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Old 08-17-2019, 01:16 AM   #1
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Looking for pointers from those who are into solar

Hello All
I am kinda cheating and looking for suggestions. Been reading a bit on solar then thought i would just go straight to the pros. I have a 45 ft country coach motorhome with (6)8Ds AGM. I dont really have to watch my budget so much so am able to look at high quality components. If you were putting a system together for me what would the componants be. I have a magnum hybrid inverter.Mostly i like tinkering on the machine so i think this may be my next project before heading south when weather goes down hill.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:15 AM   #2
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I know there are all sorts of opinions on this and many will disagree with me. I'm sure someone will toast me and take a few cheap shots but I have thick skin, so here goes:


Start with replacing those inefficient AGM batteries and replace them with LIFEP04 Lithium batteries.



Second: Take a look at your engine driven alternator and if it is less than 200 amps, upgrade it to something north of 300 amps (especially if your coach is 40+ feet).


Third, upgrade your inverter/charger to something like or equivalent to a Victron Energy Multiplus 3000. The 3000 has a 5 minute surge capacity to 7000 watts and can put out 3000 watts continuous with a pure sine wave, plus it has a 4 stage charge controller that can safely output 120 amps at 13.6-14.2 VDC.


Fourth, consider high efficiency residential grade solar panels. Don't bother with 100 watt panels because they are not an efficient use of your space. Get to know and understand what a solar panel's efficiency rating actually is, and then make a purchase decision based on the roof dimensions of the space you have available. Solar panels are temperature sensitive, so mounting them with standoffs does indeed improve the free airflow underneath, which drops their temperature and makes them a little bit more efficient. Put an air dam in front of them (I made ours out of PVC) to keep them from tring to turn into a lifting body driving down the road. Get to know and understand the different types of charge controllers and install the system using higher voltage (series) to capture the benefits of early and late sun and not have to use large or overly heavy gauge wiring.


We did all of these things on our coach and I couldn't be happier.


Good Luck!
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:42 AM   #3
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Do you have a battery monitor? I use the Victron BMV-712 with built in bluetooth.

You should know what is your daily depth of discharge for your large and heavy battery bank. You should also know what power is being used during daily/peak sun hours and what is being used overnight when you will not have solar.

Your 6 8D batteries could be replaced with 6 100 amp-hour BattleBornBatteries and you would reduced your battery weight by 700+ pounds. You would want to install them where your insulated, heated/cooled living space to protect them from very cold or hot temperatures. The LiFePO4 batteries would charge much more efficiently and faster. Less energy would be turned into heat during charging.

Do you plan to use the generator each day to do some of the bulk charging and use solar to help top of the state of charge? Do you want to avoid using a generator most of the time and use solar except when parking in shadow or cloudy weather?

Take a photo and make some measurements on your roof looking for areas that can support solar panels without being in shadows. Considering the curve of the roof. You may want to consider two banks of panels, one slanted towards driver side and another slanted towards passenger side. You can have each side go to its own controller. In a very large solar system you may want 3-4 controllers. A pair of Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100 volt 50 amp controllers are cheaper than one 150 volt 100 amp controller.

Do you plan to order the components and install it your self? Will you have help bringing the panels up to the roof?

You probably have an area that is near the battery compartment for your hybrid inverter. Does it have room for a few MPPT controllers, disconnect/breakers and bus bars. Can you route cables from the roof to this location? You may want to bring up several 6 AWG pairs to combiner boxes on the roof. You would use a pair for each MPPT controller.

I used Grape Solar 300 and 180 watt mono crystalline panels because I can buy them on sale from Home Depot and have them shipped to the local store for free.

I used Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100|50 and 100|30 controllers with built in bluetooth.

I used these to mount my panels on the roof:

Temco 2 Qty New Solar Panel Mounting Z Bracket Stainless Steel Kit Mount Set Roof RV (with Wood Screws)

I used these in the appropriate sizes between my controllers and the battery bus bars: Blue Sea Systems Circuit Breakers

I used battery disconnects between my panel arrays and the MPPT controllers.

