Solar panel?

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udidwht

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Jun 3, 2018
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50
I've replaced the old small solar panel that sits atop the AC cover on my Fleetwood Southwind RV and the light on the small LED indicator inside on the backside of the AC panel was on for a bit (not sure exactly how long) then went off. It has not been on since.

The new panel I used was the following: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013W38TTK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The old panel was the same as the one in the following video (not my video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJAKHubjHlk&t=137s

Anyone know or confirm what exactly does this rooftop panel charge/maintain battery wise?

Is it possible with the new panel installed to have it charge all the batteries? I've located the fuse for the solar panel up front above the AC condenser/radiator (5 amp) and it is good. I have up front (2) 6 volt golf cart batteries and a rear (12v) Deep cycle) that sits in a plastic container up high for the hitch. I'm going to replace them given their age (10 years). Also have the 12volt chassis battery for starting. Which I replaced last September.

Also the old panel had a black/white wire and gray wire from it that was spliced into a 2-wire (yellow & black) wire harness that ran down into the RV to the small LED solar monitor light. The small LED light has (2) wires from it red/black. The wires from the roof are connected to the LED monitor panel via yellow to red (via plastic connector) and the black wire from the LED is connected to a black wire that runs across and into an access hole out of view.

I take it the LED monitor wires run direct to the chassis battery? Or at least the red one does and the black grounds somewhere after leaving the access hole up under the AC interior cover?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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At our Silver Springs FL home
A 15W panel like that can barely/maybe produce 1 amp in full sun, so it's not going to do much in the best of cases.

In most that I've seen, the panel is wired (by the factory) to charge the chassis battery only.
 

Utclmjmpr

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Sep 14, 2009
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5,343
Location
Cedar City, UT
I have the same system and it still works.. It's a total waste of space, but still works so I have let it go..I also have 300 watts of panels for charging the battery bank.>>>Dan
 

udidwht

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Jun 3, 2018
Posts
50
Thanks guys. Looking at the wiring I see a red wire from the 5amp fuse on the fuse panel labeled 'Solar panel' going off high (across) to the passenger side coroner then disappearing. The fuse is good (not blown). It does look as if it only trickle charges the chassis battery. Which likely explains why I rarely see the light on given I've been driving the RV (Battery not low enough).

My (2) 6 volt coach batteries seem to be tied into an isolator relay setup.

Looks as if I'm going to need to replace both those 6 volt batteries given the battery check panel is now showing them (red) 10volt. They were purchased 10 years ago 08/08 (Les Schwab) GC2 golf cart 105min

Looking at these:

https://www.batteriesplus.com/battery/sli/bci-group-gc2/sligc125

Also going to take a look at Costco. I've replaced all the interior lighting with low power LED bulbs. So there won't be much of a draw via them. I don't use the roofs fans (2) I have.
 

Arch Hoagland

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Jul 11, 2014
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3,809
Location
Clovis California
Do you people with solar panels wash them off with any regularity?  Does it make much of a difference? 

I have neighbors with solar panels on their houses and being in an agriculture area we get a lot of dust but I don't see anybody making an effort to clean them. It doesn't rain here for months at a time so they get really dirty.
 

Memtb

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Aug 25, 2017
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North-Central Wyoming
    Keeping them clean, does improve performance. But mine don?t get it often enough. We have ?more than enough? for summer use....so they? usually dirty. For winter use, we set them at the appropriate angle for our season and latitude. With their relatively steep winter angel, we clean them once, and they stay pretty clean (snow, rain, etc.). The fewer the panels you have, the more critical the cleaning is!
 

Kevin Means

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Lakeside, California
Yes, being dirty definitely makes a difference in their output. How much so depends on just how dirty they are. We usually boondock, and we rely heavily on solar to recharge the house batteries. Our panels electro-mechanically tilt, so for a quick cleaning, I just tilt them all the way up and hose them off from the ground. For a more thorough cleaning, I get on the roof.

Kev
 

Alipiama

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Sep 24, 2021
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canada
I often encounter dissatisfaction from owners of motorhomes with solar panels. There are many problems with them: 1. To get enough power, you have to be traveling somewhere in Texas in the blazing sun, then the solar panels will have time to charge. 2. If you are traveling in December, the batteries may not withstand the cold temperatures at night. 3. Solar panels quickly fail if water gets on them. And other things. Yes, they do a great job with such small flashlights. But a whole "system" of devices and LEDs, unlikely. I vote for an old good gasoline generator.
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
I have 4 x 100 watt solar panels installed by the previous owner of our coach in about 2015, overall I find them helpful when dry camping, even in areas with trees, or in the shoulder season months. I have never cleaned them, I let the rain take care of that. Now sure in the shoulder season they may not fully charge the battery, if camped under trees, etc., but they can go a long way towards extending battery capacity, certainly enough for a long weekend off grid.
 

solarman

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Feb 8, 2018
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542
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Texas
I often encounter dissatisfaction from owners of motorhomes with solar panels. There are many problems with them: 1. To get enough power, you have to be traveling somewhere in Texas in the blazing sun, then the solar panels will have time to charge.

Panel wattage should be designed with the expected system load, You probably spoke to someone who under estimated their load requirements or who had a system installed by someone who did not know what they were doing, or possibly both. If correctly designed, solar can easily provide all the power to supply anticipated loads. There are many happy campers here on the forum with correctly designed solar systems.

2. If you are traveling in December, the batteries may not withstand the cold temperatures at night.
lead acid will withstand -20 degree temperatures with approximately 50% reduction in capacity, but survive, they will... Lithium on the other hand will not, the typical cutoff value is 32 degrees F.
some specialized lithuim batteries are designed for lower temperatures and survive temperatures to 0 degrees F but are very expensive.


3. Solar panels quickly fail if water gets on them.
nonsense, any CE or UL certified panel is required to pass such tests including spray and hail.
they will work without issue for many years.

And other things. Yes, they do a great job with such small flashlights. But a whole "system" of devices and LEDs, unlikely. I vote for an old good gasoline generator.
again, nonsense..
 

solarman

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Feb 8, 2018
Posts
542
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Texas
Yes, being dirty definitely makes a difference in their output. How much so depends on just how dirty they are. We usually boondock, and we rely heavily on solar to recharge the house batteries. Our panels electro-mechanically tilt, so for a quick cleaning, I just tilt them all the way up and hose them off from the ground. For a more thorough cleaning, I get on the roof.

Kev
true, a little dust in not going to make much difference ( perhaps a % or two )
three inches of snow, now that's different... :)
 

Lou Schneider

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11,161
lead acid will withstand -20 degree temperatures with approximately 50% reduction in capacity, but survive, they will... Lithium on the other hand will not, the typical cutoff value is 32 degrees F.
some specialized lithuim batteries are designed for lower temperatures and survive temperatures to 0 degrees F but are very expensive.
Slightly below freezing is when a typical unheated lithium battery stops accepting a charge, but you can use the power stored in it down to -4F. It stops producing power below that temperature but the battery will survive down to as low as -40 (F or C).

If you have to charge a lithium battery in below freezing temperatures, or use it below -0F, put it in an insulated box. Either get one with an internal heating element or put it on a heating pad and use some of the stored or incoming charging power to keep it warm enough to function. Again, above freezing to charge or -4F to use power.
 

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