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Author Topic: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!  (Read 5385 times)

supermanotorious

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supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« on: January 03, 2017, 10:51:38 AM »
and why not?! my advanced inverter installs take care of 95% of the work in a "solar" project, in fact all I need is the charge controller and the panels with wiring.

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,96811.msg913533

what are your thoughts on these panels? any other panels you can recommend? I'm not asking how many, etc, but which are the ones to go with?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009Z6CW7O
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Lou Schneider

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2017, 12:57:46 PM »
That panel should work as well as any other 36 cell panel.  The ones you want to avoid are the 32 cell panels - their working voltage is marginal for fully charging 12 volt batteries, especially when they get hot.

HueyPilotVN

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2017, 02:05:13 PM »
I recently bought some 160 watt panels from Home Depot for around $200 on sale. 

They shipped to the store near me at the time and I picked them up with no shipping charges.

Just posting because I thought it was a good price.
Bill Waugh
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2017, 03:55:45 PM »
that's pretty good but isn't there something about $1 per watt? where are the best deals to be had?
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Desert_Rat

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HueyPilotVN

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2017, 06:25:29 PM »
I hope that this post does not seem like throwing cold water on a product.

Be sure that you understand the details on those panels.

They are residential panels and that website seems to show them mounted in a grid on a supporting framework.

They are also fairly large at 39.4 inches by 78.46 inches or about 3.5 feet by 6.5 feet.

The 24 volts is not a problem as long as you use a MPPT charge controller that will reduce the voltage going into a 12 volt bank or a 24 volt bank.

I am not saying not to use these, but be sure that you understand the specs.
Bill Waugh
40' Country Coach DP
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Mustang Bracket Race Car
Retired from the road to Lake Havasu after 35 years on the road

Desert_Rat

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2017, 06:34:08 PM »
Duly noted. I have mapped out my roof and can actually fit them fairly comfortably.

Desert_Rat

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2017, 06:37:08 PM »
Duly noted. I have mapped out my roof and can actually fit them fairly comfortably.

edit: I asked quite a number of strangers who the best manufacturer of PV was,and  I was directed to Solarworld by the majority of them. American made (extremely important to me), and top notch quality. The fact they had these behemoths was icing on the cake.

supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2017, 12:37:14 PM »
I like the idea of the 24 panel, I'll have to do a cost analysis to see if that plus a converter is more affordable than buying 3 100W panels
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Desert_Rat

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2017, 05:13:56 PM »
I'm pretty sure that on cost balancing, a 24v 100w panel is cheaper then a 12v 100w, on its own.

Cheaper cabling and termination against a wash in cost for mppt and inverter. Fuses and breakers are 24v. The question really is, in what setup is a 12v system less expensive?

supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2017, 09:14:34 PM »
well $1/watt is fine by me, these seem to be the best deal on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00V4844F4

I was looking at AIMS converters and seemed it all was a wash

Luckily I'm in no rush to get this installed but we are going to Yellowstone in March and I'd like to have it done by then

more research to do

if you look at my other threads you'll find that once I put my mind to something, it gets done rapidly and professionally
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2017, 12:54:58 PM »
well if you saw from my other posts, we did Zion instead of Yellowstone this month and it was our first test of the new battery bank

the bank didn't perform as well as I had hoped and there are some things to fine tune like the extra long run from the converter to the battery bank

but I decided to really start purchasing the panels, the first showed up today, I plan to buy 1 per paycheck then maybe buy the charge controller/battery monitor over 2 paychecks so I dont have to finance any of this

it was putting out 22.3V in less than full sun this morning but I cant tell you how many watts

I'm excited to get this project installed and start reaping the benefits
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2017, 12:05:46 PM »
"finally" is a loose description, today I ordered 3 more panels and the battery monitor, the charge controller should be here today or tomorrow, I'm on the fence with mounting the panels, roof mount seems ideal but my dad made a point, we generally like to camp in the shade, he suggested I fabricate a collapsible frame to position the panels on the ground, so they can be moved around to ideal sun exposure, but that also invites theft, I dunno

we're going camping this weekend and hopefully I'll be set up to charge and monitor the battery bank by then, who knows, I may work on it while we're camping
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2017, 12:53:08 PM »
I got the charge controller today and pre-wired it for the battery bank, all I'm waiting on is the monitor to arrive tomorrow, the shunt is ready to be installed which will complete the bank to charge controller circuit, still trying to decide what to do for the panels but for this weekend, they'll likely be on the ground, or sitting loose on the roof, better not forget to take them down before leaving camp!! Once the shunt is installed, I'll snap a few pics to post
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2017, 01:25:42 PM »
I have the shunt/monitor installed! Waiting for the other three panels to show up but otherwise it's all connected. I'm not sure how to configure the Victron BMV-700. My batteries are Interstate RC105     Ah: 20 hr @ 210 and I have 4 of them wired in series/parallel, what do I enter for total/desired amp hour?

