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Old 06-14-2015, 02:33 PM   #1
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp 16 Modified (BIGLY)
Florida
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Question on planning for Solar

I have a question for those who have installed solar in their eggs.
I am looking into one or more Renology flexible panels and perhaps a Bogart charge controller and battery monitor.
My question is if you have a on-board battery charging system is there a way to automatically switch from the AC powered charger to the Solar when conditions permit?
I want to leave the two systems active and let the "Best" one win.
Since I have a swing compressor refrigerator and it lives better running I want to keep the 12 Volt system charged and ready if I am parked with power or parked in the sunlight and not plugged in for a good while. I don't want to be able to forget to switch from solar to AC or back and have the batteries run down.
I talked with the Guy from Bogart about the charger and would it regulate the charge from a ac powered charger like it would from the higher voltages from a solar panel system.
Any ideas?
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:18 PM   #2
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My understanding is if you leave the trailers converter/charger on, it fakes out the solar to think the batteries are full by always supplying 13.6 volts or some such. Normal operation is the solar is always on, the converter/charger is on whenever you are plugged in. I have the Bogart Controller and monitor and that's what it looks like to me.

Don't know about swing compressor refrigerators.

Your last sentence is confusing, what did Ralph at Bogart tell you?
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:28 PM   #3
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Name: Steve
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Solar

I have a roof mount 50 watt panel and an 80 watt portable with a Steca pr1010 controller. The roof mounted panel and the controller is always engaged with the battery and the converter . I don't mess with it when I plug in.

I'm curious as to why you are getting the flexible as opposed to the panel with a frame. My roof top panel is attached with VHB tape. No screws! Panels with no air under them have less output as temperature goes up and that happens whenever the sun shines.
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:44 PM   #4
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Perhaps the flexible on the Scamp is not the best, butI envisioned the things wrapping over the curved part of the roof, but I haven't tried drapinga flexible panel ove it yet.
As to the question on talking with Bogart the questions was would his controller work to control the charge from a converter (not solar panel) to properly charge the battery. He thought for a minute and said he didn't know why not.
The thought I had at the time was that I could get a better charge controller from a basic stupid power supply feeding the Bogart system. Then perhaps I could come up with an automatic switch to swap the solar to AC when plugged in.
I could increase the output voltage of the power supply to mimic the high level output of the solar array when on AC.
The monitor would still give the power in and out of the battery and the state of charge. I could install this part while I decide what to do about the actual solar panels.
I know a little about electricity, but I haven't worked with solar power yet and a little experience goes a long way.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:31 PM   #5
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Name: Anne
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Has anyone used a trailer plug connector (see http://www.amazon.com/Go-Power-Trail...QX326X7PBPHCYW) to connect a solar panel to the trailer? Would a separate controller be needed if this were the connection method? I'm asking from nearly complete ignorance!

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Old 06-14-2015, 09:52 PM   #6
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Anne,

You need a controller since the voltage from the panels will be somewhere around 14 to 18 volts. You can’t send that directly to the battery because it will ruin it. The voltage has to be dropped to about 14.4 volts maximum to the battery. That is done with a controller.

The trailer plug connector you found could be made to work but it’s expensive and you don't want to run the power from the panels directly to the battery through the 7-blade connector. I used an RV Panel Connector from this site:

73 SAE Connectors, Plugs, Sockets & Cords

Scroll down to item “E”. They were $5.00 each. I see from their site that they are currently out of stock until late June. I ran the red and black wires from the Panel Connector to the controller "Solar Panel" positive and negative terminals. Then ran 10 gauge red and black wires from the controller "To Battery" terminals to the corresponding positive and negative battery terminals. I put fuses in the red (positive) wires leading to the controller as well as the one from the controller to the battery.

I didn’t buy the SAE connectors from them but bought 5 sets of 10 gauge wire for $15 from:

5 10 Gauge 2 Pin Quick Disconnect Wire Harness SAE Connectors | eBay

You will need the 5 sets of connectors. One at the panels, one on the end of the extension cord from panels to camper, one on other end of extension cord to the connector at the camper. You will have to be careful that you use the right connector end. You want the red positive terminal at the panels to be covered because they are producing power and it’s a live terminal, and the corresponding end on the extension cord to have red positive terminal exposed. Likewise, the RV Panel Connector has the red terminal exposed inside the cap. Therefore you have to solder a connector with the red covered on the end of the extension cord coming from the panel. Just make sure the positive red connector is covered in the right places.

