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Old 04-08-2017, 02:49 PM   #1
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All Done ... Installed Solar

Hi,

in preparation of a big trip in my 2004 Great West Vans Class B, knowing I'll be hitting much hotter temps, than I would normally, I did the following:
  • Purchased an ARB 35 qrt 12V compressor fridge/freezer - expensive but very impressive
  • Ran a new 12V Line and plug for the ARB direct from the house batteries
  • Installed a flexible solar panel and charge controller

Yes, I have a 3-way Dometic fridge but have had a tough time maintaining internal temps below 41 F a couple of times, resulting in having to throw out food. Since I will be going to both the Grand Canyon and Death Valley when day-time temps will average 100 F, I decided the ARB is a better choice.

Now, I do have a 100 W Renogy portable solar kit (it works well) but wanted to be able to continuously charge the batteries while away on hikes or in parking lots. Just installed the additional panel on the roof today and finalized the charge controller install. It works great and, now, I have the option of adding the Renogy for a total of 200 W. All purchased off of Amazon.

I have dual 110 AH AGM batteries, so 100 W does the job of re-charging during the day time - 200 W is a bonus. All the interior light bulbs were replaced with LEDs so essentially all I need to typically run are the fantastic fan, lights, 12V TV, furnace, etc. Not a huge drain on the AGMs.

Figuring out where to run the new 12V cables was a challenge but managed to do that and include separate fuses in-line that are relatively easy to get to if one blows.

One challenge that proved to be easier than I thought was the high-top is actually two separate fiberglass shells (exterior and ceiling with insulation in between) ... I thought the gap might be 3 - 4 inches but was only 1 inch so drilling through it was not a problem. Was able to run the cabling such that it is all hidden out of sight. Holes sealed with Dicor.
Cheers,

Steve
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:51 PM   #2
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Solar is definitely the way to go. You really have very little amp/hr storage for someone that wants to use solar as much as possible.

Do you have a quality meter/shunt so you know for sure what is happening to your batteries?
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:03 PM   #3
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Hi,

so went on the trip from Toronto out to Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California and back home. Gone for over 3 weeks and never plugged in to 110VAC. Never had to run the generator to charge the batteries.

Solar panels allowed the batteries to re-charge OK even when running the 12V fridge/freezer and fantastic fan. Even had to run the furnace a few nights.

As I suspected, the absorption fridge couldn't handle the temps and was too high for perishable food so only kept drinks in the Dometic. The ARB is where everything stayed at safe temps ... so much so, that I was able to have frozen popsicles in Death Valley (that was a treat).

Cheers,

Steve
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Old 06-28-2017, 06:51 PM   #4
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What made you choose the ARB?

We have a Dometic 2351 that is not performing. I'm trying to decide which brand and model would be a better choice.
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:37 AM   #5
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Hi Interblog,

I chose the ARB after watching many Youtube reviews of it. Yes, it is on the pricey side but it is very efficient and is very quiet. It outperformed my absorption fridge in the heat of the US south west by a long shot. Kept the frozen food frozen and the perishables around 37 F.

I'm looking at purchasing a new RV and won't consider absorption fridges anymore ... sometimes leveling the RV can be a challenge and it was the only way the Dometic would have a chance of staying cool. This is not an issue with compressor fridges.

I believe Dometic have a compressor fridge for sale but don't know how efficient or quiet it would be ... I saw it at an RV show and is a comparable size to the ARB and less expensive so may be a good item to consider. Top opening fridges also help keep the cool air inside, as opposed to the side opening ones (the most common).

Cheers,

Steve
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Old 08-01-2017, 06:30 AM   #6
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Update

Hi,

to compliment the solar, I purchased two 12V Lithium, 50AH (100AH total) batteries. Practical use of the ARB fridge plus typical use of some other low power electronics will result in the batteries being depleted by 50% overnight. Bear in mind that I am not using any form of inverter - all power used in the RV is strictly 12V DC.

The solar panels are able to fully recharge during the daytime even while continously running my fantastic fan plus the ARB. Another practical observation was when my batteries are at 50%, running the engine at idle will recharge them back to 100% in about 30 minutes.

When replacing the "old" AGM batteries, the weight of the Lithiums was noticeably less. The physical size between the AGMs and Lithiums are the same since the company designs them as a drop-in replacement.

This completes the upgrade for my power system in my "old" RV.

Cheers,

Steve
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Old 08-04-2017, 06:55 PM   #7
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Which lithium batteries did you buy?

ronspradley
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Old 08-04-2017, 07:04 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Solar Group!!

Once I got my system set up the way I wanted it, I had to refer to my notes to remember what all I had. It just works. Love it.
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Old 08-05-2017, 09:04 AM   #9
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Hi, I do not want to promote the company I purchased the Lithiums from. Although the batteries are performing as expected, I had way too much hassle getting my batteries delivered after paying for them. This company has a F rating with the BBB.

I am in my RV for these next three days and it is rainy and cloudy. Currently just using my roof top 100 W panel and will see what SOC I have later in the day.

Cheers,

Steve
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