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Old 01-17-2015, 09:50 PM   #1
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Solar Question

I have two solar panels on my motorhome total 320 watts. These solar panels charge two 6 volt Trojan batteries (T-105). I am unable to expand my battery capacity. I'm thinking of adding a third solar panel.

My issue is running satellite and TV off the batteries with my 1500 watt inverter. My current setup is good, but would the third solar panel help assist charging the batteries as they are being used, extending the amount of time watching TV? If so, will I see that much of a benefit based on the price (probably about $800-$900) to have dealer install third panel.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 01-17-2015, 09:57 PM   #2
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You may do better with a new TV. One that runs on 12 volts and is lower power that the one you are using right now. They are out there that use about 50 watts on a 32" screen. Any time you go from 12 vdc to 120 vac you are losing power.
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Old 01-17-2015, 10:10 PM   #3
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You may do better with a new TV. One that runs on 12 volts and is lower power that the one you are using right now. They are out there that use about 50 watts on a 32" screen. Any time you go from 12 vdc to 120 vac you are losing power.
I checked the specs on my current TV (JVC LCD 32") and it has a power consumption of 52 watts. Could probably go LED and reduce the consumption to about 35-40 watts.
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Old 01-17-2015, 10:21 PM   #4
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I say that you have the right TV-The 10/15 watts will not make much of a difference. The other thing to watch out for is shadows-can't have any shadows on the solar cells as this cuts their output greatly. With 320 watts you should be getting about 15 amps charging? The TV uses about 4 amps (4X12=48watts) so you should be good to go. How much current (amps) does your solar supply you with?
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Old 01-17-2015, 11:28 PM   #5
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Solar Question

Assuming the panels you have now are providing full battery charge during a typical day adding additional solar panel capacity will not give you longer run time for the TV and such in the evenings - it's battery capacity that does this. Additional panel will just get you charged quicker. Albeit providing more headroom on low sun days. If you are typically getting full charge now during the day and carrying it into the evening look to minimize your power consumption consumption. Lower power AV equipment - TV, DVD player, sat receiver, etc. LED lighting. A biggie is higher efficiency inverter. Rather than one large inverter consider one sized just for the AV equipment.

If you are not typically get full charge to carry into the evening then look to upgrading the solar - additional panel(s), better charge controller, ensuring wire sizes are right, etc.

As for adding more batteries, consider to add them in a storage compartment rather than the existing battery compartment. This is how I got a second pair of Trojan 105's. Original two are under the entry steps, the added two are in a compartment on the opposite side and rearward. Wired in parallel to the pair under the steps.
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Old 01-18-2015, 07:48 AM   #6
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I'm no solar expert (still learning), but I agree that adding another panel most likely won't help since you already have the capacity to charge at the max rate. 2 more batteries would be the way to go.

However, depending on which solar charge controller you have, it might not be charging you existing batteries to full capacity. Read Handy Bob's Blog and he explains how this happens & how to fix the issue:
https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/
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Old 01-18-2015, 08:11 AM   #7
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I agree with what has already been stated. Are you using lights in the coach? Upgrading to LED if they are not already, will cut your power draw and extend your use of the TV.
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Old 01-18-2015, 08:36 AM   #8
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It depends on your load(s).

If you run a lot of things, lights, microwave, fans, etc in addition to the tv during daylight hours then adding another panel will help. All of these loads whether ac or dc powered use current that would normally be used to charge your batteries. So the batteries could end up with very little charging current and never recover from the night before.

If you run the same assorted loads at night then it should be obvious that you need to go with more batteries. or add a wind turbine...
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Old 01-18-2015, 08:51 AM   #9
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You definitely need more storage before adding more panels. Tilt and orientation of the panels could get you more input if needed.

LED lighting and other power savers would help. Lots of phantom loads may be on you inverter also. Does inverter turn off when not used or TV?

I removed my TVs, but I don't see that happening in your case. So back to finding room for two more T-105s!

Good luck.
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Old 01-18-2015, 09:32 AM   #10
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I agree with hdossett. There are a lot of variables here, though... In addition to adding more batteries before adding more PV, your charge controller size/type should also be evaluated. Then wire size. Then...

