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Old 07-23-2019, 10:49 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 4 Winds
State: Nova Scotia
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THOR #15669
Solar panel

I have a 2019 Four Winds 22B. Inside has a solar charge controller from go power, that is hooked up to batteries and has wires going to roof. We find that when we do a lot of dry camping, especially in some campgrounds, the generator is loud for some of the other campers and my batteries are going dead because of this. Wondering if anyone that owns this type of Motorhome would have a suggestion on what type of solar panel they have. Controller is a Go Power GP-PWM-10-SQ.
Thanks
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:32 PM   #2
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THOR #12839
My opinion is the GP-PWM-10-SQ is too small for more than a single ~100 watt panel, which is bare minimum to maintain your House batteries when your RV is not being used and not adaquate for any system large enough to be of any benefit to your situation.
You have a few (many) options:
1) (least cost) check the wires going into and out of the controller to see if they are standard 10 gauge, if so, you can use the factory wiring but replace the controller with a larger capacity one (GP Electric GP30PWM) which can support up to 400W of power, which I think is bare minimum for reducing your generator
2) (mid cost) just buy one 100W panel and move the output of the factory controller to maintain your Chassis batteries and then buy and install a entire new system like the Go Power AE6 or similar (760W total power) which will allow you to dramatically reduce you generator usage.
3) at the higher end of the equation is to install a new system of at least 1200W with at least six golf cart 6V batteries (or better like AGM), which will get you down to zero generator use on clear sunny days, except when you want or need AC or Microwave.
I went the mid route, but upgraded to four LiFePo batteries (400AH total) which with my Magnum MS2812 inverter/charger allows me to recharge my batteries at ~136amps in about 2 hours of generator time. I run the genny for no more than 2 hours before quiet hours and get the batterise to 100% SOC, go all night and the next day with heavy use (fridge, tvs, sat, coffee, blender, juicer, short hair dryer and micro, lots of wifes heat pad) and end at ~50-60% SOC before the end of day recharge...
One of the best additions was the Victron BMV 712 Smart (Bluetooth) battery monitor, which allows me to know precisely how much charge I have, how much I'm using or charging and how long I can go at that rate of use!
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Old 07-24-2019, 01:35 AM   #3
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THOR #12119
I have a 2018 22E, the same overall dimensions as the 22B but no slide.

Due to this being Thor's smallest Class C, I think the most you would be able to mount on the roof is 3-4 100 watt panels.
Also extra battery storage space could be an issue.

I added a 100 watt panel, but I mainly use it for storage, and only plug the motorhome in a day before a trip
A 100 watt panel works great for keeping my 2, 12v batteries topped off, I rarely if ever have discharged them more then 70%.
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Old 07-24-2019, 02:55 AM   #4
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THOR #12839
My apologies, I used a 20lb sledgehammer response for a finish hammer question. Dealing with too many big RV and residential fridge type user concerns...
If you have a small RV and small electrical needs, many others have purchased small and super quiet Honda generators to top off or meet demands without irritating neighbors.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:35 PM   #5
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@HaRVey I don't think you need to apologize for anything because I'm in the same position as Frank Siddall and your post provided some useful information.

The main questions are:

1. Thor prewired the unit for solar and included a 10 AMP controller. What strength panel(s) can I add without upgrading what has been provided and what kind of benefit would I gain from that?

2. If I do decide to upgrade the system, what am I looking at to get to something useful?

You provided input for both questions and it gives me a ballpark of what I'm looking at. I did reach out to Go Power and they said their 10 AMP controller can support one 190 watt panel. Based on what you said, I would think that would be enough to combat the natural drain from leaving the power on (carbon monoxide sensor, etc) as well as very light use (lights, charge phone, things like that). I would expect to still need to use the generator occasionally if I'm using the fridge and other things. Do you think that's accurate?

Right now, I'm considering getting one panel to utilize what is prewired and see what I think. Whatever panel I get should still be usable with an upgraded system if I decide to do that later.

It is somewhat laughable that the solar controller itself is actually a draw on the battery even when the main power switch is off. If I decide against solar, I will be disconnecting it in the near future.
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Old 07-24-2019, 11:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasInVegas View Post
@HaRVey I don't think you need to apologize for anything because I'm in the same position as Frank Siddall and your post provided some useful information.

The main questions are:

1. Thor prewired the unit for solar and included a 10 AMP controller. What strength panel(s) can I add without upgrading what has been provided and what kind of benefit would I gain from that?

2. If I do decide to upgrade the system, what am I looking at to get to something useful?

You provided input for both questions and it gives me a ballpark of what I'm looking at. I did reach out to Go Power and they said their 10 AMP controller can support one 190 watt panel. Based on what you said, I would think that would be enough to combat the natural drain from leaving the power on (carbon monoxide sensor, etc) as well as very light use (lights, charge phone, things like that). I would expect to still need to use the generator occasionally if I'm using the fridge and other things. Do you think that's accurate?

