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Old 03-19-2019, 12:51 PM   #1
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THOR #14713
Solar setup

I'm pulling the trigger on a solar package from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun.

https://www.solar-electric.com/rvkit-024-1280w-12v.html

Anybody have a new Thor, better yet, Quantum who has mounted a similar package? Does the stock wiring and setup work well? Any modifications? Am I buying too much? I'd like to use solar 100% for my power needs, as I will be full timing it.

Thanks!
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Old 03-19-2019, 02:24 PM   #2
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Wow, you are sure 'going for it', though I suspect that the room on the roof will be the limiting factor... but I'm also not sure what you mean by 'use 100% of solar for my power needs' as solar power won't be able to power the Air conditioner(s), water heater, etc., because they require more power than the inverter can provide, at least not long with only several batteries.... a few minutes or so, then your batteries would be dead.

solar is not the end-all just because you have a lot of panels.. the 'storage' of the power is probably even more critical, as the sun is only out for several hours each day, at least when it's not cloudy, rain, or otherwise overcast. The issue is the hours for the rest of the day when no sun is able to give you 'solar' - where you store it is the real issue - lots and lots of battery amp hours are needed...and even then, it really depends on what you mean to 'power' during those off-sun hours.

I would doubt with the size of the output of this system that you could use anything already provided by the manufacturer. A custom designed wiring scheme, panel mounting and placement, and battery bank sizing is your biggest concerns.

You have a relatively small rig for such a large solar package.

and, you already have a sizable inverter- why would you need to spend $2,000+ more for another? You would also have to wire this thru a sub-panel, or wire it directly into your ATS or main breaker panel if you really want to have access to powering 'everything' from the inverter - but that's not a typical setup - not even for any 'big rigs' - the inverter is only designed to handle smaller 'normal' loads, such as outlets, residential fridge, microwave, etc....
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Old 03-19-2019, 02:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oregonjaf View Post
I'm pulling the trigger on a solar package from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun.

https://www.solar-electric.com/rvkit-024-1280w-12v.html

Anybody have a new Thor, better yet, Quantum who has mounted a similar package? Does the stock wiring and setup work well? Any modifications? Am I buying too much? I'd like to use solar 100% for my power needs, as I will be full timing it.

Thanks!
TurnerFam is right...it's all about real estate on the roof and storage. And your expected usage. Hold off on the trigger and roll up the 5 to Medford,OR and have a talk with AM Solar. Yeah, maybe call first for an appt. They not opposed to helping out DIYers. Seriously, plan out your usage first.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:32 PM   #4
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...and we're not out to ruin or slow your pursuit of Solar, but just that it looks like this is an extremely expensive 'package'... you might want to start with a smaller couple of 100w panels, a simple 20amp PWS controller, and simply hook them up directly to your current batteries. This will give you some working knowledge of how the solar works - which is to charge your battery bank only.
If you then decide to 'upgrade' to a Hybrid inverter and much larger solar array, and battery(s), you'll know more about how the solar will effect your off-grid lifestyle... plus the additional sub-panel, where the place the larger inverter, and extra battery(s), etc... and the wiring needed to bring all this together(especially the large battery wires between the batteries and the inverter).

The other option might be to look at building more of a 'portable' off-grid solar setup that is mounted on a small trailer, or similar build - giving a place for the panels, even tiltable, and the batteries/inverter setup, all outside of your Rigs own limited space. If you're parked for considerable times, or long term, then having the solar on your roof may not be necessary.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:32 PM   #5
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Also, you may already know this but the "pre wire" that run's from the roof into your coach is not very robust. I'm not sure what it is exactly but when I had my 340 Watt system installed at the dealer before pick up they said they would be running a different wire there as the stock one couldn't handle much more than 10 Amps. May want to check into that.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:43 PM   #6
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It does look like a pretty ambitious undertaking, but I wish you the best of luck with it! Please let us know how this all works out for you.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:48 PM   #7
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No no no. Thank you all so much for your replies! As you can probably determine, I am "Solar-Stupid". My last rig didn't have it and I only heard the rainbow/unicorn stories from other RVers regarding it.

The advice here and more reading up on it, maybe it's too much for little old me. Ha!

Thanks again!
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:08 PM   #8
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Possible alternative

The points that require focus were made: roof real estate and battery storage. I really don't think you have sufficient roof real estate for 4 large panels but I've been wrong before. I see the real problem in battery capacity storage. That being said, I have room for 4-12v batteries under my steps. How the heck you deal with the two in the back escapes me, but the rack space is there.

IF you went with lithium and IF you get enough sun to complete a bulk charge (big IFs), you may still need your generator to 'top' them off. They have a different charge profile but you get more usable AMP/h out of them.


