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Old 12-23-2010, 08:25 PM   #1
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Default AMsolar RV100-22B on Roadtrek 190versatile

This is a quick review of the AM Solar RV100-22B solar system.

I spend an extreme amount of time in my Roadtrek as my home away from home. In 11 months after purchasing it brand new, I found the batteries in it were shot. So I went about searching for new batteries, and decided on Deka AGM batteries found at local wholesale battery warehouse (industrial part of town), I replaced the two coach batteries with new Group 27 batteries and the engine compartment battery with a Group 31. I also replaced the engine compartment isolator with a Samlex Battery Guard 40 which will keep the engine battery connected until it drops to 12v then auto disconnect. This effectively makes 295 amp-hours available. I have also previously installed an Onan EC-30 (energy command) that will auto start the generator at 12.2v (or when the A/C cycles on) and recharge the batteries; I'll review this later. So now on to the Solar....

AM Solar is a great group of stand up guys. Pre-sales they were patient to answer all my questions and provide multiple quotes.
I initially wanted the 150watt solar panel but shipping is an extra $250, and after extensive measuring it really won't fit.
I settled on the 100watt system.

The solar panel
The panel itself is in a nice aluminum frame; but the panel portion looks flimsy, maybe all solar panels are this way; never done any prior solar. The foot mounts are sturdy stainless but made to mount to the ends of the panel, no biggy - I just drilled new holes on the side frames to mount the panel so it will pivot up allowing access to the A/C cover. I skeptically mounted to the roof with the 3M VHB tape and have had no problems, seems very sturdy. The panel fits nicely behind the fantastic vent, it is centered, does not obstruct operation of the TV antenna, and sits no higher than the fantastic vent.

The wiring
The wiring supplied with the system is top notch, heavy grade. I opted for the 6 gauge upgrade from the charge controller to battery. I drilled a hole in the A/C cover then another hole near where the A/C power routes inside the van. Silicone to everything and walla, no leaks. Inside the van I used expandable wire braid for abrasion resistance opting not to apply it to the outside wiring to maintain a good silicone seal. Heavy fuse supplied. Option of $65 breaker but I am installing a 30amp auto-reset breaker I got from grainger in place of the fuse ( $5 ). Connections to the charge controller are heavy with screw terminals.

Charge Controller
Very nicely done. Easy to setup and use. Basically find the mounting location; for me I chose the rear closet where the speaker selector is located. Cut the hole, connect the wires, mount the controller. Temperature compensation cable is supplied to run to the battery and auto adjust charge voltage for battery temp. On a bright sunny day turn a potentiometer to where you achieve max charging amps. DONE. Upon using, note the Charge controller stays on all the time unless you switch it off; continually drawing power at night. A better design would include auto on when voltage was sensed from the Solar Panel input.


Overall Opinion
Well designed system with the exceptions noted above. It is winter time but I see about 4.2amps for 4 hours a day on a bright sunny day. It can by no means provide the power replacement for my daily boondocking. I have however found that it works great as a trickle charger. I often run the generator in the morning while making my coffee providing a bulk fill on the battery bank in 30-45mins. Then during the day while at work the solar system tops off the batteries so you don't shortcycle your expensive battery bank. We'll see if next summer the solar system keeps up better but in my hot-humid climate it will be moot as the generator runs quite often to keep the coach cool.

The cost of the solar system itself came out to $865.

Don't have my camera now, but will try to provide pictures later.

Till next time,
-Chip
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Old 12-24-2010, 04:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: AMsolar RV100-22B on Roadtrek 190versatile

Uh, WOW!
Impressed by all three mods, Samlex EG40 in place of the isolator, the Onan EC 30 to
auto-start (and stop?) your genset, oh, and that little solar project?
M.I.T. grad by any chance?
Were all 3 mods done by or was assistance provided by AM Solar? Their website looks
pretty concise and they talk a good game. Oregon, just off I-5? Jeez I was just out there
in September/October. Wish I'd known.
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