I Installed a Solar Panel for my Lil Snoozy - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-26-2016, 01:04 PM   #21
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This article date of 2012, there has been much progress in this area for 4 years.
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Old 04-26-2016, 04:44 PM   #22
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This article date of 2012, there has been much progress in this area for 4 years.
Problem is that unless a person is very knowledgeable about the different type of solar panels available, it would be very easy to buy one of the old types where the slightest bit of shade lowers the panel's performance.

I remember once while camped in the desert near Yuma, I could pass my hand over the front of a very large solar panel and watch the meter output drop greatly!

so I mounted my two 75 watt panels on the roof of my RV.

Bill
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Old 04-26-2016, 06:19 PM   #23
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This article date of 2012, there has been much progress in this area for 4 years.
Went with one of the first ones in Google. Read a couple more, efficiency has gone up, manufacturing processes have improved. The thing to remember is by-pass ability cost, the better the panel handles a hard shadow the more the panel will cost. Not sure Amazon is going to make it easy to tell how well the ones they sell will handle this situation.

The observation that a hazy day that avoided a hard shadow actually produced more output than a full sun with a hard shadow across the panel is telling in regards to how well they will work under a shade tree.

I'm not even sure why we would discuss the relative merits of having a solar panel in the shade under a tree. Just not a good place for it.

Now charging from solar while traveling makes sense especially if one is dependent on 12 volt for refrigeration and as I noted I can leave the camper in the shade and park the TV in the sun to hook up for a recharge. Or one can do as Bill has done provide plenty of surplus output from the panels on the roof.

If 100 watt panel would be plenty having two 75 watt means that you have considerable margin of error and are making the most of early and late sun that might be at an angle to come under the shade tree. Push comes to shove you can pull the trailer out into the sun for 4 hours and add a lot of amp hours back into the battery with a pair of 75 or 100 watt panels on the roof.

Me I don't need a lot of power but given a choice between a 40 watt with legs that is portable but has to be stored in the camper or a 100 watt on the car roof I would totally go with the car roof. Car is after all portable too.

Not worried about theft, panel is not enough money to really get worked up over, battery cost more and sits right there on the tongue, and I seldom am gone long enough to make for a good opportunity.

Worse case I stow it inside. The roof rack mount should not be hard to remove if I was going to be leaving the car someplace for a day while sight seeing or what have you. Not to mention catching a sneak thief and giving them a few good whacks with a chunk of firewood is not going to ruin my day in the least. Matter of fact I would put it right up there with picking wild berries for recreation value.
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Old 04-26-2016, 06:50 PM   #24
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shading some of the individual cells inside the panel can really flatten output.
I just received a portable panel system (will be posting a review soon) and have been playing with it. It is two 50 watt panels hinged together with an attached controller. It is impressive to see the output when it is directed straight on to the Sun. Each panel has 12 "cells" for a total of 24. Holding my hand over just one cell dropped output by 40%.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:39 PM   #25
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It appears from your photograph that the Morningstar solar controller is placed inside your sealed battery box. This is not considered best practices and in some locations against code. The reason are: with flooded batteries, they will from time to time emit corrosive vapors, they will circulate inside the box, even with your fan, and shorten the life of the electronics. Also these vapors can be highly flammable and there is a risk of spark from the electronics, thus best practices is 500 mm separation of any kind of lead battery and your electronics.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:20 PM   #26
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When they refer to a bypass diode, they mean for one panel at a time. These are meant to be in an array. Usually in series. Each individual solar cell is like a battery. Each one makes about 0.5v. When you get a single 100w panel it will have about 36 cells (depending if it is meant for charging batteries with a controller or if it meant for grid tie systems. Those have more cells and higher volts.)

Since each cell is in series, blocking one single cell will kill the whole panel. The bypass diode is installed across the outputs of the entire panel, not per cell or even string.
This way when one of your panels gets shaded it won't take out the whole series array of panels. In parallel configurations there is no need for this. Series is more efficient and allows you to use MPPT(Multi Point Power Tracking) controllers to get the most out of your solar setup. Even moon light will charge your batteries with series of 2+ panels and MPPT. (No joke!)

If you place a single quarter over one of your cells you will reduce the output of your entire panel by the percentage of that one cell that was blocked. It acts just as if you placed one quarter on EVERY cell. Solar cells do not pass current without light. In-fact, the CONSUME energy when in the dark. This is why there is an anti reversing diode installed to keep the panels from draining what they are connected to at night.

