Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

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Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby IdahoBob » Thu Jul 15, 2021 6:29 pm

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My 3rd attempt at solar power. This time with "solid panels" (not the flexible ones) and with an all aluminum "rack".
http://lesharorv.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=51

Not as light weight as the flexable panels directly on the roof, but no "shading" by anything on the roof in any direction.

Its a Wedge shape, to allow for the front vent to open. It's actually very aerodynamic, as I can't tell any difference going down the freeway at 55mph with it.

I even have a video of the driving test, taking with a GoPro clone. (10 min, unedited).
https://youtu.be/TOciTNaFMWY?list=PLwln7NvR2bTD2i35c7nXNUJCOeuOKAk9n
I though there was going to be some aero problems with air ramming under the front, lift from air passing over the top, maybe down-force from the wedge shape, and spill over from air coming over the edges, into the space below.... but I've not seen any of that!
Infact, on the freeway you can see an acorn, just rolling around on the roof as I'm going 55-60 mph !

Still want to cover part of the sides, and put something in front.

Oh, and 600W, is wired 3 panels wide, in two "banks", going into a 40A MPPT controller. It's keeping my three 100AH AGM's fully charged, even in winter!
I've done a test in November, with no leaved on the trees, and kept the fridge running and the batteries fully charged in the afternoon - UNDER the trees there in my driveway! Did the test for 3 days, until I had overcast and then I stopped the test.

If I was to do it again, I would use Two 300W "regular house sized" panels, with standard mounting hardware and rails, but in the same shape as I have. I could then later add a panel in front (over the Renault cab), as well as another over the A/C in the back, for 1200W ! (I'd need another 40A MPPT controller to do that... maybe even go to 24V's and Lithium, too.)
. Mark (IdahoBob) in Napa, CA - (and my '84 TD LS "Margot")
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby Rick H » Tue Jul 20, 2021 1:30 pm

Very nice!
Rick and Cathy from Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
88 LeSharo 2.2L gas auto

We drive in 'NANAZBUS'.
Our grandchildren love it.
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby IdahoBob » Fri Jul 23, 2021 1:00 am

Added 6 more pictures, showing how I got the wires inside, where the MPPT controller and its display is located, plus close-ups of the cutting I had to do to C-channel to get the vent to open well.

http://www.lesharorv.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=51
. Mark (IdahoBob) in Napa, CA - (and my '84 TD LS "Margot")
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby Rick H » Fri Jul 23, 2021 5:45 pm

Very nice!
Does the unit in the closet generate much heat? And how about the one where the two batteries are located?
I take it that all the batteries are connected in parallel.
Again,nice work and good pictures.
Rick and Cathy from Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
88 LeSharo 2.2L gas auto

We drive in 'NANAZBUS'.
Our grandchildren love it.
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby IdahoBob » Fri Jul 23, 2021 10:31 pm

Eventually I'll be posting the schematics of the wiring, as well as the dimensions of all the aluminum and all the possible layouts of panels I went though before and on this one.

All three batteries are mostly in parallel. I have the two inside ones directly in parallel and going though a circuit breaker to the charge controller. Also have the 700W inverter directly across them (also, with a circuit breaker). The old House batter is also on a pair of breakers...

This will all make more sense when there's a full schematic of what I did.

Ah, the fun of a retired Electronics and Controls engineer.... and his hobby RV. <G>

Heat hasn't been an issue but I've been keeping tabs on it. The heatsink on the back of the MPPT is large, and vertical, so sheds all of the heat it has been making.
The batteries are only a bit warm when the charge controller goes into "Equalize" about once a month. None of the loads I have put any real strain on the batteries. The 700W inverter is the biggest, and could be putting an 80A load on them... but spread between Three Batteries, that's like only 27A each... and I've never used that inverter at that level, usually just charging laptops and the like and pulling 3A to 5A.

The whole system was build for the old fridge. The Solar was to on a summer, sunny day more than keep up with it. The batteries to be able to go 3 days with no charging. Also, I wanted to go from completely dead, to fully charged on the solar in less than 2 days.

As "overkill is under rated" if the fridge is on, I only need about half a day of sun to keep up. If it's rainy for a couple days, a full day of sun can bring the system up to 80%-100% if I get full sun all day on the panels.

