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Old 10-16-2013, 08:28 AM   #31
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The issue with running two 12v batteries in parallel is that if one of them has a weak cell, it will draw down the other battery.

If you can do it physically, two 6v in series, or one big honkin 12v would be preferable. If you have to run two 12v in parallel, they should be of the same type and capacity, and close to the same age.



So, what have you got for charging? How big is the solar panel? What do you have for an converter/charger?

If camping for a significant time, you've got to be putting in what yiu are drawing out.
I have the biggest battery that will fit the space, which is a group 27. I have looked around for a space for mounting a bigger battery tray but there is no choice with easy access. Anything I would do would either require some serious surgery to the shell, or stuff the batteries up underneath with crappy access and road exposure.
The panel is rated at 135 watts. The charge controller is a Go-Power. It has a float voltage of 13.7 volts and when the battery is charged it will taper the amps to 0. Every 28 days it does a equalization charge of 14.8 volts. I have not done an official power "budget",
but with the power we use the battery is topped up before sundown and has enough capacity to run lights, water pump, fridge and play a DVD overnight.
So it's not that the system does or does not work. It works pretty good. Conversation here suggests that it could work better and I agree. What got me started was I thought the battery would/should last longer being always topped up with the solar system. So far it seems I could....
Find a charge controller with a higher or even adjustable peak charge voltage.
Use a better grade of battery. For a lead acid type I don't see one that has a lot more capacity than what I have, but I can see if there is one that may last/survive longer.
Watch the meter for deep discharges.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:52 AM   #32
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If you really want to keep track of the battery, you might think about one of these.

http://www.amsolar.com/home/amr/page...c_2025-rv.html

It keeps track of current going into or out of the battery, and it can give you %, amp hours used, or watt hours used.

I installed one when I put in my solar, and it is pretty cool.

Worth the time and cost, though, is an individual choice.
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:05 AM   #33
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What is your system like? How many panels, batteries?
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:12 PM   #34
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Two 220 watt 30 volt panels running MPPT controller, two 12v batteries at the moment (like you, it would be difficult to modify for taller 6v's), trimetric.

I actually put a video on YouTube on the install.
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Old 10-17-2013, 05:59 AM   #35
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. What got me started was I thought the battery would/should last longer
some things have a surprising draw. An old style tv is thirsty compared to lcd. When i had the small pair of deep cycle 12 v they didn't last more than a day or 2 and during winter forget it, the ignition for the propane heater became the priority so no tv
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:29 AM   #36
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Two 220 watt 30 volt panels running MPPT controller, two 12v batteries at the moment (like you, it would be difficult to modify for taller 6v's), trimetric.

I actually put a video on YouTube on the install.
That system sounds great. It is so helpful to compare notes. I am guilty of not making solar power my top priority as I have not read all the books and found all of the websites. It would be great to see the vid if you could post the link. This discussion has helped me improve my understanding of how I can better use what I have and what I may do next.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:43 AM   #37
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some things have a surprising draw. An old style tv is thirsty compared to lcd. When i had the small pair of deep cycle 12 v they didn't last more than a day or 2 and during winter forget it, the ignition for the propane heater became the priority so no tv
By lasting longer, I did mean that the battery itself crapped out in about 2 years. This has pretty much been the case since we bought the RV. I was under the impression that keeping a battery topped up was better for it than allowing it to discharge while sitting. As far as capacity is concerned, the overall power usage is pretty modest compared to some of the super deluxe moho's you see these days. We have a small LCD TV, small DVD player and I am constantly turning off lights after dark. So far, we have had only one really cold night experience, but an extra blanket took care of that. As far as heaters are concerned, we have a furnace with a blower and because our RV is modestly (poorly) insulated, it will run us out of
power and propane pretty quick. I have not tried it, but it has been
suggested to use a catalytic propane heater for warmth to save on power and fuel. Surprising to me how many RV's are factory built for RV parks rather than being able to dry camp for more than a few days.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:57 PM   #38
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Here's part 1. It links to other sections.

http://youtu.be/kH9hQaIDZOs

The man things I picked up from Handy Bob:

Wire size to give less than 2% loss seems huge overkill, but compared to the cost of PV panels and other components it would be silly to have loss in the wiring degrade the system's performance.

