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Solar panels

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Posted: 28.06.2020  ·  #1
Hi guys, new to this forum so be gentle.. Looking to install solar panels on motorhome and have been reading up!! Could do with some advice if anybody has previous, roof fixed or portable??


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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: 28.06.2020  ·  #2
Roof fixed for sure, as big an array as you can afford/fit.

MPPT controller and extra battery if possible.

One thing we couldn’t do without is the solar system.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: 28.06.2020  ·  #3
My panels were fitted at point of purchase so the only advice I can give is that which I read on forums etc.
I am given to understand that rigid panels last much longer than flexible, that a solar panel is best matched to battery capacity, if I remember correctly 100 watt panel with about 100 amp battery, but I would bow to more experienced input. 100 watts is about the minimum to fit in order to stay self sufficient for long periods in summer, but more wattage is needed (or more battery storage) if you plan to make use in winter. The one small modification I would like to have made on my system with hindsight would be to ensure that the controller charges the starter battery after topping up the leisure battery.
This site is always worth consulting on matters electrical. I have posted links to the whys and wherefores of solar and one on installation which is particularly good on the types of adhesive that are suitable.

http://www.aandncaravanservices.co.uk/solar-power.php

http://www.aandncaravanservices.co.uk/solar-panels.php

Davy

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: 28.06.2020  ·  #4
Hi Derek

We have a choice of panel sizes, regulators and mounting options if you want to give us a call next week with what roof space you have available.

Simon
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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: 28.06.2020  ·  #5
Quote by Leisure Tech Solutions

Hi Derek

We have a choice of panel sizes, regulators and mounting options if you want to give us a call next week with what roof space you have available.

Simon
Leisure Technical Solutions
02892698192


Simon installed one on mine, did an excellent job, highly recommended


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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: 28.06.2020  ·  #6
hi derek, you will find solartricity in Dublin (just off J5 M50) hard to beat for prices. I bought a 320W monocrystalline panel 2 weeks back, the panel is 1670 x 910mm Collected from their warehouse. You will not find better value anywhere is Ireland. Check their prices on their website. Don't waste your money getting some one to 'install', its and easy DIY jpb. You definitely need MPPT controller if you are going over 100W. Flexible panels and portable are not suitable for motorhomes. If you want to DIY you will need a roof gland (about £10), 4mm2 cable, and a pair of MC4connectors ((soalrtricity sell this also very good price per meter), I have my panel hooked up for 3 weeks now with 230amp hr AGM and I have been running a 240V fridge freezer via a pure sine wave inverter from the panel. My batteries have not been below 12.9V (even today with 100% cloud and rain).

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: 01.07.2020  ·  #7
Quote by Hymer544

hi derek, you will find solartricity in Dublin (just off J5 M50) hard to beat for prices. I bought a 320W monocrystalline panel 2 weeks back, the panel is 1670 x 910mm Collected from their warehouse. You will not find better value anywhere is Ireland. Check their prices on their website. Don't waste your money getting some one to 'install', its and easy DIY jpb. You definitely need MPPT controller if you are going over 100W. Flexible panels and portable are not suitable for motorhomes. If you want to DIY you will need a roof gland (about £10), 4mm2 cable, and a pair of MC4connectors ((soalrtricity sell this also very good price per meter), I have my panel hooked up for 3 weeks now with 230amp hr AGM and I have been running a 240V fridge freezer via a pure sine wave inverter from the panel. My batteries have not been below 12.9V (even today with 100% cloud and rain).


One large panel os not always the best option as a shadow can kill its output. It's better to have a number of smaller (80w or 100w) panels in parallel, one or more of which might escape then shadow. [url=

]HERE's WHY[/url]

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 00:04  ·  #8
Fair enough Colin but I never park in built up areas or trees that can cast shadows on my solar panel.....We are always out in the open, its a non issue for us anyway. Plus, its easier mounting one panel as opposed to 3 :P

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Posted: Yesterday at 09:03  ·  #9
Quote by panda

Fair enough Colin but I never park in built up areas or trees that can cast shadows on my solar panel.....We are always out in the open, its a non issue for us anyway. Plus, its easier mounting one panel as opposed to 3 :P


Fair point. But trees are not the only thing to cause shadows, one time in Spain my solar output was way below what I expected, because of the direction I was facing the sat dish was throwing a shadow in the morning time which was partly covering one of the panels. Lowering the dish sorted the problem.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 09:30  ·  #10
Yes...can see a satellite dish causing problems with shadows alright. I suppose it depends on roof configuration and panel placement. I have not experienced any issues with my single panel setup, the opposite in fact.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 11:47  ·  #11
Quote by baguette

Fair point. But trees are not the only thing to cause shadows, one time in Spain my solar output was way below what I expected, because of the direction I was facing the sat dish was throwing a shadow in the morning time which was partly covering one of the panels. Lowering the dish sorted the problem.


