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Old 08-25-2015, 05:13 AM   #1
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Solar Panels on a Berkshire

Interested in seeing and learning about what it takes besides money to put panels up on the roof. We do have a residential refrigerator and a 2000 watt inverter. Thought I read somewhere that the Berkshire came prewired for solar panels but maybe not.

So does anyone have any pictures or info on systems they've installed or have had done?

Thanks !!
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Old 08-25-2015, 01:59 PM   #2
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No one has solar panels on their coach ?
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Old 08-25-2015, 02:03 PM   #3
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Joe,
Don't have solar on my coach, but the only thing that I know that the coach is pre-wired for is satellite. Never heard that it is pre-wired for solar. Also, give it overnight to get a response. Not everyone here is retired so they may not have see this post until later.
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Old 08-25-2015, 02:08 PM   #4
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Joe,
Don't have solar on my coach, but the only thing that I know that the coach is pre-wired for is satellite. Never heard that it is pre-wired for solar. Also, give it overnight to get a response. Not everyone here is retired so they may not have see this post until later.
Well ok, have been looking at lots of different coaches lately. Not the end of the world, just more work.
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Old 08-25-2015, 03:15 PM   #5
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In my opinion you're better off running your own wires anyways so you can size your wire to the size system you're going install.
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Old 08-25-2015, 03:25 PM   #6
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In my opinion you're better off running your own wires anyways so you can size your wire to the size system you're going install.

Thanks Ramblin. From your signature I see you have 640 watts of solar on your 5th. Do you have a res. fridg.? Does the set up you have run everything except the a.c. ?What brand of panels did you buy ? Thanks again for any info.
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Old 08-25-2015, 03:26 PM   #7
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Unless you are going to do some serious boondocking, is there a real need for solar charging? Inquiring minds need to know.
We've been on the road three months now and between driving long distances, the generator and RV Parks solar would be a waste of money for us.


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Old 08-25-2015, 03:34 PM   #8
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Unless you are going to do some serious boondocking, is there a real need for solar charging? Inquiring minds need to know.
We've been on the road three months now and between driving long distances, the generator and RV Parks solar would be a waste of money for us.


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To be honest with you Paul, I don't know, guess I won't till I really start using the rig which at this point will be limited for this year. Just curious mainly not knowing what kind of lasting power the coach batteries will give.
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Old 08-25-2015, 05:02 PM   #9
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I don't have any panel either and they way we use our MH it would not be necessary. As for how long batteries last it depends greatly on what shape they are in and what kind. I have read that most folks with a red. fridge and great stock batteries can run the fridge for 8-12 hours depending on the conditions. This would easily last us on any day of driving but we would have a problem if we stopped at a Walmart for the night. So at some point we would run the generator.



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Old 08-25-2015, 05:03 PM   #10
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A lot has been written on this subject. Try the search function as without searching all that info is lost. Very good tool we have.



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Old 08-25-2015, 05:14 PM   #11
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Not sure if I'll describe this correct but lets say that your batteries get down to 25%, how long should it take for the generator to bring them back to 100% ?
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Old 08-25-2015, 05:21 PM   #12
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Someone much smarter than me will answer this. It's my understanding that 25%drain on a battery would be about the max drain it could stand without risk of damage. In that case on generator I go back to float in about 4 -5 hours. I don't watch mine that close so this is an educated guess based on my setup.



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Old 08-25-2015, 05:25 PM   #13
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I put a solar system in our 5er. 520 watts of panels and 435ah of battery bank on a 2000 watt Cotek true sine wave inverter. You can see pics on my profile page. I don't have a residential fridge but do have a big side by side fridge. If you run your residential fridge and central heat all night along with other items I'd put in a bigger battery bank than what I have and more solar like 700 plus watts. At a minimum of 1 watt per ah of battery and more solar is better. Use a good mppt charge controller I have a 60 amp Morningstar controller.
Oh and you don't want to drain your battery bank down below 50% if you want them to last.
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Old 08-25-2015, 05:37 PM   #14
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What battery bank do you have and the 50% is of the 12.6 ? That would take them to 6.3 volts and certainly do damage?



