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Old 01-31-2016, 10:09 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 29.3
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THOR #3187
Solar panels

Can anyone tell me if its easy to add solar panels to my ACE? Is it a package I can install or something I have to have done?
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Old 01-31-2016, 11:57 PM   #2
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THOR #531
Solar panels can be either portable or fixed (i.e. mounted to a roof). Typically solar panels keep the batteries charged, and you use the batteries for your electricity needs.

Therefore, solar panels typically connect to the batteries.

Solar panels also need a charge controller. For really small panels this is mounted integral to the panel itself... for larger panels, they are a separate unit.

For the solar panels themselves, there are two predominant types: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. This term describes the physical configuration of the solar cells themselves, and the main thing though is monocrystalline tend to be a bit more efficient (more power per sq in). Monocrystalline tend to last longer as well, but they are more expensive. It's the old "you get what you pay for" thing.

Perhaps the best starter solution (but fairly low power) is something like a Renogy Suitcase RV Solar kit. It is fairly inexpensive (usually below $300), and as the name suggests, opens like a suitcase with mounting brackets to sit it on the ground with an angle to the sun. The panels for this system offers about 1,000sq in of solar cell surface.

100 Watt 12 Volt Portable Solar Suitcase | Renogy Solar

The Renogy kit I think used to be Polycrystalline, but I see now that they are Monocrystalline, which is a good thing.

For these panels, you simply connect it to the batteries. If you connect to the coach batteries, it will charge them... or if connected to the engine battery, it will charge it.

100W is not really a lot of power though. At peak (max sunlight), 100W will theoretically give you on the order of 8amps, which is not a bad charge rate for a 12V battery. However, unless you are in the bright Arizona noon-day sun, you may only see 1/3rd of that rate. The operative here is "your mileage may vary" when it comes to how much energy you will get out of your solar panels.

There are other suitcase portables that can give you up to around 200Watts.

If you are looking at something with a bit more power, say 400W or less, then many RV owners could install it themselves, especially if they have no need for an inverter, but simply want to keep batteries charged.

You would have to map out the RV roof so you put the panel mounting stanchions on the roof ribs (they could easily blow off the roof when you approach 60mph if you blindly screw them into the roof), finding a suitable location to run the wiring from the roof, a location of the charge controller, and connection to the batteries.

You can also buy these from Renogy as well as other sources.

But if you need appreciably more solar capacity (say you want to run an inverter so you can run A/C), then it gets quite complicated as you are then adding an inverter and additional batteries.

If you are looking at such a high power system, I'd recommend a specialist, as you can make some very expensive mistakes if you are not buying the right components. In this instance, I would not go to a general purpose RV dealer, I'd go to someone that specializes in RV solar systems.
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Old 02-08-2017, 04:04 PM   #3
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Model: Tuscany 45AT
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Solar prep wiring - where do they come out?

I'm wanting to add solar to my Tuscany AT45. I have 400 watts in flexible panels from a prior coach - and a charge controller. The coach is prepped for solar on the roof with a solar wiring connection point. But I can't find where those wires emerge down below. I contacted Thor and got wiring diagrams and while you can't tell on the diagram, they indicated they came down the side wall near the location of the connection on the roof. The diagram indicates there should be a yellow/black wire and a white wire but I can't find them. Any pointers on how to find where these wires emerge?
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:07 PM   #4
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In our 2016 Tuscany 45AT there is a loose non terminated Orange/black and white wires wrapped in electrical tape below the Inverter. I believe these are the wires from the roof solar connector...
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by sthibaul View Post
In our 2016 Tuscany 45AT there is a loose non terminated Orange/black and white wires wrapped in electrical tape below the Inverter. I believe these are the wires from the roof solar connector...
Thanks so much for that tip. I'll check into that. Was thinking about buying a Fox and Hound wire tracing kit but I'll hold off on that until I can check around the inverter.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by bikegolfgirl View Post
Can anyone tell me if its easy to add solar panels to my ACE? Is it a package I can install or something I have to have done?
Check this kit out, I just put this in a few weeks ago and loving it. Supper easy to do your self and can always add more panels later if need be.
ECO-WORTHY BOAT SERIES:400w(4*100W) Solar Panel with PWM 45A Charge Controller |Eco-worthy
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Old 02-09-2017, 01:16 AM   #7
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This is the kit that we purchased and installed.

https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Monocr...s=Renogy+solar

400W of solar and includes all mounting hardware. I used Dicor to seal all mounts and holes, it has been working great.
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Old 02-09-2017, 03:22 PM   #8
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A word of caution on a DIY install. I seem to remember the Thor rep I talked with at a show (Pamona) that maximum capacity of the current wire gauge was 3 100W panels.
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Old 02-09-2017, 04:18 PM   #9
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A word of caution on a DIY install. I seem to remember the Thor rep I talked with at a show (Pamona) that maximum capacity of the current wire gauge was 3 100W panels.
We did not have any wires pre-installed by the factory and used the wiring in the kit to complete our install. We also added some fuses both before and after the controller as CYA (good practice.)
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:19 PM   #10
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A word of caution on a DIY install. I seem to remember the Thor rep I talked with at a show (Pamona) that maximum capacity of the current wire gauge was 3 100W panels.
The company I went with has a 8X150 watt system that uses 12 AWG wiring with MC4 quick connectors. The same wiring in my kit with 4X100 watts. My MH didn't come solar ready so did everything my self and only took about 2 hours doing it my self.
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:44 PM   #11
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we own a 30.2 so it might be different roof design. we were able to add 4 310w panels with no shade issues. have some pictures if you need them.
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Old 02-10-2017, 12:08 AM   #12
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we own a 30.2 so it might be different roof design. we were able to add 4 310w panels with no shade issues. have some pictures if you need them.
WOW.... would like to see that set up. I didn't think they even made 310 watt panels.
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Old 02-10-2017, 12:14 AM   #13
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Canadian solar now makes a 320 watt panel in same footprint. pic 1 are the 4 panels, pic 2 is where I keep 8 of my 10 batteries. pic 3 is apicture of 2 of the batteries. pic 4 is my inverter, breaker box, bus bar controller and wifi for the Morningstar controller.pic 5 is the other side of panels, and pic six is auto start, progressive surge, tri star control,
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Old 02-10-2017, 12:31 AM   #14
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Canadian solar now makes a 320 watt panel in same footprint. pic 1 are the 4 panels, pic 2 is where I keep 8 of my 10 batteries. pic 3 is apicture of 2 of the batteries. pic 4 is my inverter, breaker box, bus bar controller and wifi for the Morningstar controller.pic 5 is the other side of panels, and pic six is auto start, progressive surge, tri star control,
WOW.... got to say nice setup. I guess you can run what ever you want... and must boondock all the time....
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Old 02-10-2017, 01:52 PM   #15
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We went with 300 watts of portable solar on home made pvc stands. 10 awg marine wire to the combiner and 8 awg marine wire to the CC. I'll add 200 watts more tiltable on the roof before we start traveling again in April.
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