My 20 foot trailer has 1405 watts of solar using 3 controllers. I have four 100 amp-hour BattleBornBatteries inside my living space. I use a Spartan Power 2200 watt pure sine wave inverter to power everything including my air conditioner in my trailer.
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:09 PM   #4
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If budget isn't a concern, I agree with the above. If the AGM batteries are doing the job I would keep them. Also if the Inverter/Charger does everything you want, then no reason to change it out.
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IASM View Post
Hello All
I am kinda cheating and looking for suggestions. Been reading a bit on solar then thought i would just go straight to the pros. I have a 45 ft country coach motorhome with (6)8Ds AGM. I dont really have to watch my budget so much so am able to look at high quality components. If you were putting a system together for me what would the componants be. I have a magnum hybrid inverter.Mostly i like tinkering on the machine so i think this may be my next project before heading south when weather goes down hill.
There's no real question here, what is it your trying to do?
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Old 08-17-2019, 02:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ret60sp View Post
I know there are all sorts of opinions on this and many will disagree with me. I'm sure someone will toast me and take a few cheap shots but I have thick skin, so here goes:


Start with replacing those inefficient AGM batteries and replace them with LIFEP04 Lithium batteries.



Second: Take a look at your engine driven alternator and if it is less than 200 amps, upgrade it to something north of 300 amps (especially if your coach is 40+ feet).


Third, upgrade your inverter/charger to something like or equivalent to a Victron Energy Multiplus 3000. The 3000 has a 5 minute surge capacity to 7000 watts and can put out 3000 watts continuous with a pure sine wave, plus it has a 4 stage charge controller that can safely output 120 amps at 13.6-14.2 VDC.


Fourth, consider high efficiency residential grade solar panels. Don't bother with 100 watt panels because they are not an efficient use of your space. Get to know and understand what a solar panel's efficiency rating actually is, and then make a purchase decision based on the roof dimensions of the space you have available. Solar panels are temperature sensitive, so mounting them with standoffs does indeed improve the free airflow underneath, which drops their temperature and makes them a little bit more efficient. Put an air dam in front of them (I made ours out of PVC) to keep them from tring to turn into a lifting body driving down the road. Get to know and understand the different types of charge controllers and install the system using higher voltage (series) to capture the benefits of early and late sun and not have to use large or overly heavy gauge wiring.


We did all of these things on our coach and I couldn't be happier.


Good Luck!
And go all Victron with the mentioned 712 monitor and solar controllers. 300+ watt panels are the best bang for the buck. Nice thing about Victron equipment, almost all is bluetooth enabled, so instead of running a lot of wires, just a tablet or phone in coach allows to adjust and monitor your gear.
These guys are Victron experts and generally have the best prices.
https://baymarinesupply.com/
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:52 PM   #7
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Unless you are a serious dry camper (no hookups for days at a time) there is no need for solar.

IF your 8D batteries are starting batteries (post the make and model) then MAYBE replace them.
Solar panels are down to 50 cents/watt.

A picture of your roof would help and since you have raised rails you need to look at my 800W install that tilt using the raised rail.. 800W solar install that ended up being 900W.



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Old 08-17-2019, 05:57 PM   #8
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Panels are pretty much a commodity now. I always prefer to stick with recognizable name brands with a lengthy warranty just as an assurance that due diligence was done on QC at the factory. Residential is the way to go.

I mount mine flat, to aluminum angle that is mounted longitudinally on the roof and spans the full length of a panel. Screwed through the roof to every truss below. Easy with a stud finder. Follow up with 3M sealant. I hinge mount the panels on one side and make a bracket for the opposite side from more aluminum, so I can remove two bolts and swing any panel up for service or access to the roof.

