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Old 04-30-2014, 12:32 AM   #1
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Opinions on solar kit?

Okay, you solar gurus: I'm looking for opinions on this 280 W solar kit from N. AZ Wind & Sun:

http://www.solar-electric.com/rvmakitwi280.html

If I wasn't a total solar noob, I would piece a similar thing together myself, but right now my confidence level isn't high enough. I kinda like the kit except for the Z-brackets, so I would [s:1bs5guwe]steal some ideas[/s:1bs5guwe] handle that differently. I would also add a remote display for the controller.

My SMB has no solar pre-wire. I have a TrippLite PowerVerter, Surepower 1315-200 isolator, and 2 marine Group 27 batts that need replacing with decent AGMs, which I will do after I install the solar.

I estimated that we use between 50-70 Amp-hours per day, depending on the season. 110V uses would be a microwave, charging camera, laptop, phone and tablet batteries. We spend most of our time in the Four Corners states, so we have pretty good sun exposure. We prefer to boondock most of the time, so looking to dry camp in one location 1 to 3 nights and then move to a new location.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Wind & Sun us top notch, I have purchased stuff with them with no issues. AM Solar is also helpfull.http://www.amsolar.com/

In general I think the KIT is pretty good, except I do not think you need some of the items. Like using fuses instead the provided DC Circuit Breakers, that need the box to be installed in. You might be able to price it without some of the stuff cheaper.

The Kyocera are very good panels (I also own one), they are poly crystalline, instead of mono crystalline like some others. Some of the mono panels have a better efficiency and also have less drop in voltage caused by temperature. Which sounds like a plus for the general area that you hang out in.

I have started a link on Wiki about solar, it is still in progress but it should have some good info.


http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/med...le=Solar_Power


Bogart Engineering is also making their first solar controller, it will work in tandem with their newer TriMetric battery monitor TM-2030RV, the SC -2030. This has some interesting features for charging that look very well designed. I am currently looking over the documentation.



-greg
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:50 AM   #3
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Agree, the switch panel and combiner box are not needed. The solar controller is a bit basic also. I like the Blue Sky controller that SMB installed, shows battery voltage, solar panel output in amps and mounts nicely to the wall.

http://www.blueskyenergyinc.com/prod...ar_boost_2000e
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:55 AM   #4
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Greg - any opinions in general on the offerings here:
http://www.lightharvestsolar.com/12-vol ... -kits.html

They seem well priced and in our neck of the woods. I'm running a single 80W panel and it doesn't quite cut it.

I'd also agree that AM Solar is knowledgeable and good to work with.
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Old 04-30-2014, 05:14 PM   #5
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Rockbender,
The price for that panel is really really good, that is pretty darn close (spec wise) to the AM solar 160 watt, or the Grape 160 watt. I suspect that one can do better on the controller side of things
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Old 05-01-2014, 01:27 AM   #6
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Thanks for your comments, gang. After reading them and doing more reading at other sites, I have dropped the love on the original kit and come up with a new shopping list. Again, your thoughts are appreciated. Here's the list:

2 Kyocera KD140GX-LFBS 140 Watt 12 Volt Solar Modules for a total 280W, though they are as Greg pointed out, polycrystallines. I like the Grape 160W monocrystalline units, but it doesn't appear that they are warranted for RV use, which bothers me. Sears has them for a good price and cheap/free shipping if anyone is interested.

Blue Sky 3000i controller. The 2000E seems to be a very good unit, but the newer 3000i has 3-stage battery charging (bulk, absorption, float) versus the 2000E's 2-stage charging. Since I will be dropping over a half $K on shiny new AGMs right after the solar install, this is very attractive. The 3000i would seem to be a bit future-proofed if I wanted to go to higher wattage panels later, since it can handle more amps than the 2000E.

Connector box. I'm confused as about how to wire the panels into a parallel arrangement. Several places sell MC4 Y-connectors, which are 10gauge on both sides, like these:



In the previously mentioned Wind&Sun kit, they have a box with breakers to parallel-connect the panels. It seems to me that using the MC4 Y-connectors would be a cleaner and simpler solution. I think that the 10gauge wire coming *out* of the Y-connectors is more than adequate to handle the output of the combined panels. Am I missing something here?

