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Old 02-27-2013, 02:11 PM   #1
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Solera Solar and Inverter Installation learnings

Just got our 2011 Solera back from the shop where we had them install a 155W Solar panel and 600W inverter.

Next weekend it is time for Camping along at the central california pacific coast and check if the Solar Panel is working as expected (read no more generator needed).

However what struck me was the Inverter installation (WFCO 600W Inverter). This is the same one that was available as an option from Forest River. Since our 2011 did come with a TV that is 110V powered and we plan to add Satellite later on we decided to not change towards a 12V TV but install an Inverter as there is no Satelite receiver that can be powered by 12V.....

The plan was to power just the socket that is needed for TV (and future Saltelite receiver) operation from the Inverter. The shop installed the inverter by using the correct breaker but could not get the setup to work as planned (or as I wanted - depending on your viewpoint). What they found is that the following items (could be more) are powered from that same 15A breaker:
  • fridge (when running on 120V)
  • microwave
  • converter/charger
  • all non GFCI outlets
So in order for us to correctly just run the TV in a descent setup we have to switch the 12V power off, start the inverter and don't forget to turn off the right breaker - unless we stip all wiring and rewire the RV. Not what I had expected.... there are a total of 8 breakers - why they have to use all of those items on one of them I don'tknow. All this due to the fact that the converter/charger is on the same breaker .

A suggestion to Forest River (bclemems ) - improve the wiring on the RV so that not all those items are consolidated on a breaker. At a minimum keep the converter/charger separate from everything else and thus making it very difficult to install (and use) an inverter to power some selected items.

Maybe there would have been a way to splice into the wiring at a different point to get our result but it certainly is not an easy attempt....

Reiner
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:24 AM   #2
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I've let my electrical engineers know...but I can tell you, in my experience, it's never that easy. With only 30 amp service, certain things need to be on certain breakers.

Trust me...I've gone back there myself and said "well this is stupid, why don't we do it this way". "well, cause it affects that". "well you could just modify this" "but then that affects that" "Oh, so I guess you do know what you are doing".

My background is engineering, so I'm harder to "discourage" than most sales guys. I'm not going to back down when they say things like "because that's how it has to be", or "it's a flux capacitor, you wouldn't understand"
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:57 AM   #3
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This is exactly why I had to "Home Run" the Inverter output to its own duplex outlet. When I want to power the Entertainment Suite from the inverter, I just plug the power cord from a surge protector strip into the appropriate duplex.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bclemens View Post
I've let my electrical engineers know...but I can tell you, in my experience, it's never that easy. With only 30 amp service, certain things need to be on certain breakers.

Trust me...I've gone back there myself and said "well this is stupid, why don't we do it this way". "well, cause it affects that". "well you could just modify this" "but then that affects that" "Oh, so I guess you do know what you are doing".

My background is engineering, so I'm harder to "discourage" than most sales guys. I'm not going to back down when they say things like "because that's how it has to be", or "it's a flux capacitor, you wouldn't understand"
Thank you for looking into this. I would have 'hoped' that the outlets are on one strip - similar to what is done for GFCI outlets....

Reiner
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:30 AM   #5
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If you were only needing the inverter for TV/Satellite, an easier and less expensive solution might have been a portable plug-in inverter, plugged into the socket at the Antenna amplifier switch. I have one I use for my DirecTV receiver when camping w/o hookups. Just make sure you find one with true sine-wave output.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Taylorgso View Post
If you were only needing the inverter for TV/Satellite, an easier and less expensive solution might have been a portable plug-in inverter, plugged into the socket at the Antenna amplifier switch. I have one I use for my DirecTV receiver when camping w/o hookups. Just make sure you find one with true sine-wave output.
We've tried that in the first step. However the 12V outlet wouldn't provide enough voltage to power the TV through the small inverter. It did shut off with low voltage whenever the TV tried to come on .

Plus most of those portable inverter are Modified Sine Wave which is not good for some more sensitive electronics. We did install a good Pure Sine Wave Inverter - and they are a bit bigger and more expensive.

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Old 03-20-2013, 03:55 PM   #7
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Quick update on the installation and how it worked out for us.

Nice that our batteries are always fully charged when we leave home for a camping weekend. On the last trip we did use the TV and after several hours watching TV the battery still showed to have 70%. Next day the solar was able to recharge the battery to 100% without any issues.

Bottom line is that as long as we don't need the A/C we shouldn't really need the generator at all. Just what we wanted. Don't think I could ever go back to using an RV the "old way".

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