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Old 01-15-2024, 03:26 PM   #1
Ram Montana High Country
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Aftermarket Solar Packages

Was wondering if someone has installed an aftermarket Solar Package like EG4 or Simple Solar or someone else. I would like to hear your thoughts.
 
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Old 01-15-2024, 03:38 PM   #2
Daryles
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I put mine together from different sources. First I made an exact scale drawing of the roof with all the openings etc. Then I researched exact measurements of 200W, 230W and 250W panels. I settled on 200W panels because this would maximize the number of panels for the space I had available.
I went with Victron MPPT 100/30. I should have gone bigger. I will need to upgrade it to a 150/70.
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Old 01-15-2024, 06:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ram Montana High Country View Post
Was wondering if someone has installed an aftermarket Solar Package like EG4 or Simple Solar or someone else. I would like to hear your thoughts.
Are you pre-wired? Any 200ish watt panel with any charge controller will do the job. I'd stay with Victron just because that's what Keystone uses.
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Old 02-15-2024, 04:18 AM   #4
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We added 1000 watts to our pre-existing 200 watt Solarflex system. We went with all Victron equipment and CHINS 200ah batteries.
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Old 02-16-2024, 03:49 AM   #5
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I just replaced the solar 400 package with a high-end solar package.

Its an absolute dream come through and converted our camper into a boondooking monster.
Highly recommend thedrycampers.com for install.
They offer now also assisted diy installs.

The OEM solar package is in my garage for sale if interested.
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Old 02-16-2024, 09:14 AM   #6
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That's one hell of an install!
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Old 02-16-2024, 05:31 PM   #7
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I’m in the middle of getting ready to install a 500w system with various components. I went with Daryles’ idea of sketching out the roof. Went with Rich Solar 250w panels, Victron 100/50, Victron Smart Shunt, and SOK 206 Ah battery.

The pre-wired roof gland is on the back half of our roof so going to mount the panels on each side adjacent to the gland which should leave around 27 inches between them to be able to walk the length of the roof. Also leaves room for 2 more panels on back half.

Battery and shunt are installed. Currently laying out a panel with the mppt, disconnects, and wiring. The plan is to mount the panel in the battery compartment.
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Old 02-16-2024, 07:11 PM   #8
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Take a look at Continuous Resources. They have kits at a good price and will customize them to your needs. https://www.continuousresources.com/

I have received a quote and will be finalizing my order tomorrow.
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Old 02-17-2024, 06:25 AM   #9
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I ran my panels down the left side to start with. The right side is wide open to add more.

If I was doing mine all over again I would use aluminum unistrut rails.
With rails you can be sure every screw you use to mount the rail goes into a rafter stud.
Use a stud finder and painters tape to mark the studs. If you use the mounting brackets that come with the panels, you can only be sure one side of the panel has mounting brackets mounted to a rafter stud. The other (trailing) brackets will have to be fastened where they lay.
Also with rails, you can move/replace/upgrade the panels without drilling new holes.
When you are ready to mount the rails, clean the roof with alcohol then put down a 2x2" piece of Eternabond tape where you plan to drill the holes for the rail screws. Next, set your rails and drill the pilot holes for the screws. Put Dicor self leveling sealant in the screw holes and between the rails and the Eternabond tape. Put a spacer (or thick washer) between the rail and the Eternabond tape to allow water to drain away under the rail off the roof. Install the screw through the rail and put some more Dicor over the screw head.
I would also recommend Renogy tilting panel mounts so you can clean under them easily.

The wiring for the MPPT is behind the right basement wall in front of the stairs. One pair comes from the batteries. The other pair goes to the roof. The red wire is hot from the batteries. You will find a red 30A inline fuse next to the red self resetting circuit breakers on the wall behind the batteries.
I mounted the MPPT here. In the instructions it says NOT to mount it on a flammable surface. I put steel roofing behind it.
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Old 02-17-2024, 10:16 AM   #10
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Daryles, are you running a 12V battery system? I see 800W of PV panels and a controller rated at 440W. It is probably not dangerous, but your controller is probably limiting the power your panels are putting out.

Edit: Disregard; I see you mentioned that you need to upgrade to a 150/70.
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Old 02-17-2024, 10:23 AM   #11
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Anybody have photos of this unistrut mounting system?

