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Solar and Alternative Energy for RV's (1,685 members)

A place to discuss solar and other alternative power technologies as it relates to our RV's. 

Solar and Alternative Energy for RV's Feed

  • Jeff and Sandra Doan
    Jeff and Sandra Doan:
    Mon at 5:24 AM
    My next step in improving the effectiveness of my solar system, after replacing the solar tracker actuator, will be to remove some trees. We have plans to bring in some loggers to thin out some of the larger trees. This will allow the solar panels to see...  more
  • Curtis
    Curtis: September 23
    • Windychic and 8 others like this.
    • Curtis
      charles formby
      September 23 Just, as i thought. Smart idea. Copy your plan down for a copy right. Then ask an electrical engineering friend to help with back up, and prevent over flow. You do have a good start . Wish i could help.! [email protected] Hide 1 Reply
      • Curtis
        JLF
        September 23 If by "back up" and "over flow" you are referring to batteries and over charging them, then this post is in the correct RVillage group.  Since, very few off grid installations use solar power directly, I suspect Jeff and Sandra already have a solar c...  more
    • Curtis
      • Curtis
        charles formby
        September 23 Correct, JLF, just some folks charge to much, i have. Thanks for your advice..i may need when i assembly my solar unit.
    • Curtis
      Curtis
      September 23 Sharing this to the solar group. Hide 1 Reply
    • Curtis
      John T
      Mon at 4:59 AM Keeping the panels directed to the suns path over a day sure increases solar harvest, but I doubt there's any patent protection. Thanks for sharing, looks like a great method to improve solar harvest...……


      John T  BSEE,JD <...  more
    • Curtis
      Jeff and Sandra Doan
      Tue at 6:22 AM I currently use a 40 Amp MPPT charge controller. As my solar array grows, so too will my battery storage bank and controller. All it costs is money! Unfortunately, I have more time to dream up projects than the money to pay for them! HaHaHa!
      I do...  more
  • LetGoandLive
    LetGoandLive:
    September 10
    Good morning,
    I am getting ready to install solar with lithium batteries. My question would be for those of you that have lithium batteries. Did you have to do something special so the alternator doesn’t over charge the lithium batteries when driving dow...  more
    • Gone_Feral and 1 other like this.
    • LetGoandLive
      Gone_Feral
      September 10 Yes, you must use only batteries that specify that they have a "battery protection system" that prevents overcharging.
    • LetGoandLive
      LetGoandLive
      September 10 Okay my batteries are Battle Born and they have a BMS built in.. 
    • LetGoandLive
      Mark & Patsi
      September 10 My coach, a 2013 Winn tour, with added solar, has a system that equalizes the chassis and house batteries when the difference is X%  ( I thinks 5%).  Because Lithium runs at 13.1 or there about  vs AGM chassis starter batteries, at a lower ...  more
    • LetGoandLive
      Gerry & Carol
      September 13 you will love the Battle Born batteries
    • LetGoandLive
      Jeneric Ramblings
      September 23 Your voltage from the alternator must be within the rated input of the batteries and your BMS. In some cases, the BMS will also control a contactor to disconnect the alternator charge line to prevent overcharging. 
      Check with your battery vend...  more
  • Lois Michele
    Lois Michele:
    September 5
    Hello, I think that the Kyocera KC120-1 solar panel that is on my new to me 18 year old RV is bad and I would like to replace it (the charge controller works). The set up on the RV is for charging the coach batteries only, there is no inverter with this ...  more
    • Karen and Steve Veneskey likes this.
    • Lois Michele
      Benji
      September 5 RrReplace the diodes and fuse at the panel first check the wiring for continuity before doing any thing else is what I would do. Make sure you are getting a clear path to the controller. Hide 1 Reply
      • Lois Michele
        Lois Michele
        September 5 Hi Benji, How do I check for continuity in wiring? There is an inline fuse on the hot wire and it is good (I used my test light).  :)
    • Lois Michele
      GaRay of Light
      September 5 Maybe test your panel first? My method is to set the meter to DC volts and connect the leads to the panel and record the voltage reading. One wire from the panel must be disconnected for the test.

