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Old 11-30-2010, 11:52 AM   #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowcatche View Post
I honor HandyBob for what he has done and for calling into question shoddy workmanship and poor practices. I do not feel there is reason to flame him and I feel he is owed an apology. Yes he is a bit of a curmudgeon as he admits, but it tends to come with age and exposure to stupidity exhibited by others.
There have been a number of occasions I have lectured NASA engineers (among others) on the need for radiused corners or you have cracks in metals.
That he is revisiting and revising says a great deal to me, and you can not necessarily trust an engineer (electrical or other) to get it right, how many examples do you want? Practical experience counts, I am however frustrated because I want to understand why somthing works.
Agreed....
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:26 AM   #142
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NO issues with him beating up shoddy installs, etc., there seem to be plenty of bad installs around. But that doesn't give him the right to talk down to the entire readership that doesn't agree with exactly what his beliefs or findings are. All of a sudden those of us who run 21V panels and MPPT controllers are "fools"? He clearly doesn't know what he's talking about, and I doubt he's really done empirical research with non-MPPT 17V systems. I have, with like panels, parked side by side, with identical loads and medium cloudy skies. Sometimes it's nice to park in storage lots with hundreds of RV's and get a chance to play with different things. Last I read his solar blog he also made no mention of the advantages of higher voltage panels and external sense.. another reason for 21V panels.

So no, he doesn't get an apology. What he needs is a simple attitude adjustment to his writing because I for one don't appreciate getting talked AT, and down to by someone that wants to make it clear that he's smarter than anyone reading his post (whether he is or not) and either can't back up with how he arrived at his findings, or just goes off on everyone basically saying that the forums aren't worthy of his presence..

Anyone who disagrees with this should look around this and all the other RV Forums. The really smart ones don't need to tell you who they are.
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:46 AM   #143
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Anyone who disagrees with this should look around this and all the other RV Forums. The really smart ones don't need to tell you who they are.
Or argue with those that do...
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:59 AM   #144
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCVJeff View Post
All of a sudden those of us who run 21V panels and MPPT controllers are "fools"?
Quote:
Originally Posted by HandyBob
People who claim to get boost on cloudy days when the voltage is not high enough are fools.
Jeff, I still can't figure out where you are getting these quotes. Can't find where Bob mentions 21V panels either. Maybe I just missed it?
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:28 PM   #145
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I actually spoke to Bob via telephone when doing my install and he's a very pleasant guy. Anyone who's willing to talk to me rather than type AT me get's higher marks anyhow.

What I always find interesting is a syndrome I see at work all of the time. People will approach others and say "I didn't like the tone of your email!" It's been done to me....and my intent was anything but negative. How can an email or a forum post have attitude? I find that most of the time the 'tone' is imagined.

Okay...so maybe fools is too strong of a word, but can we drop the infighting and get back to the subject of solar power? By the way...I don't recall Bob specifically calling anyone out by name so I'm not sure how anyone here could be personally offended.

Anyhow I've officially dismounted the soap box and will now resume our normal discussion.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:23 PM   #146
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Excuse my ignorance, and please correct me if I have this wrong.

We use batteries to store power, and solar to charge them. 12V power comes direct from the batteries, anything higher in voltage runs through an inverter. You need enough storage to be able to run your appliances, and enough solar to recharge your storage.

I can see where there could be a problem if you do not have enough solar to fully recharge each day (or maybe two) but is there a problem if you have too much?

Likewise, I can see where there would be a problem if you do not have enough storage, but again, is there a problem if you have too much? I realise that there is a cost involved in extra solar and extra storage, but my thoughts are to put 5 x 100AH gel batteries under my coach, and maybe 4 x 80W panels to keep them charged. If I have too many batteries, or too much solar, apart from the cost to me, what damage/problems am I likely to have if I have over spec'ed the system?
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:43 PM   #147
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GSGracie,
Good question! I believe the solar controller will limit the current to the batteries as they become charged and then after they are finally charged maintain a float/maintenance charge thereafter.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:05 PM   #148
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To me the only potential problem with to much solar panel power is the potential to overcharge the batteries even with a good controller. I live off grid and last year I left for a three month trip and when I got home the fluid level in the batteries was very low. When home I check the levels the first of each month and top off as appropriate. Now when I travel I disconnect the solar panels. I sure don't see having to much solar as a problem in a motorhome. At home I use a 48 volt system and that may differ a bit from the normal 12 or 24 volt most people seem to use.
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Old 12-03-2010, 09:02 PM   #149
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Sorry - I should have also mentioned that the power controller I am putting in will use solar direct to the inverter if the batteries are fully charged, and the solar can handle the drain. It seems to me that there is a real advantage in such a system to slightly overspec the solar so that it can bypass the batteries if they are not needed.

