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Old 11-23-2012, 07:34 PM   #1
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Default 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

We have been watching solar panel sizes and prices for a long time, waiting for panels to come along that would better fit our new roof style C190P. My last visit to the AM Solar site showed a newer panel that was only 20.5" by 40.5" in the 100 watt size and very light. Measuring showed it would fit between the Fantastic fan dome and the AC cover, alongside of the antenna. Somewhere along the line, I thought, why not go right over the AC with a bigger panel, and looked at quite a few others, but nothing really looked like it would work right, especially since the cover is not substantial enough to use for support. Closer measuring, and using some cardboard cutouts showed that two of the AM Solar panels would fit. One as described above and the other at 90 degrees to it as a "tee", over the AC cover.

We ordered two of the panels, a charge controller, monitor panel, some parts, and also decided to order a Trimetric battery monitor, as long as we had things torn apart. We made our own mounting brackets with full adjustability to fit the roof and put the panels on the same plane. The brackets screw down to the roof into 1/4-20 thread Jacknuts we put into the fibeglass. It is very solid. The wiring from the roof goes into the AC compartment, through the side of it into a gap between it and the cabinet, down to the drop ceiling below the AC. It then runs on top of that ceiling panel to the outside of the passenger side, and then down behind the wall panels to the cabinet where the existing converter and other electronics are. The charge controller and the shunt for the battery monitor both fit in that compartment, but tight. All of the battery negative cables had to be rerouted and rewired to accommodate the battery monitor. A new cable runs to the shunt from the rear seatbelt mount threaded hole now.

The charge controller is multivoltage, so it will accept up to 36 volts from the panels. This allowed me to run the panels in series (24 volts) and use smaller wire through the system (10 gauge). Access to the AC area takes about an extra 10 minutes to remove the rear panel, so no big deal there. All the wire connections are in one spot, under the rear panel and are on solar wiring connectors that simply unplug.

All of it seems to be working fine, but it hasn't been in the sun. It goes into charge mode from the shop fluorescent lights, though. I am pretty short of pix, as the camera was on vacation with DW through a lot of the work. AM Solar says these panels are of latest design and more efficient, especially in lower light conditions. They say we should be able to get about 60AH under good sun conditions and about 30 if it is lower sun or shady. If those numbers are right, we should be able to be off grid for very long times at a stretch. Our biggest use is the compressor frig that uses between 13 and 45 AH per day, depending on the conditions. We are very much looking forward to breaking the electrical tether for longer periods, although our current 4-5 days on just the batteries is not too bad the way it is.

Here is the finished overall pic



How it is next to the fan and antenna



One panel would totally clear the AC area



From the back



From the side



Wiring connections under passenger side rear panel-accessible without removing panel



Tie wrap bases on AC cover to retain wiring and connectors



Underside of rear panel showing cables



AC compartment wiring



Charge controller and shunt for monitor



Control panel mountings

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Old 11-23-2012, 08:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

Very nice. Great job on the install
I really like the look of the panels and your custom mounts keeping them on the same plane and nice and close to the roof. By the looks of it, you haven't added anything to the overall height of your Roadtrek.

200 watts is great and you fit it all in such a relatively small area.

I bet you can't wait to try it all out with the Trimetric monitoring.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

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Originally Posted by markopolo
Very nice. Great job on the install
I really like the look of the panels and your custom mounts keeping them on the same plane and nice and close to the roof. By the looks of it, you haven't added anything to the overall height of your Roadtrek.

200 watts is great and you fit it all in such a relatively small area.

I bet you can't wait to try it all out with the Trimetric monitoring.
You are correct, the overall height hasn't changed, which is very important to us. As you can see in the pics, we are very close on door and ceiling height in the shop.