System Voltage: 6V + 6V = 12V
System Capacity = 210AH + 210AH = 420AH  ????

ALSO, given these batteries, can anyone provide the values I should enter for Charged Voltage, Tail Current, Charged Detection Time, and Charge Efficiency Factor?
« Last Edit: June 01, 2017, 02:00:01 PM by supermanotorious »
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2017, 05:30:24 PM »
welp, I had to read the manual a few times and watch a couple videos on Youtube but I got some rough parameters to put in there, already learned my fridge is the amperage theif! it's propane only when boondocking from now on, unless the genny is on
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2017, 11:07:07 AM »
Everything is going pretty well. I realize my converter is not directly attached to the negative post on the battery bank, I believe it is frame grounded so that activity is not getting captured by the monitor. So, should I run the converter ground to the shunt, or, provide frame ground via the shunt? I believe the latter would also capture the tongue jack etc.
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2017, 04:34:04 PM »
Again I answer my own questions, I disconnected the battery to frame ground and all went dead confirming the converter is frame ground. I moved the ground wire so it goes from frame to shunt, now all wattage/amperage use is getting tracked except for starting the genny.
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2017, 07:58:08 AM »
The panels performed so well, I wish I got them sooner. Maybe this coming weekend I'll get them permanently installed. Here you can see the crazy pollen that accumulated on them at Dogtown Lake.
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2017, 02:21:31 PM »
I've kind of hit a wall now that I have all the components. I have half a mind to fabricate brackets to mount the panels, the sort that would allow me to prop them up one way or the other to track the sun, and half a mind to just buy some, leaving me jammed up.

Also, as for running the wires in to the cabin, I would likely use the refer vent but then what? I would probably have to run cable covers across the face of interior walls and I'm just not looking forward to that.
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Kevin Means

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2017, 06:53:13 PM »
Solar "trackers" are pretty much non-existent for RV rooftops (pretty impractical too) so I think you're probably talking about solar panel tilt kits. There are a variety of them on the market, but make sure you get the kind that allow the panels to be tilted to various angles. Some only allow panels to be adjusted to one pre-set angle, or they're flat.

Running the wires is always the challenge. Fridge vents are common entry points, but I wouldn't hesitate to drill through the roof somewhere that would allow me to run the wires on a more asthetically pleasing path - especially if was a shorter distance to the controller. Dicor is your friend. :) However, if doing so meant that the wire run would be substantially longer, I'd have to think about that.

Kev
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2017, 11:22:49 AM »
the run is going to be fairly long no matter what since the optimal place for the panels is the rear of the cabin while the controller is at the front, with that in mind the controller accepts 8ga max wiring, should I run 10ga from each panel 80% of the run, then in to a distribution block and 8ga for the remaining 20% run to the controller?
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Kevin Means

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2017, 01:14:08 PM »
I'm not sure what components you're going to be using, or how you plan to wire the panels, but the lowest voltage in an RV solar setup is usually between the controller and the battery-bank, so that's where the wire run should be as short as possible, and where thick gauge wire should be used.

IMO, you should run the thickest gauge wire you can throughout your entire system. If your panels are going to be wired in parallel, voltage loss is going to be an issue on long wire runs, so thick gauge wire is going to be needed to reduce that loss.

Kev 
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2017, 03:55:34 PM »
Here are the panels, charge controller, and monitor. The controller is close to the shunt, ground goes to the load side of shunt, shunt is on the 1/0 gauge run to the batteries approx 6' long, the controller positive goes to the master fuse for the batteries, currently both + and - are 10ga but I can easily upgrade them to 8ga. If necessary, I could run 8ga for each panel, in to a distribution block, then a single pair of 8ga to the controller but again, it's a lengthy run from panels to controller. Diagram below for the idea

PANELS X4: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V4844F4
CHARGE CONTROLLER: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B28RV96
BATTERY MONITOR: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MJ9TAN8

I do plan to mount the controller above the inverter which will allow for an even shorter run between the controller and shunt. The controller is wired to the shunt so the monitor can see what's going on, if I went straight to the batteries I'd have no idea.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 04:08:37 PM by supermanotorious »
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Kevin Means

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2017, 01:17:32 AM »
That combination of equipment should work, but since you'll be using an MPPT controller, you might consider wiring your panels in series, or maybe every two panels in series. One benefit an MPPT controller has over a PWM controller is the ability to convert excess voltage to amps. That higher voltage will also help reduce voltage loss on the long wire runs you mentioned from the panels to the controller.

The panels you linked to put out a little more than 17 volts and about 5 & 1/2 amps (At max output.) That doesn't leave much for an MPPT controller to work with... to convert volts to amps. If every two panels were wired in series, however, you'd double the voltage going to the controller, which would extend the time the controller has each day to charge the batteries. They could all be wired in series if you wanted to. Helps during cloudy days too.

It appears that the controller does not have programmable (adjustable) voltage settings, so just be aware of that. Your batteries will get what the device is programmed to give them (Will probably be fine.) You should definitely use a shunt for the battery monitor - just ensure it's attached to the (-) battery terminal.

