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Electrical Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's electrical system.

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  #1  
Old 04-11-2014
MRPutz MRPutz is offline
Burnin Up in Az. :-)
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mesa
Posts: 4,183
Default High Power Solar System

Ok everyone, it's designed and now ready for ordering. Anyone in the AZ area want to get in on this?

We’re going with Canadian Solar Power 300 Watt panels for $??? (working price with vendor) from Solar Penney here in Mesa. This is an out-the-door price and just seeing if anyone else wants to participate in this order. Once you’re ready to mount Solar Penny has all the hardware and controllers.

I purchased mine from Aaron at Solar Penny already. Just tell him you’re with the AZ Hot Birds and he’ll take care of you. For now need to solidify the quantity so we can get these purchased.

Code:
Michael Putz       3 panels
Debbie Huffman 3 panels
Kevin Vetter        4 panels
Randy Fox           3 panels
Joe Garner          3 panels


Canadian Solar* Ontario CS6X-300P - Voc-44.6, Vmp-36.1, Imp-8.3, Isc-8.87, size = 76.93x38.7, 50.7 lbs
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Michael & Tami Putz
78FC35SB & 83FC35SB Wanderlodge - "Putz'n Around"
'90 GL1500 Goldwing | '67 VW Rail | '82 CJ5 Jeep
eMail=Mike.Putz@cox.net | Web=http://mikeputz.com/
Solar = https://www.solarpenny.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257

FMCA #236459, Good Sam #17270530, Vintage Birds #1509

Last edited by MRPutz; 04-12-2014 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Ran into pricing issue - update soon.
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  #2  
Old 04-12-2014
Patrick LaBreck's Avatar
Patrick LaBreck Patrick LaBreck is offline
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Location: Olympia
Posts: 192
Default

Mike do you intend to parallel the panels at 36 volts?
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1985 FC 35 SB
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  #3  
Old 04-12-2014
MRPutz MRPutz is offline
Burnin Up in Az. :-)
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mesa
Posts: 4,183
Default

Not at all. I'm running 3 panels in series.

The advantage to the new MPPT controllers is using high voltage to lower line loss and take advantage of the microprocessors that will pick the best wattage figures (v*a) at any given time. When you design your setup you must look at open voltage, current, and wattage. I've found that Midnight Solar is the toughest, strongest controller out there and will handle the loads I'm looking at.

Here's a quick run down on the specs for my system calculated at 305w per panel;

Code:
 
 Rated watts                 915
 110 F watts                 840
 expected charge          63.5a @ 14.4v
 expected input amps         8.41a
 VOC                         134.4v
 VMP @ 50 F                  116.4v
 Classic max current         92a
 Classic max voltage         162v
 Max design load for this controller = 70%
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Michael & Tami Putz
78FC35SB & 83FC35SB Wanderlodge - "Putz'n Around"
'90 GL1500 Goldwing | '67 VW Rail | '82 CJ5 Jeep
eMail=Mike.Putz@cox.net | Web=http://mikeputz.com/
Solar = https://www.solarpenny.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257

FMCA #236459, Good Sam #17270530, Vintage Birds #1509
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  #4  
Old 04-12-2014
Patrick LaBreck's Avatar
Patrick LaBreck Patrick LaBreck is offline
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Thought that might be the plan. I know when I was doing mine I considered that, seems like my controller could take up to 650v input. I ended up paralleling because it was my understanding that in series 1 shaded panel would pull the whole string down and parallel you would only have the degraded performance on the one shaded.

What do you think about that? I know I worried it some. Of coarse shade might not be as big of a worry in your world. There are an awful lot of trees up here.
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  #5  
Old 04-12-2014
MRPutz MRPutz is offline
Burnin Up in Az. :-)
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mesa
Posts: 4,183
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Correct, shading is always an issue BUT they will be the highest item on my roof so nothing on the RV will shade them. Also with the advantage of MPPT technology and the bypass diodes shading issues is not like it use to be. You don't lose an entire string just because one panel sees partial shade.

