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Old 02-08-2019, 05:14 PM   #1
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Help me decide on Solar Panels for my Axis

I been thinking about adding solar panels to my Axis for over a year not but I have yet to pull the trigger. I know I will go with a MPPT solar charger and I have a couple in mind.... so thats not a problem. It just the darn panels that I cannot decide on.

Also I been hold off because Its really a matter "Do I really need them" (No).... "Do I want them".... Yes.

"Will I need them in the near future"... I think so.

We are hoping to visit BLM's by 2020 and we do a ton of day trips locally (Mtn biker - wife stays in RV while im out for hours + All day picnics).

Plus this looks like this is the last year to take advantage of the 30% tax break.

Not to mention I just want to learn about solar and live with it to see what I like/dont like.... Hope to install some on my house (myself) when I retire some day.

So at first I was going to go with ridgid panels but I think I changed my mind.

Ridgid panels:

Pros: A). Cheaper (but not by that much anymore).
B). More reliable + less defects
C). Little more effeicent in long run
D). Last longer (20+ years)

Cons:
A). I would want to secure with screws (possible leaks, takes longer to install).
B). Limit roof space - so I cant walk on them to inspect roof etc.
C). Stick up 2 or 3 inches off the roof = you can see them easier form the ground + less Aero + trees can hit and break them or rip off roof?
D). More maintainance? = check and repair dicor - might come loose over time - heavy.


Flexable Panels:

Pros: A). Lighter, easy to mount with Eternabond Tape.
B). More Areo + trees cant "break" them as easy.
C). Less maintance? = No Dicor needed (no holes in roof)
D). Quicker and easier to install = saves time.
F). Can walk on them for roof inpection / maintain (But would limit this just to be safe).

Cons: A). Not as reliable as rigid? But it Looks like the newer ones are impoved some.
B). Cost more (but the price is down ... so only like $30 - 50 more per a panel from my Amazon research).
C). Scratch easy, might cup but they still preform about the same?
D). Wont last as long = 10 years? (But I desided that in 8 - 10 years I will have a new RV so what does that matter?)

Either way I was planing on installing 300 watts because I want about 200 watts minimum for my TWO 6V 220 Amh batteries.

Having 300 watts will help with panels loosing efficiency over time / shading / cloudy days.

What do you think?

Who has Flexible Panels .... What do you LOVE or HATE about them..... What brand name?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:02 PM   #2
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My thoughts

I put solar on my TT 2 years ago so I'm fairly new to this as well and certainly no where near an expert. However I've asked ALOT of questions over the years and these are my thoughts.

I went with a packaged Renolgy system off of Amazon like this:https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Monocr...9&sr=8-2-spell

It works GREAT, very easy to install and is expandable up to 400 watts).

I was told by several people that a "smaller" system (i'll say under 400 Watts) will see no benefit from a MPPT controller. PMW is more than adequate. So your paying a lot extra for nothing.

I can not comment regarding the flexible VS rigid panel as I never consider the flex panels. One other thing I did "hear" is the flex planes are more susceptible to heat as there is no airflow underneath them and heat can effect the performance of the panel. Just something I heard, not confirmed.

Also, you need to decide if your going to put in a transfer switch so you can use all your outlets or are you just going to mount an inverter and plug directly into that?

We just pulled the trigger on a new 2018 Thor Outlaw 37RB last week. Taking delivery of it on Thursday next week. I had the dealer put in a 270 Watt system with 30amp charge controller. It was expensive to have them do it for sure! However, while the idea of drilling into my travel trailers and running wires through closets cutting holes along the way did not bother me too much, the idea of doing this on my brand new very expensive MH made my stomach turn

Good luck with your solar project. The one thing I can tell you for sure is you will not regret it. Best decision we ever made.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:52 PM   #3
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I think that the solar question, as it relates to most 'weekend' or 'vacationer' type RVrs, is really an expenditure that will never really manifest itself to the conditions that the owner thinks it will/should - but those who really off-grid for days on end, it's a different story, and can well add to your time 'off-generator', if you will.

Solar is not a need, yes, but like you, so many 'want' it anyway.