Kev
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 01:21:23 AM by Kevin Means »
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

sunfighter

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2017, 08:07:00 AM »
Rather than make another hole in my roof, I chose to enter from the side below the drip edge.
"Leaning in a heavy wind that no one else can feel"

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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2017, 01:11:04 PM »
That combination of equipment should work, but since you'll be using an MPPT controller, you might consider wiring your panels in series, or maybe every two panels in series. One benefit an MPPT controller has over a PWM controller is the ability to convert excess voltage to amps. That higher voltage will also help reduce voltage loss on the long wire runs you mentioned from the panels to the controller.

The panels you linked to put out a little more than 17 volts and about 5 & 1/2 amps (At max output.) That doesn't leave much for an MPPT controller to work with... to convert volts to amps. If every two panels were wired in series, however, you'd double the voltage going to the controller, which would extend the time the controller has each day to charge the batteries. They could all be wired in series if you wanted to. Helps during cloudy days too.

It appears that the controller does not have programmable (adjustable) voltage settings, so just be aware of that. Your batteries will get what the device is programmed to give them (Will probably be fine.) You should definitely use a shunt for the battery monitor - just ensure it's attached to the (-) battery terminal.

Kev

great advice, thanks Kev! the shunt is on the ground lead, but since it has a circuit board, I wanted it inside, not in the cradle underneath holding the batteries
« Last Edit: July 24, 2017, 09:44:50 AM by supermanotorious »
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2017, 04:50:08 PM »
I moved the charge controller to above the inverter and I'm very happy with that. Now I have <12" run of 8ga with positive fused to the inverter terminals where "2/0ga" (more like 1/0ga) runs to the battery terminals. So Kevin, I'm hoping for very little voltage drop between the controller and batteries. I went to Consolidated Electrical Distribution right by my house and got 150' of HNNW 8ga for $63 after tax, should be about 20% more than I need. Now I need to either order or make the panel mounts, pick up some dicor, make all the connections, decide where to come through the roof, button it all down, and enjoy that system. But damned if I cant decide where to drop in.
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Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2017, 04:52:21 PM »
supermanotorious:

I ran into similar problems figuring out how to mount my system.  I used the fridge vent for wiring, which worked well on my unit as the cupboards where the converter was mounted were right beside  the fridge cavity.  I also had to figure out how to physically mount the panels to the roof.

If you haven't already, you may want to look at what worked for me here:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,106669.0.html

Frank.
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2017, 06:27:30 PM »
thanks, I certainly did read that thread, took the trailer out near Willams, AZ this past weekend, kinda wished I had the panels installed, then we were hit with intense rain and hail and I was kind of glad the panels weren't exposed to that, I know I cant protect them forever but hey
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Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2017, 07:59:24 PM »
Quote
then we were hit with intense rain and hail and I was kind of glad the panels weren't exposed to that

The resiliency of solar panels may surprise you.

I have just completed a large solar installation on our 2010 Arctic Fox 30U.  It rained shortly afterward, and we got  3/4" hail with it - loud enough to wake us up in the house.  Solar panels were all fine.

Frank.
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Kevin Means

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #31 on: September 02, 2017, 01:28:33 PM »
What Frank said. There are international standards for solar panel construction, and hail impact resistance is one of them. Hail that's hitting hard enough to shatter a car's windshield, will usually have no affect at all on solar panels. Ours have been through a couple of hail storms, and suffered no damage whatsoever. They're tough!

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2017, 03:30:16 PM »

Quote


Hail that's hitting hard enough to shatter a car's windshield, will usually have no affect at all on solar panels.


That is good to know. We get a lot of hail here, though seldom of windshield breaking size.


Frank.
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1.2 kw solar

supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2017, 04:01:54 PM »
I'm not concerned about weather anymore, I still haven't installed the doggone things and every trip involves putting them on the roof, connecting them, then bringing them back down, total PITA, for now she's on the driveway with all 4 panels resting on the roof, I am leaving the inverter on and it is powering a charger for my boat batteries, I am going to monitor for a couple days then may wire them to 24V to see if the controller converts the higher voltage to additional amps
Home is New River, AZ
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2017, 06:30:29 PM »
finally made brackets and installed the panels, I sure hope the brackets were worth the pita, my plan is to someday replace the hardware with knob bolts so I can tilt the panels

I decided to run series/parallel for higher output voltage since the 8ga run from the panels to the charge controller is about 25 feet

used 3/4" long 14ga stainless screws to attach the brackets to the roof and sealed the footings with Dicor, ran the wires down the refrigerator vent, one reason I drug my feet on this was not realizing the refrigerator vent is basically just an open channel from the roof to the service panel for the refrigerator, I had the wires then follow the refig drain hose to the bottom of the coach then ran them along the frame to the controller
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Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2017, 10:14:48 PM »
Quote
one reason I drug my feet on this was not realizing the refrigerator vent is basically just an open channel from the roof


Indeed, that is one of the great advantages of using that area for running wires. There's lots of room, and it is super easy to pull them through there.


