Go Back   Montana Owners Club - Keystone Montana 5th Wheel Forum > MOC on M.A.R.S. > Montana Problems, Problem Solving & Technical Help
Click Here to Login

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-05-2019, 02:19 PM   #1
BridgesAcrossAmerica
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Crestview
Posts: 6
M.O.C. #23341
Solar Help

We've been full-timing in our Keystone Hideout 5th wheel for 18 months, but just traded it in for a 20th Anniversary Edition Montana 3120RL. The walk-thru with the dealer's rep (Lazy Days) was a joke...I knew more about my new rig than he did...but I'll save that for another day. One thing that's new to me is solar. We got the factory-installed 245w panel with the 2,000w inverter. On the walk-thru, he never even talked about the solar, so I don't have a clue. There was one small book about the system (white and blue cover), but is very technical. It does have information about the settings on the controller, but I don't even know where that is located. Also, there is a small round panel next to all the awning/light switches that is for the MPPT controller, but I don't know how to make that even power on.

I know I can eventually figure all this out, but am boondocking for the evening and wanted to see if it is even working, but don't know how. Can somebody point me in the right direction? Thanks for your help!

Regards/Jon
Jon Bridges
BridgesAcrossAmerica is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 01:46 PM   #2
Charlie W
Established Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Oroville
Posts: 15
M.O.C. #23396
Need to know what brand solar system it is, a
12v 245 Watts, will not keep your batteries charged if you have a household refrigerator and a 2,000 watt inverter, the battery it comes with, and that's all you use.
I had 2 150 watt panels.
__________________
2018 Montana 3701LK, 2018 Dodge 3500 Laramie.
Charlie W is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 01:57 PM   #3
jetskier
Montana Fan
 
jetskier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Minden - NV
Posts: 153
M.O.C. #22360
Quote:
Originally Posted by BridgesAcrossAmerica View Post
We've been full-timing in our Keystone Hideout 5th wheel for 18 months, but just traded it in for a 20th Anniversary Edition Montana 3120RL. The walk-thru with the dealer's rep (Lazy Days) was a joke...I knew more about my new rig than he did...but I'll save that for another day. One thing that's new to me is solar. We got the factory-installed 245w panel with the 2,000w inverter. On the walk-thru, he never even talked about the solar, so I don't have a clue. There was one small book about the system (white and blue cover), but is very technical. It does have information about the settings on the controller, but I don't even know where that is located. Also, there is a small round panel next to all the awning/light switches that is for the MPPT controller, but I don't know how to make that even power on.

I know I can eventually figure all this out, but am boondocking for the evening and wanted to see if it is even working, but don't know how. Can somebody point me in the right direction? Thanks for your help!

Regards/Jon
Jon Bridges
Keep in mind, what I describe for locations is in my 3790 but the 3120 should be similar.



The panel is a 265W rated.


The round controller display is for the MPPT controller. It should be on if there is power to the batteries. There is a separate fuse in the battery compartment for the charge controller if it won't light up. The display will show you the panel voltage and current as well as the battery output and voltage. You can also see the energy produced and the wattage. If your batteries are charged, the wattage will drop to close to zero as it's in float mode.

The inverter is wired to only three plugs. The fridge, the pop-up plug between the cooktop and fridge and the one to the left of the bedroom TV. So it's limiting from the factory. I rewired so all my outlets run off the inverter. You can search my thread on this.

The MPPT controller is a 100V/30A unit. So it's not good for anymore than that panel. It's located behind the panel by the water hookups.

I upgraded to four batteries, a 150V/85A controller from Victron so I could reuse the round display and connect via bluetooth, and added three more panels (another 270W and two 160W).
__________________
2013 F350 Lariat Ultimate FX4 CC LB SRW
2019 3790RD 20th Anniversary Edition, 860W of solar, 2000W Inverter, 5500W Onan, Slide Awnings, 3rd AC, disc brakes, dope stereo w/ 10" subwoofer
2017 & 2018 Kawasaki 1500SXR, 1993 750SX, 1996 750SXi jetskis
jetskier is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 02:02 PM   #4
jetskier
Montana Fan
 
jetskier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Minden - NV
Posts: 153
M.O.C. #22360
I attached the flyer I got from the dealer on the system and the panel specs I found from a search.


