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Old 01-15-2019, 07:54 PM   #1
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31L & Solar

Any of you 31L owners out there with solar?

I know it's all pretty much generic, but still I'd love to see or read about a specific install on specifically a 31L....where did you put the panel? The controller? cable routing? etc...

I'm toying with the idea of installing one panel. maybe 100W, maybe a bit smaller
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:42 PM   #2
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I hope some 31L post some solar pics for you. I love to see them as well.

IMO if your going to do solar.....And you have TWO house batteries .....install 200 watts. Wont cost much more and from what I read .... About the same amont of work overall.... and they will keep your two batteries topped off much better.

Plus With the roof the size of your RV you might even get a larger solar controller so you can add TWO more panels more down the road.

Just a suggestion. Your pocket book may dictate starting small.

The way I see it "Something" is better than "nothing" .....esp if you park your rig outside for storage.

And just think of all the fun you will have installing and monitoring your system. LOL (that the real reason I want one - no joke).

This will be one of my summer mods on my Axis (I hope).

Good luck.
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Old 01-16-2019, 05:43 PM   #3
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ha ha, yeah thanks.
It's not the pocketbook limitation as much as it is raising the little red flag with dollar signs so that DW sees it. Hard to justify to her things like this.

I only have one battery, and it's not even a real deep cycle. Our off grid boon docking has been mostly limited to a single night enroute. On the occasions when we've done more than 1 night consecutively, we've driven a good bit between to recharge and it's always worked out. Once a year roughly I'll park for 2 nights maybe 3 without moving.
and I don't have an inverter (yet)
So
I'm not really trying to recover as much as I am to maintain....for me it's mostly to keep it topped up in storage...but I figure that size would likely give me some benefit in recovery as well....

anyway, oh well.... I don't think there are many 31L owners out there...
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Old 01-16-2019, 06:45 PM   #4
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Yep, What the wife dont know ....wont hurt her. LOL

Tell her its a new rule....if your a Thor Forum member you must do at least two mods a year or you owe like $10K to the tree huggers. LOL

The 100 watt would be great for you. Do you plan on upgrading to TWO batteries? Or add an inverter? If so You can always add one more panels later.

Yeah, not many 31L but really all of the roofs look simular so it dont matter which RV or floor plan you have. Just locate the roof panel in a spot that is not in your way for maintainance and also not blocked (Shaded) by the vent covers/ AC cover and you will be fine.
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Old 01-16-2019, 07:05 PM   #5
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I don't know.... not likely two batteries...although I prob would have gone with a true deep cycle had I been able to find one when my battery died while on a trip.
I do like the idea of a small inverter.... just big enough for my coffee maker...but another low priority thing that I can't justify to even try selling to DW

and yes, the roofs are basically the same...I was thinking more about little things....specific cable routing, controller location, etc... it's all subtle, and no big deal really... but cabinet layout, battery location, fridge location, etc... make for a bit of a difference.

for example...I'm toying with the idea of dropping the cable down the fridge chimney
I could go from there into the cabinet above the fridge for the controller and then cable down behind the stove and sink to the water tank & pump area, then down and out to the batteries that are under the entrance stairs. But that cabinet over the fridge gets hot as it is, so...
I could do all the same except mount the controller inside the water pump area
or do a panel mount type controller and install it right in the same panel with all the master switches near the entrance...
or I could drop the cable form the roof down several other entirely different places....

It would be great for 'brainstorming' to see what others did and why they chose what they did...would they do it differently for some reason, etc...
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Old 01-16-2019, 08:00 PM   #6
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Yep, your right. Lots of diff ways/places to run lines and install controllers. I think once you start installing the system you figure out diff ways of routing/installing.

I like the idea if routing the roof wires though the Frig vent but I hope to install my solar controller near the entrance door (but at eye level like behind my TV). I think you will want to group your controller next to other stuff (like the OEM tank/battery level screen).

