Adding Solar to Bigfoot Roof - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-13-2019, 07:40 AM   #61
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Zach, you seem to be stretching this job out having too much fun.

Man, I wish I could do that. I just dove in and installed everything in about six hours, including removing the fridge which I put back a few days later as other work needed to be done. My 4 panels took about an hour to install, it was getting all the wiring, controller and other parts completed and fastened that took most of the time.

Here is a link to my install on the Escape forum if you wish to see it.
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Old 07-13-2019, 07:55 AM   #62
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Thanks Jim, I'll check it out.

Well, I was half working from home, half struggling to beat the start of a summertime head cold, half working on the solar project that day. No real sense of urgency (aside from trying to fit three halves), other than getting the panel out of my way and the roof water-tight before calling it good for the day. For a while there I had a partially assembled bike, leaf springs, shocks and a solar panel on the floor next to my dest at work. That's definitely pushing it...

And I'm not afraid to admit that the leaf spring job beat me up a bit. I did a lot of that sort of work to an old truck of mine back in my early thirties, but hadn't since. Oil changes and starter replacements etc. are one thing. Leaf springs are another...it's taken me a few days to get back to full motivation.

Now I'm waiting on the kit for the roof wires; looks like it'll get here Monday.
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:10 AM   #63
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Your setup looks great! Mine is obviously not so well planned out. It shows, but I'm kind of figuring it out as I go.

I'll be really interested to see how this panel compares to my portable. It's 10W more (panel is 90W), which isn't much, and they'll be flat and partially shaded during the day. But my power needs are so low, and now that I can monitor my battery better with a little gadget I bought, I'm realizing I rarely draw it down lower than 75%, which is not the impression I got just watching the camper system monitor.

I'll say, though, that I'm sick of my portable panel. It's around 50lbs in its suitcase, bulky, and always in the back of my truck, or having to be packed up, unpacked and set up...I'm over it. If I find this panel isn't enough, I'll either look at adding another, or buy a smaller, lighter-built portable. I think the 90W panel was actually overkill for most of my camping anyway. We'll see how the 100W flat on the roof do once its September and I'm running the heat.
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:36 AM   #64
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Solar

Zach, have you thought about installing the portable panel on the roof next to the new one? That would mean not handling it or storing it anymore. But, I still like the option of a shaded roof and a portable in the sun. Also, the oxididation layer may be a weakness in the bonding with adhesive. Iíve no doubt you intend to clean the bond site. I used tape on my Casita roof and reinforced the four mounts with a bead of 5200 on the three edges I could get to.
And no need to hurry. Some folks like a race but I suggest you take your time.
Mills canyon was very interesting.
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:49 AM   #65
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Oh yeah! That's cool that you made the trip.

I have thought about that with the portable. In fact I've gotten in the habit of putting it up on the roof while I'm at work during the week, so I don't worry about it getting stolen. But it's heavy. It's one of the reasons I was originally looking at flexible panels. It's only 90W but it's two panels hinged together, and it really is heavy. I had never handled a regular 100W panel and I expected them to be just as heavy. My new panel is probably less than half the weight of the portable. With how much just a single 100W panel with some wires and mounting hardware would cost, I'd just do that.

I already told my friend I'd give him my portable panel anyway. But I definitely didn't want that weight on my roof.

I'm still thinking about ways to secure them a little better. I did wash, lightly sand, wipe down again then use rubbing alcohol on the surface. Not sure that the sikaflex will do anything to help hold them? Not sure if adding some eternabond tape around the feet might do a bit more?

Like I mentioned in a previous post, with just one leg down with the VHB tape, I could not budge the panel. I mean I didn't get up on the roof and pull with all my strength, but up on the ladder pulling as hard as I could with just arm strength, I felt no sense of budge at all. And supposedly the bond gets stronger over around 24 hours after installation.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:42 AM   #66
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Progress, slow and steady. This will work for the charge controller. Except since it mentions needing ventilation, I guess I canít store this crap here anymore...

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Any advice on fusing? The instructions arenít much help, other than telling me I need a 30amp fuse between the controller and battery. Closer to the controller, or battery? I have a auto reset breaker thatís 30 amp. Use it or an inline fuse? What about a fuse between the panels and controller?
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:02 AM   #67
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Fuses, Fuses Fuses!
First thing to remember is that the fuses are there to protect the wire to keep it from overheating and if it were to short out burning down your trailer.
Fuses go in the line as close to the power source as possible to reduce the chance of the unprotected wire being involved.
You have possibly three sources of current, the battery, the solar panels, and any chargers etc.
Remember to size the fuse to protect the wire you used as it should blow clear before the wire fails.
You may have to insert fuses at the controller and the battery.
Often the solar panels are fed with wire that has higher ampacity than the panels can output so in my opinion you would not need fuses in them.
For example my 300 watt solar panels will max out at about 5 amps and they are connected in series to give about 60 volts maximum. Even though the power is 300 watts max the 10 gauge solar wire is good for 30 amps with a 60*C temp rise.
However that wire is in danger of overheating in the case of a short in the battery circuit that could probably generate 1000 amps short circuit.
Use large wire and fuse it to protect the trailer.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:32 AM   #68
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Great, thanks. The kit came with 10 gauge wire. So an inline fuse between the controller and battery, close to the battery. Panels are 100W, with 10 gauge wire. No fuse between controller and panel?
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:41 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
..
Any advice on fusing? ...
While there are a (very) few people on this forum who are truly qualified to answer that question, there is a wealth of information available online:

https://www.windynation.com/jzv/inf/...olar-pv-system
https://www.renogy.com/blog/how-to-f...-solar-system/
etc...

