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  #71  
Old 08-26-2017
konehd konehd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi3 View Post
Nope to Xantrex.

I wrote Xantrex/Schneider and asked about their charge controller
So, Midnight Solar it is.
I looked at Midnight and couldnt find the UL 458 cirt on their larger controllers...?? Might have missed it though! The small one, The Kid is UL458. Maybe someone can check if they think its important to them ;}

Looking at the prices Im glad I went with the Xantrex, just about half of the midnight price! If I was going with another panel I might have to upgrade the controller, but 3 panels @ 900w is good enough.
Its the same 3 panels that Mike has.

One other thing nice about the xantrex is no fan! Its quiet.

Some questioned the routing of the wires to the batteries, I ran them down the back of the coach, going in just above the rear view camera. Its a shorter run than going down the refer vent and pretty easy to get to. From the rear its easy to get to the batteries just below. Thats on a PT. Other coaches are different.

Solar Penny is a good retailer, but I found the same or better prices from a local retailer up on Flagstaff. Its worth looking for a local seller to save shipping!

HTH, Joe
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  #72  
Old 08-27-2017
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jphoenix13 jphoenix13 is offline
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I've been doing a lot of reading on the internet and came across the Midnite Solar charge controller sizing tool and I was surprised at the result.

I've decided, looking at the solar map and how little sun we get up here in the Puget Sound, that I should go big since the extra cost is minimal and while I'm up on the roof drilling and wiring, might as well install four panels. I also found Canadian Solar does a 340 watt panel with good efficiency.

So I plugged the CS 340 watt and the CS 275 watt panel numbers into the charge controller calculator and it appears I cannot run one string of four panels without exceeding the design limits of any of the controllers, see .pdf files attached.

If I configure two strings in parallel, then I'm well within the charge controller design specs, with even the 340 watt panels. In fact it says go with the 150 as it can handle more wattage.

Am I missing something here, or is that what most folks are doing?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 340 watt 2 parallel strings.pdf (16.8 KB, 35 views)
File Type: pdf 340 watt 4 in series calculator.pdf (16.9 KB, 35 views)
File Type: pdf CS 275W calculator.pdf (16.9 KB, 34 views)
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  #73  
Old 08-27-2017
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MRPutz MRPutz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jphoenix13 View Post
I've been doing a lot of reading on the internet and came across the Midnite Solar charge controller sizing tool and I was surprised at the result.

I've decided, looking at the solar map and how little sun we get up here in the Puget Sound, that I should go big since the extra cost is minimal and while I'm up on the roof drilling and wiring, might as well install four panels. I also found Canadian Solar does a 340 watt panel with good efficiency.

So I plugged the CS 340 watt and the CS 275 watt panel numbers into the charge controller calculator and it appears I cannot run one string of four panels without exceeding the design limits of any of the controllers, see .pdf files attached.

If I configure two strings in parallel, then I'm well within the charge controller design specs, with even the 340 watt panels. In fact it says go with the 150 as it can handle more wattage.

Am I missing something here, or is that what most folks are doing?
Jim, the solar sizing tool Midnite Solar supplies is great!

HOWEVER - it's assuming you have adequate sun for the full strength of the panels. One design mistake many make is not allowing for your location and panel mounts. You need to design for worst case of course (in this case being full sun in the desert) BUT, since I mounted my panels flat and will not tilt them means I'm only going to get about 70% of the rating at best. So I over designed to 900 watts to get the desired 600 watts needed to meat my demands. You can over design by 30% with no problems and the Midnite systems are tough.

Most places won't explain that to you and will simply sell you more equipment. Arron at Solar Penny has worked very closely with me and we've come up with some super solutions. Whether buy from Aaron or not use our proven designs. Also a reminder when price shopping, Aaron's systems are complete with on hidden charges. Wire, connectors, mounting, it's all there.

Run the highest voltage you can (may need the Classic-200) in series. And as you stated, it's better to do this once, complete it, and then sit back and relax and let the system do its job.
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  #74  
Old 08-27-2017
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jphoenix13 jphoenix13 is offline
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Mike,

So, I know that being way up here at 48 north, I won't be getting the sun you guys do, and in the winter, I won't get anywhere near the maximum limit of the CC.

I'm thinking in the summer when the sun is relatively high and it gets hot (ha ha, OK we consider 88 degrees a blistering hot day ;-) - that the four 340 watt panels in series may still not reach the CC limit because of the sun angle and flat mounting, so it should be OK?

I want to mount the panels flat so I don't have to climb up top all the time, but also thinking I might want to tilt them up during the long winter when I'm not using the bus to keep the batteries charged - of course there will be nothing but parasitic loads on the system, so four big panels should be able to keep the batteries topped up in the cold, low light and very rainy winters here, maybe? So, that's why I want as much solar as possible because the winter will have short days and very little charging.

Having to step the DCV down to a 12V battery bank has a significant effect on reaching the CC limit, even with 2 strings in parallel the wattage of four 340 watt panels exceeds the limits on the Classic 200 and 250, only the 150 is OK with that configuration and a 12V battery bank.

