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Old 03-06-2019, 08:53 AM   #1
Winnie-Wise
 
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Embarking on my 400 watt solar project, 2014 Sunstar

Background:

I installed solar on our 88 Suncruiser almost 30 years ago. I bought 4 used 40 watt Arco Solar panels that were removed from the decomissioned first Carrizo Plains solar plant, and an ASC charge controler.

My how times have changed!

So, I ordered 2, $189 200 watt flexible panels from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-store...dp/B07KFBXK2V/ NOTE: This is not the dealer I used. They seem to be out of stock, as is another dealer. They all seem to sell the same Chinese panels from the same manufacturer, using the same picture. The panels seem to be well made, maybe not as flexible as others I looked at, but thats OK for me. The "manual" is a typical poor translation and cut and paste from some other product.




Don't be surprised if the link stops working. These seem to be popular panels. At least 2 links on Amazon have disappeared.

I also got a Renogy 30 Amp Rover MPPT charge controller and Bluetooth interface, 30' of 10 ga red and black wire with the proper MC4 connectors on one end each, and a couple of ANL fuse holders.

Of course, the day after the panels arrived, the atmospheric river pointed its hose at us, and I've been on hold for 3 days.

The MC4 connectors are pretty cool. they are going to make the connections to the panels very easy.
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Old 03-06-2019, 11:26 AM   #2
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Flexible solar panels are easy to install and such but are severely limited due to their many short comings. Overheating is common with these and it not only limits their efficiency and power capabilities but it also shortens the life of the panels. It causes cupping in each section of the panels. In desert conditions during hot months there are documented cases of the individual panels burning.

This is why there is such short warranties on flexible solar panels. Many places have stopped selling them entirely because of so many failures. So, you pay extra for them, get less reliable service and they fail quickly.

Rigid glass and aluminum framed panels have none of these issues and long warranties for obvious reasons.
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Old 03-06-2019, 02:56 PM   #3
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Flexible panel technology has changed faster than most people understand. I have had mine for a year and the work perfect even on cloudy days or in partial tree cover. I can walk on them and hail can not break them. All this with a 25 year warranty. They come with a self adhesive so the are no holes or screws in my roof. For those that want to know, here is a link:
http://www.globalsolar.com/sites/def...l%20Models.PDF


By the way, I paid $125 each for a 100 watt panel.
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Old 03-08-2019, 07:53 AM   #4
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While I'm waiting for the rain to stop, I decided to mount the Renogy Rover MPPT charge controller.
I would have liked to mount it in the cabin, but it's too big, so I stole an idea from John Locke and decided to put it in the basement, aft of the door and steps where the batteries are mounted.

Here's a problem. The engineer who designed the enclosure and mounting needs counseling and human factors training. There are 4 keyholes for hanging the Rover on. They are inside of a C channel. Once mounted, it would look rather elegant, with the screws hidden. But mounting would be a PITA on a regular back board, let alone in a cramped basement on a sidewall.



You have to measure and install the fasteners first, loose. Then hang the unit, and tighten the screws. No room for a screwdriver (unless you have an offset one) or socket wrench, so you need hex head screws and an ignition wrench or small combination wrench.

I went through 3 iterations of mounting before I came up with my plan:

1) Do it their way. Nigh on to impossible to tighten the back 2 screws blind in the basement.

2) Premount the controller on an aluminum plate or plywood panel to make it easier to mount,

3) The winner. I mounted the Rover to 4 butt hinges with removable pins.



This has the mounting ease of #2, with 2 added advantages. I can pull all 4 pins and easily remove the Rover entirely. Or, I can pull just the back 2 and swing the Rover out to make it easier to wire or read the display and program.

Moiunted:




Swung out:



On to wiring and panel installation...
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Old 03-08-2019, 07:59 AM   #5
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For any fellow technoweenies out there, here's what the Rover looks like inside:


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Old 03-08-2019, 09:41 AM   #6
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I'll have to remember the hinge idea. Nice and creative but are you sure they're big enough?
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:26 PM   #7
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Well, I started out with smaller 2 hole hinges, and didn't think they were big enough, so yeah, I think so. That controller is heavier than it looks, and now its held up with 8 screws (or 16, depending on how you're counting) instead of 4.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:52 PM   #8
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Between the rains and sending my 95 year old mother to ER and thence to ICU (they sent her home after one night), I got some time to work on this again over the weekend.

I ran the 10 ga cables down the fridge vent, around the corner, and down the inside of the partition wall between the fridge and stove, behind the monitor panels and slide room switches.



From there, under the stove, sink and cabinets where the factory ran wiring, plumbing and furnace ducts, ad down the wiring chase to the basement.

Then I wired the battery cables, battery fuse and the solar cable to the Rover. I favor crimp-on ferrules from ferrulesdirect.com over twisting stranded wires or tinning them with solder for clamp type connections. I bought a kit from the a few years ago with ferrules for gauges from 22-10.




Here's the wired up Rover with the 30 amp ANL battery fuse. The solar array fuse is up on the roof in an MC4 fuse holder. I really like those MC4 connectors. Much easier to work with that what I did many years ago.



(The factory chase for their wiring that I used is behind the box with the outlet on it.)


Here's the Rover bluetooth monitor screen on my tablet.



It shows the array voltage 43.7V, current 2.74 amps, power 120 watts,
and the charge voltage 13.3, current 8.69, for a charge power of 115.6 watts. That's a conversion efficiency of 115.7/120 =96%.

Also, at the same time, my Davis weather station showed a horizontal insolation of 621 watts. 120 / 621 = 19% solar panel efficiency, which is pretty good too.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:58 PM   #9
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Now I'm dithering over how to mount the panels. I have all of the parts to either stick them down with VHB tape, or use the grommets in the corners with well nuts and 1/4-20 stainless bolts and fender washers.


By my count, I've already put at least 49 holes in the roof, so drilling 6 or 8 more doesn't bother me.


What to do....
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:55 PM   #10
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Well, as is my usual method, the end result wasn't quite any of the previous ideas.



I did stick the panels down with 2" VHB tape around the edges. Then, after imagining them coming loose and blowing off while driving down the road, I screwed all of the corners down with #12 hex head stainless steel sheet metal screws sealed with a gobbet of butyl tape around the threads.



Next time I am up there I'll finish them off with some Dicor on the heads.
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:39 PM   #11
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"I'm sorry sir. You have the wrong number."


I just realized that my efficiency calculation above is incorrect, as I didn't allow for the size of the panels. As it is dark now, and I don't want to clamber up on the roof of Sunny 2.0 to measure them, I will recalculate the efficiency tomorrow...
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