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Old 10-11-2021, 01:02 PM   #1
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Minnie 2529RG Solar Questions

Hello all,
My wife and I purchased a 2022 Minnie 2529RG and it is scheduled to be built in November. We plan to retire in less than 2 years so we are thinking we want to have a better solar package for trips that are out west and we will be boondocking.
I have a question about installing solar. I think that is beyond something that I would want to do on a new trailer so... I have talked to the salesperson at the dealership and they don't really seem to have answers. I asked for a quote to upgrade to the lithium batteries and they came back with "around $1000 for a lithium battery". I know there is a lot more involved than just that.
Living in the Allentown, PA area I have looked for locations to do these upgrades but haven't really found much.
So my question - How do you find local or travelling repair people that do this kind of upgrades? or should I work through the dealership?
Thank you for your time and suggestions,
Mark
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Old 10-11-2021, 11:27 PM   #2
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I would say Do Not expect the Dealer to have a clue about anything to do with your solar installation.

There are folks out there that specialize in this but not necessarily anywhere near your location.

Most people find that DIY solar is very affordable but custom designed and installed systems cost roughly 100% more than doing this work yourself.

Regardless of whether you take the 3rd party installer route or not I would strongly suggest that you dig in and do the work to educate yourself about every facet of this project. You may decide it’s not that daunting a project or you may learn you definitely don’t want to do this DIY but you do need to know all about this subject no matter how you proceed.
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Old 10-12-2021, 06:00 AM   #3
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Hi Creative,

Thanks for the reply

I have watched hours of Youtube checking into this project.
I was thinking dealership because they know the layout of the trailer and what it has but maybe not.
An example - I understand that the Minnie has a power management system so that you could run 2 AC's on 30 AMP power. So how does that change the possible soft start you might want to add if you do solar?
I have looked into different things about the project and because it is a new trailer I feel I might want to be less risky and not do a DIY project like this.
I had a local company that does electrical work and they said we could probably do it.. not a lot of confidence there.
Thanks again for the reply
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Old 10-12-2021, 07:48 AM   #4
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Unlike a Ford or Chevy dealer that may have an excellent understanding of their products, RV dealers are generalists. They usually sell and service many different brands, so they don’t really have specific knowledge about your TT or your TTs roof structure, etc.

Next let’s talk about “adding solar.” So you are thinking that you’ll add enough solar and batteries to run an A/C off of your batteries?

As you’ve no doubt seen on YouTube there are RVers that have been able to do this for a few hours. BUT, you’ll need to spend a very large amount of money on your project. Also, understand that no one runs their A/C off of “Solar.” The way this works is your A/C runs off of 110v power. Period. You can provide that power via a shore power connection, a generator or inverted power from your batteries.

Solar panels are simply a way to recharge your batteries and nothing else. Your batteries run all 12v systems and if you add an inverter can power 110v items up to the limit of both your inverter and your battery bank’s storage capacity. Your Solar panels don’t run anything but your solar charge controller to charge those batteries.

Even with a soft start your one A/C will require a very massive amount of 110v power for every minute you are running it. You’ll need about 2,500 - 3000w of inverter power just to get the A/C started and then a battery bank of perhaps 600, 800 or even 1,000 amp hours to run it for long enough to keep your RV cool. And if you expect to recharge those batteries with solar power you’ll need something like 1,200w of panels on your RV’s roof.

Once people get a realistic picture of this and realize they can spend $10,000 or more to run their A/C for 3-hours OR they can spend $1,000 on a generator to run their A/C all day they give up on trying to do this with batteries.

Remove A/C from the target chore and outfitting your TT with enough battery power and inverter to power everything else within reason becomes a much more reasonable project - and much more affordable, too.
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Old 10-12-2021, 09:31 AM   #5
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creative - thank you for your reply
Very good points on being realistic. I had a quote from a site for rv solar that was over 10,000 so I was referring to items they had listed - I totally get what you are saying. This was their suggestion.
I was thinking of getting 2 lithium 206 amp hour batteries (SOK) - and adding 600 more watts of solar for 790 total and a 2000 invertor - does that sound like more than what I should be thinking about or is that reasonable?
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Old 10-12-2021, 10:19 AM   #6
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That sounds like not enough to run your A/C for any meaningful amount of time, especially with only a 2000w inverter. But for everything else it's probably a bit more than you need. But then I don't know if you have an RV fridge that runs off of propane and electricity. OR if your TT has a compressor fridge that runs off of electricity only.

It also depends on how long you want to camp off-grid. Without A/C and with an RV fridge that setup would power everything for a week or more. If the fridge is a compressor fridge then likely you'd get up to a week with that 412 amp hours.

Even with 790w of solar you will need a guaranteed way to recharge batteries - because the sun can hide for days when you need it to recharge your batteries. That would mean bringing a generator with you of at least 2000w.