The Jaboni MPPT controller is a rebranded Victron.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf JPP-265_9.18.18.pdf (233.6 KB, 28 views)
File Type: pdf Solar Panel.pdf (894.0 KB, 22 views)
__________________
2013 F350 Lariat Ultimate FX4 CC LB SRW
2019 3790RD 20th Anniversary Edition, 860W of solar, 2000W Inverter, 5500W Onan, Slide Awnings, 3rd AC, disc brakes, dope stereo w/ 10" subwoofer
2017 & 2018 Kawasaki 1500SXR, 1993 750SX, 1996 750SXi jetskis
jetskier is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 05:43 PM   #5
BridgesAcrossAmerica
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Crestview
Posts: 6
M.O.C. #23341
Thanks so much, jetskier! You have been most helpful! I found the controller just where you said...behind the convenience center. There is power to the controller since the blue light is on, but the round interface (or whatever you want to call it) has nothing on the display. I got in behind it and checked...the gray cable is connected correctly, so not sure what the problem is. We are in travel mode for a couple more days, so I can't really follow the cables and see if everything is connected. I'll do that probably this weekend.

Besides the display not working, here's what's got me perplexed. Here's the situation:

We got the RV on Tues/Wed. Moved to campsite on the property and was on full hookup till we left Sunday. All was well, but didn't have a chance to check batteries, solar, or inverter. (BTW, yes, we have the package you sent the pdf on). Last night we boondocked. When we stopped, I checked the voltage on the batteries using a multimeter. It showed only 12.1v. I would think batteries that have been on shore power for several days would be up around 13.6v or so to start with, right? Anyway, then I turned the 2000w inverter on. I had nothing powered on inside on the sockets that are on the inverter plugs. In less than an hour, with nothing on, the inverter started beeping that it didn't have enough voltage. So I turned it off (good thing I don't have a CPAP or something like that where I NEEDED the power). We have minimal 12v consumption overnight (I know the RV refrig, propane water heater and other items use the 12v system, but not much was on at all.), but before we left at 9am the next morning, the refrigerator was beeping and showing low voltage. So that tells me the batteries were basically dead.

BTW, I have two 12v lead acid batteries from Tampa Bay Battery. They have the following on the top:

TB-27DC CCA600
MCA750 RC160

I called Tampa Bay Battery to ask about them. They are Deep Cycle Marine/RV batteries that are rated at 88 amp hours. I just check and all the cells are topped off. They said they get them directly from Johnson Controls.

So...any thoughts on the solar or the batteries? I appreciate any insights from anyone with the right knowledge/experience!

Regards/Jon
BridgesAcrossAmerica is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 08:31 PM   #6
PNW Fireguy
Montana Master
 
PNW Fireguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Arlington
Posts: 778
M.O.C. #18081
If I assume that both of your batteries are about 88 AH then you only have a maximum of 88AH of usable energy. This isn't much. If you upgrade to 4 6V depp cyles batteries (won't list CCA) connected two in series and the resulting two pair connected in series you will have a much greater usable AH capacity. The problem then might be that you discover that you don't have enough solar wattage to keep them charged.
__________________
2015 3440RL, legacy package, Sailun S637's, Onan Commercial Gen, 1200 Watts Solar, Midnight Solar Classic 150, Winston 700AH/8.4kwh LiFePO4, Winegard Trav'ler & Dish Hopper3, 2011 Ram 3500 CC Laramie DRW 4x4 4.10
PNW Fireguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 08:57 PM   #7
Charlie W
Established Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Oroville
Posts: 15
M.O.C. #23396
Yes throw the batteries away, I replace mine with 4 Trojan T105 which are 6 volts 225 amps each. Hook up in series and parallel which gives me 12 volts 450 amp hours. I had 2 150 watt panels and I replace them with four 200+25 watt panels
It looks like the panel you have is nice but not enough, you might get away with buying one more of them.
Charlie
__________________
2018 Montana 3701LK, 2018 Dodge 3500 Laramie.
Charlie W is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 09:53 PM   #8
jetskier
Montana Fan
 
jetskier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Minden - NV
Posts: 153
M.O.C. #22360
Jon,

If the solar is charging the batteries, it should climb toward 14V as the day wears on with good sun exposure. It won't just jump to 13.5V like it does with the converter or plugged into the charge line on the truck. With the new controller, I was able to look up the charge requirements for the 6V Costco GC2 batteries and set up the charge profile via the app. The unit that came with the package didn't have Bluetooth as an option so you're stuck with the basic charging profile.

When my batteries quit receiving a charge they usually settle around 12.6-12.8V with no draw and drop from there.

As far as the display is concerned, you might verify the connector is plugged into the controller on the bottom right. I attached a pic of the controller. It's the grey wire with black shrink wrap on it.

