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Old 10-21-2015, 03:51 PM   #1
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Solar Panel Addition to Vista 27N

Added a Solar Panel to my RV today. Total materials cost $ 200. Time about 2-3 hours. Used a 100 Watt Solar Panel from Amazon.com, that really outputs 80 Watts when used to drive 12 volt lead acid battery system, but still a great value. The claimed watts vs. real watts is an issue for most solar panel sellers I learned when researching this. Used Z brackets with butyl tape under them and stainless hardware to mount with more butyl over the screw heads to weather proof . Found a ABS Plastic Box on Amazon to make a neat entry to the front cap of the RV, more butyl tape to weather proof.

Used a 20 Amp rated charge controller that shuts off current from solar panel if battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts, to make sure that I did not get battery overcharge. It also has some monitoring LEDs. Since my single panel outputs less than 6 amps when charging I just tied into a handy 12 volt branch circuit in the front cap. Yes, I know I lost a little efficiency vs. home run to batteries but it was SOOOO much easier install this way.

About the only other detail for other DIYers that want to put in their own Solar Panel is to make sure to connect the battery side of the charge controller FIRST before connecting the solar panel side or you risk frying the solar charge controller. Also keep the solar panels covered until you get your solar panel cables connected to the charge controller.

http://www.irv2.com/forums/attachmen...1&d=1445460264

http://www.irv2.com/forums/attachmen...1&d=1445460264

http://www.irv2.com/forums/attachmen...1&d=1445460264
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:19 PM   #2
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I placed 530 watts on my 27n last month. I placed the panels at the back of the rig and drilled a hole just behind the shower vent. This allowed me to drop the wires down the wall that separates the bathroom from the hall.
I am thrilled with the results.

You will want more watts in the future!

Bill
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:24 PM   #3
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Looks like a nice clean install. Keep us posted on how it performs for you.
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:06 PM   #4
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Thanks. I laid out the cabling under the first roof solar panel so I can add a second solar panel in parallel right behind the first one, I may decide I need it after my first big dry camping test at Quartzite this winter. To go above two panels will require a bigger charge controller and more wiring, the 12 volt branch circuit won't support more than 2 panels in parallel.
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Old 10-25-2015, 12:14 AM   #5
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superlucky, you motivated me to go ahead and add the second panel now before Quartzite this coming winter. I wanted to make sure I could get the exact match to the first panel, so ordering it now from same Amazon supplier accomplished that. So now I have 160 Watts of 12 volt charging capability. Used pre-made "Y" parallel connectors so it was quick and easy to do. Total cost to add panel #2 was $ 150. So I have 160 Watts of solar for $ 350 or about $ 2.20 per watt.

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Old 10-25-2015, 11:31 AM   #6
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Very nice installation. Do you have the part number for that ABS plastic box you put on the roof?
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:47 AM   #7
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I was able to dry camp in my last toy hauler with a portable 185 watt panel and I never used the generator. Although this was summer with a higher angle on the sun, I think you will do fine with this set up if you are conservative with your electrical needs.

If you find that you still don't have enough, you might consider a smaller portable panel. That way you can have it face the sun all day with just a few moves per day. The other huge advantage of a portable panel is the ability to park your rig under the trees. (Not going to be a problem at Quartsite!)

The next best thing is to make sure all of your lights are LED. This made a huge difference.

Bill
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Old 10-25-2015, 05:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by John Hilley View Post
Very nice installation. Do you have the part number for that ABS plastic box you put on the roof?
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o08_s02



I mounted it with Dicor Sealing Tape under the bottom and lots of sealant tape around the sides of it. I spray painted it to better match the roof color, it took paint well.
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Old 02-15-2016, 06:33 PM   #9
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One addition to this thread: I originally used a basic solar charge controller but there is a more expensive better kind known as "MPPT" that can do 30% better charging per solar panel than the basic controllers. I am upgrading to this MPPT controller. MPPT controller takes the maximum power from the solar panel regardless of the voltage coming from the panel and does an efficient DC to DC conversion to put more amps into the battery charge process.


MPPT Solar Charge Controller - 260 W max for parallel panel system
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Old 02-16-2016, 08:34 PM   #10
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Did you add batteries, if so where?
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:01 PM   #11
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Did you add batteries, if so where?
No, I have found that the 2 OEM deep cycle batteries provide plenty of stored power for me. With a low power TV and LED lights have not have not needed additional stored power.