Don't expect to simply plug the TT in to your truck. Most tow vehicle to trailer setups are fairly inefficient at charging fully drained batteries unless you also get a DC to DC charger and make changes to your Tow Vehicles charging system. But you'll probable need the DC to DC charger anyway because you want to charge LiPo batteries.

You will need:
1. Inverter 2,000w or more
2. Batteries - the more amp hours the better
3. DC to DC charger from the alternator to the batteries
4. Solar panels - as much as will fit
5. MPPT Solar Charge Controller
6. Wire, fuses, circuit breakers
7. Electrical work to connect the inverter to specific circuits in the RV
8. Lithium capable Converter/Charger in the RV

Guesstimating all of this I'd guess $6500 - $7,000 (using your system above for sizing) if you DIY it and $14,000 if you hire it out.

For a minimal system with half the batteries and half the solar you might be able to do this for about $4,500 DIY ($10,000 hired out). You are pretty much locked into the items in 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 from the list.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-12-2021, 11:27 AM   #7
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We do have a 12v fridge

Thank you for the list - certainly something I will review when getting closer to ordering material or checking suggestions from installer - depending on how I decide to go with this.
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Old 10-12-2021, 11:40 AM   #8
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Hi Mark,
I would recommend that you first decide your budget for all upgrades, then approach the upgrade projects in stages.

1. The first and most important upgrade is matching your batteries to your inverter. Of course, I recommend a hybrid inverter/charger that can use max amperage from your batteries, and provide max charging amperage. It makes sense to mount both in your pass thru where they can be as close as possible to each other in order to avoid voltage drop. For example, 200ah of LiFePo4 battery can be matched to 2000w inverter. For 300ah or higher, you’ll need a 3000w inverter charger. You can do the install DIY, if you are supple and if you don’t do it in winter, because it will involve crawling under the trailer. I did most of my install, but I hired a shop with a garage to do the under coach work because it was bitter winter.
2. Your Minnie will come equipped with pre-wired solar (and maybe factory controller). There will be factory installed mc4 connectors and waterproof gland on the roof. It’s quite easy to first install a mppt controller in the pass thru near the battery, and then plop on solar panels. Although be advised, the pre-wired solar uses 10awg wire which is insufficient for large solar installations. However, if you start with just 400w of panels wired in parallel, you’ll be fine with the existing wire. You’ll need a 100/30 mppt for this.
3. Don’t underbuy on #1. Go for what you think you’ll want because replacing component would be expensive. However, if you want more batteries, you can easily add more as long as you’ve installed a big enough inverter charger.
4. There are many high quality US made LiFePo4 brands with good customer service that cost far less than Battleborn, the best battery out there. Figure $1,000 for a 3,000w Bluetooth inverter charger, and $1,200 for 200ah of batteries. Then $200 for a Bluetooth mppt. 100w panels are under $100 each, but if you plan to go big on wattage, you’ll pay a bit more per watt for higher output panels.
5. You might want to consider a solar suitcase portable. You can install a sidewall SAE port and a controller in a couple of hours. If you do this use a separate controller for the portable. $300 all in for this.
6. There are those who spend $10k to be able to run one ac on solar. I don’t quite get it. You can install easy starts on ac for $300 each, and buy a good propane generator for the few times that you’ll need the ac for less tha $1,000. Consider instead of installing a Maxxair thermostatic roof vent fan for $400. Remember, you’re not likely to be in your RV during the hottest parts of the day. For all else a thermostatic fan and a generator for occasional ac may meet your needs.

Good luck with your projects and congrats on your new Minnie adventures to come.
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Old 10-12-2021, 02:01 PM   #9
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Hi Marine - thank you so much for your reply and suggestions.
I appreciate you listing the pricing of the parts as well it gives a good idea to go along with overall costs from previous posts.

Does anyone have any experience with doing the Federal Government tax write off for this type of solar upgrade? I heard that is is eligible as a 2nd residence but also heard it wasn't. It would be a nice payback if I was able to get 26% refunded on my taxes and would allow me to go bigger and know I was getting money back.
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Old 10-12-2021, 02:23 PM   #10
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Will Prowse, a respected Youtube reviewer gave the SOK LiFePO4 batteries a great review. They're $569 for 100AH and $1,029 for 206AH:

https://www.mobile-solarpower.com/li...batteries.html

Amazon and other vendors carry them as well as the supplier linked in the above site. Due to their popularity and supply issues, they're frequently out of stock.
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Old 10-12-2021, 03:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrlichty View Post
Does anyone have any experience with doing the Federal Government tax write off for this type of solar upgrade? I heard that is is eligible as a 2nd residence but also heard it wasn't. It would be a nice payback if I was able to get 26% refunded on my taxes and would allow me to go bigger and know I was getting money back.
I've done it a couple of times without any issues. If you use something like Turbotax, it's easy.

