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Old 02-27-2014, 10:09 PM   #71
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JohnnyReno - You're correct that solar power isn't free, but after the capital expenditure it is almost (except for maintenance). But it sure is quieter than ANY genset, and stinks less too.
not bashing solar they just and or I break stuff I should say id rather break a glass of wine, and not a solar panel etc,,
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:13 PM   #72
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I am usually so blitzed I cant smell it or I move elsewhere in the CG where I don't. however I very rarely rub the bgenny too, edit for run genny sorry im blitzed
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:27 PM   #73
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What do you guys think of this one?
MPPT 20A Solar Panel Regulator Charge Controller Power Boost Remote Meter LCD | eBay

That's a 20a mppt controller with remote meter for $159. They have a 10a for $115 and 40a for $229.

This way any panel could be utilized.
Looks like a fine, cheap controller. 20A would be perfect for one panel 250W or less. Pair that with a 250W Sharp panel from Sun Electronics for $0.84 per watt and you'll have the heart of a reasonably priced system.

If you want to stick with a name brand controller try the Blue Sky SB2512iX-HV, costs $200 plus shipping. The HV means it will work with the high voltage panels.

I put the largest HV panels I could fit on my coach, panels were 1/4 the price per watt of the small 12V panels. Bought from Sun Electronics, BTW. Cheapest price per watt, very little tech help. Spent more on the MPPT charge controller than I would have with PWM. Total price was a wash and I was able to fit more watts on the roof than with the small panels.

If I were you, I'd lay out the various solutions on your roof, with the idea that you may want to expand, and let the layout help you decide which size panels to get. Same with purchasing charge controllers, if you want to expand it may be worth getting a larger controller and oversize the wiring from the roof so you can easily add on later.

A good E-meter is the TriMetric, I used one before I moved to one that works with the Blue Sky MPPT controllers I use.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:03 PM   #74
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Wow, that's a good source Stewart, and local to me. I can just go pickup.

They have Trina 240w panel for $202. They are big - 65x40, but I have room for one at the back of the unit and still walk around it. Not sure one would fit elsewhere. If I wanted to add on would I have to get the same voltage or size? I'm thinking not, just wire another into the feed line to the controller right?

Still trying to decide if I need an upgraded converter for genny charging. I probly won't need it if I setup my solar to meet my usage, right? I guess for a back up, for $150, would be smart to be able to have the generator do the same job - redundantcy is good eh?
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Old 02-28-2014, 05:04 AM   #75
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We have a single 185W 66 cell high voltage panel that is tied to a Morningstar MPPT SunSaver controller. The panel is meant for a grid tie system and in shade puts out 34V and gives usable current from sun up to sun down. It is attached to the Filon roof using ABS plastic mounts with 3M VHB tape (no holes). This was carefully calculated with the help of a 3M engineer to withstand wind load and has withstood wind speeds in excess of 150 MPH. When you are spending how many hundreds of dollars on batteries it makes no sense to cheap out on a solar controller. The Morningstar is internationally respected, programmable using a computer interface, just plain works right and they have great customer service. A swamp cooler works fine where it is dry but is totally useless where there is humidity i.e. 90 degrees 90% humidity which is what we run into in the mid west.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:11 AM   #76
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We have a single 185W 66 cell high voltage panel that is tied to a Morningstar MPPT SunSaver controller. The panel is meant for a grid tie system and in shade puts out 34V and gives usable current from sun up to sun down. It is attached to the Filon roof using ABS plastic mounts with 3M VHB tape (no holes). This was carefully calculated with the help of a 3M engineer to withstand wind load and has withstood wind speeds in excess of 150 MPH. When you are spending how many hundreds of dollars on batteries it makes no sense to cheap out on a solar controller. The Morningstar is internationally respected, programmable using a computer interface, just plain works right and they have great customer service. A swamp cooler works fine where it is dry but is totally useless where there is humidity i.e. 90 degrees 90% humidity which is what we run into in the mid west.
There are some 66 cell panels around at a really low per-watt cost. A local supplier here has a pallet of 250w panels for $165. I just pick one up, can't recall the brand, but are a-grade poly panels. I have room for at least one but might be able to fit one more if I needed it down the road.