You will find the single 265W panel will not charge enough to manage the batteries. My panel seemed to be around 180W with fun fall/spring sun. When I added the new controller and additional panels (see pic), I've seen output at 760W when I have a lot of loads. The RV fridge on electric pulls about 600W between the 12V circuits and the heating element. I don't use it for the fridge, but it's an easy test load. I can run the microwave for short periods (a few minutes), but it draws down the batteries fast. It does recover if I limit the use to before 3pm. I mainly rewired everything so I could use the TVs and recliners without using a gen or being plugged in. I also experimented this weekend and ran all three ACs (5300W) with my 5500W Onan with all other breakers off. I ran the other circuits directly off the inverter and solar setup isolated from the generator. I also removed the GFI off the inverter. It tripped a lot because there's two GFIs downstream for the bath and kitchen circuits. I do wish I could turn off the low voltage alarm. It at least needs to be lower than where the factory sets it. With only two batteries, you will notice it goes beeps more frequently.

If you are going to boondock a lot, get at least four golf cart batteries and a nice battery box. We camp on the shore of our local reservoir 80% of the time we use it, so solar and battery storage were important. I've had good luck with the Costco Branded Interstate 6V batteries. On my previous trailer, I sold them with it last August with 11 years on them. They still worked great.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20180906_195654.jpg (162.4 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg 20190401_1417392.jpg (334.0 KB, 1 views)
__________________
2013 F350 Lariat Ultimate FX4 CC LB SRW
2019 3790RD 20th Anniversary Edition, 860W of solar, 2000W Inverter, 5500W Onan, Slide Awnings, 3rd AC, disc brakes, dope stereo w/ 10" subwoofer
2017 & 2018 Kawasaki 1500SXR, 1993 750SX, 1996 750SXi jetskis
jetskier is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 10:23 PM   #9
BridgesAcrossAmerica
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Crestview
Posts: 6
M.O.C. #23341
Once again, this is most helpful...thanks!

I will definitely track down the gray cord...I didn't notice it when I was looking this afternoon, but I wasn't really looking for it. My guess is that it isn't plugged in at the controller...at least I hope that's all it is!

I knew going in I was going to have to replace the batteries...thanks for the info on the Costco Interstate batteries...that's probably what I will go with. In my other RV, we had just one 12v AGM battery (no solar) and it worked fine for what we wanted. We boondocked for a month down in Key West (at the Navy base). We would run our generator for a couple of hours in the morning and then a couple of hours in the evening and that kept things going. My goal is to start with this basic setup (with new batteries), see what it can do and get used to it, and then maybe add some more panels, upgrade the controller...who knows! We are planning on going back to Key West next winter and I hope to not have to run the generator as much, but I'm sure I can't eliminate it with just the 265w panel.

Interestingly, one thing I noted that's different than your initial setup. When I turned the inverter on last night and came inside, I noticed that the tv was powered on (I didn't turn it on, but the blue light was on indicating it was plugged in to power.) My Apple TV (plugged into the same outlet as the TV) was also on...so maybe the changed things up. That's one thing we would like to be able to do...watch some tv without having to run the generator.

What are your thoughts on AGM batteries vs. lead acid? It was nice not having to worry about battery maintenance. Trying to get into the battery box and open the caps and add water seems like a real pain in the butt. But for the cost, I may be able to get a lot more capacity cheaper...hmmm....

Again, thanks for your help!

Regards/Jon
BridgesAcrossAmerica is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2019, 11:07 PM   #10
jetskier
Montana Fan
 
jetskier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Minden - NV
Posts: 153
M.O.C. #22360
I've never used AGM batteries.
For battery maintenance, I use these kits all plumbed together...

Flow-Rite RV2000 Pro-Fill RV Edition 2 Battery Kit https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B001FCAX..._dfr0CbP905TF7

You need the bulb pump and a gallon jug of distilled water. I can fill all cells to the correct level in a matter of a minute or two. Once the bulb firms up, you're done. There's little float valves for each cell that close off when they are at the correct level.
__________________
2013 F350 Lariat Ultimate FX4 CC LB SRW
2019 3790RD 20th Anniversary Edition, 860W of solar, 2000W Inverter, 5500W Onan, Slide Awnings, 3rd AC, disc brakes, dope stereo w/ 10" subwoofer
2017 & 2018 Kawasaki 1500SXR, 1993 750SX, 1996 750SXi jetskis
jetskier is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2019, 04:18 AM   #11
PNW Fireguy
Montana Master
 
PNW Fireguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Arlington
Posts: 778
M.O.C. #18081
I would take all over lead acid any day of the week.
PNW Fireguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019, 10:10 AM   #12
BridgesAcrossAmerica
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Crestview
Posts: 6
M.O.C. #23341
Update

Yesterday, I finally got a chance to dig around the basement and sure enough, the gray cable was not fully seated going into the controller. When I plugged it all the way in, the display came on...progress!