BTW.. Here's Midnight Solar's sizing application. From this I designed my system of 3x 300 watts and can add a 4th panel in the future if needed in a series/parallel configuration;

http://www.midnitesolar.com/sizingTool/index.php

One last comment. When you're pushing over 50 amps you'll charge your batteries pretty quickly and have lots of energy to spare (on a good day) so you can divert that high voltage into your water heater element and heat your hot water too.

Several of our group are doing just that with their home hot water heaters. Three panes in series with outputs directly into a 120v, 1500w element to preheat the water in a standard heater. The top element is left alone.
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Michael & Tami Putz
78FC35SB & 83FC35SB Wanderlodge - "Putz'n Around"
'90 GL1500 Goldwing | '67 VW Rail | '82 CJ5 Jeep
eMail=Mike.Putz@cox.net | Web=http://mikeputz.com/
Solar = https://www.solarpenny.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257

FMCA #236459, Good Sam #17270530, Vintage Birds #1509
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  #6  
Old 04-24-2014
MRPutz MRPutz is offline
Burnin Up in Az. :-)
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mesa
Posts: 4,183
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Well, here's our update. Solar panels ordered and due to arrive tomorrow. I'm very excited as I plan on monitoring the home water heater part of our project very closely.

Several in our group are using the panels to power hot water elements directly with no controller. They will be using standard water tanks and simply power the lower element with the solar and the upper with grid power. I'm very anxious to see how it works out, if any adjustments must be made, then will apply that technology to our LP/110v water heater modification I made. Solar could heat our water with an LP assist as needed.

Our local Solar shop came up with a nice 300w deal so we switched brands and now have 20 Centro panels for $290 delivered per panel. These have 24 series by-pass diodes, are distributed/warrantied in Scottsdale, and have thicker frames than earlier panels. These panels weigh 10 more pounds than the Canadian Solar Panels.

Canadian panels are good up to 250w (64.5 x 38.7) but when they went to the 300+ watt (77 x 39) range they kept the same size frame members and they are quite flimsy. I'm seeing more and more manufactures going to 2" thick frames on the larger wattage panels. These are all things to consider when you mount large panels up in the wind stream.

More soon.
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Michael & Tami Putz
78FC35SB & 83FC35SB Wanderlodge - "Putz'n Around"
'90 GL1500 Goldwing | '67 VW Rail | '82 CJ5 Jeep
eMail=Mike.Putz@cox.net | Web=http://mikeputz.com/
Solar = https://www.solarpenny.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257

FMCA #236459, Good Sam #17270530, Vintage Birds #1509
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  #7  
Old 05-07-2014
MRPutz MRPutz is offline
Burnin Up in Az. :-)
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mesa
Posts: 4,183
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All panels arrived and I've delivered them to their new owners. Talking with Solar Penny now on installation techniques. We have 2 asphalt roofs, 1 Spanish tile roof, 1 FC coach, 1PT coach, 1 wide body, and 1 SOB. Will be quite the challenge but to move a mountain you must only start with a single pebble.

Solar mount design phase almost complete.
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Michael & Tami Putz
78FC35SB & 83FC35SB Wanderlodge - "Putz'n Around"
'90 GL1500 Goldwing | '67 VW Rail | '82 CJ5 Jeep
eMail=Mike.Putz@cox.net | Web=http://mikeputz.com/
Solar = https://www.solarpenny.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257

FMCA #236459, Good Sam #17270530, Vintage Birds #1509
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  #8  
Old 05-08-2014
JerryKessler's Avatar
JerryKessler JerryKessler is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Santa Barbara
Posts: 173
Default Looking forward to seeing your installation

Sounds interesting. It will be nice to see what someone else designs. Here is mine done several years ago. 1600+ watts. Works great!

Jerry
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1994 Wanderlodge PT40 WBSA
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1992 Ford F250 4x4 Toad
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  #9  
Old 06-26-2014
konehd konehd is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Sedona
Posts: 1,770
Default

Finally got around to installing the panels on my coach. Only put 2 of the 3 panels in for now, I'll put the last one in later this year when we get back home after our summer trip...

