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Old 10-16-2015, 12:13 PM   #71
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Old 10-16-2015, 01:44 PM   #72
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For smaller systems I would invest in more panels (assuming I have roof real estate to mount them) before I would invest in an MPPT controller. The gain on those is NOT as advertised. You may see a bit more power but unlikely to see 10% more. If you can get 17V panels use a good quality PWM controller. I like the TriStar and I also like the Trimetric. If you are going to buy the Trimetric meter you might as well buy their controller. That is what I used in my current rig. I have 600W of panels, the Trimetric meter and controller and two six volt crown batteries. Battery failure, if maintained properly, is unlikely. I would not focus on that.

The poster that suggested a very detailed power consumption study is spot on: you can't know what you need until you know what you need (that in honor of Yogi Berra).

The key to successful solar implementation on an RV is in two parts: understand your usage so you can size your batteries and thus your array and make dang sure you wire it all properly using the correct wire sizes everywhere. The most common mistake in installation is wire that is too small for the runs used resulting in insufficient voltage at the batteries during charging. The whole system becomes a waste for want of a buck or two more in wire.
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Old 10-16-2015, 04:03 PM   #73
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I had 2 12v and one failed and drew the other down. I couldn't tell which one failed. I now have 2 6 v and had the same batteries in 2 different trailers for 3 yrs.
Couldn't agree more. I had 2 size 24 12V in parallel. For some reason, and unknown to me, the converter 30 amp fuses (to the battery) blew. In desperation, I put a 10 amp charger I had on the batteries - it would not handle both at once. So I recharged one battery at a time, but did not get them exactly equal, or one battery had failed (unknown to me).

When I hooked up the 6 gauge parallel wires, the wires promptly melted their insulation and glowed cherry red. The off-gasing of the lesser charged battery had flames at the glowing wires and at the vent at the battery cell cap. With electrician's pliers (gripped on the rubber coating) I cut the wires, which put the fire out.

I replaced with two 6 volt golf cart batteries from Costco ($150 for both). 116 AH available instead of 80AH from the 12V batteries, no risk from unequal battery charges. A lot less expensive than I expected. The batteries were a perfect fit for my existing battery box. And yes I added one of those marine shut-off switches to isolate batteries from camper when desired/needed.

Since our A-frame is set up for long weekends, and not extended stays, I feel much more confident with the golf cart 6 volt setup. I have more capacity, and easier to maintain. If for some unlikely reason one of the batteries dies, we go home earlier on the weekend - the same as if we ran out of propane or water.

Photos to follow.

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2008 Hyundai Entourage (minivan)
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
last trip - last weekend, 4 days in Lincoln, Nebraska
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Old 10-17-2015, 02:21 PM   #74
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HandyBob told me a story about melting a pair of jumper cables between his big battery bank and single battery on the ground. The objective, obviously, was to charge the battery but since the battery was so discharged, the current was so large that it fried the cables. Lesson learned. There is a reason that battery chargers have intelligence in them to avoid this exact scenario. Battery to battery: no such smarts. And with two different batteries, different in age or type or manufacturer, you are likely to have current flowing between the two which you do not want.

Decide on your battery "bank" layout and then build it with new batteries and the correctly sized cables. There is even an argument that the cable lengths should be equal to do this correctly! I don't subscribe to that as the wire is usually fairly large and the runs fairly short so voltage loss is minimal.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:06 AM   #75
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Klipstr, I really wish I'd read your last post yesterday morning instead of this morning because I got off the fence and got a mate for my old battery (same size, type, make).

Given the size restrictions and the flimsy looking construction of the battery bracket, two group 24 batteries seemed to make sense. We don't have an exact measurement of our load yet but roughly speaking we know that 24 hours of camping drains our single battery by 30-50% a day. With the need to run the furnace in cold weather and a weekend trip planned for two weeks from now the extra battery power seemed important.

I've installed car batteries, in fact I helped my daughter install one on her car the other day, but have never connected two batteries. You guys have pointed out some great resources so we should be able to do this without disaster.

My plans are to disconnect the existing battery move the battery box. Put the new battery and box in place, measure the cable runs then go out and buy the connecting cables. Once it's all in place we'll do the cable runs, cross our fingers and hope that nothing blows up then connect the trailer and pull out the battery disconnect switch.


A few questions:

1. Do the cables connecting the two batteries need to be the same gauge as the cables which connect the trailer to the battery or will any cable available in my local auto parts store do?

2. The dealer told us that the new battery is around 75% charged. Should the two batteries be at around the same charge before connecting them?

3. The dealer (the same dealer we bought the trailer from) told us that we should discharge the two batteries as far possible then charge them. It will take a couple of discharge/charge cycles before they are totally synced. Is this correct?

