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Old 02-27-2016, 04:14 PM   #1
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Thinking Solar for our Forester

Thinking WindyNation or Renogy 200 watt system on our Forester 3171DS. Do I need the inverter? I know I need the controller and to mount it as close to the batteries as possible. Don't know yet if I want to keep the panels portable or mount them permanently on the roof. We camp in the trees sometimes.

Mainly just want to keep 2 12 volt batteries charged and watch a little TV at night.

I read HandyBobsblog, pretty good info. Don't need an expensive system. Just want to know what others are using and how they like their systems. Also, what brand would you recommend. Thx, Ben
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:32 PM   #2
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If you don't need 110 VAC or if you already have an inverter, you don't need one. The panels will charge your batteries through the solar controller regardless of whether you have an inverter or not. It is often part of a system since most stick homes that might add solar have no use for 12 volts DC and need the inverter to address their electrical needs.
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:55 PM   #3
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We have exactly the same system. 2100 watt panels. I wanted them on the roof. That way they are charging wherever I am. Sitting in storage or at a campsite. I ran the 8 gauge wire through the chase for the fridge and into the cupboard beneath the sink (Solera MBS) to the mppt solar charge controller, and then into the battery box. I didn't add the trimetric battery monitor till recently. Like a gas gauge it tells you more about how the batteries are doing than any other method. Go for it!
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:06 PM   #4
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The other concern that springs to mind is the weight and bulk of these panels. I seem to recall they were about 35 lbs each and large to handle. I wouldn't want to be storing them each time you move. And on the roof they'll never walk away. Not that it's a big risk!
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
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The other concern that springs to mind is the weight and bulk of these panels. I seem to recall they were about 35 lbs each and large to handle. I wouldn't want to be storing them each time you move. And on the roof they'll never walk away. Not that it's a big risk!
Backdoctor, did you mount the panels on the roof yourself or did you have it done? How were they fastened? Also, when you have time, can you post a picture of the location of the panels. Thx
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:16 PM   #6
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Benagi. I mounted the panels on the roof myself. I used feet from rvsolarstore.com. They're the type you screw in. I tried to find a cross beam with a studfinder, and despite getting signal, none of the sites had any other support under them. I drilled and then applied dicor generously on the roof, the foot and the screw. Thu also sell sticky feet, but I wasn't confident with adhesion to the pebble surface of the roof. My setup will be different than yours, but I placed them as close as possible to the fridge chase. I don't have photos as the rig is at the service depot. Again.
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:53 PM   #7
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We have a 200 W Zamp solar system, portable, love the high quality system and prefer the portability since we too often camp in the shade. Very easy to move the solar panels around to get them in the right place to keep the batteries charged. We added a 1500 W inverter with cut off switch, and upgraded all the cables to thickest possible per Bob's suggestion. Having an inverter allows us to use electricity other then the LED lights, fans, etc, so we can still run TV, microwave, etc., though we limit the use of the extra appliances and monitor our batteries. We like the convenience of quick use of the microwave or the occasional espresso, though we could certainly get along on dry camping without an inverter.
Keep in mind that one third of every dollar spent on your solar system, the complete package, is a tax credit for this year assuming your trailer qualifies as a second home, most all do.
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Old 02-28-2016, 01:15 PM   #8
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how does that work, just the solar, does that include everything to make it useful, or just the panels themselves


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We have a 200 W Zamp solar system, portable, love the high quality system and prefer the portability since we too often camp in the shade. Very easy to move the solar panels around to get them in the right place to keep the batteries charged. We added a 1500 W inverter with cut off switch, and upgraded all the cables to thickest possible per Bob's suggestion. Having an inverter allows us to use electricity other then the LED lights, fans, etc, so we can still run TV, microwave, etc., though we limit the use of the extra appliances and monitor our batteries. We like the convenience of quick use of the microwave or the occasional espresso, though we could certainly get along on dry camping without an inverter.
Keep in mind that one third of every dollar spent on your solar system, the complete package, is a tax credit for this year assuming your trailer qualifies as a second home, most all do.
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:09 PM   #9
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Many of the campsites we have stayed at are shaded where the trailer is parked. We move our panels to where the best sunlight is. I made aluminum brackets to adjust the angle of the panels depending on the angle of the sun. Our panels are Renogy 100 watt and weigh about 17lbs each. My wife made a padded storage bag for them and we store them behind the couch for travel.
I just bought a 600 watt Samlex inverter so that we can watch TV.
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:37 PM   #10
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We have an inverter much larger than we normally need, but it's there if the need arises [5,000/10,000 watt surge]. Comes in handy for the microwave, TVs or router/BlueRay which need 110 vac.
Our 600 watts of panels are attached with the Renogy mounts and leave just enough room underneath to pass the wires and allow air to cool them. They provide all the "juice" we can use and more.
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Old 02-28-2016, 08:33 PM   #11
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How big is your battery bank Mike?
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:18 AM   #12
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how does that work, just the solar, does that include everything to make it useful, or just the panels themselves
Hammer, it's pretty much the whole system, including installation and all of the needed hardware, not just the Solar panels. Here is a good link that you can use as a reference

http://solaroutreach.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ResidentialITC_Factsheet_Final.pdf

RVs with a bed , bathroom, and kitchen all qualify as a second home and thus qualify for the solar tax credit. You have through the end of 2016
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Old 02-29-2016, 04:00 PM   #13
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The price of solar panels seems to be falling. I had purchased a 160w panel for my new trailer but ran across some 260w mono panels for $150 ea. And the company sold them locally with a warranty. I picked up 2. Now I will have to shell out some $$ for a descent 60A controller that can handle 520w total power. A good problem to have...
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:49 PM   #14
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The price of solar panels seems to be falling. I had purchased a 160w panel for my new trailer but ran across some 260w mono panels for $150 ea. And the company sold them locally with a warranty. I picked up 2. Now I will have to shell out some $$ for a descent 60A controller that can handle 520w total power. A good problem to have...

WOW! That's a good deal , any chance of you sharing your contact/ vendor?


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Old 02-29-2016, 08:13 PM   #15
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WOW! That's a good deal , any chance of you sharing your contact/ vendor?


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Homebrew, are you local to the area? These guys run a commercial solar installation company and these are surplus from jobsites. Shoot me a PM and I'll send you Mike's #.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
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The price of solar panels seems to be falling. I had purchased a 160w panel for my new trailer but ran across some 260w mono panels for $150 ea. And the company sold them locally with a warranty. I picked up 2. Now I will have to shell out some $$ for a descent 60A controller that can handle 520w total power. A good problem to have...

Make sure you check the voltages of these panels before you shell out for a MPPT controller. Not all panels can run at 24v or 48v if your wiring panels in series.


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Old 02-29-2016, 09:08 PM   #17
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Make sure you check the voltages of these panels before you shell out for a MPPT controller. Not all panels can run at 24v or 48v if your wiring panels in series.


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Morningstars calculation tool is very handy for panel & controller matches.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:27 AM   #18
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I was noticing on some of the inverters they were calling for 4/0 cable, do most use awg wire, or motor lead wire, it said it had a 100 amp charge circuit, 4/0 motor lead wire has a amp rating of 454 amps,
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