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Old 01-23-2005, 07:46 AM   #1
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Hi. I'm looking for info on installing additional solar panels on the roof of my 04 Adventurer 35U. Roof mounting procedures and how to get the wiring down to the batteries is my main concern. I would also like any info if possible on moving the OEM 10 watt solar panel charge wire to the chassis battery.

Thank You.
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Old 01-23-2005, 07:46 AM   #2
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Hi. I'm looking for info on installing additional solar panels on the roof of my 04 Adventurer 35U. Roof mounting procedures and how to get the wiring down to the batteries is my main concern. I would also like any info if possible on moving the OEM 10 watt solar panel charge wire to the chassis battery.

Thank You.
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Old 01-24-2005, 04:43 AM   #3
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You can try routing the wiring down your refrigerator roof vent.
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:53 AM   #4
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I did that on my 2003 Suncruiser 33V as well as on my Allegro Bus.

The existing wire is way too small for any real solar panels. It winds up down in the battery box. I can't remember exactly where it was, but I "think" that it was on the "hot" side of the battery disconnect solenoid, rather than the batteries themselves. Now, I may be wrong on that (swiss cheese memory - really good but very short ) but I do do know that it is down there. Either way, it's not a big deal to remove it and assign it to the chassis battery. I relocated it to the chassis side of the Auxiliary Start solenoid rather than going over to the battery. It was easier that way.

I then put two Shell-Siemens 110 watt solar panels on the roof of the 33V. I thought I may want to add more in the future (I did, but I waited for the Allegro Bus to go to 4 panels) so I spec'd everything accordingly. 440 watts divided by 10 volts = 44 amps, so I bought a 50 amp charge controller rather than a 30 amp controller. This meant I had to run #8-2 wire, instead of #10-2 (which is only good for 30 amps). The wire I picked up looked just like Romex that is used in a home except it was 12 volts and stranded. But the nice white PVC jacket made for a clean installation. I bought my solar panels from www.windsun.com and also ordered some Z brackets to mount them. I then mounted the aluminum Z brackets to the roof with 3/16" stainless steel rivets (screws would have pulled out in the thin fiberglass). Then I ran the #8-2 wire assembly down through the refrigerator vent. I had to unscrew the assembly, drill a hole in the side, fish the "romex" through, and recaulk the vent cap. Once behind I routed the cable under 'fridge to the converter area and then down through one of the existing plumbing access holes into the large basement compartment immediately aft of the entrance door. There I mounted my Charge Controller and continued the wires through the steel bulkhead into the battery box area, where I attached the leads to the coach batteries themselves so that when the coach battery disconnect switch was thrown, I'd still have solar chargeing. I then ran a Cat5 cable up from the Charge Controller to a remote display panel which I mounted above the breaker panel in the cabinet by the stepwell.

Moving the existing solar panel to the chassis helps a little but it's so small it doesn't do much. It did keep the battery up over winter enough that it cranked slow, but never was dead after 1 month of winter storage. So, it helps extend the interval but won't keep it charged all winter long on it's own.

220 watts of solar power was marginal, but we are power hogs so the 440 watts was much better. However, some RVers can go a long time on very little power so where you fit in is up to you.

Solar power's biggest problem is that it's greatly misunderstood. An inverter will let you run AC loads off your batteries. Either way, whether it's 12 VDC or 120 VAC, the load comes off your batteries. The less batteries you have, the quicker they'll go dead. The more you have, the longer you can run between recharges. Unless you live like a hermit (in bright sun all the time ) you'll never be self sufficient with 200-400 watts of solar power. But, solar power will help extend the time between battery recharges. Under normal usage you will still have to recharge the batteries, with either the generator set or the vehicle's alternator. If you stay a short time and drive around a lot the vehicle alternator may just do it for you. If not, you have to fire up the Onan every now and then. But, solar power is great in that you can extend your batteries to the point in time where it's convenient for you (and not disturbing to your fellow campers) to recharge them. It's tough to justify them oin a "cost effective" basis but it sure does help in that it removes some of the limitations you may otherwise have. It helps you be that much more self-sufficient and enjoy RVing that much more.
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:52 AM   #5
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Boy, nobody 'splains it better than Cruzer!