If you stick with AGM, look for a controller that will terminate absorption at a certain charge current into the batteries. I used a Midnight Solar.

I’d also agree with lithium batteries IF you’re able or willing to give them the temperature environment they need.
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:25 PM   #9
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If you are looking for a good custom solar/battery setup.
Contact Marvin at Precisionrv.com
He installed : 1200 Ah lithium ion batteries, BMS, 3000W hybrid inverter, and additional sub panel to compliment the 1400 watts of solar previously installed on our coach. We love to dry camp.
Best calling ever made.
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Old 08-17-2019, 10:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TajMahal View Post
There's no real question here, what is it your trying to do?

I am trying to get a consensus on what panel manufacture and controller are considered good without going thru the school of hard knocks. I had read that running higher voltage systems as in panels in series is more efficient but i dont know enough to even get in trouble yet.I am confident in being able to install. Battery are lifeline agms a few years old.
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Old 08-18-2019, 08:25 AM   #11
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When I search IASM and boondocking I find nothing until yesterday so my question is "how many days/year will you dry camp"? My answer is 50 days and even though I did my own install I doubt it will ever pay for itself. It has decreased my generator run time by aprox 30 minutes...75 cents of diesel so $40/year. Granted this is a SWAG as I've only dry camped for 10 days with the 900W of solar.

Without finding a good deal on 100W panels ($0.50/watt) that would fit well along my raised rail, I would not have bothered with solar.
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Old 08-18-2019, 08:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by IASM View Post
Hello All
I am kinda cheating and looking for suggestions. Been reading a bit on solar then thought i would just go straight to the pros. I have a 45 ft country coach motorhome with (6)8Ds AGM. I dont really have to watch my budget so much so am able to look at high quality components. If you were putting a system together for me what would the componants be. I have a magnum hybrid inverter.Mostly i like tinkering on the machine so i think this may be my next project before heading south when weather goes down hill.
Not to put a damper on the Solar thought - but - had mine for 13 years and seriously doubt it every really saved me any money.

If you just want to tinker then go for it but if the Mission is to save money ..........might do more research and check your math.

Seems as if we still fire up the generator for the wife to use the Hair dryer and the coffee maker is fine on the battery as is the Microwave.

We boondock often - even if on pavement - and we have found that it usually requires us to start the generator for a couple hours each day - May just be me but the $3,000 + I put into solar will not likely find a payoff in my lifetime

JMHO,
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Old 08-18-2019, 11:19 AM   #13
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Fourth, consider high efficiency residential grade solar panels. Don't bother with 100 watt panels because they are not an efficient use of your space. Get to know and understand what a solar panel's efficiency rating actually is, and then make a purchase decision based on the roof dimensions of the space you have available. Solar panels are temperature sensitive, so mounting them with standoffs does indeed improve the free airflow underneath, which drops their temperature and makes them a little bit more efficient. Put an air dam in front of them (I made ours out of PVC) to keep them from tring to turn into a lifting body driving down the road. Get to know and understand the different types of charge controllers and install the system using higher voltage (series) to capture the benefits of early and late sun and not have to use large or overly heavy gauge wiring.

I like your air dam idea. I have two large panels near the leading edge of my trailer. I may look at adding a wind fairing or a pair of them to bring the highway speed air up over the top of the front panels.

My front panels leading edge is about 40 inches wide for edge of them. I am thinking of a fairing that bolts to the edge of the panel and angles down to the front fiberglass front cap where it is flat before it transitions to the EPDM roofing. Two individual fairings would be best since my roof has quite a bit of curvature to edge side.
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Old 08-18-2019, 12:35 PM   #14
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Look at your local craigslist. Higher wattage/voltage panels are a good bang for buck. Would go oversize on your solar controller incase you want to add more panels later. As mentioned, Victron sells controllers that handle high voltage and watts.
https://houston.craigslist.org/ele/d...948627467.html
https://baymarinesupply.com/solar-wi...ntrollers.html
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