I also note that the Classic 200 has a max number of modules of 3 - I presume modules = panels? The 150 is limited to 2 modules.

The calculator does not correct for latitude, so I suppose I can guesstimate loss for being at 48 North.

Aaron has competitive prices, I've been reading a lot on the AltE website and their prices are also quite good - but the shipping is 2 to 3 hundred dollars from most anyone, so not much difference between the retailers. One thing I did notice is that there are few retailers that will ship less than 6 panels, so that's important.

Kinda fun learning all this, but it's complex to figure out. Still trying to decide how big of an inverter I need vs. want. Looking at the solar insolation data for Seattle, it would be hard to find a worse location during the winter months for solar, so I'll be happy if the four panel system just keeps the batteries topped up!

http://suncalc.net/#/47.1864,-122.21...17.12.21/13:03

https://www.altestore.com/howto/how-...lar-array-a88/
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  #75  
Old 08-27-2017
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MRPutz MRPutz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jphoenix13 View Post
Mike,

So, I know that being way up here at 48 north, I won't be getting the sun you guys do, and in the winter, I won't get anywhere near the maximum limit of the CC.

I'm thinking in the summer when the sun is relatively high and it gets hot (ha ha, OK we consider 88 degrees a blistering hot day ;-) - that the four 340 watt panels in series may still not reach the CC limit because of the sun angle and flat mounting, so it should be OK?

I want to mount the panels flat so I don't have to climb up top all the time, but also thinking I might want to tilt them up during the long winter when I'm not using the bus to keep the batteries charged - of course there will be nothing but parasitic loads on the system, so four big panels should be able to keep the batteries topped up in the cold, low light and very rainy winters here, maybe? So, that's why I want as much solar as possible because the winter will have short days and very little charging.

Having to step the DCV down to a 12V battery bank has a significant effect on reaching the CC limit, even with 2 strings in parallel the wattage of four 340 watt panels exceeds the limits on the Classic 200 and 250, only the 150 is OK with that configuration and a 12V battery bank.

I also note that the Classic 200 has a max number of modules of 3 - I presume modules = panels? The 150 is limited to 2 modules.

The calculator does not correct for latitude, so I suppose I can guesstimate loss for being at 48 North.

Aaron has competitive prices, I've been reading a lot on the AltE website and their prices are also quite good - but the shipping is 2 to 3 hundred dollars from most anyone, so not much difference between the retailers. One thing I did notice is that there are few retailers that will ship less than 6 panels, so that's important.

Kinda fun learning all this, but it's complex to figure out. Still trying to decide how big of an inverter I need vs. want. Looking at the solar insolation data for Seattle, it would be hard to find a worse location during the winter months for solar, so I'll be happy if the four panel system just keeps the batteries topped up!

http://suncalc.net/#/47.1864,-122.21...17.12.21/13:03

https://www.altestore.com/howto/how-...lar-array-a88/
Now you're on the right track.

your panel's outputs are rated at 70 degrees and a bright sun perpendicular to your panels, neither situation will ever occur. You can design up to 1.3 on the Midnite website. If you cannot stay below VOC in series then go series/parallel. But remember, max VOC won't occur in the summer with the heated panels, it's more for winter and then the sun angle is lower so shouldn't be an issue. As you mentioned most companies won't ship panels and when they do it's 6 or more. Aaron will ship down to 3 panels AND if you have a buddy to do a system too you can split the shipping costs.
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  #76  
Old 08-27-2017
John Ely John Ely is offline
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I have a very different system and much older, but my mounting experience might be useful:
I installed 4 panels that are about 2 ft by 4ft from AMSolar, in 2005. I did it by getting 4 8ft lengths of eighth inch x inch and a half x inch and a half aluminum angle from the rack at the hardware store. I also got 8 squared u-bolts 5" long. I laid the AL angle on the goat rail, equally distributed, side to side, so the ends are precisely even with the sides of the coach. Drilled holes in the AL angle on either side of the goat rail to drop the u-bolts through, added the u-bolt's plate to the bottom and cinched them down. Set two of them apart at the same distance as the length of the panel, drilled and mounted the mounting feet for the panel and mounted. Repeated for the other two panels. On mine, I put the panel clear out at the end of the 8' AL angle so they are exactly the width of the bus. I used AMSolar's rocker feet so I can improve collection by tilting the panels as appropriate. As you can imagine, this cost next to nothing and have been enduring 60-65 mph for 12 years, about 150k miles.
May not apply in everyone's case but a definite advantage was removability. With very little effort, a two panel set can be removed and transferred temporarily to another application.
Best of luck,
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  #77  
Old 08-27-2017
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jphoenix13 jphoenix13 is offline
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John,

I like that mounting scheme. The panels I'm considering are 39" wide, mounting them at either side using the full 96" width of the bus, I can get a 16 to 18 inch walkway down the middle.