I been looking at tons of youtubes on RV solar installs in the past year. Lots of good ideas.
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Old 04-24-2019, 03:32 PM   #7
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I finally got around to ordering a system.... just a 100W renogy kit with the older previous non lithium version of the wanderer controller..PWM
It just came in a few days ago and I haven't had a chance to install anything...still playing with ideas and options
I've almost decided to install a 2nd panel very soon... plug and play using their y-connector...depending on how the first panel works

Yes, I'd love to put the controller up front near the factory's light and control panel right by the door, and almost went with their adventurer flush mount controller for a neater install...more likely place would have been down low on the side of the lower cabinet with the light and awning switches. I still might do something in that area since the cable run to the battery would be significantly shorter, but routing from the roof is more problematic.

But I'm almost set on the idea of just eating a longer cable run, with the panel(s) up in front of the AC dropping the cable back into the bedroom closet through the black tank vent stack, then across through the under-floor raceway over to the bed where all the electrical stuff is...connecting to the battery at the battery side of the use/store relay.
Stupid long cable runs on both sides of the controller, but it seems a bit easier and neat.

I want the panels up front to get the weight off the overloaded rear axle (even though it aint much) and also to make for easier and safer access to everything else up there from the ladder...the rear area is already more crowded with things to trip over....oh, and there's more room up front so maybe less shadowing from stuff. Also, the nose of the RV is more likely going to be in the sun out further from trees in the back of the camp sites....

And I like the idea of dropping through the plumbing vent - so as to not add another potential leak point with drilling through...and to keep the cable out of the heat from the fridge chimney.

The other easy-ish alternative would be to drop the cables through a new hole and run through surface mounted conduit down the wall inside the MH. This would give shorter cables runs but would be uglier....
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:31 PM   #8
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Hi, This doesn't have to do with solar but we have a 2014 Chateau 31L and love it. We've done a lot of modifications to it. I wanted to ask you if you have done anything to the space behind the TV in the bedroom? The wasted space drove me nuts so we took out the heave board the TV bracket was mounted to, took out the board, mounted the slip in bracket to the side and cut out a matching board to mount in the back notching out the plug in area. We gained a huge space. I wish we would have done it a few years ago. The modification are fun. I thought about posting photos but like you said there isn't many of us around with the 31L. The newer ones don't have the same drawer set up as ours. Jo
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:25 AM   #9
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I would NOT install with a conduit on the wall.... like you said it "Ugly". The shorter the cable the better (Less power loss). But I can understand your delima.

What I like to do with any installs is I lay things out or hold up on the wall (Before I drill any holes) and see the pros and cons of different location and what is easiest or cheapest. Take your time to figure it out. Sometimes the hard/expensive way the the best (sometimes not).

Does your TV antenna enter above or near your door? Thats where I installed my WE boost cable.... I just peeled back some dicor, drilled a new hole NEXT (like one inch away) to the TV ant wires going into the RV... the cover it all with new dicor. That way I was able to install the WEboost booster control behind my TV. I know its a new hole but sometimes its the best thing IMO. Plus it put it exactly where I wanted by booster control and minimized wiring. Good luck.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:23 AM   #10
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We have a 2016 31L. 4KW Onan and two Grp 24 Interstate batteries. When boondocking we also carry a 2KW Yamaha generator. Unless we want to use the AC we do not run the 4KW.
We have installed two Renogy RNG-150D 150 Watt solar panels.
The 30A Wanderer charge controller is mounted in the cabinet above the refrigerator. It does get warm in there so the door is usually open all of the time.
The transfer switch is mounted under the bed with all the other electronics.
The Cobra 1500 watt invertor is mounted on the floor under the passenger's seat. It is not a pure sine wave inverter. The remote on/off switch is mounted low near the disconnect, awning and light switches near the entry door.
Mounting the inverter under the passenger seat keeps it close to the batteries and let's it get good air circulation.
Lights, wall outlets and refrigerator are connected to the invertor.
Wife is disabled and watches TV most of the day. During the late Spring, summer and early Fall months the solar usually keeps the batteries charged enough so we don't have to run the smaller generator except for a couple of hours in the evening to top off the batteries in case we need the heater in the morning.
During the winter months if we are in the snow or it is raining we will have to run the small generator more often.
We only boondock 8-10 weeks a year and find that the two 12 volt batteries, with the solar and generator, are all we need to keep us comfortable.
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Old 04-27-2019, 07:56 AM   #11
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The batteries are 12 volt deep cycle. The refrigerator runs on 120 volt or propane. I do not run it on 120 volt when boondocking.
The solar cables do run through the refrigerator vent to the controller, but it is such a short run I don't think they get exposed to enough heat to cause any damage. I think they would get more heat and possible damage being exposed outside on the roof.
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Old 04-27-2019, 11:51 AM   #12
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dbeck27 - Sound like you got it all figured out. Im glad its working so well.

