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Old 11-11-2014, 09:34 PM   #1
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My first Solar design, Please tell me where I am going wrong.

I am in the design stage of a 38 foot class A Winnebago Voyage 38J
Currant Battery bank is 4 of the Deka GC45 255 AH each, giving me a battery bank of 510 Amp hrs. I have room for 2 more if needed"
I also have the Bogart TM-2030-RV installed and a Xantrex Prowatt 1000-SW Inverter
I have available locally 3 of these panels Evergreen ES-E-225-fc3 (225W) each, giving me 675 watts total.
New still in box left over from house install.
I can get all 3 for $668.00 no shipping I assume this is a good deal?
"see specs below"
I understand these are a few years old with no warranty.
From what I have read I plan on running these 3 in Parallel to a combiner box on the roof then drop down the fridge vent to charge controller next to battery bank.
Next I need to choose a MPPT controller. considering

Morningstar TriStar 60 Amp MPPT Charge Controller ?
or The Midnite Solar Classic 150 MPPT ?
Now when it come to wire size will 10 Gauge to combiner box be enough?
Then from combiner box to controler ? 6 gauge?


Panel Specs

Electrical Characteristics Evergreen ES-E-225-fc3 (225W)
  • STC Power Rating 225W
  • PTC Power Rating 203.8W 1
  • STC Power per unit of area 12.8W/ft2 (137.3W/m2)
  • Peak Efficiency 13.73%
  • Power Tolerances 0%/+2%
  • Number of Cells 120
  • Nominal Voltage not applicable
  • Imp 7.65A
  • Vmp 29.5V
  • Isc 8.33A
  • Voc 36.1V
  • NOCT 45.4C
  • Temp. Coefficient of Power -0.43%/K
  • Temp. Coefficient of Voltage -0.112V/K
  • Series Fuse Rating 15A
  • Maximum System Voltage 600V
Mechanical Characteristics
  • Type Polycrystalline Silicon
  • Output Terminal Type Multicontact Connector Type 4
  • Frame Color Black
  • Length 67.8in (1,722mm)
  • Width 37.5in (951mm)
  • Depth 1.8in (46mm)
  • Weight 42.9lb (19.5kg)
  • Installation Method Rack-Mounted
Warranty and Certifications
  • 80% Power Output Warranty Period 12yrs
  • 90% Power Output Warranty Period 25yrs
  • Workmanship Warranty Period 10yrs
  • CSI Listed No
  • 1. PTC rating calculated using 45.4C as the NOCT (Nominal Cell Operating Temperature)
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:50 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are on the right track. I installed 2 x 250 watt high voltage panels on our rig tied together in series as per expert instructions thus producing 73 volts on a cloudy day. Ran 10 gauge wire to my Morning Star MPPT 45 amp that reduces the 73 volts to 13.8 in turn increasing the amps output to around 35 amps. In your case I would recommend the 60 amp charge controller to be safe and tie panels together in series. The experts told me that with this system it "Wakes Up" earlier and goes "To Sleep" later than 12V panels connected in parallel and is much more efficient. I think your plan of tying them together with 10 ga wire then 8 to 6 ga from the panels to your controller then to the batteries is spot on, better to be safe than sorry. You would regret it if you went with too small a wire and fried something. The outfit I got my system from was Solar Penny in Meza Az and they were very helpful. Good luck!
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:00 PM   #3
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Thanks for they quick reply. From my reading I was under the assumption that parallel would be better do to the shading effect. Or is that more geared toward 12 volt panels?
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:14 PM   #4
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Parallel mitigates shading issues.
Recommend the Morningstar 60a controller.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:46 AM   #5
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Mdpuff and Vince point out the advantages/disadvantages to parallel/series connection.
We have six 235 W panels. These are 30+V panels. The rear three panels are in series as are the three forward panels. These are then tied in parallel so that the voltage is about 90V to the controller at maximum power of 1330 W.

Your maximum power is 600+W and voltage is 30 V so your amperage will be about 20 amps. However, you do have a whacking lot of room on a 38' Winnebago so you may decide to go with more panels some day and Vince's suggestion of the Morningstar 60a controller is a good one.

As MdPull notes, tying in series does give you higher voltage and thus lower amperage, lower power loss and the use of thinner cabling. As noted above, we have gotten 1330 W to our Morning Star MPPT 45. This was 14 amps, had we left them in parallel, it would have been 42 amps. Having the panels grouped in series at front and rear of trailer, we only lose half the power if we do get shaded. Making sure of avoiding shade for most of the day is of prime interest in setting up when boondocking. Often we try to get sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

The Morning Star MPPT 45 reduces the voltage to 48 V nominal since our battery bank is 48 V nominal.

More battery storage is always better. Solar and battery storage are like Crackerjacks 'the more you have, the more you want!'

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Old 11-12-2014, 10:18 AM   #6
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KT... I followed the VSHEETZ design... I will agree that a 60A controller which now might seem like OVERKILL.... is a better choice than 45A. Panels and system growth sprawl will quickly leap into your lap when you discover that the solar system actually works great. You start assigning more products to the solar circuit and then you discover that you must grow the system. Add the overkill NOW... expect the growth. (PS... I bought a 45A controller.... I am adding more goodies to the system)
Wiring... Oversize
Controller Over size
Fuse properly
Marine isolation switching...properly
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:27 AM   #7
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I can endorse the Bogart TM-2030-RV and the TriStar MPPT60. Doubt you will be disappointed with either of those two products. I started with six panels and liked solar so much I added four more. Was glad I over-invested on the MPPT60.