Frank.
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supermanotorious

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2017, 06:24:58 AM »
towed the rig to Winkelman Flats for the annual Riot on the River motorcycle event, the panels didn't blow off or come loose (phew). and of course Saturday was mostly overcast but I never saw the battery bank go below 90% and it was fully charged when I parked it on the driveway yesterday
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2017, 06:44:25 AM »
I'm not sure how to configure the Victron BMV-700. My batteries are Interstate RC105     Ah: 20 hr @ 210 and I have 4 of them wired in series/parallel, what do I enter for total/desired amp hour?

System Voltage: 6V + 6V = 12V
System Capacity = 210AH + 210AH = 420AH  ?

ALSO, given these batteries, can anyone provide the values I should enter for Charged Voltage, Tail Current, Charged Detection Time, and Charge Efficiency Factor?
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2017, 10:20:07 AM »
The combined AH for your battery bank is the 420 @ 12v. Once wired up, you have one big 12v battery, not 4 separate ones, and that's what the Victron sees.

For the other parameters, I'd go with the defaults until some experience is gained. The actual performance of your batteries and charger might eventually lead to some tuning changes, but changing them now seems premature to me. I would be tempted to move the Charged Voltage up a bit, but would want to see how it performs first. Most modern chargers get to about 13.6v at float charge, and the manual suggests setting the level 0.2v-0.3v below that.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 10:29:35 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
Gary
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Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2017, 03:07:10 PM »
Quote
Saturday was mostly overcast but I never saw the battery bank go below 90% and it was fully charged when I parked it on the driveway yesterday

I am looking forward to trying our new array in Arizona and SoCal, hopefully in a few weeks time.  We had it out once in August here locally, but parked in a shady campground.  Once I moved the trailer to a sunnier spot, we were fine.

Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2017, 05:08:54 PM »
Frank, a handful of us are getting together at KOFA starting January 9th. Can you make it?

Kev
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RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2017, 06:19:47 PM »
Kevin:

It is possible....

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #42 on: November 08, 2017, 08:42:56 PM »
by the way, I did not have to cut the "mesh" on top of the refer vent, I have many years of professional installation, after drilling the holes for the grommets, I used a steel fish tape to run down the vent as I looked through the mesh, super clean install, I'm having some PC issues now so I'm not able to upload pictures but I will when I can
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2017, 08:06:11 PM »
The only reason that I had to cut the mesh open on the top was because I had to run the wire down the far side of the fridge cavity from where the placement of the conduit obliged me to make the entry hole. I then wanted to staple that wire in place, and I couldn't reach up high enough in the cavity from outside to nail the wire staples in place. That pretty much had to be done from above.


Do send us pictures of your installation when you have a moment.


Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2017, 10:47:18 AM »
the picture issue is two fold, for starters I have a new hard drive in my PC that is for applications only and I haven't figured out how to route imported pictures to the original drive without duplicating pics already on there, the second issue is the compression requirements for this forum, I HATE THEM, especially with the new 3MP+ size iPhone photos
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #45 on: November 18, 2017, 11:14:35 AM »
Quote
I have a new hard drive in my PC that is for applications only and I haven't figured out how to route imported pictures to the original drive without duplicating pics already on there.

One can do that in Linux with a symbolic link.  I think the same can be done in Windows, but I don't know how anymore.  Been years since I used it.  I did find a few articles by doing a Google of "windows symlink".  One of them is this article:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa365680(v=vs.85).aspx

Quote
second issue is the compression requirements for this forum,

There are some free utilities that will do a file compression easily.  I suspect that Irfanview will, but again, it is years since I used Windows and Windows utilities last.  AFAIK, Irfanview is still freeware.

I know that I too hate to take additional steps to post pictures here because of size limitations, but the forum also has limited disk space, and bitmap graphic files are BIG.

Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #46 on: November 21, 2017, 07:02:40 AM »
here we go
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 07:16:28 AM by supermanotorious »
Home is New River, AZ
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #47 on: November 21, 2017, 07:38:44 AM »
Nice job. You will love it.

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #48 on: December 25, 2017, 06:56:01 AM »
Nice install! Sure beats lugging up there each time you need them.  :-)


The two-piece brackets are so that you can angle them if needed?


We are in Arizona now trying out the solar I installed this past summer.  So far, so good.  Even on partly cloudy days I have the 6 GC-2's fully charged by 1 PM.  I'm still playing with the settings on the charge controller to fine tune things, however.


Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #49 on: December 25, 2017, 10:19:04 AM »
Everytime I see that "1.2 kw of solar" in your signature line I chuckle a bit Frank.  :D Hope to see you in KOFA soon.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #50 on: December 25, 2017, 04:20:48 PM »
Kevin:


I'm looking forward to it.