Right now, I'm considering getting one panel to utilize what is prewired and see what I think. Whatever panel I get should still be usable with an upgraded system if I decide to do that later.

It is somewhat laughable that the solar controller itself is actually a draw on the battery even when the main power switch is off. If I decide against solar, I will be disconnecting it in the near future.
1) generally speaking...10 amp controller handles about one 100 watt panel. the solar controller that Thor included can be purchased on Amazon for under $15

2) you can purchase a 30 amp PWM controller for under $15 on Amazon as well. Or, if you're concerned with unnecessary draw...purchase a 30 amp MPPT controller for about $80 (more features and benefits for maximum solar input)

Either way, I suggest that you incorporate a minimum two 100 watt panels to charge your battery bank (I assume that you have two lead acid flooded 12 volt batteries on your house-side) and a minimum 30 amp controller (either PWM or MPPT).

With a 30 amp controller, you can add two more panels at a later date if desired.
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Old 07-25-2019, 12:10 AM   #7
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I don't see the same controller on Amazon, but you do make a good point. Don't make a big decision based on a part that can be replaced for $15.
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Old 07-25-2019, 12:16 AM   #8
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Vegas - I'm glad to hear GoPower said their controller can support one 190W panel, that is definitely a decent start at reducing your dependancy on the genny when the sun is shining!
The main thing is to know your goals (limit genny to x hrs/day or longer, and use how much energy per day etc.) Once you clearly define your personal goals/desires AND know what your electric needs/wants are, the any of the major vendors can help you plan out a system (including batteries). That said there are a few dip your toe in the water things you can do which won't waste your money as you get a feel for your needs/wants.
1) make sure the one 190W panel (whoever you buy it from) is an Monocrystaline panel verses a Polycrystalline, because Mono panels are about 95% efficient verses ~70% for Poly and will also harvest more power on clowdy days. Plan the placement of your one panel to leave room for as many more (3?) if you decide to add more later.
2) assuming the factory wirinig is large enough (maybe take pictures and send to GoPower for advice), then the next upgrade would be the controller, going from the factory 10 amp PWM to a 40 amp MPPT controller, since in addition to the increased capacity, the MPPT type is also ~95% efficient at power conversion verses the ~70% of the PWM.
As you can see, going cheap on panels and controllers will give you ~50% of the power potential verses ~85% of the Mono/MPPT combo.
I know it's not cheap, but I can't say enough how happy I am with the Victron BMV 712 Smart battery monitor! I wish I'd had one on every trailer or RV I've owned. No more guessing or hoping I had enough battery reserve, if I was using too much, if I had any unknown drains, and if and how much my various charging sources were working.
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Old 07-25-2019, 01:08 AM   #9
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THOR #12839
Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasInVegas View Post
I don't see the same controller on Amazon, but you do make a good point. Don't make a big decision based on a part that can be replaced for $15.
Agreed, good approach.
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Old 07-25-2019, 01:16 AM   #10
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THOR #13362
Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasInVegas View Post
I don't see the same controller on Amazon, but you do make a good point. Don't make a big decision based on a part that can be replaced for $15.

PowrMor 30 amp $12.99

(Click on the link)
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Old 07-25-2019, 12:12 PM   #11
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Good advice above. If your solar controler can support "190" watts.... I wonder if you can just go with 200 watts or would that blow a fuse?

I think if you truely want to limit the generator use you will need 200 to 400 watts and size your solor controller according. I guess it all depends on the room you have on your roof and you current funds.

A couple of extra batteries would not hurt either.
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Old 07-25-2019, 01:41 PM   #12
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THOR #4735
from experience, no matter how 'many' panels you have, if you don't have the right storage capacity, i.e. BATTERY amp hours, then it's all for naught, as you'll have plenty of sun during the day, possibly, but no where to 'store' the great sun you are receiving, leaving you, again, very little for the overnight hours.

try this first: double your House Battery bank - it's simple, easy, and you don't need to worry about 'the sun', parking in the shade, or what size solar controller you have... if, of course, you have somewhere to 'put' these new batteries.

After you increase your battery storage capacity, and see how you can then 'camp' without external power, you'll then find out if adding solar makes sense.

also, when you are dry camping with other RVrs, they understand your need for the generator, as they probably run theirs, too... it's normal. If you run your generator for an hour or so toward the end of the daylight hours, you'll probably fully charge your battery bank and will have plenty for the overnight and even early morning wake up hours.
: ) enjoy...
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Old 07-25-2019, 04:01 PM   #13
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THOR #12231
Yep, good info.... But you may need to run your generator for 3 + hours to get full charge.

Most likely your coverter is the same as mine (55 amp) but you might only realize like 45 or 50 amp at the batteries (line loss etc) plus if you running someting 12 volt at the same time inside the RV.

So if you have two 100 amp 12v battery (200 amp total) but you use the 50% rule = 100 useable amps will take aprox 2 hours (I say 2.5 - 3 to be safe). But if you double it and have 4 12 volt 100 amp batteries your looking at 4 - 5 hours??

