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Old 02-27-2012, 01:08 AM   #1
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Location to mount Solar controller 36G

I am installing a solar system using a Morning star Tri-star MPPT 60 controller. Having trouble finding a good location close to the batteries, looking for suggestions. I have a 2005 Journey 36g. I have looked at spot under the passenger side nightstand by the bed and use a remote controller. I will run #4 wire roof to controller and #2 controller to batteries. It is hard to get the controller close to the batteries in this model. Hope there is help out there. There is not outside compartment close to the batteries, I also thought about checking out the air conditioning compressor location see if there is room in there. I have not purchased solar panels so looking for suggestions there too.
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:00 AM   #2
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EL_Carlson,
Just a suggestion here. The last "Kit" for solar I purchased, about 5 years ago was from a place on line called: ETA Engineering. They have all kinds of Solar systems for yachts, RVs, Residences and more. The panel I purchased was a 130 watt (about 7+ amps) and it had a "Blue Sky" 22 amp controller that came with it.

I mounted the controller right into the dash and it looked like the factory put it there but, in yours and our coaches, it ain't happening. So, your possible location in and or around the night stand on the passenger side, sounds like a great idea.

Now, many guys would not do what I did with that panel but, I'll just throw this at ya. I did not mount it on the roof. I placed two rubber feet, on on each end of a long side, and a "Kick stand", in the middle. I made an 10 GA, double ended extension cord for it, that way I could plug in either end in either socket and not get it screwed up.

Then, all I had to do was aim it at the sun for the first part of the day and, move it once for the rest of the day. That gave me way more direct input of sun power than mounting it laying down on the roof. That resulted in the batteries topped off before noon each day while camping.

Just some ideas here. Again, most would not mess with it and simply mount it on the roof. That's fine. I don't know about the controller you mentioned so, I'll look up the specs on it and compare it to the one I had. Maybe I'll be moving to it when I'm ready to purchase a Kit for this new rig we have now.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:55 AM   #3
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How many watts is the array?
That MPPT 60 is a great controller
It has a nice standard feature "a voltage sense line"
The benefit - it properly compensates for the voltage loss between the controller and the battery bank
Using #2 wire and the voltage sense line you can be 20ft or more without any issues
Also do not forget to connect the temperature sensor

Have you installed the RS232 and Ethernet cables?
It blows me away folks spend big bucks on that great controller and don't use anywhere close to the full potential it offers
I hope you have done more than the simple dip switch setting as in download a proper configuration file

Why did you choose that paticular controller?
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:38 AM   #4
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Skip the MPPT controller and buy the Morningstar non MPPT 45 amp model and a Bogart Trimetric meter instead. The one caveat being you will need to buy low voltage panels which are harder to find. I bought mine from Sun Electric in Phoenix. I would rather spend the dough on the meter rather than the controller. Sure you can buy the metering stuff from Morningstar but it isn't as comprehensive as the Trimetric.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:50 AM   #5
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How are you getting the #4 cable from the panels to the controller? I wouldn't decide on the controller until you decide on the panels, go with the Tristar PWM controller for low voltage panels, high voltage panels go with the MPPT controller. 45 amp would probably be sufficient.
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:09 PM   #6
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Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by kellylipp View Post
Skip the MPPT controller and buy the Morningstar non MPPT 45 amp model and a Bogart Trimetric meter instead. The one caveat being you will need to buy low voltage panels which are harder to find. I bought mine from Sun Electric in Phoenix. I would rather spend the dough on the meter rather than the controller. Sure you can buy the metering stuff from Morningstar but it isn't as comprehensive as the Trimetric.
I am installing a Trimetric meter I purchased from Arizona wind and solar. With your information I did to do a lot more reading. It is so hard to wade through all the options.

