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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know of an experienced reliable person/business to do a complete solar system install for my Ram Promaster in New York State (not NYcity or Long Island as I won't drive it through NYcity)?
If you don't know of someone, is there someone who understands and could help me figure out exactly what I would need to purchase to meet my solar needs?
If there is a better place to post this question please let me know.

Thanks,
ProKat
 

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Does anyone know of an experienced reliable person/business to do a complete solar system install for my Ram Promaster in New York State (not NYcity or Long Island as I won't drive it through NYcity)?
If you don't know of someone, is there someone who understands and could help me figure out exactly what I would need to purchase to meet my solar needs?
If there is a better place to post this question please let me know.

Thanks,
ProKat
What are your electrical needs? Most people around here have basic needs and go with 200w which is usually enough. If you have plans to have a lot if electrical devices (induction cooktop or electric kettle) and a large battery bank, you may opt to go with more. If you have a propane stove and just want to power lights, small 12v fridge and charge a phone/tablet then I'd say 200w would be fine with a decently priced pwm controller or fancy mppt from victron.

This forum is a friendly bunch so the more detailed you are with what your needs are, the more we can help.

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There are a lot of people that have posted detailed instructions (inc photos) on how they installed their solar. Google it in the "Advance Search" box on the right top of the page.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Due to a large electric wheelchair and winch to load it, along with a large 65-70 qt refrig/freezer, computer, cell phone, maxxair in ceiling, another inside fan, and tv/dvd player, I have been told I need at least 400 watts solar. Basicly I need to know how to do the wiring necessary, and also have it set up to plug into shore power for when that is available. And how to do wiring to set up a portable generator in future as I suspect I will need one occasionally. That's why I was hoping to find someone in NYState or close by to hire to do the installation. While price wise it would be great to do as much as possible myself, I just don't know anything about wiring or solar. I have read so much and am now so confused I am totally lost. I also suspect I might need more solar than 400 so would like option to add fold up portable solar panels to the system if needed down the road. Help?
 

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Just where are you in NYS? There may very well be a member here that has done solar in their van that is close enough for you two to meet up and teach you what you need to know. It’s not difficult, it just seems as if it is.

Gary has a very good blog that explains solar on his website. Too bad he is in MT!
 

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Due to a large electric wheelchair and winch to load it, along with a large 65-70 qt refrig/freezer, computer, cell phone, maxxair in ceiling, another inside fan, and tv/dvd player, I have been told I need at least 400 watts solar. Basicly I need to know how to do the wiring necessary, and also have it set up to plug into shore power for when that is available. And how to do wiring to set up a portable generator in future as I suspect I will need one occasionally. That's why I was hoping to find someone in NYState or close by to hire to do the installation. While price wise it would be great to do as much as possible myself, I just don't know anything about wiring or solar. I have read so much and am now so confused I am totally lost. I also suspect I might need more solar than 400 so would like option to add fold up portable solar panels to the system if needed down the road. Help?
Hey Prokat,

It's typical to wire the panels in parallel (all the wires go to a combiner box, then a single set of wires go down to your charge controller). From there, the charge controller connects to charge the battery. It's very rare to attempt to power directly from the solar. Instead you use the battery and solar to charge the battery.

Shore power is handled completely separate from solar. Most use an all in one inverter/charger/transfer switch that will handle charging the batteries from shore, convert DC to AC, and transfer the AC loads from the inverter to shore.

As for needing more solar, if you are on the move a lot, you can recharge your batteries by using the factory alternator with either a battery isolator/combiner or a simple contious duty cycle solenoid. Simply idling the engine can give you more charge than solar can on a sunny day (with an average size array). Also, what size van do you have? That's also a limiting factor of how much solar you can fit. You could probably fit easily 540w on a 159" with 3 Grape Solar 180W panels. I don't know the specs, but a winch could have a large amp draw on your DC system. I know it's only for a short time, but you might need to have a few batteries to split the draw.

It sounds like you are in need of a full electrical system. Depending on your budget, myself and others here can make recommendations of parts, wire sizes, ect. I'd be willing to give you a hand with the install as I'm in PA.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
nebulight-Thanks for the simple explanations. I do understand I will have the solar charge to a battery bank. I just wanted to also be able to charge those batteries or my electric wheelchair off of shore power when I am at a place where it's available. My vehicle is a 2014 Ram Promaster 2500, 136" high top. Due to the limited roof available that is why I suspect I might need to also use a portable solar panel or two. (That depends on my ability to lift it). Also when I am plugged into shore power I would like to be able to use items like my small electric frying pan or a toaster. I plan to boondock for days at a time in one place while traveling around the country. Also in summer I love to camp in the Adirondack Mtns in NY and there is mostly shade and no electric hookups where I love to go. If you could help me figure out what I will need to purchase I would really appreciate it. And if you have time to help me with the install I would gladly travel to where you are. What part of Penn are you in? Thank you.
 