What are you using for a meter/indicator?
More info on abs mounts?'
I do see Morningstar and Bluesky pop up a lot. How do you choose the amp rating for a high volt panel? Which model do you have?

Our humidity is rarely above 30%. Desert camping is usually less than 10.
I dunno though, those stupid swamp coolers cost like $500. Seems like a lot for a 'swamp'. LOL.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:16 AM   #77
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Wow, that's a good source Stewart, and local to me. I can just go pickup.

They have Trina 240w panel for $202. They are big - 65x40, but I have room for one at the back of the unit and still walk around it. Not sure one would fit elsewhere. If I wanted to add on would I have to get the same voltage or size? I'm thinking not, just wire another into the feed line to the controller right?

Still trying to decide if I need an upgraded converter for genny charging. I probly won't need it if I setup my solar to meet my usage, right? I guess for a back up, for $150, would be smart to be able to have the generator do the same job - redundantcy is good eh?
Charge controllers work less optimally when you have different voltage panels connected in parallel to them. To add a different voltage panel I'd run a second set of wires from the roof, thru a new charge controller to the batteries. You'll pretty much max out the 20A controller with the 240W panel anyway.

I personally would install the multistage converter, as you said it's cheap insurance. We camp in Winter and under trees here in the Northeast and do need to use the generator to supplement solar during those short days and when the Sun is not out.
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:28 AM   #78
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I found the ABS mounts offered by a European dealer who would not sell to the US so I went looking for the manufacturer in China and imported a set. I used two of the longer side rails and four corners that are now being offered on Ebay Instapark ZJ35B Drill Free Solar Panel Roof Mount Rack Rail Bracket Support Kit | eBay There are solar controllers and there are solar controllers and one of the problems/advantages is the high voltage which I have seen at 70+V with no load and Morningstar was the one I could find at a decent price that would handle that voltage. The Sunsaver was enough for the single panel. Morningstar now offers a 30A MPPT controller. I have the Morningstar RM1 meter but found it fairly useless so bought a Victron BMV-600S series - Victron Energy Easy to set up and I now have it to display the SOC. One of the big advantages to the Morningstar controllers is that they can be hooked up to a computer to program them or retrieve performance data. If it were me I would snag a couple of those panels.
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Old 03-01-2014, 09:12 AM   #79
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Hey those instapark racks are pretty cool. They look good and no holes is great. How does the panel lock into them? Is there a lip that clips over the top of the frame?
Looks like they are available white too - seller is just up the hiway from me here for $50 a set: Instapark ZJ34W Drill Free Solar Panel Roof Mount Rack Rail Bracket Support Kit | eBay


The victron meter looks just like the old xantrex e-meter. Good price on them, $150 or so.

So, Morningstar MPPT? It looks like with the full size panels you need something that will handle the 100-150 volts as some of them are 48v and spike?

I'm also thinking that a target recharge of 80a or so for a day might work for my 6v pair, so maybe 200w of 12v's won't be quite enough if they are just putting out 5-6ah each. I may start there and see how it does.

I ordered a Iota DLS-45 with the IQ thingy yesterday from AZ sun and wind - best price on the net - $152 shipped. They also have a lot of good equipment at good prices. Also found another local seller to me for panels here: www.solarblvd.com
They have poly 66 cell 230w panels for $174 pick up at store. I just found 235w mono Sharp panels here for $203: http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panel...duct_info.html

