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Old 12-28-2015, 05:09 PM   #1
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Solar on our RV, take 2

Previous (closed) thread Solar on our RV showed our setup. Took a 2-week dry camping trip, and here are results & updates.

We tested the bendable panels before installing but 3 failed completely and the 4th had dropped to roughly half output. So on this trip we ran the generator about every 2-1/2 days but the Magnum inverter/charger has a 125 Amp charger so it didn't need to run for long. And we apologized to the neighbors...

The next trip to civilization we emailed Renogy. They replied they had a bad run of the bendable panels and promised to replace with other product or give 100% credit - that was a huge relief! The bendable panels had been secured to the roof with Velcro and the edges sealed with Eternabond. Found evidence of water under the panels so we can't recommend that method. Renogy sent 3 150 Watt panels, they are bolted to the roof & the brackets covered with Dicor. Renogy sent a check for the difference, too. We are very pleased with Renogy customer service!

Also added a 50 Watt Renogy PV panel and simple PWM charge controller for the toad (on a prior trip the toad had severely discharged its antiquated battery). About $100 delivered, and we also use it to charge NP-7 batteries we use for other purposes. Chose not to use the 7-pin cable to charge the toad as it came loose once before (wonder if someone stepped on it rather than walk around the car) and smeared the connector half-way across New Mexico. We also carry a $15 set of HF trailer lights with a 7-pin connector if all else fails.

We carry a short #6 AWG jumper with clips on the ends. Can bypass the fuse, switches or even the charge controller if needed. Also carry a 3KW MSW inverter with jumper cable-type clips, so another option is start the truck engine, clip that to the battery and plug in the RV power cord. The original equipment WFCO charger is still installed, so we could plug it in if needed. And speaking of options, the Battery Isolation Manager provides bidirectional charging but only for the bulk stage; on this trip we used a clip lead from the house battery to turn on that relay for additional charge while traveling.

We found the 400 Amp-hour battery capacity to be sweet. A cloudy day or so does not cause any inconvenience. Because we routed the shore power generator relay to the Magnum input, we automatically switch to the electricity that is available, and the inverter power is distributed through all outlets.

Just in case we had not mentioned it, we are extremely pleased with Renogy customer service.

It is wonderful to press a switch and have electricity without noise or fuel consumption. We enjoy the peace & quiet in the wild places, and want to make little impact on them.
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:05 PM   #2
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Looks good! I can't decide on which mounts to use for mine, I have the dimpled roof shown below. I see you used the Renogy mounts. Can you remove the panels if needed without unscrewing from the roof? And how did you route the cable to the controller and batteries?
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:18 PM   #3
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Sage, you are correct, those are the Renogy brackets. It would be possible but difficult to remove the panels but I am (again) hoping the panels will outlast the RV. That is more likely using these conventional panels, I suppose. At the bottom of the picture showing the 2 front panels can be seen the homemade combining box. We used the #10 AWG to the box and #6 AWG to the refrigerator vent and down. Don't remember the exact length, probably less than 10' of the #6. Not too difficult to route that way, through the roof vent, to the outside fridge panel, to the space beneath the fridge accessible behind the drawer.
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:29 PM   #4
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Is your roof the same as mine, textured? Do you think you could have the panel screw from the mount come all the up thru the frame so you could have easy bolt removal? Been looking at a lot of mounts from stick-on, glue-on, 1 to 2 screws. Now totally confused and have over analyzed.
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:38 PM   #5
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I see you have 450 watts. I only have 2 group 27 batteries and I think 150-200 watts are enough for me. We use between 35-70 amps per 24 hour period depending on furnace use. We only stay in one spot 2-3 days when camping so it's just to prevent a lot of generator use.
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:41 PM   #6
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I have the rubber roof.

Did you use the self tapping screws Renogy supplied?

Thanks,

Mel
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:47 PM   #7
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On the Renogy mount, the 'foot' of the bracket (the part that is flat on the roof) is not under the panel, so I don't know how one screw could attach the panel to the bracket and secure the bracket to the roof, if that is what you are thinking. I don't like drilling holes in the roof either but my #1 choice did not work. I figure if these panels need to come off, I will figure a way to patch the damage. I saw a post about someone using flat/bendable panels and securing them with a layer of Dicor around the edge, but Renogy bendable panels are currently unavailable.
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:02 PM   #8
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Mel, we used the self tapping screws supplied by Renogy with the brackets. They had a grip, they compressed the Dicor beneath the bracket. A squirt of Dicor in the hole, a layer of Dicor under the bracket, another layer on top of the bracket and screws so I doubt they will move.
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:06 PM   #9
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Sage, we added 200 Amp-hours to our original 2 Group 27 batteries. Would rather not use the generator at all, just a preference. This is based on estimating our consumption at 110 Amp-hours a day but that includes devices we do not use daily, more of a worst-case guess. We have enough space on our little 30' moho to add several more 100 Watt panels if we want later.
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Old 12-28-2015, 07:10 PM   #10
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I like the 2 hole bracket vs the 1 hole that some have and less contact area. So, 200 or 300 watt? Does it help to have the 300 watts when cloudy?
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