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Old 02-13-2014, 06:38 PM   #1
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Solar panels

thinking about putting a solar panel on our class c motorhome to charge the 2 coach batteries and the battery on the cab but not sure how big of one to put on. any suggestions would be great
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:47 PM   #2
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thinking about putting a solar panel on our class c motorhome to charge the 2 coach batteries and the battery on the cab but not sure how big of one to put on. any suggestions would be great
How do you use the coach? If you always go from one plugin to the next, the engine charges while you drive. Do you park overnight away from plugin ? Or boondock multiple nights ? Do you just need to maintain the batteries while in storage?

To just maintain while in storage I would suggest 100 watts. If you want to recharge during the day, 200 watts minimum. If you are using the furnace overnight, and other heavy uses, 200 watts won't be enough. If you can answer the previous questions, and give a more detailed description of how much power you are using, the estimates can get more accurate.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:39 PM   #3
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solar panels

we do a lot of dry camping at race tracks. when we go in march and october we will be using the furnace and using the air conditioner in the summertime. we will be using the generator also so it will probably be mostly for just recharging the batteries during the day.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:45 PM   #4
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I've been using a portable 120w folding set of panels for the last year. Works pretty well. It has the controller mounted on the back of the panel - so it's as easy as hooking the cable up to the pos and neg leads on the battery. I like the portable panel because I can move it around where it the most effective, I can park the trailer in the shade, I can use the panel on multiple rv's, it's easy to keep clean sitting on the ground where I can get to it, and I don't have to drill holes in the roof or figure out how to run wires through the coach. Granted this panel is only 7 amps, so it takes a good bit of time to bring back low batteries. Downside I suppose, besides the time, is it could be run into and damaged, or possibly stolen. Company is GoPower! you can find it on Amazon. Yes they are pricey.
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:35 PM   #5
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I have been using a 120w unit for three yrs and never had a battery issue. You just need to understand the limits of what you are using, power wise.
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:42 PM   #6
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Suggest to check out AMSOLAR's web site for good practical info on system sizing.

Attached is a write-up of my system.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 47 views)
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:31 PM   #7
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Good info for us also THANKS
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:10 PM   #8
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Thank you for that. Very useful.




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Old 02-14-2014, 05:58 AM   #9
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solar panels

Thanks for all the answers they all help
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:28 AM   #10
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..

To just maintain while in storage I would suggest 100 watts. ...
If you just want to maintain the batteries in storage, you probably don't need anywhere near 100W.

Our old mh (98 Pace Arrow) has a 5W panel on the roof and will keep 4 batteries topped up while in storage for over 6 months and that's in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where there is snow and winter days are very short.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:45 AM   #11
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If you just want to maintain the batteries in storage, you probably don't need anywhere near 100W. Our old mh (98 Pace Arrow) has a 5W panel on the roof and will keep 4 batteries topped up while in storage for over 6 months and that's in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where there is snow and winter days are very short.
5 watts is the "perfect scenario" ....we all know we don't live in that perfect world so your 5 watt panel is probably putting out closer to 4 watts.

Anyway with 5 watts, that's barely 350 milliamps (.35 amps) of charge current. Most RV's have phantom loads (LP detector, engine computer, etc) greater than that.

I think your batteries were not "topped off" to the degree you think they were....

Edit****. I found a good website that stated the 5 watt panel would only offset the natural loss in a 100 ah battery. So for 4 batteries the bank is more like 400 ah and you would need 20 watts MINIMUM. Batteries are expensive too...so better to spend more on a 100 watt panel and controller, to almost guarantee the batteries don't get ruined by going dead in storage.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:47 AM   #12
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Vince gave a really good link to the AMS web site where you can get a good amount of sizing information. If you are going to expect your system to charge and maintain the batteries I am thinking you might want a to investigate the lower end multi panel systems like I have. At 200W (about 9.5 amps) I could maintain a 2 battery weekend of minor use with 4-6 hours of sun exposure. I found that I wanted more...I have used the VSHEETS design as my template and it was highly expandable. I added two batteries and two more panels. I can now run the other bigger appliances and have some vacuum time for cleaning and coffee maker time....and microwave time....tv time (with DVD player) ...radio time...all on the same battery system and have it remain recharged each day and ready for my full evening use.
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Old 02-14-2014, 10:18 AM   #13
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5 watts is the "perfect scenario" ....we all know we don't live in that perfect world so your 5 watt panel is probably putting out closer to 4 watts.

Anyway with 5 watts, that's barely 350 milliamps (.35 amps) of charge current. Most RV's have phantom loads (LP detector, engine computer, etc) greater than that.

I think your batteries were not "topped off" to the degree you think they were....

Edit****. I found a good website that stated the 5 watt panel would only offset the natural loss in a 100 ah battery. So for 4 batteries the bank is more like 400 ah and you would need 20 watts MINIMUM. Batteries are expensive too...so better to spend more on a 100 watt panel and controller, to almost guarantee the batteries don't get ruined by going dead in storage.
I don't know the science of it and I'm sure that after 15 years, that panel is less than optimal (and as mentioned, the panel would certainly have been covered by snow on some days). But that doesn't change the fact that last fall (15 months ago), I parked the mh in a farmers field in Ottawa, Ontario, switched the disconnect flip and left the motor home there until April. When I got in an April, all 4 batteries were okay and I was able to turn the key and drive away (although I have to admit that I was expecting the worse and came with booster cables and a booster pack). We also routinely have it in storage for up to 6-8 weeks between trips during the spring / summer / fall and the 5W panel has always been okay for that.

If I was getting a new panel, I probably wouldn't go as low as 5W but 20-40W is probably plenty. The problem with 100W (if it's just for keeping topped up in storage) is that it requires a charge controller so is a much more complex installation.
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Old 02-14-2014, 10:49 AM   #14
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I don't know the science of it and I'm sure that after 15 years, that panel is less than optimal (and as mentioned, the panel would certainly have been covered by snow on some days). But that doesn't change the fact that last fall (15 months ago), I parked the mh in a farmers field in Ottawa, Ontario, switched the disconnect flip and left the motor home there until April. When I got in an April, all 4 batteries were okay and I was able to turn the key and drive away (although I have to admit that I was expecting the worse and came with booster cables and a booster pack). We also routinely have it in storage for up to 6-8 weeks between trips during the spring / summer / fall and the 5W panel has always been okay for that. If I was getting a new panel, I probably wouldn't go as low as 5W but 20-40W is probably plenty. The problem with 100W (if it's just for keeping topped up in storage) is that it requires a charge controller so is a much more complex installation.
It is true that in colder temperatures, ALL chemical reactions slow down....so the natural loss of power that occurs in wet cell batteries is slowed down somewhat. The other thing....just because you could turn the key and start the engine, does not mean the batteries were fully charged. If you had checked the batteries specific gravity with a hydrometer I think you would have found them to be in a state of discharge. A simple charge controller is not much work to wire in....a little box smaller than a pack of cigarettes.
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