I dont know all the exact # and im not expert but this is what I undersand from reading this forum and other sources. I just wanted to point this out.

Most batteries like to be fully charged before depleated to get long life out of them.

Of coarse you could upgrade your converter and wiring and or get Lithum batteries etc to speed this process up.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:13 PM   #14
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Model: Miramar 35.2
State: Utah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HaRVey View Post
Vegas - I'm glad to hear GoPower said their controller can support one 190W panel, that is definitely a decent start at reducing your dependancy on the genny when the sun is shining!
The main thing is to know your goals (limit genny to x hrs/day or longer, and use how much energy per day etc.) Once you clearly define your personal goals/desires AND know what your electric needs/wants are, the any of the major vendors can help you plan out a system (including batteries). That said there are a few dip your toe in the water things you can do which won't waste your money as you get a feel for your needs/wants.
1) make sure the one 190W panel (whoever you buy it from) is an Monocrystaline panel verses a Polycrystalline, because Mono panels are about 95% efficient verses ~70% for Poly and will also harvest more power on clowdy days. Plan the placement of your one panel to leave room for as many more (3?) if you decide to add more later.
2) assuming the factory wirinig is large enough (maybe take pictures and send to GoPower for advice), then the next upgrade would be the controller, going from the factory 10 amp PWM to a 40 amp MPPT controller, since in addition to the increased capacity, the MPPT type is also ~95% efficient at power conversion verses the ~70% of the PWM.
As you can see, going cheap on panels and controllers will give you ~50% of the power potential verses ~85% of the Mono/MPPT combo.
I know it's not cheap, but I can't say enough how happy I am with the Victron BMV 712 Smart battery monitor! I wish I'd had one on every trailer or RV I've owned. No more guessing or hoping I had enough battery reserve, if I was using too much, if I had any unknown drains, and if and how much my various charging sources were working.



I want to do the exact thing on my new Miramar. BUT... Not easy to go to MPPT due to Thor's location of batteries, charger and panel junction box. easy to do PWM. Complete rewire for MPPT if you want to do it correctly.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by donw View Post
I want to do the exact thing on my new Miramar. BUT... Not easy to go to MPPT due to Thor's location of batteries, charger and panel junction box. easy to do PWM. Complete rewire for MPPT if you want to do it correctly.
Not sure what you’re referring to:

“Complete rewire for MPPT if you want to do it correctly”

Everything I read says it’s all the same
Unless you want to re-wire with 10 gauge
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:54 PM   #16
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Does your "NEW" Mirimar have a solar controller? Most Thors over the last couple years are "Solar ready" = they have small PWM solar controller installed from factor along with the wiring..... Just add solar panels.

I dont see why you cant replace the old one with the new MPPT controler unless it a size thing (MPPT are larger in size over PWM).

I have NOT done my solar setup yet (on my short list) but I dont see why it would be any different. Please enlighten me. Thanks.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:24 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bry899 View Post
I have a 2018 22E, the same overall dimensions as the 22B but no slide.

Due to this being Thor's smallest Class C, I think the most you would be able to mount on the roof is 3-4 100 watt panels.
Also extra battery storage space could be an issue.

I added a 100 watt panel, but I mainly use it for storage, and only plug the motorhome in a day before a trip
A 100 watt panel works great for keeping my 2, 12v batteries topped off, I rarely if ever have discharged them more then 70%.
I was going to ask a question about adding solar to my coach. I have a residential fridge and was wondering if a 100 watt suitcase type would keep my 2 12volt batteries charged enough to power the fridge.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinker3030 View Post
I was going to ask a question about adding solar to my coach. I have a residential fridge and was wondering if a 100 watt suitcase type would keep my 2 12volt batteries charged enough to power the fridge.

Simple answer: no...
Longer answer: find amp draw of your fridge (on label)... I expect it is 5-10 amps... Iíll assume the low end of 5.
Multiply amps times volts to get watts... 5*110=550 watts.
Now add in inefficiencies - 100 watt panel will not deliver 100 watts to battery; there is a cost (loss) to inverting 12v to 110v; and of course in the continental US we donít get 24 hours of sunlight per day...
The fridge doesnít run continuously so some gain there... but you will need more than 100w to sustain.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:41 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinker3030 View Post
I was going to ask a question about adding solar to my coach. I have a residential fridge and was wondering if a 100 watt suitcase type would keep my 2 12volt batteries charged enough to power the fridge.
As a general rule they say 100 watts of solar per 100 amp hour of battery. The OEM batterys are pretty light weight (like 80 amp hr?) but most aftermarket ones are 100 +. So im not sure which 12volts you have but im sure down the road you will want to upgrade.

So I say you need 200 watts of solar to make a real difference.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:21 PM   #20
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I called GO power, they said the 10A controller will support one 180watt panel. I confirmed that the wiring in my coach was 1- gauge so I replaced the controller for a 30 am Go Power controller then added two 170 watt panels. The best I have seen is 20.9 Amps out of them.
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