You can see the panel I made to hold the two RV Panel Connectors and welded to the front hitch of the Scamp. One is labeled BATTERY and the other is labeled SOLAR PANEL. The BATTERY Panel Connector next to it is for the power cable coming from the tow vehicle to the battery to charge it while traveling since I don't have a 7-blade connector, and as an auxiliary external 12v power source for a future mod. Need another three SAE connectors for that: one on TV and one on each end of a 5-foot cord from the TV to the RV Panel Connector.

I will do a posting of my system one of these days! You can see all the photos in one of my albums, but I haven't done the descriptions for them yet.

If something here was not clear, just ask.

Jim
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Old 06-15-2015, 04:45 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by neparker View Post
Has anyone used a trailer plug connector (see Robot Check) to connect a solar panel to the trailer? Would a separate controller be needed if this were the connection method? I'm asking from nearly complete ignorance!

-- Anne


Sent from my iPad using Fiberglass RV
If you are talking about using a portable solar panel like the folding sets with an attached controller, you could pickup a male trailer plug and connect the panel to pins 1 (gnd) and 4 (12v).

One way or the other, you do need a controller/charger, whether it's the one mounted on the panel or one you put in the trailer.
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Old 06-15-2015, 04:55 AM   #8
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JD, did you get answers to your questions?

I've not heard of anyone feeding 12v from a converter, charger, or a power supply, into a solar controller inputs but it sounds like it'd work, if you can find something that puts out the right voltage level. To some extent it depends on what your batteries are. You set the Bogart controller for the battery type, the controller then outputs the correct voltage to the batteries as long as the input voltage is high enough. Might need diodes on the inputs.
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Old 06-15-2015, 06:51 AM   #9
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Name: Anne
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Thank you for the responses to my question. Much clearer now.

--- Anne


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Old 06-15-2015, 09:14 AM   #10
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Name: Bruce
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Bruce & Ellyn

I'm trying to do the same thing with our Scamp 5th wheel. Can someone post a wiring diagram? That would be most helpful. I was actually thinking of putting a second deep cycle battery above the first one. Has anyone designed a bracket system? If I do ...do I need to have the same batteries and how do I keep both batteries charged? Do I need to switch back and forth with charging and usage? How many Solar watts to charge various amp hour batteries? I really like being the SECOND person to do something.
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin00 View Post
JD, did you get answers to your questions?

I've not heard of anyone feeding 12v from a converter, charger, or a power supply, into a solar controller inputs but it sounds like it'd work,
Can you explain how it might work? - perhaps a diagram - equipment suggestions. I am like the others I have an onboard converter and charger as well as a solar panel with its own controller. But like others I have always assumed that when plugged into power the onboard charge system somehow convinces the solar panel controller that its got the job in hand and the solar no longer feeds the battery while plugged in. Only way to allow the solar to take full control of charging the battery is to unplug the trailer.

If there is a way to allow both to work or if in fact they both do actually work at the same time would love to know how or how to make it be able to do that. As been stated the onboard charge system does take longer to charge the battery than the solar on a good sunny day.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:43 AM   #12
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Name: Fallon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
As to the question on talking with Bogart the questions was would his controller work to control the charge from a converter (not solar panel) to properly charge the battery. He thought for a minute and said he didn't know why not.
The thought I had at the time was that I could get a better charge controller from a basic stupid power supply feeding the Bogart system. Then perhaps I could come up with an automatic switch to swap the solar to AC when plugged in.
I could increase the output voltage of the power supply to mimic the high level output of the solar array when on AC.
The monitor would still give the power in and out of the battery and the state of charge. I could install this part while I decide what to do about the actual solar panels.
I know a little about electricity, but I haven't worked with solar power yet and a little experience goes a long way.
Sweet idea. Crank up the voltage on your dumb converter then attach it to the solar panel inputs on your charge controller. Instant smart converter. I'm planning on solar eventually, so this sounds like a great temporary stepping stone. An upgrade to my dumb controller for now & parts for solar later.

Just need to figure out if you can run real solar & converter power as inputs at the same time.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Fallon View Post
Sweet idea. Crank up the voltage on your dumb converter then attach it to the solar panel inputs on your charge controller. Instant smart converter..
So how many amps does the built in charger on one of the popular converters such as the PD many use actually put out ?

