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Old 03-07-2017, 01:08 AM   #1
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Default Need advice - adding solar panels to American Crusier

Booster was good enough to explain that my 20 Watt solar panel isn't much help at all so I am considering getting a 200 Watt system. I am looking at both Renogy (https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00BCRG2...7MO6O3AV&psc=1) and WindyNation (https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00FAR76...980DCN02&psc=1) systems.

Does anyone have any experience with either of these systems? I watched a video comparing the two and it indicated that Renogy had a higher actual output.

Also, it appears they give you screws (looks like small lag bolts). Can you actually screw these into the fiberglass top? I read here where someone used Jacknuts to secure their panels to the roof.

Also, I have seen videos where guys would be standing on the roof of their RVs but I would be afraid I would crush through mine. I haven't looked at the top yet since I need a taller ladder to actually do any work up there. I'll do that before I order anything.

I assume I can kind of observe how the current panel is wired and use that as an example for wiring the new one. Could I use the same wire from my existing panel or does more power require heavier gauge wire?

I know, ,I don't know butkus about this but I will learn.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:28 PM   #2
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First advice -- don't go cheap.

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Old 03-07-2017, 12:30 PM   #3
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I would buy the mono panels instead of the poly panels. You don't save money with poly because you get less output. You have limited real estate on the roof; you want the most efficient panels up there.


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Old 03-07-2017, 12:32 PM   #4
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I would not use screws to mount the panels.

You can use 3M VHB tapes. Many people have done that. Google or check the youtube for instructional video.
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Old 03-07-2017, 04:20 PM   #5
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I understand not going with cheap just because it's cheap but I would apply the same logic to expensive. I would love to get a true comparison between brands but haven't found that yet.

Great idea on the tape mounting, I was not aware of VHB tape, really cool.

Thanks for your advice BBQ.
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Old 03-07-2017, 04:45 PM   #6
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The solar panel market is quite competitive right now.


I would pay attention more to the charge controller than the panels.

Plan ahead; how many panels do you want? now? and in the future?

How many house batteries do you have? Now? and in the future?
AGM or Lithium?

How do you want to use your RV dictates how you plan your solar/energy needs.
ie how much power do you need?
For TV+Microwave+Coffee maker+computers+cell phones+lights+... ???
For how many people? The more people you have, the more power you need.
Where do you camp? at serviced campsite with plug in?
For 4~5 day unplugged long weekends?
For 3+ week boondocking?
For year long retirement wandering?

You have just opened a whole new world.
Enjoy.

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Old 03-09-2017, 02:51 AM   #7
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If you have time for a good read.....Read Handybob's blog on solar power for RV's, when done you will KNOW what you need to do. Just type in Handybob in Google and you will find it. I did my installation using his suggestions and it works perfectly.I have 300 watts on my B and 250 watts on my little 13' trailer. And you will get a chuckle from the read... I met Bob, and he is a retired electrical engineer.
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Old 03-09-2017, 03:07 PM   #8
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It isn't a matter of cheap or expensive.

Look at the efficiency rating. The variance is cost is partly because of this. Look for panels with a rating of 19% or better. As said above, your space is at a premium, so you want to get the max out of every square inch of panel.
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Old 03-09-2017, 05:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briancummings View Post
If you have time for a good read.....Read Handybob's blog on solar power for RV's, when done you will KNOW what you need to do. Just type in Handybob in Google and you will find it. I did my installation using his suggestions and it works perfectly.I have 300 watts on my B and 250 watts on my little 13' trailer. And you will get a chuckle from the read... I met Bob, and he is a retired electrical engineer.
Handybob is a character, and most of what he says I would agree with to a large extent.

There are a few things that aren't made clear in his articles relating to how his setup was based on his use patterns, so wouldn't apply to other installations. For instance, his solar capacity vs battery bank style, vs use patterns, etc were very consistent. Most of us don't have that kind of consistency as we are moving around more (he was in a stationery), driving and getting charge from that, in good or not so good solar locations, etc, so IMO some added considerations are needed to do a good job of charging.

At the top of the list for me is having a solar controller that is controlled by amps through a shunt and properly programmed to not over or undercharge the batteries. Bod didn't have to worry much about that because his use and capacity matched well enough to take care of it. The last thing you want is for the solar to do a full timed charge cycle on your batteries when they are already full, as when the van is not being used but in the sun every day. Numerous batteries have been killed off that way that I have heard of.

In our RV type use, we also have to be very careful that the various charge methods also play well together and don't mess up each others methods of controlling charging. Solar can be a big one for that, as it is the one that is always on and will be when on shore power or driving in a normal system.
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:15 PM   #10
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I have a fixed 200 watts mono panel on roof with an MPPT 30 amp controler

added two 40 watts mobile panels with external connector ....

fixed the solar panel with brackets glued with urethane n roof .I would never puncture my roof

had this for almost two years ...lots of power

Daniel
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