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FC (Forward Control Unique Issues) If you have a unique issue with your FC model coach and it can't be answered in one of the other forums here, then this is where you can list it.......List your FC Parts here too.

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  #1  
Old 01-29-2013
Endless Summer's Avatar
Endless Summer Endless Summer is offline
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Default Routing Solar Panel Cable

Hi: what is the best way for

a. routing a solar panel cable from the collector on the roof behind the front AC to a control panel in the drivers area?; and

b. routing the power cable from controller to battery compartment?

Thanks!

BTW I think I am going to use a single panel 100 watt system from SunRunner, but have not committed yet and am very open to suggestions.
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  #2  
Old 01-29-2013
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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is the battery compartment below the drivers seat area?
Front bay.left side?
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2013
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yes
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Old 01-29-2013
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I think I know what Randy is going to say (he said it to me last summer when I asked the same question - and if I hadn't designed the whole thing to have the controller in the front near the batteries I would have done it his way). But I did it differently.

I drilled a hole in the roof in front of the goat rails, further forward than where the metal dips down above the driver. If you look at it from the inside you will see that there isn't much there to mess with. I used a wiring penetration with a rubber gasket that gets compressed when you tighten the threads, but I am going to tear that out and use a clam shell when the snow goes and I get back to the RV again.

I removed the old back up monitor equipment (which wasn't working) which left a good amount of space in the storage compartment right above the driver's head. That is where I mounted the fuse box and controller (picture 1). I then snaked the wires from the controller to the batteries (2 12 volt wires, battery temp sensor, DC voltage sensor and wires for my Amp Meter) towards the outside of the bus, where there were a lot of existing wires. (picture 2) I couldn't get down through the foam to the floor so I mounted a small wire molding on the wall of the RV at the back of the driver's seat. I drilled a hole through the floor right at the base of this molding which came out just behind the battery compartment. (picture 3)

Picture 4 is the 4th 95 watt panel, and the one mounted furthest forward. Picture 5 is the 3 mounted towards the back.

This gives me a total of 380 watts, which in cloudy Vermont isn't tons, but it makes up for the parasitic load. The amp meter (picture 6) has been really useful bringing my parasitic load down to 2 to 3 amps.

I think next summer I will change the panels' mounting, as any shadow that falls across the panel drastically reduces how much it charges the batteries (shadows from goat rails, storage pods, air conditioners). I'm thinking through running aluminum poles across from goat rail to goat rail on ether side of the rear 2 air conditioners to get the panels up and out of the shadows. This will make it very difficult to get forward to the front storage pod, but the penalty for having even one cell on the panel shaded is huge.

Randy's suggestion to run the wire down the refrigerator vent to the compartment where the batter charger lives then makes even more sense when all the panels are further back. The panels are wired in series, and I have a MPPT controller.
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Old 01-29-2013
Frank W. Frank W. is offline
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In our '85 I installed a single solar panel just aft/left of the forward 120volt Coleman AC unit. I highly recommend a tilt mount for when your boondocking and really need all the watts you can get.

I ran the cable through the roof...Made a hole, then I made a "cover" like the OEM installations ( about a 3x3 sheet metal "lid" with a "raised tent end" for the cable which is screwed down at the corners, rubber grommet for cable protection. I brought this in the overhead just aft of the dash air unit. I chose this location for a couple of reasons...first, on the left side of coach behind the overhead cover for the over head dash speakers & AC inlet vent is a load center - where I tied in to the existing 12volt system. The mesh AC inlet grill was also where I wanted to mount the solar controller.

A pretty easy install with short wiring runs.

You can see a bit of the solar install and solar controller in my photo albums.

I find that the solar controller/single solar panel (as I recall 100-120 watts?) does nicely keeping the batts topped up and prevents the slow drain down you often face when in short term storage or boondocking. These were my goals.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Thanks Craig. I was thinking along the same lines as it seems to keep wire runs to a minimum. Can you run the AC on 380 watts?
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Old 01-29-2013
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Thanks Frank. Hope to run into you sometime in VA.
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  #8  
Old 01-30-2013
Itchintogo
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I have seen the fridge vent used before as well. Mine uses an existing vent but I can't remember where. Works just fine.
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Old 01-30-2013
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Steve,

No, the 4 panels do not generate enough power to start an air conditioner. I suppose you could let them charge the batteries all day (4 6volt golf cart batteries) then you could run the air conditioner for a little while. I don't have an inverter powerful enough to run an air conditioner, so I couldn't tell you much about how long or anything.

To keep cool I have a couple of 12 volt fans..... That and I live in Vermont where it doesn't get that hot. I used to live in Tucson. If I were back there for a summer I would look into an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler). I've seen small ones that you might be able to mount on the roof, or on a shelf outside a window and vent it in through the window.

Running air conditioning from solar is not that common.
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  #10  
Old 01-30-2013
Joatha Joatha is offline
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Most AC units on birds will require something on the order of 2400 watts peak (20A @ 120V) and maybe 1700 watts continuous (14A @ 120V). The big drain is at compressor startup. Some units may require less - depending on their size. Some may require more. But, that's a good ball park for them.

You could probably use a 3000W inverter off your batteries to power a single AC unit and have 2500W of solar panels on your roof. That, however, assumes that your solar panels are running at close to peak efficiency.

That, however, is a LOT of solar panels and that doesn't even account for the fact that they don't typically run at 100% efficiency. In short, solar panels driving AC units on RV's is not a practical endeavor.
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