Thank you for your input. Have a great day
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:26 PM   #7
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kjintf, do you know if the MPPT 45 has the same voltage sensing capabilities, to detect loss between the battery and the controller?
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:41 PM   #8
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Good to see others are concerned about the voltage sense line
It's one of many features IMHO that make the difference between a OK controller and a great controller.
So said to see most folks do not take advantage of these special functions

It sure does have the voltage sense line - however might be an option on the standard PWM tristar units. while it is standard on the MPPT controllers
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:40 AM   #9
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Another Question about Tri-Star MPPT 60

Thanks for all the feedback. Can someone tell me if the Tri-Star can be mounted Horizontal instead of Vertical; I am worried that change could effect the cooling? I am looking at installing in the electrical compartment under the bed, but there is only room to mount Horizontal. That looks like the closest I can get to the Batteries with the controller and the easiest place to fish the wires.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:08 PM   #10
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It would probably be best to mount as Morningstar suggests with the fins vertical, but in an enclosed space as you have under the bed, probably doesn't have much effect on cooling.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:43 PM   #11
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I have a 2002 Journey DL 36GD. I mounted my controller below the pantry. That gave me good access to the area under the fridge where the wires came down from the roof. Also allowed good access to the basement compartment directly below. Because of the distance from there to the batteries, I used 2/0 wire. Very little, if any, voltage drop. About a 25 foot length of wire. I also use the trimetric...great little device to monitor battery charge.
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:00 AM   #12
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Thank you I have not looked in that area, will check it out today. I am learning a lot about my motorhome just tring to set my system up. What type of controller are you using?
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Old 03-09-2012, 11:20 AM   #13
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I used the simple Morningstar TriStar 45 as I had low voltage panels. If you have high voltage panels (voltage metric on the spec sheet higher than 20 volts) then you will require the MPPT version. Stick with the Morningstars though. They have a good track record.

You won't regret the Tristar purchase. Now you know rather than thinking you know how much you use, how safe your batteries are, etc. Get ready to join the "just say no the generator" crowd!

I've attached my as-built diagram of the system I/We installed so you can see the connection strategy.

Here's a photo of panels as installed.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:36 PM   #14
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I use a Heliotrope HPV-22 with MPPT with 3, 100 watt panels. It's over 9 years old now, but still works fine. Just cut a hole below the pantry to mount. Wires from the panels (#4) and wires to the batteries #2/0) can be located there pretty easily. If I remember right, I lose less than .1 volt between the batteries and the controller with this big wire (25 feet). It's welding wire and quite flexible. Using big wire is every bit as important as a good controller IMHO. Do get the Trimetric. You won't regret it.
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Old 03-09-2012, 08:11 PM   #15
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On my Journey, the battery compartment is essentially open, enclosed on the sides by the AC at the rear and the furnace compartment at the front. But no floor, and no back wall - I can see the engine. Wouldn't this area be ventilated well enough to install the controller? Talk about short cable runs!
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Old 03-09-2012, 09:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blevtr View Post
On my Journey, the battery compartment is essentially open, enclosed on the sides by the AC at the rear and the furnace compartment at the front. But no floor, and no back wall - I can see the engine. Wouldn't this area be ventilated well enough to install the controller? Talk about short cable runs!
That's not only a very dirty area, but it's also wet, while driving in the rain. The controllers are not waterproof, and will likely not last very long if installed there.

I would choose the rear storage bay, passenger side just forward of the propane tank, or in the area where the converter is located, under the fridge. The run appropriately sized cable to the batteries. Just my opinion.
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:27 PM   #17
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yeh, that was my dilema too. Mounting in the battery area is well ventilated, but subject to water and maybe even battery corrosion, the white powdery stuff. I chose the area under the fridge because of convenience and made up for the long wire run with big wire. Plus my controller was meant to mount inside, not out. It mounts flush to the wall after knocking out a hole to fit the circuit board and allow wire connections. I could be wrong, but if you use 2/0 wire (not 2 guage), you will have negligible voltage drop. Check out some of the DC voltage loss tables on the internet for theoretical loss per foot for various wire guages.
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