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Old 03-14-2018, 10:25 PM   #1
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New solar install

Just completed a 1,050 watt solar install on my 2007 Excel 30RSO. I went with three Silfab 350 watt panels in parallel and a Morningstar MPPT-60 controller and Morningstar remote meter. I already had four 6 volt batteries totaling 460 AHrs and a Trimetric 2030 battery monitor.

There was enough roof space to use either 3 or 4 standard sized panels or 3 large panels. I went with the larger panels. I did not want to get into tilting mounts, so I just oversized the system by about 30%. An energy audit I had done showed that I typically use 106 to 175 AHrs per day.

Front two panels:

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The third panel is behind me in this image.

These panels are about 44 x 77 inches. Since I needed to clear a couple of roof vents and part of the rear luggage rail I made custom mounts from 4 x 2 x 1/4" aluminum angle. Each bracket is 6" long with four stainless steel bolts into the panel and four #14 screws into the wood deck. I never found any commercial brackets that gave me the height and strength I wanted. Used 6 mounting brackets on each panel.

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Below is my 12 volt electrical panel with the Morningstar controller in the lower right corner. I placed two steel stand-offs around the controller to keep any sifting cargo from resting against the controller's cooling fins. I've made a few other 12 volt mods in this rig as well.


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Old 03-15-2018, 12:46 AM   #2
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Nice work! Now, enjoy the silence. Happy camping!
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:51 AM   #3
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Nice. I tried to enlarge the pic of the controller and wiring but it is not the same type of file as the panel pics. How much did it run you and who did the install? Did you do it yourself?
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:44 AM   #4
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Very nice system.

I see you used high voltage panels so you didn't have to run large gauge cable from the roof to the controller. High voltage and MPPT is the way to go.

You will be able to use more AHs then you calculated, with that system.
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:20 AM   #5
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The panels meter out at 44V +/-, each, they are rated at 47.5 by STC. However, since I tend to over design a few things, I used #4 wire for the down haul wire. Thus there is very little voltage drop on those wires. All three panels are joined in a residential style roof top combiner box, shown in the pictures. Each panel is fused at 15 amps in this combiner.

There is a battery style disconnect switch between the combiner box and the solar controller, plus a breaker with manual disconnect on the output side of the controller. I used an AB style disconnect switch so I could if ever desired use the same controller for a portable solar system when parked under shade. Thought about buying one more of the same panels to use as a portable, thus all of the settings would still match perfectly. However, I'm not sure where to transport a spare panel this size? Have thought about finding some smaller panels when wired in series would come close to the same electrical outputs. But won't to do anything else until we've used this configuration for a summer.

Yep, I should have spare AHrs from this system under normal conditions. However, I did my sizing calculations assuming some cloudy skies and variable solar angles. My goal was to be able to fully recharge the batteries while driving after using the furnace all night in cold weather. I spent significant time running many calculations and researched lots of different panels to operate as I desired.
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:57 AM   #6
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I had 3, 225 watt, 36 volt panels, in series to the same controller for a bit over 3 years. They kept my 800 AH bank full, 10 months out of the year, while using about 200 AH a day.

This was in on a boat at anchor, so no shading to worry about. During the short days of winter, I needed to run the generator every few days to catch up.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:54 AM   #7
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I'm in the process of buying a new 5th wheel and plan on a solar upgrade. Your system looks great, thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-18-2018, 11:46 AM   #8
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Nice wiring job! Where did you source the panels from? Most installers hook everything up correctly but leave a rats nest of wiring. Awesome job!
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:06 PM   #9
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I bought them from Solaris in Calif. The specific link is: https://www.solaris-shop.com/silfab-...o-solar-panel/

The sales person was very good, answered my questions and the purchase was completed over the phone. No problems about buying only three panels. Many shops have a much larger minimum order. The panels arrived about a week later via freight on pallet and well protected.

The combiner box is a Solardeck unit.
https://www.altestore.com/store/encl...ner-box-p9520/

These are made from heavy gauge steel and have a wide mounting flange. Very secured and easy to seal. Used a bottom knockout for the downhaul cables.

I bought about 50 ft of twin lead #8 cable made for solar installations. Plus some loose MC4 connectors a crimping tool and the connector wrench set. Very easy to cut the just right amount of cable and terminate as required. Where the cable runs along a panel the cable is secured with padded clamps to the mounting brackets. So along those sections is cable does not lie on the roof deck at all.

The 4 x 2 x 1/4 thick aluminum angle was overkill. I really wanted to use 3/16 thick aluminum, but could not find it in a 4 x 2 profile. Did not feel that 1/8" thick would give me the stability I wanted with those large panels. I used standard published toque values for the 5/16 SS bolts that clamp the two aluminum angles together forming a "Z" bracket and the 1/4 SS bolts between the panels and the top of the brackets. Used a section of EternaBond between the roof and the base of each bracket. Applied a generous bead of Dicore sealant under each bracket, so that the screws into the deck would pass trough and form a good seal under each bracket. Then flooded the top and surrounding area around each bracket with more Dicore for extra measures.

I think I got the exact solar system I needed. It took some time, but most of it was not all that hard. Had two friends to help get those panels on the roof and mounted. Otherwise, I did everything else.
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