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Old 10-25-2022, 04:38 PM   #1
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Recommendation of solar panels?

So I've decided to add 400W of solar to my rig and have been researching my options. I know I want monocrystalline panels (rigid) and am going to use a Victron MPPT controller. I've looked at several panels and boy is it confusing so I thought I'd throw it out there and ask the group what they're using or what they've found to be a good panel to use? or what they've found after installing current panels as technology changes rapidly.

Any input for my system design or recommendations will be greatly appreciated and read!

Thank you!!!
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Old 10-25-2022, 04:54 PM   #2
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It depends on: physical sizes of the panels, the space you have on top of your RV for bigger or smaller panels, if your going just parallel or a combination of series/parallel for the wiring (which determines the size of your connection cables and if you need a junction box or not) and where you get them from and if there are shipping costs.


Bigger panels (mine were three 340W 65in x 51in at 41Vmax 8 Amp, but I could fit them on a 5th wheel) connected in parallel so I could use individual 10 gauge wires and connected them all together in a combiner box next to the batteries. It was much cheaper than many more 12 or 18V panels and connections and wires spread out on smaller places that a TT would require.


And pay attention to shading with series vs parallel wiring as well.
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Old 10-25-2022, 08:04 PM   #3
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I opted for 200w panels from Rich Solar. Iíve been satisfied with them as theyíve performed as expected.

Before you order your panels, Iíd suggest you carefully map out your roof. Fitting a couple 200w panels wonít be a problem. Should you decide to add more panels in the future, itís better to plan for it now, so you donít have to move anything later.
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Old 10-25-2022, 08:21 PM   #4
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Also check to see if you can get used panels.
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Old 10-26-2022, 01:00 PM   #5
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24v or 48v panels will let you run smaller wire or use the existing OEM solar prep wires.

Just be sure your SCC can handle whatever total wattage and inputs from the panels based on your wiring config.
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Old 10-27-2022, 07:31 PM   #6
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You can save 50-80% on your solar panels if you buy used. Just need to test them prior to purchase to make sure they are good. No moving parts on solar panels make them long lasting.


Some of the last solar panels I bought for my RVs were 250w panels for $35 each. They are all producing great after being installed for a couple of years.


Just recently, I saw someone giving away twenty 170w panels. They didn't have the MC4 connectors, but those are easy to ad. I emailed them (....mostly because I'm addicted to solar) and they were gone.


Check craigslist, facebook, and nextdoor.


Good luck!
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Old 10-30-2022, 11:19 AM   #7
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I used Newpowa panels because of there size, there 160watt panels are alittle shorter then most 180~200 watt panels, this let me install more panels with less space lost . I was able to get 3 panels long with very little room to spare , other wise I would have had about 40" x 26" wide space that would have been unused to mount panels.
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Old 10-30-2022, 02:01 PM   #8
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JMO, but probably the biggest consideration depends on what type of roof you have and whether you’re going to undertake a DIY install. If you have a fiberglass roof, as most motorhomes do, installation of hard panels can be easier because you can actually affix the panels to t-channel, and tape the channels to the roof. Plus using an occasional screw on fiberglass is not as likely to create a leak if properly sealed. If you have a rubber roof, you can’t do that, or your roof may be ripped off the rv by the force of wind. Hard panels installed on rubber roofs require you to make holes in the roof, so there’s always a chance of a leak down the road. Also consider the difficulty of DIY installing a gland and/or combiner box, and then routing cable to your batteries. Flex panels taped down to rubber roofs make for an easier and leak free install. However flex panels in the past have suffered from efficiency degradation, heat build up, and damage from falling objects. I’m currently testing a new technology flex panel o at the request of the manufacturer that has none of the disadvantages of older flex panels, and seem to be more efficient than hard panels. I will post a review on this new panel on the tech thread in a couple of weeks.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:33 AM   #9
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Solar guru's please advise!

So here's the configuration I've settled on (and I use settled on loosely) and wanted to throw it out there to the group as I'm a newbie with solar. My ultimate goal is to be able to keep the house batteries charged up when we park the MH for two to three week while we visit the kids, only leaving the refer on propane. We may in different areas of the country so really don't know what the weather could be like. We typically chase the good weather so I can assume it would be good for at least part if not most of the time while we're parked.

I think this is way more than I really need, but I thought why not put more and use it when we do some boondocking.

