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Old 01-21-2021, 11:44 AM   #1
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Upgrading Solar

Hi All. I'm thinking of upgrading the pre-installed solar wiring in my Arctic Fox 25Y. I spoke with Northwoods and they indicate that the pre-installed wiring is 8AWG and can handle up to 560 watts of solar. That's great but the pre-installed wiring/cables for the solar charge controller is next to my entertainment center which is about 14 to 15 feet from the batteries. For now I'm installing 400 watts with 40 amp MPPT charge controller connected to (2)6v 229ah flooded batteries. Two questions, should I just go with the pre-installed wiring or install new wiring? If I install new wiring I would like to relocate everything to the under bed storage. For the short term I probably will leave the batteries on the tongue but eventually switch to lithium and move those under the bed as well. So the big question, does anyone have any experience or suggestions upgrading the wiring/cables to the under bed storage and the most efficient route from the roof?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:05 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RHAF25Y View Post
Hi All. I'm thinking of upgrading the pre-installed solar wiring in my Arctic Fox 25Y. I spoke with Northwoods and they indicate that the pre-installed wiring is 8AWG and can handle up to 560 watts of solar. That's great but the pre-installed wiring/cables for the solar charge controller is next to my entertainment center which is about 14 to 15 feet from the batteries. For now I'm installing 400 watts with 40 amp MPPT charge controller connected to (2)6v 229ah flooded batteries. Two questions, should I just go with the pre-installed wiring or install new wiring? If I install new wiring I would like to relocate everything to the under bed storage. For the short term I probably will leave the batteries on the tongue but eventually switch to lithium and move those under the bed as well. So the big question, does anyone have any experience or suggestions upgrading the wiring/cables to the under bed storage and the most efficient route from the roof?

Thanks in advance.
Don't know about the route of the wire you should take, sorry. However, if you wire the panels in series, which is actually not the preferred way in my opinion but it works, you will reduce the current through the wire significantly and you can use a much smaller wire as long as your charge controller can handle the voltage. If you are going to have no shade on your panels (or portions of panels) then series should work just fine. Just a thought to help in your planning.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:26 PM   #3
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Upgrading Solar

Thank you Ed. My thoughts exactly going with series wiring. This will probably get me by just fine until I get more serious.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:31 PM   #4
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I have a 2011 model year 26X. I recently did some battery modifications.

On my trailer the solar wires go to a cavity behind the radio/CD player, and from there forward to the tongue. The factory said they did that because people put the solar controller near the radio (or entertainment center, since there is a TV also). Yes, it is a long ways from there to the batteries on the tongue and you will lose voltage. That seems to be an issue for lithium batteries, since you need all of the voltage in order to top off the batteries.

If I was doing this I would splice the solar wires and put the controller right next to the batteries. Voltage drop from the panels to the controller is not as much of an issue as is voltage drop between the controller and the batteries.

I was able to make space for two 100 AH Battleborne batteries under the bed, and tied them into the electrical system fairly easily. It took a little tweaking of the wires in the junction box near the tongue. The fuse box is under the bed, so connections were really easy.

Part of my system was a Victron BMV-712, and I planned to put the display at the entertainment center. I was able to fish a string down through a cabinet wall, exiting under some drawers so it cannot be seen. I found what appears to be a longitudinal route in the floor framing back to the bed, again starting under the drawers. Access was easy - pulling the drawers out gave me plenty of access. If you have a fireplace you might not be so lucky.

I never did actually pull the wire, so I donít know how well it would have worked. It sure looked like it was feasible, though.

I found that the Bluetooth connection to the monitor was more convenient than was the display, so I left the display under the bed.

Then I moved the lithium batteries to a new trailer and taped a ďFor SaleĒ sign on the Arctic Fox trailer.

I have some pictures of the interior if those would be helpful, and photo documentation of my changes if that would be helpful. Unfortunately for me I still have the trailer too.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:47 PM   #5
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Upgrading Solar

Thank you very much for your detailed response. The Northwood factory gave me the exact same answer as to the location near the radio.

So, if I understand, you're suggesting I splice into the solar panel wires at the entertainment center and route the extension to the under bed storage (no fireplace). Then route new battery wires from the junction box under the tongue to the under bed storage. This sounds like a fine plan.

Question, this would require removing the paneling under the trailer to access and route the wires/cables?

Congratulations on your new trailer and good luck selling your 26X. In this market you should have no problems selling.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:51 PM   #6
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The wire from the controller to the battery bank matters more than the wire from the roof to the controller. Put the controller near the batteries, but not in the lead acid battery enclosure.

Best practice would be to move the controller when you install the lithium batteries. Controller should be within 2 feet of the lithium batteries and use large gauge wire.