4. Anyone know a good You Tube video for doing this job. I've found that whenever doing something new that You Tube is my friend.
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Old 10-19-2015, 03:30 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by brooklyncowgirl View Post
1. Do the cables connecting the two batteries need to be the same gauge as the cables which connect the trailer to the battery or will any cable available in my local auto parts store do?

2. The dealer told us that the new battery is around 75% charged. Should the two batteries be at around the same charge before connecting them?

3. The dealer (the same dealer we bought the trailer from) told us that we should discharge the two batteries as far possible then charge them. It will take a couple of discharge/charge cycles before they are totally synced. Is this correct?

4. Anyone know a good You Tube video for doing this job. I've found that whenever doing something new that You Tube is my friend.
1. The battery cables must be at least the same size as the cables which connect the trailer to the battery - they can be bigger without problem. Anything you buy at the auto parts store will typically be bigger (smaller number on the wire gauge). I would not use anything less than #6 gauge wire between the batteries.

2. The batteries must be at identical voltages when you connect them (which usually means BOTH fully charged). See my post several posts above as to what happens when they do not have matching charges (voltages). It was not pretty; I was only too glad to switch to two 6 volt golf cart batteries (fit in the same battery box). You are slightly more at risk for mis-matching since one battery has been used more than the other.

3. Again, both battereis must be at the same voltage (hopefully same charge) BEFORE connecting the two together.

4. There are many diagrams on the Internet. Ideally, the negative wire to the camper goes to the negative post on one battery, and the positive wire to the camper goes to the positive post on the other battery. Link cable #1 goes from battery A positive to battery B positive. Link cable #2 goes from battery A negative to battery B negative. Both link cables should be same length.

hope this helps
Fred W
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Old 10-19-2015, 04:36 PM   #77
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@BCG... Go here for the youtube vid you wanted. FredW has it right.
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Old 10-20-2015, 07:12 AM   #78
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I've got to chime in here. My 19 RR had a single 12 V deep cycle battery when I bought it. I replaced it with two group 31 AMGbatteries that I bought from Sam's Club for $179 each. (Bought batteries July 2015) Easily the best deal going. I then installed 280 W of solar on the roof. I changed out all the light bulbs to LED. I have use the trailer on five different three day weekends. Three of the five weekends I required heat at night. On three occasions temperatures got down to the 30s during the night. One night below freezing. So therefore furnace was running every 20 minutes with thermostats set at 60 degrees. Upstate New York and New Hampshire where the areas I was camping. So therefore I was not getting the best sun on the solar panels. I have yet to turn on my generator. Using the 12 V system within the trailer to charge my various electronic devices and to watch TV for approximately two hours a day and run the over stove ventilation for approximately 15 minutes a day and the fan in the bathroom a few minutes a day I have never depleted the batteries more than 20% . Even during a partly cloudy day the batteries were back up to 100% by the end of the day. I am using a trimetric to monitor the battery condition. I am very pleased with this system and it satisfies my needs more than 100%.
This is real world experience.
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Old 10-20-2015, 12:39 PM   #79
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I've got to chime in here. My 19 RR had a single 12 V deep cycle battery when I bought it. I replaced it with two group 31 AMGbatteries that I bought from Sam's Club for $179 each. (Bought batteries July 2015).
I chopped the quote. This is exactly my experience with three different installs. If you do not need to run your air conditioner then you can almost certainly get by with solar and NO NOISY GENERATOR! Without worrying about running out of juice on day three of a long weekend!

I like the fact that this system is relatively modest (no offense intended: I love your system) and it works great! I always put more panels up then are technically necessary. In my case the lowest percentage I have ever seen on any of my rigs was 75%. And in most cases the batteries were recharged before the sun got high in the sky which meant I only was one time where my batteries were taking all the amps the panels could produce. That system was a bit over 1000W with a Tristar MPPT 60 CC. Saw right at the 60A before the CC would clip. We were flat charging the four Trojan T105s that day!

If you need 110V AC you can put in a decent 2000W inverter (skip the battery charging models and the automatic switching models to keep the cost down) and run your microwave, coffee maker and toaster. If you have those kind of loads, however, you probably need four batteries rather than two. If you just need 110V AC to run the TV, use one of the cigarette lighter plug in 300W inverters.

There are so many ways to skin the electricity cat in your RV without resorting to buying a ding dang generator! And installing solar on your rig is damn fulfilling emotionally! Your significant other will be wowed by your prowess!

And the more people we convince of this the less noisy generators we will have to listen to.

Converting the noisy to the sun, one rig at a time...
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Old 10-20-2015, 01:02 PM   #80
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Thanks to all for your advice. Right now I'm charging my old battery to get the charge equal to my new one. I'll install the boxes tomorrow and then do the hook up.

Next up buy and install a proper voltage monitor and start calculating our actual usage and plan our solar array.

One bit of bad news. My dealer told us that installing panels on the roof would void the roof warranty. We may have to go portable until it expires. Not the worst thing in the world especially in the northeast where you can't always park in sunlight.
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