Shop around. I got a very reasonable quote from Discount Solar when I was in Quartzsite, AZ. I almost pulled the trigger until I realized two things:
1) I honestly don't know how long I'll stick with this full-timer gig and solar has a payback period that should be reached before you can start saving money. ROI doesn't exist unless you have excess capacity you can sell.
2) Solar only makes the most sense in places that receive a lot of sun. That limits it to the southwest and 'possibly' FL. FL tends to get a lot of overcast rainy days. I intend to see the country and not limit myself to those areas. That limits solar usefulness and lengthens its payback period.
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:08 PM   #9
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This is how we ALL learn: somebody asks a question, or starts a conversation... and we're off to the races!
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:31 PM   #10
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Outside of the above good advice--solar power is simply amp-hours stored vs amp-hours used. No different than a bank account, the bank being the batteries. I have 1260w and 4 AGM batteries--no way is this totally an 'off-the-grid' setup. And there are power draws in the RV that are on all the time that you will find out about....
AMSolar did my install, no way would I have attempted it myself.
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:34 PM   #11
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I'd love to see a picture of your setup...
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:57 PM   #12
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Battery capacity doesnít seem too far off to me relative to solar panel capacity.

Each has 100 Ah X 12 Volts, or 1,200 Watt-hours. Three batteries are 3,600 Watt-hours at 100% discharge. Based on typical solar production on a sunny day, adjusted for inefficiencies, etc., the panels should come close to recharge batteries daily.

The hybrid inverter is a cool feature, but Iím not sure how much it adds in a case like this one where owner wants to run solely off solar most of the time. For those who power an air conditioner off a small generator that canít start the A/C by itself, the hybrid inverter may add extra value. In this case, however, not sure it adds a lot.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:50 PM   #13
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You're going to have to hope for a lot of sunny days...
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBreeze View Post
The points that require focus were made: roof real estate and battery storage. I really don't think you have sufficient roof real estate for 4 large panels but I've been wrong before. I see the real problem in battery capacity storage. That being said, I have room for 4-12v batteries under my steps. How the heck you deal with the two in the back escapes me, but the rack space is there.

IF you went with lithium and IF you get enough sun to complete a bulk charge (big IFs), you may still need your generator to 'top' them off. They have a different charge profile but you get more usable AMP/h out of them.


Shop around. I got a very reasonable quote from Discount Solar when I was in Quartzsite, AZ. I almost pulled the trigger until I realized two things:
1) I honestly don't know how long I'll stick with this full-timer gig and solar has a payback period that should be reached before you can start saving money. ROI doesn't exist unless you have excess capacity you can sell.
2) Solar only makes the most sense in places that receive a lot of sun. That limits it to the southwest and 'possibly' FL. FL tends to get a lot of overcast rainy days. I intend to see the country and not limit myself to those areas. That limits solar usefulness and lengthens its payback period.
Sounds like we kind of think the same in a lot of aspects. I too, don't want to "hover" in the Southwest for very long. It's beautiful, but, I get bored easy with the desert. I'm more of a woods mountain guy! Last time I went full time, I was a "reverse" Snow-bird. Haha!

I am settling on a smaller package where, one I can install myself. I'm not very earth friendly, I don't mind firing up my generator. Besides, it's just me. How much energy do I really need?
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:47 PM   #15
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I have a 2019 29m, I'd like to add a small solar set up,..it's pre wired and has a controller....and like the OP i'm not opposed to running the gen, and would have to anyway to run the 2 ac's..we mostly camp when it's cold out in the desert..from what ive read here, the new 29m is ready to go, just needs a panel.... can't figure out why they went 3/4's of the mile and not all the way... pretty sure most every one would pay the few extra dollars to have a solar system that's complete and working, my thought is it would cause a lot of coaches to be at the dealer for warranty work????


here's my deal...I have the stock 2 battery's 12v...I haven't checked the peracetic draw at the battery bank, just looked at the monitor and watched the volts drop..if you leave the coach on setting.... the batterys go dead in a couple days..could be just a bad battery, one or both.... who knows... need to check.... I've always had the best luck with 2 - 6v battery's , any way... I think all the electronics , even off, are sucking the batterys down???

here's another thing, not sure if it's right or wrong,..soon as you turn on the inverter... the fan comes on..from history of owning inverters, that should only happen when the inverter gets warm... correct???


I hate to do a post like this... with out answers to the basic obvious , as in how many amp draw with every thing off... and how much when I turn on the inverter... I removed the out side refrigeratorÖ. but it still has 3 tvs and a dvd player hooked up..

just I'm trying to short cut this issue, and see if anyone already went through this and fixed it...
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegasruv24.1 View Post
...it's pre-wired and has a controller....can't figure out why they went 3/4's of the mile and not all the way... pretty sure most every one would pay the few extra dollars to have a solar system that's complete and working...

well, only several years ago these RVs didn't even come 'pre-wired', so you're getting 'something' you would not have had before... though it's usefulness is questionable.

also, no, not 'everyone' wants, or certainly does not 'need', solar - may RVrs simply drive from one full-hookup campground or rv park to another, never needing anything other than the normal 12v or 120v systems they already have access to.

and, many folks don't really understand the true nature of solar, they just buy into the fact that it 'must be' what they need since their rig came 'pre-wired', or has a 'connection' outside, or because they see 'others' doing it. Solar simply helps to trickle charge your battery(s), nothing more, at least for the vast, vast majority of RV owners.
It's expensive relative to other options for power, or battery charging, and the sun does not always cooperate - usually at the very time you need it.