Looks like we may have to make a run back to Las Vegas before we go to KOFA, however.  While I have lots of solar, and 6 gc2 batteries, for some reason we are depleting our battery bank nightly with nothing more than running the furnace and lights.  I'm going to have to break down and install a battery monitor to try to find out what my parasitic loads are. Something is definitely not right here.


Frank
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #51 on: December 25, 2017, 04:38:19 PM »
With as much boondocking as you guys do, I think a battery monitor would be a wise investment. I totally rely on ours. With six GC batteries and 1.2 KW of solar, I'm surprised you're having this problem. I'm wondering if the batteries aren't getting fully charged to begin with. How much furnace time are you seeing in a 24 hour period? Is your fridge set to run off A/C through an inverter (if you have an inverter) or off D/C power? I can't think of what else could draw your batteries down so far, so quickly.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #52 on: December 25, 2017, 04:49:33 PM »
Kevin:


Yeah, I don't understand it either. The furnace only runs once or twice a night here in Lake Havasu, and it doesn't draw a lot of power. The batteries are new just a few days ago, and I have upped the charge rate to 15 volts before it switches into absorb. We still get a full 2-hour absorb time before it goes into float at that setting even when drawing loads during the day, and the voltmeter is saying that the batteries are charged before 3 p.m. I need to get a hydrometer and find out if my electronics are lying to me.  Interstate recommends something like 15.3 for the absorb voltage, but I was afraid to go that high. The fridge will only take 15.4. :-(


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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #53 on: December 25, 2017, 04:58:14 PM »
Kevin:


The fridge is running propane only, and our 2500 watt sunforce inverter is only turned on if we're watching a little bit of TV. I have been real easy on the use of the microwave and the toaster because of the battery drain issue.  To kill off that much power over night, I would have to have at least a 10 amp steady draw. I have no idea where that might be coming from.  I even checked the DC 12 volt tank heaters to make sure they were turned off.


Yes, I guess I need to get a battery monitor and find out for sure what my drain is. I may even have some bad batteries from Costco.


Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #54 on: December 26, 2017, 08:42:57 AM »
Frank
I sometimes use a fuse buddy. The model I have only does 10 amps max but  they sell larger models. It can replace one fuse at a time to see individual circuit draws or if I'm pretty sure the draw is under 10 amps I will use jumpers to  put it in line to check system draw. It's also handy for doing solar panel amp tests. I do have a Trimetric but fuse buddy is cheap and handy, not that you cant use some multimeters too. It's easy to plug in and watch or have DW watch while I'm doing stuff.


One example:
http://www.tooldiscounter.com/ItemDisplay.cfm?lookup=ESP309&source=froogle&kw=ESP309&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI456cuPOn2AIVSmx-Ch28QgIoEAQYASABEgLiWPD_BwE

When I was running four sams GC2 we had a propane frig, led lights, 42" led tv (about 5 hours), 19" led tv (2 hours), ceiling fan, house furnace which ran a good amount and we could easily make it over night. It was common to be down 60 to 80 AH. Now I run a resi and it's common to be down 120 to 160 AH but we also now have six GC2.   
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 08:53:03 AM by QZ »

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #55 on: December 26, 2017, 10:08:10 AM »
QZ:


>I sometimes use a fuse buddy. <


Now, that little device is brilliant!


As you say, you still have the trimetric battery monitor, and I am going to purchase one tomorrow and install it sometime this week. I understand that it will read current draw down to a tenth of an amp or less, so that may give me similar functionality. All I need to do is unplug a fuse, and see if the current draw goes down, and by how much. I must say though, that I had not thought of pulling a fuse to find out where the current drain is. That little device and your comments gave me that idea.


I'm finding this whole thing rather perplexing. I've been scratching my head trying to figure out where I could be losing 10 amps steadily all day long. It may be as Kevin states further up in this thread that I am just not getting the batteries to a full charge, regardless of what the limited instruments in my trailer are telling me.


In any case, armed with the battery monitor and a hydrometer, I should be able to get this figured out sometime this week.


This all seems to have developed since I installed the solar controller in July. Anyone know how much the solar controller itself draws when it is not charging the batteries?


Frank.

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #56 on: December 26, 2017, 11:11:25 AM »
I wouldn't suspect the solar controller so much. It does happen where people dont  get fully charged when using only solar. My Trimetric along with the Bogart SC2030 is set to return 112% RPC return percent charge. Along with setting the wet cell battery efficiency at about 94%.
I have used my toaster at 90 amp DC draw but not often. I think of GC2 as golf cart only and golf carts dont demand high amps as much as they demand long ru times. If I was going to attempt to pull 125 amps for our Kerig or micro I think I would go to AGM. We use the remote start for the generator/ coffee/micro/toaster etc.  You may need an equalize. After running my four old wets very hard for 29 months they would fall on thier face. I didn't get into equalizing them and checking performance further because I went to a resi and six new GC2. Now  these six 16 month old gc2 have recently dropped considerably one night I did an equalize and they seem to have doe better.

