Solar System Setup for Transit - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 05:15:PM Thread Starter
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Solar System Setup for Transit

There seems to be a fair bit of discussion on Solar System setups (panels, batteries, cabling, mounting, etc) throughout many of the threads on this forum. Rather than wading though all the build threads, perhaps we can consolidate & share info on solar/electrical system design/setup for those looking to power their VANlife. Here's a few items to get it started:

> Considerations/design criteria/application for your system
> Rack/mount system, materials/products used, and attachment method to van
> Solar Panels (watts, size, other considerations for choice, etc)
> Cabling (type, wire gage, connector types, routing/roof entry point, etc)
> Charge Controller & monitoring system (product, where mounted, etc)
> Battery Bank (Amp*hour, battery brand, dimensions, where mounted, etc)

What did I miss? Fire away!
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Last edited by camp&ride; 02-25-2015 at 11:26:AM. Reason: clarification.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 07:14:PM
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I would suggest getting your own battery tester so at least you have a way to rule out if the battery is your issue if you ever have a power issue, some amp meters do that some done
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 02:07:PM
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Here's your rack system to mount both your panel and your awning. This fits in the pre-drilled holes in the roof.

Ford Transit Aluminum and Steel Roof Rack Systems
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 04:37:PM
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My 08 Sprinter had a single 205 watt panel and a Morningstar SunSaver MPPT controller. Battery was a 8D 255 amp-hr LifeLine AGM. My major load was a 4 amp Dometic 12v/120V refrigerator. I live where the sun shines most of the time. That combination supplied all the power I needed without having to connect to shore power for my last year of Sprinter ownership.

I will copy the same system on the Transit except for the panel will change from the 205 watts to a LG 300 watt panel. Same physical size panel just higher output.

Decided not to build a rack to support panel or use the existing tapped Transit roof holes. I will have a stealth camper so do not want a rack to show any more than necessary. Will bolt four 6" long 3/16" x 1 1/2" aluminum angles to the bottom of the LG panel mounting holes. I will fabricate four 14 ga. SS angles that bolt between the aluminum angles and the roof. Fabricated SS angles sit on top of a roof corrugation. Four new holes in the roof.

Attached is the drawing.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf ODJ127-27.pdf (98.0 KB, 197 views)
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 05:05:PM
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Orton,


When travelling in the summer, what kind of draw or cycle time did you see from the fridge? I'm just starting to do load calculations; I get what kind of load a 4 amp fridge has if it runs for an hour, but I've no idea where to start for cycle time and overall daily load for a fridge.

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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 05:07:PM
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Look at this website for information on the solar panel installation:

Sportsmobile Custom Camper Vans - Solar Panels
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 05:52:PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zyzzyx View Post
Orton,


When travelling in the summer, what kind of draw or cycle time did you see from the fridge? I'm just starting to do load calculations; I get what kind of load a 4 amp fridge has if it runs for an hour, but I've no idea where to start for cycle time and overall daily load for a fridge.
As you know it all depends on interior van temperature. I have not timed the run time at different temperatures. For calculations maybe 50%? I do know that there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the amperage used for refrigeration.

1. Cut a hole in the floor behind refrigerator so cool air will be pulled from under van past the refrigerator coil and out the open roof vent.
2. I let van get cold inside at night and use a 12 volt heating pad to stay warm. Refrigerator runs less in cold van.
3. I (will) have two inverters. One powered by the Transit 12 volt system. I can supply 120 AC power to the refrigerator while driving to eliminate using the house battery for the refrigerator.
4. Surround the refrigerator installation with 1 1/2" of rigid foam insulation. Not much insulation in a stock refrigerator.

2015 high roof 148" WB 3.5 Ecoboost 3.31 LS rear cargo.
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 06:44:PM
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Thanks for the info.


Yep, looking at doing all of those steps. Your build has been inspirational for ideas to use. Though cost may delay getting a second inverter, and I'll have to bargain with my girl on how cold to let the van get overnight. (though during the summer it'll be with windows opened and probably the fan on)

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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 01:44:AM
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Anyone have any idea who makes the best, and most powerful flexible solar panels?
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 04:35:PM
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Not sure if this qualifies as best, but I selected this product Monocrystalline-Bendable-Solar-Panel.

I ordered 2, for 200W total, i will still have room for 1 additional if i'm not happy with the real world output.

My use is for camping at airports in the western states in summer ( I am a Glider pilot, flying contests and cross country). My modest loads include a cooler ( ARB 12V 50qt ), LED lighting, charge laptop and maxair fan.

I will install with VBH tape. Will post photos in a few weeks when these are attached.

To be ordered: 2 100Ah batteries for the house array.
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