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Old 12-10-2020, 12:31 PM   #1
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Finally Starting My Solar Install

A year ago I bought 6 225w panels from Hightec solar on ebay. This past week I put in 6 new Trojan t105s with a watering system. Now I have the rest of my components on the way from N Az Wind and Sun, which will arrive Monday. It will include a Victron 250\100 controller and a BMV712 monitor plus all the wires, connecters, fuses, breakers, etc.

All being said I started my layout today and I would like some advice to start with. I plan to wire the panels in 1 series and feed the wire thru a conduit I placed in the fridge shaft when I done the res fridge.

Below are 2 pics of my possible layout for this. What design do you think would be better and why?

I will use this thread to update\ask further questions about my project.

Thanks!
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Old 12-10-2020, 01:52 PM   #2
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What do you mean by "in one series" ? If it means that the panels will all be in series I think that is a mistake. One shaded panel will kill the output of your whole array. If you wire in parallel you'll need more copper but shade will only hurt the output of the shaded panels. We frequently have partial shade but get enough power to get by because our panels are parallel.

The bottom picture has one less panel shaded by an AC but I can not make out if it leaves a path to walk on the roof.

I can not make out what sort of room you are leaving yourself around the ladder.

As for general advice.
1. Do not neglect walk ability of the roof. You'll want to keep you panels clean as well as cleaning, inspecting, and maintaining the roof.
2. Try to avoid putting the panels in the shade of the AC or TV antena. If you do have shaded panels consider how you like to orient your coach when bood docking and set up the panels so they wont be shaded in that orientation.
3. Put your wiring in one single bundle as close to the middle of the roof as possible. It might take more wire but I will make it easier to keep the roof clean and make it easier to walk on the roof.
4. Put UV stable loom over all your exposed wiring and use plenty of tie downs.
5. Do not cut the connectors off of the solar panels. Some shops recommend hardwiring your panels in but this will come back to bite you. Some manufactures void the warranty if the connectors are cut off. Hardwire panels are difficult to move for maintenance or replacement.
6. If your roof permits it glue your mounts down with 5200 or VHB tape, do not screw them down.
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:08 PM   #3
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Well, roofs tend to be rounded. Many people here use two series string. Generally use 2 controllers, Victron controllers can synchronize.
Others here have mounts that can be tilted for use and flat for travel. Typically they stay put 3-6 months at a time.
You did not state the panels open circuit voltage. 200v is serious. Good to hear your using conduit. Hope your using clamps and elbows and all the other goodies. Your wire should be rated higher voltage than that, but don't take it on faith. Same for circuit breakers. Their are in line fuses for MC4.

Like wise your meter and it's leads should be checked. Saw some nasty burn photos of a tech who used a borrowed meter with 300v leads on 440V.
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:14 PM   #4
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I would keep the area near the slide out toppers clear in case you need to repair or replace them. You need to be able to walk on your roof have room. Good luck on your Solar install!
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruizerEd View Post
What do you mean by "in one series" ? If it means that the panels will all be in series I think that is a mistake. One shaded panel will kill the output of your whole array. ...
Actually the panels have bypass diodes, some times several. It routes current around the shaded section. Each diode drops 0.3-0.5v. It's a mind bender to visualize. Google it.
Two series strings should not be paralleled. One will be working and the other loafing.
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:24 PM   #6
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200v is a good system level, you can utilize ordinary double-insulated extension cords (go with 12 gauge) for this and should have plenty of safety capacity. UL listed cables are rated for 600v and 1800 watts, you won't be close to either rating and the losses should be near zero. Higher voltage is better than lower anyway and goes a longer distance before losses.

Now about your positioning. I have 3 panels (340 watt) in a single series string for about 130vdc and 8 amps at full power. Shade on a little bit DOES NOT zero out the entire array if the panels are good quality and have individual diodes on each element. Not on each panel, but actually on each element. So if you have 72 elements on a panel, then you have 72 diodes built in. If one element is shaded, the power drops off a little bit, not to zero. I don't know if your panels would be individual diode or not, but if you didn't get the same quality from like Harbor Freight.... Then you probably have good units with individual diodes.

Can you position 3 of them adjacent to each other and behind the forward AC in your pictures? It looks like there *just might* be enough room from side to side behind the AC and between the fridge vent and the crank-up vent.... BUT you might also want to think about future additions of roof furniture like Maxx-air dome covers and sewer caps - so don't get to close to any of the existing furniture. Leave yourself at least 4-5 inches to allow for inspection / cleaning / resealing of anything that is already up there. You want to back away from the really tall stuff like the AC though, and leave yourself room to walk around - that's super important.

Now about the shading from the AC, that won't be as much of an issue unless you are right up under it, b/c it is all about trying to mitigate the shadows - when the shadows get long, that is when the position doesn't matter, the power is dropping off anyway. So around 8-10 inches clearance from the AC should keep you out of the shadows most of the day no matter how you park.
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanTerry View Post
I would keep the area near the slide out toppers clear in case you need to repair or replace them. You need to be able to walk on your roof have room. Good luck on your Solar install!
I just replaced my slide toppers - Didn't go on the roof once. Everything is done from a ladder or (better) scaffolding.
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geordi View Post
200v is a good system level, you can utilize ordinary double-insulated extension cords (go with 12 gauge) for this and should have plenty of safety capacity. UL listed cables are rated for 600v and 1800 watts, you won't be close to either rating and the losses should be near zero. Higher voltage is better than lower anyway and goes a longer distance before losses. ...

