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Old 05-15-2019, 11:24 PM   #1
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Solar panels

I believe the newer Thor diesels all have one installed solar panel with wiring ready to add two more. Has anyone added any? Curious about the cost and what difference is for charging batteries???
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:52 PM   #2
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Our's came with one which I moved the connection to maintain the chassis batteries and added a complete different four panel, 680W systemy with MPPT controller (the factory one is PWM).
It would have been easy to add a couple more 100 watt panels to the factory system (I think the factory controller can support up to 400W total)
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:33 PM   #3
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I added 3 more 100W panels. Total cost for panels and connections was well under $400 for DIY. My dealer wanted $1800. Took me about 45 minutes total. Made a big difference in how much we use the generator when dry camping. Usually only about 20 minutes in the morning when using the coffee pot and microwave.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by m1noel View Post
I added 3 more 100W panels. Total cost for panels and connections was well under $400 for DIY. My dealer wanted $1800. Took me about 45 minutes total. Made a big difference in how much we use the generator when dry camping. Usually only about 20 minutes in the morning when using the coffee pot and microwave.
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Were did u get the panels from
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:07 PM   #5
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Be careful:

Many of the factory installed solar controlers will only suport 100 or 200 watt total. I think they were only 10 amp PWM "Go Solar" brand chargers.

Need to confirm which solar controller you have before you add a bunch of panels.

Or you can upgrade to solar controller to handle what ever wattage you want.

I hope to do my solar system this spring/summer when I find time.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HaRVey View Post
Our's came with one which I moved the connection to maintain the chassis batteries and added a complete different four panel, 680W systemy with MPPT controller (the factory one is PWM).
It would have been easy to add a couple more 100 watt panels to the factory system (I think the factory controller can support up to 400W total)
Excuse my ignorance, what is MPPT controller? How does that differ from a PWM (no idea about that either) that comes stock?
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by USN Retiree View Post
Excuse my ignorance, what is MPPT controller? How does that differ from a PWM (no idea about that either) that comes stock?
GOOGLE it

PWM Type Solar Controllers vs MPPT Solar Controllers

PROS
– PWM controllers are built on a time tested technology. They have been used for years in Solar systems, and are well established
– These controllers are inexpensive

– PWM controllers are available in sizes up to 60 Amps

– PWM controllers are durable, most with passive heat sink style cooling

– These controllers are available in many sizes for a variety of applications

– MPPT controllers offer a potential increase in charging efficiency up to 30%
– These controllers also offer the potential ability to have an array with higher input voltage than the battery bank

– You can get sizes up to 80 Amps

– MPPT controller warranties are typically longer than PWM units

– MPPT offer great flexibility for system growth

– MPPT is the only way to regulate grid connect modules for battery charging

CONS
– The Solar input nominal voltage must match the battery bank nominal voltage if you’re going to use PWM
– There is no single controller sized over 60 amps DC as of yet

– Many smaller PWM controller units are not UL listed

– Many smaller PWM controller units come without fittings for conduit

– PWM controllers have limited capacity for system growth

– PWM can’t be used on higher voltage grid connect modules

– MPPT controllers are more expensive, sometimes costing twice as much as a PWM controller
– MPPT units are generally larger in physical size

– Sizing an appropriate Solar array can be challenging without MPPT controller manufacturer guides

– Using an MPPT controller forces the Solar array to be comprised of like photovoltaic modules in like strings
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:34 AM   #8
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Were did u get the panels from
I bought Renergy panels on Amazon.
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Old 05-17-2019, 07:09 PM   #9
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Home Depot is running a special today on 180-Watt panels.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Grape-So...W-US/301024442

I’m not in any way recommending these since I don’t know much about them, but wanted to point out that the ad for panels states “Produces on average 45 Amp-hours/540-Watt-hours per day”, which is panel power rating times 3 hours. This rough estimate just caught my attention after having read this thread.

In the past I had seen maximum charging up to 5 times panel power rating for the high end, and obviously “zero” (or close enough) at low end for a really bad day. Using 3 times as an average seems reasonable.

So, if looking at 100-Watt panel, one could expect 300 Watt-hours per day on average, which is about 25 Amp-hours at 12 Volts. An average number only gets one in the right ballpark, since there must be a lot of difference between Arizona and Washington.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:11 PM   #10
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Sound about right to me.

