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Old 05-11-2022, 06:05 PM   #1
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My Solar Experiment

So it begins...

I still have some things to be delivered, but I have most of the stuff now.

I'll update the thread as I build. I don't have much time right now though. I've pretty much got it all figured out it's just a matter of getting it done.

I intend to series one of my 175w panels with the 190w stock panel since I don't want to take it off.

The Voc is 23.9V & Imp is 8.89A on the 175w Renogy vs. 24.09V & 9.45A on the stock 190w panel. So it's close enough for me. If anything, under perfect conditions the Renogy panel will be holding back the stock panel. But I'm betting the stock panel isn't going to be as efficient as the Renogy panel since from what I gather the flexible panels are better at catching the sun at angles. In the future I can always remove the stock panel and buy another Renogy panel. But I'm thinking this will be fine for what I want to do.

I will also have the other 2 175w Renogy panels in a series on the roof, then parallel the 2 series together so I can use the stock 10 gauge solar drop into one of my 60A Renogy charge controllers. Using a calculator it is estimated that under perfect conditions the charge controller could put out over 65A, but it is limited to 60A. I'm fine with those numbers as I don't expect perfect conditions very often and the roof solar is not going to be my primary solar array. It's more for charging while travelling and maybe now and then while boondocking if I happen to be parked in the sun.

Which is why I have a 2nd 60A Renogy charge controller which will be wired in parallel with the roof solar controller. I have 800w of suitcase panels that I will series together for ~74V & 10.5A, which can easily travel through 100' of 10 gauge wire with very minimal power loss (~3%). I don't know if I will use 100' of cable or not, probably 50' when I can, but I'll have the 100' cables just in case I need them. I'll use MC4 connectors for this as well. I haven't decided if I'll mount a gland on the side of the TT or under it yet. I don't recall off the top of my head, but I believe the charge controller calculator had the optimum output at something like 70A for this array, which is once again limited to 60A by the controller.

But if I am able to get 120A out of this setup I'll be ecstatic. I'll even be happy with 100A. Whatever the case, it doesn't matter to me. This is more of an experiment than anything. I want to learn all I can before I delve into doing a massive system for a whole house to be completely enegy independent.

The inverter is there for some obvious reasons, but also to experiment with my power pool. Maybe I'll run the AC for an hour in the evening to cool the TT down if I'm able to spare the power.

This has quickly turned into a pricy experiment.
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Old 05-11-2022, 08:57 PM   #2
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Quick update:

I put the wrong stats into my OP. I ran these numbers a few weeks back before I started ordering stuff so my memory is hazy.

I'm actually at ~103V at 10.5A with my suitcase array which can yield up to 75A output with a MPPT controller. It also reduces the power loss to somewhere between 2% and 3% for 100' of 10 gauge wire.

I'm still capped at 60A though so it really doesn't matter. But it does make 60A of output more likely in less than perfect conditions with the suitcases.

Just in case someone tries to do my math
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Old 05-12-2022, 06:32 AM   #3
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My bad, I linked to pics in my OP but I guess since they are not in a public folder on Google they are not visible here. I just noticed because now I'm at work and I can't see them anymore.
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Old 05-12-2022, 06:35 AM   #4
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More stuff...

More on the way.
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Old 05-12-2022, 04:16 PM   #5
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Hi DaveW, I will be watching for your updates on this project, looks like you have some knowledge with this stuff. We would like to outfit our 2021DS with solar and lithium batteries. We do have Renogy 200w solar suitcase. Thanks in advance Ron
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Old 05-12-2022, 04:37 PM   #6
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Thanks Ron, I hope that this thread may help you out in some way as I add to it.

I'm certainly no expert in this area, but I am a quick study. I've been spending several hours per day for several weeks now researching every relevant aspect of this project that I can think of. I like to always be learning things. I've been that way my entire life.

I picked up some knowledge here on this forum as well as quite a bit from a couple of other forums and especially Youtube. There are two members on this forum whom stand out in my mind that I learned from by reading their posts in other threads, Fred and Marine (I only know their account name).

I have some installation ideas that I plan to do which I have not seen done anywhere else yet (as well as some similar ideas to other ideas). So I'm hoping that it works out great and shows people some more options when it comes to installing panels and equipment.

I received a few more items today. I think my mailman is starting to dislike me.
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Old 05-12-2022, 05:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveW View Post
I'm certainly no expert in this area, but I am a quick study. I've been spending several hours per day for several weeks now researching every relevant aspect of this project that I can think of. I like to always be learning things. I've been that way my entire life.
Dave, good luck with your solar experiment! I can truly relate to your statement above. I think we are both wired very similar.

Fred
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Old 05-13-2022, 05:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred 2106DS View Post
Dave, good luck with your solar experiment! I can truly relate to your statement above. I think we are both wired very similar.

