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My Solar Installs - Now with Solar Output Data


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10 hours ago, mr. cob said:

Howdy All,

I know this is an old thread, I just now found it, that said I wanted to add my thanks to Chad for installing an excellent solar system to my toy hauler.  We stayed in Arizona from mid January until late March winter of 2020, after learning how to use the system we lived as if we were plugged into shore power and the only time the generator ran was when it was programed to start every 28 days and run for 15 minuets.  Having this system sure made our extended boondocking a pleasure, THANKS Chad.

I will add that I highly recommend Chad, to do a solar install as the quality of his work is exceptional.   I would also like to invite anyone who may be camped wherever we may be camped to knock on the door and check out what Chad, did for us I guarantee you will be favorably impressed with his work.

Dave

As I have said before, I’m glad you are enjoying your system.  It is nice to be power independant.  It gives so many options and just makes things more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about whether you are plugged in or not.

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Hi Chad, just came across this old post as I was doing some research for my install.  I see it’s an old post, but brought back again. 
Lots of great info. Thanks for doing that.  I’m just working my way through your info, and I’m sure I’ll find an answer to my question in there, but wondered if there was a quick answer.

Ive got the Magnum 3012 hybrid inverter and as I was working through the installation info, it dawned on me that I didn’t think about the 2 phase 50 amp shore power coming in.  How did you connect that to your system?

i came across the AM Solar smart phase selector, which is automatic and also a manual switch.  

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4 hours ago, Asross72 said:

Hi Chad, just came across this old post as I was doing some research for my install.  I see it’s an old post, but brought back again. 
Lots of great info. Thanks for doing that.  I’m just working my way through your info, and I’m sure I’ll find an answer to my question in there, but wondered if there was a quick answer.

Ive got the Magnum 3012 hybrid inverter and as I was working through the installation info, it dawned on me that I didn’t think about the 2 phase 50 amp shore power coming in.  How did you connect that to your system?

i came across the AM Solar smart phase selector, which is automatic and also a manual switch.  

Is the Magnum 3012 inverter something you just bought or have you had? Magnum recently came out with their MSH3012RV inverter which has dual 50amp pass through to solve the issue you are talking about. If you recently bought it and can exchange it, this would be the best course of action. With this "RV" inverter both 120v hot legs pass through the inverter and both are powered by the inverter. 

If you've owned it awhile and it's not feasible to replace it, then the AM Smart phase selector is another option too. I've heard of couple failing from friends that install solar so not sure how robust they are for the long term? They do exactly what they need to though and allow both 120v legs to be powered off an inverter that only has a single 50amp pass through. 

The other option is just to look at your breaker box and decide if you can arrange things in a way that you have what you want powered on the inverter on one leg of the RV and live with that. Just be careful not to overload one leg with all the high draw items. 

 

Edited by BlueLghtning
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That would have been handy. 
I bought this from someone who had it sitting on the shelf for a couple years, and then had a change of plans.  Came with a bunch of accessories. Battery monitor, advanced control panel and gen start/stop kit. 

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18 hours ago, Asross72 said:

Hi Chad, just came across this old post as I was doing some research for my install.  I see it’s an old post, but brought back again. 
Lots of great info. Thanks for doing that.  I’m just working my way through your info, and I’m sure I’ll find an answer to my question in there, but wondered if there was a quick answer.

Ive got the Magnum 3012 hybrid inverter and as I was working through the installation info, it dawned on me that I didn’t think about the 2 phase 50 amp shore power coming in.  How did you connect that to your system?

i came across the AM Solar smart phase selector, which is automatic and also a manual switch.  

Mine is installed with a sub panel in the RV.  50 amp goes into the main panel.  All my high draw loads that I don’t want to power with the inverter stay in the main panel.  The inverter comes off the main panel and then goes to a sub panel.  All the circuits I wanted the inverter to power were moved to the sub panel.  When on shore power/generator, the power passes from the main panel through the inverter to the sub panel and everything works.  When on inverter only, the main panel does not function.  Only the circuits in the sub panel have power.  

