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Old 08-01-2013, 01:10 PM   #1
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Default Solar panel install on my 189FBS

Here are some shots of my solar panel and controller install on my 189FBS. The panels were sent to me by the good people at HQRP.COM for testing purposes . They sent two 85 watt panels, a 10 and a 20 amp charger controller, and all the necessary cabling to give this atry!

I installed one panel in a fixed position on the roof so that I could always have some sort of solar charging running on the trailer regardless of where it's parked. I then built a storage unit for the second panel in the pass through storage so that I can pull the second one out and use it if I wanted extra capacity or was in an area without much sunlight.

I pulled the provided weather tight power cables down from the roof via the refrigerator vent and down in the under bed storage where the water tank and water heater reside:





I made custom aluminum Z mount brackets with a 2 1/2" offset so there would be ample ventilation to keep heat down and moisture from accumulating underneath. Everything was fastened down with stainless steel hardware to avoid and metal-to-metal corrosion. Here is the final install on the roof:



Here is the is the custom panel tray I built and mounted to the ceiling of the pass through. The tray made from 1/4 MDF and aluminum angle on the side to provide the most support at the lowest profile. Anything that touches the panel uses stainless hardware to avoid corrosion:





Here are some shots with the panel installed and dropping down so that it can be slid out for usage:







This is the 20 amp solar controller. I made some custom brackets to hold the connectors for attaching the portable panel. I have an additional 12' set of power cords that plug into the panel and then connect to the connectors in the top:



I just installed everything and will give it a good test with a short stint of dry camping in a couple of weeks. I am fairy confident that this will let me go some time without needing to plug in or run a generator.

I have started collecting some data and the panels seem to be pretty solid in terms of performance. I used a variety of resistors and a LUX meter to plot the performance of the panel. It looks like the peak operating point in direct mid-day sunlight around 70 watts, 14.9 volts, and 4.7 amps on a 3.2 ohm load:



I intend on using the LUX meter to take measurements with a 3.2 ohm load in varying lighting conditions to see how bad the power fall off is in sub-optimal situations.

That is all for now!

Ed
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Old 08-01-2013, 01:33 PM   #2
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Default Wow!

Wow! Well done! Thanks for posting.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:44 PM   #3
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Very nice, keep us posted.
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:03 AM   #4
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Okay all,

I just got back from a long weekend of dry camping. The bad news is that I found that my battery is going bad and it could not hold a necessary charge to run my gear for the entire evening. The good news is that the solar panels saved the trip!

My battery would charge, but not maintain it for very long. It didn't matter how it was charged (plugged in to charger before we left, charged off panels while I was there) my battery just could not keep up with the use.

I think a major contribution to the problem was that for the first time this summer, I had to run the furnace in the evenings because it got down to the low 40's and that took a good deal of amperage to start and run (3.5 amps according to my meter). When you combined that with my carbon monoxide detector and refrigerator fan and ignition system my battery was done after about 4-5 hours of use. The panels (one fixed mounted on the roof and one placed on the ground in direct sunlight) were able to recharge the battery with no problem for the next evening, but the battery would never last more than 4-5 hours each night.

What I found amazing was that even in early morning sun on a partly shaded, wooded lot, I got enough power from just the solar panels to get stuff running again. In fact, I was able to fully charge the dead battery (drained down to 8 volts) as well as provide enough power to keep my refrigerator running throughout the day and fire-up the hot water heater for showers. The fact that I could keep the trailer going all day and charge the battery was truly impressive!

Here is a shot of where I was parked and how much sun I had on a typical morning at 8:56 AM:



In this photo, the ground panel is not optimized for the sun, but you can see that all I needed to do was move it over a bit and tilt it back and I was good to go for most of the day.

All-in-all, these panels are truly impressive! When you can get a steady 12+ volts starting around 8:30 in the morning on a shaded lot and a dead battery, it gives me a great deal of confidence. My hope is replace my battery sometime in the next week and try some "simulated dry camping" (e.g. run the fridge, hot water heater, furnace, some lights, etc. for a period of time) in my driveway to see how it works out with charging only of the panels. I suspect it should be just fine given the fact that everything worked just off the sun last weekend, but it doesn't hurt and I would like to have this worked out before my next dry camping trip in mid-September.

Ed
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:32 PM   #5
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What batteries are you using 6V or a 12V system ?

http://www.funfinderclub.com/phpBB2/...er=asc&start=0
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:19 PM   #6
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At the moment, it looks to be the original 12v group 24 Interstate Battery that came with the trailer. I can't say for sure since I bought it used, but the date code on the battery is from 2008.

I was considering moving to two 6V batteries, but with the limited space on the frame between the propane and the body, I am not sure I can get two in without significant modification. As you can see from my prior posts, I am not afraid of a good mod, but it's getting late in the season. Welding a custom battery holder to the frame is one of those projects that might be best suited for an early spring project.

In the meantime I am considering the Aqua Edge DC27-105 which is an inexpensive Group 27 12 volt 105 A/H battery with a 3 year warranty that runs $80. Its an Auto Value battery that is made by Deka / EastPenn. That should get me by until I have time to upgrade.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:25 AM   #7
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I have more than 300AH on my set up, I have never came close to getting low throughout the night, as for the day, its great too as we are producing power from the panels, i only use the gensets ( 2x Honda i2000 ) for when we are using the A/C or Microwave, but all else runs off the batteries or shore power if available, we switch all to LED lighting too though out the trailer, plus we use the 2000W inverter for all the 110V, Computers and the TV plus...
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2013 214WSD
2013 Mercedes Benz GL550
w/ Tow Package
2000W GoPower Inverter
2x6V LifeLine Battery's
GoPower Solar Elite System
2x Honda 2000's w/ 30 AMP Plug
2x145w Polycrystalline Solar Panels
EAZ-LIFT Weight Dist. Hitch
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