People are pushing MPPT controllers, and they do perform better in the right circumstances (volts from panels higher than what the battery needs), but the are expensive. Most of the time if a person got a switching controller and spent the savings on panels or wiring you would get the best system performance for $ spent.

That said, I went MPPT because I got an excellent deal on 30v panels, which offset most of the cost of the MPPT controller vs a PWM version of the same controller.

When you figure your power use, don't overlook the furnace. It might not pull high amps, but it can run more than you think.

Jeff
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:04 PM   #39
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Regarding catalyst heaters, yeah they save power but they do use oxygen from inside the rv, and they do give off some emissions.

They can be used safely if you know what you are doing, get quality stuff, and have an O2 monitor in addition to carbon monoxide.

Personally, and it might be my lack of education about them, I'm more comfortable with a well maintained furnace. YMMV
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:19 PM   #40
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Quote:
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Regarding catalyst heaters, yeah they save power but they do use oxygen from inside the rv, and they do give off some emissions.

They can be used safely if you know what you are doing, get quality stuff, and have an O2 monitor in addition to carbon monoxide.

Personally, and it might be my lack of education about them, I'm more comfortable with a well maintained furnace. YMMV
My experience with those is that IF you wake up the next morning, you feel like shit. Non vented heaters of any type suck.

Easiest way is to use an adequately rated sleeping bag and turn the heat off at night.
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Old 10-17-2013, 10:14 PM   #41
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he means get a CO monitor... thats what can kill you
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:52 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by JeffinTD View Post
Here's part 1. It links to other sections.

http://youtu.be/kH9hQaIDZOs

The man things I picked up from Handy Bob:

Wire size to give less than 2% loss seems huge overkill, but compared to the cost of PV panels and other components it would be silly to have loss in the wiring degrade the system's performance.

People are pushing MPPT controllers, and they do perform better in the right circumstances (volts from panels higher than what the battery needs), but the are expensive. Most of the time if a person got a switching controller and spent the savings on panels or wiring you would get the best system performance for $ spent.

That said, I went MPPT because I got an excellent deal on 30v panels, which offset most of the cost of the MPPT controller vs a PWM version of the same controller.

When you figure your power use, don't overlook the furnace. It might not pull high amps, but it can run more than you think.

Jeff
I finally sat down and watched your install videos. Great job. Gave me a bunch of ideas on how to improve my little system. In other searches I found a guy that put his batteries under his entry stairs. That might help me with my space issues for additional capacity. I can only hope my system approaches yours in detail and efficiency. Very well done.
Jeff
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:55 PM   #43
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Thinking outside the box on batteries might be a good solution, but be aware of venting.

Fumes given off by a charging battery can be explosive and corrosive. I believe the fumes are heavier than air. There are battery boxes with a vent tube and small fan made for sailboat solar systems, but I bet you could come up with an exterior area to which a battery tray could be added.

Also, obviously be sure any positive cable is well protected from chaffing or getting pinched, or otherwise shorting to the frame.
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Old 10-26-2013, 04:52 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffinTD View Post
Thinking outside the box on batteries might be a good solution, but be aware of venting.

Fumes given off by a charging battery can be explosive and corrosive. I believe the fumes are heavier than air. There are battery boxes with a vent tube and small fan made for sailboat solar systems, but I bet you could come up with an exterior area to which a battery tray could be added.

Also, obviously be sure any positive cable is well protected from chaffing or getting pinched, or otherwise shorting to the frame.
That only applies to flooded electrolyte type batteries. AGMs and lithiums don't vent and don't use vent tubes. Flooded type batteries are almost obsolete today. AGMs are available in almost all sizes and configureations, even the big group 31s.
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Old 10-26-2013, 06:36 PM   #45
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Good point.

Flooded cells are still pretty popular as RV deep cycles and other solar systems, because they give the most amp hours stored per $ when you look at capacity, expected life, and price.

If you have to mount batteries in the living area, or in an area where checking water level is difficult, AGM could be worth the extra price.
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