The 3012 being a hybrid inverter, it will also take limited power available to the main panel (like when plugged into a 15 or 20 amp plug - or even a 30 amp) and invert additional power from the batteries to make up the difference when more power is required.  Of course when wired into a sub panel like my set up, it can only make additional power for circuits in the sub panel.

It is a fairly typical way of doing an inverter install.

Edited by Chad Heiser
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  • 6 months later...

This is an old thread, but it has all my solar installation information in it.  I recently made a change to my solar panel installation.  I originally installed my panels in three parallel strings of two panels in series.  I was an early adopter of the Magnum PT-100 solar controller and Magnum technical support said this would be fine based on the ratings of the panels I installed (albeit on the lower end of the voltage range the controller needed to function properly).  It worked fine and has been working fine for the almost four years I have been using it. 

However, Magnum now has a solar calculator on their website for the PT-100 that didn't exist when I installed mine.  I decided to enter my panel information into the solar calculator and see what it recommended.  Low and behold, the on line calculator says my panels should be in two parallel strings of three panels in series rather than three strings of two panels in series.  I had some time on my hands and decided to rewire my array to match the solar calculator recommendation. 

My panels are now wired in two parallel strings of three panels in series (2P3S).  The trailer is inside my shop, so I haven't tested the difference in the sun yet.  I am heading to Quartzsite in a couple of weeks and will see if the new configuration makes any difference.  I will be there with a friend who has the same controller and panels on his DRV (that I installed) in the original three strings of two panels in series (3P2S).  It will be a good test to see if there is any difference in the controller output based on the different inputs.  Time will tell.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So as a follow up, I am back from Quartzsite and have some updated data.  Unfortunately we only had a couple of days of full sun while we were there, so the data is not conclusive.  With my rig and my buddies rig sitting end to end in a line facing basically east/west with the exact same panels and exact same solar controller (PT-100), I was able to do some comparisons.  My trailer's panels are wired in two parallel strings of three panels in series (2P3S).  My buddies trailer's panels are wired in three parallel strings of two panels in series (3P2S).  His battery bank is smaller than mine so the storage capacity is a bit different, but our usage was very similar for the time we were there.  The panel layouts on the roofs of our trailers are slightly different as well so we have differing shading issues.

During the morning hours when the sun was still low in the sky, his panels were putting out slightly more power (watts) than mine, but very little more.  I think this was a factor of shading, but can't say for sure.  During peak overhead sun hours, my panels were putting out slightly more power (watts) than his.  The differences between the two, though were not significant.  I did not gain any significant advantage by changing the wiring to match what Magnum now recommends for our panels through their on line calculator versus what Magnum technical support recommended to me for the panels when I initially installed them on mine and my buddies trailers (back in February 2017 for both).  For reference, the panels are Canadian Solar 235 watt panels.

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14 hours ago, Chad Heiser said:

So as a follow up, I am back from Quartzsite and have some updated data.  Unfortunately we only had a couple of days of full sun while we were there, so the data is not conclusive.  With my rig and my buddies rig sitting end to end in a line facing basically east/west with the exact same panels and exact same solar controller (PT-100), I was able to do some comparisons.  My trailer's panels are wired in two parallel strings of three panels in series (2P3S).  My buddies trailer's panels are wired in three parallel strings of two panels in series (3P2S).  His battery bank is smaller than mine so the storage capacity is a bit different, but our usage was very similar for the time we were there.  The panel layouts on the roofs of our trailers are slightly different as well so we have differing shading issues.

During the morning hours when the sun was still low in the sky, his panels were putting out slightly more power (watts) than mine, but very little more.  I think this was a factor of shading, but can't say for sure.  During peak overhead sun hours, my panels were putting out slightly more power (watts) than his.  The differences between the two, though were not significant.  I did not gain any significant advantage by changing the wiring to match what Magnum now recommends for our panels through their on line calculator versus what Magnum technical support recommended to me for the panels when I initially installed them on mine and my buddies trailers (back in February 2017 for both).  For reference, the panels are Canadian Solar 235 watt panels.