My wife has intermetent problems so the RV allows me to still enjoy some Mtn bike trails and leave her in confort with the TV, computer and bathroom etc.

We hope to add a couple of solar panels as well sometime this year. Im glad to hear your two batteries are enough for your needs. I have Two 6v AGM's and they are awesome. I think (hope) with solar we would not even need the genny except for running the AC unit (or on cloudy days to charge batteries).
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Old 04-27-2019, 04:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Long & Winding road View Post
dbeck27 - Sound like you got it all figured out. Im glad its working so well.

My wife has intermetent problems so the RV allows me to still enjoy some Mtn bike trails and leave her in confort with the TV, computer and bathroom etc.

We hope to add a couple of solar panels as well sometime this year. Im glad to hear your two batteries are enough for your needs. I have Two 6v AGM's and they are awesome. I think (hope) with solar we would not even need the genny except for running the AC unit (or on cloudy days to charge batteries).
The 6 volt batteries should meet your needs. I considered 6 volt, but too hard to get them into the space under the steps. And I don't want to worry about the additional 20 plus pounds. I just put a new Group 24 battery in the jeep so mis-stated what we have for solar. They are two Group 27s for the solar.

Solar charge time could be extended and reduce time on generator if the panels were installed with hinges so that they could be tilted towards the sun. I don't carry a ladder so just mounted the panels flat on the roof.

We usually boondock on the coast or in the National Forests and have discovered that if we park facing East-West instead of North-South the panels get more sun.
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Old 04-29-2019, 03:22 PM   #14
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No, these 6 V AGM's fit under my steps just fine (Axis on E450 chassis). One of the only 6v that will fit with zero mods. They are heavy (73# each) but the supports are more than strong enough.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:57 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by JoandRandy View Post
Hi, This doesn't have to do with solar but we have a 2014 Chateau 31L and love it. We've done a lot of modifications to it. I wanted to ask you if you have done anything to the space behind the TV in the bedroom? The wasted space drove me nuts so we took out the heave board the TV bracket was mounted to, took out the board, mounted the slip in bracket to the side and cut out a matching board to mount in the back notching out the plug in area. We gained a huge space. I wish we would have done it a few years ago. The modification are fun. I thought about posting photos but like you said there isn't many of us around with the 31L. The newer ones don't have the same drawer set up as ours. Jo

Thanks...no, I haven't done anything with that area. Honestly, we have so much cabinet space in the rig that we really don't want for space...and we are serious pack rats that over pack for every eventuality... We barely even use the cabinets over the bed...just keep some spare blankets there.... and even the factory decorative bedspread. If i needed space that thing would come out and be gone cause we sure don't use it!