At least this is how I went about deciding how to fuse my solar system.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:50 AM   #70
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Zach, it depends on how you wired your panels. Many 100 watt panels will put out about 5 - 6 amps at 16 - 18 volts. If wired in series with a MPPT controller the maximum amps would be that 5 - 6 amps max. Wired in parallel that would be max amps x the number of panels paralleled. It depends on YOUR installation.
If you have three 280 watt panels which output higher current in parallel you could have a problem.
I feel that you are OK with a 100 watt panel unfused. If the 10 gauge wire shorted the voltage would drop to close to 0 and the current would be around that 5 - 6 amps and not a problem with overheating the wire.
If the current were high enough to be a problem than in the solar panel circuit the wire size is too small anyway as the voltage drop and power lost to heat would be too high for efficient operation.
Be sure to fuse the battery! the max current could be very very high in the case of a short circuit.
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:29 PM   #71
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I know it will be ok, but this is annoying me. My kit came with 10 gauge wire. I want a 30 amp fuse. When I use the Renogy calculator, it says 30 amps requires 10 gauge wire. At the auto store, the inline fuse only comes with 12 gauge wire.

Why? I know for my 100 watts, 12 gauge is fine, but why is a 30 amp fuse coming with 12 gauge wire?
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:51 AM   #72
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A) 12 gauge will carry 30A just fine, but over a longer run there will be enough voltage drop to mess up the battery charge voltages which are pretty sensivitve.

the short pigtails on the 30A fuse won't bother anything here.
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Old 07-18-2019, 05:44 AM   #73
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Required wire size is a function of both gauge and length (and other things to a lesser extent). Longer runs require wider wider. Your fuse leads are only and inch or two so the smaller gauge should work fine. The common yellow butt crimp connectors also work with 10 to 12 gauge, but in my case I was going from 8 gauge to 10.. those butt connectors are more difficult to find. You can find about anything you want at DigiKey or Mouser, including inline fuse holders with 10 gauge leads I would think.
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Old 07-18-2019, 07:12 AM   #74
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Part of the reason to use large wire is to reduce the voltage drop for maximum efficiency.
This is the reason(part of it) for series panels and MPPT to raise the voltage and reduce the current to the converter.
The three panels produce ~ 5 amps at 60 volts instead of 15 amps at 20 volts (more or less) If the resistance of the wire were .1 ohm the drop at 5 Amps would be .5 volts vs 1.5 at 15 amps. Of course the wire is lower than this, but as an example.
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Old 07-18-2019, 08:13 AM   #75
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Alright, thanks. I'll go ahead and buy that stuff today. Still working on the right seal for the roof entry...I thought the AM Solar wiring kit I bought (and linked earlier) had a waterproof entry piece, but apparently not...I'm not sure what the thing that comes with the kit is for.

Either way, at least I'll be able to connect the controller to the battery, and securely route the cables along the roof with what I currently have.
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Old 07-18-2019, 02:40 PM   #76
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And I fuse just the + wire to the battery?
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Old 07-18-2019, 03:22 PM   #77
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The fuse should be as close to the battery as is easily accomplished to reduce the possibility that a short occur between the battery and the fuse.
The whole idea is to make it as unlikely as possible that a fire results from a short in the battery line.
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Old 07-18-2019, 03:30 PM   #78
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LOL....

you'll probably start another argument with that one...
I fused mine +..then I read somewhere that neg. is the "proper" way....and if I looked some more I'd probably find some opinion for the +....
a break in the circuit... is a break in the circuit....


and about you worrying about your panels staying on with that tape and no screws...it occured to me that as a "redundancy" you could just get some white Gorilla tape and cover/tape those flanges to the roof afterwards...."belt and suspenders on".....mine were put on with just Gorilla tape (panels just off the roof on rubber spacers at the corners)....it's been four years and they are still there...I check them every spring figuring it's time to do something "permanent"...but so far no need to
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Old 07-18-2019, 04:01 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
The fuse should be as close to the battery as is easily accomplished ...
And you cant get any closer than the Blue Sea fuse holder.. unless you put it inside the battery. But since its on the expensive side it might be better suited to use on an AGM vs a non-sealed battery where corrosion would hit it harder.

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Old 07-18-2019, 04:03 PM   #80
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Some amateur mobile radios have fuses in both plus and minus leads and I assume that a short in the wires where the plus lead shorted to the minus past the fuse, but keeping the fuse close to the battery makes that more unlikely.
Also some controllers are plus common and not negative common and I haven not thought that out as mine is negative common.
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