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  1. #1
    Site Sponsor
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    Dec 2019
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    Not a newbie to RVs, but yes to solar..

    I have been pulling RVs for over forty years, yes I am in my 70's. I always plan for the worse and have actually returned home with a different RV due to an over-tightening of bearings by Camping World rookie. Aside from that and on to my topic. Solar. My current RV was prewired for solar with the connectors on the roof, 10 gauge wiring down to the battery with a 30 amp inline fuse on the positive side. Here is my goal! My wife and I are no longer dry campers. I have looked at flexible 100-watt panels that I can stick to the roof and connect. I am simply looking to keep the battery charged when not on the road and while it is in storage nearby. Based on this, it doesn't appear that I need an MPPT controller...due to the customer use and a single battery. Would a PMT controller work for my purpose (well) and other than the 30 amp inline fuse, I assume that goes between the controller and the battery. What other advice can you provide and things I should do to meet my goal well.

    After losing an RV, I carried a set of bearings/seals and grease. I also carry PEX water lines for both hot and cold along with the needed crimping tool. I run a TPM system on the tires and a heat gun to check the brake drums/hubs every time we stop to ensure nothing is running hotter than the other. My loving wife keeps track of the readings. The sun side on an interstate is always hotter than the shaded side, of course.

    I no longer want to ever have to take the wet cell battery out of my unit or let the charge drop significantly. I realize that I can unhook the battery for periods of time between trips during the camping season, minus the winter months.

    I thought about placing a suitcase solar unit on the roof, but in storage, it would disappear or a storm might blow it off.
    Terry and Elizabeth
    2020 Reflection 260RD Using Anderson Hitch
    2020 F350 SuperDuty Diesel Crew Dually Long Bed

  2. #2
    King Pin
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
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    Platte City, MO
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    Yeah, I'm looking at a 5 or 10 watt unit to do the same with my 5th wheel: leave the battery in over the winter. Seems like a 10 watt unit would keep the single 12V battery
    charged over the winter with no need for a controller. That's the only reason I am thinking of solar. My trailer sits in such a position that the panel will get full sun on the driver's
    side all winter. I'll hang it from the side somewhere. Not interested in putting holes in my roof. And a 10 watt battery maintainer only runs around $30.
    Howard and Peggy
    2019 Momentum 351M, and 2018 RAM Cummins dually 6-speed.
    His: 1999 Honda Interceptor
    Hers: 2013 Spyder ST-S

  3. #3
    Site Sponsor
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    I wasn't sure I could go that low. But do appreciate the insight. Since my RV is prewired for a panel on the roof, I do not have to concern myself with holes, thank goodness. I had GD send me the roof cross beams locations/measurements..should I have to screw a panel on the roof, but see I can take the most flexible solar panels and stick them to the roof with adhesive or double sided gorilla strips. In either case, one wants to leave a gap for water and seal the front wind edge to help keep it on the roof.
    Terry and Elizabeth
    2020 Reflection 260RD Using Anderson Hitch
    2020 F350 SuperDuty Diesel Crew Dually Long Bed

  4. #4
    Long Hauler
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    All over - Full-timing
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    Quote Originally Posted by terryriddle View Post
    I have been pulling RVs for over forty years, yes I am in my 70's. I always plan for the worse and have actually returned home with a different RV due to an over-tightening of bearings by Camping World rookie. Aside from that and on to my topic. Solar. My current RV was prewired for solar with the connectors on the roof, 10 gauge wiring down to the battery with a 30 amp inline fuse on the positive side. Here is my goal! My wife and I are no longer dry campers. I have looked at flexible 100-watt panels that I can stick to the roof and connect. I am simply looking to keep the battery charged when not on the road and while it is in storage nearby. Based on this, it doesn't appear that I need an MPPT controller...due to the customer use and a single battery. Would a PMT controller work for my purpose (well) and other than the 30 amp inline fuse, I assume that goes between the controller and the battery. What other advice can you provide and things I should do to meet my goal well.

    After losing an RV, I carried a set of bearings/seals and grease. I also carry PEX water lines for both hot and cold along with the needed crimping tool. I run a TPM system on the tires and a heat gun to check the brake drums/hubs every time we stop to ensure nothing is running hotter than the other. My loving wife keeps track of the readings. The sun side on an interstate is always hotter than the shaded side, of course.

    I no longer want to ever have to take the wet cell battery out of my unit or let the charge drop significantly. I realize that I can unhook the battery for periods of time between trips during the camping season, minus the winter months.

    I thought about placing a suitcase solar unit on the roof, but in storage, it would disappear or a storm might blow it off.
    To address a couple of your points:
    1. Stay far away from the "flexible" panels. They do but last, and the dollar-per-watt is one of the worst out there. The other reason to stay away from them is you will have little to no airflow under the panel. As the panel heats up, the less efficient it becomes.

    2. I use a 50 watt panel from Goal Zero. They are expensive! (I already had it for something else, so...). I purchased a CHEAP (both price and quality) 40 amp MPPT charge controller, a Furrion solar port, and cables and adapters. This allowed me to plug this panel in, and chain it to the landing gear while in storage. It keeps my batteries at around 13.3 VDC. Oh, I also put in a battery cutoff switch right after the battery, I don't use the one in the passthrough.

    That is how I keep my 2 Lead Acid (PITA) batteries charged. I got tired of going out there and having to hook the truck up to get some juice into the batteries do I could hitch up. (Think jumper cables here, not the 7-way connector.)

    For one 12 VDC battery, you shouldn't be more than 10-50 watts to keep it charged. I still would recommend some kind of charge controller, whether it's be a PWM or a MPPT charge controller, at that low wattage, either one should be just fine for keeping the battery topped off.

    On Amazon, there are a couple of small suitcase your solar panels with the charge controller built into them. Just another option.

    Sent from my SM-N986U using Tapatalk
    Mark & Mary. Full-timing across the USA (and Canada)!
    Current Coach: 2021 Grand Design Reflection 320MKS
    Current Rig: 2019 Ford F350 SD Crew Cab, w/8' box, Lariat, SRW, 6.7l Diesel

  5. #5
    Rolling Along
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoopy Frood View Post
    Yeah, I'm looking at a 5 or 10 watt unit to do the same with my 5th wheel: leave the battery in over the winter. Seems like a 10 watt unit would keep the single 12V battery
    charged over the winter with no need for a controller.
    Will the battery be unhooked from the rest of the 12V system, at least? I see a pretty consistent 7-8W of draw 24/7 on my trailer. Since sun isn't 24/7, I'd need more than a 5-10W panel to keep the battery topped off. YMMV of course.

    I'm just leaving mine disconnected altogether (via a switch on the battery box). Shouldn't lose an appreciable amount of charge over the winter (but it is a lithium, not a lead acid).
    Current: 2021 Transcend 261BH, 2019 Ford F250 SRW SWB CC 6.2 - Picture
    Previous: 2016 Jayco X213, 2014 F150 EB 3.5

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