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Old 11-17-2019, 08:51 PM   #1
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Any more solar capability?

My 2002 Adventurer 32V is fairly new to me. It has a very small solar panel on top, but I donít think it really does anything much. Can I add an additional panel to it without adding anything inside? I know almost nothing about solar.
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Old 11-17-2019, 11:01 PM   #2
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What you have is a virtually worthless 17-year old solar panel. Itís 10-watts (not likely) and is connected directly to your chassis battery. There is not even a charge controller on the system.

After you read up on solar for RVs and watch dozens of informative videos then you could start from square one to design and build a real solar solution for your RV. And any new solar install on your RV would probably begin with removing what was installed all those yeas ago. No part of it is applicable to todayís RV solar installations.
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Old 11-18-2019, 04:37 AM   #3
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Thank you, that’s exactly what I suspected.
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:28 AM   #4
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Your existing panel may not be "totally worthless". I have a 2002 35U with the same original panel and, although I have two new 160w panels in the garage waiting to be installed, the old panel is still chugging along and keeps my house and chassis batteries fully charged while in storage. My chassis batteries are charged thanks to a Amp-L-Start that I installed a couple of months ago. The existing panel is small enough that it doesn't need a controller.

On the other hand, it's never going to do more than act as a trickle charger so I agree that a new install is in order. Once I get my new panels installed, my existing Amp-L-Start will ensure that both my house and chassis batteries are charged by the panels.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:01 AM   #5
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the old panel is still chugging along and keeps my house and chassis batteries fully charged while in storage.
Bob, I'm pretty sure the 10w panel as installed by the factory is directly connected to your CHASSIS battery and has no connection to your house batteries. Looking at the wiring diagrams the solar panel breaker is on the chassis 12v breaker with all other chassis draws.

Also, at 10w and presumably 12v (though it could be less) it could at most add about 1 amp in absolutely perfect sun conditions for a little bit of time each day. As you say, nothing but a trickle charge. But on your chassis battery not on your house batteries.

I know the ampLstart shares voltage between house and chassis batteries. So perhaps that's where you think the house batteries are receiving a portion of solar charge?
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Old 11-18-2019, 04:37 PM   #6
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Bob, I'm pretty sure the 10w panel as installed by the factory is directly connected to your CHASSIS battery and has no connection to your house batteries. Looking at the wiring diagrams the solar panel breaker is on the chassis 12v breaker with all other chassis draws.

Also, at 10w and presumably 12v (though it could be less) it could at most add about 1 amp in absolutely perfect sun conditions for a little bit of time each day. As you say, nothing but a trickle charge. But on your chassis battery not on your house batteries.

I know the ampLstart shares voltage between house and chassis batteries. So perhaps that's where you think the house batteries are receiving a portion of solar charge?
My owners manual clearly states that the solar panel charges the "coach" batteries, which is synonymous with "house" batteries as confirmed on the wiring diagram. I do, however, recall reading that the wiring of the original solar panel can be different from one model/year to another.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:28 PM   #7
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I had an '02 Adventurer and the little one on top was only for the coach batteries, the chassis battery would run down if it sat too long. On my current Itasca i put in 200 watts of solar that connect directly to the coach batteries, then I added a Trik-L-Start device to keep the chassis battery charged. All work great now, I don't have to think about any of them.

Link: Ultra TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer
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Old 11-21-2019, 07:16 PM   #8
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I had an '02 Adventurer and the little one on top was only for the coach batteries, the chassis battery would run down if it sat too long. On my current Itasca i put in 200 watts of solar that connect directly to the coach batteries, then I added a Trik-L-Start device to keep the chassis battery charged. All work great now, I don't have to think about any of them.

Link: Ultra TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer
The Amp-L-Start I installed is just a higher capacity version of the Trik-L-Start. Once I get my large panels and controller installed, this is exactly how mine will work. In the meantime, my small panel is doing the job of keeping both the coach and chassis batteries charged. Note that I also disconnect my coach batteries via the "salesman's switch" in order to minimize the parasitic load.
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:15 PM   #9
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You cannot add to the 10 watt panel unless you add a solar controller assuming you want a decent setup to power your batteries. I installed 400 watts of solar in 2014 and just a month ago replaced my house batteries so it almost doubled their life. Solar is relatively cheap and simple to install and most coaches will really benefit from fully charged batteries coming out of storage and with a Trik-L-Start, both house and chassis batteries will last much longer.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:32 AM   #10
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You cannot add to the 10 watt panel unless you add a solar controller assuming you want a decent setup to power your batteries. I installed 400 watts of solar in 2014 and just a month ago replaced my house batteries so it almost doubled their life. Solar is relatively cheap and simple to install and most coaches will really benefit from fully charged batteries coming out of storage and with a Trik-L-Start, both house and chassis batteries will last much longer.
Adding a controller is necessary, but it's just as necessary to add new wiring of a sufficient gauge. Do not attempt to re-use the existing wiring. Determining the necessary gauge is a function of the panel wattage and run length. Tables and calculators are available on line.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:49 AM   #11
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Hi Charley.
Second thing to say: You can install a larger panel without any problems.
But first and most important thing is: It's all about your needs.

Well:
A larger panel which delivers more Wh (Watthours) of electric power will charge your batteries faster and as a little kid you charge your batteries as well as during rainy or claudy days and: you can run more/additional devices during the day with your battery than up to now. But only during the day, not at night.

Like I said: It's all about your needs.
Because: the larger panel will charge your battery to full until Noon. The small panel needs for this a longer time, let's say until 4PM. So if you don't need your battery before 4PM it does not make sense to charge it faster.

If you need more battery capacity (Ah = Amperehours) because you want to make a coffee at 3AM, while watching TV the whole night, then you have to add battery capacity. Means replacing the batteries or add batteries. Sure, now you have to charge this capacity too, so you need perhaps a larger panel (=more Wh from the roof).
Well, it's all about your needs.

What you also have to know is:
Everytime you start your engine or connect to the shoreline, you will charge your batteries too.

So now: Before you start to install larger panels, new batteries etc. look at your needs.
You can calculate them: Ampere = Watt/Volt. Do it before you invest in an equipment you never need.

We have on our small cabin in the mountains a 25W panel and a 120Ah 12V DC battery. This is good for a small 12V DC fridge (Hotel-Mini-Bar size) and we have enough light for all the time (3 LED lamps; due it's quite dark inside, you also have to put the light on at daytime, when you stay inside). Even on rainy days.

On our RV we have a total of 400W on the roof and 1650Ah (AGM batteries). This is oversized, but it's good to let the (residential) fridge run during 5 days in the dark of the Alaska ferry (no shoreline provided, no generator allowed). Out in the green we could run even a dishwasher, a microwave and the coffeemaker at the same time during watching TV... what we never do... But what we have to do is to dump after 4 days of boondocking which is charging all our batteries too. So....

Once again: It's all about your needs.
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Old 12-05-2019, 09:24 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone for the insight you have shared. I don’t think at this time my needs justify doing the necessary things to add more capability.
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