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Old 01-02-2018, 03:02 PM   #1
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solar capacity

Hi All,

I have a 2006 6.0L E350 that still has the original flexible solar panels mounted directly to the PH top. They aren't supplying much current any more so I want to replace them. I am also thinking I'll replace the old solar controller as the display doesn't work too well any more.

My question is, how do you decide how much solar capacity (W's worth of panels) you need? I have 2 AGM batteries rated at 396 Ah total. I have calculated that on a typical day we'd use about 40 - 50 Ah, going as high as 65-70 Maximum, but not very often.

I've looked at Grape Solar, Everbright, Kyocera and Renogy solar panels. Any recommendations, reviews on particular panels and manufacturers?

Thanks,
Ed
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:13 PM   #2
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My question is, how do you decide how much solar capacity (W's worth of panels) you need?
As much as you can fit or afford.

In your case your fit will be limited as much by weight as size because of the pop top. Is your top manual or electric?

Solar is like horsepower at first it's just right and then you'll wish you had just a little more.

-Eric
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:57 PM   #3
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It's an electric pop top. Hadn't thought too much about the weight issue. Don't remember what the weight limit is for it, and couldn't find anything in my manual. Have to find out what that is.
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:50 PM   #4
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That has been covered here a few times before. Someone will know or a quick call to Sportsmobile should tell you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShuttlePilot View Post
As much as you can fit or afford.

In your case your fit will be limited as much by weight as size because of the pop top. Is your top manual or electric?

Solar is like horsepower at first it's just right and then you'll wish you had just a little more.

-Eric
Absolutely! I'm guessing 300 watts. Get more than you think you'll need because the sun doesn't shine all day every day! I put 300 on my motorhome because I had the real estate and it's really not enough for 4 people living in there with lights/chargers/etc. Luckily for you you have lots of amp hours.

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Old 01-02-2018, 06:06 PM   #5
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First questions are how much energy you use, and how long you stay in any spot between driving.

There's no sense in buying and installing more solar capacity than you need. Lights, fans, microwaves, inverters, ... all add into the equation.


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Old 01-02-2018, 07:33 PM   #6
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First questions are how much energy you use, and how long you stay in any spot between driving.

There's no sense in buying and installing more solar capacity than you need. Lights, fans, microwaves, inverters, ... all add into the equation.


Herb
100% correct!

200 Amps of panel capacity on top (BTW, for a current Sprinter electric PH, 200 pounds is the roof top lifting capacity) and a single 4D battery and we are good to go. But we drive a lot and very seldom stay in one place for long, thus the battery gets charged via the alternator on a regular basis. Winter use and etc. all play into the equation, do the calcs and determine your need.

I can see where a lithium set-up is the present/future, and VTSoundman may eventually talk me into it, but for now (we are currently in the AZ desert and our system is performing well) all is good with a simple system that can be upgraded if we feel the need.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:03 PM   #7
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Make sure you factor in snow load. My van has two 135 glass panels that replaced the three Solara flat panels. I have an Aluminess roof rack and LED lighting all around plus the Yakima pod. It's fine but heavy snow makes me slightly nervous. I make sure I use corner pops inside if I'm expecting those conditions and brush off heavy stuff before moving the top up or down.

I'm fine with 270 watts worth in normal conditions and probably wouldn't gain much by adding a third panel for when I actually need it which is in heavy overcast. I opted for a high amp alternator to help offset.
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Old 01-03-2018, 12:27 AM   #8
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Herb has good questions regarding how long you hang out in one spot.

300 watts or greater was what I came up with for our rig. This was based on 25 to 40 Ah used during non charging hours say 6 pm to 8 am. Then during the daylight hrs another 35 to 50 Ah. So, 24hr total between 60 to 90 Ah used. Lets call it 80 Ah.

On a sunny day there is around 4.5 hrs "equivalent" full solar power "potential". I will need 80A x 12 volts or 960 watts of solar power generated. 300 watts x 4.5 hrs gets us to 1350 watts, except there is about 15% loss in the system that must be allowed for. This drops the 1350 to 1150. We are covered on a good day, no shade, reasonable angle most of the year. Real life usage has borne out the benefit of the 300 watt panel, and we see 17 to 22 Amps/hr of input on a normal day, about 90Ah total.

LG makes a 60 Cell panel (365W solar panel LG365Q1C-A5 NeON R) that can be had between 300 and 365 watts. A 60 cell panel is rated at 36.7 volts, so make sure the solar controller can handle that voltage input. The higher voltage from this panel allows using the 10 Ga solar wire with very little voltage loss.

If anyone is interested in a 300w LG NeON, let me know. I would love to move up to a 365, but I need to sell the 300 first.
LG High Efficiency Mono Xâ„¢ NeON Module Cells: 6 x 10 Module efficiency 18.3% Connector Type: MC4 connector IP67 | LG US
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:36 PM   #9
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The giant panels that 1der is referring to above typically require an MPPT type solar controller. Typical PWM controllers require max panel voltages around 18V.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:01 PM   #10
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I have two Grape Solar GS-Star-180W-US. These can be ordered at Home Depot and shipped to your closest store. I have The US version, which at the time they were charging a small premium on, I expect they still do. I also know of some people that acquired them from Amazon. This gives me 360 Watts total at STC or standard test conditions. It is very rare that you actually ever meet the (STC* = 25 ºC, 1000W/m2 irradiance and AM=1.5) in the real world.

You can find the new panel install on the end of this thread http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...acks-8900.html

-greg
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