Thanks for the new information. It appears you will not be changing anything at the moment. With your systems, how long is it before you have to start up a generator, or plug in to recharge the batteries during full time use and limited sunlight? 

 

Rod

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11 hours ago, lappir said:

Thanks for the new information. It appears you will not be changing anything at the moment. With your systems, how long is it before you have to start up a generator, or plug in to recharge the batteries during full time use and limited sunlight? 

 

Rod

We spent 10 days or so in Quartzsite.  Only had good sun for about half those days.  We were watching our power usage because of that, but not being overly cautious.  I probably ran the generator for maybe 8 hours total in ten days.  I didn’t track it exactly, but somewhere in there.  My wife worked for a day or two from the RV during the time as well.  It was also chilly at night while we were there, so the heater ran off and on most nights.  If we hadn’t had so much cloud cover I wouldn’t have needed the generator near as much.  I would guess maybe a quarter of what I used.  Also, if I had lithium batteries I wouldn’t have been concerned about not getting the batteries back to full charge every couple of days and most likely wouldn’t have run the generator at all.  I really would like to upgrade to lithium, but it probably won’t happen until the next rig.  We will see.

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Chad I posted in your thread when you first started it, here are some recording for the past month, we are in the same general area of AZ that you were in. My panels are like yours in a 2s4p configuration even though Magnum recommends that it should be in 3s. I will get a P04 code on the display = Power Limited (Internal Frequency) The controller includes a variable frequency converter this power status displays if the output current is being dialed back to prevent the frequency from going either too high or too low. During the summer which limits the max solar wattage to about 1,150w instead of 1,280w or 76a in stead of 80a. You might have seen this on you display?

I was going to add 1 more panel for a 3s3p but the system put out all I need with the 500ah lfp.

Having lfp certainly gives the ability to use high draw items at lower SOC and not worry about getting back to full. Example; still making morning 12 cup coffee (84a) or microwave (145a) use at SOC of 27% with the inverter showing 12.2v, batteries showing 12.56v. 

Almost 5 years of everday use of 35-40% +/- DOD in various SOC or 1,600+ cycles. Going back through recordings from past years I haven't notice a difference in voltage readings using the same appliance and same DOD, if the pack has loss capacity I haven't  noticed it in everday use.

When the day comes for your switch to lfp I'll bet you'll thinking why didn't I do this sooner. ;)

 

s8edBl0l.png

Generator is a eu2200i.

Edited by Itinerant1
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12 hours ago, Itinerant1 said:

Chad I posted in your thread when you first started it, here are some recording for the past month, we are in the same general area of AZ that you were in. My panels are like yours in a 2s4p configuration even though Magnum recommends that it should be in 3s. I will get a P04 code on the display = Power Limited (Internal Frequency) The controller includes a variable frequency converter this power status displays if the output current is being dialed back to prevent the frequency from going either too high or too low. During the summer which limits the max solar wattage to about 1,150w instead of 1,280w or 76a in stead of 80a. You might have seen this on you display?

I was going to add 1 more panel for a 3s3p but the system put out all I need with the 500ah lfp.

Having lfp certainly gives the ability to use high draw items at lower SOC and not worry about getting back to full. Example; still making morning 12 cup coffee (84a) or microwave (145a) use at SOC of 27% with the inverter showing 12.2v, batteries showing 12.56v. 

Almost 5 years of everday use of 35-40% +/- DOD in various SOC or 1,600+ cycles. Going back through recordings from past years I haven't notice a difference in voltage readings using the same appliance and same DOD, if the pack has loss capacity I haven't  noticed it in everday use.

When the day comes for your switch to lfp I'll bet you'll thinking why didn't I do this sooner. ;)

 

s8edBl0l.png

Generator is a eu2200i.

I have wanted to make the switch to lithium since before the OEM drop in replacements hit the market.  There are a lot of benefits to lithium that would make my travels much nicer.  The only thing stopping me is my shall we say “frugal” wife.  😉  I think next fall/winter, I will finally have worn her down enough to let the purse strings loose a bit.  The fact I will probably be retired by then and we will be able to use the trailer for more extended trips with her now being able to work remotely is also helping.  We’ll see what happens the end of this year.  One can always hope.

