solar setup at costco. Good buy - Page 5 - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 05-25-2006, 10:29 PM   #57
Moderator
 
Gina D.'s Avatar
 
Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,016
Registry
Quote:
So once all this is done can I just plug the wires from the panels to the controller and then the controller to the battery leaving the wires from the trailer already on the battery
Yes.

NOTHING should be wired to your controller input BUT a solar panel. Then controller to battery. Everything else just leave wired as is.

This is exactly how mine has been set up for a year, and I have had no issues. I even charge with my genset, car and onboard charger with the controller attached to the battery.

I am NO expert on the elctromechanics of the solar panel and the controller itself, (I just leave it as "magic" and don't wonder) but every time I read up on set ups.. it is emphasised numerous times that nothing goes on the input but a panel. I suspect it has to do with current draw, but once again.. I am making a semi educated guess on that.

I DID read instructions when first researching.. they promised war and pestulance if I did this.. so I don't.
__________________

__________________
Gina D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2006, 10:35 PM   #58
Senior Member
 
colin k's Avatar
 
Trailer: 73 Boler
Posts: 159
Paddy. I feel you pain. The costco solar kit is pretty badly put together. Its actually 3 seperate kits with 3 cheezy battery connectors and 3 cigarette plugs. No where in the kit can you wire anything to the controller without wire cutters, soldering irons etc. What i did was cut off all the connectors on the panels. I shortened all the panel leads to about 1 foot and resoldered the connectors back on. Then a made a 3 panel connector plug out of the connectors i cut off the cheezy battery connectors which promptly were fired in the garbage. The 3 connectors were wired to 10 guage wire that i ran from each positive and negative lead to the charge controller. Then 2 leads from the charge controller to the battery.The panels are permanently attached to my roof so if i have a problem with 1 particular panel i can just remove it, dissconnect the plug , reattach a new panel,and plug it back into the 3 panel connector plug .

Heres a picture i quickly drew up.
Attached Thumbnails
solar_schematic.JPG  
__________________

__________________
colin k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2006, 11:27 PM   #59
Junior Member
 
Dave Van Vugt's Avatar
 
Trailer: 75 Trillium 13 ft
Posts: 23
Colin,

I have been following this thread as well, trying to figure out how best to hook these things up, both to the trailer roof and electrically speaking.

I like your idea of making a harness from the "extra" connectors, I might just do that.

Just wondering if you attached the trailer wiring to the charge controller's load terminals, or directly to the battery? Do you think it makes a difference?

I'm also looking for ideas for rooftop mounting of the 3 panels - I saved your picture of your rack, but I don't have easy access to someone to make me something like that and I'm considering something fairly easily removable as I have a south-facing porch on my house which I could move them too, and have additional/emergency power when not camping. Just a thought.

Thanks everyone for the info, I appreciate it!

Dave

P.S. Paddy - I bought the same 400W inverter from Canadian Tire, I thought the digital readout of battery voltage and load wattage would be handy!
__________________
Dave Van Vugt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2006, 12:25 AM   #60
Moderator
 
Gina D.'s Avatar
 
Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,016
Registry
Quote:
Do you think it makes a difference?
I don't see how it would, unless the battery filters, BUT.. why re arrange everything thats already done? Just connect the controller to the battery and be done with it. "If it ain't broke".

I wonder what kind of package was done for Costco? Did it come in a Coleman box? My package was 100% complete and well laid out. The wiring on the panels was about 6 inches long. All the quick connects were there. Nothing needed to be cut. If the one panel didn't have a bad crimp and diode, all I would have needed to do was connect via terminal and screw the long harness wires to the controller input.

I DID replace the main long pigtail with 10 gage wire tho. I wanted to lengthen it, but what came with it was fine for a shorter run.
__________________
Gina D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2006, 12:50 AM   #61
Senior Member
 
colin k's Avatar
 
Trailer: 73 Boler
Posts: 159
Hi Dave. I didnt hook any trailer wiring to the load terminals on the controller. Just because i have everything fused and each load has a seperate fuse and seperate run of wire directly to the battery. The way i have it now everything functions perfectly and the charge controller tells me what state of charge my battery is in. I dont know if it makes a difference or not.

Speaking of the charge controller.

It works fine but the state of charge indicators are not great.

You have one light which is illuminated at 75% charge and above.
You have a second light illuminated when the charge is between 25% and 75%( This is pretty lame) This is like your gas guage just sitting in one spot till your almost out of gas. Then it thankfully tells you your almost out of gas.
The third light is illuminated when battery is below 25% .
And flashes at 10 %.

The solar kit is not very user friendly out of the box but once you make it fit your application it works great.

Good luck with your system.
__________________
colin k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2006, 01:11 AM   #62
Senior Member
 
colin k's Avatar
 
Trailer: 73 Boler
Posts: 159
Heres a better picture.
Attached Thumbnails
solar_schematic_2.JPG  
__________________
colin k is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2006, 11:21 AM   #63
Senior Member
 
Paddy Morris's Avatar
 
Trailer: 1980 Trillium 4500 Deluxe / 2008 Toyota Tacoma 4x2 Access cab 2.7l
Posts: 142
Not very user friendly is an understatement, you have to take it apart to make it work no doubt voiding any implied warranty by doing so.
__________________
Paddy Morris is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2006, 09:54 AM   #64
Senior Member
 
Trailer: 1991 16 ft Casita Freedom Deluxe
Posts: 251
Quote:
For those in Baja Canada, the following might be of interest:

Harbor Freight Solar Panels

Just as a heads-up - the price on the website above does not reflect it, but I got a Harbor Freight flyer in the mail with the same solar panel kit and they have dropped the price by $20 down to $180, for mail-order and internet sales only. There is also a $5 off plus a freebie gift coupon with the ad. If there is any interest, I can post the exact item number and coupon codes when I get home from work tonight in case anyone wants to place an order and does not have a flyer handy.