I decided to check things out, so I turned off the shore power. We had it off for about 3 hours or so and everything that was supposed to work, in fact, worked. We watched a couple hours of tv using the apple tv with no problem. It was still somewhat sunny and I could see that the solar was providing some recharging.

I'm doing a longer test today. I just turned off the shore power at 10:30am (central time) and want to see how long the batteries last. It's very cloudy, so not getting much out of the solar. When I first cut it off about 30 minutes ago, the voltage said 12.8. I just looked and it's up to 13.4...hmmm...I've got plenty more to learn about batteries!

Just fyi...I still wasn't sure what the display was telling me or if it was set right for my batteries. I emailed Jaboni and got the attached back in about 10 minutes...just what I needed!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf RD-MPPT-ROUND.pdf (2.01 MB, 19 views)
BridgesAcrossAmerica is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2019, 01:30 PM   #13
McIver
Montana Fan
 
McIver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: ALBUQUERQUE
Posts: 218
M.O.C. #12840
The final word on solar can be found at Handybob’s blog (mucho pages). I followed his advice to the tee and am totally satisfied with the results after weeks off grid.
__________________
David & Loube
2010 3400RL, 2012 F250 FX4, 600W Solar, Morryde 90x42" basement tray, Honda 3000SI gen., Retired USAF Pilot.
God does not believe in atheists and He is not sure about agnostics.
McIver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2019, 01:09 PM   #14
Rod Spohn
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Mesa
Posts: 3
M.O.C. #24052
is solar charging?

We have had our 5th wheel less than a month so I'm trying to get up to speed with how everything works. My 1st question is, are my batteries being charge while in storage? There are 2 battery disconnects. One down by the batteries. (a twist knob - on / off ) The other is in by the water control area. It is a twist and pull out disconnect. I was told by the dealer to disconnect both when in storage. It got me thinking, how does the battery get charged by the solar if the battery is disconnected. HOW should it be set up so it will charge while in storage? I need to figure this out and add a couple more batteries since we boondock mostly. Any help is good help.
Rod Spohn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2019, 02:56 PM   #15
AZ Traveler
Montana Master
 
AZ Traveler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Oro Valley
Posts: 1,591
M.O.C. #20477
Rod,

I have a similar setup for battery disconnects. I leave the one in the convenience panel always connected and only use the one near the batteries. The one in the convenience center is not a total disconnect - a few things are still powered.

I always store with my batteries disconnected as my batteries are generally fully charged when I return from a trip assuming a few hours hooked to the truck and good solar. I have covered storage so my solar doesn't work when stored. My rig never sits in storage for more than 6-8 weeks - if it was in storage for 6 months or more I might charge the batteries every 3 months.

Before heading out, I reconnect the batteries and hook up shore power for 24 hours to cool down the reefer and top off batteries.

The batteries will not charge via shore power or solar if disconnected.
__________________
Zack and Donna plus Millie
2018 Montana 3160RL
2012 F-250
"Life is too short to stay indoors, enjoy the ride!"
AZ Traveler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2019, 03:55 PM   #16
Rod Spohn
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Mesa
Posts: 3
M.O.C. #24052
Zack, Thanks for your info. - I wish I could get away every 6 to 8 weeks LOL but we do go as often as we can.
Rod Spohn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2019, 10:38 PM   #17
carl n susan
Site Team
 
carl n susan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Carmichael - CA
Posts: 3,595
M.O.C. #4831
The disconnect in the front compartment cuts off the 12V to the dedicated inverter for the refer. Do disocnnct when in storage.

The disconnect in the convenience center disconnects *MOST BUT NOT ALL* the 12V to the coach (and the charger). The un-disconnected (is that even a word) are still sucking power and will drain the batteries in a short time. Disconnect the batteries in the front compartment if you are going to store the rig for a while with no 120V supply available. Either remove the battery ground cable or install another battery disconnect switch for the batteries themselves.
__________________
Carl (n Susan) Youngren
There is more to life than fuel mileage.
2012 Montana 3700RL Big Sky Package towed by a 2015 Ford F350 6.7L PSD 4WD CC LWB

carl n susan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Today, 04:33 PM   #18
CMDSGTMJR
Established Member
 
CMDSGTMJR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Sugar camp
Posts: 14
M.O.C. #23908
Solar help

Taking my 3120 in tomorrow to install 2 crown C-RV 220 sh 6 volt batteries. When this is done I will go to the controller in the basement area and there is a dial on the bottom which you can set the proper algorithm to charge your battery bank. I wrote to the manufactor for documentation on the equipment installed
CMDSGTMJR is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Montana RV, Keystone RV Company or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:53 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.