Friday, January 4, 2019

Project 23: Solar System

A long vacation for the summer of 2015 was decided upon.  I understood the benefits of being self reliant.  Having what you needed without relying on outside support and having what's needed to fix anything  along the way is crucial to maximum safety and pleasure.  Being a 'traveler',  (Tourist= Point A to Point B and back to Point A)  (Traveler = Point A to Point B to Point C, D, E.... etc.  Life as a 'journey') I build what I need for boat or RV and set it up to take care of all essentials.

Enter 'Solar'.

Not expecting campgrounds with power while visiting Alaska or the many many miles before getting there, I rethought what I might need on a daily basis. Power, both 12 VDC and 120VAC was going to be needed.  I had earlier installed a 2nd House battery under the dinette seat, fed by 10 gauge wires off the Ford OEM installed battery located up in the cramped engine compartment.  The original had lots of connections already, so one more small one was deemed OK.
Later though, I installed a small 'modified sign wave' (square wave) inverter for simple 12VAC loads like shop vac, microwave, electric drill etc.  The things you might need on occasion but hopefully without the need to start a big generator(which I had already removed).
Project 19: Generator Upgrade

I ordered a package of 3, 100 watt Solar Panels

Installed the 3 on the Forward roof of the Tioga
and a MPPT Controller with optional Remote Monitor, in March 2015.  All worked out well but could have used more House Bank batteries. The land of the Midnight Sun has much less sun anytime when compared to my prior experiences in the Lower 48.  Alaska's high Latitudes significantly reduced the power of the sun's rays.  The output of the panels were augmented by my frequent drives. The engines alternator kept introducing a charge to the batteries, so between the alternators charge and the solar charge I was receiving, all was OK.  However, in Alaska I was using my Propane Heater more than I've ever done before.  The electric motor powering the heaters 'fan' was a constant draw on the batteries, so having a larger bank of House batteries would have helped keep the voltage up.  I made note of that.
When I returned to Florida 8 months later, I added another battery a few feet away from the other 2 (that now makes 3) batteries in the "house" system.  Have to admit though, having these additional batteries fed by only a 10 gauge wire limited the benefits when charging by the engine.
The solution from many standpoints was to increase the House Bank of Batteries to 4 - 'Series 29' big boys and install larger wiring.

Now, Dec. 2018, I did just that.

Engine Compartment Driver's Side BEFORE:

One House Battery was the Original configuration from the factory and still the compartment was cramped.

Wiring was 'do able' but NOW I've cleaned up this area and made the whole House Battery Bank 'System' better.

Engine Compartment Driver's Side after relocating this and ALL house batteries behind the driver:
Engine compartment will get a good cleaning next!

First mod: Adding a single additional battery tied into the front OEM House battery.
(under forward Dinette seat)

Later increased number to 2  batteries and placed under the rear dinette seat.  This was for the Alaska trip.

Installed these under the Rear Dinette seat instead of Forward Seat.

 but NOW...., the final Upgrade:  Went back to the Forward Dinette Seat and installed:  (4) large "Series 29" Marine/RV Deep Cycle Walmart Max-EverStarts.  (Walmart brand,  if needed anywhere in the US). Total Amp Hours now in the House Bank is 350.  (RC@ 25 amp figure for battery, multiplied by .4167)
(Installed them under the forward Dinette Seat/same compartment as Water Heater.)
Added a 3/4" separation panel between batts and Water heater and had to shift some plumbing lines to make room.

Also improved the quality of A.C. power by upgrading from my earlier less expensive modified Square wave inverter to a Pure Sine Wave 1000 Watt unit.  This output equals the quality of electrical power at home, which is important especially for sensitive electronics in the RV
Mounted this PROwatt SW 1000 in the small space below the refrigerator.  Perfect!!

These mods, can be done to most any RV.

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