Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-11-2021, 09:14 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 14
What all will work with solar

Today I was moving my camper to a new spot by my house that I just laid gravel on and was on my ladder blowing it off before hitching up and found out thereís a solar panel mounted on the roof that I didnít know about. It appears to be hardwired in already. Iím not sure the size of the panel but am wondering if all I need to do is hook up the cables to the battery that are marked ďsolarĒ to use it or if there more to be done and what all it will power. I have a 2021 coachmen apex 300bhs and am still new to all of it so any advice and tips are much appreciated.
Baferg94 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2021, 09:18 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 1,861
It's probably not going to do much more than charge the batteries when there is no real load on the batteries.
NavyLCDR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2021, 09:54 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
It's probably not going to do much more than charge the batteries when there is no real load on the batteries.
Thatís what I figured but at least it will save me from having my cord run out to keep the battery charged while not in use. Wasnít sure if it was just hooking up the cables to the battery or if thereís a switch for solar on my model or if itís automatic. Havenít had much time to look through.
Baferg94 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2021, 09:56 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 1,861
There should be a charge controller wired in there somewhere. It should be solar panels to charge controller directly to battery.
NavyLCDR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2021, 10:09 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Dayton Ohio
Posts: 2,235
Unfortunately in most of North America a 100 watt panel can on its best day supply 25 amps to your battery. Most folks use much more than that per day. thus pretty worthless. Now, 6 or 8 panels, now we are cooking!

Wired wrong it can discharge the battery.

This set up might keep your battery charged over the winter. However, a fully charged battery will discharge 5% or so per month over the lay up.

So as a learning tool it is great.

Solar powers nothing! They recharge your batteries.
tomkatb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2021, 10:38 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 713
solar

a 100 watt is not totaly useless, you can hook up many items to the battery. 12v,,, filet knife, phone charger, inverter to power up to 350 amps. 12v curlng iron for wife, led lights, pump for your minnow bucket, 12v air compressor.etc. my 100 watt panel serves my trailer well for many outdoor and indoor uses. my pump never is out of power .. fridge. ignighter works on 12v allways keeps fridge working. lights on in trailer . all you need is SUNSHINE.
Thomas ho is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2021, 01:38 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Hclarkx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Granite Bay, Ca
Posts: 749
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baferg94 View Post
Thatís what I figured but at least it will save me from having my cord run out to keep the battery charged while not in use. Wasnít sure if it was just hooking up the cables to the battery or if thereís a switch for solar on my model or if itís automatic. Havenít had much time to look through.
I'm not sure how the other posters know it's a 100W panel, but if it is, it's more than adequate for keeping the battery charged. And for light camping, it will be very helpful.

I do suggest you get a calibration on the solar controller and determine if it is going to go into bulk mode every morning and take the battery up to 14.4V daily. Some simple minded solar controllers will do this. Daily trips to 14.4V are pretty rough on a battery; at least compared to floating it at a more modest voltage. Hopefully it won't do this, but if you have some "parasitic" load in the RV and leave it connected to the battery, the battery voltage might drop low enough to trigger bulk mode. With only the solar controller connected to the battery and drawing current (small but not zero) the solar controller probably won't wake up in bulk mode. In any event, it's good to know this. If the morning sun brings just a float voltage (13.5 or 13.6V) and you don't see voltage rise to 14.4V, then you are good.
__________________
2020 GMC Denali 2500HD Crew 4X4 Gas 6.6L
2015 30' 8280WS Rockwood Ultra Lite - lifted 3"
Solar plus LiFePO4 and 12V fridge.
Hclarkx is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2021, 06:28 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 928
I believe most RVs that come with solar come with a 100 watt panel. If you have an amp meter you can measure it. You need a volt -ohm meter anyway, so just spend a bit more for one that will read up to 10 amps. A 100 watt panel should put out 5 or 6 amps in the middle of a sunny day. You do need a charge controller because otherwise that high voltage coming off the solar will boil your batteries. You have to connect the charge controller to the battery prior to connecting solar, and the closer it is to the battery, the better. An 8 or 10 amp charge contoller to handle 100 watts is inexpensive. Most of the new ones will tell you the voltage.

