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For those looking for a small, efficient panel: Renogy has come out with a new Renogy Eclipse- 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel, RNG-100MB. Only 40.8" by 20.7". This appears to be the same panel rascorp is using (see above). And it was highlighted in a recent expedition portal thread. More expensive, but with our vans we can arrange these more efficiently on the roof. I'm getting two so I can have room left for a MaxxAir Deluxe Fan as well as a stand up paddle board.

direct link:
http://www.renogy-store.com/Renogy-Eclipse-100-Watt-12-Volt-Mono-Solar-Panel-p/rng-100mb.htm

expedition portal thread:
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/155427-New-Renogy-quot-Eclipse-quot-100w-solar-panels-(higher-efficiency-smaller-frame)

anyone have experience with these?
 

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For me, the roof rack will be mounted on a poptop. Colorado Camper Van will install Yakima tracks, and I'm currently considering the best layout for about 200W of solar and a MaxxAir Deluxe Fan while leaving room on the driver's side for either a cargo box or a standup paddle board.

my current thinking on a poptop layout is attached. Thoughts appreciated. Usable space measurements are approximate.
 

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Awesome writeup, thanks!

Just out of curiosity, do you have a water pump as well? Have you done any test data on it?

What do you think the minimum battery size you would need to keep this running? I'm thinking 100 ah battery with a 200 watt panel. (10 hrs day/10 amps/hr).

Hi,
Sorry I missed the followon question -- here is the full test data:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/installing-galley/measuring-refrigerator-electricity-use/

--No extra venting around the fridge (just the space under it that they require) -- this would probably be a good idea to add. I can't remember if there is a fan to move air over the coils, but if not, a very small 12volt fan blowing air over the coils when the fridge is running might be a good idea -- the little fan on my composting toilet only draws 1 watt.

--I did end up mounting the fridge below stove and next to furnace, but I added an inch of Polyiso insulation (R6.5) between the fridge and the warm appliances.

Gary
 

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Awesome writeup, thanks!

Just out of curiosity, do you have a water pump as well? Have you done any test data on it?

What do you think the minimum battery size you would need to keep this running? I'm thinking 100 ah battery with a 200 watt panel. (10 hrs day/10 amps/hr).
Hi,
The pump I have is not a very heavy user of power -- mostly because its just not on very much.

This page has a run down on what I used for all of the loads and how much battery each one consumes over a day:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/promaster-diy-camper-van-conversion-electrical-and-solar/
Its a ways down the page.
The one load that is not very accurate on this page is the fridge -- based on the test we talked about, it should be about twice as large a load as shown.
The biggest loads for me are the fridge and the furnace.

If you have both a fridge and furnace, I think that 100 amp-hrs is probably not enough capacity. Remember that you can't run the battery down to nothing -- most people use a maximum of 50% depth of discharge (so you only have 50 amp-hrs usable), but I think 80% depth of discharge is ok for the worst nights.

Gary
 

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Thanks, that's what I thought. Very nice blog. I have a question though, since you seem to be knowledgable on the subject that others haven't clearly answered.

On your relay-based isolator, you say "In hindsight, a unit with a lower amperage rating would have been fine. The unit is inline with a 50 amp circuit breaker, so anything over 50 amps would probably be fine. The maximum recommended charging current for the golf cart batteries is about 30 amps."

Please explain this. Do you know what current is provided to the house battery with the engine running? Though I haven't checked it yet, I'm guessing with the standard alternator that you can get as much as 150 amps (220 with the HD package) of charging current at the battery. Is there some device that's limiting the charging current from the alternator to your house battery?

Thanks.

Hi,
The pump I have is not a very heavy user of power -- mostly because its just not on very much.

This page has a run down on what I used for all of the loads and how much battery each one consumes over a day:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/promaster-diy-camper-van-conversion-electrical-and-solar/
Its a ways down the page.
The one load that is not very accurate on this page is the fridge -- based on the test we talked about, it should be about twice as large a load as shown.
The biggest loads for me are the fridge and the furnace.

If you have both a fridge and furnace, I think that 100 amp-hrs is probably not enough capacity. Remember that you can't run the battery down to nothing -- most people use a maximum of 50% depth of discharge (so you only have 50 amp-hrs usable), but I think 80% depth of discharge is ok for the worst nights.

Gary
 

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Thanks, that's what I thought. Very nice blog. I have a question though, since you seem to be knowledgable on the subject that others haven't clearly answered.

On your relay-based isolator, you say "In hindsight, a unit with a lower amperage rating would have been fine. The unit is inline with a 50 amp circuit breaker, so anything over 50 amps would probably be fine. The maximum recommended charging current for the golf cart batteries is about 30 amps."

Please explain this. Do you know what current is provided to the house battery with the engine running? Though I haven't checked it yet, I'm guessing with the standard alternator that you can get as much as 150 amps (220 with the HD package) of charging current at the battery. Is there some device that's limiting the charging current from the alternator to your house battery?

Thanks.

Hi,
I have measured the current with a clamp on amp meter -- don't remember the exact number, but around 30 amps at the startup and decreasing with time. And, if it ever went much over 50 amps this would pop the breaker.
The people at Trojan Battery gave me the charging current limit of around 30 amps for best battery life for these 200 amp-hr golf cart batteries -- higher charging currents are hard on the battery.
Trojan Battery has a good tech support department.

While the alternator may be capable of 150 amps or so, the voltage/resistance it would be seeing to get this would have to be pretty low.

