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Old 07-27-2018, 03:03 PM   #1
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Recommendation on a basic solar kit

Does anyone have a recommendation on a complete basic solar kit with maybe no more than two or three panels? My goal is to be able to boondock for no more than one night at a time between driving to the next destination. I assume two panels would be able to keep the house batteries charged (assuming the sun is cooperating) as the only thing I need to keep running while boondocking is the residential refrigerator running off the inverter/house batteries. Looking for a complete kit with controller, panels, cables and whatever else I would need to complete an install, aside from basics like screws, lap sealant, etc.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:21 PM   #2
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If you take a peek at Amazon...
Renogy offers a 300 watt, 3 panel complete kit.
They can configure it with several different controllers, so the prices will vary...
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:25 PM   #3
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Before answering, how many batteries and what kind of batteries are being charged? That will determine what kind of system you should get for efficiently charging your batteries.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:31 PM   #4
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jpmihalk- Currently on the 2015 Challenger are two six volt lead acid but would like to add two more once the current two need replacing.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:40 PM   #5
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I would say that is a good call since that would double your boondocking hours as well as the help the life of the batteries as they won't need to be drained down as far every night.

We have a 400W Renogy kit installed for our 4 AGM 12V Interstate batteries. We boondock often and never worry about running out of charge overnight, let alone over a whole weekend. Of course, we still need to run the generator for AC and the microwave. That may be an upgrade for someday... a larger inverter to add the microwave circuit to.

For your situation, don't plan too small. a 400W kit seems to be just about right for what you are planning to do. You don't need an MPPT controller so you can get the PWM controller (less expensive) if you don't plan to add to the solar setup at a later time.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:45 PM   #6
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JPM,
I assume that there might be some sort of functional advantage; in using an MPPT controller??
Can you explain what it might be?
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:47 PM   #7
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jpmihalk- That is exactly the same kit (400W) I have been looking at on Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:55 PM   #8
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The MPPT controllers generally do have more flexibility in their ability to manage charging in different circumstances. MPPT controllers can take excess voltage and convert it into amps for charging. They tend to be more efficient with less loss. PWM controllers tend to be ONLY for 12V systems (even 2 6V batteries are seen as individual 12V units) where MPPT controllers can handle 24V and 36V systems. PWM controllers are currently limited to no more than 60 amps, MPPT can go higher.

PWM controllers are much simpler where MPPT controllers are complex in terms of configuration and need to be told what kind of batteries and how many volts, etc. PWM can be configured for a type of battery at most (SLA, AGM, etc.) to set the cycle voltages for each step of the charging cycle.

PWM controllers are usually less than half of the cost of MPPT controllers, but once you get over a certain number of panels/volts an MPPT controller is your only choice.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:57 PM   #9
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Recommendation on a basic solar kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by schreinertms View Post
jpmihalk- That is exactly the same kit (400W) I have been looking at on Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation.
Excellent! Now you just need to figure out where you want to mount them and where to run the cables to/through and where to put the controller. Use plenty of Dicor on your roof mounts to seal the brackets and tack down the wiring and you will be set.

Here is our roof (taken from my drone) leaving room for more panels.

Click image for larger version

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Old 07-27-2018, 04:08 PM   #10
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Thanks!
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:12 PM   #11
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Adding Solar to 2018 Thor Quantum LF31

Can someone help me understand what I would need to add to my "solar ready" class C? I have the Go Power Connector on the roof that feeds 10 wire down to the WFCO power center. I thought the wire was supposed to go the the battery bank but it definitely terminates at the power center. I also have an Eaton True Sine Wave Inverter, [ATTACH]Click image for larger version

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Where to I start?
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:31 PM   #12
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Lets see. My residential unit draws 108 watts continuously. that takes about 10 amps out of the 12V batteries. So with 24 hours required that takes 240 amp hours out of the batteries. But the sun only shines at full strength for say 8 hours at most a day. Thus you need around 30 amps for the solar to provide enough to bring the batteries back. You have other loads and the efficiency of the batteries in charging to account for. I have 4 180 watt panels (720 watts) and a 40 amp MPPT charge controller that will put out a bit more than the 30 amps required. Save your money, a small starter solar farm will not come close to meeting your needs. Your solar farm may be better or worse?
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:59 PM   #13
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it seems as though an investment in Solar would not be a big deal for just an ‘overnight’ every-now-and-then - your generator is perfectly capable of recharging your batteries, and probably wouldn’t require more 30mins twice overnight, if that, or maybe just once right before bedtime...easy
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:48 PM   #14
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I'd rather not have to run the generator. The V-10 up front, is always thirsty for all of the fuel that it can get!
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Old 07-27-2018, 07:16 PM   #15
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right, but it would probably take you 3 to 5 years of running the generator ‘every-now-and-then’ to offset the great up-front costs of solar versus the little fuel the generator uses... it is very efficient, and you’ve already paid for it - so make use if it before you put more money into other things that might not have the net-effect you are thinking they do. It’s not the magic pill many assume.

I have both, and speak from experience
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Old 07-27-2018, 07:53 PM   #16
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I agree with TurnerFam, it is worth it in the long run.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:00 PM   #17
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I have been looking into the same thing you are. Right now I just do a night or two dry camping and some "all day" picnics on the weekends (Mtn biking). But since its hot im running the Genny during the day for the AC so it will charge my battery’s fine for the nighttime use.

So it makes it hard to justify purchasing solar right now. Solar is something I just "want" and don’t "need" right now (but we are hoping next year I can work on the road for a couple of months and we will appreciate having the solar installed already).

Im looking at TWO 175 watt (350 total) solar panels ("Newpowa 175 watt" on Amazon). They are just a little larger than the 100 wants plus I would only have to drill holes for TWO panels VS 3 (or 4). I was going to install one on the front part and one on the tail that way if im parked with some trees around hopefully one will have full sun (This way In can purposely park the front of the RV in full shade to keep rig cooler in summer).

I like Renogy Rover 40 MPPT controller. That way I can install one more panel down the road and I think the MPPT will be worth the extra money from what I have read about them. I was going to put together my own "kit" off of Amazon since I really like the 175 watt panel and Renogy only has 100 (rectagular) or 150 watt (Square - but might be too wide for where I want to install).

Right now Im running TWO 6v AGM / 220 amp hours which is more than enough for week for a weekend WITHOUT Solar. Its a high ticket item but I think in the "long run" I will be glad I installed.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:33 PM   #18
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I agree with you: it might be more of a "want", than it is a "need"...

...But it's my "want"!
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Old 07-28-2018, 01:50 AM   #19
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Yep, but I guess the entire RV is that way for most of us. I look at it as "I always wanted to do this" kinda of thing and "Better do it now while we are able".
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Old 07-28-2018, 04:34 AM   #20
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I had a Go Power Solar system installed on my Thor Miramar 34.1. It has three 160 watt panels and we also added two more house batteries for a total of four batteries. It can definitely more than handle the load you are suggesting.
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