Solar should run everything in your trailer except microwave and AC. In other words, anything that runs on 12 volts. Our DVD player is 110 AC, so we run a small inverter (changes 12 volt DC to 110v AC) to run it when we watch TV.

I just spent Labor Day weekend in northern NM, and only used my old faded plastic 100 watt panel on the roof. In four days, my battery went down to 89% charge. After a day or two at home with the battery disconnected, my battery was back up to 100%.

Just the benefit of keeping your battery fully charged while in storage is worth it. If you boondock, you want solar. It is silent, and you don't have to carry a heavy generator and gas cans. Even if you use your generator, unless you run it most of the day, you never fully charge your batteries. You can charge to 90% fairly fast, but the last 10% takes time. Solar has all day.

We don't waste electricity when we camp. We turn off lights we aren't using, don't often watch TV, and don't use the heater all night, but turn it on morning and evening if we need it.

Even staying in Montana near Yellowstone, we just added another portable 100 watt panel to the system and never used our generator. I don't even carry my generator with me anymore.

Since we boondock most of the time, I replaced the original Marine batteries with two 6 volt golf cart batteries wired in series. That made a big difference because they are true deep cycle batteries. Marine batteries are not.
__________________
2009 Roo 21ss + 2007 Superduty 6.0
mnoland30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2021, 09:48 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Idaho
Posts: 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baferg94 View Post
...
I have a 2021 coachmen apex 300bhs ... ... .
You have a nice travel trailer. Contrary to a few opinions, I think your roof-top solar panel is very useful for helping to keep your batteries charged. According to the Coachman website, your travel trailer comes with a 100-watt solar panel connected to a 10-amp charge controller. As NavyLCDR stated, the panel connects a solar controller to batteries. A 100-watt panel is a minimal system for keeping your RV battery charged between camping trips when parked in a mostly sunny place. The primary purpose for these panels is providing battery charging during daylight to replenish or compensate for daily energy consumption. As you gain more experience with your new mobile palace you may decide you need a larger system.
__________________
Ray Ė Tired Electrical Engineer; ReTired Archaeologist; Author.
California refugee
residing among the great & awesome citizens of Idaho.
Mobile Palace is a 25-ft Prism on a 2015 Sprinter with 200-watts roof solar.

"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you." John Steinbeck
FollowTheSun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2021, 10:32 AM   #10
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 10
My Apex Nano had the 100 watt panel on the roof and it did recover the batteries on Sunny days while dry camping, however it will not keep up with the furnace fan so if you plan to camp in the cooler weather you may wish to upgrade. We have since added an additional 300 watts and an upgraded charge controller to a victron mppt type, between the controller upgrade and the additional panels you'll likely see 5x the power production.
matt2778 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 09:30 AM   #11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 183
I just looked at a couple Apex models at the Hershey show. They had charge controllers in the external storage compartment. Right side. Just inside the door mounted on left, top. Ones I saw were the cheap Chinese controllers common on Amazon.
__________________
Tow vehicle 2021 F-250
TT Apex 256BHS
Tabasco_Joe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 10:11 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: North of Seattle, WA
Posts: 13,073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tabasco_Joe View Post
I just looked at a couple Apex models at the Hershey show. They had charge controllers in the external storage compartment. Right side. Just inside the door mounted on left, top. Ones I saw were the cheap Chinese controllers common on Amazon.
You expect different?
__________________
"A wise man can change his mind. A fool never will."

"You only grow old when you run out of new things to do"

2018 Flagstaff Micro Lite 25BDS
2004 Nissan Titan
TitanMike is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 10:22 AM   #13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: North of Seattle, WA
Posts: 13,073
Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
It's probably not going to do much more than charge the batteries when there is no real load on the batteries.
It's a popular misconception that 'Solar' will run things in one's RV.