I actually rewired my factory solar panel to keep my chassis battery charged up. This was done based on advice from Cruzer quite some time ago.

I learned that the chassis battery is NOT being charged when connected to shore power and is still subjected to the normal parasitic loads from various chassis components. The little 10 watt panel does an excellent job of keeping up with those small loads and consequently prevents my chassis battery from discharging during long periods of non-use (not driving, winter storage, etc.). The only thing I have to do this time of year is keep the snow off the panel.

If memory serves, The wire from the solar charger comes into the battery area and there is a circuit breaker for it. I identified the wire at the back side of the 12v DC breaker panel (this is the one in the stepwell behind the carpeted board and then behind a removable metal panel) and followed it to one of the big solenoids in there somewhere. I think you'll have to unscrew the breaker panel to get to the solenoids. Using Winnebago's wire identification system I noted the 2 letter code on the wire at the circuit breaker and verified the same code on the wire at the solenoid. I THINK the wire was simply connected to the right side of the BATTERY BOOST solenoid (which I THINK is the left solenoid) by a small nut. I distinctly remember only having to move the ring terminal (one wire) from the right side of the solenoid to the left side. It was very simple.

I've not added any additional solar panels to my rig so I can't comment on the other questions you had. Cruzer certainly took care of that.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you ever need to have chassis service done and there's a possibility your coach may be outside during repairs you may want to somehow disable the solar charger. If a tech. disconnects the chassis battery to service the coach the solar charger may still be providing power to the chassis circuits. While this current may be small and harmless to the tech. it could affect diagnostic procedures or cause damage to the solar charger or controller.

Speaking of the controller, does anyone (Cruzer) know if the "One Place" panel incorporates some sort of regulatory device for the factory solar charger and not just a monitoring LED?
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:09 AM   #6
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There is no "regulatory device" (sounds kinda governmentish ) on the OEM solar panel. There's just the LED. However, the OEM panel really isn't big enough to cause any damage to the battery by overcharging so it isn't required.

Good point on the disconnect when servicing, Jim. There's not many amps on the solar panel circuit but the OCV (open circuit voltage) is high enough that it wouldn't take a whole lot to "zap" a sensitive electronic component someplace.
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:42 PM   #7
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Several Posts here have raised some questions in my mind. Does the roof top small solar panel trickle charge the batteries while in storage? Is the little solar panel disconnected from charging when the batteries are isolated with the door area switch? I just thought the use of the trickle solar charger was mainly for storage.
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Old 01-26-2005, 02:10 AM   #8
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Thanks Cruzer. I didn't think there was a regulator. Good point about the OCV. I measured 19.x volts at the feed wire with it disconnected just to make sure I had the correct wire before moving it. That could definitely zap a 12v electronic device if you weren't careful.

Rapid Ray:
I'm pretty sure the solar charger operates even with the house battery disconnect switch OFF. I would think the little panel would be basically useless with the house batteries ON because it puts out less current in direct sunlight than is being consumed by the LP gas detector and the 2-way radio charger unit. (I did some current measurements when I switched the wire over.) So I suspect you are right about it being for use when in storage.
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Old 01-26-2005, 04:52 AM   #9
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Yes, the OEM solar panel bypasses the battery disconnect solenoid and goes direct to the coach batteries so it will charge when the disconnect is thrown - assuming you have adequate sunlight.
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Old 01-26-2005, 05:15 AM   #10
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Hi all,

On my "04 35u the charger does charge the chassis battery. Did they change the configuration?
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Old 01-26-2005, 09:29 AM   #11
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No, neither the converter nor the solar panel will charge the chassis battery. The two battery systems are isolated and only get connected once the engine is running. If you want to charge the chassis battery while plugged into shore power you'll need a 3rd party charger like BatteryMinder or Battery Thief.
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