came with an existing 1 panel system (85 watts) to keep the batteries charged. I upgraded to 4 - 100 watt panels from AM Solar. Watch some of their videos on Youtube for mounting instructions.
My Solar Upgrade Pics
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Old 08-11-2016, 05:18 PM   #7
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Ken
Google Handy Bob's blog.
He has a lot of good information on solar.
He is not in business to sell you anything.

Hope this helps
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Old 08-12-2016, 07:23 PM   #8
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Solar panel

Thanks everyone a lot of great information. I will be strickley using this for charging barteries but like the idea of having the option to up grade if wanting to. I have a lot of research to do it seems a bit over my head. I do not know what a mppt is . I will take your advise and search the web sites you guys a suggesting again thank you and great travels.

Ken
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Old 08-12-2016, 07:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kenc1325 View Post
Thanks everyone a lot of great information. I will be strickley using this for charging barteries but like the idea of having the option to up grade if wanting to. I have a lot of research to do it seems a bit over my head. I do not know what a mppt is . I will take your advise and search the web sites you guys a suggesting again thank you and great travels.

Ken
Instead of a controller that can charge two battery banks, I would get a controller that charges one battery bank, and get something like a Tril-L-Start to keep your starter batteries charged.

Before doing anything, I would recommend that you spend time reading all you can on these two sites.

RV Electrical

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

Handy Bob mostly talks about bad installations, and how to fix them.
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Old 08-12-2016, 08:15 PM   #10
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This is my plan (my first use of solar) to keep fully charged batteries maintained while the coach is in storage. I got one of the 100 watt solar panels from HD (Grape solar) and a GoPower 30 amp charger/controller. Since my coach will be under cover with the rear exposed and facing south, I plan to secure the panel to the rear ladder and angle it up. I have a Trik L Start so both house and chassis batteries are essentially connected.

I have six 6volt AGM house batteries (224 amp hours each). With no loads on the batteries I am hoping the 100 watt panel will keep them maintained.
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Old 08-12-2016, 08:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by smlranger View Post
This is my plan (my first use of solar) to keep fully charged batteries maintained while the coach is in storage. I got one of the 100 watt solar panels from HD (Grape solar) and a GoPower 30 amp charger/controller. Since my coach will be under cover with the rear exposed and facing south, I plan to secure the panel to the rear ladder and angle it up. I have a Trik L Start so both house and chassis batteries are essentially connected.

I have six 6volt AGM house batteries (224 amp hours each). With no loads on the batteries I am hoping the 100 watt panel will keep them maintained.
The 100 watt panel should easily keep the batteries charged while in storage, provided the wire to the controller from the panel is heavy enough, the wire from the controller to the batteries is heavy enough, and the controller is capable of the proper charging profile for your batteries, and is set properly.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:10 AM   #12
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The 100 watt panel should easily keep the batteries charged while in storage, provided the wire to the controller from the panel is heavy enough, the wire from the controller to the batteries is heavy enough, and the controller is capable of the proper charging profile for your batteries, and is set properly.
The 30 amp controller I selected is programmable for AGM charging profile. The distance from the panel to controller will be about 10-12 feet and from controller to batteries less than two feet. I was planning to use 10 or 12 gauge copper wire.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:46 AM   #13
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The 30 amp controller I selected is programmable for AGM charging profile. The distance from the panel to controller will be about 10-12 feet and from controller to batteries less than two feet. I was planning to use 10 or 12 gauge copper wire.
I would use a minimum of 6 gauge wire between controller and batteries. If the controller connections allow larger 4 gauge or 2 gauge, I would use that. 4' of larger wire isn't going to cost much more.
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Old 08-13-2016, 01:54 PM   #14
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I would use a minimum of 6 gauge wire between controller and batteries. If the controller connections allow larger 4 gauge or 2 gauge, I would use that. 4' of larger wire isn't going to cost much more.
That is no problem. I haven't gotten the controller yet so not sure of the maximum wire size it will accommodate.
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