Solar Plan, What do you think? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 04-14-2018, 03:12 AM   #15
Name: Tony
Trailer: Boler
Posts: 45
In our 17' Boler we did the following.
100 watt solar panel, roof mounted.
2 trojan T 105 golf cart batteries.
1500 watt Cobra inverter. with remote on off.
inverter supplies 2 dedicated outlets close to galley and dinette.
for computer small vacuum cleaner & her majesties elec coffee maker.
batteries supply all original lighting converted to LED's
We also put a separate charging circuit directly from the tow veh batts to the trailer batts with 30 amp fuse at each end, incase we have more than three or four cloudy days consecutively.
This past winter from Portland to Gilmore Ca driving alternate days. Then between Tucson and El Centro & Death Valley and Lake Mead we found that we do not need to use shore power at all.
What I would change in your diagram.
Would add the inverter with 6ga stranded welding wire with copper connectors, as close to the batts as you can get it.and would use 14ga extension wire to connect the outlets to the inverter and for the remote on off switch.
I would use 14 ga extension wire between the PV panel and controller, with the controller as close to the batts as possible.
The balance of 12 volt wiring I would leave as original. Our 10 interior and 1 porch lamps, are all LED warm white (her majesty likes that color as it is closest to incandescent). I find the best source of wires for new work is 3 wire extension wire 14ga. I cut the ends off and use as required, it is cheap, double insulated and I ignore the green ground wire.
Use a pc of the same welding wire between the batts.
I take all loads directly from the batts not from the charge controller, for a number of reasons. Convertor needs much more power than controller can handle.
Some times we may plug into shore power, or leave the tow veh connected overnight or at tea time and lunch.
We used the roof A/C wiring to run the shurflow hatch fan connected to 12V. PS shurflow quality control has slid, use another brand, same for water pump.
Your wiring is overkill, fine if money is no object. You could have many more LED lights.
I read extensively at night, and when there is internet we use it lots, the only time we concern ourselves with power use is on cloudy days.
This set up has worked for us now for 7 months full time in winter, a year ago in Mexico and this year 3 months as noted above. We only plug in because we paid for it in campgrounds, & never more than a week per month. Coffee maker is the max draw for her majesty and she has had no problems with having power in the morning.
Hope this helps.
Have many many years experience RVing and Sailing off grid.

We're lost but we're making good time.
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Old 04-14-2018, 06:36 AM   #16
Jim Bennett's Avatar
Name: Jim
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 4,948
While I used to go up to 3 nights in my Escape 19 with temps at night near freezing with dual 6V batteries, we really had to manage things closely, with only running the furnace and lights. We also set our thermostat down to 9-10°C at night to minimize the furnace run time. The furnace fan is the worst culprit, but one you should have little issue with where you live.

You will likely make good use of your ceiling fan, but your proposed solar should keep up with it. It would never work for me, but I have a larger space to heat and light, and camp in colder climates.

Like others already said, draw the power to distribution directly off the batteries.

I note that you have MC4 connectors, and while they work great, they are not a good option for regular connecting. Not sure where your batteries are located, but if inside I would use something like the Zamp inlet, and if outside I would wire some kind of connector to the batteries or just use a large alligator clip.

Though maybe not required that much in your lower current setup, I really like having breakers instead of fuses for disconnecting system components for any reason.

I have to say I am just loving my solar setup. Maybe would say with 240W mounted on top, and an 80W portable (which I haven't had need of in the first year of using the setup), but it sure is nice to keep the batteries maintained to full voltage each day. Gotta say, I just love making toast in an electric toaster as opposed to the stovetop method that really dries it out and takes much longer to toast.

Your diagram is done up much nicer than mine.


2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:13 AM   #17
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Name: John
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500
Posts: 657
don't need solar for couple days of use ...