Sat dishes, roof lights, saorview antennas etc. etc. I wouldn't go as far as to say mount multiple panels in place of a single, but if you do have multiple panels it is definitely worth wiring them in parallel. That way if a single panel gets overshadowed, it does not pull down the whole array with it.

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Posted: Yesterday at 12:33  ·  #12
.on my last van I had 2 x 100 w panels wired in series. Supposed to be better for low light conditions and especially winter being able to extract more power from available light. I dont know which is better but worked great for me.


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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:24  ·  #13
Headache tablet time. Series Parallel - reason why..... head hurts..... :D

About to wire mine up and keep considering the Parallel, I suppose I may just try it :)

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:33  ·  #14
Quote by Ally

Headache tablet time. Series Parallel - reason why..... head hurts..... :D

About to wire mine up and keep considering the Parallel, I suppose I may just try it :)


You could experiment for us 😉

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:35  ·  #15
Quote by Ally

Headache tablet time. Series Parallel - reason why..... head hurts..... :D

About to wire mine up and keep considering the Parallel, I suppose I may just try it :)


fit an extra couple of breakers and go both ways, then do the switching when out and about and solve the problem once and for all.
The result info fee can be in Green Tinnies.😁

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:38  ·  #16
I had a feeling this would turn into a series/parallel discussion! lol

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:41  ·  #17
Quote by Ally

Headache tablet time. Series Parallel - reason why..... head hurts..... :D

About to wire mine up and keep considering the Parallel, I suppose I may just try it :)


Time to grab the Nurofen Ally because .... no just kidding. But I would love to compare test rigs side by side. One wired series and one wired parallel just to see how much longer the series circuit keeps charging for in the evening (I'm confident the answer will be zero).

Maybe you could arrange your wiring so as to be able to switch back and fort between series and parallel and see what happens at dusk. You could be lead scientist in your own experiment.

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:44  ·  #18
This is why I am only considering installing one panel. 😩

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 13:50  ·  #19
😂


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Posted: Yesterday at 13:58  ·  #20
There is a YouTube video where a guy compares both on a test rig. Seems to be that series does get to a higher voltage sooner so starts charging at lower amps but doesn't quite get to the same input as parallel in the middle of the day.

You obviously do get the issues of shading with series panels, the handy thing with a motorhome though is that it has wheels and can move.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 14:01  ·  #21
Power = Voltage x Current, you can get double the voltage in series but you half the current so no net gain. No power into the panel, no power out.

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Posted: Yesterday at 14:23  ·  #22
Wow....great to see a flurry of posts on the subject👍

I'm in neither camp....last van had 200 watts in series... worked great... current van has single 300 watt panel in parallel works equally as great....do love a good discussion though 😄😜

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Posted: Yesterday at 15:04  ·  #23
Quote by <BM>

Power = Voltage x Current, you can get double the voltage in series but you half the current so no net gain. No power into the panel, no power out.


Yep, solar controllers will only start charging batteries when a minimum voltage is reached, usually about 16v. Two panels in parallel will have a max voltage of about 20v (but higher amps) whereas two panels in series have a max voltage of 40v (but lower amps) therefore the panels in series reach the voltage threshold of the controller with much lower light levels than a parallel system.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 15:14  ·  #24
Quote by StephenC

Quote by <BM>

Power = Voltage x Current, you can get double the voltage in series but you half the current so no net gain. No power into the panel, no power out.


Yep, solar controllers will only start charging batteries when a minimum voltage is reached, usually about 16v. Two panels in parallel will have a max voltage of about 20v (but higher amps) whereas two panels in series have a max voltage of 40v (but lower amps) therefore the panels in series reach the voltage threshold of the controller with much lower light levels than a parallel system.


The open loop voltage of a panel is a little over 20V, typically settles at 18V once the slightest trickle of current is flowing in a closed circuit and keeps a pretty constant voltage with the current increasing as power increases, if the voltage is less than 18V, there's approximately zero current which means zero power.

An MPPT controller is capable of controlling the current which turn varies the voltage a little which is fine as long as there is power but the main point still stands, if there is insufficient voltage for there controller to start charging, there is approximately zero current and no power, two panels in series with insufficient voltage still doesn't produce any current.

No power in, no power out.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 15:19  ·  #25
monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels? :D

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Posted: Yesterday at 15:22  ·  #26
If you had 3x6v in series on the roof to kick-start the solar panel 😂😂😂😂

Panadol !

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Posted: Yesterday at 15:25  ·  #27
Quote by Blag

monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels? :D


Monocrystaline are more efficient per unit area, for a given power rating, monocrystaline will generally be smaller, there's not much more to it than that.

You could probably argue that the grain boundaries on the polycrystaline are potential failure points which could lead to deterioration in performance over time but it's not a given and there are other electrical interconnects that are probably more important in determining overall reliability.


