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Old 06-04-2016, 06:58 PM   #1
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help identify other pro/cons please - solar set up

Hello,

I have been reading, researching and waffling back and forth for awhile now on what direction to take for our solar set up.

Back ground - new Rockwood 2109S this year with two 6v 220 a/hr batteries. Previous Chalet A-frame with 2 deep cycle 90 A/hr 12v and a portable 80 Watt folding panel with included controller. This did not give us the reserve power we needed for extended trips.

We dry camp %99 of the summer from May to Oct. Our trips range from 2 days to 10 days. We average 50-60 amp hours of use per 24 hours. Given we are typically in the Canadian Rockies, shaded areas are an issue much of the day. During the day we are not at our TT, we are fishing, biking, hiking and so on. Our furnace in the early season and fall is our biggest power user.

I have settled on 2 100watt panels for now. I am not opposed to 3 for the shade reasons mentioned.

I am looking at two controller/monitor set ups. One a cheaper MPPT with remote monitor, and one the trusty Trimetric SC/TM 2030 combo. A link provided for the Tracer MPPT.

Robot Check

My reasons for the MPPT, being able to run in series and gaining charging amps during peak periods. Less wiring, no shunt required, actually cheaper than the Trimetric setup ($175US for controller, monitor, temp sensor), so overall investment is lower.

My reasons for the Trimetric PWM is its track record, great set up. Also to run the panels parallel. Why? To eliminate a full shut down due to shade like I would get with the panels in series. So my thought is to run two or three panels in parallel and at any time of the day I should be getting full sun on two of them.

My initial thought was the cheap MPPT, its available locally in town. But more I thought about the shade concerns and such is to spend the money on the Trimetric but that is only if my thought of the panels in parallel makes sense.

Help?
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:01 PM   #2
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I have 200 watts and the older (5 year old) Tracer MTTP 20 amp and two 6v batteries. We boon dock 99% of the time in areas (foothills of the Rockies) that see shading certain times of the day (not full shade continually).
Battery is usually at 75% SOC before the sun comes up and is at 100% by noon or very early afternoon each day.
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Old 06-05-2016, 07:32 AM   #3
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Pretty well researched!!!! The TM solution does give you a bunch of other monitoring features for your DC system in general, hence the need for a shunt and a little more control wiring. If your daily usage numbers are correct, 200 watts should do the trick, and shading of a series connected set of panels would knock a lot of charge current out. You will need slightly bigger wire for the parallel connections, but at 200 or 300 watts you should be fine with reasonable PV cable. One advantage of the TM is that it the SC can be installed further from the battery bank and the TM will allow it to eliminate the voltage drop of the charging cables. With PWM there is almost always a ton of voltage available anyway and it takes a really good setup to measure the efficiency difference between PWM and MPPT. Normally MPPT is elected because of the need for series connected panels, higher voltages and smaller wire...but then, as you say, shading is devastating.
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Old 06-05-2016, 10:29 AM   #4
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Boondocking- are your panels in series? As you boondock/dry camp often likely in some of the same or similar types of areas (OldMan, K country, Crow) are you using your gens mentioned in your set up often to compensate for charging?

Scott, so are you agreeing that a Pwm with two panels in parallel could possibly be better?


I am fortunate that the controller will be most likely mounted 8-10 feet from the panels and only a short run less than 3 feet from the batteries.
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Old 06-05-2016, 10:34 AM   #5
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No question that two panels in parallel is better for shading. Series connections are far more prone to loss of output even with minimal shading of one panel. Now, since they are in parallel, there is very little advantage (some say none) to MPPT. I would recommend parallel and PWM...and the Bogart solution.
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Old 06-05-2016, 11:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friendofacatahoula View Post
Boondocking- are your panels in series? As you boondock/dry camp often likely in some of the same or similar types of areas (OldMan, K country, Crow) are you using your gens mentioned in your set up often to compensate for charging?

Scott, so are you agreeing that a Pwm with two panels in parallel could possibly be better?


I am fortunate that the controller will be most likely mounted 8-10 feet from the panels and only a short run less than 3 feet from the batteries.

The panels are connected parallel.
I have never yet had to use the genny to compensate for charging. Even the time we camped at Greenpoint on Vancouver Island in among the monstrous cedar trees for two weeks. Just took a bit longer to get to 100% SOC.
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Old 06-06-2016, 01:36 AM   #7
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I have the Bogart 2030 and Trimetric monitor hooked up to (3) 100 watt, Renogy, panels in parallel. This setup works great. 1 panel is mounted on the trailer roof. The other 2 are on a 30 foot cable and can be moved around on the ground to get the best sunlight. We pretty much always dry camp and do not have a generator. We have not come close to running out of electricity yet ( 2 Trojan T-105 6 volt batteries). I just wired in a 600 watt power inverter so the electrical system might get stressed a little more but I am not worried. Be sure to use the right size wire. If your wire diameter is too small you will lose voltage. I run 8 gauge from the panel to the charge controller.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:06 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=friendofacatahoula;1217735]Boondocking- are your panels in series? As you boondock/dry camp often likely in some of the same or similar types of areas (OldMan, K country, Crow) are you using your gens mentioned in your set up often to compensate for charging?

Scott, so are you agreeing that a Pwm with two panels in parallel could possibly be better?

My tech guy did some test with a small system. (He is now at 3000 watts---not small) At 400 watts he found that series with the Mppt, most started charging in lower am and pm lighting, but found less loss and overall better production with PWM.

Otherwise your 200 may be a bit weak in partially shaded light . 200 is plenty for my similar 2 6v system, but we are mostly in full sun, so jump on that third panel as soon as you can.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:50 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies.

I think I am going to have to go to three panels anyhow. I have the panels on hold right now at a local supplier but I may be forced to go to flexible panels which I didn't want to do (more expensive and less efficient). Two glass panels may have been enough, two semi flexible will not be enough.

I have the Bogart combo ordered and it will be here this week. Comes with the shunt and temp sensor and all other wiring. In Canada it is difficult to find solar retailers sometimes that have a variety of stock but wegosolar.com was helpful and has a "kit" ready to go. Buying South of the border with our sad dollar exchange, shipping and duties isn't in our favor on many items. I don't mind supporting the local small shops as well.

The roof construction of the Minilite is certainly great for reducing weight but not suitable for mounting anything like solar panels. I have contacted both my dealership and ForestRiver and they highly advise against using fixed panels secured to the roof with any hardware. I have talked to two different installers and one says he can make anything work, another says he agrees not to use rigid panels unless an elaborate rack system is used secured to the sides of the trailer.

The project continues...
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:47 AM   #10
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I wish you luck with your project.

Happy Boon Docking !
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