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Old 06-18-2021, 09:11 AM   #1
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Renegade Solar Panel Install - Mike Mas

Hello Renegade Owners - For the minimal cost of a solar panel upgrade, it might be one of the best improvements for your coach. Now that all Renegades are equipped standard with a 110 volt refrigerator drawing 3-6 amps or more, plus the amperage to run the inverter as well, the result is a constant draw on your house batteries. Keep in mind, even a small panel set can easily power your refrigerator and keep your house batteries topped off as well.

I recently documented my Flex Solar Panel installation on my Renegade and wanted to share the film for those who might be considering a solar system on their coach. While my panels are integrated with my lithium battery system, panels will work equally well with AGM or Flooded batteries. The main advantage of a lithium battery set over AGM, is lithium has the advantage and capability of storing a full day of solar energy from the panels for use at another time.

While all panels work well, on my coach I decided on flex panels for my installation as they fit flush to the roof where they wonít catch leaves or can hook branches which may damage the panels. In addition, they are light and very efficient for their size.

Enjoy - Mike Mas

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Old 06-19-2021, 06:49 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting. Very informative! We have a Ď19 Classic that came prewired for solar. Iím guessing your Verona did too. How large of any array can you install on the factory wiring?

Screws into the roof always makes me nervous. I can see the advantage of replacing a panel with screws but I donít like the holes. How hard is it to remove a panel with the adhesive installation?

Iím a complete novice with solar, but trying to learn, so any info would be great.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:10 AM   #3
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Thanks for posting. Very informative! We have a ‘19 Classic that came prewired for solar. I’m guessing your Verona did too. How large of any array can you install on the factory wiring?

Screws into the roof always makes me nervous. I can see the advantage of replacing a panel with screws but I don’t like the holes. How hard is it to remove a panel with the adhesive installation?

I’m a complete novice with solar, but trying to learn, so any info would be great.
Thanks for the reply - My Renegade came Pre-Wired with 10 gauge wire with a length around 10-15 feet, which terminates in the inverter compartment. As long as you use a Series/Parallel configuration you can get roughly a 1000 Kw Solar array on 10 gauge wire and keep everything in check. My current system is 880 watts and I have plenty of room on the rear where I'm planning a Sun Trackable solar panel installation in the future for the fun of it.

Using Eterna Bond tape is more for a permanent installation, but can be removed when needed. I would definitely use a few screws on the leading edge of the panels facing forward for safety. If you driving at 70 mph and hit just a 40 mph gust from a passing truck going the opposite direction, that's a 110 mph gust going over the roof. The Eyelets provide a perfect installation when you fill the void with Silicon then use the screw, almost no way for a leak or to come off. Either way, the screws are not mandatory though everything else on the roof AC, antennas, dish, etc. all have screws already, so it's not like your doing something wrong if you use a few screws.

In any case, the solar panels really complete the Renegade now that the refrigerator and inverter are always running drawing from the batteries.

Stay Safe - Mike
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Old 06-19-2021, 01:12 PM   #4
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After one week, I have to fully agree with Mike. Last weekend I installed 700W of solar. I had a good plan and everything I needed on-hand - and the help and advice of fine folks on this site Just got back from visiting my coach in storage and was welcomed with a battery bank at 100%. Just sitting it is drawing 0.5AH which is why my batteries flagged in just a few weeks or less. No more! I'm not about boondocking, but I like not having my coach eat AGM batteries like candy.
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Old 06-21-2021, 03:05 AM   #5
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Totally depends on your mission. Solar would be a waste for me 9 months out of the year because I have to run ACs. Our generator ran 50 hours straight and AC probably ran 75% of the time over the past weekend. Solar would have had zero value.

