Bigfoot solar panel - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-19-2016, 12:27 AM   #1
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Name: Mike
Trailer: 2005 Bigfoot 17.5'
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Bigfoot solar panel

Me again. Told you I'd have questions!
So...this 17.5 Bigfoot i purchased from an estate. Previous owner had not used it due to illness for maybe 2 years? Batteries (the ones that i mentioned were moved inboard) were dead dead. The drive home charged them somewhat, so lights working...looks like they may not hold a charge though.
My question...there is a solar panel on the roof. Not sure of the rating. LED is on, on the Sunforce? regulator, indicating that it is generating power. Why did the batteries go flat? I would have thought that, without any draw other than the CO2 detector, the panel would at least maintain the batteries? If not, what good is it?
Also, the wires marked "battery" on the regulator go to the power inverter, not directly to the batteries. Is that standard?

Thanks,
dt
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Old 04-19-2016, 01:28 AM   #2
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Me again. Told you I'd have questions!
So...this 17.5 Bigfoot i purchased from an estate. Previous owner had not used it due to illness for maybe 2 years? Batteries (the ones that i mentioned were moved inboard) were dead dead. The drive home charged them somewhat, so lights working...looks like they may not hold a charge though.
My question...there is a solar panel on the roof. Not sure of the rating. LED is on, on the Sunforce? regulator, indicating that it is generating power. Why did the batteries go flat? I would have thought that, without any draw other than the CO2 detector, the panel would at least maintain the batteries? If not, what good is it?
Also, the wires marked "battery" on the regulator go to the power inverter, not directly to the batteries. Is that standard?Thanks,
dt
After sitting for 2 years I'm not surprised the batteries are dead, panel or not. Too many "ifs" for me as in where was it parked, sun or shade, water level in the batteries, how old are they and a 24/7 draw from the CO2 and whatever else may be connected. Just me but I would put new ones in as you will know what you have and a starting point for later. I only have a CO2 detector for a 24/7 draw and I put a switch in next to it so I can cut the power while it's out of service but still have power for the lights if I should have to go inside for something at night. It's always turned on when it's being used.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Borrego Dave View Post
After sitting for 2 years I'm not surprised the batteries are dead, panel or not. Too many "ifs" for me as in where was it parked, sun or shade, water level in the batteries, how old are they and a 24/7 draw from the CO2 and whatever else may be connected. Just me but I would put new ones in as you will know what you have and a starting point for later. I only have a CO2 detector for a 24/7 draw and I put a switch in next to it so I can cut the power while it's out of service but still have power for the lights if I should have to go inside for something at night. It's always turned on when it's being used.
Yep, pretty sure I'll have to replace them and see what happens. The switch on the detector is an interesting idea. Thanks!

dt
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:53 AM   #4
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Some of my solar knowledge is fading, but to me it seems odd that the panel runs to your inverter. Unless you mean CONverter, in which case it makes perfect sense. An INverter changes DC to AC. Which seeing as your RV has DC appliances and solar panels put out DC power, I agree that doesn't make a lot of sense.

But because most power CONverters are also "power centers", everything runs through them. So it would make sense for the solar panel to wire into the converter and charge the battery from there.

I agree that not knowing how the trailer was stored, I wouldn't worry too much at this point about the batteries being dead. You don't mention the year of your Bigfoot, but even under perfect conditions batteries do have a lifespan and will die eventually.
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Old 04-19-2016, 11:43 AM   #5
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Some of my solar knowledge is fading, but to me it seems odd that the panel runs to your inverter. Unless you mean CONverter, in which case it makes perfect sense. An INverter changes DC to AC. Which seeing as your RV has DC appliances and solar panels put out DC power, I agree that doesn't make a lot of sense.

But because most power CONverters are also "power centers", everything runs through them. So it would make sense for the solar panel to wire into the converter and charge the battery from there.

I agree that not knowing how the trailer was stored, I wouldn't worry too much at this point about the batteries being dead. You don't mention the year of your Bigfoot, but even under perfect conditions batteries do have a lifespan and will die eventually.
Mm. I just hopped on the site to make that correction...still learning! You are correct, CONvertor is what I meant. The trailer is a 2005, and the former owner wasn't shy about maintaining it, so I'm guessing the batteries are a couple years old, but I don't see an install date on them. I guess I'll just check the fluid levels and see how they perform.