200w to 300w is probably a good sweet-spot - not too expensive for a 'want', but enough to experience a difference in generator run time. Whether a MPPT or PWS is not an issue for a small array, as the difference will be minimal for your usage.
The other question, though, is battery storage. Solar is fine, but if you have nowhere to store it, you are paying for panels to produce power that you will 'lose' because unless you are using all of it while the sun is out, the only place to store it is in a battery bank. Two batteries are not a lot.

By the time you pay for the upfront costs of solar panels, the controller, wiring, installation, mounting, and more batteries to really be effective, you could have paid for 500 hours of generator run time. That's many years for most RVrs.

But, I also get that folks don't like the 'noise' of generators, which is why solar is appealing.


I have 200w of solar, a 20a PWS controller, directly to my 4 6v stock FLA batteries, and can get maybe 10amps at full sun times, directly overhead, for an hour or so in the best of conditions, but the reality is that I might really only average 6 hours of sun hours per day, and 4-5amps average during that time. That leaves 16-18 hours with no solar.
The generator is a must, unless I want to buy 800 more watts of panels, and double the size of my battery bank. That's not really practical, unless you are truly LIVING off-grid full time.
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:58 PM   #4
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Ok, thanks for the reponses so far.....Keep them coming.

Yeah I could go with a cheaper PWM controler.... I might change my mind on that part of this install.

I already have an inverter wired into my RV. So the solar will be the icing on the cake.

This project Is consider a "learning experience" for me ..... so its not really a money thing. I want to install like 20 - 25 panels (300 watt each - 48 volt) on my roof in 10 years (I will wait for the latest and more effient panels to come out - might only need 10 of those).

I did read that some flexalbe solar panels can get hot and be less efficent - another reason to go with 3 (300 watt) to offset this loss.

I might add a thin sheet of aluminum under each panel ?? (Perhaps have it stick out a couple of inches to help dissipate heat?) and just tape the panel to the alumium - have a inch exposed then tape the aluminum panel to the roof? What do you think?

Or just tape some plastic sheet of some sort under it, perhaps with HD tin foil on top? That would give a little space under the panels. But I would fully tape the perimerter to keep water out.

How does that sound?
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:59 PM   #5
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Also I dont plan on "tilting" the panels so it wont matter to me if its ridgid or Flexible.
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:09 PM   #6
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Keep in mind I like to run the Genny less - if possible (when not too hot outside), I park in full sun while at the trail heads (Mtn biker) and for picnics.

Also Im still working full time so when I take a long trips I will be on the road (aka Parking lots) working for 6 - 8 hours during business hours on my way to and from my destinations.... If its not too hot Outside the RV and Genny will be OFF. So this should run my printer, computer(S) cell phones, Weboost, Wifi Ranger, maybe a few lights, TV, 12v fan AND charge my 2 house batteries (I hope - or at least prevent full drain during daytime).
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:35 PM   #7
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@Turnerfam raises an excellent point with your batteries. What do you have right now? Keep in mind if you have say "200 amp hrs) on your batteries only 50% of that is really usable. And thats with 6V deep cycles. If you have 12V deep cycles it's probably less? My current set up is (4) 6V batteries which comes out to 400 amp hrs. That only gives me 200 usable amp hrs. I'm trying to minimize generator time throughout the day with our residential fridge.
For just charging laptops, phones etc during the day I bet 100 amp hrs would get you through.
The best thing about solar is it's fairly cheap to get started and you don't need to do it all at once. You can just keep adding on as you go.
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Old 02-08-2019, 09:08 PM   #8
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Yes, your are correct.... I have TWO 6 V / 220 so really 110 useable so maybe 2 panels (200 watt) is more than enough to conpensate for less efficiency when hot outside (anything above 85 deg it looks like they are less effient) or with age/clouds?
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:30 PM   #9
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How about another option?
What about those "Solar Suitcases"; which come as complete kits that you just hook up directly to your batteries via alligator clips?
Samlex markets these kits, and they are relatively cheap...

http://www.samlexsolar.com/
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Old 02-08-2019, 11:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Denman View Post
How about another option?
What about those "Solar Suitcases"; which come as complete kits that you just hook up directly to your batteries via alligator clips?
Samlex markets these kits, and they are relatively cheap...

