If you give an RV a Solar Panel…

A guide to the purchases and work leading up to an unplugged A/C Boon-docking RV

BadPirate

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You find yourself in possession of a couple of Solar Panels, maybe you bought them on FB Marketplace or Craigslist, and you think to yourself, why not give them to my RV? Well….

If you give an RV a pair of Solar Panels, it’s probably going to need a solar charge controller. You’ll do some research and find that Victron is a really reliable brand, and also has built in bluetooth for seeing stats. And your RV loves stats. You’ll want to calculate the right size of controller, so you’ll look at the specs for your solar panels and add the output voltages together (sum the voltages if you only want to run one wire pair, if you want to run a wire for each panel to your controller then you can just use the voltage of one panel), and the total max amperage output (always sum), these two numbers correspond to the xxx | yyy number on the front of the Victron (x being max voltage, y being max amperage). You’ll want to make sure that the max voltage is less than what your controller can handle, and that the max amperage is 25% less than max amps controller can handle (controllers shouldn’t operate near 100% current, as it hurts efficiency and leads to a lot of heat).

Victron Solar Charge Controller 100 | 30

You’ll want to take special notice when hooking up leads that the negatives are on the inside and the positive on the outside, as hooking this up wrong will cause the magic smoke to come out of your Victron and money out of your wallet. These bad boys are really sensitive to reverse battery connections as well, so take your time when hooking up new batteries to make sure you’ve got the right leads in the right place (On an RV, if you see one white wire, and one black wire, non-intuitively the black wire is + and the white wire is -, if they are black and red, then the black is negative, and the red is +).

Please don’t try to sum up how much this hobby is costing me so far :)

If your RV has a solar controller, than it’s probably going to want some wire to connect the controller to the solar panels, and some wire to connect the controller to your battery system. Starting with where on the roof you plan to mount…

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BadPirate

Kevin Lohman, Software Engineer, Father, Story Teller, and former US Navy Sailor (who never set foot on a ship)