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Old 05-06-2020, 02:14 PM   #1
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1000W+ => 940AH batts confirming my thoughts

I realize this whole forum is basically talking about solar panel systems. Each person has their own need, design, and challenges. I suppose I could try to all all of them, but I know for many, reading and responding to these forums is all there is to do during the day.

I'm going to add 1000W+ of Renogy 100W Mono panels to my motorhome this summer. Have room to put up to 1400W, if I feel the need. This is going to 940AH battery upgrade I already did. Running out through a 2800W Magnum inverter.

I'm definitely wanting to head toward higher end controllers that have remotes...don't want to go out to the bay to read what is heading. I know there are a lot of opinions on which controllers and how many I would need for this to start (allowing for expansion as well). Feel free to chime in.

So here are my discussion points.
1) I don't waste the time, money, energy or climbing the roof to squeeze out the highest efficient by tilting. Would rather buy another panel to make up the difference...probably cost less to buy more panels than tilt all of them anyway.

2) I was thinking about running each pair of the panels in series and doing full runs down to the controller. Is that crazy? Should I be trying to connect everything on the roof and going down with large guage wire? Seems like 8 or 10 is fairly inexpensive and could make all runs under 30' to the bay.

3) I don't want to drill my roof. With the adhesive based mounts, I can overdo and use the best glue. Also thinking about connecting these with safety wires so if something began to slip or popped off, it would still be tethered to the motorhome and not flying off to a car behind me. Good or bad? Experiences with no-drill mounts?

4) My wife has MS. She needs to stay cool. Wondering if those with experience believe this system would be enough to run the AC. I also run a computer and may want to run a 3D printer. This is why I'm not going small. Experience running AC and minimum wattage or issues with the inverter.

5) Finally with some large AC units on the roof, does it really matter in the course of a day to have these panels all running separately down to the controller so a shadow from the AC on a panel doesn't spoil the output from another? Or tips of how far (angle of the sun) before it would be a concern.

A lot. Just putting together all the pieces and hope to do this in June '20. Thanks for your experience and ideas, everyone.
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Old 05-06-2020, 02:26 PM   #2
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I would put as much wattage as possible on the roof, 300 watt plus panels may give you better bang for the buck. Victron makes many models of solar controllers, most with bluetooth readout on your phone.
If your battery bank is 940 a/h lead acid, your ac run time on the inverter will be fairly short. Unless you go 2000 watt+ solar and big lithium storage, and super efficient air conditioners, you will still need to run your generator or plug in.
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Old 05-06-2020, 02:38 PM   #3
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as JCussen said, i would go with higher wattage panels.
from what I have heard, Arizona wind and sun has great prices and their support is great. I'd go to their site and hit up their chat and see what they would recommend since they do it all the time.
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Old 05-06-2020, 02:55 PM   #4
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If you are ok with used 250 watt panels check eBay approx $50 each if you purchase 10 with a delivery charge less than $300. You will need an Micro Easy Start to get more time while running on solar/batteries.
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Old 05-06-2020, 03:43 PM   #5
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Used panels, definitely. Look for used high efficiency ones. I bought a couple of 250 watt residential panels from https://www.santansolar.com a couple of months ago, $90 a panel, plus shipping. I think they were 56 volt ones. I wired them in parallel to my Renogy Rover 30 amp MPPT controller.


Right now, Santan has these 2 used panels (among others) for comparison:


250 watt 41 lb 65" x 39" $50

250 watt 33 lb 61" x 31" high efficiency (25% smaller, 20% lighter) $90



Up that by 4 to get your kilowatt, and you save 32 lbs, and cover 53 square feet for $360



OTOH, 10 Renogy panels:
58 square feet, and 143 lbs. $1070



None of the prices include shipping or tax.
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Old 05-06-2020, 03:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsgriffin View Post
....

4) My wife has MS. She needs to stay cool. Wondering if those with experience believe this system would be enough to run the AC. .....
I had experience with a wife who needed AC for health reasons but none for solar. All you can do on a practical basis with solar is charge batteries to run a microwave for for a short period of time.

So what do you mean by need? To help you understand, I will use $$$ instead of watts. My daily use boondocking with a propane frig is 1200 watts. I will call that $1 or about an hour of running a generator.

If you just need to cool off the MH from 80 to 70, that is about $1.00 for each hour. When the AC runs continuously, you are at $1.50/hr. Need two, it is $3.00/hr.

Still getting hotter, $125/day at a hotel.

My point is that there limit to how much power you can use.

One last considerations, would you like be following a MH with things glued to the roof?
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Old 05-08-2020, 09:10 AM   #7
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That sounds like a fun project.

Since you are talking about 940 Ah of batteries I am assuming it will be a lithium pack. A lead acid pack that size would be heavy!!!