I think they say most of the USA has about 5 good hours (on avg) for solar production but a 100 watt panel might only give you 90 watt per an hour, then if its cloudy or some shading, not tilted, dirty panels etc..... 3 hours sound realistic on what to expect on a mostly sunny day.

Maybe less than 3 in the winter - esp if not tilted.

Thats why I would go with 200 to 300 watts for just two batteries (200 amp hour total .... 50% = 100 amh useable) to max maximize charging and offset cloudy days, winter sun.... etc.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Long & Winding road View Post
.....cut.....

Thats why I would go with 200 to 300 watts for just two batteries (200 amp hour total .... 50% = 100 amh useable) to max maximize charging and offset cloudy days, winter sun.... etc.
If you go with 300 Watts (rated capacity) of panels, then you’d expect about 900 Watt-hours per day. That’s only 75 Amp-hours for a 12-Volt system. If using batteries a lot, you’d run a little short each day.

The question is whether you’d want to have excess battery or solar capacity, given a limited budget. I’d probably invest more on batteries if I couldn’t get it balanced just right.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:05 PM   #12
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If you add more batteries now: you can always add extra panels later...
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
If you go with 300 Watts (rated capacity) of panels, then you’d expect about 900 Watt-hours per day. That’s only 75 Amp-hours for a 12-Volt system. If using batteries a lot, you’d run a little short each day.

The question is whether you’d want to have excess battery or solar capacity, given a limited budget. I’d probably invest more on batteries if I couldn’t get it balanced just right.
Well maybe your right....and im not expecting too much out of my system.

I dont want to overthink this either. I want to start kinda small (200 watts) and add one or two more panels as I go. Plus Im limited on room for batteries and roof space for pannels.

But dont they say "for every 100 amh battery you need 100 watts of solar" as a general rule? Of coarse they are refering the to "entire" battery knowing that your only need to charge for 50% of that.

AND most are figuring the full 5 hours of sunlight a day where you and me are being more realitic with 3 hours a day to be safe. If every day was sunny and you live in the southern states you should realize 5 hours a day (but around 3 in the winter).

So 100 watt solar x 5 hours = 500 watts and if you figure 50 amh of useable juice then you get back around 41.2 amps per a day with that setup (as a general rule). But in reality Im sure its less.

Im just going to start slow. I dont really need solar .... it just something I want to do.

This is really my test project for when I add solar to my house in 5 to 10 years. I like to be close to net zero at home by the time im ready to retire.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:32 PM   #14
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Well maybe your right....and im not expecting too much out of my system.

I dont want to overthink this either. I want to start kinda small (200 watts) and add one or two more panels as I go. Plus Im limited on room for batteries and roof space for pannels.

But dont they say "for every 100 amh battery you need 100 watts of solar" as a general rule? Of coarse they are refering the to "entire" battery knowing that your only need to charge for 50% of that.

AND most are figuring the full 5 hours of sunlight a day where you and me are being more realitic with 3 hours a day to be safe. If every day was sunny and you live in the southern states you should realize 5 hours a day (but around 3 in the winter).

So 100 watt solar x 5 hours = 500 watts and if you figure 50 amh of useable juice then you get back around 41.2 amps per a day with that setup (as a general rule). But in reality Im sure its less.

Im just going to start slow. I dont really need solar .... it just something I want to do.

This is really my test project for when I add solar to my house in 5 to 10 years. I like to be close to net zero at home by the time im ready to retire.
Analyzing, or quantifying using available technical information, isn’t the same as overthinking it. It just helps make an informed decision

I wasn’t suggesting you only get 3 hours of sun. Or 5 hours for that matter. I was just stating that it appears that the panel manufacturer estimates the equivalent of 3 hours if at peak panel capacity for an average day.

Most panels don’t get close to the maximum peak rating for numerous reasons, starting with the fact that most are installed flat. Then there is the sun intensity which can be considerably below that used for rating the panel. And of course there is some inefficiency between panel output and what gets to batteries. This stuff isn’t rocket science, but has to be accounted for. It may actually take 9 hours to get the “equivalent” of three peak hours.

