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Old 08-09-2022, 09:57 PM   #1
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Adding solar, need advice on best arrangement

I have recently bought a used Arctic Fox fifth wheel that was set up with 3 BB and a Victron LiFEPO100AH batteries, Victron monitoring, a Victron 12/12 Smart charger (which I assume was to manage the charge line from tow vehicle), the factory Zamp 20w solar battery tender with a 10a Zamp controller, and a Victron Multiplus Inverter 12/3000/120A. This was the system as I bought it, with no additional solar.

I am now adding solar capabilities and have added two HQST 190W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panels wired in series and used 10AGW to the battery bay and fed into Victron 100/30MPPT controller and then using 8AGW to a LYNX 1000dc distributor (8AGW) and then to batteries. after a four days last week of off grid use, it seems like the 380w panels were not able to keep the tank full with good sun for 3 of the four days (latitude 47*). I have one additional HQST 190w panel to add and would welcome advice as to best configuration to add to the system. I have purchased another Victron 100/30 controller and was going to simply put the 190w panel to it on the factory Zamp prewire10AGW and then parallel it into the distributor to add to the equation.

QUESTION: is this a reasonable configuation given the panel and controller I have on hand or is it better to reconfigure differently? Sure would appreciate any input that will help in the design. Anything done to date is open for discussion and change suggestions be welcome.
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Old 08-10-2022, 04:43 AM   #2
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Your plan makes sense. I would have used #6 gauge for the circuit from the controller to the Lynx to minimize voltage drop, unless it is a short run, but otherwise looks good.

How does the connection to your TV work. Are you are using the existing 10 gauge pin #4 circuit, or a heavier direct cable to the TV alternator/battery? I have a friend who installed a Victron 18A DC2DC charger and it pulls a lot of current from the Pin #4 circuit (more than 25A) so he is going to run a #4 gauge circuit direct to the TV alternator/battery.

David

David

David
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Old 08-10-2022, 04:55 AM   #3
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solar

This guy has a lot of info on solar installs.....your wire size is way too small, you need to minimize voltage drop

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/
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Old 08-10-2022, 09:59 AM   #4
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....

How does the connection to your TV work. Are you are using the existing 10 gauge pin #4 circuit, or a heavier direct cable to the TV alternator/battery? I have a friend who installed a Victron 18A DC2DC charger and it pulls a lot of current from the Pin #4 circuit (more than 25A) so he is going to run a #4 gauge circuit direct to the TV alternator/battery.

David

David

David
Thanks David, will review for the wire sizing issue. The wire run from panels to controller is 15' (using 10 AGW from 2-190W panels rated at 10.15A) and is #6 from controller to distribution block, a distance of 2'. The distance from the output side of the 12V DC/DC charger to the distribution block is about 10' and is #6 wire. The DC/DC charger is fed by a #8 wire that "appears" from a mysterious sidewall entry in what is now the abandoned factory battery box (the two original batteries were removed when a new battery bay was created in the utility bay of the trailer for the three LI batteries, the inverter, the distribution block and controllers are). The - wire is landed at a grounding bar with other ground lines and this is where the + feed #8 wire appears to go into the sidewall frame at the same location where there are several (incoming?) wires of trailer harness coloring (wh, bl, y, or, green bl). I have yet to follow that wire and confirm that it goes to the trailer/TV pin and if so, I am not sure of this last 10' of wire size to the truck connector but am certain that the truck has not been modified to feed the DC/DC charger with any wire other than the original Ford charge line. In any event, I would be more than willing to disconnect this DC/DC charger entirely as I will now have solar feeding the batteries and if not sun, the Honda 2000 is always my backup charge. Do you see any problem in cutting the DC/DC out since it is about 30' from the TV alternator/batteries and connected by a stepped down 6/8/10 wiring run?

Am headed out for 10 days to the beautiful Yaak valley in NW Montana so will get back with you upon return. Thanks.
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Old 08-10-2022, 10:06 AM   #5
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Your plan makes sense. I would have used #6 gauge for the circuit from the controller to the Lynx to minimize voltage drop, unless it is a short run, but otherwise looks good.

How does the connection to your TV work.

David
David, I rechecked and the controller to distribution block is #6 and is about 24" running through a 30a fuse.

Also, on my comment of removing the DC/DC component, I'm unsure of how to value it's contribution since there is always the potential of simultaneous contribution from the solar. If it could be of value, then it could remain, however, if a rewiring is needed of the TV and possibly the first 10' of the trailer, am not sure that is needed.
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Home in western Washington State from where wife and I travel all seasons in our 2018 Arctic Fox 29.5K fifth wheel, outfitted with solar and a few Li batteries, and usually weighing in at around 14K. Pulled by 2019 F450 stock King Ranch 6.7L diesel.
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Old 08-10-2022, 12:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidEM View Post
Your plan makes sense. I would have used #6 gauge for the circuit from the controller to the Lynx to minimize voltage drop, unless it is a short run, but otherwise looks good.

How does the connection to your TV work.

David
David, I rechecked and the controller to distribution block is #6 and is about 24" running through a 30a fuse.

Also, on my comment of removing the DC/DC component, I'm unsure of how to value its contribution since there is always the potential of simultaneous contribution from the solar. If it could be of value, then it could remain, however, if a rewiring is needed of the TV and possibly the first 10' of the trailer, am not sure that is needed. Also, is there potential damage risk to TV if the addition of the DC/DC charger over taxes the stock TV charge line?
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Old 08-10-2022, 01:00 PM   #7
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Thanks Tiffy2000 for the reference material. It will make some good reading I'm sure
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Old 08-10-2022, 01:20 PM   #8
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You mentioned you have two 190w panels currently wired in SERIES, but your diagram shows them in parallel (right?). If they are in parallel, your current will be 2x as compared to if you wired them in series. If you wire them in parallel your voltage drop on the 15' run (your longest wire/run) will be reduced quite a bit.



