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Old 02-27-2019, 08:17 PM   #1
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Solar install on our Cruise Lite TT

I've been asking questions on the forum as I prepared to purchase and install solar on our Cruise Lite 210RBXL. This thread is to explain what I bought and how I am installing it. I'm roughly 3/4 of the way thru the install at this point and I will ad more as I complete the installation and get it fired up. I took quite a few pictures and will take more as I go along but if you have a question or want a different picture let me know. Thanks to all who provided answers to my questions and made suggestions.

After reviewing our power use it looks like two 100W panels should provide the juice we need to keep our batteries topped off (two 210AH Duracell golf cart batteries) when we are boondocking. One thing I wanted to do with these panels is make them so I can either mount them on the roof or take them off and mount them on a stand (occasionally we have the TT in the shade and this will help). With that in mind I ordered two 100W monocrystalline (new version whatever that means) panels from Renogy. I also ordered their 30A Wander Li which allows you to connect via Bluetooth to monitor the system.

Just to explain my reasoning for this configuration, we have a number of projects going on and as a recent retiree, the budget is always a consideration. From my research, Renogy panels have good specs and seem to perform well and have few issues. I went with the PWM controller because there is only a small improvement in performance of the system if you are under 400 watts. I'm sure some will disagree with this strategy but this was our choice.

I bought the panels and the charge controller from Renogy and I had a very good discussion with their tech support folks prior to the purchase. I bought the cables, fuses and other hardware other on Amazon or at my local Home Depot. I went this route because Renogy prices on the panels and CC were the same as from any third party and they were/are providing good support. I bought the remaining hardware at various other suppliers because of the cost savings.

I started the installation by determining that I wanted the CC to be on the front wall of our TT inside of the pass thru. This is a curved wall so I created a panel to mount everything on and then I mounted that panel to the wooden frame at the top of the pass thru. I drilled 3 1" holes in the panel behind the CC to help airflow/cooling. The panel has the CC, a marine disconnect switch that controls the input to the CC from the PV panels, a 30A fuse between the CC and the battery and the Blue Tooth transmitter/receiver.
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Old 02-27-2019, 08:29 PM   #2
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Next I started running the 8 AWG cable from the roof to the CC. I removed the cover off of the refrigerator vent on the roof, snipped about a 1" hole in the screen and then passed the cables down the vent corridor. Our refer sits on top of a void that contains the WFCO charger and the circuit board for the slide/awning/stabilizers. I passed the cables through the floor of the refer cooling components and then through the floor of the trailer in that electronics void. I did have to cut the black woven fabric on the belly of the trailer to do this and will need to patch that back up when I'm done.
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Old 02-27-2019, 08:36 PM   #3
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Once I got the cables connected to the input side of the CC I routed another set of cables (also 8 AWG) out to my batteries. I attached the positive lead from the CC (after it passed thru the 30A fuse) to the positive lead of my #1 6V battery. I attached the negative lead to the lug on my battery monitor shunt nearest the trailer frame ground.

This configuration leaves the batteries still connected to the CC even when the FR factory supplied battery disconnect switch is in the off position. That should prevent me from ever having the PV panels sending power to the CC with no batteries in the circuit.
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Old 02-27-2019, 08:42 PM   #4
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The next part of the process was to fabricate mounting brackets for the panels that would allow me to easily remove the panels if I want to use them off the roof. I used 1 1/2" X 1/8" aluminum L angle material for the bracket modification. I still used the Regony brackets in my mounting system but I have seen others who just used the L angle material. The pictures show only one bolt in the side of the bracket and one empty hole. This is temporary because once I screw the feet of the mounts to the trailer roof, I will remove the panels so I can do a good job of putting Dicor and Eternabond on to seal it all up. Once I have that done I'll put both bolts in and at some point I'll probably replace the lock nuts with wing nuts so I can make removal easier/quicker.
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Old 02-27-2019, 08:46 PM   #5
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That's it for today - if the weather and my back agree, I'll mount the panels and wrap things up on the roof tomorrow.

Again, thanks to all who contributed to my knowledge on this project!
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Old 02-28-2019, 02:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larry2c View Post
That's it for today - if the weather and my back agree, I'll mount the panels and wrap things up on the roof tomorrow.

Again, thanks to all who contributed to my knowledge on this project!
Sounds well planned. Only issues I can see: Taking them on and off the roots is overly ambitious.

Also with same batteries we run 380 watts on the roof. On sunny days, that's always plenty. Winter it is not.

Earlier this month, in San Luis Obispo, during rain and overcast with only intermittent sun, THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH. So, all depends on usage. We run a 32 inch Samsung smart tv, with a voltage step up from 12v dc to 19.7 v dc in place of the laptop type 120 v ac so less loss than using an inverter. It runs a lot in the evening and morning. Running the heater lightly at night and we were relying on genset in evening to be sure that the batteries were well up for the night. Never run genset in Sunny weather except for the AC.

I would suggest permanent roof mount and if needed, a 100 to 200 watt brief case type setup,when you need it. Simplicity of life should be the goal.
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for your feedback Tom

Yesterday before I installed the panels with screws & sealed them I plugged them in and looked to see what the monitor said I was getting. In full sun I had about 100W and if I remember right just over 6 amps. Then I tilted one of the panels up to roughly approximate the angle the panels on our stick house have. There was about a 25% increase in output and that was just tilting one panel.

I also learned what you suggested - getting the panels on & off will not be a quick task. On the plus side, I made my installation so I "COULD" remove them but if I leave them in place, the mounts are plenty strong enough.

So now I'm thinking I may get another panel and make a pole mount so I can properly align the panel to the sun. That's a project for another time though so for now, we'll use this setup and see how well it does. For the most part we're low power users when we are running on just batteries. We do not have an inverter, no TV or other higher draw devices. We've got two 3 day trips coming up in the next couple months that will be no hook ups. One at the beach that should be pretty much full sun (unless we get a lot of overcast) and another up in the mountains. Should be a good test.
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Old 03-01-2019, 01:11 PM   #8
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Following with great interest.
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Old 03-01-2019, 02:43 PM   #9
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Yesterday I installed the panels on the roof and sealed them with Dicor. Once the Dicor cures completely I'll cover with Eternabond. At that time I will also put some Eternabond down where the branch connectors are laying and will apply a few strips over the wires to keep them from flapping in the breeze.

I put a section of split plastic conduit on the wires where they go into the fridge vent opening and on the wires where they come out from under the panels to prevent chafing. BTW, if anyone has an idea on how to fill in the hole around the wires in the fridge vent screen I'm open for suggestions (not sure if duct tape or Geocel will last up there).

I also flipped the switch and checked out the Bluetooth monitoring app. Everything seems to be working fine! Next up is snugging up the wiring and sealing the floor penetrations I made.
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Old 03-01-2019, 02:53 PM   #10
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What a wonderful write-up, thank you for sharing.

We have a very similar setup and went with Renogy branded panels as well.

I know you chose a PWM controller over an MPPT controller, but if I may make a suggestion. While an MPPT controller does only offer marginal efficiency improvements, the greater advantage is having your panels wired in series instead of parallel giving your greater voltage at a lower light level. This allows you to begin charging earlier in the day, and later in the evening.

Secondly, if later on you decide to upgrade spend good money on your controller. Those $30 controllers work... but they don't have a good life span and will fail prematurely. Myself and others have had this happen to the demise of a perfectly good set of batteries. I would suggest a Victron Blue Solar 75/15.

Anyway. GREAT setup and clean install congrats!
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