8 gauge wire can safely handle 50 amps. It can handle 50 amps at 6 volt, 50 amps at 12 volts, 50 amps at 24 volts, or 50 amps at 240 volts.

amps volts watts
50 6 300
50 12 600
50 24 1200
50 240 12000

However, it is more efficient to use larger gauge wire especially for longer distances. Use as few connectors or other joiners as possible for efficiency.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:55 PM   #7
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Facing the same issue, I ran my solar cables down thru a vent cap, that I installed for that purpose. I accessed an interior wall and built a jig that would fit at the top of the wall, then drilled a pilot hole thru the center of the jig. Using double faced tape, secured the jig at the top of the wall and drilled up, through the roof. I cut the rubber roof with an razor blade using a hole saw as a template, then cut thru the roof from the top with the same hole saw. The hole saw matched the outside diameter of the pvc pipe I was using, which also was the correct size for the vent cover I was using. The vent cover use is show below. I then glued a coupling onto the pvc pipe and cut the coupling off leaving about a 1/4" on the pipe, this formed a stop. Using a file rounded over the pipe and coupling so that no sharp edges remained. Then attached the roof vent base to the roof, placed the pvc pipe thru the roof vent which was held in place with the "coupling ring" ran my electrical cables through the pvc and covered the hole with the vent cap. I sealed the installation and never had an issue with this installation. It has been several years since this install and I no longer own the coach, thus I can not furnish a picture. A picture of the vent cap used: NUSET RV032-33 White RV Roof Vent Caps - RV Roof Vent Cover (Amazon)
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Old 01-21-2021, 12:57 PM   #8
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Upgrading Solar

Paul, this is very helpful. Thank you for your response. I believe with everyone's help my short term and long term plans are coming together.
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Old 01-21-2021, 01:03 PM   #9
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Very nice. I like the vent cap strategy. The challenge, of course, is finding a reasonable route from the roof to the under bed storage.
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Old 01-21-2021, 02:31 PM   #10
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I assumed you didn't need to run new wire through the roof but if you do that, they make very nice roof penetration fittings for solar cable specific to that use.
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Old 01-21-2021, 02:53 PM   #11
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Upgrading Solar

If I use the 25Y's pre-installed wiring no new wiring necessary. At least for the solar panels I can use the existing wiring and just extend it to the under bed storage. That is if I can route the wiring. However, I'll need to add all new battery wires from the tongue to the under bed storage. The mystery is what will I encounter when I remove the panels from the underside of the trailer to gain access. Thoughts?
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Old 01-21-2021, 07:27 PM   #12
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So, if I understand, you're suggesting I splice into the solar panel wires at the entertainment center and route the extension to the under bed storage (no fireplace). Then route new battery wires from the junction box under the tongue to the under bed storage. This sounds like a fine plan.

Question, this would require removing the paneling under the trailer to access and route the wires/cables?

Thanks again.
Perhaps not exactly. If you put new Lithium batteries under the bed, then put your solar controller there. If you are keeping the lead-acid batteries on the tongue, splice the wires and put the controller near those batteries.

My point was that running fairly light wire from a solar controller in the middle of your camper to the tongue will not help you charge batteries.

In my camper the wires from the controller location ran to the batteries. (For nearly 10 years I kept those wires connected to batteries without knowing what they were for, or that they were inert. That was the way it was hooked up when I picked it up at the dealership &#128527. For batteries in the tongue location, all you need to do is connect the wires under the entertainment center and find a place for your solar controller. That will save you some effort in running wires.

If you have a Bluetooth solar controller you donít really need access to it. You can consider putting the controller in the junction box. My Arctic Fox had room to do that, but my new ORV is more congested.

If you have a fish tape, you can run just over the Coroplast sheet without removing the Coroplast. Find a little gap to start the tape. Another post suggested cutting 3-sided hand-holes in the Coroplast and sealing them with Gorilla Tape. I have not tried that.
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Old 01-21-2021, 09:00 PM   #13
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JHinman, I appreciate your help. I had to chuckle when you told me about your solar cables. I did the same thing and during routine battery maintenance I notice some very small stickers attached to the cables identifying them as solar. The've been disconnected since.

I follow your advice on the light wire running from the batteries to the controller. My system recommends 8 gauge or heavier. What I am unsure of is the wire connection from the solar panels. I think you're recommending splicing into the preinstalled wires at the entertainment center and running them to my controller that will be located near the batteries. Sorry to be so thick headed.

My solar controller does have bluetooth that works with an app on my phone. As you say, you donít really need access to it.

I never thought of running my fish tape over the Coroplast sheet. That sound like an excellent idea and one I'll try before removing the Coroplast.
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Old 01-21-2021, 09:45 PM   #14
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I am sorry I am having a hard time conveying my thoughts. This seems more simple in my head than on my keyboard!

My 26X has a port on the roof for a solar panel. That wire goes to the entertainment center and stops. Another pair goes from that point forward to the battery, passing through the junction box. If you splice the wires under the entertainment center you then have a complete connection from rooftop to batteries. No need to fish wires at all.

I presume you know what I mean by the junction box.

The 8 AWG wire is adequate for the current from the solar panel, but you may get half a volt or more drop in voltage between the entertainment center and the batteries. For lithium ion batteries the controller puts out 14.4 or 14.6 volts, but the batteries see only 13.6 or 13.8 volts and therefore never reach a full charge. I am not sure how significant this is for lead-acid batteries, but I think it does have some effect on charging efficiency.

Let me be clear about one thing- I am not an electrical engineer. My comments are based on my experience and investigations for the work I have done on my trailers. Other people may jump in and correct me.

If you have questions feel free to ask. I am curious about how similar your rig is to mine.
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