What amp rating would be needed on the solar controller to play it safe if for example if one had a simple 100w solar panel & the PD converter/charger running through it?
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:28 PM   #14
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A PD4045 tops out at 30@ on either 12v or 120v, or at least that's what the fuses & breakers are set to (12v * 30@ = 360 watts & 120v * 30@ = 3600 watts, so the converter tops out at providing 10% of the total system capacity). The Bogart Engineering SC-2030 Solar Charger controller will handle up to 30@ panel current (and if you drive it with more than 30 it will just limit things to 30 nicely without damage).

Mighty Mini All-In-One System AC/DC Power Distribution Panel and Inteli-Power Converter
SC-2030 Solar Charger — 30 Amps Max- 12 or 24V PWM type | Bogart Engineering
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Old 06-15-2015, 04:30 PM   #15
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Name: JD
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There are two things involved and these are amps (current) and voltage. The current rating might be 30 amps but it will not flow until the voltage is high enough in relation to the impedance of the load. For example if you have a battery charged to 12 volta amd place a power supply with an output of 10 volts no current would flow into the battery.
If that voltage applied was 15 volts then current would flow. The amount would be determined by the load state of the battery and it's state of charge.
I think that the Bogart charge controller (and battery monitor) would take any source of charging current at a high enough voltage and pulse width modulate it to properly charge the battery. A MPPT controller would be slightly more efficient since it would find the optimum voltage and current for the panel as well. I don't think this would do any good for us , but it might since I think it can increase the output voltage if it has to to charge the battery.
Given enough voltage you could use diodes to automaticallytransfer to the on board charger if the solar was not producing power or more likely if the system were plugged in and available. The typical voltage drop across a diode is 0.6 volts so there would be this loss in any circuit using them. The 12 volt converter could engage a relay or contactor as well. The losses in the coil would be negligible when under shore power.
After the basic battery monitor and controller are done then the solar panels can be added at any time.
I will see if I can draw up some doodles for the electrical systems when I get a chance,
Right now I am hoping someone who had doen it or knows more than I do about solar and eggs chimes in. As above I would like to be second or third.
Also if you are waiting on me I am th the stage in my rebuild that I am finishing up cabinets, tops beds and A/C and the batteryes and charging are n the future.
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:41 PM   #16
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Question on planning for Solar

If you are plugged in why would you care if the solar system was charging?

Just leave solar controller and battery charger both connected to the battery. Do not connect the chargers output to the input of the solar controller. The battery will always be fully charged when you are plugged in, the solar controller won't do anything. When you are not plugged in the battery charger will be 'off' even if connected to the battery and the only charging will be from the panel.

My system has been wired like this for two years, works fine.


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Old 06-15-2015, 09:57 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by MCDenny View Post
If you are plugged in why would you care if the solar system was charging?

Just leave solar controller and battery charger both connected to the battery. Do not connect the chargers output to the input of the solar controller. The battery will always be fully charged when you are plugged in, the solar controller won't do anything. When you are not plugged in the battery charger will be 'off' even if connected to the battery and the only charging will be from the panel.

My system has been wired like this for two years, works fine.


Denny Wolfe
Wanderingourway.wordpress.com
Denny I think the issue is that in some situations the Solar can do a faster/better job of charging. In those situation one could simple unplug from power and let the solar do its thing but I think what some want not to have to do that as they might forget to plug back in at night.
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Old 06-16-2015, 06:18 AM   #18
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I posed the question on another rv technical forum, results came down pretty solidly on the "do not do it" side. The long and the short of it was that you can damage the solar controller and maybe the converter. Best plan may be to get a decent multi stage converter/charger and hook it and the solar controller up in parallel to the battery/s.

FWIW, the most I've gotten out of a single 160W 8.6A panel on a sunny summer day if 50A total here in Western MA during some testing I did last July. If I start a sunny day with more then a 50A deficit I can't recover in a day whereas I can if I were to use hookups. In this instance our WFCO 55 amp converter is faster as the charge day is longer and I can get more then 8 amps an hour out of it. Adding another panel would obviously speed up charge time via solar.
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Old 06-16-2015, 06:48 AM   #19
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Denny I think the issue is that in some situations the Solar can do a faster/better job of charging. In those situation one could simple unplug from power and let the solar do its thing but I think what some want not to have to do that as they might forget to plug back in at night.

You can leave them both hooked up all the time.


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Old 06-16-2015, 12:04 PM   #20
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You can leave them both hooked up all the time.


Denny Wolfe
www.wanderingourway.wordpress.com
Yes Denny I am well aware of that and that is how mine has been set up for a number of years now BUT as you can see from comments above some people want to the solar to actually do the charging when they are plugged into power rather the on board charge system taking over as it does and they don't want to have to hit a switch to do it!
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