If I ever go with a Sat dish and receiver I will have to add a 3rd solar panel and another battery to handle the additional power drain for evening entertainment but that is not in my plans right now.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:23 PM   #12
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Just be aware that butyl tape will not withstand sun. It needs to be covered with something like Dicor self leveling caulk. In fact if I were doing it I'd put the Dicor into the holes before I put the screws in, then caulk over the "Z" brackets and screws. That's the way our 4 - 100 watt panels are secured.
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Old 02-18-2016, 11:45 PM   #13
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Regarding your 80% panel output. Full output is achieved when the sun angle is 90 degrees to your panel. Check it again on June 21. (or tilt). I chose to install about 30% more panel output than I really needed to overcome that.
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:52 PM   #14
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I have a 27n also and would love to see where you drilled the hole. Did you then run to the battery compartment from underneath?

thanks
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:04 PM   #15
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I have a 27n also and would love to see where you drilled the hole. Did you then run to the battery compartment from underneath?

thanks
I ran power and ground down behind the driver's side "A" pillar plastic trim then down thru the floor thru the large Ford OEM cable grommet behind where the steering col shaft goes thru the floor. Then along the chassis frame rails to the battery compartment. Did not drill any new holes. I poked 2 holes thru the grommet with an ice pick to run the 2 # 4 gauge wires thru.
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Old 01-15-2017, 12:51 PM   #16
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If it helps with another option, I ran all of my power cables through the roof and down through the wall between the bathroom and the hallway, where the monitor panels are located. It took a little work, but I was successful.

Good luck

Bill
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:24 PM   #17
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My lesson learned from this initial DIY solar install is that driver's side front side of roof is a bad location for solar panels due to shading. I personally have re-worked this and now have 4 of the 100 W solar panels mounted on the back part of the RV roof in front of the bedroom roof vent so that I can park the RV in any orientation and not worry about shading.

My other lesson I learned the hard way is to spend what it takes to put in a current shunt based battery monitoring system and good MPPT solar charge controller. I ended up using a Grape Solar MPPT charge controller ( $ 180 ) and Victron Battery Monitor ( $ 170 ). Even at $ 180 the controller I chose is not great, just good. A great one that can handle 400 watts solar is even more money.

If I had it to do over again, with panels mounted on the back part of the roof, I would not cable to the front cap, I would do like Bill ( post # 16 ) and run wires down as he did.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:39 PM   #18
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Solar in Vista 27N

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Originally Posted by superlucky View Post
If it helps with another option, I ran all of my power cables through the roof and down through the wall between the bathroom and the hallway, where the monitor panels are located. It took a little work, but I was successful.

Good luck

Bill
Good evening, We have a 2013 Winnebago Vista 27N and I'm interested in adding solar. We do a fair amount of dry camping and solar would go a long way to ease my worrying about the remaining power. The wife likes to watch TV and use the microwave, stuff like that when we stop and solar may keep me from having more gray in my hair than I already do. I like the idea of running the power cables down through the wall between the bathroom and hallway. How did you do that? How did you gain access the interior of that wall to run the cables and mount the battery monitor? One last question, how did you determine where to drill the hole through the roof to insure you where inside that wall? I get mighty nervous with the thought of drilling a hole through my roof and missing. Thank you
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Old 03-12-2017, 10:10 AM   #19
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I like the idea of running the power cables down through the wall between the bathroom and hallway. How did you do that? How did you gain access the interior of that wall to run the cables and mount the battery monitor? One last question, how did you determine where to drill the hole through the roof to insure you where inside that wall? I get mighty nervous with the thought of drilling a hole through my roof and missing. Thank you
.
I'm of the same mind as you. I'm considering placing a couple panels topside, but am nervous about drilling into something I shouldn't be.
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Old 03-12-2017, 10:35 AM   #20
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Hi

I measured over from the skylight and the vents. It was not difficult to determine where the wall was, however it was difficult to make the first cut! After that, it was easy.
My monitor panel is on the wall between the bathroom and the hallway. I removed the panel, which gave me access to the inside of the wall.
I don't have my RV here, but as I recall there was also some type of vent at the bottom of the wall that also gave me access.
The hard part was getting the wires into the bay under the kitchen slide. That is where I put my circuit breakers and charge controllers.

Good luck.
Bill
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