The reality is that Solar doesn't run a thing other than keep the batteries charged. When using anything running on 12 volts (lighting, furnace, fans, water pump, these items are being powered by the batteries----- period.

When the sun is out the batteries are then being charged by the solar system.

Yes, when the sun is out and "solar" is producing max output some power may be used to run the various 12 volt items but that's not the purpose of a solar system in an RV. iT'S JUST A BATTERY CHARGER. That said, the solar system needs to be large enough to replace the 12 volt power used. Ideally it would be large enough to do that during a "solar day" but in a more realistic view at least it should be able to replace used energy at least every other day.


Remember, Batteries run things. Solar merely recharges them.
__________________
"A wise man can change his mind. A fool never will."

"You only grow old when you run out of new things to do"

2018 Flagstaff Micro Lite 25BDS
2004 Nissan Titan
TitanMike is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 12:39 PM   #14
Site Team
 
bikendan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Camano Island, Washington
Posts: 26,645
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanMike View Post
It's a popular misconception that 'Solar' will run things in one's RV.



The reality is that Solar doesn't run a thing other than keep the batteries charged. When using anything running on 12 volts (lighting, furnace, fans, water pump, these items are being powered by the batteries----- period.



When the sun is out the batteries are then being charged by the solar system.



Yes, when the sun is out and "solar" is producing max output some power may be used to run the various 12 volt items but that's not the purpose of a solar system in an RV. iT'S JUST A BATTERY CHARGER. That said, the solar system needs to be large enough to replace the 12 volt power used. Ideally it would be large enough to do that during a "solar day" but in a more realistic view at least it should be able to replace used energy at least every other day.





Remember, Batteries run things. Solar merely recharges them.
Yep, there's a lot of misconceptions about RV solar. It's marketed as a magical thing to solve all your power needs.
__________________
Dan-Retired California Firefighter/EMT
Shawn-Musician/Entrepreneur/Wine Expert
and Zoe the Wonder Dog(R.I.P.)
2016 PrimeTime TracerAIR 255, pushing a 2014 Ford F150 SCREW XTR 4x4 3.5 Ecoboost w/Max Tow Package
4pt Equal-i-zer WDH and 1828lbs of payload capacity
bikendan is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 01:15 PM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanMike View Post
You expect different?
Nope. They work ok for a 100W system. Usually hard to understand the instructions if you change any default settings.
__________________
Tow vehicle 2021 F-250
TT Apex 256BHS
Tabasco_Joe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 01:50 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 1,861
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanMike View Post
It's a popular misconception that 'Solar' will run things in one's RV.

The reality is that Solar doesn't run a thing other than keep the batteries charged. When using anything running on 12 volts (lighting, furnace, fans, water pump, these items are being powered by the batteries----- period.

When the sun is out the batteries are then being charged by the solar system.

Yes, when the sun is out and "solar" is producing max output some power may be used to run the various 12 volt items but that's not the purpose of a solar system in an RV. iT'S JUST A BATTERY CHARGER. That said, the solar system needs to be large enough to replace the 12 volt power used. Ideally it would be large enough to do that during a "solar day" but in a more realistic view at least it should be able to replace used energy at least every other day.


Remember, Batteries run things. Solar merely recharges them.
That's not really how a DC power distribution system works. The RV DC power distribution system will have up to 3 sources of power. The AC/DC converter (when connected to shore power), solar (if installed), and the battery. The converter and solar panels are power sources only, they will never become a load. The battery can either be a power source, or it can be a load depending on the loads on the DC buss and the state of charge of the battery.

