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Old 10-08-2015, 03:08 PM   #1
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Solar

We have a 2000 Win. Adventurer that came with solar from the factory. We bought it in 2010. The solar didn't seem to work at all, except when it rained. Sounds like a ground problem to me.
However, we would like to increase the number of panels and would like to know how to go about it. I prefer to do as much as possible.
Questions:
Has anyone else done this modification?
Can additional panels be added without replacing the wire connection? If so how many or what capacity can be installed?
How does one go about pulling a new larger wire in place?
I can see where the connection is near the battery box, (circuit breaker) labeled Solar.
With any larger panel do I have to install a controller? If so where?
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Old 10-08-2015, 03:23 PM   #2
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You have to find out the capacity of your current controller. Determine whether the size is large enough to install the amount of solar you want.

My coach originally came with a 85 watt panel with a 30 amp controller. The previous owner installed 2 125 watt panels so I have a total of 335 watt. During good sunlight in the summer with a high sun at noon I can get ~16 amp of charging so I have the capacity to add more but I'm satisfied with what I have.

My controller is mounted toward the front of the RV with inverter controller. The power goes down through the refrigerator vent. The manufacturer used a terminal connector type bar that I had to replace because of corrosion.

The original panel was mounted adjacent to refrigerator vent, the previous owner mounted one panel toward the front and the second toward the rear and just ran the wires up to the vent area. I have wrapped the wires with a plastic type wrap and the wires are held down with caulking.

With my 335 watt of power I can usually run the Coolmatic exhaust fan, lights, and TV without much trouble. If I need to run microwave I'll start the generator, otherwise batteries deplete too quickly. You have to decide what kind of power usage you need and then go from there. If your controller is smaller you'll have to install a larger one to match your needs and run the appropriate size cable to support the system.

You will also have to look at your batter bank to make sure it has the capacity to store the power. I have a bank of 4 6 volt batteries, can't remember the amp-hour rating but I bought the largest that Sam's sold that would fit in my tray.
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Old 10-08-2015, 04:15 PM   #3
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If your solar panel factory installed is small then it's probably just a small trickle charger for you battery. It's not 'real' solar.


We had 300W and it was plenty sufficient for boondocking and dry camping. We traveled mainly in the West so had plenty of sunshine. However, it still gave us some charge on cloudy days. It was well worth it for us as we enjoyed this kind of camping.
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Old 10-08-2015, 05:11 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jacwjames View Post
...and run the appropriate size cable to support the system.
x2 on size of wiring. Everything I've read about solar said that most inefficiencies are from using wiring that is too small or too much distance between the panels and the controller.
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Old 10-08-2015, 05:25 PM   #5
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I am sure if the panel you have on the roof is like the one that my 97 Adventurer had it is not worth much. You can learn everything you want to know on the web and if you like to read you can pretty much figure out everything from this guy.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mageksl View Post
x2 on size of wiring. Everything I've read about solar said that most inefficiencies are from using wiring that is too small or too much distance between the panels and the controller.
The wiring size and distance between the battery bank and controller is even more important. I used #8 as it was the largest my controller would take, and used #10 from the panels as it is more flexible for installation. A disconnect between the panels and controller is a good idea as it can damage the controller to have hot solar without being connected to the battery bank.
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Old 10-10-2015, 11:05 PM   #7
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I just finished my installation of 3 285 watt panels today. I already had a 2,000 watt invertor, enough #4 wire, and was able to fabricate my own brackets so only needed to purchase the panels, controller, breakers, and combiner components. Total cost after I purchased nuts, bolts and caulk was just over $2,000 but qualifies for a 30% tax credit.

I did a lot of research prior. The Going Green sub forum was a big help. A couple of posters have provided very detailed information regarding their installs.

Many places would not sell small quantities of the big panels. Northern Arizona Wind and Sun would plus they assisted me on my final design.
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