I used outdoor extension cords for portable panels. UV tolerant. Resistant to cold cracking.
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Old 12-10-2020, 02:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappion View Post
I used outdoor extension cords for portable panels. UV tolerant. Resistant to cold cracking.
Definitely, if you are buying bulk wire without ends, then SOOW or SJOOW will be more than sufficient. I had some 12 gauge SOOW laying around when I did my install, and that's what I used between the panels, but it wasn't long enough to come down from the roof... So I repurposed a 10 gauge shore power cord (also SOOW) to jump down the ladder and into the engine door on my DP. Works perfectly, I've hit within 20 watts of the theoretical maximum capture of my panels several times.
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Old 12-10-2020, 03:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappion View Post
Actually the panels have bypass diodes, some times several. It routes current around the shaded section. Each diode drops 0.3-0.5v. It's a mind bender to visualize. Google it.
Two series strings should not be paralleled. One will be working and the other loafing.
This is true, I had forgotten. In fact I was looking for this sort of panel for a catamaran because partial shading occurs just about all the time. Can you list a few models that have this feature. While searching I could never make out for sure how the panels were implemented.
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Old 12-10-2020, 06:06 PM   #11
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fyi - The VOC of the panels is 24.3, and the amps is 11.01, The panels I have are not affected by shading of parts of a panel so they must have those diodes mentioned. I plan to wire them in series if that makes sense, thus the reason for the 250\100 victron. The 150\100 was too close to the V limits.

The 2nd pic is my fav so far as it puts the panels as close together and still leaves room for working around them. I done a sample drawing of the wiring diagram for this layout and it seems to flow pretty smoothly. I'll try to post a drawing layout tomorrow for y'all to review.

The one thing it raised in my mind was can I route the wires underneath a panel to reach the next one? If I can that would work very nicely, otherwise I would just have to route around another panel to reach the next one.

I have a lot of good points posted by everyone so far!! Thanks for helping this layman!
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Old 12-10-2020, 08:54 PM   #12
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I also have two strings, a 500w system mounted on the roof (in series) and a 600w string in 4 150w panels in a second (in series) then parallel at the buss bar. I do fine with shading.
Try and leave room to walk around/between them and still minimize shading by other items on the roof. That one is already shaded by the a/c and theyíre pretty close together in the other.
However it looks pretty cool either way. Itís a great option to have. Itís hard to layout perfect on an RV roof thatís why I have some on the ground as well.
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Old 12-11-2020, 06:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR71jetmech View Post
I also have two strings, a 500w system mounted on the roof (in series) and a 600w string in 4 150w panels in a second (in series) then parallel at the buss bar. I do fine with shading.
Try and leave room to walk around/between them and still minimize shading by other items on the roof. That one is already shaded by the a/c and theyíre pretty close together in the other.
However it looks pretty cool either way. Itís a great option to have. Itís hard to layout perfect on an RV roof thatís why I have some on the ground as well.
Cool idea! Maybe I can add some portable ones for a later update when I move to lifepo.
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Old 12-11-2020, 07:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruizerEd View Post
What do you mean by "in one series" ? If it means that the panels will all be in series I think that is a mistake. One shaded panel will kill the output of your whole array. If you wire in parallel you'll need more copper but shade will only hurt the output of the shaded panels. We frequently have partial shade but get enough power to get by because our panels are parallel.

The bottom picture has one less panel shaded by an AC but I can not make out if it leaves a path to walk on the roof.

I can not make out what sort of room you are leaving yourself around the ladder.

As for general advice.
1. Do not neglect walk ability of the roof. You'll want to keep you panels clean as well as cleaning, inspecting, and maintaining the roof.
I think I have enough room to work and walk around either layout. Time will tell.
2. Try to avoid putting the panels in the shade of the AC or TV antena. If you do have shaded panels consider how you like to orient your coach when bood docking and set up the panels so they wont be shaded in that orientation.
Not worried about shading with these panels. They are not affected by shading very much at all.
3. Put your wiring in one single bundle as close to the middle of the roof as possible. It might take more wire but I will make it easier to keep the roof clean and make it easier to walk on the roof.
Gonna try to show a drawing where I will run wire. Let me know what you think about it then.
4. Put UV stable loom over all your exposed wiring and use plenty of tie downs.
What is UV stable loom? I have plans to coat most surfaces with Henry's tropi-cool, just like the rest of my roof\components.
5. Do not cut the connectors off of the solar panels. Some shops recommend hardwiring your panels in but this will come back to bite you. Some manufactures void the warranty if the connectors are cut off. Hardwire panels are difficult to move for maintenance or replacement.
Thanks! Unfortunately not sure what I have coming from NAZWS. Wasn't knowledgable enough to specify this when I placed the order. Hope it turns out as you suggest.
6. If your roof permits it glue your mounts down with 5200 or VHB tape, do not screw them down.
Roof does not permit glue down as Henry's is silicone based and the tape I hear so much about will not stick to it. So I am searching for a good solution. Thinking about a moly type screw.
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