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ProKat
Charging the wheelchair is the biggest unknown that might determine the size of the solar. I would caution you that nature can be fickle and any reliance on it will require a backup plan. 200 watts of solar might do the chair as it can go a long way towards charging even a golf cart on a really sunny summer day BUT if it isn’t sunny and you don't have the option to forgo the chair there will have to be a backup. Twice as much solar on a no sunshine day will not do it either and 1200 watts won’t. The problem has to have another solution. Boon docking is nice but that other charging option becomes the alternator.
Many people resort to carrying a generator, I have one, I hate it, I don’t carry it.
Frypans and other high current appliances make the task harder as a big, possibly expensive, inverter may be needed. Really cheap and great butane stoves will let you fry and toast anything. Most people just think of what they have at home and expect it to be in the camper. That may make the solar way more expensive when other solutions are available, in fact it may render the job undoable with solar. Natures fickleness will mean a second expensive back up plan will need to be there too. Don’t get me wrong I love solar. I have a 12 volt refrigerator I must have power for. Everything else I can do some other way. It is essential. They are optional. Begin thinking this way and let us know what the chair needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
ProKat
Charging the wheelchair is the biggest unknown that might determine the size of the solar. Boon docking is nice but that other charging option becomes the alternator.
Many people resort to carrying a generator, I have one, I hate it, I don’t carry it.
Frypans and other high current appliances make the task harder as a big, possibly expensive, inverter may be needed.
r needs.
I don't think I explained it clearly. I have a butane stove and a propane stove/oven. I plain to use the butane stove most of the time. If I run out or want to use more cooking surfaces or bake, I will use the propane stove. I only plain to carry a very tiny (one person size) electric frying pan and maybe a toaster for when I am plugged into shore power. That way I am not wasting my butane/propane when I am already paying for electric. I can survive without my electric wheelchair if necessary for short periods of time, just can't walk very far. I have "multiple food allergies" so will always be making my own meals totally from scratch. Thus the need for a big refrid/freezer unit. I also have a butane heater and will use it to warm up the van when camping in low temps but do not sleep with it on.
I will look up the info on my electric wheelchair and post shortly. Thank you for any help you can share.
 

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OK get us that info and we can do this! We will design a $500 solution and a $12,000 solution either of which will work.

Sarcasm due to this mornings postings. We are all friends so it is allowed. We are friends right?
 

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nebulight-Thanks for the simple explanations. I do understand I will have the solar charge to a battery bank. I just wanted to also be able to charge those batteries or my electric wheelchair off of shore power when I am at a place where it's available. My vehicle is a 2014 Ram Promaster 2500, 136" high top. Due to the limited roof available that is why I suspect I might need to also use a portable solar panel or two. (That depends on my ability to lift it). Also when I am plugged into shore power I would like to be able to use items like my small electric frying pan or a toaster. I plan to boondock for days at a time in one place while traveling around the country. Also in summer I love to camp in the Adirondack Mtns in NY and there is mostly shade and no electric hookups where I love to go. If you could help me figure out what I will need to purchase I would really appreciate it. And if you have time to help me with the install I would gladly travel to where you are. What part of Penn are you in? Thank you.
Im in Lancaster. I'm in New Orleans this week with limited time for the forum let us know about the size of uour wheelchair battery and charging requirements. I would guess it's not that big of a draw on your ac system but depending on the size if your battery, it could be a deciding factor on the size of your battery bank.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone, sorry I haven't posted my electric wheelchair's electrical needs yet. Bronchitis has me down badly. I will try to post the info in next couple of days once I feel up to digging it out of file that is out in my van.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Need help to figure out my electrical system requirements?