I was going to install 2 200W 24V panels from Rich Solar
Wired with 10awg wire to a Victron Smart Solar 75/100
Thoughts about putting in a switch between the panels and the controller? Is that harmful to panels if not using the power they produce or just leave connected all the time. Thoughts?
and of course the fuses needed in appropriate locations.
Wire from controller to the house batteries, does it matter which pair of batteries I connect to? or do I need something else in my system that I've overlooked.

I look forward to hearing from anyone with all input welcomed.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:42 AM   #10
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That is plenty for what you are looking for. I have 400W and it keeps my trailer charged by 9-10am most of the time.

I would recommend a breaker between the panels and the controller. Makes it easier for maintenance and its actually required by NEC code. I know the RV market is not specifically calling it out, but other RVIA and similar codes/recommendations say to follow NEC. Obviously that does not always happen in an RV though

I installed one when I built my setup. There are smaller options out there.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:50 AM   #11
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I wouldn't obsess over the brand of solar panel. They're pretty much a commodity and I don't see the need for the so-called premium panels for a simple RV installation. I would recommend sticking with well known brand names. I prefer to buy from somewhere with no-questions asked returns like Amazon, Home Depot and the like. Be sure to read the fine print regarding returns. Not all sellers on Amazon have the free, no questions asked return policy.

I know that used panels can be a good deal $-wise but new panels are relatively inexpensive so I'm not sure they're worth the risk.
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcfleetwood View Post
So here's the configuration I've settled on (and I use settled on loosely) and wanted to throw it out there to the group as I'm a newbie with solar. My ultimate goal is to be able to keep the house batteries charged up when we park the MH for two to three week while we visit the kids, only leaving the refer on propane. We may in different areas of the country so really don't know what the weather could be like. We typically chase the good weather so I can assume it would be good for at least part if not most of the time while we're parked.

I think this is way more than I really need, but I thought why not put more and use it when we do some boondocking.

I was going to install 2 200W 24V panels from Rich Solar
Wired with 10awg wire to a Victron Smart Solar 75/100
Thoughts about putting in a switch between the panels and the controller? Is that harmful to panels if not using the power they produce or just leave connected all the time. Thoughts?
and of course the fuses needed in appropriate locations.
Wire from controller to the house batteries, does it matter which pair of batteries I connect to? or do I need something else in my system that I've overlooked.

I look forward to hearing from anyone with all input welcomed.

Thanks in advance!
As you seem to be using the guessing method of determining what you need for a system it looks pretty good. The controller is overkill as 30 amps will handle 400 watts of panels but it is nice to have extra headroom for easy expansion which could be required depending on you wants and desires.

Without knowing your setup or having real usage data it's a bit of guess but you will have the system to add more panels easily if needed.

Do make part of your system a shunt based battery monitor. If your batteries and controller do not share the same climate get a Victron remote voltage/temperature sensor. It uses Bluetooth to talk to the controller.

As far as hooking to the batteries if you have two strings hook up + to one string, - to the other, just like they should be already for connection to your coach.
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Old 11-11-2022, 11:02 AM   #13
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I was going to install 2 200W 24V panels from Rich Solar
Wired with 10awg wire to a Victron Smart Solar 75/100


Are you going to wire in series or parallel? I'd use heavier wire for the downhaul, unless you running a pair for each panel.



Thoughts about putting in a switch between the panels and the controller? Is that harmful to panels if not using the power they produce or just leave connected all the time. Thoughts?


No problem with panels in the sun with no place to go for the power. It is best to add at least a switch between the panels and the controller. A resetable breaker is better. Also should have a proper sized breaker between the controller and the batteries. This way if you to work on the system you can isolate parts. Make sure the cable going to batteries is sized for the output of the controller.



and of course the fuses needed in appropriate locations.
Wire from controller to the house batteries, does it matter which pair of batteries I connect to? or do I need something else in my system that I've overlooked.


How many batteries are in that battery bank? How are they wired? What kind of batteries are they? A fairly common wiring set is below. I'd put the controller output on the same posts as the POS & NEG are on now. When you use 12v power and the sun is out, the power can just go straight to the house load wires and forced to pass through the batteries.

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I look forward to hearing from anyone with all input welcomed.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-11-2022, 02:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rarebear.nm View Post
I was going to install 2 200W 24V panels from Rich Solar
Wired with 10awg wire to a Victron Smart Solar 75/100


Are you going to wire in series or parallel? I'd use heavier wire for the downhaul, unless you running a pair for each panel.
Those panels are 5.8ish amps max, so even in parallel that is not even 11A, so 10ga is totally fine since that is good to 30A.

I agree that the SCC is overkill and the OP would save a bunch by going to a Victron 100|30 and wiring the panels in parallel.
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