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Thread: My Solar Charging Set Up

  1. #1
    King Pin
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    My Solar Charging Set Up

    On my 2014 Reflection 337RLS, there is no wiring in place for a solar charging system. Since I frequently camp where there are no hook ups, I elected to install a solar charger so I don't have to run my generator as frequently. Here is a diagram of my system:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here are some details and links to where I purchased the items:

    Solar Panels - I purchased two 100 Watt panels that are mounted in aluminum frames. I put hinges between the two panels so I can fold them face to face to protect the panels when in transit. Cost $149.99 each
    http://www.amazon.com/RENOGY-Monocry...tt+solar+panel

    Solar Controller - There are various controllers available, each with different merits. The model I purchased can be used for lead acid and AGM batteries. It also has a display to indicate the battery voltage and charging current. I mounted the unit on the panel right above the batteries. I ran 10 AWG wire between the batteries and the controller. Cost $99.04
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Since I'm running two panels, I needed to connect the two panels together and make a single run to the batteries. To do this, I used MC4 Branch Connectors. They simply plug directly to the wires on the panels and to the wire to the battery. Cost $8.79
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Next, I wanted my system to be portable. I ran MC4 wires from the controller to just outside the RV through the driver's side landing gear leg. There is already a hole here that is filled with foam. I removed some of the foam, ran the wires to just outside the landing gear, and installed a connector. The connectors cost $7.78 for five pairs of male/female connections
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Finally, I wanted to be able to move my array to sunny locations throughout the campsite. So I purchased 100 feet of MC4 wire which I cut in to two short lengths (Controller to landing gear leg hole) and two longer lengths (From external connections to panels)
    Cost of wire $51.49.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I also installed 30A fuses on the positive lead between the battery and controller, and the panels and controller. Here are the fuse holders I used.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I did some wire cutting and soldering, and where appropriate, I attached crimp on eye connectors. Total cost was approximately $570. So far I've used it for about two weeks, and I have not had to run my generator to charge the batteries at all. It takes about four hours to come to a full charge if I've run the battery bank down to a 50% charge overnight. I also changed all my bulbs to LED so there is not such a big draw on the batteries at night.

  2. #2
    Long Hauler Poppy's 5th Wheel's Avatar
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    This is an awesome post Jim. Should be a sticky somewhere for reference. I've never seen it laid out so simply. Even I could do this now.
    Paul "Poppy" and Deb Cervone
    2015 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS
    SteadyFast Stabilizers; MORryde PIN box; Onan LP Generator with 50amp Automatic Transfer; Dual 6v Trojan T-105 Batteries; Victron BMV700 Battery Monitor System; Renogy Solar 400 watts (tilting roof mounts); Renogy 40 amp Rover MPPT controller; Remote Controlled 1000w Pure Sine Wave Inverter; Sailun S637 ST235/85/R16 tires; Sony, Samsung Entertainment System; Residential Kitchen Faucet and Soap Dispenser; Smart Tile; Lifted and balanced with Trailer Axle Blocks; upgraded to 3500# spring packs; Titan electric / hydraulic Disc Brakes; LED rear tail/stop/turn lights; Exterior Beer Bottle Opener; Lots More .....
    2016 GMC Denali 3500HD SRW Duramax/Allison CC 4x4; Andersen Ultimate 5th Wheel Hitch; Tire Minder TPMS; Husky in bed Low Profile Tool Box; Timbren SES
    2007 Corvette Atomic Orange Z51; with Too Much to List SOLD
    2009 Cadillac CTS; Bone Stock
    1955 Buick Century; 64 Buick Wildcat Nailhead 401 cu in / 325 hp; ST400


  3. #3
    Seasoned Camper webpilot's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim! Awesome Post.
    George and Connie
    Commerce City, CO
    Webpilot
    Solitude 380FL
    2014 Ram 3500 Dually

  4. #4
    Big Traveler offtohavasu's Avatar
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    Nice setup. Is there any particular reasoning behind that controller vs. mppt controller or was it just price driven?

  5. #5
    Site Sponsor Cate&Rob's Avatar
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    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for taking the time to put all this straight forward information into one post !
    Rob
    Cate & Rob
    (with Border Collies Molly & Angel and their kitty Gracie)
    2015 Reflection 303RLS #792
    2014 F150 EcoBoost 4x4 Crewcab with Max Tow and Heavy Payload pkgs
    Whitby, Ontario, Canada

  6. #6
    Long Hauler LCBoyer's Avatar
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    Good job, Jim. You are the man
    2018 Freedom Elite 24FE, 2 Yorkies, and my wife MARILYN, HAM call K0LCB. Traveling around this great country, making friends and seeing lot of beautiful and interesting places

  7. #7
    King Pin
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    Quote Originally Posted by offtohavasu View Post
    Nice setup. Is there any particular reasoning behind that controller vs. mppt controller or was it just price driven?
    Mostly just keeping the price down since this was my first time setting up a solar system. If I ever upgrade, it would be to a MPPT controller. However, this one works just fine and I have more than enough capacity to fully charge each day in the Arizona sunshine.

  8. #8
    Long Hauler Poppy's 5th Wheel's Avatar
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    Could someone explain what you guys are comparing?
    Paul "Poppy" and Deb Cervone
    2015 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS
    SteadyFast Stabilizers; MORryde PIN box; Onan LP Generator with 50amp Automatic Transfer; Dual 6v Trojan T-105 Batteries; Victron BMV700 Battery Monitor System; Renogy Solar 400 watts (tilting roof mounts); Renogy 40 amp Rover MPPT controller; Remote Controlled 1000w Pure Sine Wave Inverter; Sailun S637 ST235/85/R16 tires; Sony, Samsung Entertainment System; Residential Kitchen Faucet and Soap Dispenser; Smart Tile; Lifted and balanced with Trailer Axle Blocks; upgraded to 3500# spring packs; Titan electric / hydraulic Disc Brakes; LED rear tail/stop/turn lights; Exterior Beer Bottle Opener; Lots More .....
    2016 GMC Denali 3500HD SRW Duramax/Allison CC 4x4; Andersen Ultimate 5th Wheel Hitch; Tire Minder TPMS; Husky in bed Low Profile Tool Box; Timbren SES
    2007 Corvette Atomic Orange Z51; with Too Much to List SOLD
    2009 Cadillac CTS; Bone Stock
    1955 Buick Century; 64 Buick Wildcat Nailhead 401 cu in / 325 hp; ST400


  9. #9
    King Pin
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    Paul, there are primarily two different types of controllers. MPPT, and PWM. PWM is less complex, and less costly. MPPT are more efficient, but more complex. Here's a great article on them.

    http://www.ecodirect.com/Charge-Cont...ison-s/251.htm

    For my application, a PWM controller works just fine.

    Jim

  10. #10
    Norcalrv1
    Guest
    Good job, Jim. Thanks for the information, you seem to have all of the components and did a great job. The battery that we have is set down into a well in the front which holds it in place while we travel. I am trying to figure out how to mount more batteries in the front compartment. AGM you don't need to vent, but lead acid batteries apparently you do need to vent. I just don't see any good way of doing this. Got any ideas?
    Rod Zebb
    Fairfield, CA. (Quartzsite right now)
    2014 337 RLS #263
    2014 RAM 3500

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