One thing to bear in mind is that I am using regular flooded lead acid golf cart batteries, not AGM batteries. AGM's have lower internal resistance and are often charged at higher rates -- but, check the manufacturers recommendation as some of them don't recommend much more than for FLAs.

Its nice to have some way to measure the charging current -- ie a clamp on meter or inline meter or one of the nice state of charge monitors. I'm planning to add a state of charge meter to mine.

Gary
 

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The one load that is not very accurate on this page is the fridge -- based on the test we talked about, it should be about twice as large a load as shown.
The biggest loads for me are the fridge and the furnace.

If you have both a fridge and furnace, I think that 100 amp-hrs is probably not enough capacity. Remember that you can't run the battery down to nothing -- most people use a maximum of 50% depth of discharge (so you only have 50 amp-hrs usable), but I think 80% depth of discharge is ok for the worst nights.

Gary
I've run a rough test of my fridge only current draw. It's a 7CF Norcold compressor type (DE0061).

With ambient at 55F, the fridge and freezer empty, and freezer cooled to 18F (where the temp stabilized), the fridge cycled at almost exactly 50% duty cycle. While on, it drew just about 5A. When off, in the 100mA range.

So, if we assume no battery recharge source, and no change to ambient, the fridge alone will run down about 60AH in a day (5A/2)*24=60.
So a 100AH battery capacity would be very iffy.

Obviously, this doesn't handle all the unpredictable variables like colder nights, hotter days, added insulation (still to be done), or a filled up stabilized temperature unit.

I agree that 100AH is not sufficient for the design goal.


Stan
 

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Have you considered how you are going to mount the Renogy Eclispe panels?

I created a crossbar layout for the Transit 8020 tower brackets we are producing and found some 160 watt panels that would fit the spacing.

Crossbar layout: http://www.impact3d.com/Ford_Transit_8020_crossbar_layout.pdf
(Note: position of last crossbar at 14" has not been verified on an extended HR)

2x 160 watt layout: www.impact3d.com/Ford_Transit_2xGrape160W_layout.pdf
Hein,

The profile of the brackets looks a bit different in each drawing. I like them. But trying to figure out the best way to accommodate solar panels and a Fiamma awning.
 

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Hein,

The profile of the brackets looks a bit different in each drawing. I like them. But trying to figure out the best way to accommodate solar panels and a Fiamma awning.
Good eye! I was still working on the profile so you are seeing some design iteration. The final versions are currently in production and should be ready in a 3-4 weeks. We'll be looking at how we can efficiently attach an awning when we get the first run of brackets. They will be anodized in black and clear to match the 8020 crossbars.
 

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Our tower brackets are ready. These use 8020 15 series crossbars 56" long. Available in clear or black anodizing.


Below. Test fit with unfinished towers. These are sitting on the roof plugs so that's why the tower bracket is elevated slightly. We will have VHB or Neoprene pads to go between the tower and roof.
Black anodized towers with crossbar:

Top detail:
Bottom detail:

Please PM for more info and with help using these for solar panels.
 

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Our tower brackets are ready. These use 8020 15 series crossbars 56" long. Available in clear or black anodizing...
Any progress on those pads that would allow 80/20 runners to mount up? I had said I wasn't ready... but, I'd be open to trying or buying in July.
 

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Roadwagon-destin recent install

WWW.renogy.com RNG-100MB 4 Monocrystalline Solar Panels 100w ea. $198 each, CTRL-MPPT40 1 Charge Controller 40amp MMP $188, TRCRMTR-MT-5 1 MT-5 Tracer Meter for MPPT Charge Controller $36, AK-20FT-10 1 Wiring/Connectors 20ft MC$ Adaptor Kit AWG 10 $35, TRAYCB-8FT-8 1 8ft Wire copper Tray Cable AWG 8 $23, MTZ-ZB 4 Solar Panel Mounting Z Brackets Set of 4 $48 Free Shipping $1,122.00

Purchased these in February. I was impressed with quality of packaging, best packaged products I have ever received. It was am easy install, directly to roof using supplied brackets making sure to use lots of silicone sealant. I was only able to fit four on roof behind the A/C unit and with Awning brackets it was a tight fit but finished nicely. Great Quality product. I can see the 40-60v on meter and the small icons indicating active charging. I know nothing about Solar technology but feel I have installed a pretty good system. I use this to charge three 200ah sealed lead acid batteries in Parallel 12v. In addition to solar charging I have installed 60w Sterling Starter Batteries to House Batteries (Bay Marine-Alan), AIMS 4000 watt Inverter also charges house batteries.
 

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Updated layout with our towers and 8020 crossbars:
Ford_Transit_8020_crossbar_layout.pdf

You can use this to plan your solar layout. I'll be
working up some layouts with specific panels.
Hein, it would also be useful to know the locations of the holes for feeding wires through the roof.

edit: And 80/20 1517 LS is quarter round which might be fractionally a hair more aerodynamic than square tube. And 7 cents a foot cheaper.
 

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edit: And 80/20 1517 LS is quarter round which might be fractionally a hair more aerodynamic than square tube. And 7 cents a foot cheaper.
Quarter round would not provide a slot on the top to bolt other fittings to, if desired. It would appear you could use any form of series extrusions with the Hein bracket, as long as it had a slot on the bottom. I would actually just add a 1547 to front of a 1515-Lite or UL forward bar as a aero element, to which you could bolt an 45 degree lexan or equal air dam which reached down to just off the roof (via tapped holes on diagonal side).
 
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