I hadn't ordered mine yet; I guess sometimes it does pay to procrastinate!

That's a pretty good price, only $4/watt with extras included. They also have just a single bare 50-watt panel for $350, or $7/watt. Seems like a no-brainer!
__________________
Lee Hillsgrove is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2006, 11:23 AM   #65
Member
 
Andy Earthman's Avatar
 
Trailer: 1984 U-Haul 13 ft
Posts: 92
Send a message via Yahoo to Andy Earthman
Any ideas on how to determine if a solar controller is working or not? The UHauls have a solar panel on the roof for trickle maintenance charge while in storage. I'd like to test that out and make sure its working properly.

A.
__________________
Andy Earthman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2006, 12:26 PM   #66
Senior Member
 
Trailer: 1991 16 ft Casita Freedom Deluxe
Posts: 251
I would assume that you'd place the solar panel in full light then measure the voltage going from the panel into the controller and the voltage coming out of the controller to the battery. You should see more than 15 volts or so going in and no more than about 14.2 coming out with a fully charged battery.

Disclaimer - I've not done actual testing on one of these, but if I understand the theory correctly, that's what you should see.
__________________
Lee Hillsgrove is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2006, 12:43 PM   #67
Moderator
 
Gina D.'s Avatar
 
Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,016
Registry
Lee, you are correct. It doesn't have to be in full light, as long as you get "Something" off the panel over a volt or two it is working. More light, more output. Fortunately.. with a panel, it either works, or it doesn't.. you'll get voltage or an open. Not a lot of gray area.

I doubt Uhaul put a controller in with a 15 watt panel. General practice is to use a controller for anything over 15. 15 is too small to have accidents with.

If you get nothing, (An open), several things can be happening. Most likely there is a loose wire, but next would be a blown blocking diode. These are easy to replace, as long as you can get in there. Take the diode to Raydeeoh Hack and they should have a replacement. They are usually simple zeners. Mine are in4001s.
__________________
Gina D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2006, 08:20 PM   #68
Member
 
Andy Earthman's Avatar
 
Trailer: 1984 U-Haul 13 ft
Posts: 92
Send a message via Yahoo to Andy Earthman
Quote:
I doubt Uhaul put a controller in with a 15 watt panel. General practice is to use a controller for anything over 15. 15 is too small to have accidents with.

I'm not sure what you might call it. The solar panel wires from the roof are connected to a metal unit that is mounted to the side of the battery box. From that unit wires are connected to the battery. Its about 4"X6". Both the input and out put are labeled with a + and -.

Remember, UHaul did manufacture these trailers for rental use. With that in mind, most every thing on it is bigger, stronger, more substantial than any other FG camper I have ever seen.

Its standard UHaul equipment, for the 13fter anyway.

I would, just for the heck of it, like to test it out and see that its working correctly.

Makes sense to simply check the output at the 2 sources with a full battery.


I just checked the UHaul parts list for the camper. They call it a "voltage regulator". Same thing as a controller?



A.
__________________
Andy Earthman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2006, 07:04 PM   #69
Senior Member
 
Roy in TO's Avatar
 
Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
Posts: 4,954
Quote:
Has anyone else come up with mounting possibilities for solar panels?
Kurt & Ann K.
Here's an idea from a DIY photography site.

Roy
__________________
Roy in TO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2006, 07:46 PM   #70
Moderator
 
Gina D.'s Avatar
 
Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,016
Registry
Andy, that does sound like a controller, or a facsimile of. Basically, a controllers main function is to regulate the input to the battery..

Controllers have that function, they also act as thier own blocking diode and most all of them I have seen have at least one LED indicating a voltage is coming from the panel. Some have others indicating battery charge level.

All you need to do is disconnect the lines from your "Voltage Regulater" at the battery and measure across them with a DVM. If you leave the battery connected, you will get a false reading from the battery voltage.

You should see anywhere from 12 to 14.7 volts. Hard to tell not knowing exactly what you have.

I had a charge controller when just running my 15 watt panel to my house battery. I doesn't hurt a thing, even if most say it's not needed. I use the same controller for my larger system now.. where it DEFINATELY is needed.
__________________

__________________
Gina D. is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
solar, solar panel


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Strange Tow setup Doug Arthurs General Chat 36 07-28-2010 10:52 PM
Costco shopping FRED SMAILES Jokes, Stories & Tall Tales 0 05-12-2010 12:10 AM
Small Daewoo AC at Costco $50 after rebates (PGE) Bobbie Mayer Problem Solving | Owners Helping Owners 0 03-29-2008 08:47 PM
Setup Questions Cam A Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 16 04-26-2006 07:13 PM
Some pictures of our new 'setup' Legacy Posts General Chat 2 05-15-2003 11:23 AM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:28 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.