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Old 06-04-2016, 05:58 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, 08:01 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, 06:32 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, 09:29 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, 09:34 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, 10:33 AM   #6
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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, 12:36 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, 11:06 AM   #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, 08:50 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 06-07-2016, 11:47 PM   #10
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I wish you luck with your project.

Happy Boon Docking !
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Old 06-08-2016, 05:20 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=Tom48;1219894]
Quote:
Originally Posted by friendofacatahoula View Post
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.
From everything that I can read, it is very hard to find any real proof that MPPT is of any advantage for smaller systems. I believe that the biggest advantage that it has is that it can handle higher voltages than PWM so it can be used in big systems supporting many series connected panels and the much higher voltages and lower feed currents that result. For a system that one would use in an RV those parameters are really not useful anyway.

Two to four 100 watt panels, parallel connected to PWM is the ticket, as is the really well executed design of the Bogart TM and SC pair.
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Old 06-09-2016, 06:38 PM   #12
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So, I have a few questions. although my 55 amp stock Wafco appears to be working fine, I seem to thing it takes to long to charge the batteries (two T105's) I am going to install the SC 2030 in consort with the already installed TM 2030. First question, it all I need to do is share positive and have the negative go from the batteries to the large bolt on the far side of the shunt?
I'm looking at the upgrade that Progressive Dynamics offers, It's programmable with the Charge Wizard and pedant. Should I replace and controller because nothing get past the controller or will I be able to program the SC2030 to deliver power directly to the batteries? I'm going to install the temp sensor and SC 2030 do the cables that go out to the panels need any kind of special connection or will screwed in lugs work? I'm trying to order just the panels from Windy Nation most portable kits come with a charge controller pre-attached. your comments please.
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Old 06-09-2016, 08:01 PM   #13
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So, I have a few questions...
First, you can leave the WFCO or replace it with a PD unit as it has nothing to do with the SC2030 charge controller from Bogart. The 2030 positive lead goes to the battery positive and the negative lead goes to the chassis, just like the negative lead of the WFCO does. You can put the positive lug on the battery controller post that goes to the positive battery post, or you can run it directly to the battery positive post. Put a 30 amp fuse in the positive line from the SC2030 to the battery, since the 2030 cannot put out more than 20 amps anyway. The shunt goes between the battery common negative and the chassis ground. The sense wire to the TM goes on the battery side of the shunt and the two negative leads go on the shut post toward the chassis.

If you install the controller this way, the SC2030 will be able to charge your batteries regardless of whether the disconnect is on or off, unlike the WFCO which won't do anything with the disconnect off.

If you order the right length of #10 PV wire, you can run from the panels to the SC2030 directly, without the need for special connectors. However, most panels come with special solar connectors and you can get adaptors that will parallel both panels without any terminal strips. Many panels come with MC-4 solar connectors and you can just buy PV wire with the required connectors already attached. You can also get parallel adapters that will allow you to parallel two panels without resorting to 4 wires going down from the roof.

Take a look at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/HQRP-T-branch...=1&*entries*=0

Check what your panels have before you order the wire and connectors. Put a 30 amp fuse and fuse holder in the panel feed down from the roof to the SC2030.
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:32 PM   #14
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I just purchased the SC 2030 it will act as the brains between the existing TM 2030 and the soon to be added solar panel(s). I am not going to replace my stock Wafco 55 amp stock controller. Will it suffice to just turn off the Main when I use solar power? All product is ordered and questions asked (almost). All I still need is the Solar panel(s) to add on the front side. I don't want to use roof mounts, I want to stay on the ground with adjustable stands. Storage, Quality, size are important, I'm looking for about 50 to 70 watts in 6+ hours. I think I'm looking for adding two 100 watt panels. Now open for panel suggestions
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:18 PM   #15
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I'm going to install a positive battery cable from the positive post to the SC 2030, I'm going to install the temp sensor to the SC 2030 and connect the TM 2030 and the SC 2030 by the included phone line. I plan on installing cables that go from the SC 2030 to the solar panel(s) but I want to use an M4 connector or other connector so their is a pigtail so to speak on the way to the solar panel(s) that way I can connect and disconnect as needed when the panels(s) are deployed. Are you suggesting a stand alone 30 fuse on both sides?
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:38 PM   #16
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Yes you can add a fuse or breaker on the power (+) side between the panels and controller and another between the controller and battery.

