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Old 03-13-2019, 04:52 PM   #1
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How do I go about designing a solar system?

I'm trying to figure out how to go about researching and designing a solar system for our MH. It currently has the following:

- 3000W inverter
- 6 Trojan T-105 225 Ah house batteries
- Residential fridge that uses 53 Watts per hour or 465 KWH per year
- The usual stuff inside like a microwave and TV

Our goal is to be able to boondock and use a minimal amount of generator as possible. We do not plan to run the AC using the inverter. I will not be climbing on the roof to tilt the panels.

Also, I am not going to change the inverter or batteries at this time, but may in the future. So at this point I think I just need the solar panels and charge controller along with associated installation hardware such as wires.

Your thoughts on where to start my research?
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:00 PM   #2
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Needs first,
Then storage space, ie where and how many batteries do you have room for?
Panel space? How many panels do you have room for? Remember panels flat to the roof are only going to be close to rated capacity for a very short time per day.
If you have already done everything needed to reduce your energy use then an honest energy audit is important.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:59 AM   #3
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Check out the Renogy website. They have a learning how to section on their site. I found it quite informative. Also if you have 6- Trojan batteries at 225 amp hrs each. Thatís really good power storage. It isnít recommended to dip below 50%. I have their Rover with the Bluetooth that keeps me up to date as far as how the system is working. We need more panels. Get the biggest controller you can afford. That was my mistake. You can always add more panel but your limited by the controller. Also are you running 12v or 24v? The controller needs to be able to handle your situation. I like the MPPT controllers for their low power loss. I too have 6v batteries with 450 amp hrs total and 200 watts for now at 12v. We have similar plans of boondocking for long periods of time. Need more panels and batteries. We have a fifth wheel. Plenty of room on roof.
https://www.renogy.com/learn#solar-basics
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Old 03-14-2019, 07:54 AM   #4
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Check out the Renogy website. They have a learning how to section on their site. I found it quite informative. Also if you have 6- Trojan batteries at 225 amp hrs each. That’s really good power storage. It isn’t recommended to dip below 50%. I have their Rover with the Bluetooth that keeps me up to date as far as how the system is working. We need more panels. Get the biggest controller you can afford. That was my mistake. You can always add more panel but your limited by the controller. Also are you running 12v or 24v? The controller needs to be able to handle your situation. I like the MPPT controllers for their low power loss. I too have 6v batteries with 450 amp hrs total and 200 watts for now at 12v. We have similar plans of boondocking for long periods of time. Need more panels and batteries. We have a fifth wheel. Plenty of room on roof.
https://www.renogy.com/learn#solar-basics
I wouldn't worry about oversizing the controller as you can always add a second controller if needed and in some configurations it's desirable to do so. For instance I have two Victron controllers because I have two different spec sets of panels (one set 24 volt and one set 12 volt). Both controllers play very nicely together so you always have that option for future expansion. Right now you need to figure out what your total daily consumption is. It looks like the RR is going to consume ~100 AH\24 hrs + all your other draws. For panels mounted flat on the roof figure about 55 - 60% of the spec'd panel output for 6 hrs\day average. Maybe a bit longer in the summer and a little shorter in the winter. So just to offset the RR consumption you'll need 100ah\6 hours= 16.66 amps. Since you're using lead acid batteries you need to compensate for the charge efficiency loss. Let's assume that's 90%. 16.6\.9 = 18.5 amps needed from the solar system to offset the RR consumption. That's roughly 400 watts of panels flat mounted with an MPPT controller. Then you'll need added capacity to offset the rest of your daily consumption.
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:18 AM   #5
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If you want...read my long sometimes off topic thread on installing solar in my all-electric coach. I think it pretty much sums up my planning along the way...with some links.

Very happy with system...and know of at least four others whom have installed an almost identical system.

2016 Solar Prepped Coach - Solar Installation
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Old 03-14-2019, 09:29 AM   #6
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My inverter remote will display the average shunt amps +/- DC. I assume that I can use this to see what the current draw is at any particular time. So if I turn everything on that I would normally be using, then I can read the maximum amps used. Would that be correct?
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:17 AM   #7
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My inverter remote will display the average shunt amps +/- DC. I assume that I can use this to see what the current draw is at any particular time. So if I turn everything on that I would normally be using, then I can read the maximum amps used. Would that be correct?
Yes, that is correct
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:05 PM   #8
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My inverter remote will display the average shunt amps +/- DC. I assume that I can use this to see what the current draw is at any particular time. So if I turn everything on that I would normally be using, then I can read the maximum amps used. Would that be correct?
Not really though I guess you could determine what various items (TV, lights, etc) draw and then calculate it based on your estimated usage. What you really want is the amp\hrs consumed per 24 hrs. That is best done with a battery monitor like a Magnum BMK, Victron BMV, Trimetric, etc. You'll really want one of these once your system is installed so if you don't currently have one you might consider installing one now. What inverter do you have?
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:27 PM   #9
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Not really though I guess you could determine what various items (TV, lights, etc) draw and then calculate it based on your estimated usage. What you really want is the amp\hrs consumed per 24 hrs. That is best done with a battery monitor like a Magnum BMK, Victron BMV, Trimetric, etc. You'll really want one of these once your system is installed so if you don't currently have one you might consider installing one now. What inverter do you have?

Good information. My inverter is a Xantrex RV3012GS.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:03 PM   #10
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Good information. My inverter is a Xantrex RV3012GS.
In that case I'd recommend a Victron BMV-712

https://www.amazon.com/Victron-Energ...gateway&sr=8-2
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:21 PM   #11
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Based on what you need for your refigerator and what we use with TVs and computers running all day, plus charging phones and tablets, you will need to generate about 150 amp/hrs per day. This is without any large current consuming devices such as coffee makers and toasters. We have 605 watts of panels and are fully recharged by 11:00AM to noon with the normal sun in SW Arizona. We have been here since mid January and only didn't get charged one day. We run the generator about an hour every morning for breakfast and whenever we need the microwave.

We ocassionally make coffe using the solar power in the afternoon.
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:16 PM   #12
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In that case I'd recommend a Victron BMV-712

https://www.amazon.com/Victron-Energ...gateway&sr=8-2

So, what specific information does this provide that the inverter remote does not other than how many amps I have used in 24 hours? Also, it looks like I would have to install another shunt. How many shunts can be installed in the same system or does it replace the inverter shunt?
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:45 PM   #13
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If you want...read my long sometimes off topic thread on installing solar in my all-electric coach. I think it pretty much sums up my planning along the way...with some links.

Very happy with system...and know of at least four others whom have installed an almost identical system.

2016 Solar Prepped Coach - Solar Installation

I'm reading through this incredible post. May take a few days.
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:34 PM   #14
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So, what specific information does this provide that the inverter remote does not other than how many amps I have used in 24 hours? Also, it looks like I would have to install another shunt. How many shunts can be installed in the same system or does it replace the inverter shunt?
It gives you actual useage information rather than data to calculate useage.

You should add a second shunt.
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