No, manufacturers don't just 'give' you solar because it's only the additional '1/4 of the way' - they have costs involved. That cost is not small. Even if they did, some would complain that they weren't given enough, and others that 'why should they pay for something they don't even use or need', and still others would complain because they gave them 'cheap' panels, et.c, et.c,....

Add solar panels if you want, but the vast majority won't care if they do or don't. Of the millions of RVs on the road, parked in storage, or even used only for seasonal camping, never leaving the setup where they are parked, there may be 1% who have any solar.
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Old 03-20-2019, 02:16 PM   #17
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well, only several years ago these RVs didn't even come 'pre-wired', so you're getting 'something' you would not have had before... though it's usefulness is questionable.

also, no, not 'everyone' wants, or certainly does not 'need', solar - may RVrs simply drive from one full-hookup campground or rv park to another, never needing anything other than the normal 12v or 120v systems they already have access to.

and, many folks don't really understand the true nature of solar, they just buy into the fact that it 'must be' what they need since their rig came 'pre-wired', or has a 'connection' outside, or because they see 'others' doing it. Solar simply helps to trickle charge your battery(s), nothing more, at least for the vast, vast majority of RV owners.
It's expensive relative to other options for power, or battery charging, and the sun does not always cooperate - usually at the very time you need it.

No, manufacturers don't just 'give' you solar because it's only the additional '1/4 of the way' - they have costs involved. That cost is not small. Even if they did, some would complain that they weren't given enough, and others that 'why should they pay for something they don't even use or need', and still others would complain because they gave them 'cheap' panels, et.c, et.c,....

Add solar panels if you want, but the vast majority won't care if they do or don't. Of the millions of RVs on the road, parked in storage, or even used only for seasonal camping, never leaving the setup where they are parked, there may be 1% who have any solar.
thanks, my alpine dp came from the factory with solar, and quite a few of the others came with a solar trickle charger on the roof ac ...not a real power source, but...kind of a battery tinder when setting in the sun..

on my winniebago, it had an installed 300 watt solar/controller set up, while dry camping, temps would drop to low 40's at night, I set the heater at 50...it would come on a few times through the night, also had the bedroom tv hooked to a inverter..we'd watch a little bit of TV and go to sleep..the next day, the solar would top the batterys back off... and be ready for the night..only ran the gen when wife wanted to use the micro...4 days... left with topped off batterys..
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Old 03-20-2019, 02:16 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by TurnerFam View Post
well, only several years ago these RVs didn't even come 'pre-wired', so you're getting 'something' you would not have had before... though it's usefulness is questionable.

also, no, not 'everyone' wants, or certainly does not 'need', solar - may RVrs simply drive from one full-hookup campground or rv park to another, never needing anything other than the normal 12v or 120v systems they already have access to.

and, many folks don't really understand the true nature of solar, they just buy into the fact that it 'must be' what they need since their rig came 'pre-wired', or has a 'connection' outside, or because they see 'others' doing it. Solar simply helps to trickle charge your battery(s), nothing more, at least for the vast, vast majority of RV owners.
It's expensive relative to other options for power, or battery charging, and the sun does not always cooperate - usually at the very time you need it.

No, manufacturers don't just 'give' you solar because it's only the additional '1/4 of the way' - they have costs involved. That cost is not small. Even if they did, some would complain that they weren't given enough, and others that 'why should they pay for something they don't even use or need', and still others would complain because they gave them 'cheap' panels, et.c, et.c,....

Add solar panels if you want, but the vast majority won't care if they do or don't. Of the millions of RVs on the road, parked in storage, or even used only for seasonal camping, never leaving the setup where they are parked, there may be 1% who have any solar.
This is absolute good advice.
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Old 03-20-2019, 02:21 PM   #19
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This is absolute good advice.
guess I missed the advise part, here's what I got out of the post... they pre wired 100% and added controllers... for less than 1%... but they charged 100% of the people???
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Old 03-20-2019, 03:08 PM   #20
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guess I missed the advise part, here's what I got out of the post... they pre wired 100% and added controllers... for less than 1%... but they charged 100% of the people???
Are you sure of the controllers being included?

Initially when Thor said prewired, it meant just that ó wires running from roof down to an area where a controller/charger could be installed and connected to batteries. This makes a lot os sense to me because running any wires up to roof is so much harder after the unit is built. While at the factory, adding a couple of wires is really cheap and easy. Iíd hardly consider it 75% of the work, but installing the wires ahead of time certainly saves a lot of effort and time.
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