RV Solar Panel Kits & Solar Charge Controllers | Samlex Solar
Good idea but I want something that is working all the time.... I dont want to park for a few hours to do office work and have to put the suitcase out a parking lot or in a rest area.

Or at the trail head for two hours.

But I figured as I see we can use more solar I would add a portable panel to my system .... esp since I can set it out in the sun and track the sun all day manually.
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Old 02-09-2019, 12:11 PM   #11
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A few things to keep in mind. A 220aH battery back discharged to 50% requires 22 amps for proper recharge; that's about 500 watts of solar.
If you don't go below say 75 to 80% discharge the 5% minimum rate of charge will get you by ok.


MPPT controllers are expensive and produce no real value for solar panel arrays below 400 watts as a minimum. They will give you a little savings in wire cost.
Check out the solar blog at Freecampsites.net
Also check out "the 20 golden rules of solar"
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Old 02-09-2019, 01:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubjaysnest View Post
A few things to keep in mind. A 220aH battery back discharged to 50% requires 22 amps for proper recharge; that's about 500 watts of solar.
If you don't go below say 75 to 80% discharge the 5% minimum rate of charge will get you by ok.


MPPT controllers are expensive and produce no real value for solar panel arrays below 400 watts as a minimum. They will give you a little savings in wire cost.
Check out the solar blog at Freecampsites.net
Also check out "the 20 golden rules of solar"
I think you misunderstood the "22 amps / 500 watts of solar" thing. It might need 22 amps of total input but not at one time (I have not check your facts). If its its true it would be more like 10 amps x 5 hours is 50 amps per a day (thats 200 watts at 5 amps each x 5 hours) over a normal sunny day. SO really only 2 or 3 hours should come close to filling the batteries?

Im just learning about solar stuff so I dont pretend to have the answers. But almost every website I visited as a general rule says "100 watts per 100 amp hours of battery". So 200 amp hours = 200 watts of solar.

Plenty of RVers are using only 200 watts / 200 amh and going down to 50% discharge and not having prolems with full sun. It internet if full of these blogs.

I would not waste my time with solar if I was only using 25 % or less of my power in 24 hours.

MPPT are not that expensive IMO. Plus I think they are worth it in the long run. Sure I could get by with PWM but I was going to purchase a MPPT thats large enough for 400 watts of solar that way I can add two more batteries down the road and use the same solar controler.

Plus I hate how inefficent the PWM's are... this would drive me crazy .... I would be thinking how much better it would be if I just spent a little more. Im the type person that will be looking at the data 10x a day (input, output, amps, watts, volts etc) analyzing it for my own entertainment and in preparation for my "Retirement RV" and also for my home 10 years from now.

But thanks for the input.

The only part of the equation that Im struggling with is "Flexible or Ridgid" Each has there pro's and con's. I was leaning towards Ridgid but I like some of the Flexalbe advantages. Now my head is spinning.
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Old 02-09-2019, 08:07 PM   #13
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It is a dilemma. Another issue to consider is mounting. The flex just need to be taped with eternabond, the rigid have to be screwed in. In the Vegas/Axis case it's into 3mm luan under the rubber roof. Oy!


Have you seen the videos that the "Traveling with the Wynns" put out on solar? They are candid in their appraisal that rigid are superior...for them.

https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/fle...-issues-review
The whole set is worthwhile: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/solar (push the Load More). There are tons of videos and it all really muddies the water. I just went ahead with rigid.
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Old 02-09-2019, 09:32 PM   #14
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Yeah, Ok. I have een the "Gone With the Wynns" and a two+ dozen other videos about solar.

You see more problems with the flexables when you research. "RVing with Tito" has several flexalbe and he seems to like them.

I will keep doing my research until im confortable with my decision I guess.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 02-09-2019, 10:00 PM   #15
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I agree strongly with your approach: research the living Hell out of a major investment first!

Happy hunting!
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