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Old 07-08-2019, 06:01 PM   #1
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Solar Panels - Residential vs RV

I've been reading you should not use residential solar panels on an RV because of their size while driving will put to much strain on an RV roof. Yet I've read many RVers using residential panels. So is it okay to use residential solar panels on an RV, fifth wheel?

I would be moving every two to three weeks.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:08 PM   #2
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The only two things I have seen noted on residential are both size related. Bigger may make the harder to layout without shading issues. Side also limits how they can be shipped if not buying locally.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:15 PM   #3
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Residential panels are generally higher voltage and you have to use MPPT controllers. They are bigger as well and offer somewhat higher wattage. I don't see a problem as long as you use commensurately more hold downs for the bigger panel.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:32 PM   #4
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I have a 265 watt Grape Solar panel. It came with holes for eight Z brackets. I used quality stainless steel 3 inch high brackets that had two hole each for screwing to roof. I also have two 180 watt panels and a 160 watt panels on the roof.

The biggest limitation is the amount of open unshaded areas on your trailer roof. TV antenna, vents, sky lights and air conditioner all take up valuable roof space.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:14 PM   #5
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What I'm reading here is that you don't see larger panels putting to much stress on the roof while moving. The only concern is the space and power coming off them. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:16 PM   #6
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Yep, that is what I would think, as long as they are correctly installed and well covered with Dichor.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:31 PM   #7
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I put three Silfab 350 watt commercial panels on our 5th. 15,000 miles later and issues of any kind. I made custom Z brackets to mount them with 1/4 thick 3 x 5" angle aluminum. Six brackets per panel. Needed more height to clear the sewer vents.

Size can be a layout issue. In my case it worked out quite well. Commercial panels frequently do much better in shading and indirect light. Before you naysayers jump on the shading issue, read up on bifacial or double sided solar panels. The bottom side works with only indirect light.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:38 PM   #8
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What are MPPT controllers?

I'm all for putting the sun's energy to use. It's readily available, & from everything I've read about solar energy, it's not too difficult to harvest and store.

Give the "powers-that-be" enough time, & they'll figure out a way to charge us for using "free" energy.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:46 PM   #9
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How does that square up with the fact that the "powers that be" in many states have some kind of sales tax exemption and/or rebates for buying solar energy equipment? I'm not trying to start an argument or even a discussion, but some states are really trying to subsidize solar energy systems. When I bought my stuff in AZ, there was no sales tax for example. I say for an RV, go for it, and in the slim chance the "powers that be" decide that we've got it too good, they'll have to come find us first!
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moxxi View Post
What are MPPT controllers..
In RV solar installations, DC power from the panels is used to charge the battery banks, most of which are 12 volts. The voltage applied to the batteries is usually somewhere between 12.3 and 14.5. "12 volt" panels put out somewhere around 18 volts maximum. The a PWM controller will connect the panel to the battery bank until the voltage rises above some limit, say 14.5 volts and then disconnects the panel until the voltage drops and repeats the process again and again. This is called Pulse Width Modulation as the power pulse has a varied width. This is OK for say a 16 or 18 volt panel. Residential panels are much bigger and higher voltage and a PWM controller cannot work. As such a Maximum Power Point Converter (MPPT) actually converts the higher voltage into a lower voltage at a higher current. Higher panel voltages allow smaller wire from the panels to the batteries. Some residential installations may have DC voltages above 100 volts with panels connected in series.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1bigmess View Post
How does that square up with the fact that the "powers that be" in many states have some kind of sales tax exemption and/or rebates for buying solar energy equipment? I'm not trying to start an argument or even a discussion, but some states are really trying to subsidize solar energy systems. When I bought my stuff in AZ, there was no sales tax for example. I say for an RV, go for it, and in the slim chance the "powers that be" decide that we've got it too good, they'll have to come find us first!
So what is wrong with the solar industry getting some tax breaks?

The oil & gas industry has been enjoying the oil depletion allowance since 1913. It was set up at 27.5% to help a fledging industry. The timber industry gets large tax benefits. We pay farmers tax money for not growing crops, and paying them if they can't sell the crops they did grow. Point is many industries have and continue to benefit greatly from the tax payers. So why yak about the solar industry unless we zero out all tax benefits for all industries. A great deal of what makes up modern American life was started with tax benefits of one type or another.

Those *$!% tariffs WE are all paying for are just another tax that Congress never authorized in order to help some industry or another.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:43 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rarebear.nm View Post
So what is wrong with the solar industry getting some tax breaks?
Umm, your political-ish post might get edited or deleted , and you should have responded to the person I replied to because I think solar energy systems should be incentivized at this stage because if I go to buy a permanently installed system to do better than the portable panels I have now, I want it to be cheaper!
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:52 AM   #13
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"Residential panels' are ok. Roof placement may be more limited due to the typically larger physical size.

I have fifteen 100w narrow panels placed along each side of the roof to mitigate shading The real estate down the center is occupied by three air cinditioners, vents, antennas, etc.

Much depends on your roof layout.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:10 AM   #14
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Residential solar panels have advantages for their high capacity/high voltages/high efficiency/low costs in genenral terms. I installed 11 Sunpower 250w 42v panels on our coach in 2014, they have been working great.
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