The converter and the solar panels are capable of producing up to 14.4 volts. 12 volt battery arrangements will only supply up to 12.6-12.7 volts. When there is a light load on the DC bus, say running LED lights only, the converter and/or solar panels voltage will remain higher than battery voltage and in this situation the battery is also a load on the converter and/or solar panels - it is in a state of being charged. However it is the converter and/or solar panels supply the entire DC load.

When the load on the DC bus increases say furnace fan running, water pump running, electric slide-out running in or out; the converter and/or solar panels will attempt to supply the load, but the load will exceed their capacity and their output voltage drops. When the converter and/or solar panels voltage drops to that equal to the battery, the battery shifts from being a load on the system (being charged) to being a power supply to the system (being discharged). This state will continue until the load on the DC buss decreases enough that the capacity of the converter and/or solar panels is no longer exceeding and their voltage output rises to a level above the battery voltage, and the battery will again shift to a state of being charged.

So to say that solar only charges the battery can only be true if the battery and solar panels are isolated from the rest of the DC power distribution system in RV. If they are connected to the DC power distribution system, all of the load requirements must first be met by the charging source - converter and/or solar panels, and only after all of those load requirements are met, the remaining current then goes into the battery to charge it.

If you have a battery monitor connected to the battery it is easy to see this relationship. Nothing connected to the DC power system and you will see 20 amps or greater going into the battery. As you turn on DC loads, you will see the amps going into the battery start to decrease. As long as amps are going into the battery, the converter and/or solar panels are carrying the entire load. Turn on more DC loads and amps into the battery will continue to decrease until eventually it will shift to amps coming out of the battery. It is impossible for the battery to be supplying any of the DC load as long as amps are still going into the battery.
NavyLCDR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 01:58 PM   #17
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 172
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hclarkx View Post
I'm not sure how the other posters know it's a 100W panel . . .
Copied from the Coachman website. The only way it would be more than 100W is if the coach was ordered with more. Since the OP didn't even know he had a solar panel, I doubt that was the case.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	coachman.jpg
Views:	20
Size:	281.3 KB
ID:	262948  
yukongold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 02:19 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 172
I respectfully disagree with others who state that solar panels "do not run" things in an RV. Anything and everything in an RV can be powered by the batteries - 12VAC from the batteries directly and 120VAC thru an inverter. If boondocking, the panels are feeding the battery bank which, in turn, feed he appliances. So, by extension, the panels ARE running things.

The question becomes how many and how large do you need. If enough panels and enough battery power and a large enough inverter is used, no shore power would ever be needed. That, of course, is dependent on physical restraints - - size of real estate available, weight issues, etc..

When I was boating there were several owners in the marina who set up large systems on their boats and could go indefinitely without ever plugging into shore power or running a generator. (Course, they had pretty big boats.)

To the OP, in your case, the answer is probably the panel will just "run" recharging the battery/batteries. But a large enough system will "run" everything.
yukongold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2021, 02:59 PM   #19
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mountain Foothills of Southern Alberta
Posts: 1,601
Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
It's probably not going to do much more than charge the batteries when there is no real load on the batteries.
Best answer to the OP question, simple and straight forward without confessing the the issue with a bunch of tech.

In regards to whether there is a charge control already in the circuit. Take a voltage measurement at the "solar wires" when the sun is shining bright. If the voltage is above 14 Volts then there is no charge controller in the circuit. One will need to be installed.
__________________

2007 Surveyor SV230
- 200 Watts Solar/MPPT Controller - 230 AH Battery Bank (Two-GC2) - 600 watt PSW Inverter - (2) 2000 watt Inverter Generators - LED Lighting
2009 F150 - 5.4 Litre - Tow Package
Boon Docking 99% of the time.
boondocking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2021, 06:54 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tabasco_Joe View Post
Nope. They work ok for a 100W system. Usually hard to understand the instructions if you change any default settings.
Yep. A pwm controller is perfectly fine when using 12v panels on a 12v system. The mppm is usually a waste of money on these small systems.
bbells is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
solar

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Forest River, Inc. or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:57 PM.