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Author Topic: best solar gear/retailer  (Read 218 times)


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best solar gear/retailer
« on: October 31, 2017, 12:37:26 PM »
I'm in a Kodiak B+, about 21 ft.  I just replaced the majority of cabin lights with LED bulbs (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X27XPMS).  I want solar to store energy efficiently and power my cabin lights, my ceiling fan, my wall outlet for periodically recharging phone/computer, and eventually maybe a television.

Doing a rough measurement, I have three spaces of 5' x 2.25'.

It looks like I could fit three of Renogy's 100w monocrystalline panels.  An experienced RVer friend sternly suggests an MPPT controller, which Renogy also makes.  I'm also thinking of a 200 aH Renogy gel battery.

I see those products readily available on amazon. 

It's not the cheapest kit, but my plan is to live full-time and boondock in the RV soon.  So I want something that will work commensurately.

Does anyone suggest  anything?  A different retailer or different equipment?

Thanks, folks.



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Re: best solar gear/retailer
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2017, 01:05:56 PM »
I did not do this, however I know others have used the higher density residential panels (Sunpower?) which would yield more output in the space you have and might be something to consider. They do cost more.

Good advice on the MPPT controller  :))
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Re: best solar gear/retailer
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2017, 02:21:10 PM »
Just looked at a renogy 20 amp and it appears to have good features such temperature compensation, equalize etc. I wouldn't necessarily buy a gel battery. If you want to stay away from watering a battery or you need it inside the RV get an AGM.
If you can handle maintaining wet cells and have enough height clearance a pair of  GC2 are pretty good.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 02:23:05 PM by QZ »

Kevin Means

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Re: best solar gear/retailer
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2017, 01:48:31 AM »
An MPPT controller would probably be the way to go with 300 watts of solar, especially if you knew you were going to be running your batteries down a lot while boondocking. I would strongly recommend not using a Gel cell battery for RVing. Gel cell batteries use lower charging voltages, and take longer to fully recharge than "standard" lead/acid batteries. They are also not very tolerant of overcharging.

When measuring the space you have for panels, remember to factor in adequate space between the panels and other objects on the roof (AC covers, vents, antennas etc.) Just because a panel will fit somewhere, doesn't mean it should be mounted there if other objects would shade even a small portion of the panel. Shading just two or three cells is often enough to reduce a panel's output to zero.

Renogy makes good products. Pay close attention to the length of wire runs and the thickness of the wires. It can make a big difference. Remember that solar is just an alternate method of recharging your batteries. No 12 volt appliances actually run off solar power in a typical RV installation. They run off the batteries and the solar panels simply charge the batteries.

A/C wall outlets and most TVs are part of your RV's 120 volt A/C system, so when boondocking without a generator, you'll need an inverter to power those outlets and the A/C appliances that are plugged into them. Inverters invert 12 volts D/C from your RV's batteries into 120 volts A/C. Inverters must be sized (balanced) to your battery-bank's capacity, because a large inverter can quickly drain a low capacity battery-bank, and 300 watts of solar won't help much.

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Frank B

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Re: best solar gear/retailer
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2017, 08:20:44 PM »

I know others have used the higher density residential panels (Sunpower?) which would yield more output in the space you have and might be something to consider. They do cost more.

Price per watt on residential panels is very attractive as they are becoming commodity items.  72 cell residential panels also output just about what most MPPT controllers want for voltage, without having to put any in series.  This means somewhat less of an issue with shading, as a shadow will only affect the shaded panel and not any other(s) in series with it.
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Re: best solar gear/retailer
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2017, 06:33:40 AM »
Yup, shading on one cell of a series wired system will affect the whole system. Shading on a parallel wired system will only affect that panel. Either way, shading is a bad thing, and one should design and install the system so there is no shading. When looking at panel placement, remember to open your vents if they don't have vent covers on them, and raise your tv antenna.
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