Old Diary

Solar Headache


We  made a safe trip to Springfield for our solar consultation on a beautiful day and we met some outstanding people.  None of which should suggest that armed with a potful of information and a basketful of installation options that we won’t have a headache for a couple days while trying to sort them all out and reach a conclusion about our Ambassador.

Outside AM Solar

Outside AM Solar

I’m super happy that we took the time to make the trip.  Our visit with Deb and Roger and Marvin  reinforces our preliminary conclusions about these being the people I want involved with making this big step into the future for Peggy and myself.

Lovely settings

Lovely settings

They were running a little late  and we arrived a little early  so we parked alongside a sweet little flower bed.  We had plenty of time to pet Sam (picture missing) — the 10 year old ‘shop dog’ who is a sweetie and nearing the end of his time with Greg and Deb. 2014061110341101  There was truly unusual flower blooming at the river’s edge and Deb made sure to encourage us to take a peak–  it’s not common in Oregon and I need to get out or flower book to see if I can’t find the name (she told us but I forgot) — when the flower first blooms it smells so much like rotting flesh that vulture will circle overhead for the first couple days of the bloom.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re going to go ahead with an install but in addition to the sheer changeover to solar power there are also other upgrades relevant to the electrical system that I’m wondering about.

Magnum-MSOur coach currently has a Magnum 2012 modified sine wave inverter.  With the amount of electronics we have on board I’ve wondered for some time already whether that’s a component we should upgrade to pure sine wave.

lifelineThere are also questions about whether we want to upgrade batteries at this time.  AGM batteries would be a worthwhile improvement but they come at an added cost.  We could nurse these for a while and add the AGM’s  later down the road — of course who ever had batteries fail when you wanted them to fail and would we be able get them shipped to us wherever we might be at the time.

TS-MPPT-60SB3024There were other questions that came up:  about charge controllers.  Trimetric is a popular brand that a lot of RV’ers swear by.   If I understand  correctly it predates another controller by Blue Sky and our discussion went back and forth between the two for quite a while.  The Trimetric is only good up to 700 watts of solar power and whether we do it all now, or add some more panels later we are going to be using more than 700 watts of panels.  The advantage of the Blue Sky units is that they are daisy chain able — up to 70 controllers can be ganged together (not that anyone would ever end up with that much solar in an RV) But the point is that by using them you can exceed the Trimetric 700 watt limit, and you can do it with greater efficiency using narrower wire (none of which do I actually understand but I believe Marvin!)

We’re going to take a few days to make up our minds about what to do now, what to save for later — if anything  — and what future plans to plan for in spec’ing out this installation.  Currently we don’t have a roof mount satellite antenna.  Planning ahead now will give us some future options.

Let me explain…

OM160One of the advantages of working with someone who knows their business is the ability to think ahead.  We could use 5 of the 160 watt panels but doing so would limit any expansion to smaller sized panels and the smaller sized panels operate at a different voltage.  Combining panels at both voltages would effectively reduce the output of the higher capacity panels to that of the lower capacity ones.  In other words — while trying to upgrade using mixed panel sizes we’d lose the output of 2 panels.  Using the smaller size panels lets us put more watts up on the roof now AND allows us to retain the option for more panels later.

Ok — a lot of talk about solar.  More different stuff tomorrow.  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you then…

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2 thoughts on “Solar Headache

  1. Linda Sand says:

    I absolutely recommend a pure sine wave inverter to protect all the delicate electronics we depend on nowadays; modified is damaging to equipment although you may not notice that for awhile. Don’t let Marvin talk you into smaller wire; when it come to power and wire bigger is better. I have the Magnum Battery monitor instead of the Trimetric we had in the previous rig; both work well. I love having AGM batteries–that allowed them to buried under my floor since they require no maintenance although they could have gone under my bed since they don’t outgas like regular batteries do.

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