I also don't understand your comment about the advantage of lithium storing a full days use. Batteries are batteries. The big advantage Lithium has is they can be discharged to a much lower level over and over with reducing their capacity. But a properly sized lead acid or AGM battery system can store a full day of solar energy just like Lithium. Just have to know their limitations on discharge side.
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Old 06-21-2021, 04:50 AM   #6
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Totally depends on your mission. Solar would be a waste for me 9 months out of the year because I have to run ACs. Our generator ran 50 hours straight and AC probably ran 75% of the time over the past weekend. Solar would have had zero value.

I also don't understand your comment about the advantage of lithium storing a full days use. Batteries are batteries. The big advantage Lithium has is they can be discharged to a much lower level over and over with reducing their capacity. But a properly sized lead acid or AGM battery system can store a full day of solar energy just like Lithium. Just have to know their limitations on discharge side.
I believe the intent of the comment around lithium batteries is multifaceted; yes they can be discharged lower, it is my understanding they also accept a charge faster. Having a limited number of daylight charging hours, the lithium batteries will be able to capture more of the energy than a lead acid or AGM battery and then be able to give more of that energy back overnight (since they can be discharged much lower).
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Old 06-21-2021, 07:27 AM   #7
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Totally depends on your mission. Solar would be a waste for me 9 months out of the year because I have to run ACs. Our generator ran 50 hours straight and AC probably ran 75% of the time over the past weekend. Solar would have had zero value.

I also don't understand your comment about the advantage of lithium storing a full days use. Batteries are batteries. The big advantage Lithium has is they can be discharged to a much lower level over and over with reducing their capacity. But a properly sized lead acid or AGM battery system can store a full day of solar energy just like Lithium. Just have to know their limitations on discharge side.
Many Thanks for the reply - however you're statement the panels would be wasted since you run the generator is 100% incorrect, take time to look at the video again where I show an example of running the roof air conditioner drawing 100+ amps. The solar panels can provide 40-60 amps @ 12 volts, of this load reducing the work load on the generator (or batteries) saving diesel fuel.

Keep in mind, there's also no "Free Ride" in keeping the house batteries fully charged when your parked or driving. Either the generator or the RV's engine has to work harder to put back the lost power being consumed from the refrigerator, inverter, and other devices. All these devices consume extra diesel fuel which will no doubt double in price in the near future.

As I mentioned, having a solar system is the one best upgrades to any coach regardless if you use the generator, AGM or lithium batteries. In just a season or two, the panels will pay for themselves and from that point on, it's free captured energy for the life of the coach regardless if your out there using it, or even while its parked or in storage. The best part it saves the generator for when you need it.

Stay Safe - Mike
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Old 06-21-2021, 08:24 AM   #8
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Disagree. We tend to stay at RV parks. I'm already paying for power. I also like shade. System would have small savings driving down the road, but nowhere near the cost of adding solar, upgrading inverter, etc. Solar makes lots of sense for many missions. You just need to analyze how you use your RV and see if it makes sense for you.
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:49 AM   #9
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Disagree. We tend to stay at RV parks. I'm already paying for power. I also like shade. System would have small savings driving down the road, but nowhere near the cost of adding solar, upgrading inverter, etc. Solar makes lots of sense for many missions. You just need to analyze how you use your RV and see if it makes sense for you.

Thanks for the reply - Think of it this way, for the cost of staying in just a dozen KOA's in a year, (and deal with the hassles of check-in and having to look at your neighbors sewer hose) you'll likely spend the cash it takes to buy a solar system and have the advantage of using it for the life of your coach.

With that said - it seems as if you're contradicting your last post where you typically run your generator 50 hours straight with the AC. ??? Actually, you would be a prime candidate for not only a solar system but perhaps a good lithium upgrade as well.

Keep in mind, I'm not advising anyone to buy a solar system, only to express the many advantages a solar system can provide such as avoiding excess generator use, fuel cost, carbon emissions, and most important having to deal with a generator running day in and day out.

PS Your mis-informed - Solar does not require a Inverter change!

Stay Safe - Mike
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:53 AM   #10
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Mike-Thanks for the information about the details on the pre-wiring and solar panel size. I don't think we are ready to take the plunge yet since we are mostly staying in RV parks plugged in. The RV lives in a garage connected to 50 amp when we aren't traveling. so that isn't a concern.