THEN....you can add one more 190w panel in series with your other 2 panels. Minimal voltage drop and you will even get the benefit of earlier (slightly) charge starting in the morning and later (slightly) charging as the sun is going down.



As an added bonus, you can return the extra charge controller you bought (and maybe even add an extra 4th panel in series instead for a lot more charging).


Thoughts?


Happy Camping!
Chris


PS: Solar is addictive!
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Old 08-10-2022, 04:27 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=SJ-Chris;6272806]You mentioned you have two 190w panels currently wired in SERIES, but your diagram shows them in parallel (right?). If they are in parallel, your current will be 2x as compared to if you wired them in series. If you wire them in parallel your voltage drop on the 15' run (your longest wire/run) will be reduced quite a bit.



THEN....you can add one more 190w panel in series with your other 2 panels. Minimal voltage drop and you will even get the benefit of earlier (slightly) charge starting in the morning and later (slightly) charging as the sun is going down.



As an added bonus, you can return the extra charge controller you bought (and maybe even add an extra 4th panel in series instead for a lot more charging).


Thoughts?


Happy Camping!
Chris


PS: Solar is addictive![/QUOTE


Chris, good catch and the narrative is correct and the diagram was not the implemented design. They are in fact wired series. Adding the third 190 to the series is a good idea as long as the 10AGW15' lead to the Victron 100/30 controller is not underrated and the Victron can handle the load of three panels, both of which seem to be within parameters as I read them. Now please understand, I'm so new to this solar stuff that I barely know that the red wire is usually the + wire, but my son-in-law gently corrects my errors and I am learning. I like the return and add another if needed idea and will pursue this route.

Heading out for a ten day trip and will take the new uninstalled panel with to get it installed while at camp and can see how it does.

Yes, this stuff is addictive and seems like always something to add. Am looking for any responses on the question I posed regarding eliminating the DC/DC charge portion of the design. Seems too redundant.

Thanks for the input.
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Home in western Washington State from where wife and I travel all seasons in our 2018 Arctic Fox 29.5K fifth wheel, outfitted with solar and a few Li batteries, and usually weighing in at around 14K. Pulled by 2019 F450 stock King Ranch 6.7L diesel.
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Old 08-10-2022, 05:12 PM   #10
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Keeping in mind .... Batteries or solar panels - wired in parallel combines the current at the same voltage (assuming all components are of the same voltage), however.... wiring DC power sources in series combines the source voltages, but can only provide current values of the lower source plus the larger source....and with solar cells I am not sure you should try to run current from once panel thru another, unless you found one rated to do that....? -not the same as 2-six volt batteries in series to get 12 volts...just sayin - solar panels produce power and are usually wired in parallel ....not sure they can support what I am reading here.

Isn't a DC/DC converter more like a battery isolater to ensure you can still start your truck and not discharge the truck battery to the trailer?🎬
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Old 08-11-2022, 05:20 AM   #11
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I have a 100/30 Victron SmartSolar charge controller and IIRC, there is a suggested limit of 400 watts of panels if using with a 12 volt system.

I'm running a 2S2P portable setup that is 240 watts total. I see inputs of over 17 amps if the panels are not hot. I'm thinking three 190 watt panels in series is a serious overload on the 100/30 controller.

You may want to verify with Victron or your supplier(hopefully not the big A).
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Old 08-11-2022, 06:36 PM   #12
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I recently installed 2 of the HQST 190 panels. I see about 22 amps max in series. I would just add the 3rd panel in series with the other 2. No problem with the voltage and just slightly over drive the amps at max output, You will leave less power on the table that way then if you add the 3rd panel as a stand alone.
If a had 300 AH of LifePo and a 3000 watt inverter I would add at least 2 more of the panels 2S2P.
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Old 08-21-2022, 06:30 PM   #13
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I have a 100/30 Victron SmartSolar charge controller and IIRC, there is a suggested limit of 400 watts of panels if using with a 12 volt system.

I'm running a 2S2P portable setup that is 240 watts total. I see inputs of over 17 amps if the panels are not hot. I'm thinking three 190 watt panels in series is a serious overload on the 100/30 controller.

You may want to verify with Victron or your supplier(hopefully not the big A).
I did revisit the specs and the recommended max load for the controller is a limiting factor so I will be content with the two 190 series panels and will put the third 190 on its own parallel controller and then have the room to add another panel to that system if/as needed. As it turns out, this last ten days of "observation" was useless as my panels were shaded 95% so there was no solar to speak of. I need to hook up that third panel. Thanks to all for your review and recommendations. I will be back on line I'm sure as this whole solar romance continues.
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Old 08-22-2022, 04:35 PM   #14
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I recently installed 2 of the HQST 190 panels. I see about 22 amps max in series. I would just add the 3rd panel in series with the other 2. No problem with the voltage and just slightly over drive the amps at max output, You will leave less power on the table that way then if you add the 3rd panel as a stand alone.
If a had 300 AH of LifePo and a 3000 watt inverter I would add at least 2 more of the panels 2S2P.
Fatsurf, Can you help me understand the advantage of your suggested 2S2P array design? 1) I assume you are suggesting two controllers for the 2S2P, not a single contoller? 2) What fuse size would be required on each array to protect the both the 2S and the 2P? I am open to adding a fourth 190 panel and can still do that design and would like to understand the underlying science that provided the pickup.

Also, can you explain to me why 3 panels in series would be an improved design compared to simply adding the 3rd panel as a stand alone? Nice to have options and hope I can both efficiency and depth as I build out this system. Thanks in advance for your tutorial, I look forward to it.
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