      A 12 volt panel should have an output of 18 ...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Lois Michele
        Lois Michele
        September 5 Thank you, I will try that in the morning! :)
    • Lois Michele
      JLF
      September 6 Since you know your panel mfg and model number you can look up its open circuit voltage and the short circuit current. Testing the panel should include both.  Test panel as others have said with at least one wire disconnected.  If your multimete...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Lois Michele
        Lois Michele
        September 6 Thank you!  I will give that a try. I'll let everyone know what happens. :)
    • Lois Michele
      Lois Michele
      September 6 Hello, The sun had just about moved off the panel when I checked the
       voltage, I got 7.3 in the dappled light. I tested the diodes on the panel and did two readings , on the ohms setting I got a tone on all of the diodes then I changed functio...  more
      Hide 4 Replies
      • Lois Michele
        JLF
        September 6 Panel voltage and current should be measured in full sun.  However, 7.3 does indicate that it is at least doing something, but no way to be sure what it will do in full sun. By two readings on ohms setting do you mean one in each direction?  I ...  more
      • Lois Michele
        Lois Michele
        September 6 Hello, Re the positive vs negative terminals, meaning the 3 diodes that are on the hot wire side of the panel and the 3 diodes on the negative wire side (I didn't take them off the panel to test them). I made that distinction because I don't know if that ...  more
      • Lois Michele
        rvKnight (Doug)
        September 6 The "Tone" sounds when you are in continuity mode. That "tone" means that there is a complete circuit. If no "tone" then the circuit has a break in it.
      • Lois Michele
        JLF
        September 6 Lois, after considering this a little further the diode test should only be done after removal.  First, I think they are connected three in parallel.  That's why you got the same 0.344 on the first three readings.  Second, in use they are b...  more
    • Lois Michele
      Benji
      September 6 Lois Michele the same way you tested the fuse with the test light is how you check wiring. A connection on each end making s "loop" is the easiest way to explain it
  • BuckeyeCruisers
    BuckeyeCruisers:
    August 27
    We just purchased a 2016 Forest River Forester small Class C with a “Zamp” plug-in on the side. Is there a small, efficient, basic, uncomplicated system that we can simply plug in to keep the batteries charged (2 12 volt) while boondocking in the southwes...  more
    • IronMan_Tempo and 1 other like this.
    • BuckeyeCruisers
      IronMan_Tempo
      August 27 Zamp Solar makes a 230 watts plug and play portable solar panel system. Includes controller. Pricey but simple. I’m sure if you shop around you may find a better deal than this link. dakotacampsupply.com/products/200-watt-zamp-portable-solar-char...  more
    • BuckeyeCruisers
      JLF
      August 27 To "keep the batteries charged (2 12 volt) while boondocking"  depends entirely on how much energy you expect to draw from them.  You need to determine the amp-hours (or watt-hours) you expect to use per day, or maybe an average over several day...  more
    • BuckeyeCruisers
      Landsailor
      August 27 ZampSolar portable Solar solar modules come with charge controllers on each module.  25 ft cord.  That cord plugs into your pre-wired connection point on your RV.  ZampSolar plug-in is slightly different that the Furrion connection port pro...  more
      Hide 1 Reply
      • BuckeyeCruisers
        BuckeyeCruisers
        August 27 Thanks all. We use very little watts when boondocking. If we need nots of wattage, we start the generator. We’ve spent 155 nights in the RV since we purchased it in October. We’ve done lots of boondocking and only had to run the generator every second or ...  more
    • BuckeyeCruisers
      Halfloaf
      September 6 This is the awesome thing about it being plug and play - buy a solar panel. If it’s not enough, buy more. Indeed this does NOT have to be complicated. I do suggest the extension cord mentioned above though, so you have more choice for the placement of you...  more
  • Peter & Judy Childers
    Peter & Judy Childers:
    August 25
    Hello All, your wire size connection between your solar controller and your batteries would be determined by the charge rating of your solar controller. On the fuse or breaker sizing for the battery to inverter connection you might be very surprised, usin...  more
    • Benji and 2 others like this.
    • Peter & Judy Childers
      Benji
      August 25 I bought 4/0 wire from Windy Nation rated 440 amps, a 3000 watt inverter and a 400 amp catastrophic fuse. From your post I think I got it right. Hide 1 Reply
      • Peter & Judy Childers
        John T