The biggest test I did was under trees, with no leaves in winter. I was able to go 3 sunny days with the fridge on and have 100% at sundown!

Covid put a bash on me doing real boondocking summer tests... and I've been fixing up a bunch of other things to get ready for this year... but the twist is that Everywhere is FULL this year... so I might just have to do some short trips and stealth camping....

Although, there is a Falcon 9 launch at Vandenburg scheduled for sometime this month, and another for Aug 18, that's a little far, but a good goal.

We'll see.
. Mark (IdahoBob) in Napa, CA - (and my '84 TD LS "Margot")
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby IdahoBob » Sat Jul 24, 2021 2:26 pm

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Added 3 new files, of how I figured out the layout of the solar panels.
I basically played "paper doll" with various panels and locations on top of my LeSharo.

http://lesharorv.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=51

Turns out you can easily put Three 100W flexables on the front of a '84 LeSharo, which would be a good start for someone.

I put 4 flexable panels on my first build, 3 on the front, and one to the right the "Skylight" vent. Later, when I went with 6 panels, I added one between the Skylight and the Roof A/C, and another on the left side of the A/C. These were wired into 3 strings of 2 panels.

If anybody is interested in my other layouts, tell me and I'll get them to you.
. Mark (IdahoBob) in Napa, CA - (and my '84 TD LS "Margot")
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby farvernugen » Sat Jul 31, 2021 8:21 am

Hi Bob,

I have the same controller, but not used it yet...what do you think of it?

Cheers, Scott
1991 Lesharo, 2.2 Bendix, auto, Ontario, Canada
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Re: Solar "Wedgey" rack - 600W

Unread postby IdahoBob » Sat Jul 31, 2021 1:11 pm

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I've had a lot of luck with the Epever Tracer 4215BN MPPT controller. Works quite well, has all the features I need, and has a lot of upgrades and other things I didn't use, but may do so in the future.

The only upgrades I got were the MT-50 remote display, and the battery temperature sensor. Both I feel aren't really upgrades but are necessary for use.

I have no problems recommending it to anybody setting up a decent medium sized solar system on a RV. The 4215BN's upper limits are 40A of PV input current and/or Charge Current, which at 12V is 520W... so my 600W panels, if I tilted and tracked the sun, would be just over the limit. (Not a problem as the charge controller can't pull more than 40A, so even if I had a Million Watts of solar, only 520W would be going though the Tracer.)

If you had a 24V system, you could double the power of solar that you could use, but then you wouldn't be able to easily charge off the alternator, nor "jump start" the car battery. Maybe on a bigger RV with a second alternator or with one of those fancy Victron two way battery chargers....

It's located in my wardrobe, and I haven't had heating problems with it yet... YET....
I need to go do a serious boon docking sometime, where most of my power comes from the panels and see how hot it can get to. This Tracer has a built in temperature sensor, so you can actually look it up in the display.
But so far, so good.

I got the BN over the AN because it's Negative Ground (PV-, Bat-, and Load- are all common) which matched up well with the LeSharo's house battery system. It would have been too hard to seperate the battery negative and the house loads negative to use an AN in the way it's intended. If I tried one of the AN's, I wouldn't be able to turn on or off, or read the current on the "Load", as well as "other problems"....

How I wired it up is I basically disconnected the battery feed to the power converter, connected that up the BAT+ on the Tracer, then ran a large wire from where the conveter battery connection to the Load+ on the tracer.... then wired up the Bat- and Load- to the car chassis... then all that needed to be done is hook up the solar panels to PV+ and PV- and it was working.

Not have a display or controls on the actual Tracer is a bit of a downer, but the MT-50 external controller works really well, so haven't noticed it.

One fun thing, before I installed the MT-50, I had just the display on a long cord, ran it to the dash, ans was able to drive around my area, park see how the panels were doing... move to another location (at another sun angle)... check it there.... etc. It allowed me to find where the least amount of shading from the center Vent/skylight and the roof A/C, and what was the max current I could get out of the six 100W flex panels I had on my 2nd install.

Worked so well, I think it would be nice to have both the display in the back, and one on the dash. I may someday get the Bluetooth or WiFi adapter, and make a switch to go between it and the mounted MT-50.
. Mark (IdahoBob) in Napa, CA - (and my '84 TD LS "Margot")
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