I have hit them with the genny for an hour or less in the evening lately so they wouldn't drop low enough for the inverter fall out. The voltage could be at 12.4 or so but when the tv, satellite, furnace, lights and frig are running I can be pulling 25+ amps. When something kicks on it can dip just enough for the invert sag to drop the satellite and tv. That means a reboot when DW is watching tv. :)

Wets are an excellent value but they do have limitations. I'm probably the guy who only gets the suggested 2 years or so out of them vs 6 or 7 because I cycle them to the limit often. They are always watered and usually not below 12.2 but......   I have also looked at other options but hesitated to go AGM or certainly lith because of at first not knowing if we would like RV'ing or find another second house or cabin etc. If I was full time I would surely have AGM and possibly lith.  Since I'm rambling on I'll add more. I know that the rule of thumb is if you have say 200 AH of wets you can pull half of it. I have seen people say they could and stay above 12.2 and I have seen others say that it would be measured when taking the battery to 10.5. Well, 10.5 is never happening on my system and I find it more realistic to see 12.2 and be down around 120 or 140 ah.


I have been down about 160 or 170 but iirc it may have been around 12.1 or so. I dont see how I could pull 300 ah off this 630 ah bank. I have my Trimetric set to 500AH which makes the relationship between battery % full and the voltage more in line. I have also seen people say that the Trimetric needing to be reset from time to time and they didn't like it because of losing some history or lifetime amp count? Not sure on that as I'm no expert on Trimetric. It works for me to see volts, ah used, solar amps in, various item amp draw. Dont look at history much


Edit: Another example of wet performance is that I have a set of four sams 12 volt that are used lightly and recharged at around 15 to 15.1, I bought them in 2008 and replace as they die. Their ages are 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016. That's excellent for a cheap dual purpose battery but I can see how people might only get 2 years from a GC2 if running it hard.  I pretty much put it in the fuel use category. 29 months for four gc2 was about $12.00 a month
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 11:22:51 AM by QZ »

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #57 on: December 26, 2017, 11:35:58 AM »
QZ:


I think we are a lot alike in philosophy.  I keep mine above 12.1, and I got 6 years our of the last set -- three years in one trailer, and 3 more in this one.  I replaced them all with Costco Interstate GC-2's last week, but have not seen a real increase in performance.


We did mostly Solar last year in Arizona while boondocking, but that was with the 200 watts of solar we had then.  I had to supplement a lot with the generator, but it seems to me that we got several days of use before we had to resort to that.  Just don't remember for sure.  However, I was just guessing then, and charged according to 'need'.  Probably did not get the batteries fully charged for two or three weeks at a time before we did an overnighter with shore power.


Anyway, thank you for your 'ramblings' as I appreciate your experience with usable power.  I may get a bit of an education (reality check) this year after installing so much solar, and assuming that I would never need to plug in again.


Anyway, I am looking forward to installing the Tri-metric battery monitor.  I found one in stock in Yuma at Starlight Solar.  The fellow close to us here in Lake Havasu does not do over the counter sales.  We are headed toward Quartzsite in a week or so anyway, so I guess I can wait that long.


Frank
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QZ

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #58 on: December 26, 2017, 11:39:10 AM »
Yep, been to Starlite. Good clean place. There is also Craig at Discount solar in the Q. He has a good deal of stuff in stock.

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #59 on: December 26, 2017, 12:10:09 PM »
QZ:


Thanks for the tip on Discount Solar.  They are closed until tomorrow, so I'll call them then and see if they have one for a similar price.  I don't plan on going to Yuma unless I have to.  Quartzsite would be better for me if the price is close.


It is amazing how hard it is to source something that common.  I spent over 2 hours scouring the web yesterday.  Some small places may have stock, but they either don't have a website, or don't list it if they do.  I had to call Starlight to find out if they had one, as a search of their website for anything related to it turned up nothing.  We thought we might have to go back to Las Vegas to get one, but I couldn't confirm anything there either.


Thanks again!


Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #60 on: December 26, 2017, 04:29:07 PM »
As I remember Frank, you've got the same solar controller I have - the Outback FM-80. I don't remember the exact amount of power it consumes when it goes into sleep-mode (not charging) but it's very little. Certainly nowhere near the power it would take to drain your batteries.

If you're going to be camping with the other RVForum folks at Quartzsite, I'd recommend hooking up with Bill Waugh. He's very knowledgeable about RV solar stuff, and he tows a stacker behind his motorhome that literally has a complete shop in it. I don't like to volunteer other people's help and resources, but I know Bill, and I know he'd be happy to help you install your Trimetric.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #61 on: December 26, 2017, 07:42:34 PM »
Kevin:


Yeah, I looked up the specs, and it only takes about a watt maximum. So obviously my problem is not there.


I haven't been able to locate a battery hydrometer here in Lake Havasu City. A lot of the auto parts places aren't open yet today.  I have located a trimetric monitor in Yuma, and possibly one in Quartzsite. However, the Quartzsite shop wasn't open today either.