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Old 08-25-2015, 05:56 PM   #15
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Solar

So I just purchased a BH40 about 3 months ago, we love the design and layout of the coach but my main concern was the Fridge because we do a good deal of dry camping.
After taking delivery of the coach I added 2 x 6 volt batteries and have room for two more should we need it.
I also installed a single 250 watt panel from Solar World. I've already seen charging rates around 14.5 volts.

Our first big trip was up in the Sierra's where we camped in the National Forest for 2 weeks with no hook ups. Because we were surrounded by trees we only got about 3 hours of good sun a day but this gave me a chance to configure and test out the Auto Gen Start.

We had no issues at all and very pleased with the setup, the AGS worked great and would come on about once every 18 hours or so.

2 week dry camping will be our max so I think were in good shape, come winter time were in the desert with cooler temps and no shade.
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Old 08-25-2015, 06:39 PM   #16
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What battery bank do you have and the 50% is of the 12.6 ? That would take them to 6.3 volts and certainly do damage?
I said 50% of the battery charge not 1/2 the voltage.
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Old 08-25-2015, 06:55 PM   #17
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Oh and you don't want to drain your battery bank down below 50% if you want them to last.


I am not up in all the terms but wanted to clarify what you had said.
So you can safely drain your battery down to what voltage? What is the useful load of the battery is it safe down to 10 volts?



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Old 08-25-2015, 07:08 PM   #18
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Thanks Ramblin. From your signature I see you have 640 watts of solar on your 5th. Do you have a res. fridg.? Does the set up you have run everything except the a.c. ?What brand of panels did you buy ? Thanks again for any info.
To start with, I'm not an electrician, just a typical DIY guy that doesn't mind work, and enjoys a challenge. I did have the benefit of a Solar "expert" to help guide me along the planning and design stages.
I designed and installed this 640w system consisting of 4 Grape 160w panels, TriStar 60 MPPT solar controller, Magnum 2000w inverter, ac sub-panel, along with 4 Trojan T-145 batteries for a 520a battery bank. This system powers everything but the ac units, and typically I'm fully charged by noon.

We do not have res fridge (but it would be no problem with my system), and the decision to invest in solar was to provide flexibility in our travels. Yes, you can use a generator (I have a Honda 2000), but then you have the logistics of gasoline, noise, run times, etc. My battery bank charges while I'm driving (if the sun is out), so I don't have to hear a genset running where ever we stop.

You should first know your energy usage, so you can determine what size system you will need. This takes some thought about what appliances are used, how often, and together with what other dc appliances. Install a trimetric meter, and perform an energy audit over a 24 hour period. Each dc appliance we used and its duration was logged into a spreadsheet and calculated our total amp hour usage. Much discussion with my DW to make sure she understood that a hairdryer used at 7am may not be a good bet, but if she waited to 1pm, the batteries would be charged and we would have "free' electricity.

Basically, once you know your total amp usage multiple it by 2 and that would be your minimum battery bank amperage. This is because you never want to discharge your battery bank by more than 50%. Now you can size your solar panels. Rule of thumb is one watt of solar to every battery amp. I slightly over sized my panels to compensate for not tilting my panels for maximum sun tracking. Then you need to decide on what AC appliances you will power so you can determine your other components and wiring size calculations. Last but not least, you have to find physical space for everything, roof, basement, and wire routing. There are many options for solar controllers and inverters/chargers.

We enjoy the freedom of solar, but IMO there is no return on investment, we don't use it because we want to be "green", basically we want flexibility in our energy sources. Now if I could "catch" rain and and recycle my waste water I could solve my water flexibility issues too!

There is lot of information on solar systems, and it be wise to read all you can before you start. One very good source is http://http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm. I can share more of what I learned if you like. PM me if needed. Good luck.
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Old 08-25-2015, 07:34 PM   #19
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Oh and you don't want to drain your battery bank down below 50% if you want them to last.


I am not up in all the terms but wanted to clarify what you had said.
So you can safely drain your battery down to what voltage? What is the useful load of the battery is it safe down to 10 volts?
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Old 08-25-2015, 07:38 PM   #20
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Thanks Dan. I think I'll save that. Great info. I don't understand electricity and DC totally confesses me.



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