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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've actually gotten the boss, the she-boss/better-half looking at adding solar while we're doing the initial build.
She's a bottom dollar type/ex-banker and wants to know the bottom line to add solar capability to what we're already doing.
This means a panel, the racks, a solar charge controller, and connectors.

So on a 138" wb PM using two Maxxairs, front in the logical spot, rear as far back as possible I have to figure the largest panel possible right?
So best guess we can fit a 72" 300 watt panel......that I can get a good guestimate on price.
Solar charge controller, MPPT, also easily priced.
Wire and connectors won't be an issue compared to the cost of the panel and controller.

Now the nitty-gritty, the racks. I can give her a good estimate on the above but have not a clue on the racks to price.
I'd appreciate any help on this and I just might end up with a PM initially with a photon collector on top.
Robert
 

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I spent about $500 for 300w with a 30 amp mppt controler, wires, fuses and switches from Renogy. I also easily added it a year after I completed the conversion for what it's worth.
 

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Keeponvaning thanks for that.
Did you already have racks?
Or, and I just thought of this, maybe the panel(s) are attached without a rack?
Seems like all panel installs I've seen pictured here at promasterforums are on racks.
No racks needed or necessary!

Now, I know it seems like I'm (and others) are being a PITA when we suggest googling the archives here, BUT, there are so many complete threads on solar installation and costs that have been posted in the past 24 months I only want to shake my old, tired head;)

It's all out there for everyone to see and read with extreme photo documentation and costs. Not using this valuable resource only makes it more difficult on yourself.
 

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KOV, MsNomer, I and many others mounted the solar (200-300 watts) on L shaped feet attached with Ultra Bond Tape from 3M to the roof directly. It helps to have 2 panels as they give flexibility and can go side by side across the van. I put a self tapping screw through each mounting bracket into the roof on each foot. I am skeptical of everything including tape and adhesives. Do what KOV suggests to see how folks got the wires into the van. Mine enter along one of the ribs as all my wiring runs inside the support ribs and my ceiling allows me to access them during revisions. Snaking the wires in the ribs as easy.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
If by racks you mean the means of attaching the panel to the roof, you can just use 4 short lengths of right angle bracket.
This is our installation: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-co...romaster-van-conversion-solar-panel-mounting/

Its really simple, and it keeps the PV panel low to the roof.

There are also mounting kits that just use adhesive -- I did not quite have the courage to go that way, but apparently they work.

We ended up ordering our single 315 watt panel through the local Platt Electric -- their panel price was not the lowest, but there was no shipping charge.
Our total bill for PV panel and MPPT controller was more like $600 -- KOV always finds the better deals :)

Gary
 

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https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B3TEM1E "Renogy Eclipse* 100 Watt 12 Volt Mono-crystalline Solar Panel"

The Renogy Eclipse* is currently the highest efficiency /or smallest foot-print 100w glass panel being sold, its 40.7" x 20.7" size gains back usable roof area especially when mounting panels laterally beside roof vents, allowing for framing gaps, etc..

I did buy (5) 100w Grape solar panels for $105/each shipped, but at 27" x 40" they would have installed clumsily, and they weigh 20~ pounds vs. the Eclipse 15 pounds. I'll be selling the (5) panels come spring on Craigslist.

Honestly, I really* wanted the thin flexible panels for better aerodynamics but they have very poor life expectancy; Eclipse has a 25-year transferable power output warranty and 5-year material and workmanship warranty- the flex panels offer 1 or 2 year warranty only. Grape Solar used to sell one a fraction of an inch larger and they always commanded a premium price, Amazon's $187 w/ free shipping is a sweet deal.

The Eclipse have no visible conductors overlaying the PV cells similar to the flexible panels so efficiency is boosted. Beware online vendors that will try to sell you the larger old style cell type, make sure no conductors and dark black PV cells - return shipping is huge once they are delivered.
 

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I also have those ^^^^^ and I am a happy and well electrified camper! 200 watts of solar, 200+AH Flooded batteries, Tracer MPPT controller, interconnect switch, meter, all wiring, solar power entry, 110V entry, RV converter w/battery charger, 1500 watt inverter, LED lights, a complete van electrical system, $841. Beat that KOV!
 

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Hi,
If by racks you mean the means of attaching the panel to the roof, you can just use 4 short lengths of right angle bracket.
This is our installation: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-co...romaster-van-conversion-solar-panel-mounting/

Its really simple, and it keeps the PV panel low to the roof.

There are also mounting kits that just use adhesive -- I did not quite have the courage to go that way, but apparently they work.

We ended up ordering our single 315 watt panel through the local Platt Electric -- their panel price was not the lowest, but there was no shipping charge.
Our total bill for PV panel and MPPT controller was more like $600 -- KOV always finds the better deals :)

Gary
Opps, sorry,in checking my figures I spent more like $600 not $500.
 