I can't imagine the battery monitor installation being that complicated. If I need help though, I will follow your suggestion.


We were in town most of the day today, and the trailer just sat here in the sun. Voltmeter shows 12.8 at the moment.  Maybe the furnace is just taking more power than I thought.


Frank
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #62 on: December 28, 2017, 06:08:23 PM »
Got a hydrometer, and when the charger goes into float, all six batteries are fully charged. So that problem is eliminated. That would also suggest that my charge settings are dialed in correctly, and that my solar array will indeed bring a depleted battery bank back up by early afternoon on the same day.


Much to my embarrassment, I think I found what the problem was when I was checking electrolyte readings. One of the jumpers between a series string of batteries was not tightened up.   :-[   That effectively subtracted both of those batteries from the battery bank. 


I installed these batteries on the fly in the Costco parking lot. I thought I had checked all of the connections, but obviously, I missed one.  After I corrected that error, the endurance of the battery bank improved immensely!


So, while I will still purchase and install a trimetric battery monitor, I think I may have resolved the problem.


Frank.

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #63 on: December 28, 2017, 06:24:57 PM »
Frank,

I actually live here in Lake Havasu City.

I would be happy to meet you and I am willing to share tools and parts that you might need

Send me a PM and we will meet
Bill Waugh
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2 Jeep Commanders
Mustang Bracket Race Car
Retired from the road to Lake Havasu after 35 years on the road

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #64 on: December 29, 2017, 10:37:32 AM »
Bill:


How very kind of you to offer.  Thank you so much!


However, I do not yet have the Trimetric battery monitor, and we are no longer in Lake Havasu.  :-(  We wander a lot when on vacation.   :D


I will likely obtain the device from Starlight Solar in Yuma sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I will attempt to install it while in the desert S of Quartzsite.  I can't imagine it being difficult, and I have a full complement of tools with me, including two different sizes of soldering irons, a power saw, two different hand saws, two battery drills, numerous packages of assorted screws, nuts, bolts, machine screws, tie wraps, cable ties, a stapler, as well as the requisite drywall screws and duct tape! No wonder the DW can't fine a place to put food!   ;D   I plan to just 'putter' at this project while in the desert.  Isn't that what old guys do?  Putter?   ;)


If I get stuck, I may PM you for some 'hand holding', so I thank you for the offer!


What are the dates of the Quartzsite rally this year?


Frank.
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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #65 on: December 29, 2017, 02:26:53 PM »
Much to my embarrassment, I think I found what the problem was when I was checking electrolyte readings. One of the jumpers between a series string of batteries was not tightened up.   :-[   That effectively subtracted both of those batteries from the battery bank. 

I installed these batteries on the fly in the Costco parking lot. I thought I had checked all of the connections, but obviously, I missed one.  After I corrected that error, the endurance of the battery bank improved immensely!

So, while I will still purchase and install a trimetric battery monitor, I think I may have resolved the problem.

Frank.
Hey, that's great Frank. Good job!

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 960 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #66 on: December 29, 2017, 03:00:57 PM »
Yeah, REALLY happy with the performance now. I even used a very power-hungry hot air popcorn popper last night for a snack before we went to bed. The battery bank handled that with aplomb.


I'm really beginning to get 'into' this solar thing!  ;D


Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

AStravelers

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #67 on: December 29, 2017, 03:53:49 PM »
Northern AZ Wind & Solar has the Trimetric for $153 plus shipping.  https://www.solar-electric.com/bogart-engineering-tm-2030-rv-battery-monitor.html
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #68 on: December 29, 2017, 03:56:58 PM »
But they are in Phoenix, and we're not going there.  :'(

And, as Canadians, we don't have a u.s. credit card or a u.s. shipping address. That is an issue.

Thanks for the tip, however.


Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Lou Schneider

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #69 on: December 29, 2017, 04:22:01 PM »
UPS Stores will accept packages if you call ahead and arrange in advance.  Or if they'll ship USPS, send to General Delivery in a town where you'll be when the package arrives, then go to the post office and claim it.

As far as a credit card, won't your Canadian card work down here?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 04:23:57 PM by Lou Schneider »

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #70 on: December 29, 2017, 04:32:13 PM »
Lou:


The Canadian credit card works fine, but many credit card payment systems won't allow shipment to an address other than that of the card holder. Fraud protection, and all that. It's been a while since I tried that though, so maybe I should try it again.


In any case, I found one in Yuma, and we will be close to there in a couple of weeks. I may also be able to find one in Quartzsite. A few dollars difference one way or the other is worth it for the hassle involved otherwise.  And, we are on vacation. I'm in no hurry.  8)


Frank.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 05:12:41 PM by Frank B »
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #71 on: December 29, 2017, 05:01:29 PM »
Lou or Kevin or any of the other sysops:


May I suggest that response number 49 and onward be removed from this thread, and pasted to the bottom of the following thread:


http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,106669.0.html

Thanks.

Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #72 on: December 29, 2017, 05:03:26 PM »
Darn but I HATE the random font size changes in this forum!


Can font size changes not be disabled?


Tom, we love you. However, can this not be addressed?  How many people actually use font size changes?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 05:08:29 PM by Frank B »
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
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1.2 kw solar

QZ

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #73 on: December 29, 2017, 05:13:02 PM »
For those who go to Q
If you are in Q you can have items shipped to Quiet Times shipping center. Just follow the shipping address instructions closely. The easiest thing is to have it shipped UPS so QT doesn't have to deal with the post office. It's a nightmare this time of year. A small package is a couple bucks. Something larger is $5. Be sure the seller is shipping UPS when ordering.


Frank
When you get the Trimetiric you will first go through the phase of learning how to use it. It's not complicated and has less function if you are not using  the  Bogart SC2030 solar controller with it. After that you may find yourself about to scroll the menu and tell yourself to guess how many amp hours you are down.  :) You do develop a knack of knowing what your system is doing and it does work well when using it to help diagnose problems. As some say, it's not mandatory and a voltmeter works but it is a handy tool. It was the first thing I bought for our first year when  I was running on genny only. I have been on solar for three years now and would never go without a monitor.

First thing in the morning I check AH down. I also watch volts  VS battery % full.   Through the day I may look at the RPC to reach 112%. I recently reset my 640 AH bank to 500 AH which seems to be more realistic when comparing battery volts vs battery % full. It may not be spot on since the values are floating somewhat because of loads coming on and off. When I get to a cord I may monitor it a little closer and try to fine tune. It always works so I haven't done much with history but plan on looking at it more for the heck of it.

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #74 on: December 29, 2017, 05:31:36 PM »
Ah, you folks here are absolutely too kind! You have no idea just how wide my smile was when I saw the first part of your post!  :)   Feels like family.


Honestly, QT, I am beginning to rethink my need for a battery monitor. Just one more thing I have to check. I have SO much solar on this trailer, that I wonder if I really need to be bothered about what the charge state is. I am not running this system any where near it's limits. I am up to my stinkin' armpits (1260 watts) in solar power.  ;D   I'm beginning to think that the hydrometer, and the charge recommendations for these Interstate batteries is enough in itself.


Anyway, still a week or two before we get near Yuma and I have to make a decision.


Thank you very much for your candid comments with regard to how much you use your battery monitor.


Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #75 on: December 29, 2017, 05:42:44 PM »
FWIW, our or Arctic Fox trailer had a very small solar system pre-installed. That included a pwm controller and a display panel showing charge level as a function of voltage. Though the pwm controller no longer has any panels connected to it, I have been using the voltmeter section of the display to monitor the state of my batteries. Admittedly, it is a voltmeter only. However, I am learning that it is relatively accurate.


It has an indicator light that lights at 14.4 volts to show that the system is charged. My Interstate batteries require a float of 15+ volts, and that is what I have my Outback solar controller set to for the absorb voltage. Basically, if I can get that indicator light to light, and then keep it there for the 2-hour absorb time, then I consider my batteries to be charged. The hydrometer seems to confirm my conclusion.


Frank.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 05:47:05 PM by Frank B »
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

HueyPilotVN

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #76 on: December 29, 2017, 11:48:17 PM »
Just another heads up.  When and if you get the monitor you also have to get the shunt and wiring kit.  It is usually sold separately.
Bill Waugh
40' Country Coach DP
2 Jeep Commanders
Mustang Bracket Race Car
Retired from the road to Lake Havasu after 35 years on the road

QZ

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #77 on: December 30, 2017, 01:14:25 AM »
Ah, you folks here are absolutely too kind! You have no idea just how wide my smile was when I saw the first part of your post!  :)   Feels like family.


Honestly, QT, I am beginning to rethink my need for a battery monitor. Just one more thing I have to check. I have SO much solar on this trailer, that I wonder if I really need to be bothered about what the charge state is. I am not running this system any where near it's limits. I am up to my stinkin' armpits (1260 watts) in solar power.  ;D   I'm beginning to think that the hydrometer, and the charge recommendations for these Interstate batteries is enough in itself.


Anyway, still a week or two before we get near Yuma and I have to make a decision.


Thank you very much for your candid comments with regard to how much you use your battery monitor.


Frank.

Yep, all you need to see is that it's hitting float. From there you will develop a feel of where your volts are at night and in the am.

Frank B

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Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
« Reply #78 on: December 30, 2017, 04:29:38 PM »
Bill:


Tks. I priced the battery monitor in Yuma with the 500 amp shunt. They sell 4 conductor wiring by the foot. That should be all I need.  I only have about a 6-foot run from where I thought I might install the battery monitor to where the batteries themselves are.


However, as noted earlier, I am thinking pretty seriously about whether I need this device at all. I've managed about 16 years and three different trailers without one. :-)  It is only the solar array that is new to me.


Frank
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar