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Old 07-08-2016, 01:34 PM   #1
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Has anyone added roof-mount solar to class-c Sprinter?

Wife and I are about to begin new ventures as we ready to purchase a class-c Sprinter, lease our home, and drive into a year of travel as we search for a new homestead. While we feel confident about our class-c MB Sprinter decision, we have not yet decided which make. We are persuaded toward a 2016/17 single slide unit with the diner, closet, and queen bed on the port side. However, I wish to add a few things to the motorhome which I believe will greatly enhance our boondocking comfort. While most of the things I wish to add are quiet simple, three items concern me because of available space or necessary coach modification, these are: 1) 300 watts roof-mount photo-voltaic, 2) whole-house reverse osmosis for freshwater, and 3) shore AC power surge protection.


In this thread, I would like to focus on the photo-voltaic solar panels, and leave the other two topics to another thread. I have already calculated my average daily power consumption and have concluded that 300 watts with a MPPT controller will generally satisfy my daily energy recharge rate on a weekly schedule (already compensated for a flat panel roof-mount with seasonal variation). I am, however, concerned about available roof real estate for two solar panels on a class-c Sprinters. Has anyone here accomplished such installations with ideas and experience about how I should proceed?
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Old 07-12-2016, 02:50 AM   #2
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Roof mounted solar

Followthesun,

Not to take away from Thor's product but Winnabego has the View that is (or can easily be) outfitted with a PV system. I am interested in a PV system for my Synergy and in talking to the Customer Care person they do occasionally see that request so you might give them a call and hear what they have to say.
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Old 07-12-2016, 08:53 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by KC8RXQ View Post
Not to take away from Thor's product but Winnabego has the View that is (or can easily be) outfitted with a PV system. I am interested in a PV system for my Synergy and in talking to the Customer Care person they do occasionally see that request so you might give them a call and hear what they have to say.
I am actually most impressed with Winnebago's company staff with whom I have spoke. My experience thus far is that the company is very straight-forward and honest, and has a great deal of confidence in their product. Unlike any of their competitor, Winnebago provides detailed product information, including many of their mechanical and electrical drawings, for download. I like the Winnebago View, but it is also a more expensive unit ... just I bit more that I wish to pay. However, that said, my experience with them thus far, suggests they are very helpful and confident ... I find their people and attitude extremely attractive. On the other hand, Thor has been somewhat helpful, but tends to avoid some questions; Jayco and Forest River/Coachmen defers every inquiry to a dealer ... and my interface with their dealers has left me with the poor impression that they are either poorly trained, ignorant or lazy. In fact, the more I study and learn about the various products, the more unimpressed I am with any dealer. I am dismayed with dealers and their dismal lack of product knowledge. It is that frustration which caused me to search and find this forum. I am very pleased to have joined this forum where I find so many vehicle owners discussing so many topics and issues ... I am impressed by the knowledge and experience here. I am going to spend $100,000 on something I want to be sure I am getting what I think I am buying. I don't object to a salesperson getting a good commission, or to the dealer making a profit but I do expect them to earn it!
My apology for the rant nothing personal with you your statement just caused me to reflect upon some of the frustrations that I've passed while researching for a suitable motorhome. In fact, thank you I feel a little better now that I've unloaded some this.
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Old 07-12-2016, 09:21 PM   #4
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Talking Roof mounted solar

FollowTheSun,

No offence taken at all. The purchase decision has to be yours and is one that you alone have to live with. I am a member of the Skinnie-Winnies on a Yahoo users group and 99% of them own View/Navion products of varying ages. That is certainly a good place to go even if you don't buy the Winnabego product and these folks don't seem to hold a grudge if you own some other brand. Granted, their help may be limited if it isn't a View or Navion but they do try.

The folks in the Skinnie-Winnies group have reported more problems with their newer rigs than what I am experiencing but how often do you hear about "the bad" as opposed to "the good"?

You also need to be aware that all RV's will have problems...even the coveted Winnabego products. I looked at a number of Views and Navions but either the dealer was too far away, or I got a bad feeling from the salesman, or the wife didn't like something. That led me to a Thor dealer near Charlotte, NC that had repaired our Open Range 5th wheel from very poor manufacturing practices that caused a large slide and the rear cap to get soaked and mildew ridden from seam leaks. This dealer was picking up the Sprinter Class C product and my trust in their service manager was essentially the primary reason for buying my Synergy. There are still some warranty problems that they need to address but their service department is well staffed with qualified and experienced technicians, and that has become more important to me than pricing or how a product is equipped.

But I digress
I am still interested in a solar setup which may either be a fixed roof mount panel(s) that's always ready or maybe a portable setup that I have to drag out of the storage bin and set up each time I need it.

Best wishes on your search and I hope you find, and enjoy, whatever you decide to buy.
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Old 07-12-2016, 09:55 PM   #5
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Have you looked at the RVs made in canada
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Old 07-12-2016, 10:53 PM   #6
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...