Thanks!

dt
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:42 PM   #6
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Yeah check it out. If they were drained down and allowed to sit that way, they're probably toast, but it can't hurt to make sure before spending the money on new ones.
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Old 04-19-2016, 01:58 PM   #7
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Due to the set up if there is a kill switch for the battery that may also explain why the solar did nothing to maintain the battery over the winter regardless of whether it was stored inside or out.

Even if it was connected directly to the battery via a solar controller if in the winter months it was stored so that the panel got no sun the LEDS on the controller itself will slowly eat away at the battery power if it is left connected and running all winter.
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Old 04-19-2016, 02:47 PM   #8
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It may not come in handy for you like it would for me, depending on how you'll use your trailer, but consider yourself lucky you already have panels mounted on the roof. I really like my portable panels, because I can move them to track the angle of the sun all day, and I can park in the shade and still have the panels in the sun.

But I do a little in-town stealth camping, and setting out solar panels is a dead giveaway. So I don't have any ideas yet as for how keep my battery charged when I'm in town. At some point I guess I'll probably just put some panels on the roof, too, and keep my portable ones for all the reasons I mentioned...

What area of Alberta are you in, if you don't mind me asking? I bought my trailer in Canmore.
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Old 04-19-2016, 02:50 PM   #9
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Mm. I just hopped on the site to make that correction...still learning!

Thanks!

dt
Oh, and if you want to edit your first post to say CONverter, I'll be happy to delete that part out of my post and we can pretend it never happened
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Old 04-19-2016, 04:58 PM   #10
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That's ok , I can own my own stupidity.
I'm in (near) Edmonton .
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Old 04-19-2016, 05:03 PM   #11
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Due to the set up if there is a kill switch for the battery that may also explain why the solar did nothing to maintain the battery over the winter regardless of whether it was stored inside or out.

Even if it was connected directly to the battery via a solar controller if in the winter months it was stored so that the panel got no sun the LEDS on the controller itself will slowly eat away at the battery power if it is left connected and running all winter.
Stored out in the open, uncovered, and with almost no snow this year... I would have thought it would be charging like gangbusters. No kill switch either (it's on my list though).

Dt
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:19 PM   #12
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OK, checked the batteries. Dry as a popcorn you know what.
I'm shocked that they took a charge at all, no surprise that the solar panel couldn't keep them charged.
Topped them up with distilled water, but really...does that ever work out? No.
So new batteries it is, fingers crossed that it wasn't a defective converter that boiled them dry.
The trailer has only been sitting since last August, after being checked over by the "RV Expert".

Guess I'd better check everything. <_<

Cheers,
dt
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:55 PM   #13
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Topped them up with distilled water, but really...does that ever work out? No.
So new batteries it is, fingers crossed that it wasn't a defective converter that boiled them dry.
The trailer has only been sitting since last August, after being checked over by the "RV Expert".

Guess I'd better check everything. <_<

Cheers,
dt
Did the battery have any date stamps on it?

The real question is not how long the trailer was sitting unused but how old was the battery and how many times had it been drained below 50% capacity or bone dry. Did the Previous owner install the solar after having already run it down more than a few times - thats not an uncommon motivator for the installation of a solar system.

Running it dry a few times will shorten its life very fast. Even if one is careful with keeping an eye on the charge status 5 years is considered by many to be the average good working order life for many RV deep cel battery's. It may have still been holding a charge last August when the trailer was checked over but that of course was before the battery sat unused/uncharged for another 8 months. ;-)
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Old 04-21-2016, 12:37 AM   #14
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Did the battery have any date stamps on it?

The real question is not how long the trailer was sitting unused but how old was the battery and how many times had it been drained below 50% capacity or bone dry. Did the Previous owner install the solar after having already run it down more than a few times - thats not an uncommon motivator for the installation of a solar system.

Running it dry a few times will shorten its life very fast. Even if one is careful with keeping an eye on the charge status 5 years is considered by many to be the average good working order life for many RV deep cel battery's. It may have still been holding a charge last August when the trailer was checked over but that of course was before the battery sat unused/uncharged for another 8 months. ;-)
The previous owner is deceased, and the person that did the work is dodging phone calls.
It's my belief that the solar panel addition and the batteries going from 1 to 2 and being moved inboard, was all done at once as a package.
I'm thinking I just might use the opportunity to go to 2 6v golf cart batteries.

dt
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