If there were a diode for each and every cell it would mean that you would lose only 0.5 volts per cell shadowed. However encapsulating a diode into the panel per cell would be very difficult. Each cell makes the full amp rating of the panel at 0.5v. This means you need a fairly beefy diode, AND it's only 0.5v. Which means the forward voltage of the diode would cause so much loss that it wouldn't be worth it. You might save some power if a cell were blocked, but you would loose so much at all other times that it would be a moot point.


Whiiiiiich brings me nicely to the next point. Mounting the panels on the roof is always going to be your best bet. Having a panel to move around with the sun when parked under trees is ideal, but if you could only have one go for the roof mount. The reason is like the diodes per cell thing. With the roof mount you are getting to charge more often, you can have more total watts, and you will be more likely to have a full battery once you get to that nice shady spot under the trees. Chasing the sunlight that breaks through the tree cover all day isn't fun, and solar panels are large and hard to deal with. They also like to grow legs and walk away if you know what I mean.

Even worse, you would need a long run of cables to be able to have a remote panel. Long cables with low voltage DC is a terrible idea. Especially when dealing with solar. Sure you are powering a battery and therefore there is voltage present on both sides of the line. This reduces the effect of ohm's law in a simplified perspective. The calculated loss between the charge controller and the battery is no longer the full 14 volts vs amps, but rather the difference between the battery and the output of the controller instead which is only a few volts. Between the array and the controller is actually more important overall for this reason.

Also, Paul is absolutely right. Never install the controller inside the battery box with flooded cells. AGM or lithium etc are good to go though.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:42 PM   #27
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Here are my Renogy panels mounted on my Scamp 16 deluxe.
I used stainless steel hardware to mount them. The Renogy Z brackets work great for a Scamp roof. They simply flex to follow the curve without issue. I drilled right through the roof like a boss, no fear. These will never leak with how I sealed them, and I can just glass or marine epoxy the holes back if I ever wanted.
I made a ring of butyl rubber around each hole before placing the panels and brackets over top. I also put another around the bolt head and washer before tightening it down with my 1/4 impact. Snapped one clean off to find the max torque these bolts could take and tightened them all to just a bit less.
On the inside I used stainless washers and stainless nylock nuts. You cannot remove the panels from the outside because the nylocks would just spin.
I don't want my panels to go for a walk when I am not looking.

I kept the brackets near(ish) the ridges in the roof for strength.
I had to drill new holes in the panel frame for the second panel to clear the first tightly. the third will use the stock mounting points.

On the inside I am replacing all of the insulation with poly iso foam boards. The bubble wrap stuff is pathetic. I marked the location of the fasteners using orange tape on the underside of the boards should I ever want to remove the panels. This way I can cut a circle out of the foam cleanly without having to tear the whole thing down looking. The original "rat fur" marine carpet will go back over top of the boards.
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Old 04-27-2016, 07:42 AM   #28
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Dan, Gilles and Kenji,

Nice work!

Gilles, you Will tell us if your panel flies off on the highway, won't you?

My solution to shade (and shorter days) was adding another panel. It was the least expensive way to compensate for less than ideal conditions. I, too, have found that cloudy days are better for energy production than shade. Something about photon diffusion. Don't ask me for proof.

One thing to keep in mind. Dirty panels will also reduce performance. Clean em up once in a while.

Gordon
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Old 04-27-2016, 08:40 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Gordon in Idaho View Post
Dan, Gilles and Kenji,

Nice work!

Gilles, you Will tell us if your panel flies off on the highway, won't you?
Gordon
Yes I'll tell you,
But I'm sure it will stay secure.
There is only the thickness of the panel that is working against the wind, about 1.5 inches high by 2 feet wide.

You watched videos on the subject, to fix the panel with 3M VHB tape RP25?
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:42 AM   #30
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It appears from your photograph that the Morningstar solar controller is placed inside your sealed battery box. This is not considered best practices and in some locations against code. The reason are: with flooded batteries, they will from time to time emit corrosive vapors, they will circulate inside the box, even with your fan, and shorten the life of the electronics. Also these vapors can be highly flammable and there is a risk of spark from the electronics, thus best practices is 500 mm separation of any kind of lead battery and your electronics.
Paul,
I agree that there is always a risk when battery vapors and electronics are mixed, even when the electronics are sealed and and the box is ventilated. I do plan on replacing the 12V lead acid with an AGM battery but I'm have difficulties figuring out what the minimum size amp hour battery I would need.
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Old 05-19-2016, 07:33 AM   #31
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Hello - just doing the same with my Trillium 1300. Where did you route the wires from the panel inside to the controller? Thanks.
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Old 05-19-2016, 08:15 AM   #32
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Hello - just doing the same with my Trillium 1300. Where did you route the wires from the panel inside to the controller? Thanks.
Patrick,
I routed the wires from the Solar Panel thru the back hatch of my Highlander and out the bottom of the vehicle to the 7 Way Connector.
I used 2 of the pin connectors on the Highlander's 7 way connector for the Solar Panel Cables to the correspondence pins on the trailer 7 way connector to the charge controller in the battery box on the tongue of the trailer.
Hope that answers what you asked.
Dan