Quote:
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Have you looked at the RVs made in canada
No, I don't believe I have looked at any Canadian made Rvs. Do you a few suggestions that might get me started?
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Old 07-12-2016, 11:04 PM   #7
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Leisure van serenty
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:03 AM   #8
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PleasureWays are also made in Canada. Our first RV was a PleasureWay in a Chevy Van - Class B. Nice unit.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:03 AM   #9
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With 300 watts of solar, MPPT isn't worth the additional expense over PWM. The break even point is 400 watts.
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Old 07-13-2016, 03:38 AM   #10
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With 300 watts of solar, MPPT isn't worth the additional expense over PWM. The break even point is 400 watts.
Thank you for the comment. My decision to use a MPPT controller, instead of PWM, is based on various operational inefficiencies (seasonal, shading, dust, ect.) and not cost. These criteria might change as I gain a better understanding of the very limited roof space available for solar. There also still remain several other variables, related to such as battery type and average daily load estimates. In actual fact, my current estimate for 300 watt panels may even change. However, at the moment, the most critical question, for me at least, relates to what space is available for panel installation. ... I'm sure you understand my problem at the moment ... what we want and what we can have are often at odds. At the moment, much of my wish-for specification relate more to my budget and what I want, rather than what I can or should have.
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Old 07-13-2016, 11:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by FollowTheSun View Post
Thank you for the comment. My decision to use a MPPT controller, instead of PWM, is based on various operational inefficiencies (seasonal, shading, dust, ect.) and not cost. These criteria might change as I gain a better understanding of the very limited roof space available for solar. There also still remain several other variables, related to such as battery type and average daily load estimates. In actual fact, my current estimate for 300 watt panels may even change. However, at the moment, the most critical question, for me at least, relates to what space is available for panel installation. ... I'm sure you understand my problem at the moment ... what we want and what we can have are often at odds. At the moment, much of my wish-for specification relate more to my budget and what I want, rather than what I can or should have.
With shading panel output drops by 90% that is why we use 2 - 100 watt portables until we get home this winter. Parallel wired panels will do better then series wired so you loose the advantage of higher input voltage for the MPPT.
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Old 07-14-2016, 02:23 AM   #12
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With shading panel output drops by 90% that is why we use 2 - 100 watt portables until we get home this winter. Parallel wired panels will do better then series wired so you loose the advantage of higher input voltage for the MPPT.
Portable panels do offer many very useful temptations, but with age I find my end-of-day priorities much different than I once did younger folks say I've become lazy I think I've heard something like that from folks setting up camp while I'm comfortably lounged, sipping a perfectly mixed margarita. I throw that last comment in humor, not personal if you are older, you know if not, you will. A throw it on the roof and forget it mentality is more appealing to me. But yet, I try to keep open to better ideas: What kind of portable panels are you using? And, where in your Sprinter do you store them?
An added point: A shadow does not necessarily reduce output by 90%. A partial shading of a single panel reduces its output somewhat; a gray sky also reduces panel output, a dark sky reduces it more, and the shadow of a cloudy dark night might even reduce it 100%. Dust on the panel is a shadow. A little dust might reduce efficiency 10-20%, while an 1/8th inch of dust would reduce it 100%. Manufacturers assemble individual panels with an array of photo-voltaic cells, usually several series-wired cells connected in parallel. These panels can be connected together to create larger similar arrays. Most commercially available panels are configured to produce about 17 volts. Such panel is well suited for 12 volt battery charging because it is convenient to manage the output potential of 17 volt arrays to various 12.x volt charging systems. In such system, these panels would best be wired in parallel. A 24 volt charge system might be conveniently assembled by wiring two series configured panels in parallel with other series-wired panels. Such would produce a 34 volt array which is convenient for managing 24 volt charging systems.
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:51 PM   #13
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We have an Axis 24.1 and carry the panels on the rear beds for now. Home made 3/4 inch pvc stands. I mounted the Trimetric, Midnite Solar breaker box and Morningstar controller where the optional 32 " TV would go.
When I complete the system this winter I'll post pictures.
The 2 100 watt panels are from Missouri Wind and Solar via ebay.

Check here for our last solar install: http://forums.woodalls.com/index.cfm...d/28342589.cfm

And your right " old age ain't for sissies"
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Old 07-14-2016, 01:53 PM   #14
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We do not have solar panels yet. It appears this will be a winter project.
Ron has read the threads/discussions regarding same and leans towards "not mounting" the panels permanently on the roof. (wind/hail damage etc)
We are OLD and, at this point in time, we find hookup at campsite to take only a few minutes, as we are partners-in-crime...I help him and it is done !
THEN, we kick back n enjoy the day !

happy camping !
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Old 07-14-2016, 07:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by scrubjaysnest View Post
We have an Axis 24.1 and carry the panels on the rear beds for now. Home made 3/4 inch pvc stands. I mounted the Trimetric, Midnite Solar breaker box and Morningstar controller where the optional 32 " TV would go.
When I complete the system this winter I'll post pictures.
The 2 100 watt panels are from Missouri Wind and Solar via ebay.
Check here for our last solar install: Woodalls Open Roads Forum: Tech Issues: The "nest" and it's loads
And your right " old age ain't for sissies"
Excellent use of that space where the optional TV would go. Also it just donned on me what you meant when you stated "shading panel" such as a small shadow cast across one or more of the cells on panel. Since the cells in these panels are wired in series, such a shadow reduced the entire panel to efficiency of the shadowed cell. Yes, indeed that is another issue to watch for, and given the roof-space available on the Sprinter, that issue might kill my roof-top installation hopes. I looked over your 2010 load estimates and measurements. I am using the same load-estimate methodology. I also notice you wired with 10 and 8 AWG. I was planning to use 6 AWG, but I noticed from your parametric data that your system maintains a good charging voltage, particularly during the afternoon. I also like your use of the TriMetric instrument. Are you planning to keep the same wire gauge as before? I look forward to seeing your pictures.
The was something else somebody told me about old age ... but I seem to have forgotten what it was.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:04 PM   #16
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The portables are connected with 8 AWG. At the present time I plan on using 8 AWG from the roof combiner box down to the controller. For us that means routing through the refeer compartment. Thinking two 150 watt panels on the roof and using 10 AWG from panel to the combiner box even though that is over 8 amps maybe from each panel. I'll revisit the volt drop and the 8 AWG may get increased to 6 AWG between the Charge controller and the combiner box.

AM solar has some narrow panels that may work better for you but they are a bit expensive.
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