Tell me about controller amp rating- do I need one rated for more than 15a to get full output from my panels? Sounds like I should be looking for about 30a rating?
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Old 03-02-2014, 06:13 AM   #80
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The mounts are bolted to the panel I used theft resistant SS 1/4 bolts and drilled and tapped the panel to fit the screw. The location shrouds the screw/bolt head making it difficult to get at them with say a vice grip. One of the things you have to be careful of is the voltage that the controller can handle when using high voltage panels which was the reason I chose the Morningstar. The amp rating needs to be more than what you generate with the panel and if you do not have a good base line as to what you actually use you are flying blind. This is one of the reasons for a battery monitor, perhaps even before you get the panel. We now have two Morningstar Sunsaver 15A controllers, the 30A is only recently available. There two parts of this equation and one of them is conservation. We have all LED lights use propane for making coffee (french press) cooking... and have only a 300W Morningstar inverter which occasionally powers the TV/DVD and the Maha battery charger and camera battery charger and laptop. One caution, follow the 3M directions for using VHB tape to the letter there isn't much that bothers me more than picturing a 3'X5' solar panel sailing off the roof at 65 MPH.
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Old 03-02-2014, 07:42 AM   #81
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Another highly reputable MPPT controller is Midnight Solar. They just released the "Kid" a 30 amp unit that can be paralleled with a second one down the road if necessary. Shy away from Bluesky, their "high voltage" controller is not high voltage compared to Morningstar and Midnight.

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Old 03-02-2014, 08:40 AM   #82
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I saw earlier mention of Renogy product and wondered what experience any of you had with them. They certainly have good prices for parts and they are just up the hiway from me a bit - easy to just go there and pickup components.
CJBROWN: We use the Renogy products largely due to the investment that they made in me as a potential customer. I had sent my system requirements to several of the big name RV solar companies and Renogy's response was far above the rest. My system was a little bit larger than what they advertise on their website, so they had some concerns. First about the MPPT CC I had spec'd. Second about the unusual configuration. So THEY OFFERED to build my system, as spec'd, in their California parking lot, and in full sun tested the output metrics for me. They sent the results to me in Colorado -- including the PV configuration that they recommended. That is what I bought from them!

It was beyond-the-call-of-duty as far as I was concerned. And I got a glimpse into the way Renogy takes care of customers through these two guys in their lab who helped me from 1000 miles away. I have not had any problems with the system, but if I do, I am confident of the support I will get from them.

I guess that is a lot of words to say that I have had a good experience with Renogy products and support. And I love the endless power from the sun (well, every 12 hours or so)!

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Old 03-02-2014, 04:38 PM   #83
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CJBROWN: We use the Renogy products largely due to the investment that they made in me as a potential customer. I had sent my system requirements to several of the big name RV solar companies and Renogy's response was far above the rest. My system was a little bit larger than what they advertise on their website, so they had some concerns. First about the MPPT CC I had spec'd. Second about the unusual configuration. So THEY OFFERED to build my system, as spec'd, in their California parking lot, and in full sun tested the output metrics for me. They sent the results to me in Colorado -- including the PV configuration that they recommended. That is what I bought from them!

It was beyond-the-call-of-duty as far as I was concerned. And I got a glimpse into the way Renogy takes care of customers through these two guys in their lab who helped me from 1000 miles away. I have not had any problems with the system, but if I do, I am confident of the support I will get from them.

I guess that is a lot of words to say that I have had a good experience with Renogy products and support. And I love the endless power from the sun (well, every 12 hours or so)!

\ken
I agree Renogy is what I installed for my system last year on my 2014 Entegra Aspire 44U. I have two 20Amp controllers and four 100 watt panels going to four lifeline AGM batteries @ 600 amp hours
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:55 PM   #84
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Hi All!
Just noticed someone posted a link to my SECOND set of Solar Articles. The First ones are much more basic and cover the research and development of my Original solar charging system.

The SECOND set of articles covers the replacement of the failed (poorly designed, manufactured in china) panels.

The basic system is STILL working, without any real changes except the new panels that are a bit more efficient.

The original series of articles can be seen here:

WanderMan: A Better Solar Charging Mouse Trap.PART 1

if you're interested in the semi-flexible 3MM thick replacment panels look at the Second series of Articles here:

WanderMan: New Solar - Better Than The Old Solar - PART 1

I am a great believer in solar for boondocking! I've done my best to come up with ways of using whatever power I have to supply my needs in almost every situation. I cover most of it somewhere in one or more articles.

Solar works!

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