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Old 09-26-2009, 07:37 AM   #1
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Solar Charger for House Batteries

The most recent Motorhome magazine had an article about a Pulse Tech Solar Charger, the article peaked my interest as I'm looking for a means to keep my house batteries charged when the coach is in storage. Not sure I want to install larger permanently mounted solar panels. The house batteries consist of 4 6V deep cycle batteries wired to provide 12V service. Has anyone had any experience with this Pulse Tech system and will a 5W charger be able to maintain the batteries or will I need something a lot larger?

Thanks

Pat
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:15 AM   #2
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Do you turn off the master switch when you store the moho? If so then you won't have any load on your batteries and so you won't need much of a solar panel. However, if you don't switch off your master switch, which you'd wouldn't want to if you want your propane detector monitor and a few other devices to work, then you'd need to make sure the solar panel and controller puts out enough amps to offset the drain on the batteries.

I would think a 25 to 50 watt solar panel is more then enough for what you want, even leaving the master switch on. A cheaper solution is to look around for a panel that has the charge controller built in. There are quite a few like this. Just make sure you connect the output of the panel directly to the battery.
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:26 PM   #3
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Thanks, I normally use the battery disconnect, so I might have a current leak somewhere.
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:07 AM   #4
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My coach came with an electronic battery disconnect and a 10w solar maintainer. I am religious about turning off the batteries, but they would never last more than a couple of weeks without some kind of charging.

I upgraded to a 50w solar panel with a 4amp charge controller using the existing 10w solar panel wiring. Works like a champ. I can leave the batteries disconnected for months and they will be maintained by this solar arrangement. Very happy with this.
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:36 PM   #5
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Battary charging

I store my rig in doors so the solar panels (540 watt) don't put any power. I turn off the inside bat disconnect and the chasis switch. I use two float chargers, one for the chasis and one for the house bats. I have 4 6volt lifeline bats and the system has worked great for the last 3 years.
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:04 PM   #6
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Holes in my roof from solar panels...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ua40j View Post
My coach came with an electronic battery disconnect and a 10w solar maintainer. I am religious about turning off the batteries, but they would never last more than a couple of weeks without some kind of charging.

I upgraded to a 50w solar panel with a 4amp charge controller using the existing 10w solar panel wiring. Works like a champ. I can leave the batteries disconnected for months and they will be maintained by this solar arrangement. Very happy with this.
Question: I don't have a solar panel now, but I am considering an 80W panel. Is it the norm to charge house and chassis or just house?

My second question is my concern for the mounting holes and the wire hole in my fiberglass roof. I'm always worried about holes and that is why I haven't put a solar panel up there. I want to do some dry camping and that is the need for solar so I don't have to run the generator all of the time.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:10 PM   #7
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azloafer:

Welcome to iRV2.com! I installed 570W of solar panels on our motorhome's roof over a year ago and have had no problems to date. Our roof is TPO covered plywood, but installation in fiberglass would be similar.

There are other panel mounting methods, some of which use adhesive that require no drilling at all (3M VHB adhesive tape), but they cannot be used on TPO roofs, so I could not use them. Here's what I did:

I used wellnuts (https://www.acehardwareoutlet.co/%28bnrp4j553iyxyo55z1ztynqt%29/ProductDetails.aspx?SKU=2147001895) to mount the panel's mounting brackets to the roof and sealed liberally with Dicor lap sealant. Note I bought them from our local bolt dealer, not the website I linked to.

I ran the wiring through the fridge vent, you should be able to do the same as long as your fridge has a roof vent. If not there are other ways to seal the hole you will have to put through the roof.

Since your roof is fiberglass you could use 3M 4200 (or 5200) sealent (3Mā„¢ Marine Adhesive/Sealant Fast Cure 4200) instead of the Dicor, I used it on window reseals on our last RV and it worked great, there are other positive reviews of it as well on this site and other RV forums.

Our system just charges the house batteries (I installed 1000AH worth of them), although the chassis battery gets charged when the house voltage is high enough because of our BIRD (Bi Directional Isolator Relay Delay).

We really enjoy not having to run our generator every night when camping with no hookups!
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Old 10-16-2009, 04:32 PM   #8
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Luv2go, Thanks for all the info. I'll check out the links. Camping World doesn't carry the glue on panels. When the wire goes into the fridge, where does it come out to connect to the wiring panel by the batteries? I can see that I have a lot to learn about solar!
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:40 AM   #9
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Thanks, this has been helpful. I now plan to add a solar panel to keep the batteries charged up. My refrigerator is on a slide out so the top vent is not an option, however I'm told the coach is pre-wired.

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Old 10-19-2009, 07:52 AM   #10
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My fridge is also in a slide and I park in a covered RV lot without electric. I ordered a book called "solar primer" which is supposed to explain everything about solar use for an RV. The authors give lectures to RV groups. Sometimes I research things to death, but that is just how I am. I don't like to run out and spend hundreds of dollars without giving things a lot of thought. I spent many months searching for just the "right RV", which I am picking up later this week. I'm learning a lot from RV forums like this one.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:22 PM   #11
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I use the 50w panel I have to charge the coach batteries. I bought a Battery Tender to transfer charge from the coach batteries to the chassis batteries while in storage.

I take the battery tender off when on the road.
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:34 AM   #12
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Definition of master battery switch

I have only had my MH for a short time. I am confused by the term "master switch." On my coach there are two switches in one of the bays. One for the house batteries and one for the chassis batteries, at least this is what we were told during the walk-through. There is also a panel of switches located alongside the entry steps. One of the switches is labeled "battery disconnect." Is turning this battery disconnect switch off enough? I am not sure what batteries are disconnected by using this switch versus the ones in the bay. The MH is used a lot so it never sits for more than several days. I do not have any solar cells.
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