Solar Plan, What do you think? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-12-2018, 10:17 PM   #1
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Solar Plan, What do you think?

After plenty of research we have narrowed down our "solar plan." We are open to all comments, ideas, and changes. The only parts of our system we already bought are the fuse box and the MaxxAir fan.

The only things we plan on using our batteries for are what is pictured, but with maybe 3 LED lights, not just the one in the diagram.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:01 PM   #2
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There are probably many controller designs out there. Our controller only has the solar and battery ports. Our "load" circuits come directly off the battery. The installer didn't fuse anything, but I added a fuse block to the positive battery terminal.

From my perspective, you seem to have a workable plan
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Old 04-13-2018, 03:52 AM   #3
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I run a Zamp dual battery charger controller and as Dave said the load comes direct off battery. My problem is, where I have to charge each battery on separate line, I can not hook my batteries together. In doing so, I create just one big battery.
I do not have 2 batteries on trailer anyway but plan to take extra battery along and keep it charged up just in case my main battery gets too low.
I will have to change it but that only takes a minute or 2.
If there is a way to hook 2 batteries together but charge them separate please, anyone, let me know.
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Old 04-13-2018, 05:54 AM   #4
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Yes, loads on the battery. The load on the controller is usually pretty limited but I dont see the info on your controller so cant be sure. Loads (fuseblock) connected to the battery avoids those limitations. Basically wire it the same as you would with a converter, with the solar controller taking the place of the converter (or wired in parallel with a converter).
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:09 AM   #5
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Do you have a converter?
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Old 04-13-2018, 07:03 AM   #6
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Thank you all for the input! We really appreciate it!

The controller I was looking at was something like this one with the load option. If most think it is better to run directly off the battery I can adjust that for sure.

I've been looking around this morning and this one also seems like a good option and is available in the bundle pack for the solar panels. With this option, I would run the fuse box directly to the batteries.

I do not have a converter. We may end up getting a converter down the road, but we do not plan on connecting to shore power. We have never stayed in an RV park or a campsite with hookups and we don't plan on doing that anytime soon. We also will not be taking her out for more than a couple days at a time. This is very much a starter plan for our electricity and eventually, we may add an inverter as well, but right now since we were originally backpackers and campers, any kind of electrical upgrades like having lights and a fan is not a necessity, but a luxury. We know it would be helpful to have the option to connect to shore power, but for the near-term, we are sticking with a solar only setup.

Do you all think the 30amp fuses are appropriate/needed? I've seen some systems use them and others do not.
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Old 04-13-2018, 01:30 PM   #7
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solar plan, what do you think?

Very workable and well thought out.. However take all of your loads off the battery as the load terminals on your controller probably will only handle about 5 Amps at best. The 30 Amp capacity refers only to the solar input to the batteries. For a small set up like this a PWM controller is more than adequate, just buy a good one! The controller terminal is usually used to to control a relay for a yard light or similar. Use suitable fuses or breakers.

I see that you have no provision for an inverter and that's OK. If you don't plan on any AC consumption then you don't need a converter either. Schumacher makes a couple of great "smart" chargers that can be plugged into shore power to supplement your Solar as required! Way less expensive than a converter and considerably kinder to your batteries. Make sure that all of your cables have tinned connectors and use grease, you will considerably reduce the inevitable corrosion.

While gel cells are maintenance free that only applies to the battery itself and unfortunately you end up tossing a battery that just needs a pint of water. No, you don't have to carry battery acid. I've been using bottled water for years! For the same price and the minor inconvenience of maintaining the the cables and electrolyte you could get a couple of GC2 6 volt flooded units that will give about double the performance. Cheers. W.
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Old 04-13-2018, 01:41 PM   #8
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workhorsed,

Thank you! Great advice on the "smart charger"

I'm looking at this charge controller now and will plan on running the load straight from the batter to the fuse box.