However, we want to start boondocking more in the future and figure the solar will make more sense at that time. I get what you are saying about the engine having to work to power the batteries, but I don't think it makes a significant enough difference in diesel mileage for us. On the last trip, we got 7.3 mpg over 3k miles towing a Jeep. We aren't exactly in the RV world for gas mileage.
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Old 06-21-2021, 12:23 PM   #11
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Mike-Thanks for the information about the details on the pre-wiring and solar panel size. I don't think we are ready to take the plunge yet since we are mostly staying in RV parks plugged in. The RV lives in a garage connected to 50 amp when we aren't traveling. so that isn't a concern.

However, we want to start boondocking more in the future and figure the solar will make more sense at that time. I get what you are saying about the engine having to work to power the batteries, but I don't think it makes a significant enough difference in diesel mileage for us. On the last trip, we got 7.3 mpg over 3k miles towing a Jeep. We aren't exactly in the RV world for gas mileage.

Thanks for the reply - For the most part, we used to attempt to stay at a RV park at night, however it seems parks like KOA and others have gone nuts with their rates, and RV's are packed in like sardines, dirt everywhere, just too many people. What really hurts is when you're traveling and reach a park late evening, just can't justify spending $75-100 to sleep and be gone in the morning. I much prefer a Cracker Barrel, Walmart, or rest stop.

Around 5 years ago, and after being confronted with some deplorable RV parks which cost nearly $100 a night, we changed our camping habits, so I began installing lithium and solar in my RV's. Aside from the advantages of running the roof AC on battery all night, having this set-up has opened many advantages such as places like Silver Springs and others parks where you can stay parked all day without running the Genny. Most important it opened up may State Parks which many we enjoy do not offer power. Also, I provide consulting services for the Military defense contractors and at times we find our-self on a base with no power or electric.


In any case, I wish you guys safe travels - Mike
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Old 06-21-2021, 12:43 PM   #12
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More Boondocking

Interesting debate regarding benefits of more solar and upgrading to Lithium. Many years ago I hesitated at purchasing my first RV because I didn't want to stay at the typical, cramped and crowded RV parks. We love to find the perfect out of the way state and national forest campsite or boondocking just off into the national forest. Yes, I take my 45 footer deep into the woods when I can. We just added more solar, (800 watts) and 300 AH of lithium. Now my electric refrigerator can run all night, we can watch TV, run lights and I don't need to worry about dead batteries in the morning. I don't even need to run the genny to recharge. Regarding the need to run the AC, I have that option with the genny but my RV has wheels, and I drive it north, or into the mountains, that's why we have an RV, to escape the heat.
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Old 06-21-2021, 05:33 PM   #13
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Interesting debate regarding benefits of more solar and upgrading to Lithium. Many years ago I hesitated at purchasing my first RV because I didn't want to stay at the typical, cramped and crowded RV parks. We love to find the perfect out of the way state and national forest campsite or boondocking just off into the national forest. Yes, I take my 45 footer deep into the woods when I can. We just added more solar, (800 watts) and 300 AH of lithium. Now my electric refrigerator can run all night, we can watch TV, run lights and I don't need to worry about dead batteries in the morning. I don't even need to run the genny to recharge. Regarding the need to run the AC, I have that option with the genny but my RV has wheels, and I drive it north, or into the mountains, that's why we have an RV, to escape the heat.

KFed thanks for the reply - looks like you got it figured out. Not until you add the panels do you realize just how valuable they are to an RV. While the lithium batteries are not mandatory, they do have the advantage to capture a full days energy. I'm 100% behind you regarding the horrible condition and expense of some of the campgrounds there days. When I started camping in my Winnebago Brave in 1978 most all campgrounds were $6-10 a night and were beautiful.


Oh those good old days!!!!

Stay Safe - Mike
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