The 100 Watts of panel capacity per 100 Amp-hour of battery capacity “rule of thumb” seems like a good place to start, but if meant for extended periods of boondocking, the batteries may run down after a few days. If 100 Watt panels only produce ~ 300 Watt-hours, or 25 Amp-hours per day on average, then it can be estimated that 100 Amp-hour battery discharged to 50% will only get half of that back from the sun. After 2 “average” days you’d have to run generator to charge batteries.

I should note that if system isn’t 12V or if batteries are lithium, then the 100W/100Ah rule of thumb doesn’t work as intended.

Attached are performance curves for panels from same manufacturer mentioned previously. It’s interesting that solar intensity is shown from 200 to 1,000 Watts per square meter. That’s quite a range, suggesting we shouldn’t expect a lot of precision in any estimate.
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Old 05-19-2019, 11:46 AM   #15
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Yep, "your results may vary".
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Old 05-19-2019, 12:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by USN Retiree View Post
Excuse my ignorance, what is MPPT controller? How does that differ from a PWM (no idea about that either) that comes stock?
Our 2018 Palazzo came with the GoPower PWM30 (30 amp controller) and a single Grape Solar 100 watt polycrystalline panel (exact same dimensions, current and voltage specs as the polycrystalline sold by GoPower), but while I could have added more to the factory system, I did not like the wire size or routing of the factory wiring and wanted the significantly more efficient monocrystaline panels and MPPT controller for my additions (~95% efficiency verses ~70%).
This way I use the factory system for the chassis batteries since they don't get maintained otherwise (except when main engine is running) and use the new system for the house batteries.
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Old 05-20-2019, 01:07 PM   #17
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That an excellent Idea.
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Old 05-22-2019, 06:19 PM   #18
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A good discussion so far, but one other thing to consider is the rate of charge that a battery can take. With all the things in my ACE 30.2 which has a residential refrigerator, my constant drain on the batteries is about 3.5A. The refrigerator actually pulls about 5 when in cooling mode but averages less than that. I can easily pull 25A at times between watching TV, Lights, Heater etc.
The standard lead acid batteries will only charge at a specific rate no matter how many solar panels you have or no matter how long you run the gen. In other words it takes a lot longer to put the amps back in than it did to take them out. So much so that if you deplete them to much say over night, there will not be enough time in the day to fully recharge them no matter what you do. Because of this i switched out my batteries to Lifeline AGM 110Ah(2). AGM batteries are sealed and maintenance free and last longer than flooded cell batteries. The most important thing about them, however, is the fact that they take a charge at almost twice the rate of the flooded cell which means if you have enough charge capability, you can fully recharge them during the day. The bad news is they are not cheap. A 12v 110Ah Lifeline is 375.00 and i have two with a plan to add a third. I also had to upgrade my converter from the standard 55A one that was installed to one that has a 100A capacity. The new converter also has a fourth charging state, equalization. Most converters don't have this but it is important for making your batteries last and at 375.00ea, its important. Equalization basically overcharges the batteries occasionally and reduces sulfation. Sulfation occurs when a battery is not fully recharged after use which in the case of Motorhomes is almost a daily condition. My original two batteries which were standard flooded cell and brand new initially charged at a rate of 35A when depleted down to 50%. THe AGM's had an initial charge rate of 75A. I say initial because as the battery charges and the voltage comes up, the charge rate decreases.
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:34 PM   #19
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Yep, I love my 6 v AGM's. Far superior to Lead Acid in every way (except Price).

The factory wiring may not support the 100 amp charge from the converter. So you may have to up size the wires in order to get the full 100 amp and to prevent problems / meltdown.

Thats why I purchased a 55 amp Progressive Dynmics unit. I didnt feel like rewiring the RV for my needs.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:10 PM   #20
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I believe the wire gauge is about 6 which can handle over 200A so i should be fine. Unless i add another battery, it shouldn't get any higher than 75. And then only for a few minutes while the charge comes up a little.
I looked at the progressive dynamics, but i went with GoPower, mainly because i have one of their inverters installed for the TV's and Thor used a GoPower inverter for the residential refrigerator. I also have 4 Renogy 100w solar panels on the roof and one of their MPPT charge copntrollers.
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