Be sure and understand how your rig is wired! On my rig it is a 50amp electric plug in. The air conditioners, elec water heater, then the inverter runs a sub panel microwave- outlets, etc. I would have to move an air conditioner breaker to the inverter sub panel to run it. That would cause other issues with my rig (wiring too small between batteries and inverter).

Last year I added 800 watts of solar (4 - 200 watt panels in a 2s2p configuration). I have 400ah of agm batteries. I choose Victron and installed or replaced a battery monitor, solar controller, inverter, and then tied them all together with a color controller. I like how I can see the information on my cell phone or on the display.

One really great feature with the Victron inverters (and other newer inverters) is a power assist function. This way you can run a smaller generator ( or power cord) and the inverter will assist the power needs from the batteries. That could be a great help with air conditioning.

Make sure your system will be able to handle 2 large power draws at the same time - if your ac is running- what would happen if the microwave got turned on?

Good luck!!!
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Old 05-08-2020, 10:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocketman3 View Post
That sounds like a fun project.

Since you are talking about 940 Ah of batteries I am assuming it will be a lithium pack. A lead acid pack that size would be heavy!!!

Be sure and understand how your rig is wired! On my rig it is a 50amp electric plug in. The air conditioners, elec water heater, then the inverter runs a sub panel microwave- outlets, etc. I would have to move an air conditioner breaker to the inverter sub panel to run it. That would cause other issues with my rig (wiring too small between batteries and inverter).

Last year I added 800 watts of solar (4 - 200 watt panels in a 2s2p configuration). I have 400ah of agm batteries. I choose Victron and installed or replaced a battery monitor, solar controller, inverter, and then tied them all together with a color controller. I like how I can see the information on my cell phone or on the display.

One really great feature with the Victron inverters (and other newer inverters) is a power assist function. This way you can run a smaller generator ( or power cord) and the inverter will assist the power needs from the batteries. That could be a great help with air conditioning.

Make sure your system will be able to handle 2 large power draws at the same time - if your ac is running- what would happen if the microwave got turned on?

Good luck!!!
OP's sig says Trojan L16 lead acid batteries, so 400 or so usable amp hours.
ONE ac will pull about 150+ amps from batteries, so runtime will be less than 3 hours unless he has a lot of solar. Pretty sure his 2800 watt inverter will trip off if he tries to run one ac and microwave at the same time even with an micro air.
But as you say, he will have to change a lot of wiring to run his ac's off his batteries, and unless he has a giant battery bank and lots of solar, not practical.
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Old 05-09-2020, 07:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcussen View Post
OP's sig says Trojan L16 lead acid batteries, so 400 or so usable amp hours.
ONE ac will pull about 150+ amps from batteries, so runtime will be less than 3 hours unless he has a lot of solar. Pretty sure his 2800 watt inverter will trip off if he tries to run one ac and microwave at the same time even with an micro air.
But as you say, he will have to change a lot of wiring to run his ac's off his batteries, and unless he has a giant battery bank and lots of solar, not practical.
I do have 4 Trojan L16 (yes, heavy, but in the same footprint as original)...deep cycle, 6 volts....gives a total of 940Ah. You are correct that the AC and microwave won't be possible, but I can live with that. Even when plugged into 30a, that is not possible. I think the wiring won't be too difficult the way that the Monaco is already set up.

As I dig deeper in my research, I'm thinking about:

-14 HQST 100W panels...wired series/parallel to 24V, <40amp
-60A MPPT controller....looking at this one..like the Bluetooth https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087PRX9XY...v_ov_lig_dp_it

Lots of bulk wire, crimping tool, connectors.

With the no-drill panel mounts, I'm now actually thinking about using something like a 90-L bracket (with little rubber pads under them) screwed down onto the top of the mounts and squeezing down on the top of the solar panels frames with wing-nuts. Create a kind of clamp as opposed to screwing directly into the panels. I really would like to have these be easy to remove...since they take up most of the roof and accessing the roof under these may be helpful often.
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Old 05-09-2020, 07:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLOweather View Post
Used panels, definitely. Look for used high efficiency ones. I bought a couple of 250 watt residential panels from https://www.santansolar.com a couple of months ago, $90 a panel, plus shipping. I think they were 56 volt ones. I wired them in parallel to my Renogy Rover 30 amp MPPT controller.