I will attempt to list the items I will need electric for in my van build:

1) Electric wheelchair- 2 group 31 Deep Cycle Batteries and has a 12 amp automatic charger when I charge off of shore power. AC Input 120/230v/50/60Hz Input current 5.0A-120VAC 2.5A-230VAC DC Output 24V/12A Constant (does any of that tell you what I need to recharge my electric wheelchair?)
2) Small power winch to load electric wheelchair (don't have one yet but told only need one for 1,000-1,500lbs -haven't been able to find one yet).
3) Maxxair Ceiling fan/vent
4) Need to charge smaller items-cell phone, computer, and kindle.
5) String led ceiling lights
6) want a light over bed for reading
7)O2 Cool 10 inch fan
8)65-70 quart refrig/freezer either a Wynter or Dometic (if possible will have two of these in the future-due to food allergies need to make everything from scratch and hard to locate safe foods for me to cook with)
9) TV and Dvd player for sometimes use
I am sure there are other small items I might use sometimes but that seems to be the major items.
I need to know everything I need to set up a battery bank and electric system to run off of both solar when available or shore power when that is available.
If you need more information let me know please.
Thank you for any ideas you can share.
 

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1.) It sounds like you've got 200ah of batteries alone in the wheelchair. Not really sure how charging off batteries is going to work as you're going to be putting a lot of cycles on those batteries. Then you'd have no left over power for anything else if you go with a small battery setup.
2.) These typically draw around 75-100amps when in use. I understand they aren't being used for that long so capacity shouldn't be that big of a deal, but you need to make sure your battery bank can handle that much current. Typically lead acid batteries usually can't handle that much current without large voltage drop which could be an issue to power the winch. Also drawing that much current from a battery can cause premature failure You could have multiple batteries in series or run the engine while using the winch.

The rest of your items are typically low draw where a typically 200ah lead acid battery setup could work. Check out RD's post about a cheap basic electrical setup:

http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=71562

As for solar, the more you can get will be more free energy, but if you plan on traveling a lot, getting a battery combiner to charge while driving. You'll get more bang for your buck by charging via alternator. Also as RD stated, if you have a few cloudy days, you are screwed unless you've got another way to charge.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Solar setup and what do I need?

1.) It sounds like you've got 200ah of batteries alone in the wheelchair. Not really sure how charging off batteries is going to work as you're going to be putting a lot of cycles on those batteries. Then you'd have no left over power for anything else if you go with a small battery setup.
2.) These typically draw around 75-100amps when in use. I understand they aren't being used for that long so capacity shouldn't be that big of a deal, but you need to make sure your battery bank can handle that much current. Typically lead acid batteries usually can't handle that much current without large voltage drop which could be an issue to power the winch. Also drawing that much current from a battery can cause premature failure You could have multiple batteries in series or run the engine while using the winch.

As for solar, the more you can get will be more free energy, but if you plan on traveling a lot, getting a battery combiner to charge while driving. You'll get more bang for your buck by charging via alternator. Also as RD stated, if you have a few cloudy days, you are screwed unless you've got another way to charge.
I will spend the money to get whatever battery setup I need in order to do what I listed above (I have been saving for a long time to do this). And yes I can always run the van while using the winch to load or unload my electric wheelchair. And I also want the battery combiner if it is what I think it is. I would rather spend more now so that I have what I need instead of ruining batteries and having to redo all the wiring not that far down the road. Sometimes I will be out west where I should be able to charge the solar off of sun, but part of year back east where not likely to get alot of sun power regularly. I realize I might need to go with a very expensive battery setup. That's why I need help to design and buy what I am most likely going to need. I also need it to be so I can hook up to shore power sometimes and do it all through the same setup, I just have no idea how to do it and don't know anyone locally to hire that would know how to do it correctly in a vehicle. Thanks for any help you can give me.
 

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Here is a start. I recommend a watt of solar for a amp-hour of battery. You have probably 350 or a bit more total battery amp-hours combined. Look to have 350 watts of solar- 400 will probably be as cheap and if your van is a 159” they will fit easily.
The winch should be no problem as I have used one on a 100 amp-hour battery. Get a 12 volt one and I doubt it needs to be so large. Research that.
I know NOTHING about them but you might research 12volt to 12 volt dc to dc chargers. Those posters here who have tried them pipe up please. He needs to get a bunch of amp-hours from his 200 amp hour van battery into his slightly smaller wheelchair battery.
Set up the van with 200 amp-hours of battery and a charger to automatically charge the chair when the van's battery is full. Battery Doctor makes just such a device- simple. Get a 35 amp WFCO [ame]https://www.amazon.com/WFCO-WF-8735-P-Brown-Power-Center/dp/B004LF13GA/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1510456937&sr=8-6&keywords=WFCO+power+converter[/ame]
and wire it to your vans’s battery and let the battery doctor do the connection to the chair. It will take a big cord to the 50 amp socket the campground supplies, 30 amp scockets will work but need a different plug adapter.
When you make the interconnection to the van’s battery make two (2) one for the coach battery and one for the chair. Use ONE at a time to load up whichever you need more.
The rest of your stuff is nothing.
 
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