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Old 04-13-2014, 08:41 AM   #29
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The fridge is the stock one and runs off gas or 110. So a curious question is all the normal 110 outlets are around the inside of the coach. Does the inverter supply power to all of those? Since I can't see the plug in for the fridge would I have to find it to unplug it and plug it into another outlet across the room? I can't imagine that is how it would work. Someone want to enlighten me. Great info on the Bob blog and I don't have a clue how electricity works but it seems he does. Ideally I would like to start solar power with a minimal expense but be able to add panels as needed, so plan for growth if necessary.

Hi awolsmith,

I may have missed it but I am not seeing any mention of what RV you have. I have an older class A and none of my 110 volt outlets are connected to an inverter. I understand the newer units have everything from none, to one/couple, to all.

I now seem to have enough excess power from solar that running the refrigerator during the sunny part of the day is possible so I am looking into this same issue. Given my scenario, it seems that moving the refrigerator 110 volt plug from the 110 volt outlet (shore power or generator) to an inverter is the easiest option though certainly not convenient. Using an inverter with a remote switch would be helpful. I **think** all other options require some additional expense/complexity (switches/relays) or possibly just powering the entire 110 volt electrical system with the inverter. Not sure, still researching and learning. Would love to hear input from an expert.

Regarding the "inconvenient" option above. This isn't too bad for me. The refrigerator plus is accessed from the outside thru the refrigerator access panel. Since I am rarely on shore power, it would seem that I would only need to swap the plug once in a blue moon (or less).
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Old 04-13-2014, 08:48 AM   #30
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Since I can't see the plug in for the fridge
Have you opened the fridge exterior access panel outside your rig? That is where the outlet is and where the fridge is plugged in. This outlet will probably on your non-gfi receptacles circuit.

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Old 04-13-2014, 08:56 AM   #31
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I **think** all other options require some additional expense/complexity (switches/relays) or possibly just powering the entire 110 volt electrical system with the inverter. Not sure, still researching and learning. Would love to hear input from an expert.
I just learned that this is what an inverter with built in transfer switch is designed to accomplish. When 110V shore/generator power is available, the inverter just passes it thru. When not available, it inverts 12V power. Nice!!
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:52 AM   #32
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depends what you're using for. I have 2 panels of about 300 watts that provides about 25-27 amphrs input over day of good sun, enough to almost fully recharge my batteries. You can install yourself with panels, wiring and controller. great for dry camping without need for generator.
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Old 04-13-2014, 06:55 PM   #33
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so it sounds like there is an option to move all the 110 outlets to this power distro box that converts solar, shore power or generator without plugging and unplugging devices? I know my last coach had a inverter that the tv was plugged in so when dry camping we could watch tv for a short time. I didn't know how it was wired so I never took it out when I sold it.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:16 AM   #34
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so it sounds like there is an option to move all the 110 outlets to this power distro box that converts solar, shore power or generator without plugging and unplugging devices?

Well… not exactly or maybe, I dunno. I wish an expert would chime in here because I are not one. This thread seems pretty good and may be helpful to you.

First off, anything is possible - it just takes a proper design and/or lots of cash. Such a box may exist, I do not know. I'm a cheapskate so don't pay any attention to the multi-thousand dollar devices (which this sounds like it would be). Inverters with transfer switches are not cheap, make it big enough to power the entire coach and it is way out of my price range ($1k or more). I think the approach to consider is a sub panel as described in the thread that I referenced above.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:22 AM   #35
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A couple years ago we spent a week in Smokey Mountain National Park. No hook ups. Probably ran our batteries down further than we should have. It was cold and we were using heat, etc. This was our first trip in our TT.
Anyway we started to think about solar as well. After doing a lot of reading we couldn't really answer the first question. How much electricity do we use?
We are not heavy users, so I decided to just jump in.

I picked up
  • 2 - 145w poly panels from DMsolar on Amazon for $320 w/shipping.
  • a Sunforce 12v, 30a charge controller on ebay for around $25. Some guy had a bunch he got from a failed solar business.
  • cables and connectors were also purchased on ebay or Amazon. $?
  • Probably the most important thing was a Trimetric battery monitor. $125. It tells you how much is going in and going out of batteries.
  • a water proof electrical box. charge controller and shunt went inside.
  • and a shunt. What's a shunt? A heavy brass thing for the Trimetric.
  • a set of molded plastic solar panel mounts.
I didn't really want to permanently mount the panels to the roof, cause I'm not sure how long we'll have this TT. (I'm eying this National class A right now) At this point I didn't want to put holes in my TT for wires. I made a A-frame stand for each panel and I had the mounts. I could put the panels on the roof using the mounts and let gravity hold them in place, or I could use the home made stands if my spot was shady.

We tried it out on a week long trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. No hook ups all week. We had a fairly sunny spot, so the panels went on the roof. We had some rainy weather but not enough wind that I thought I needed to get them off the roof. They were held on by gravity.

The idiot battery lights showed we were fully charged every day when the sun went down. The Trimetric showed we were losing ground every day, but it was enough to get us through the week.

I believe the week link in my system is the batteries(2-12rv batteries), and possibly the charge controller.

Oh, one other thing I did was I purchased a good battery charger. Black and Decker smart battery charger. I reconditioned the batteries before I left. If I learned one thing from Handy Bob is that typically we don't charge our batteries fully.

All in all is was a great learning experience and it really wasn't that expensive. Probably around $600 - $700. I'll be tweaking it as I learn more.

I have to say again. We are not heavy users. We don't have an inverter. This gave us lights, music and charged up our electronics.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:18 PM   #36
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I took a look and our MH has a WFCO 9855 Power Converter. This is the modes which looks like it is a 3 stage.

- Nominal (Absorption Mode) 13.6 Vdc (includes charging and load)
- Boost (Bulk Mode) 14.4 Vdc
- Trickle (Float Mode) 13.2 Vdc (after 48 hrs.)

Does this mean I can have it plugged in and the "Trickle" mode could be used during the winter months while its parked for 3 months?
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:37 PM   #37
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Yes, it will float, the WFCO are made for that.
The only thing I've heard of on that brand is a higher failure rate. Or maybe that's just a rumor. LOL.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:27 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by awolsmith View Post
I took a look and our MH has a WFCO 9855 Power Converter. This is the modes which looks like it is a 3 stage.

- Nominal (Absorption Mode) 13.6 Vdc (includes charging and load)
- Boost (Bulk Mode) 14.4 Vdc
- Trickle (Float Mode) 13.2 Vdc (after 48 hrs.)

Does this mean I can have it plugged in and the "Trickle" mode could be used during the winter months while its parked for 3 months?
The WFCO's prefer the 13.6 mode. They are designed to run your 12 volt systems and could care less about your battery. Many have tested these units trying everything under the sun to get them out of the13.6 mode to no avail. They can't be forced into bulk and most have never seen float.

The Iota and Powermax units are far better (just about anything's better), I prefer the Progressive Dynamics with charge wizard as like the Iota and Powermax they will actually enter the different modes in addition you have full control over the modes. Best Converter has the PD 4600 series converter upgrades that replace the lower (converter) section of your 8900 series WFCO.

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