Edited by Chad Heiser
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The price of DIY lipo cells has dropped significantly.  A couple of months ago I ordered 16 200ah cells for $1,437, delivered. These arrived a couple of days ago and I am starting to put them together and install them.  At that price lead acid and lipo are virtually the same.  Since I ordered mine I have seen a few cells that are even cheaper.  I can't imagine carrying enough lead acid to equal this new battery bank.

Edited by Randyretired
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4 hours ago, Randyretired said:

The price of DIY lipo cells has dropped significantly.  A couple of months ago I ordered 16 200ah cells for $1,437, delivered. These arrived a couple of days ago and I am starting to put them together and install them.  At that price lead acid and lipo are virtually the same.  Since I ordered mine I have seen a few cells that are even cheaper.  I can't imagine carrying enough lead acid to equal this new battery bank.

In theory I am all in on building my own battery, but in practice I really like the convenience of an OEM drop in.  I still don’t really have the need for lithium based on our current travel style.  Once retirement comes, our travel will change and thus our needs will change.  It is hard to justify the switch currently when I have a perfectly good AGM bank of 1040 amp hours that meets our needs.  When we start spending multiple weeks/months boondocking at a time, then the lithium will win out for me.

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I needed to add at least another 4 batteries to the 6 we had but finding the room was going to take a major  remodel.  So I have decided to give the one year old batteries we have to our children and go lithium.  By building I can arrange them to fit easily in the existing compartment and leave room for 8 more cells if needed.  With lithium the useable power is nearly 100% so that lets them do more.  This will be my first lithium batteries so we will see how they perform.

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14 hours ago, Randyretired said:

I needed to add at least another 4 batteries to the 6 we had but finding the room was going to take a major  remodel.  So I have decided to give the one year old batteries we have to our children and go lithium.  By building I can arrange them to fit easily in the existing compartment and leave room for 8 more cells if needed.  With lithium the useable power is nearly 100% so that lets them do more.  This will be my first lithium batteries so we will see how they perform.

Will be watching this. My AGM's are on their last leg. I don't boondock, so I'm fine right now. I do want to replace both the batteries and modified sine wave inverter and am hoping to find a plug and play unit, that's still in my price range. I'll start small and hopefully work up to full power with a full roof of solar. 

Rod

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I have been doing a little research on what we will be doing in our new RV and probably 2 x 600ah 8D Lithium batteries seems reasonable with a complete victron system and 2K solar setup.

 

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On 1/31/2021 at 3:15 PM, Chad Heiser said:

In theory I am all in on building my own battery, but in practice I really like the convenience of an OEM drop in.  I still don’t really have the need for lithium based on our current travel style.  Once retirement comes, our travel will change and thus our needs will change.  It is hard to justify the switch currently when I have a perfectly good AGM bank of 1040 amp hours that meets our needs.  When we start spending multiple weeks/months boondocking at a time, then the lithium will win out for me.

Let me know if/when you decide to go Lithium drop in. I've installed a lot of BB & Lion Energy UT1300's and I gotta say I really like the Lion Energy ones. I recently became a reseller of them also so I can offer good prices on them. The group 24 size also is nice as they are physically smaller and they can do up to 150amp discharge per battery. 

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4 hours ago, RickS said:

I have been doing a little research on what we will be doing in our new RV and probably 2 x 600ah 8D Lithium batteries seems reasonable with a complete victron system and 2K solar setup.

 

Which  batteries are you looking at? Is that 600 amp hour total?

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1 hour ago, BlueLghtning said:

Let me know if/when you decide to go Lithium drop in. I've installed a lot of BB & Lion Energy UT1300's and I gotta say I really like the Lion Energy ones. I recently became a reseller of them also so I can offer good prices on them. The group 24 size also is nice as they are physically smaller and they can do up to 150amp discharge per battery. 

I'll keep that in mind.  I am currently leaning toward Relion 300 amp hour batteries, but that could change in the next year or so.

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