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Old 11-23-2015, 08:37 PM   #1
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Solar setup observations

Have been doing a lot of research in preparation for installing solar. The main thing that I have learned is there is a lot to learn if you want to do this right the first time. I am at the point now of having a basic plan of the setup I want to install. Before buying any of this I would like to ask for any input from those of you that have been through a solar install. I will greatly appreciate your observations.

The solar will be installed on a 40ft fifth wheel. Space on the roof is not an issue. The fiver has a residential refrigerator with an inverter already installed. I also recently install a Timetric TM-2030A battery monitor.

My main reason for installing solar is maintaining the battery bank for the refrigerator. So many of the state and national parks have such goofy generator use hours. I want to be able to be gone all day and even overnight and not have to adjust my activities just to run a generator. Also to be able to watch TV after generator hours and to run a fan on the warm nights.

I'm sure one question some will have is power consumption of the refrigerator. I used a Kill O Watt meter for 5 days, 120 hrs exactly. IT used 5.23kwh which works out to just over 1kwh or 87amh per day.

Here is the setup:

3-265 watt Kyocera panels wired in parallel for a total of 795 watts.

10 awg wire from panels to combiner box with a 15A breaker for ea panel.

#6 wire from combiner box to a controller.

Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60 controller w/remote inside the fiver.

#4 from controller to batteries.

40A and 63A circuit breaker before and after controller.

Replacing current 4 Sams 6V with 6 Tojan T145 series/parallel 780 AH.

Comments are welcome
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:00 PM   #2
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Do you have the physical room for additional solar panels? If so, have you designed in expansion capacity to support additional panels in the future? Just a consideration.

Are the panels mounted flat or tilt-able? If flat this provides some additional headroom.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:18 PM   #3
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I have 3, 235 watt panels in series with 12 gauge to the same controller, 4, maybe 2 gauge out to 8 Sam's 6 volts. I use a 2000 watt, sine wave inverter.

This is my 6 th year with this setup, spending 6 + months on board. I RV in summer, cruise the Keys on my boat for the winter.

I have a residential refrigerator, Sat TV, Mr. coffee, small microwave, 2 computers, phones and other chargers, a few fans and lights.

I could get away with 6 batteries but the sun is lower in the winter, even down here.

I think you have a good system layed out and it will work great.

Here is a tip. When measuring the daily AH of the fridge, don't count the 5 or 6 hours that the sun is covering the load. Any time the batteries are charging and the fridge is running, there is no amps drawn from the bank.
Even on cloudy days there is some output, covering some or all of the load.

Tip # 2 be sure your inverter has a "low" no load amp draw. I had one that drew 4 amps at idle. That's 96 AH a day, doing nothing. It was my biggest energy user. More then my fridge.

My Xantrex draws 1/2 an amp at idle. 12 AH a day.

Good luck
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Do you have the physical room for additional solar panels? If so, have you designed in expansion capacity to support additional panels in the future? Just a consideration.

Are the panels mounted flat or tilt-able? If flat this provides some additional headroom.

There is room for additional panels. I plan on waiting until I used this setup for awhile to see how it works to determine how much more I would need. If more is needed I would go with a second controller rather than a bigger one now.

Planning on mounting flat but that could change.
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
I have 3, 235 watt panels in series with 12 gauge to the same controller, 4, maybe 2 gauge out to 8 Sam's 6 volts. I use a 2000 watt, sine wave inverter.

This is my 6 th year with this setup, spending 6 + months on board. I RV in summer, cruise the Keys on my boat for the winter.

I have a residential refrigerator, Sat TV, Mr. coffee, small microwave, 2 computers, phones and other chargers, a few fans and lights.

I could get away with 6 batteries but the sun is lower in the winter, even down here.

I think you have a good system layed out and it will work great.

Here is a tip. When measuring the daily AH of the fridge, don't count the 5 or 6 hours that the sun is covering the load. Any time the batteries are charging and the fridge is running, there is no amps drawn from the bank.
Even on cloudy days there is some output, covering some or all of the load.

Tip # 2 be sure your inverter has a "low" no load amp draw. I had one that drew 4 amps at idle. That's 96 AH a day, doing nothing. It was my biggest energy user. More then my fridge.

My Xantrex draws 1/2 an amp at idle. 12 AH a day.

Good luck
This was good to hear. Makes me think I am on the right track. I'll be in Key West again next winter. I stay by the Coast Guard station. No hookups for 4 months. Solar will make that easier. Maybe I see ya sailing by.
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:25 PM   #6
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Sounds like a good setup. The only suggestion I would make is run 1/0 AWG wire between the SOLAR Charge controller and the batteries and batteries to the frame. This will allow for additional future loads.

Good luck!!

Don
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Old 11-24-2015, 09:26 PM   #7
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If you have the room, go ahead and install the 4th panel now.
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Old 11-25-2015, 04:33 AM   #8
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Don't forget to keep all of the receipts and get the 30% Federal Tax credit! ;-)
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Old 11-30-2015, 02:44 PM   #9
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The fed rebate is through 2016 isn't it?
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:09 PM   #10
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Yes extended until end of 2016

Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit | Department of Energy
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