I'll be mounting 8 215W panels using most of my roof area; that's a lot of strut. Probably 10' for every panel, total of 80'.

As a side note; when I mounted my existing panels I never looked for studs. I just lagged them into the roof. No problems in the last 5 years. However the unistrut idea is intriguing.

This will be my panel layout. Two strings, four panels each, running at 48V. I might change the orientation of panel 8 so panels 5-8 are in a straight line; just have to figure out if there will be enough room to step around them.
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Old 02-17-2024, 11:10 AM   #12
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Thank you all - Our 2020 373RD was solar prep (bid not deal) - solar connection on the roof and two wires in the nose. Added 600w (2 panels) solar, 300 AH Battle Born to handle 12v requirements in coach. Been working pretty good but now thinking of adding a separate system to handle 12v AC side of coach. Also putting in a DC to DC.

Thank you all for input.
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Old 02-17-2024, 11:47 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by scottz View Post
Daryles, are you running a 12V battery system? I see 800W of PV panels and a controller rated at 440W. It is probably not dangerous, but your controller is probably limiting the power your panels are putting out.

Edit: Disregard; I see you mentioned that you need to upgrade to a 150/70.
Yes, 12v system.
Yup, I added 400W (to our existing 400W) before our trip last summer. In Moab Utah (full sun) the output of the MPPT melted the SAE connector (picture below, 8 gauge rated for 40A) !!
Cheap pos.
I cut it out and replaced the output wire to the battery with a 30A Blue Sea circuit breaker and 6 gauge wire (picture above in previous post) so it's ready to upgrade the MPPT.
I also reduced the output of the MPPT to 28A.
Apparently with Victron, you can over panel. It crops off what it can't take in. You just must not over voltage. Mine are 2S2P. 40v, 18A input to the MPPT.
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Old 02-17-2024, 11:57 AM   #14
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I plan to have dual controllers, minimum 150/60, capable of 860W each. That maxes out my roof real estate. Each controller will get four 215W panels in series. Nominal 48V, but could be as much as 96V open circuit voltage. Well within the limits of a 150V controller.
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Old 02-17-2024, 05:34 PM   #15
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Re Daryles' post #9 above, I was going to use galv steel unistrut from HD but like the idea of alum. Found some today at Graingers and it's only about $11 more than HD for a 10ft section. The description states the finish is "plain" so need to find out if it's silver anodized or actually bare metal.

I was wondering about lifting the struts with washers but had concerns with compression cutting the roof membrane. The EB tape should help and was also thinking about making plastic washers with 1/4" ABS or PVC squares and routing the edges of the squares with a 1/4 round bit.

Sheet metal behind/under the MPPT is a nice, simple solution. Will do the same.

Question to all: are you panels leveled to some degree? I haven't noticed with the trailers I've seen but asking since a 250w panel is 30x60 so wondering if a 65 mph wind where the roof slopes downhill might put too much stress on the panels causing them to flap or want to stand up. I was thinking about adding a wind block on the leading edge . . . probably overthinking it. Thanks.
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Old 02-18-2024, 10:24 AM   #16
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The panels are contoured to the roof so not level.
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Old 02-18-2024, 11:06 AM   #17
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I've been thinking a little about the unistrut. If you mount a couple 10' sections (enough for 2 panels), how would you get the spring nuts into position? Seems like it would not be easy sliding spring nuts on the rubber roof. Anytime I have used unistrut, the open side was exposed, making spring nut placement easy.

I really like the idea of being able to remove panels for service or replacement without disturbing the lags going into the roof, but I'd like to hear (photos) from someone who has actually done this.
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Old 02-20-2024, 08:57 AM   #18
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I was thinking on Unistrut also. Looked like $$ it might be fairly expensive. If going that direction, I'd do a hinge on one side and bolt down the other side. What kind of $$/FT are you seeing?
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Old 02-20-2024, 09:52 AM   #19
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Here's my cost estimate for strut (for 2, 10ft sections). Prices from HD. Alum strut from Grainger. Both available locally.

Scottz, depending on the size of your panels, for the field of 4, if you can stagger 1 row a few inches you might be able to use 3 struts - ie 1 on each side and 1 down the center assuming outside mount on the long sides. (I'm looking at options to mount the strut outside of the panels or underneath).

Note if you shorten galv strut, you'll have to paint/seal the cut end so it doesn't rust (or have it galvo'd).
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