We leveled the van the way we would normally have it at the campsite, from our mounted bullseye, on stands in the shop, and then used regular carpenter levels to set the height of the panels to true level.
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Old 11-23-2012, 11:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

Great job with that build. When you get everything done the way you want it, I'd like to buy that R/T from you as you move on to your next project. You are an artist in all your build jobs!
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

The mats we had been waiting for finally showed up, so I could get in and finish up the inside work after the solar install. As long as the bed was out, I decided to remove the driver side wheel well cover, as it used up some space that I could use for my foldup bike. We also decided to get rid of the rear carpet, and the horrible Roadtrek storage compartment "carpet", which looked more like speaker cover than trunk carpet,

With the wheel well cover gone, I needed to make a new support for the permanent bed, as it used to sit on and be bolted to the wheelwell cover. I coated the wheelwell and the gas fill cover with bedliner to protect them.



Adding carpet thickness made it so I had to shorten the electrical access door, and I also added some ventilation to the door and cabinet to help it with solar controller and Trimetric shunt in the there also now. The round hole pattern is right in line with the Tripplite charger/inverter, so the fan blows air directly out the holes.



We decided to use indoor entrance mat material for the carpeting. Unfortunately, they didn't make them in 6 X 6 feet so i could do it in one piece, so we got a 3 X 6 and a 3 X 5 and seamed them in the middle. They didn't do a great job with color matching, but it doesn't really matter to us as they don't show at the same time once the bed is in place.





Once the bed was back in all the way, and the tube with the awning parts back in place.





Now we should be good to go on the roof paint. Need to remove the panels, caulking, striping, sand and paint with the reflective paint. We are very eager to see how well it helps the heat build up in the van on sunny days.
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

WOW, just Wow! 2 thumbs UP/\^o^
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

Lots of storage! Front and rear access.
We put a double bed sized memory foam in place to try your permanent bed idea for few trips. If it works out I'll have to take it to the next level like you have. It would solve storage problems for sure.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Lots of storage! Front and rear access.
We put a double bed sized memory foam in place to try your permanent bed idea for few trips. If it works out I'll have to take it to the next level like you have. It would solve storage problems for sure.
We do really like it with the permanent bed. We use the bed lounger type pillows for sitting on the bed watching TV. Plenty comfortable.

The access from both inside and outside is almost a necessity when the storage gets this deep (nearly 5'). The bolster storage, that is original Roadtrek, had hinged covers already, but we changed them a bit with the new setup. We also made a big hinged access door that hinges up from inside the van. The latex mattress is flexible enough to lift with it. Bolsters have loose cushions on them.





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Old 01-24-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

I hope someone at Roadtrek sees this thread. Actually, they could probably benefit from browsing the entire TM&P section on this forum, for ideas to save space, power up better, and the rest of it. There are some pretty clever members, and their equally clever mods, on here.
Wish I had a large, heated, well lit, garage here. Oh, the fun I could have......
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: 200 watts solar on 07 C190P Roadtrek

Well, the winter that won't end still hasn't but, at least I finally got the roof paint done (long story), and everything back on to test the solar. Nice and sunny today, but only 35F. I pulled the van into the driveway at about 1:30pm to see how the solar would perform, and it actually did very well, I think. It maxed out at 10.95 amps at 13.8 volts, or 151 watts, out of the 200 watts of panel. The sun is still pretty low around here, and the panels don't tilt, so I am very happy with those numbers.

It also gave me a chance to finally test what the battery separator did when the solar was putting out well. It did as I expected, turned on, which is not really a good thing if you are trying to max out solar to your batteries. The separator coil takes between 1 and 1.5 amps, so you are throwing away about 15 watts of your solar power in the separator. It would be really bad for the folks that have the 85 watt setups. I have a cutoff switch on the separator, but it was wired to work only with van running, so I could save the batteries from the high voltage of the Chevy alternator (which is now reduced to safe), so I will have to rewire it to make it switchable all the time. The hard part is figuring how I want an indicator light to work, and then how to wire it. The separator module switches the negative side of the coil, so indicator lights are a bit tougher to get relevant.

What it looks like from the top



And a little closer



I think this is going to work out very well for us.
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