Fred
Thanks Fred, your posts have been very helpful for me while researching my solar build.
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Old 05-13-2022, 06:05 AM   #9
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If you have a need to drill a hole through the floor, stay away from the A/C ducts.
Is there a build you are following?

What is your trailer?
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Old 05-13-2022, 06:11 AM   #10
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Your aware to 190 w panel will submit to the lesser amp of the 175 w panel right?
I get not wanting to remove it, but it’s not that bad once you start. I’ve drilled, screwed and cut mine so much now. It’s not that big a deal.
Keep your wire cuts long enough for the runs needed, so it stays neat. Double check fit before cut. Wire ain’t cheap.
Where are you installing the components/ batteries?

See if you can find out max temps of components, I.e. inverter.

You may find like I did, the wires from the solar roof entry are not the 10 g all the way through.
If they are not I would not suggest using the wire present to pull a new one through. It’s likely to be taped to another wire in the roof.
The wire in mine traveled down the front cap, which passed through a 1/2” hole in aluminum framing. They do not make it mod friendly.
I ended up drilling through the top of my front cap behind the marker light passing 10g wires through cabinet and into pass through
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Old 05-13-2022, 09:06 AM   #11
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Thanks for the tip about the AC ducts.

No, I am not following anyone's build. I referenced builds to get ideas and I may have borrowed some ideas from some builds but to my knowledge nobody has a build exactly like I intend to do. Everything will be in the passthrough. I don't have space under my bed, at least not enough, and I'd lose the use of my drawers. I'm also hoping to have large CPU fans powered through the load terminals on the charge controllers to help dissipate heat.

I am aware of the issues with mixing the stock 190w panel with a different 175w panel. I do not want to add any more work to my already heavy workload that I don't have time to do right now as it is, over an amp or 2 or 3. I'm still capped at 60A when the calculators show the array is capable of 70A in perfect conditions (with matching panels). I will even be happy with 50A output. I don't want to park in the sun anyway since the TT will get much hotter, hence the suitcases. The roof array is not my primary boondocking array. But if for some reason I am not content with the roof array in the future and I have the time, I only need to remove the old panel and install a new panel and plug it in. So it's not a big deal to try out my system with the stock panel first.

My schematics from Winnebago show 10/2 wire all the way to the controller. If that's not the case then I will improvise at that point. I'll probably use conduit and run down the side vs trying to fish wire through the TT, or maybe come down into one of the storage areas on the side of the bed, which it seems you did as well.
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Old 05-13-2022, 09:18 AM   #12
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If you are considering coming through cabinetry from roof, you will have to enter through the front cap, as there is an aluminum frame that the front cap attaches to.

The diagrams I received from Winnebago did not tell me that the solar entry gland had 12" of 10-gauge wire and continued with a different type of wire. They actually did not mention any wire sizes... Feeling I got screwed on that...

Wheew, good luck on doing all that work inside the pass through. Are you going to use a slide out, to correct problems should they occur? It might be an idea to have a panel under the mattress that opens up on a hinge to easily access and work on the system...
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Old 05-13-2022, 09:30 AM   #13
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I was just looking through my thread about my solar... I remembered. One of the reasons I did not go the conduit route was I could not find all the pieces to do it. Home Depot was lacking Parts...
The other reason was it was not the preferred method.
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Old 05-13-2022, 10:10 AM   #14
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Hopefully I have more than 12" of 10 gauge. I seen the 10 gauge wire from the gland in the roof when I was installing my Heng's vent fan last weekend and I didn't notice any reduction in wire size from what was visible. I believe one of the wires is the red wire on the left side with a white wire nut on it. But it appears to be wired to another red wire of the same gauge. I'll find out soon enough.



I have a rack system designed to hold the batteries and to attach components which will allow me to pull them out if needed as well as allow the components to breathe. It's a bit pricy compared to plywood and 2x4s though.

Edit: I just looked at this picture on my phone so I could zoom in and those 2 wires are not the same size. However, it doesn't appear that those 2 wires are connected. The connecting wire for the wire nut appears to be hidden behind the lower wire (which is bigger than the upper wire). The top wire continues past the wire nut and is barely visible even in this pic.

Now I'm getting curious though. I'll try to look into this over the weekend to get an answer, maybe even this evening.
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Old 05-13-2022, 10:37 AM   #15
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Here is what Winnebago sent when I requested schematics for the TT. While it is generic I "figured" that it was mostly accurate or else why send it to me? I'm going to be a little bit miffed if I can't use my stock solar gland. It will add a lot more work to my build.
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Old 05-13-2022, 03:55 PM   #16
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Tagging along!
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Old 05-13-2022, 05:32 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by DaveW View Post
Hopefully I have more than 12" of 10 gauge. I seen the 10 gauge wire from the gland in the roof when I was installing my Heng's vent fan last weekend and I didn't notice any reduction in wire size from what was visible. I believe one of the wires is the red wire on the left side with a white wire nut on it. But it appears to be wired to another red wire of the same gauge. I'll find out soon enough.