Other bits. 6gauge wire for connecting the controller to the batts, a remote battery temp sensor that hooks to the 3000i for proper charging, various ring terminals, and a hammer-strike crimper. Add to this an in-line fuse connector between the panels and controller, and another between the controller and batteries.
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:20 AM   #7
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Looks like a good choice of equipment, make sure that you order the Kyocera KD140GX-LFBS (this is the model that comes with MC4 connectors) they sell both. Using the 10 gauge MC4 extension from -the multi-branch connectors should be fine. Glad to see you got the temperature sensor, for your controller.

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Old 05-01-2014, 11:58 AM   #8
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by photographix
Connector box. I'm confused as about how to wire the panels into a parallel arrangement. Several places sell MC4 Y-connectors, which are 10gauge on both sides, like these:
I went with the junction box model. Was easier to wire up in my opinion and I didn't need to buy any of those proprietary connectors. You can also cut the wires exactly the length that you need them. Boxes are completely water tight.

Parallel wiring is very simple, you connect the positive terminal of one panel to the positive terminal on the second panel, same with the negative.

What you see are my two panels in this picture. 2 wires run from the 1st panel to the inside of the junction box pictured and then out the other side and down through the penthouse.

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Old 05-01-2014, 01:10 PM   #9
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

The MC4 connector has become a standard in Solar Panels and it is getting increasingly difficult (certainly not impossible) to purchase non MC4 panels over 100 watts. For that reason I would recommend MC4 connectors, also if you were to purchase a MC4 panel and had to wire it into a existing junction box, in most cases they would void your warranty if you cut the existing connector off, thus you would have to add the appropriate extension end to it anyway (and cut that) . The MC4 connectors are a pain in the #@s to disconnect, so I would highly recommend their removal tools if you go that route.

If you cut the below 30 ft extender cable in half, that would give you about 15 ft from controller to panel, if you need more purchase the 50 ft extender cable.

Multibranch MC4 Connectors, Latching
PV-AZB4
Type
M-M-F
Edit
$10.07


Multibranch MC4 Connectors, Latching
PV-AZS4
Type
F-F-M
Edit
$10.07


30 Foot MC4 Solarline 2, Extender Cable Male/Female
MC4-30-MF
Edit
$31.50

$
Disconnect Tool For MC4 Connectors
PV-MS
Edit
$4.50

Total
$56.14
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Old 05-02-2014, 12:15 AM   #10
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Re: Opinions on solar kit?

280 watts will be excellent, even in cloudy weather you will get useable power. I have a single 240 watt sharp solar panel (bought on craiglist for 200 dollars) on the roof of my astrovan and it produces more power than I need. Its best to have too much power than not enough, the 120 watt kycora that I had before was inadequate.
for solar charge controller I have been using an ecoworthy MPPT20-1 20 amp mppt charge controller for the past year 24/7 nonstop and its been pretty reliable for the 102.00 I paid for it. My panel has an ip max of 8 amps, but I get 12 amps with the mppt controller and seen it go has high as 15 amps. It does the job and my 145 amp agm battery is always backup to full charge by noon.
I bought the 4 mounting L-brackets at home depot for 8 dollars and it works great to install the panel. I used z-brackets on my last panel I had the 120 watt kycora, they worked fine but your roof needs to be almost perfectly flat because they are very short in lenght.
50/70 amps per day should be no problem with 280 watts. I ran a dc fridge (edgestar fp430) with my 120 watt panel and still had power leftover to charge laptops, run swamp coolers, an even use my roadpro lunchbucket oven but just barely. With 240 watt I never worry if I have enough power. But just make sure you get enough battery to have energy surplus on those cloudy days. Every day my 145 amp agm is floating by noon (about 2 - 3 amps) inbright sunshine not indulging in the abundant free power available. but for right now its adequate for my needs. If I had a microwave I definitely get a bigger battery. for comparison my 12 volt roadpro lunchbucket uses about 12 amps during startup and slowly goes down to 8 amps as it heats up, it takes about 25 minutes to heat a can of beef stew or ravilolis, I used a wattmeter to measure amps used, in 25 minutes it used about 5 amps total, panel will replenish that in 30 minutes.
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