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Old 09-26-2012, 07:32 PM   #1
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Anyone add solar to keep batteries topped off

I've looked at this forum but have found very little - concerning solar. I'd like to add a solar kit, like the Go Power 80 watt, to the motorhome to keep the batteries topped off. I downloaded the instructions but they are a little confusing - converter, inverter, etc. Has anyone done this here? Pointers?
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:48 PM   #2
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I've added three solar panels for a total of 260 watts. The charge controller is the most important part of the system. It controls the amount of power sent to charge the batteries. The right controller will not only charge but equalize and maintain the batteries without using all the water in the batteries. At peak sunlight; the panels produce 12-15 amps of charging . This recharges the batteries in a couple of hours. I can run the TV (600 watt inverter) sole;ly off the panels during the day. 80 watt panel will barely maintain your batteries. Also 2 six volt batteries are better than 2 -12 volts. As far as installation it's fairly simple. Mount the panels on the roof; run the wire from the panels to the controller and then run wire from the controller to the batteries. I used the fridge vent (no need to drill a hole in the roof). If you check out the AM SOLAR website you will find all you need as well as an explanation of how it works. The company also will answer any questions and help you choose a system that will work for you.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:52 PM   #3
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I'm putting in a 100 watt solar on my 23 foot Flag this weekend. We are going to do a flat mount since I got a friend to help me add a 2 battery rack instead of the one place it came with. If you like, I can upload pics of the process. I got a great deal on the kit which includes the panel, a marine shutoff, Morningstar controller and the cable.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:54 PM   #4
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I'm not sure if I will add more, but I got a bigger charge controller than I needed in case I decide to expand. My buddy runs a two battery with 80 watt setup and is fine for boon docking with light use for 3-5 days. Of course, we live in AZ, so we don't need as much wattage as places where the sun doesn't blaze all day.
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Old 09-26-2012, 07:58 PM   #5
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Crossfire - thanks, I understand the importance of a good controller and I believe the specs on the charger/controller on the GoPower kit meet my need and yes, all I hope to do is keep the batteries maintained and not find the coach dead as a door-nail after sitting a couple weeks. The install instructions talk about bypassing the inverter wiring and potential loop drains and it just confused me. I appreciate your response and will look into your source suggestion. Thanks.

Misteranderson - I'd love pics, tutorial and any/all advice that comes with!!! Thanks
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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try these
Solar Panel Install on A122 Trailer
Solar RV systems

My solar project

Solar Panel Install - Tracer 200 RQS

My electrical mods and solar conversion.

Solar Trickle Charger for Hardside Battery
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Old 09-27-2012, 12:19 AM   #7
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Most of the time, I have access to shore power. When I am dry camping, I find that I have ample inverter capacity with 4 6v deap cycle batteries.

For me, it is not cost effectieve to install several solar panels for battery mainenance when I have an 8 kw genset and 4 deep cycle batteries.
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBoyer
Crossfire - thanks, I understand the importance of a good controller and I believe the specs on the charger/controller on the GoPower kit meet my need and yes, all I hope to do is keep the batteries maintained and not find the coach dead as a door-nail after sitting a couple weeks. The install instructions talk about bypassing the inverter wiring and potential loop drains and it just confused me. I appreciate your response and will look into your source suggestion. Thanks.

Misteranderson - I'd love pics, tutorial and any/all advice that comes with!!! Thanks
Here are some pics of today's partial install. We didn't finish. It looks like mine will be total about 4 hours to install...It got a bit hot outside and was pushing 100 degrees so we decided to finish next Saturday. It took longer than expected bc of a few snags pulling wire (through a void below the nightstand and into the front storage passthrough). Today we marked out the panel location, installed leg mounts on sides of panel, installed solar panel with fasteners and a healthy amount of dicor. Then we pulled wire to the charge controller we mounted in front closet. Then we pulled wire from closet into the front storage compartment. Next we sleeved the wire in a protectant shell and secured it to the aluminum frame across top of storage pass through to where the wiring comes in from the battery. We are installing a marine shutoff so when the rv is stored the marine shutoff will turn off the draw from camper so solar panel only has to charge batteries and not supply to draws such as monoxide alarm, clock in the stereo, etc. But for some reason the shutoff was missing a screw and some nuts. I also needed a different bit of wood for mounting the shutoff than we anticipated so that's when we called it quits. Next week we will install two new battery boxes onto a recently installed two battery tray, mount the shutoff in the storage compartment, connect shutoff to the battery and foreground the trailer side of the shutoff. Then it will be ready for our trip coming a week from Wednesday up to 7500 feet for some chilly night campfire fun.

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Old 10-08-2012, 12:36 AM   #9
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We finished up the solar install today. First we took out a little protector panel in the front storage bin that was protecting the wires coming in from battery. Then we installed a block of 1x6 to the back of it so it would have adequate support for the marine shutoff. Then we pulled the original positive from the battery into the marine shutoff and ran a new wire from shutoff to battery insulating with plastic protector where needed. On that same post we also connected the incoming line from solar panel so I can shut off the draws from trailer when storing but still have solar charging batteries. Then we fastened shutoff to block. (Note of caution: always tow trailer with switch in on position bc in an emergency, if you lose your trailer due to a decouple, the electric brakes won't be able to engage because there won't be any power if you've lost connection from TV and are in shutoff mode.). Next we installed the two battery boxes to my new two place battery box using 1/4 in bolts 1 inch long with fender washers inside box and locking washers underneath. We connected the positive lead from shutoff to positive lead on one of the batteries. Next we connected two jumpers (positive to positive, negative to negative) to hook the batteries in parallel for 12 volts. ( We got the cables and boxes from the local Wal-Mart). The last step was to connect the positive lead from solar panel to the charge controller to complete the circuit. The solar panel was sending about 17 volts of power to the controller which was knocking that down to 14.4 to the battery for charging. I didn't have the new 2nd battery with me so we used the old one to finish but I am installing another new battery to go with the other new one tomorrow since I didn't want a new battery hooked to an old one. Hope that helps some folks out. It isn't a short job, but we weren't hurrying, either. I trimmed up any excess plastic insulator and cleaned up. It's all working beautifully, and we are off to take a trip in three days.
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