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Old 10-27-2019, 10:26 AM   #1
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Question: Solar Panel et. al.

Everything currently works on my 2002 Journey DL. However, I would like to install about 600 watts of solar on the roof Lithium batteries and associated electronics. It is my understanding that Lithium will require a different charger setup and the solar will need a charge controller.


Mounting the solar: I do not want a leaky roof nor to drill through a plenum or imbedded wiring. How do I know where to place and mount the solar panels so as to avoid these pitfalls?


Shore power & Solar charger: What do I have to do with the current Heart 1000 setup and do I use a MPPT controller or the non-MPPT controller? Morningstar or other mfg?


Comments on Lithium mfg?


Sorry for the multilayered question. Maybe it is too expansive a question so If that is the case just say so. Currently we stay mostly in Escapees, Elks and PA parks to charge the batteries but would like to be more shore power independent. Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-27-2019, 11:22 AM   #2
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You're covering several different areas. I'm sure you'll get some info here but, if you use the Google search box at the top of the forum page and search on the different topics, you'll find a lot of info on lithium batteries, etc. IRV2.com, Winnieowners' sister site is also a good source for info. It has a similar Google search engine.

I'll try to address the mounting issue.

1. Your roof fiberglass + plywood is only a little over 1/8" thick so you don't need long screws, thereby avoiding damage to wiring, plenums, etc. Driving long screws into the foam underneath the plywood will not add any holding power.

2. Many are now mounting solar panels with 3m VHB tape but you need to have adequate mounting area. I'm planning on using VHB plus short screws. You can Google VHB solar panel mounting for more info.

3. Winnebago can supply drawings of the framing, etc. specific to your model/year. Based on what they sent me for my 2002 35U, they're not necessarily to scale and don't have detailed measurements so the locations are approximate. You can probably locate the "rafters" with a metal detector or a stud finder. They will also sometimes show on a dewey morning.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:12 PM   #3
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I used flexible 200 watt panels, VHB tape, and hex head stainless sheet metal screws and washers and butyl tape in the corner grommets, then Dicor self leveling..


Roof penetrations are not a problem wit a little care during installation.


My process is to wrap the screw shank with some butyl tape before driving it into the roof. This forces the butyl tape to make a good waterproof seal around the threads and under the head of the screw. Then I seal the top with some Dicor.
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Old 10-27-2019, 04:50 PM   #4
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AM Solar is one of the better installers / parts suppliers in the country - there's some great educational material on their website that addresses just about all your questions.

http://amsolar.com

My eight panels are mounted with tape and decor - no screws. We're using MPPT controllers and AGM batteries. I have considered lithium but still concerned with some of the limitations in very cold weather and the cost.

As stated - a search of IRV2 will get you many, many posts on solar ...
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Old 10-29-2019, 08:05 AM   #5
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Thanks for comments.

All these are very good ideas and I will use them for sure. Thank you everyone for your comments. I like the idea about flexible panels and I have seen them on sailboats but know nothing about them other than they are less efficient ( that may have changed in recent years ).


I had not heard of VHB solar panel mounting tape. That alone is a great thing to know.
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Old 10-29-2019, 01:26 PM   #6
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There are pros and cons to flexible panels, mostly cons for most RVs. They're popular on sailboats since they can be mounted on top of canvas dodgers and in deck areas where conventional panels would be a tripping hazard.

From what I've read, longevity and overheating can be problematical, not to mention the cost difference. Here's one popular blogging couple's summary of their experience with flexible panels:

https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/fle...-issues-review
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Old 10-29-2019, 03:38 PM   #7
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Global Solar

I have been using flexible solar panels from Global Solar on my last two RV's for many years now with perfect results. Out perform any fixed panel. They are self adhesive so no holes in the roof plus they are safe to walk on. Time to read up on new technology.
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Old 11-02-2019, 10:02 AM   #8
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Here's a link to an album that may be helpful. I was particularly interested in the VHB panel mounts in photos #8 and #10:

Winnebago Owners Online Community - Four Seasons's Album: Solar Project

Here's a link to the mounts:

https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-RNG-MT...62347750&psc=1
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Old 11-02-2019, 01:51 PM   #9
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My WBGO came with one 100w panel, a 3-port input on the roof that was wired to a 30-amp PWM solar charge controller. The charge controller is wired directly to the battery bank.

I added 2 new 100w Renergy panels to the roof. I simply screwed down the mounts with short wood screws and sealed above and below with silicone adhesives (like dicor).