Right now, Santan has these 2 used panels (among others) for comparison:


250 watt 41 lb 65" x 39" $50

250 watt 33 lb 61" x 31" high efficiency (25% smaller, 20% lighter) $90



Up that by 4 to get your kilowatt, and you save 32 lbs, and cover 53 square feet for $360



OTOH, 10 Renogy panels:
58 square feet, and 143 lbs. $1070



None of the prices include shipping or tax.
Those panels are just a little too big. I'm getting more and smaller so I can still walk on my roof. Looking at a design also so that I'm connecting panels in series when they are most likely to have full sun (or partial shade) together . Don't want too many in series where one in partial shade brings the whole series down.
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Old 05-09-2020, 10:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsgriffin View Post
I do have 4 Trojan L16 (yes, heavy, but in the same footprint as original)...deep cycle, 6 volts....gives a total of 940Ah. You are correct that the AC and microwave won't be possible, but I can live with that. Even when plugged into 30a, that is not possible. I think the wiring won't be too difficult the way that the Monaco is already set up.

As I dig deeper in my research, I'm thinking about:

-14 HQST 100W panels...wired series/parallel to 24V, <40amp
-60A MPPT controller....looking at this one..like the Bluetooth https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087PRX9XY...v_ov_lig_dp_it

Lots of bulk wire, crimping tool, connectors.

With the no-drill panel mounts, I'm now actually thinking about using something like a 90-L bracket (with little rubber pads under them) screwed down onto the top of the mounts and squeezing down on the top of the solar panels frames with wing-nuts. Create a kind of clamp as opposed to screwing directly into the panels. I really would like to have these be easy to remove...since they take up most of the roof and accessing the roof under these may be helpful often.
Have tried running lower voltage in parallel panels, and higher voltage in series panels and have found the higher voltage panel setup was easier and cheaper to wire, and produced equal or even more power than the series setup. The old wives's tale about shading is no longer applicable, all modern panels have bypass diodes. I would also go with a good solar controller like Victron, Morningstar, Magnum or Midnite Solar, I have tried the no name's, and most do not last very long in an RV.
Just understand that even if you are getting 80 amps under full sun from your panels, you will still be pulling 80 amps from your batteries to run one ac. So even starting with 100% SOC batteries, you will be using 80 a/h every hour out of your 470 a/h battery bank [50% of 940], and as the sun goes away, that will rise to 160 a/h's every hour. You can do the math and see how long your ac can run on batteries alone.
Because they are lead acid, they will take a long time to recharge fully, and of course never will on solar, if you are running your ac as well.
If you want ac all the time, you will just have to use your generator, or plug in.
Some have done it with window units or mini-splits, but standard roof airs take too much power.

Marathon Coach does sell a coach that uses lithium batteries and a dc generators that allows it to run two roof airs on battery alone for 24 hours before generator lites off to recharge the batteries. Believe it is a $100k option.
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Old 05-09-2020, 02:49 PM   #12
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Thanks for the input. I don't plan to be in the middle of the desert and don't plan to need to run the AC all day, and having the generator run for part of the time is better than all of the time. If I don't need AC in the morning and solar is charging, and then in full sun, solar is helping with AC (when no sun, a lot less ac is needed), and then in the evening, less or no ac or generator.

While I'm not trying to get 100% of the time AC with no generator ever, having a setup that can somewhat keepup with the demand when the sun is full may mean that I need the generator for a little bit but not all day. Again, not death valley usage here. Northwest....not as hot.

While I have some experienced folks on this thread that have done something similar....

I am looking at the Victron 150/60 with battery temp sensor. I do have some concerns about higher voltage wiring on the roof. Might bump up to 48V, but would rather keep it below lethal limits for the mishaps or mistakes. Rather get a good jolt than heart-stopping.

This brings me to a question is anyone has found or uses any kind of a juntion on the roof and then run a larger guage down from roof to basement or just run multiple lines down?
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Old 05-09-2020, 03:33 PM   #13
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I am also running Victron solar controllers. 1400 watts of solar may be pushing a 60 amp controller. I have 1455 watts and often see 80+ amps. I am running 120 volts from my panels so could go with 10 awg. to controller. When I added more panels, just ran another set of 10 awg wires all the way down.
Even with 600 usable a/h of batteries, I can only run one ac for 3 or 4 hours. I use it like you propose, only in the Northwest when ac is not needed all the time.
https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...150-100-EN.pdf
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Old 05-09-2020, 10:40 PM   #14
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I have four 200 watt panels ran in 2s2p. I got a 4Ē grey electrical box and I tie both serial strings together, then have one larger wire run to my charge controller then the larger wire to my batteries. I used 3M tape to hold down the electrical ground bars I am using combine circuits.

Donít forget about circuit breakers. I have one between my panels and charge controller (donít need a circuit breaker here - but do need a way to kill solar power to the charge controller - the circuit breaker just worked well). Then I have one just after the charge controller. Finally, just before the batteries there is another on this line. I needed those breakers because my charger controller is a bit of distance from the batteries.
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