They are 77" long, I have plenty of room in the front of the roof.
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  #78  
Old 09-03-2017
SAFCO SAFCO is offline
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THANKS Mike for sharing your experience and knowledge. Takes the fear out of it and gives us the confidence to tackle it ourselves. thank you.
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  #79  
Old 09-03-2017
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NoGas NoGas is offline
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Default Consider the Magnum PT100

I know Mike loves his Midnight stuff, but for over a year I've been using & highly recommend the Magnum PT100 solar charge controller. Although it can work as a stand alone box, where it really stands out is as part of an entire totally integrated Magnum setup. It's less $$ than two big Midnights, can do 100 amps and handle > 6,000 watts of panels but perhaps most important - with Magnum's internal network it seamlessly integrates with their other components (MS2812/3012 pure sine inverter/chargers, shunt battery monitoring, remote "soft keyed" panel monitoring, auto gen start, internet monitoring...). That's really important if you've already upgraded, or are planning to change out your inverter to a Magnum. If you somehow find room for a HUGE solar array up top, the PT100 can handle > 6,000 watts. However, charging amps is still limited to 100 amps. Note: even with 1,260 Ah of AGM's & a typical overnight drawdown, we're still fully charged in a few hours with our 1,425 watts (rated) of solar panels. Stacking the PT100 with multiple inverter/chargers is a piece of cake, and I really like how everything can be controlled from the small inconspicuous remote. Lastly, it has all kinds of listings including UL.

I think I saw a PT100 in Aaron's store, though I have no idea how his prices compare to those available on internet.
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  #80  
Old 09-03-2017
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MRPutz MRPutz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAFCO View Post
THANKS Mike for sharing your experience and knowledge. Takes the fear out of it and gives us the confidence to tackle it ourselves. thank you.
Stuart, you are welcome.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NoGas View Post
I know Mike loves his Midnight stuff, but for over a year I've been using & highly recommend the Magnum PT100 solar charge controller. Although it can work as a stand alone box, where it really stands out is as part of an entire totally integrated Magnum setup. It's less $$ than two big Midnights, can do 100 amps and handle > 6,000 watts of panels but perhaps most important - with Magnum's internal network it seamlessly integrates with their other components (MS2812/3012 pure sine inverter/chargers, shunt battery monitoring, remote "soft keyed" panel monitoring, auto gen start, internet monitoring...). That's really important if you've already upgraded, or are planning to change out your inverter to a Magnum. If you somehow find room for a HUGE solar array up top, the PT100 can handle > 6,000 watts. However, charging amps is still limited to 100 amps. Note: even with 1,260 Ah of AGM's & a typical overnight drawdown, we're still fully charged in a few hours with our 1,425 watts (rated) of solar panels. Stacking the PT100 with multiple inverter/chargers is a piece of cake, and I really like how everything can be controlled from the small inconspicuous remote. Lastly, it has all kinds of listings including UL.

I think I saw a PT100 in Aaron's store, though I have no idea how his prices compare to those available on internet.
Van - Although most of your comments are accurate let's add some clarity to the context;

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoGas View Post
It's less $$ than two big Midnights
Well of course it is. And a Midnight is cheaper than two Magnums! The Midnight Classic 150 is rated at 96 amps while the Magnum PT100 is rated at 100 amps. So if you're telling me you designed so tight that you must have that additional 4 amps then yes.. two Midnight's are more expensive.

BTW - Using a common search (Amazon)
$599 - Midnite Classic 150
$850 - Magnum PT-100

And you're stating 2 Midnite Classics are more $$$ than a Magnum PT-100??? Shame on you!


Quote:
Originally Posted by NoGas View Post
can do 100 amps and handle > 6,000 watts of panels
BUT you may also mention the Max PV voltage on the PT100 is 187VDC where as the Classic 250 max VDC is 262VDC. And forgive my ignorance with Ohm's law but if the max power is 6600 watts (per their website) and the max VDC is 187v then the max amps is 6600/187 = 35 amps. hmmmm can you say "Marketing Hype!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoGas View Post
but perhaps most important - with Magnum's internal network it seamlessly integrates with their other components (MS2812/3012 pure sine inverter/chargers,
umm.. to clarify "seamless" only if your entire system is only a year or two old! Seems the new PT100 uses a newer communication protocol that is NOT "seamless" with their older systems that most people who own Magnums currently probably have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoGas View Post
Lastly, it has all kinds of listings including UL.
Yup, I see it conforms to the UL 1741 (Safety for Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System for Use With Distributed Energy Resources, CAN/CSA C22.2 No. 107.1, NEC's DC Ground Fault Interrupter, ARC Fault detector, Free application downloads for monitoring from your PC, internet access, stackable, free firmware updates, over voltage protection, over current protection, controls solar, wind, hydro with the same controller, has auto EQ options, has two aux output relays to control other devices, complete logging capabilities to track your performance & history, made & build in the USA, has RS232 jacks, Ethernet, Excellent Tech Support, etc.. etc...

OH WAIT, that's the Midnite information!


Yea.. I'll stick with Midnite!

(Disclaimer - Magnum is a good product, just compare apples to apples)
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