        August 25 Benji, Of course there's a DIFFERENCE in sizing the conductors FROM charge controller TO batteries    versus    FROM batteries TO Inverter. The conductors from charge controller to battery bank depends on the max current...  more
    • Peter & Judy Childers
      peterjw
      August 26 Sounds about right Benji. I run a 350watt fuse and havent overladed it yet. Wonder if deep cycle batteries are even capable of generating that much peak current?
    • Peter & Judy Childers
      Benji
      August 29 On the converter side I installed a progressive dynamics PD9270 (70 amps) with #2 battery cable. I also have 400 watts on the roof into a combiner box each one running #10 to a pair of #6 down to a disconnect with a 50 amp snap-breaker.
  • KatB
    KatB :
    August 23
    Ok... after years of research, I am finally ready to invest into solar for our MH. We have a Tiffin Allegro that is "ready" for panels. I understand however the wire is probably not sufficient. I do not intend to do this project myself. We live in Florid...  more
    • John & Diana and 4 others like this.
    • KatB
      JodyO
      August 23 If you find one, keep us posted! I have a Tiffin Allegro that is NOT "ready" for panels. And while I appreciate that folks like the experts on the west coast, it's not practical for me, as I pretty much run up and down the east coast and midwest. I'll be ...  more
    • KatB
      Robbie & Alice
      August 23 AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon.  I've been living off of solar for 12 years, and AM Solar builds quality.
    • KatB
      Bruce & Linda (Omnibus)
      August 23 KatB:  I do not have a specific recommendation for a solar installer in Florida, but there have to be many of them; it is the “Sunshine State” after all.  :-)  Whether or not the wiring in your rig is “sufficient” might depend on what panel...  more
    • KatB
      Pianotuna
      August 25 Hi, If you use an MPPT controller you may not have to upgrade the wiring. It will be important that you know exactly what you want before you grace the installers door. I invite you to share your plans here.
  • Benji
    Benji:
    August 22
    Anyone have a rough idea how to figure my battery cable size? I'm putting in 400 watts of Solar with three AGM optima batteries series 27. The inverter is 3000 watts. The cable size I'm referring to connect from the inverter to the batteries and from the...  more
    • Becca Ray and 1 other like this.
    • Benji
      Pianotuna
      August 22 The inverter needs to be closer than 8 feet. or even go to a 24 volt battery bank. If I were starting over I'd jump right to 48 volts.
      Hide 1 Reply
      • Benji
        Benji
        August 22 I don't think it'll be 8' the batteries are under the floor the inverter is behind the electrical panel box about 4' total. I used 8' because the width of the camper is 8'
    • Benji
      Pianotuna
      August 22 Why do you need a 3000 watt inverter? Hide 1 Reply
      • Benji
        Benji
        August 22 I'm hooking it directly intonthe panel so I can run any circuit without hesitation. I also have an automatic transfer switch for the generator (it'll be added later)
    • Benji
      Wncol
      August 23 Rule of thumb is one amp per 10 watts. So, on average, 3000 watts continuous is 300 amps continuous. Don’t forget your surge.  As for cable size. I think 4/0 should work but would be your absolute minimum size.  Don’t forget to put a fuse on tha...  more
    • Benji
      John T
      August 23 Benji, If you wanted to load that 3000 watt inverter for an extended time period to near capacity you're talking drawing around (3000/12) 250 amps at 12 volts from your batteries which assumes 100% efficiency (which the system is NOT)  YOURE GON...  more Hide 1 Reply
      • Benji
        Bill&Ginny
        August 23 I totally agree. Benji I am on an extended trip thru Canada and our system is working flawlessly. Again we have 800 watts of solar with 6 155ah batteries, and we are full in a couple of hours each morning,even when the sun isn't shining. With the aims it...  more
    • Benji
      Bruce & Linda (Omnibus)
      August 23 The original post/question:  Google “wire ampacity” and you will get links to charts that show the AWG (gauge, size) wire needed to carry any given amount of current over some distance with minimal voltage drop (and power loss).  The key pieces ...  more
  • Landsailor
    Landsailor:
    August 22
    Since Battle Born in Reno, NV charges $899 each for LiPO4, Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, it will be a few years until I replace my fairly new AGM batteries in both my RVs.
    • Pianotuna and 2 others like this.
    • Landsailor
      Dave and Terry Clayton
      August 22 I have looked at LiPO4 batteries but living at 9,400 feet I can get freeze temps in month of the year.  Since you can't charge below 32 degrees, unless you have battery heaters (which drain a lot of power) you can't recharge the batteries unless the ...  more
  • Dave & MP
    Dave & MP:
    August 22
    Does anyone have NICKEL IRON (NiFe) batteries in their RV? I would eventually like to install them in mine! Thx!