1ciderdog, it seems that there is definitely a problem if the charger is not overspeced too, and I would not skimp on that piece of hardware. I will have gel batteries which I am told need a lower voltage to charge, and that seemed to be one of HandyBob's main beefs, which was that most systems don't get the voltage high enough to fully charge the battery banks.
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Old 12-05-2010, 10:33 AM   #150
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I am ready to order my "stuff"

Hey it's the holidays right? A present to my self.

I am looking for suggestions on panels and low cost place to buy

I am looking for 2 panels 185-205 in size

Also if any has the name of a reputable installer in las vegas or near there

Thanks
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Old 12-05-2010, 11:00 AM   #151
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Sorry - I should have also mentioned that the power controller I am putting in will use solar direct to the inverter if the batteries are fully charged, and the solar can handle the drain. It seems to me that there is a real advantage in such a system to slightly overspec the solar so that it can bypass the batteries if they are not needed.

1ciderdog, it seems that there is definitely a problem if the charger is not overspeced too, and I would not skimp on that piece of hardware. I will have gel batteries which I am told need a lower voltage to charge, and that seemed to be one of HandyBob's main beefs, which was that most systems don't get the voltage high enough to fully charge the battery banks.

I'm not exactly sure how you are planning to set this up, but there should be no need to complicate things for direct wiring your solar to the loads. A good controller will automatically deliver the proper current needed to the system based on the voltage levels.

Start with a fully charged battery pack. Any normal load will begin lowering voltage levels below the battery's float level of about 13.2. Lets say you are using 5 amps, then the controller will let 5 additional amps in from the solar array. When the load is removed, the voltage will again rise and the controller will automatically begin cutting the current.

In practical use, it's pretty hard to produce alot more amp-hours than you are going to take out. Especially if you are boondocking. I live 100% off the grid in my RV, and even with all lots of conservation measures such as LED lighting, LED TV, small netbook compter, and Catalytic Heaters (no fan), I still produce just enough solar to keep up in normal use. And that's with a 200 watt panel in the sunny desert.

I have yet to even need a controller, though I do watch my system throughout the day. If you want a park-it-and-forget-it system, you will of course need one. But no need to overthink it, methinks.

If you haven't bought the batteries yet, I'd suggest going wet-cell deep cycle rather than gel cell, unless you have to lay them on their side or something. For the same amount of money, you will get MUCH more capacity. They will also last longer as more capacity means means they won't be discharged as much. Controllers for this type are cheaper too. The only downside, is occasional topping off of water, but if you really want, you can get an automatic watering system.

I have 4 120AH (480 AH, or 5 Kilowatts) deep-cycles, and they cost me under $250. I'd never get that kind of capacity with gel cells. They will last for years, because they rarely go below 70% discharge. Start taking any battery below 50% regularly, and you may get only a year out of it, if that. IN the solar game, total capacity and hence, depth of discharge, are the starting points for a long-lasting, satisfying system IMHO.
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Old 12-05-2010, 11:55 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by computerguy View Post
I am ready to order my "stuff"

Hey it's the holidays right? A present to my self.

I am looking for suggestions on panels and low cost place to buy

I am looking for 2 panels 185-205 in size

Also if any has the name of a reputable installer in las vegas or near there

Thanks
Yes...check with Solar Panels 97/W, PV Systems $1.83/W FIRST!. This is where I got my panels, and they work great. You won't find anything cheaper on the net. I have personally visited their
operation when I picked up my solar, and they are the real deal. Real environmental types committed to solar.

I was at the Miami depot, but they have one in Arizona too that I will be visiting in a few months to get more panels. That is close enough to Vegas to drive down!

For what it worth, my panel is the Sun SUN-SV-195, and it puts out MORE than it's spec. Very happy with it for the price.
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:41 PM   #153
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Sorry, I don't want to be argumentative but I don't believe I said or even suggested the charger or any part should be over or under specked. What I said is "to me the only potential problem with to much solar panel power is the potential to overcharge the batteries even with a good controller". Instead of overcharge I should have clarified the potential for the fluid to slowly evaporate and to not forget the need to top off batteries if you have a solar charge going into the batteries. Even with a good quality three stage inverter/controller batteries will be warm and can create evaporation over a period of time. You cannot maintain the system if you are away from it for a lengthy period of time. I live off grid, have six 150 watt panels, Outback controller, Zantac 4840 inverter/converter and 16 six volt L16 batteries with an autostart backup generator. I suspect this is a more complicated system than most persons would want in a RV. Solar systems are not maintenance free and as I learned perhaps should be shut down if not in use for extended periods of time.
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:57 PM   #154
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Wow, I haven't read the whole thread or Bobs whole blog yet, but the 2 hours I've put into it so far have been great. I've purchased plans on building my own panels and will likely go that route. Really looking forward to reading this discussion and implementing a Solar system on my coach.
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