I have a rack system designed to hold the batteries and to attach components which will allow me to pull them out if needed as well as allow the components to breathe. It's a bit pricy compared to plywood and 2x4s though.

Edit: I just looked at this picture on my phone so I could zoom in and those 2 wires are not the same size. However, it doesn't appear that those 2 wires are connected. The connecting wire for the wire nut appears to be hidden behind the lower wire (which is bigger than the upper wire). The top wire continues past the wire nut and is barely visible even in this pic.

Now I'm getting curious though. I'll try to look into this over the weekend to get an answer, maybe even this evening.
Winnebago publishes a wiring identification guide for its motorhomes that deciphers the code numbers imprinted on the wires. It's possible the codes are the same for their towables. You can confirm if this is the case by checking out some known wires. If the codes don't match, Winnebago may be able to send you a list:

https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...ical_guide.pdf

In order to avoid future problems, you might want to replace the wire nuts with butt splices (if you don't need to disconnect them in the future) or Wago connectors if you will. By all accounts I've seen, they're much more secure than wire nuts:

https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=wago+co...f=nb_sb_noss_1

A DC wire tracer can also be helpful:

https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=dc+wire...f=nb_sb_noss_1

Another great tool is a multimeter with a clamp-on ammeter probe so you can read amps without disconnecting anything. Just be careful since it's often not clear from the description if the meter is AC/DC amps or just DC. I had to look closely at the photo of the dial on one to see that it was only AC. I bought the KAIWEETS HT206D:

https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=ac+dc+c...f=nb_sb_noss_1
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Old 05-13-2022, 08:25 PM   #18
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Awesome info Bob, thanks!

I went out to the TT this evening to install my Maxxair vents and decided to check my solar gland wires while I was there. I couldn't get back to the wires in the pic above without pulling the fan. I didn't want to pull the fan. So I decided to go to the other end of the wires, the charge controller.

I was unable to unmount the charge controller because they used screws with heads larger than the counterbores molded into the charge controller casing which has caused them to be wedged in so tight that I stripped out the head trying to loosen it. I will have to cut the screws off and use vice grips to get the remaining part out. I left it for now since I'm not ready to deal with that just yet.

So I looked at the positive wire with the fuse that is hanging out:

There's a 30 amp fuse. From what I read, the wire should not be any smaller than 10 gauge with a 30 amp fuse and 12 gauge wire should have a 20 amp fuse. Otherwise the wires will get too hot before the fuse blows. Input from someone with more knowledge on this would be appreciated.

https://www.cerrowire.com/products/r...pacity-charts/

However, I measured the outer diameter of the wire with a pair of dial calipers and the wire measured about .205". That is around the size of a 12 gauge wire from what I read. My 10 gauge wire here at home that I plan to use for my solar installation measures around .245".

I know that insulation diameters can vary. But I'm thinking this is 12 gauge wire with a 30 amp fuse. That seems really small for a 10 gauge wire.

Now I'm wondering that if this wire really is capable of carrying 30 amps safely then maybe I can still use it since the max amperage my panels will supply is 17.78 amps. I just might have more voltage drop. Even 12 gauge wire should be able to handle the amperage of my array.
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Old 05-14-2022, 08:38 AM   #19
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I've been searching the web for answers. The only answer I can find is that I'm going to have to measure the copper wires directly. I cannot guess how thick the insulation is. It could very well be 10 gauge wire. I found another chart which has 10 gauge wire measuring as small as .161" on the outside diameter of the insulation, which is even smaller than my wire.

https://lugsdirect.com/Wire_Insulati...ness_600V.html

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that I will use it regardless if it is 10 or 12 gauge since 12 gauge will also handle the amperage from my roof array. When I start hooking up the array I'll measure the copper just so I know what I have. I would certainly prefer 10 gauge since it will not lose as much voltage as 12 gauge.


I also remember reading that there was an option to add a second stock solar panel from Go Power for a total of 380 watts. They were stating that the stock system was pre-wired for it. If those panels were hooked up in parallel the amperage would be similar to my current amperage (actually higher at 18.9A vs mine at 17.78A), but at half the voltage. The stock charge controller can not accept a series array since the volts would be too high. It can only accept a maximum of 25v. In other words, I should be able to safely use the wires in the manner I intend.

Stock Charge Controller

Unless someone has some information to add on this issue I will consider it closed until I start my installation. I intend to continue as planned.
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Old 05-14-2022, 07:41 PM   #20
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Here is what Winnebago sent when I requested schematics for the TT. While it is generic I "figured" that it was mostly accurate or else why send it to me? I'm going to be a little bit miffed if I can't use my stock solar gland. It will add a lot more work to my build.
What I noticed with the diagrams I was sent. Was that they were not up to date as far as the year model I have.
There were numerous inaccuracies.
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