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/energy-...ns-and-answers
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Old 10-12-2021, 03:32 PM   #12
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Yes I took the 30% solar deduction - I took the deduction for the OEM Factory Solar Package Option cost, the 2-100w panels I added to the OEM system and the MPPT solar charge controller to replace the PWM controller that came with the OEM system.

Most years we do our own taxes with TurboTax but that year we hired out our taxes because we were dealing with the sale of a corporate asset that tax year. But I just gave them the info and it was a simple as them filling out a form. We got about a $900 tax credit for the expenditure.
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Old 10-13-2021, 06:47 AM   #13
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Great - Thank you both for your answers
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Old 10-18-2021, 12:17 PM   #14
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I did my solar and new LiFePo4 battery upgrades one piece at a time. I am an electrical engineer and did not realize how involved it was when I first started. But once you start, you pretty much have to do everything. And you will still need a generator because you will either run out of battery power or you will want to run your a/c. The list creativepart made above is a pretty good list and everyone should use that as a reference. I have 500W of solar, 300Ah lithium battery, an MPPT charge controller, DC to DC lithium charger, a AC to DC lithium charger, and a few pure sine wave invertors. And lots of rewiring. Took me over a year to do everything and into it for about $5k. Money well spent!
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Old 10-19-2021, 03:20 PM   #15
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For #5 marine, do you have one you recommend? My rig has a solar plug in on the side. (2225rl)
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Old 10-20-2021, 11:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by ocbuff View Post
For #5 marine, do you have one you recommend? My rig has a solar plug in on the side. (2225rl)
OC
I would always recommend a portable setup where the panel does not have a onboard charge controller. And, I would always recommend a charge controller be mounted near the battery. I have a Victron smart 75/15 to service my SAE portable port. All wiring should be 10awg. The Victron is Bluetooth, so you can see exactly how much charge current you’re getting from the panel. For my panel, I have a lensunsolar 110w bi-fold soft panel. I chose it because it has the newest soft panel technology, it weighs less than 7lbs, and fits easily into one of my small closets. But there are some other good ones like Jackery. Shop for the best deal, but make sure it has EFTE/PERC. It’s a bit more expensive than others, but I’ve had good results, getting a full 6amps in ideal sun. When you mount the controller near the battery, you can put the panel 30ft away with virtually no loss of voltage. And with no onboard charge controller, you can connect the panel directly to a portable power station.

https://www.lensunsolar.com/Products...product_id=479
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Old 10-20-2021, 11:22 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by ocbuff View Post
For #5 marine, do you have one you recommend? My rig has a solar plug in on the side. (2225rl)
One other thing OC.
If you have a factory installed sidewall port, it most likely is a Zamp port, not SAE. Zamp ports are wired reverse polarity, so you’ll need a polarity converter jack. Test polarity first with a multimeter. If the wires leading away from the port are not connected to anything, you’ll have to be careful to connect the correct polarity to your charge controller, or you will damage it.
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Old 10-20-2021, 12:09 PM   #18
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Usually, when Winnebago installs a 3-port portal on the roof and a single port in a compartment they put that single port inside the compartment nearest the battery and generally, they have a 30-amp Zamp PWM solar charge controller installed in the same or similar position - if not on a wall inside the RV.

As Jim says above - Zamp uses a proprietary plug on their equipment. It's a typical SAE plug and receptacle but it's wired opposite of usual SAE convention. The typical SAE wired plug wires the "male" (metal exposed) prong as positive. But Zamp wires the "female" (metal sheathed) prong as positive.

Other solar panel suppliers use much more robust MC4 connectors with separate positive (red banded) and negative (black banded) connectors. It's easy to find MC4 to Zamp adapters online and Amazon is a good place to locate them. Zamp has them but charges more.

Also, as Jim noticed you want a portable suitcase without a solar charge controller - BUT - only if your TT has a solar charge controller installed. So, determine that first before ordering. Many portable solar suitcases are connected directly to a battery so they include a charge controller on the back of the panel. So, make sure you have a charge controller installed from the factory (pretty likely) and if so get the suitcase without a charge controller and either a Zamp compatible SAE plug OR MC4 connectors.

Here are some photos of a SAE plug as you'd see on your TT, a MC4 to Zamp adapter, a Zamp 3-port portal and a Zamp 30-amp solar charge controller:
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Old 10-20-2021, 12:38 PM   #19
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port

thank you so much for all this info. here's what the port looks like on the side and some info from the manufacturer on this item:

https://gpelectric.com/solar-side/


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so i'm taking it this one isn't reverse polarity?
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Old 10-20-2021, 01:43 PM   #20
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That is an SAE port. It could be a Zamp which is the same physical thing but Zamp reverses the polarities from the SAE standard. But I don't see the Zamp logo on it.

It could be just screwed in place with no wires- you have to wire it up yourself. Or it could be wired to a solar controller. Or it could be wired directly to the batteries inside. You will have to look behind it and see.

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