DIY Solar Install and Battery Upgrade
We've bought our 2014 Solera in July of 2013 and have made several trips where we were without plug in electricity for up to 5 nights. Often our standard coach batteries were discharged after a day or day and a half. I would need to either run the engine on the Solera or the generator for an hour to an hour and a half just to get the batteries charged for another day. The last trip was a hunting trip to the Colorado mountains several weeks ago when we spent 4 days of trying to conserve what electricity we used but it was very frustrating.
I decided after reading numerous treads on this forum that I should upgrade both the house batteries and install a Solar System on the roof. As for the batteries, I read where we could handle Group 31 batteries which are larger than the OEM ones. I also read where the AGM batteries were considerably longer lasting and were considerably more expensive. I decided that it was important for my enjoyment to get the longer lasting batteries so I purchased some AGM Dual X2 batteries from Batteries Plus Bulbs. The cost including tax was roughly $765.
I started researching solar system installs for RV's early this year but couldn't convince myself of spending the money at that time. However, after the frustration of draining the coach batteries so quickly, I decided to purchase from RENOGY.COM. They are also listed on Amazon. I purchased the 200 watt RV kit but substituted two 100 watt Monocrystalline bendable panels for the hard shell ones. I got the ViewStar 20 amp PWM controller and 20 ' of connector cables, branch connectors, and 8' of tray cables to hook up to the batteries. I also purchased separately from Amazon, 2 packs of 2" Velcro Extreme, an in-line fuse holder, and a Battery Disconnect switch. The total material cost of the Solar system was a little under $600. Take a look at the pics and let me know if you have questions.
Again, much of what I learned and selected was from information off of this forum so thanks to many of you. I'm so pleased with the results, I thought i would share with others of you that felt my frustration with Dry camping and enjoy DIY projects.
Bob & Trish Williams
Fort Collins, CO
2014 Solera S