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I also have those ^^^^^ and I am a happy and well electrified camper! 200 watts of solar, 200+AH Flooded batteries, Tracer MPPT controller, interconnect switch, meter, all wiring, solar power entry, 110V entry, RV converter w/battery charger, 1500 watt inverter, LED lights, a complete van electrical system, $841. Beat that KOV!
I can't but you have flooded batteries and 200 watts of panel. I guess you win the cheapskate of the day award tho. I'll just have to try harder next time:)
 

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Gloat! It isn’t just enough to be the cheapskate of the day, it also needs to be a quality product, an elegant instal, and service and trouble free. Both of ours, and many others here have all that! I was bound to beat you once, I know it won’t happen again. 200 Watts seems to be enough but I know it is less than 300 so I win on a slightly smaller scale. For the OP I continued this because he must make the same sorts of choices. His she-boss may be swayed by relative benefit-to-cost ratio and to have the van lighted and wired for what we spent should be a convincing argument. MM plans to have the install done for him so if anyone has estimates we should add that. Avoiding esoteric technologies and mounting systems will allow him to go to an RV place and find enough expertise to get it done. I’d avoid home and commercial electricians, not because I don’t support them but the RV guys do this all the time and there are plenty of pitfalls for electricians in this. Romex being one.
 

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Since you need a decent meter anyway--otherwise it's like not having a fuel gauge--you might check out Bogart Engineering for their Trimetric meter and solar controller that work together. Essentially, the brains for the controller are in the meter. This set-up ensures that all charging sources play nicely together for a relatively low total cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm, uh, overwhelmed!

KOV=Keeponvaning :)
MM=MedicineMan
Gary=Gary ha!

So much here in this thread.
Post reading the replies I found the use of the very inexpensive L brackets=a winner.
Tax credit means how can we not!

Now to study wire routing. Ingenius Gary to go through the break lite.

Motion Windows scheduled for Jan 23 del (or shipment can't remember which). Windows
go in basically same time as roof fans---then I will measure and see which panel fits.
Of course hoping for a 300+ watt.

Would never have thought of adhesive holding down the panel(s), No way for me, if I'm putting
in giant holes for the fans I'm relaxed with some screw holes and maybe even metal plates matching
inside under the L brackets.

In my googling on this site I noticed someone had put a wind fairing in front of the panel=smart I also
noticed MsN's screen door=genius! What a side job that would be/MsN's e-bay store!

In the meantime this PITA (MM) will google routing the wire into the PM-house.

Thanks so much ladies(LadyMsN)/Gentlemen for the replies !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just now seeing there are more replies!
RDinNHandAZ are you RNA? :)
You (RNA) got quite the number of electrical components for the monies!

Guess what I'm going to google next-how many amps can a normal alternator put into
my single AGM house battery in 4-6 hours of driving.

Logically the solar panel kicks in when we're parked/boondocking/camping.

p.s. we have the normal alternator.

Also we do plan to get our hands dirty on the simple stuff like insulating post windows/fans and running the wires for the AC plug ins and DC connects.
I even think we can layout our electrical cabinet but will surely get the nod of approval by someone who has at least change out a wall outlet before we
go full power on.

On a side topic, googling here for Webasto gasoline installs for next fall/winter...and this is electrical related because when we are running wires everywhere
we need to get a DC connection to under the passenger seat....well googling I found our area is rich, rich I tell you will big truck repair shops. Thanks to a poster
here I went to Webasto's site and entered big truck/heating....so I might be able to get a semi-local Webasto install.

Now one last question on panels please.
We want an air gap under them for cooling correct?
But we dont want them 10 feet off the roof for wind.
Just looking at images here and Gary's build site, it looks like the L brackets place the panes 1-2 inches off the roof.
 

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RNA? Rural North America? Yup. Actually call me RD
If you do 200-300Watts of solar you won’t need the alternator except on rainy/very cloudy days. I have my interconnect to the alternator on a secondary switch so I can prevent it from connecting and I have only let it connect a few (3-4) times in 4 months of camping in the past year and a half. The alternator might add current at the rate of 20-50 amps so a 200 AH battery set would need 3-4 hours to be recharged from 1/2 full, a good minimum level. The solar will do it in a bit more time, easily in a short day. Think of solar as the primary electrical source, interconnection to the van is secondary, charger from the 110V shore power is third option.

Give the panels 3/4 inch from the roof to allow you to hose the rodent scats way. The panels shade the roof too and keep summer heat down.

Oh on my build thread I have a spreadsheet with sources and prices.
 

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And don't forget RD can squeeze 1$ till it's worth $3! I know because he even shows me up (occasionally) ;)

RD is correct about what the charging order should be - solar first (it's always working in daylight even cloudy, rainy days), alternator second if necessary, charger from grid when camping at night with 110vac power if necessary. Usually 300w solar is all you will realistically need unless you are trying to run a water heater, AC or some other 110vac power hog of an inverter.
 

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MM, the plot thickens. Your alternator will not properly charge your AGM batteries, which have a different charging profile than wet-cell like RD uses. Solar can and an AC charger can.

Our charging order is solar, AC charger, then alternator only if neither of the others is available.
 

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Actually that is not so. The battery in the van is already AGM so he will be fine. Your early production van may have been FLA but they are AGM in mine and all later vans I believe. FCA’s engineering knows how to charge that starting AGM battery and it will match up with he coach battery. Since the alternator should be used only occasionally to charge the coach battery it won't matter anyway, the solar charger can be set for AGM as you say. I have never had to use the charger but have plugged in a few times and my charger can charge AGM’s too as a last resort. Unthicken the plot!

Look closely at the yellow section of the top stickers. It says Sealed AGM battery. I thought I had a picture but had to go back and search.
 
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