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RVing message boards => Tech Talk => Solar => Topic started by: supermanotorious on January 03, 2017, 10:51:38 AM

Title: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Lou Schneider 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: HueyPilotVN 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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?
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Desert_Rat on January 03, 2017, 06:10:25 PM
Over 3 of those panels.... coming up!

https://www.altestore.com/store/solar-panels/solarworld-340-watt-solar-panel-sunmodule-sw340-xl-mono-p40538/ (https://www.altestore.com/store/solar-panels/solarworld-340-watt-solar-panel-sunmodule-sw340-xl-mono-p40538/)
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: HueyPilotVN 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Desert_Rat on January 03, 2017, 06:34:08 PM
Duly noted. I have mapped out my roof and can actually fit them fairly comfortably.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Desert_Rat 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Desert_Rat 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?
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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?
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Kevin Means 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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?
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Kevin Means 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 
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Kevin Means 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: sunfighter 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Frank B 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Frank B 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Kevin Means 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
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: Frank B 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.
Title: Re: supermanotorious is FINALLY going solar!
Post by: supermanotorious 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