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Old 08-01-2021, 04:20 PM   #1
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Winnebago Factory 10W Solar Panel Charger

I know this 10W solar panel is not going to allow me to power anything, but it does seem to provide battery charging when the coach is in storage (not at my home). I have some questions about its operation, but I can't find any information. I see that a red LED light is on indicating that it is charging and the information panel shows about 13.7v on both the chassis and coach batteries.

My questions are: Is there a controller that regulates the output according to battery voltage, or is it such a low wattage that no controller is needed?

Where does the solar panel connect to the electrical system? Does it charge both the chassis and coach batteries using the Battery Isolation Manager?

Do others with this system find that it is sufficient to keep the batteries charged during storage? When in storage, I have been going up to the motorhome every three weeks to run the generator both to charge the batteries and to exercise the generator.

Your comments would be appreciated.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:08 PM   #2
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A 10W solar panel is a marketing ploy from the '60's when batts were smaller in RVs. They only provide 0.8 amps to the batteries in the best of conditions. NO, that's not enough to keep your batts charged over the long term. Even 100W panel only outputs 8 amp.

Just do this, keep a wrench and a pair of gloves in the battery bay. When you park the rig at the storage lot, just disconnect the chassis batts ground(s) and disconnect the jumper(s) between the 6 volt battery sets. They will keep a charge that way for months.

Your rig sounds like it has very little in the way of phantom loads on the batteries so that's good, but there is still some draw. Even with the main and aux switches Off, there's still going to be some loads on the batts. Removing the grounds and jumpers prevents that. And it's very inexpensive.

There is a controller for a 10W panel and it's tiny, just 3" X 3" or so. Where they put them varies so much that it could be anywhere near that LED or the batteries. I'd not worry about it. That 0.8 amp just doesn't help that much.
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Old 08-01-2021, 07:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim_HiTek View Post
A 10W solar panel is a marketing ploy from the '60's when batts were smaller in RVs. They only provide 0.8 amps to the batteries in the best of conditions. NO, that's not enough to keep your batts charged over the long term. Even 100W panel only outputs 8 amp.

Just do this, keep a wrench and a pair of gloves in the battery bay. When you park the rig at the storage lot, just disconnect the chassis batts ground(s) and disconnect the jumper(s) between the 6 volt battery sets. They will keep a charge that way for months.

Your rig sounds like it has very little in the way of phantom loads on the batteries so that's good, but there is still some draw. Even with the main and aux switches Off, there's still going to be some loads on the batts. Removing the grounds and jumpers prevents that. And it's very inexpensive.

There is a controller for a 10W panel and it's tiny, just 3" X 3" or so. Where they put them varies so much that it could be anywhere near that LED or the batteries. I'd not worry about it. That 0.8 amp just doesn't help that much.
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Old 08-02-2021, 04:11 AM   #4
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My unit has a stock factory solar panel.

Your Question:
"Do others with this system find that it is sufficient to keep the batteries charged during storage? When in storage, I have been going up to the motorhome every three weeks to run the generator both to charge the batteries and to exercise the generator."

This panel has always kept my Coach batteries at peak charge during non-use.
Even when the 'Safety Switch' is 'ON'.
Constant reading of 13.7v when charging.

However, my unit is set up NOT to charge the Engine battery via Solar panel.
This must be done using a 'Trickle charger' plugged into a 110v source.

You may also check to see if your unit charges BOTH the Coach battery AND the Engine battery when the motor is running.
My unit has a CO (continuous operation) solenoid that connects the charging current from the alternator to the Coach batteries when the engine is running.
Check out your wiring diagram. These solenoids frequently fail due to oxidation build-up on the contacts. I have removed mine and took it apart and cleaned all the contacts. Works perfect now.
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Old 08-02-2021, 06:21 AM   #5
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I agree with winnie32v. The small solar panel keeps the 2 house batteries right at 13.7V. We donít routinely use much battery power however. Looks inconsequential but it is functional.
It does not charge the chassis battery.
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Old 08-02-2021, 10:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winnie32v View Post
2001 Winnebago Adventurer 32V

My unit has a stock factory solar panel.

Your Question:
"Do others with this system find that it is sufficient to keep the batteries charged during storage? When in storage, I have been going up to the motorhome every three weeks to run the generator both to charge the batteries and to exercise the generator."

This panel has always kept my Coach batteries at peak charge during non-use.
Even when the 'Safety Switch' is 'ON'.
Constant reading of 13.7v when charging.

However, my unit is set up NOT to charge the Engine battery via Solar panel.
This must be done using a 'Trickle charger' plugged into a 110v source.

You may also check to see if your unit charges BOTH the Coach battery AND the Engine battery when the motor is running.
My unit has a CO (continuous operation) solenoid that connects the charging current from the alternator to the Coach batteries when the engine is running.
Check out your wiring diagram. These solenoids frequently fail due to oxidation build-up on the contacts. I have removed mine and took it apart and cleaned all the contacts. Works perfect now.
As I mentioned in my original post, my panel shows 13.7v on both chassis and coach batteries, so I assume the solar panel is charging both.

To answer your question, I'm quite sure that both batteries are charging when the engine is running.

Just to be safe, I think I will take the advice of Jim_hiTek and disconnect my batteries when in storage for long periods. The coach batteries are very accessible, but the chassis batteries are inboard of the coach batteries and hard to get at. I know disconnecting batteries works because I leave a car all winter without driving it and it starts in the spring.
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Old 08-03-2021, 08:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Algonquin View Post
As I mentioned in my original post, my panel shows 13.7v on both chassis and coach batteries, so I assume the solar panel is charging both.

To answer your question, I'm quite sure that both batteries are charging when the engine is running.

Just to be safe, I think I will take the advice of Jim_hiTek and disconnect my batteries when in storage for long periods. The coach batteries are very accessible, but the chassis batteries are inboard of the coach batteries and hard to get at. I know disconnecting batteries works because I leave a car all winter without driving it and it starts in the spring.
You can install this nice switch: Vypart Switch 200 amp

Has a cover so it could, if necessary, just hang from the wiring.
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Old 08-10-2021, 10:55 PM   #8
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I have the same setup in my 02 Adventurer 35u. It helps keep the batteries topped off while in storage but my question is what are the possibilities of putting a larger panel up there to take advantage of newer technology and get more juice?

Whatís that look like? Iím assuming that I canít just replace the 10 watt panel with a 190 watt panel just like that?
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Old 08-10-2021, 11:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Daddypez View Post
I have the same setup in my 02 Adventurer 35u. It helps keep the batteries topped off while in storage but my question is what are the possibilities of putting a larger panel up there to take advantage of newer technology and get more juice?

What’s that look like? I’m assuming that I can’t just replace the 10 watt panel with a 190 watt panel just like that?
Not likely would you be able to just replace the panel with a bigger one. The wiring won't be beefy enough and the controller that converts the output of the solar panel to the appropriate voltage wouldn't be able to handle the current.

So you're looking at new wiring installation, a new bigger controller somewhere, then the umbilical from the controller to an appropriate place inside the RV where you can monitor the condition of the system.

Gets real expensive real quick. Always best to consider having pros install it too.
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Old 08-13-2021, 04:19 PM   #10
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To answer your questions -

1> There is no solar controller for the roof top 10w solar panel. Instead it connects into the main power panel through a few diodes, where it can then activate the red solar charging lamp.

2> Power then goes to the under-step set of 12v breakers - located in up and behind the under-step battery bay. You should see a set of breakers there, one of which shoudl be labeled "Solar"

3> You can download a complete electrical diagram from the Winnebago site. May be hard to read and decipher, but it shows the 10w solar output wired through the breaker directly to one side of the main 12v power solenoid. The theory was apparently to use this 10 w to help keep your house batteries charged up.

However - but - in our experience it is not the house batteries we are concerned about when parked for long periods - it is the engine battery which needs help. )The house batteries are constantly re-charged by a large solar system, etc) So I simply moved that 1 wire over a few inches to the engine battery connect solenoid so that what ever power the 10w panel can put out now goes directly to the engines battery - which it helps keep charged OK as long as we have sufficient solar hitting the panel.
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Old 08-14-2021, 08:32 AM   #11
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Thanks Our05winneba. I am the original poster. It makes sense there is no controller for the tiny 10w panel. Our coach is a diesel, so the batteries are in the rear. Unlike your unit, our solar panel seems to be charging both the coach and chassis batteries because the control panel shows approximately 13.5v for both sets of batteries. I have studied the wiring drawings, but they show very little of the solar panel wiring.
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Old 08-14-2021, 09:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Algonquin View Post
Thanks Our05winneba. Unlike your unit, our solar panel seems to be charging both the coach and chassis batteries because the control panel shows approximately 13.5v for both sets of batteries. I have studied the wiring drawings, but they show very little of the solar panel wiring.
The previous owner may have installed aTrik L Start asmany have as we did also on our 2005 Journey to keep our chassis batteries charged from the house batteries due to winnebago not having a system in place to keep chassis batteries charged whether from shore or solar power until 2006 (there was that capability on winnes very highest end models prior to 2006 but not their run of the mill diesel pushers)
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Old 08-14-2021, 11:28 AM   #13
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I love that idea!
I just replaced the battery mode solenoid under the steps due to the coach batteries not charging during driving. So I could easily keep the 10 watt panel and simply move the wire to the other disconnect solenoid and put a larger array in place to charge the coach batteries. Essentially 2 separate systems. Thanks for the excellent idea!
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Old 08-14-2021, 08:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winnie32v View Post
2001 Winnebago Adventurer 32V

My unit has a stock factory solar panel.

Your Question:
"Do others with this system find that it is sufficient to keep the batteries charged during storage? When in storage, I have been going up to the motorhome every three weeks to run the generator both to charge the batteries and to exercise the generator."

This panel has always kept my Coach batteries at peak charge during non-use.
Even when the 'Safety Switch' is 'ON'.
Constant reading of 13.7v when charging.
Same here with a 2002 Adventurer 32v. The stock solar panel has kept my house batteries charged all year, including last winter when stored outside in a cold NY winter.

I hit the 12v kill switch so I donít have anything draining the batteries. The panel still always shows ďchargingĒ even when switch is in off position. I would stop by and would check on it about every other week and usually fire up the generator once and a while. Batteries worked flawlessly all winter.
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