I was lucky all I had to do was plug the two new panels into the 3-port Zamp input box that was already on the roof. But, if that wasn't there using a combiner box for the wiring would have been nearly as easy.

I lived with the PWM Charge Controller for a year or so and it worked OK. But I changed it for a Victron SmartController this past summer and i'm seeing better results with that controller. It was an easy direct switch out.

Putting the panels on your roof - simple.
Wiring everything to a combiner box on the roof - simple
Installing the solar charge controller - simple
Wiring the charge controller to your battery bank - simple
Getting properly sized wires from the combiner box on the roof to the charge controller - more difficult
Planning the location of all the components for efficiency - also more difficult

And, once you decide to go LiPo you'll also want a BMK (Battery Monitor Kit), some weather protection for the battery bank AND while you're at it you'll probably want a new Pure Sine Wave inverter/Charger with at least 2000w capability, too. The new Inverter/Charger will most like have a charging profile for LiPo batteries built in.

All of those things are doable, but the logistics and planning are somewhat daunting.

In my case it was bog easy and it would have been a waste of money to hire it all out. If you are a DIYer, then if you take it step by step you'll be fine doing it on your own.

If that doesn't describe you I'd suggest finding a solar installer. Of course, you'll pay as much for the planning and installation as the parts so it will cost approx. double the DIY route.

We find the 300w of solar on my roof helps us a couple of ways.
1. While in storage (outside) with the battery disconnect on, my batteries are always 100% State of Charge even after 2 months of storage.
2. My 400 ah of AGM batteries can easily run my residential fridge and many light AC loads when dry-camping/boondocking with minimal generator run times. (45 mins in the morning and 90 mins at dinner time)

I will probably add one more solar panel to my roof. I'll change out the 3-port Zamp input to a generic combiner box for all for panels and when my AGM batteries reach their end I'll replace them with LiPo batteries and reap even more benefits.
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Old 11-03-2019, 07:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesMoore View Post
Everything currently works on my 2002 Journey DL. However, I would like to install about 600 watts of solar on the roof Lithium batteries and associated electronics. It is my understanding that Lithium will require a different charger setup and the solar will need a charge controller.


Mounting the solar: I do not want a leaky roof nor to drill through a plenum or imbedded wiring. How do I know where to place and mount the solar panels so as to avoid these pitfalls?


Shore power & Solar charger: What do I have to do with the current Heart 1000 setup and do I use a MPPT controller or the non-MPPT controller? Morningstar or other mfg?


Comments on Lithium mfg?


Sorry for the multilayered question. Maybe it is too expansive a question so If that is the case just say so. Currently we stay mostly in Escapees, Elks and PA parks to charge the batteries but would like to be more shore power independent. Thanks in advance.
A DYI project, then I suggest you start by reading and understanding the details in the following links.

First this is quite basic, but not knowing your in depth experience and knowledge of batteries, inverters, chargers, etc, etc this is an excellent place to start
The 12V side of life: The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1) This link is in 2 parts so be sure to go to the 2nd part.

Lots of great detailed info here: RV Electrical

Very opinionated info here but great info on the pitfalls to look out for: http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/t...ging-puzzle-2/

Having installed complete solar systems on 3 RV in the last 8 years, it is not an easy task. Not hugely complicated, but quite a bit of work and needing to pay attention to detail. If you are a pretty good handyman no big problem.

I currently have a 2006 Journey with 650 watts in a pair of 325 watt residential panels. I also still have room for another 325 watt panel. I have 400 amp hours (AH) of lithium battery, a Magnum 2000 watt inverter/charger and Morningstar MPPT solar controller, all mounted in a cabinet in the bedroom.

As long as we don't need air conditioning we do travel for weeks and once for 4 1/2 months (2016 Alaska Trip) w/o hooking up to elect power or running the generator.
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Old 11-03-2019, 08:03 AM   #11
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Lithium batteries and air temperature: Cold temps should not be a problem for most people. Most people don't stay in their RV with the temps well below freezing, or in weather over 100*.

Lithium can not be charged when the "battery" temp is below freezing. NOTE, this is the temp of the battery, not the outside air temp. If you can install the batteries in an enclosed compartment or inside the RV then you are very unlikely to have the batteries below freezing. Discharging the battery is OK down to zero or even -10*. But are you going to be in the RV at that temp?

BTW, you really want to have the batteries within 2-3 feet of the inverter/charger, so installing them in a compartment or inside is the best way to go.

Lots of people are using "Battle Born" lithium batteries. I have no personal experience with Battle Born though.
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