I mounted them flat so I wouldnt have to worry about which way I park. I used aircraft piano hinges to secure them with the idea that if I wanted I could stick in a support on one side or the other and get the proper tilt for where I was parked.

I got these panels with the group buy that Mike P put together, each one is nominally 300 watts. Mounting flat derates them by about 30%.
I used a Xantrex XW150-60 MPPT charge controller. My thought was to hook it up to the SW3012 inverter charger I have and use the system control panel to monitor the solar. Only after hooking it up did I find out that the XW controller wont talk to the SW inverters... Bummer.
Still the charge controller has a nice display that can be used.

The system is working pretty much as expected, the most charge Ive seen is 32A. I'll get another 15 or so when I install the third panel.

The photos show the panels mounted, and a few pixs of putting the mounting together.

Special thanks to Terry A who provided a place to work and helped putting the mounts together!


/Joe
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2014
MRPutz MRPutz is offline
Burnin Up in Az. :-)
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Mesa
Posts: 4,183
Default Solar Mission Accomplished!

Well after a LONG wait the results are finally in; Mission Accomplished!

Had some issues with logistics and a bad MPPT controller from the factory. I had ordered the Midnight Classic 150 Lite to handle my large voltage/current design and the initial unit was defective. Midnight Solar was very responsive and helpful during the troubleshooting phase and after weeks of frustration (bus was parked up North) sent me a new upgraded unit to replace my Classic Lite. I now have the fully programmable Classic 150.

The 3 solar panels are mounted, all wired, and the controller is working like a champ. I've unplugged my bus from power now and shouldn't need any more power (plug in or generator) for my normal activities; CPAP machine, coffee maker, microwave, home refrigerator, stereo, TV, etc.. Will only need the generator for running AC units. Of course the Q rally will be the big test!

As stated I used Unistrut all around. Advantage; proven, reliable, extremely strong design. Also, if needed, parts are available at any Home Depot or Lowes center. Always think "support" when you design.

I've added a lot of shade now to the living room and bedroom from our Arizona sun too! I can still access all my roof pods without issue. There are no shading issues nor directional issues with sun angles.

And before you ask, all the AC units have just been replaced so I did not incorporate a hinge system on the solar. If a unit ever needs replacing I'll simply remove the panel to do so, should be good for another 10-15 years though.

To recap, I have 900 watt (3x300) panels in series so running high voltage to the MPPT controller with small gauge wire with virtually no line loss. Then the MPPT controller does a DC-DC conversion and supplies 14.7 volts (programmable) to the batteries via the 4/0 wiring on the inverter 2-1/2' away. It's a pretty ideal system using the best of everything.

BTW, I'm working with Solar Penny here in Mesa, Arizona and he has put together a package deal for us so you can duplicate what I've done here at a great price! http://www.solarpenny.com/ Aaron has all the panels, MPPT controllers, wiring, mounting hardware, etc. that you'll need.

My system (including solar panels, MPPT controller, wiring, mounting & hardware) ran under $2,000. The main components were the $900 panels and $600 MPPT Controller. You won't realize what a deal that is until you get a quote from the "other" solar guys (like at the Q) like I did last year. Remind you, this system uses the best of the best so no corners are cut and it will last.

If you deal with Aaron directly drop my name (Putz or the AZ Hot Birds) and mention the "Putz Solar Deal". OR I can help you with your needs/design and help you put your system together. I (or Aaron) can also arrange to have your system installed when you come to Arizona.
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Michael & Tami Putz
78FC35SB & 83FC35SB Wanderlodge - "Putz'n Around"
'90 GL1500 Goldwing | '67 VW Rail | '82 CJ5 Jeep
eMail=Mike.Putz@cox.net | Web=http://mikeputz.com/
Solar = https://www.solarpenny.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=257

FMCA #236459, Good Sam #17270530, Vintage Birds #1509
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