When it comes to $olar, generally, MORE is better.

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Old 01-18-2015, 10:00 AM   #11
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Solar Question

Checking for phantom loads is quite important. I found in my case for example that just the propane and CO detectors plus the propane solenoid on my rig consume .876 amps (21 amp hours consumed daily). Most of that is the propane solenoid which I may change out to manual to eliminate the daily drain. With my 2 lifeline batteries, if parked in the shade this amounts to 50% of my amp hours consumed in 1 week just with these parasitic drains.

If you have a multimeter to test your amps usage, it is very helpful for determining your amp hour usage.

Lifeline has a free calculator that, while imperfect, is useful to determine how much amp hours of battery you may need. Remember that it is recommend to never draw batteries down more than 50%. (Yes, there is debate about different percentages of drawdown. )

DC to DC:
http://www.lifelinebatteries.com/rvsizing.php

AC / DC: (includes inverter efficiency)

http://www.lifelinebatteries.com/rvsizingac.php

I'm admittedly a rare boondocker, there are many folks on this forum that do it much more often and have some great real world tips for the triangle of battery+consumption+charging.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 87Rockwood View Post
I say that you have the right TV-The 10/15 watts will not make much of a difference. The other thing to watch out for is shadows-can't have any shadows on the solar cells as this cuts their output greatly. With 320 watts you should be getting about 15 amps charging? The TV uses about 4 amps (4X12=48watts) so you should be good to go. How much current (amps) does your solar supply you with?
Per the company (GoPower), each panel should provide 9.14 amps (total 18.28 amps). I am assuming the panels are functioning and were installed properly.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Assuming the panels you have now are providing full battery charge during a typical day adding additional solar panel capacity will not give you longer run time for the TV and such in the evenings - it's battery capacity that does this. Additional panel will just get you charged quicker. Albeit providing more headroom on low sun days. If you are typically getting full charge now during the day and carrying it into the evening look to minimize your power consumption consumption. Lower power AV equipment - TV, DVD player, sat receiver, etc. LED lighting. A biggie is higher efficiency inverter. Rather than one large inverter consider one sized just for the AV equipment.

If you are not typically get full charge to carry into the evening then look to upgrading the solar - additional panel(s), better charge controller, ensuring wire sizes are right, etc.

As for adding more batteries, consider to add them in a storage compartment rather than the existing battery compartment. This is how I got a second pair of Trojan 105's. Original two are under the entry steps, the added two are in a compartment on the opposite side and rearward. Wired in parallel to the pair under the steps.
adding a write-up of my solar, inverting, and battery system.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf VSheetz - Solar Setup for my RV v1.1.pdf (473.7 KB, 31 views)
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Assuming the panels you have now are providing full battery charge during a typical day adding additional solar panel capacity will not give you longer run time for the TV and such in the evenings - it's battery capacity that does this. Additional panel will just get you charged quicker. Albeit providing more headroom on low sun days. If you are typically getting full charge now during the day and carrying it into the evening look to minimize your power consumption consumption. Lower power AV equipment - TV, DVD player, sat receiver, etc. LED lighting. A biggie is higher efficiency inverter. Rather than one large inverter consider one sized just for the AV equipment.

If you are not typically get full charge to carry into the evening then look to upgrading the solar - additional panel(s), better charge controller, ensuring wire sizes are right, etc.

As for adding more batteries, consider to add them in a storage compartment rather than the existing battery compartment. This is how I got a second pair of Trojan 105's. Original two are under the entry steps, the added two are in a compartment on the opposite side and rearward. Wired in parallel to the pair under the steps.
Thank you. You addressed a couple different issues I was unsure about. I have switched over to LED. I turn off the Satellite control module once the dish is locked on to save a little power (probably not much, but I guess every little bit helps). The only thing I really do not have control over is the DirecTv DVR. It's going to take the power it needs.

Interesting thought about adding additional batteries in a storage compartment on the other side of the motorhome. I would have to look and talk with my Ford mechanic to see if the cables can be properly and safely run to the other batteries (He is also a camping guy and I trust his opinion).

Thanks again...
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