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Old 05-19-2016, 08:42 AM   #33
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This has been a very informative and interesting thread on solar for me. Got me wondering about my home-boy built portable solar system, pictured here. My Morningstar is inside tongue box very close to the batteries because my understanding is the shorter the connection the better. No explosions yet, probably because of a battery box cover.
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:08 AM   #34
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I'm taking the advice of some here who felt having a charge controller close to a lead acid battery was unsafe, even with what I felt was sufficient ventilation. I bought two 12V Group 24 75Ah rated AGM batteries to replace my 84Ah rated lead acid battery. An extra 66lbs on the the tongue will be the trade off for an extra 66 amp hours, maintenance free and safer.
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Old 05-19-2016, 11:27 PM   #35
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short and close....

both are very relative terms.....I remember pouring over wire size charts to make ABSOLUTELY sure I was using the correct wire size....then it hit me....for a certain length the difference between one wire size to the next was TWO PERCENT !!! so, really, get close, pick something that is easy/practical to work with and don't sweat the small stuff.....too much I say anyway

when "they" say a controller should be located as "close as possible" to the batteries.....you think maybe they are thinking about a 40 foot MoHo....and not a fourteen foot inside FG box???? just wonderin'

interesting take on mounting the panels on the nice flat roof of the TV....wouldn't work too well for me as I like to park the trailer somewhere and go exporing in the TV during the day....but I could see how it would be tempting...given a particular usual use....
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Old 05-20-2016, 01:51 AM   #36
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[QUOTE=Franswa;588322]both are very relative terms.....I remember pouring over wire size charts to make ABSOLUTELY sure I was using the correct wire size....then it hit me....for a certain length the difference between one wire size to the next was TWO PERCENT !!! so, really, get close, pick something that is easy/practical to work with and don't sweat the small stuff.....too much I say anyway when "they" say a controller should be located as "close as possible" to the batteries.....you think maybe they are thinking about a 40 foot MoHo....and not a fourteen foot inside FG box???? just wonderin' QUOTE]


Franswa, I think you've hit it on the head for the majority of FG campers. I only boondock and use an 80W suitcase unit I bought at the Quartzsite rally two years ago. Refer's on LP, no TV or computers but do charge the cell phones and have never had a problem with keeping the battery topped off. Now maybe if I had a bunch more gizmos to power up......
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Old 05-20-2016, 04:11 PM   #37
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To be sure not to mislead anyone, I wrote to you the internet link with which I was inspired to install a solar panel on a fiberglass roof.
Add to this link, some comments from members of the Forum who have already experienced a few years ...

Mounts — AM Solar
Now all they need are keyed cylinder locks on the large wing nuts to help prevent the casual theft opportunity.
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Old 05-23-2016, 03:03 PM   #38
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casual theft ???

first a guy would have to get on the roof (AFTER having determined FROM THE GROUND that there is no locks on the panels)....then he'd have to figure out how to work the fasteners....and deal with the wire.....nothing casual about all of that I'm thinking....if somebody is that intent on getting those panels little locks aren't going to make that much difference....just sayin'....I for one would feel pretty comfortable with that set-up security wise....and locks would just make tilting them a little more work to boot
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Old 05-23-2016, 04:01 PM   #39
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[QUOTE=Franswa;588322]both are very relative terms.....I remember pouring over wire size charts to make ABSOLUTELY sure I was using the correct wire size....then it hit me....for a certain length the difference between one wire size to the next was TWO PERCENT !!! so, really, get close, pick something that is easy/practical to work with and don't sweat the small stuff.....too much I say anyway[QUOTE]

I assume you are talking about voltage drop. It has been a long time since I have done any voltage drop calcs so I cannot outright dispute your statement, but I would love to see some evidence backing it up..
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:12 PM   #40
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sure....

http://assets.bluesea.com/files/reso...on_chartlg.jpg

my trailer is 14 feet inside....runs are short....amps are low....the top left hand corner of the chart....
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