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Posted: Yesterday at 16:44  ·  #28
Quote by StephenC

Yep, solar controllers will only start charging batteries when a minimum voltage is reached, usually about 16v. Two panels in parallel will have a max voltage of about 20v (but higher amps) whereas two panels in series have a max voltage of 40v (but lower amps) therefore the panels in series reach the voltage threshold of the controller with much lower light levels than a parallel system.


That would be true if solar panels were voltage sources. But they are not. They are current sources. Your measure the open circuit voltage of a solar panel indoors (low light) and it will be very close to its rate V(oc), e.g. 17 volts, yet you would be lucky if it would power a single LED. You've got voltage but no amps. You bring the same panel outside in good light, its voltage will still measure close to the rated V(oc) as it did indoors, but now the panel could power a decent load, like a fan. Now you got voltage with amps.

A PV panel In low light produces approximately zero current despite having the voltage (less than 1mAmp). You cannot cheat the capacity of two panels in low light to charge a battery. 2 x zero current is still zero current and will not charge a battery. The tracking of an MPPT charger will not extract more power from a panel than a simple resistive load. The MPPT will only come in to its own when there is current available.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Yesterday at 21:06  ·  #29
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Posted: Yesterday at 21:44  ·  #30
Good one John. Have a pain in my face trying to explain the simplicity of Ohms law here.
I tune out of these conversations now. 👍👍

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Posted: Yesterday at 23:26  ·  #31
I never once said there was no amps, but thanks for the info I've well and truly been schooled :(

Was going to link to the explorists page but see panda already did that.

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Re: Solar panels

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Posted: Today at 00:27  ·  #32
Well here’s my take.

(1) Under optimal operating conditions, i.e., full sunlight, no shading, and the thickest cabling you could wish for, series and parallel arrays deliver the exact same output.

Absolutely true. 36 Volts @ 4 Amps = 18 Volts @ 8 Amps, Ohms law and all the rest. Happy days.

(2) Series wiring has the advantage of lower voltage drop over cables thereby improving charge voltage.

Again, absolutely true. 36 Volts @ 4 Amps has less IR cable losses than 18 Volts @ 8 Amps. The solution to this problem if choosing to go parallel is to use thicker cable.

(3) Parallel wiring has the advantage of less losses due to partial shading of array.

You can’t argue with that. One shaded panel cannot reduce the current contribution from the other unshaded panels. The solution to this if choosing to go series is to not park in shade.

All of the above statements are indeed true. But to say that series wiring gives a performance boost over parallel in low light conditions such as dusk, dawn, overcast days, or on winter days is completely untrue.

That idea comes from a misunderstanding of how PV panels work in low light. They still put out a high voltage, but practically no current. I have measured PV panels in low light outputting close to the rated open circuit voltage, 17 Volts for example. Put the ammeter across them and you are lucky to measure 1 mA! Even if I put a hundred of those panels in series, the best I could hope for is 1,700 Volts delivering 100 mA. A total of 17 Watts. Wow. That might just begin to start to charge my battery.

The simple fact of the matter is for most of the time you will not notice any difference if your array is wired series or parallel. There are advantages either way which might be significant depending on your circumstances. But I will challenge anyone that says that wiring in series gives an advantage in low light. That is just not true.

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Posted: Today at 07:27  ·  #33
Jason... in the link I posted the mppt manufacturer's recommend he change from parallel to series and he had a dramatic effect on battery charging in low light and cloudy days....that's real life data. I also never understood the shade argument.....just move the van!

Anyway...do what makes you happy thars what I say. I currently have one large panel so its wired parallel but if was to add another it would then go in series...just my preference from what I read and experienced on the subject.

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Posted: Today at 10:08  ·  #34
Very well John. I respect your right to wire your panels in series. Anyway, the way this weather is going, ain't nobody getting a solar charge! 😬

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Posted: Today at 10:12  ·  #35
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Posted: Today at 11:18  ·  #36
That's great lad's now who's turn is it to start this post at this time next year.
Solar Panels 2021🤤😭

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Posted: Today at 11:58  ·  #37
Quote by Hymer544
you will find solartricity in Dublin (just off J5 M50) hard to beat for prices. I bought a 320W monocrystalline panel 2 weeks back, the panel is 1670 x 910mm Collected from their warehouse. You will not find better value anywhere is Ireland. Check their prices on their website.
I like the look of those panels. Good specs & good prices. Looks like they have fitted 2 panels into the one frame? Or are the extra set of MC4 plugs on the back for connecting more panels in SERIES!!! :lol:

€155 for a 350w panel is interesting.

 


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Posted: Today at 12:13  ·  #38
Quote by sprinter

That's great lad's now who's turn is it to start this post at this time next year.
Solar Panels 2021🤤😭


If we all chip in, we could buy two test rigs and put them side by side.

Sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned the war.

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Posted: Today at 12:22  ·  #39
Quote by The Rambler
If we all chip in, we could buy two test rigs and put them side by side.
Sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned the war.


:lol:


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Posted: Today at 12:27  ·  #40
Can both test systems be on my roof? 😏


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