You may want to get a little bigger inverter, though. Look in your crystal ball at all of the things you are going to want to power down-the-road. The incremental overhead between a 1000watt and a 2000watt is not that much. Maybe something in the middle?

It's a great project. Have fun!

\ken
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:44 AM   #8
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Reed -
A 48Volt battery bank good for you I assume it's a residential install not in your RV
Higher voltage less power losses due to wire/connector losses

Another advantage of the MPPT-60 is that it has an Ethernet network connection - Making a WiFi interface simple. I use a small TP-LINK router and can easily check up on the system via WiFi.

Shading issues can be mitigated several ways
A series/parallel wired array best of both
Panels with several isolation diodes
Positioning
Etc...
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Old 11-12-2014, 12:03 PM   #9
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Ktoutor-- I also recommend the Morningstar -MPPT-60, I have one and it works great. I also have the TS-RM-2 remote display so that I can monitor. I also use the network cable to trend and download to learn more about my system operation.

The series/ parallel debate, Series- on one hand the higher the voltage the smaller wire you can use without losses. on the other hand series and partial shading will cut output dramatically. IMO- you already have 30 volt panels, so you can already use smaller wire. (compared to 18 volt panels). Your already going to get the advantage of the MPPT technology using 30 volt panels, making it a 90 volt system will have limited if any advantages and any shading at will reduce your output. Use a calculator to verify the correct size wiring required. My vote is for parallel.

Looking at MDPUFF's installation, I would be concerned about heat dissipation and shading, Make sure you mount the Solar panels up an inch or 2 to allow for air movement under the panels. Also, the Morningstar controller has fins on top for heat dissipation, it requires space around it for heat dissipation. You also don,t want to mount the Solar panels up against a vent or A/C cover, leave at least a foot or so to limit shading that will occur from the vent cover.
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Old 11-12-2014, 12:17 PM   #10
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KJINTF

No, ours is on a 34' fifth wheel. We do have room on roof for another 700 W on roof and another two batteries as below. This would change system to either 2 banks of 4 in series (120 V) or 4 banks of 2 in series (60 V)

The battery bank is 4 x 12 V 180 amp-hour Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries (each is 4 x 12 V CALB cells). Son designs and fabricates solar/wind systems for commercial purposes and prefers the 48 V nominal for the battery bank due to long runs. The batteries were fabricated by Manzanita Micro with their own battery management system (BMS). We would go to the MPPT-60 or 75 if we ever feel the need for more power/energy storage. We do have a Magnum 4.0 kW PSW inverter.

Attached photo is of our rig at son's place in mountains of northern NM. That roof in the background is now solid panels. We are fulltimers that boondock/bush camp primarily and are solar autonomous.

Noted that there is a parallel thread at this site that is discussing pretty much the same concepts. Lots of good information

Reed and Elaine
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Old 11-12-2014, 04:47 PM   #11
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First of all thank you for your input... I love this Forum.
I picked up my 3 panels today from inside the house they were putting out 15 volts.
Plan on installing like this 2 behind 1st vent and 1 behind the rear air conditioner.
Now i have more questions?
Do the panels need to be grounded?
I plan on making my own 3" wide aluminum mounting brackets I figured 6 brackets per panel? then use 3M 5200?
I have a smooth fiberglass roof. Would screws be needed also?
How much space should there be between the Panel and the roof? 1" 2" 3"
Next what about protection ? breaker or fuse and at what amp should i choose.
I am assuming the breaker or fuses would go between the panels and the MPPT controller.
Do i need any protection between the MPPT controller and the battery?
I plan on mounting mt MPPT controller in small compartment left of battery bank.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:26 PM   #12
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why are they only putting out 15 volts? I thought they are 30 volt panels?
No they don;t have to be grounded on the roof of an RV. On the ground Yes.
yes , 3" wide brackets 6 per panel. I don't know about tape, I used molly bolts, 18 per panel (3 X 6), elevated 2", sloped slightly toward the front to force the wind at 75 mph over the panels not under and to let water run off.

Go to the Hardware store and buy an air conditioner fused disconnect box and use 1.25 times your max current sized fuses. There are 2 legs available, fuse the hot in from panels, and fuse the output of the controller. It is also a disconnect, just pull the handle to disconnect.

Make sure you follow the recommended clearance around the controller to dissipate the heat, The compartment might need to be ventilated. How close is the controller to the batteries?, The closer the better.

Look at your shadow on the roof. The rear panel may be partially shaded late in the day or early in the morning (when parked in this direction or opposite). Are you going to install them in series or parallel? Get it away from the AC cover as much as possible and elevate it. My vote is still parallel.

If your set on using tape, do some research, your panels are about 40 lbs each. I do know some people have used a VHB tape from 3M.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:48 PM   #13
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No ground needed.
Circuit breaker on either side of the controller - provides both circuit protection and disconnect to isolate portions of the system.
Going to add more panels in the future? Size wiring and circuit breakers accordingly.
Parallel configuration is my recommendation.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:29 PM   #14
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mgscott4: I assumed low voltage due to the fact I was inside the house and using artificial light? I will test them outside on the first sunny day The weather is nasty in Kentucky this week.
Thank you for the great advice.
Great ideal about tilting the panel.
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