What do you use that reclaimed space behind the TV for?
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:01 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Long & Winding road View Post

Does your TV antenna enter above or near your door? Thats where I installed my WE boost cable.... I just peeled back some dicor, drilled a new hole NEXT (like one inch away) to the TV ant wires going into the RV... the cover it all with new dicor. That way I was able to install the WEboost booster control behind my TV. I know its a new hole but sometimes its the best thing IMO. Plus it put it exactly where I wanted by booster control and minimized wiring. Good luck.
The tv is closer to the door and battery, but not really close. It comes down above the microwave. Actually it would be a great place to come down....except there's no easy way to get down to the lower cabinets except through the hot chimney side of the fridge space or by surface mounted conduit.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:07 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by dlbeck27 View Post
We have a 2016 31L. 4KW Onan and two Grp 24 Interstate batteries. When boondocking we also carry a 2KW Yamaha generator. Unless we want to use the AC we do not run the 4KW.
We have installed two Renogy RNG-150D 150 Watt solar panels.
The 30A Wanderer charge controller is mounted in the cabinet above the refrigerator. It does get warm in there so the door is usually open all of the time.
The transfer switch is mounted under the bed with all the other electronics.
The Cobra 1500 watt invertor is mounted on the floor under the passenger's seat. It is not a pure sine wave inverter. The remote on/off switch is mounted low near the disconnect, awning and light switches near the entry door.
Mounting the inverter under the passenger seat keeps it close to the batteries and let's it get good air circulation.
Lights, wall outlets and refrigerator are connected to the invertor.
Wife is disabled and watches TV most of the day. During the late Spring, summer and early Fall months the solar usually keeps the batteries charged enough so we don't have to run the smaller generator except for a couple of hours in the evening to top off the batteries in case we need the heater in the morning.
During the winter months if we are in the snow or it is raining we will have to run the small generator more often.
We only boondock 8-10 weeks a year and find that the two 12 volt batteries, with the solar and generator, are all we need to keep us comfortable.
Dave
Thanks! I'd love to see any pictures you might have and could share, especially of your wire routing. Above the fridge was the first place I considered for the controller...but the heat you mentioned as well as trying to stay out of the hot chimney...made me more or less rule it out.
Anyway, from there, did you run your tray cables straight down behind the furnace then under cabinets forward to the battery?

I have not thought about inverter much yet, but it has not dawned on me to locate under the seat. Seems like a great idea....except how did you route the feed out of it?
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:22 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
Thanks! I'd love to see any pictures you might have and could share, especially of your wire routing. Above the fridge was the first place I considered for the controller...but the heat you mentioned as well as trying to stay out of the hot chimney...made me more or less rule it out.

Anyway, from there, did you run your tray cables straight down behind the furnace then under cabinets forward to the battery?



I have not thought about inverter much yet, but it has not dawned on me to locate under the seat. Seems like a great idea....except how did you route the feed out of it?
The cables run straight down and to the chasis and follow other wiring runs near the batteries. The wiring from the inverter back to breaker panel follows the other existing wires running to the breakers. The remote switch cable is a short run under the chasis above the steps and into the cabinet where the other switches are mounted. Tried to utilize existing raceways for wiring runs.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-30-2019, 06:28 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by dlbeck27 View Post
The cables run straight down and to the chasis and follow other wiring runs near the batteries. The wiring from the inverter back to breaker panel follows the other existing wires running to the breakers. The remote switch cable is a short run under the chasis above the steps and into the cabinet where the other switches are mounted. Tried to utilize existing raceways for wiring runs.Attachment 16988Attachment 16989Attachment 16990
The pos & neg cables from the batteries to the inverter run up and through the floor under the passenger's seat and connect to the back of the inverter.
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Old 04-30-2019, 07:36 PM   #20
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thanks for that.
That is the exact same controller I just bought. Looks like you've got it more or less center line of the fridge cabinet. I'm assuming that's the back wall/against the chimney. I hope I can get some time over the weekend...I'll plan on taking a second look at that area to consider.... The advantage being a bit shorter cable run

And I'll consider that location for an inverted if I ever install one. I don't love having exposed romex, but it is an otherwise unused spot
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