The Bogart installation diagrams are very straight forward and easy to follow. The only emissions are the placement of the fuses or breakers. I am currently using a 30 amp breaker on the panel side and a 40 on the battery side. I may swap those out for ANL or AGU type fuses as the breakers although functioning are not as easy to "view" a problem.


I installed my SC/TM combo this weekend while camping. The monitor is working flawlessly but I fear I have a bad controller. Neither LED light on the controller come on when the panels are hooked up. A little disappointed now.
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:13 PM   #17
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Yes you can add a fuse or breaker on the power (+) side between the panels and controller and another between the controller and battery.

The Bogart installation diagrams are very straight forward and easy to follow. The only emissions are the placement of the fuses or breakers. I am currently using a 30 amp breaker on the panel side and a 40 on the battery side. I may swap those out for ANL or AGU type fuses as the breakers although functioning are not as easy to "view" a problem.


I installed my SC/TM combo this weekend while camping. The monitor is working flawlessly but I fear I have a bad controller. Neither LED light on the controller come on when the panels are hooked up. A little disappointed now.
Have you got it working yet?
My 2016 2504S mini lite has two 160 watt rigid mono panels (with another two panels awaiting install) I run the Bogart system and find the absorption voltage controllability superior. Guess what? "At 260lbs I did not fall though the roof " been on the freeway and dirt roads and the panels didn't fall off!
My father-in-law glued an 80 watt panel with just silicone been on for over 3000 miles. I sunk four screws per bracket.
Good luck with you're project!
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:28 PM   #18
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Fuses are good everywhere. I have 600 watts of panels into a 60amp controller and have a 30 amp breaker in between. A 63amp breaker between the controller and battery bank. Also have a 300amp ANL between the 5,000 watt inverter and the battery bank. I'm an electronics tech and believe in fuses big time.
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Old 06-27-2016, 12:22 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=ScottBrownstein;1220668]
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From everything that I can read, it is very hard to find any real proof that MPPT is of any advantage for smaller systems. I believe that the biggest advantage that it has is that it can handle higher voltages than PWM so it can be used in big systems supporting many series connected panels and the much higher voltages and lower feed currents that result. For a system that one would use in an RV those parameters are really not useful anyway.

Two to four 100 watt panels, parallel connected to PWM is the ticket, as is the really well executed design of the Bogart TM and SC pair.
Our camping partners have put 4 100s on their roof and ran two pairs in parallel with each pair in series. claims his MPPT controller stats charging in marginal times like early am just after the barest edge of sunrise as when each panel gets up to about 7 volts in output the series makes that 14 and enough to start charging the batteries. Same thing in overcast conditions. He charges in more marginal conditions than my 100s in parallel with my PWM controller. Still if you have big enough wire coming from the roof to handle big amps our PWM system satisfies our needs.
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Old 06-28-2016, 06:06 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Have you got it working yet?
My 2016 2504S mini lite has two 160 watt rigid mono panels (with another two panels awaiting install) I run the Bogart system and find the absorption voltage controllability superior. Guess what? "At 260lbs I did not fall though the roof " been on the freeway and dirt roads and the panels didn't fall off!
My father-in-law glued an 80 watt panel with just silicone been on for over 3000 miles. I sunk four screws per bracket.
Good luck with you're project!
Sorry I was away for a few days.

My bogart controller is sitting on the table either waiting to go back to the retailer or bogart. A new one was supposed to have been delivered to me last week and I still haven't seen it so a little disappointed in that.

My panels are all installed and I have the 100watt semi flex panels on there. I opted to use 3M VHB tape on the panels to secure them. I tried it on a few items at home prior to see how strong it way compared to the typical automotive 3M tape and the VHB is going to have no problems with the 3 pound panels. I then sealed the edges with Dicor just to prevent any water penetration or wind from catching a lip.

This is where I feel I should have used Eternabond tape around the edges of the panels. The Dicor mentions it may "wrinkle" the roof material but I didn't understand to what extreme. It bubbled more than I would like to see but I will keep an eye on it. Dicor is supposed to be approved by this roof type for sealing.
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