Generally when doing a "solar plan" one includes sufficient battery capacity to get through two or three cloudy days. Since you said you only plan to use the camper a couple of days at a time, I (another retired EE) would suggest you don't "need" solar at all, or for that matter a tow vehicle charging wire. Just charge the battery back up with a good smart charger between uses. Then spend extra $$$ on other toys

I pack a free-standing solar panel (and DIY angle brackets) and solar charge controller when I know I might be boondocking for more than a couple of days. And I charge my little 12v AGM battery with a CTEK smart charger between uses.
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:12 AM   #18
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Civilguy's Avatar
Name: Mike
Trailer: Escape 21 & Jeep GC 5.7 (Previous 2012 Casita FD17 & 2010 Audi Q5)
Puget Sound, WA
Posts: 738

I'm not clear what MaxxAir fan you have, but it looks like you might be able to run it very efficiently without a PWM controller. I have posted a link to and a graphic from a web page comparing two fans.

Fantastic Fan vs MaxxFan Comparison, including amp usage - Truck Campers - Wander the West

We once ran a FanTastic fan all night at low speed in our teardrop trailer and it took a little 35 amp-hour 'wheelchair' battery down well past the limit you would normally want to allow.

A post on eTrailer notes different current draws for what I believe is a different model fantastic fan from the one linked above:
  • Reply: I spoke to my contact at Fantastic Vent and she informed me that the roof vent # FV801250, you were looking at motor will draw 36 watts. On low it will draw 1.86 amps, on medium 2.29 amps, and on high 3 amps.
Bottom line, the 10-speed MaxxAir this fellow tested looks pretty sweet for its ability to run at low speeds with low draws. Heck, you can even call it 11-speed if you count the 'off' position!
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:16 AM   #19
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Escape 21 & Jeep GC 5.7 (Previous 2012 Casita FD17 & 2010 Audi Q5)
Puget Sound, WA
Posts: 738
This one goes to 11!
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:16 PM   #20
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 165
Not all controllers are created equal !

I think you've been getting some misleading advice. You CAN run your devices off the Load terminals by using a controller that can handle it, and there's a great advantage in doing so.
The Renogy controller you're looking at does not appear to have that capacity, and seems rather pricey for a 20A PWM unit. I use this one:
What may be overkill for some can be neccessary for others. I run a compressor fridge, furnace blower, stereo amp, water pump, lots of lights, fan, and charge up some small devices.
By running everything off the Load Terminals (through a fuse box), I am able to see how much current(amps) each device uses by isolating them and reading the display. I'm also able to see cumulative amps in and amps out over time (amp hours). This lets me know if I'm gaining or loosing in the solar game, and whether I should get conservative or not worry about it. This is my third year using this set up. No problems. I have an inverter, and that's the only thing that is connected directly to the batteries. I've used it only once.

I can vouch for the controller I use, but whatever you decide, CHECK THE SPECS. See what is listed for LOAD current.

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Old 04-16-2018, 01:04 AM   #21
Name: Richard
Trailer: Escape 21
Posts: 32
I currently don't have solar. We have a generator. Last winter at Quartzsite, I used a Victron battery monitor to see how much power we used each day. It was 40 to 50 amp hours. We use about .6 amps per hour with all optional loads off. (I think this mostly the refrigerator electronics.) We run two fans at night and have our computers, music, lights etc. I have two Interstate 6 volt batteries for a total of about 220 amp hours.

Based battery size and our usage, I am putting together a portable solar system with two 100 watt Renogy slim panels and a SunSaver 20 amp PWM controller. I picked the Renogy slim panels because they produce a higher current, which translates to more power to the battery, when using a PWM controller. I am using all 10 awg wire, which according to the tables I have seen, gives me up to 30 feet between the panels and controller. My cables will be about 25 feet long. The positive controller output will be connected to the positive battery terminal with a 20 amp fuses right next to the battery + terminal. The negative controller output will be connected to the load side of the battery monitoring shunt, allowing me to monitor the total amount of current entering or leaving the battery when using either the solar controller or converter. I will not be using the Load output of the controller. I will leave the load and converter wiring of the trailer as is with it's 40 amp fuse.

We will continue to carry our generator, since my wife requires AC in hot weather, so this solar project has been more of a fun project for me and not mandatory. The total cost will be about $500 which I am not expecting to recoup any time soon.

Rick and Vicky Reed
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