I'm also playing with the idea of using a 12V battery instead of two 6V to save on weight and space, but I still need to work on a pro/con list for that decision.
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Old 04-13-2018, 01:46 PM   #9
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Looks like over kill to me.
I get by easily with a 74 map hour battery and a 65 watt solar panel that I use about every 4 days when I'm out more that 4 days.
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Old 04-13-2018, 02:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Looks like over kill to me.
I get by easily with a 74 map hour battery and a 65 watt solar panel that I use about every 4 days when I'm out more that 4 days.
I agree. We have a group 24 AGM battery, 60 watt solar, a 6 amp Morningstar PWM controller and a charge line from the truck. Load is a few LEDs, a fan, a water pump, and we might charge a few things. Less than 10 AMP-HRS per day. The trailer came with a converter we only use if we are forced to take a site with power. If it died tomorrow I would not replace it. We camp at least 50 days a season with no issues.

Some turn this into a hobby. Both Byron and I are retired EE's and did it for a living. We tend to keep things simple.
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Old 04-13-2018, 02:44 PM   #11
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I agree. We have a group 24 AGM battery, 60 watt solar, a 6 amp Morningstar PWM controller and a charge line from the truck. Load is a few LEDs, a fan, a water pump, and we might charge a few things. Less than 10 AMP-HRS per day. The trailer came with a converter we only use if we are forced to take a site with power. If it died tomorrow I would not replace it. We camp at least 50 days a season with no issues.

Some turn this into a hobby. Both Byron and I are retired EE's and did it for a living. We tend to keep things simple.
Ya any my solar system is probably the simplest and easiest system I've ever designed.
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wxmixte View Post
After plenty of research we have narrowed down our "solar plan." We are open to all comments, ideas, and changes. The only parts of our system we already bought are the fuse box and the MaxxAir fan.

The only things we plan on using our batteries for are what is pictured, but with maybe 3 LED lights, not just the one in the diagram.

Thanks everyone!
Ashley,

Although the batteries may be more than you need as Raz and Byron noted, the Fantastic and MaxAir fans consume a fair amount of power. I suggest looking into a little PWM motor speed controller for the fan.

This is not a PWM controller for the solar charging circuitry, but is something that allows the fan to run at a slower speed with a lower current draw. They run about $10 or so on eBay; you can search there for "pwm speed controller".

Running the MaxAir at a lower speed can provide adequate ventilation or cooling in some conditions, especially if you are strategic in arranging how the air enters the trailer so it can flow where it will do the most good.

I believe a PWM drive would help you conserve your battery capacity. That might give you the ability to use or perhaps even install less. It can also result in the fan running quieter, and extend the mechanical life as the fan will sometimes be able to run at a slower speed.
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:36 AM   #13
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Ashley,

Although the batteries may be more than you need as Raz and Byron noted, the Fantastic and MaxAir fans consume a fair amount of power. I suggest looking into a little PWM motor speed controller for the fan.

This is not a PWM controller for the solar charging circuitry, but is something that allows the fan to run at a slower speed with a lower current draw. They run about $10 or so on eBay; you can search there for "pwm speed controller".

Running the MaxAir at a lower speed can provide adequate ventilation or cooling in some conditions, especially if you are strategic in arranging how the air enters the trailer so it can flow where it will do the most good.

I believe a PWM drive would help you conserve your battery capacity. That might give you the ability to use or perhaps even install less. It can also result in the fan running quieter, and extend the mechanical life as the fan will sometimes be able to run at a slower speed.
The fan only consumes power if you run it. I purchased a Constant Breeze fan (fantastic fan not permanently installed) which I've owned for almost as long as I've owned the trailer (12+ years). It's been used maybe twice for a couple hours. No problem with the battery. With the 3 windows over the bed open there's enough air circulation to keep it cool at night. The only time that didn't happen was once in Death Valley when low at night was all the way down to 80°F.
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Old 04-14-2018, 01:00 AM   #14
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There's always several ways to approach things. One way is the over kill way which can be expensive in both money and time. My preferred way when it comes to trailers is camp for a while and evaluate the results in the needs and wants area. Progress in this manner until you have the complete system that works well for you.
I can tell what works for me, but we are a retired couple that heads south in the winter and back north in the summer. Usually our camping stays are minimum 4 nights and a maximum 100 nights. We've found that 4 days or less the solar panel isn't needed.
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