Solar

High current from the solar panels is dangerous. ...or is it?

I recently had a conversation with a customer who was insistent that 50A DC flowing from the roof mount combiner box to the charge controller was dangerous. But, that isn’t at all the case when you consider the low voltage.

The Physics:

Circuit-Diagrams

Voltage is pressure, or the driving force behind electrons and Amperage is how many electrons pass through an area per second (1A = 6,241,000,000,000,000,000 electrons per second). While it is true that amperage is what kills you, in order to have high amperage passing through something with a high resistance (flesh) it needs to be driven by a high voltage.

Consider this equation: Voltage / Resistance = Amperage

In this 50A scenario with a combiner box through roof cables and a charge controller to a battery bank, you have 18V / 0.36Ω = 50A. If you get your body in the way, you add a huge resistance, lets say it is roughly 10,000Ω. This resistance causes the panels to operate at a higher point on the IV curve which drives their voltage near Vsc = 22V. Now the equation looks like 22V / (10,000Ω+0.36Ω) = 0.0022A. Suddenly we have a situation where the amperage is actually very low.

Now imagine you are getting shocked by a taser at 50,000V. Now you have 50,000V / 10,000Ω = 5A. This is dangerous.

4/13/2017 - 2014 Scamp

When our installation schedule permits, we occasionally take on small solar trouble shooting projects.  This client came to us with an old solar charging system that wasn’t working properly (Not one of our jobs) and asked us what we could do to make it work.  We remounted the solar panel, changed out his cabling and connected his charge controller.  A system this size will maintain his batteries when the trailer isn’t in use.

Equipment Added:  1x 35mm Mount Set 1/4 tube of dicor 15.5' 10/2  2 10-12 ga butt splices 6" 3/4" black heat shrink 2 10-12ga ring lugs w/ heat shrink

Equipment Added:
1x 35mm Mount Set
1/4 tube of dicor
15.5' 10/2
2 10-12 ga butt splices
6" 3/4" black heat shrink
2 10-12ga ring lugs w/ heat shrink

4/12/2017 - 2016 Itasca Navion 24J, 24'

This client needed a small solar charging system for DC loads and battery maintenance with a battery monitor to help them regulate energy consumption.  What they got was a solar panel kit consisting of two of our SF100 solar panels connected in parallel with our roof mount combiner box.  To reduce DC line losses, heavy 6ga wire was routed from the combiner box to the MPPT charge controller and then to the battery bank.  Between the most negative battery and all negative connections, we installed a shunt to measure current.  The shunt and the charge controller communicate with the Blue Sky IPN Pro monitor to give full system status with Amp-hour precision.

Equipment added:  2x SF100 Solar Panel Kits 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 25A System Core 1x Roof C-Box 1x Tilt Bar Set 15.5"

Equipment added:
2x SF100 Solar Panel Kits
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 25A System Core
1x Roof C-Box
1x Tilt Bar Set 15.5"

200W Solar Kit

200W Solar Kit

Blue Sky 2512iX HV Charge Controller

Blue Sky 2512iX HV Charge Controller

Blue Sky IPN Pro Remote

Blue Sky IPN Pro Remote

Solar Panel Kits for Boats

We don’t just do RVs.  We have created a solar panel kit specifically for charging batteries on boats.  This kit comes with a 50W solar panel, marine rated charge controller and wire harness.  This is ideal for electric trolling motors, downriggers or simply maintaining the starter battery.  The 50W solar panel will produce about 12 amp-hours per day in summer weather.

50W Boat Battery Charger
100W Boat Battery Charger

50W Boat Charger Kit

50W Boat Charger Kit

Mounting hardware is not included

Mounting hardware is not included

A proud customer brought his boat by to show off the kit.

A proud customer brought his boat by to show off the kit.

3/15/2017 - 2014 Newmar Baystar, 28'

It is surprising that after being in the RV solar installation business for as long as we have that we still make regular discoveries regarding odd factoring wiring/components or cable routing challenges.  Despite these obstacles we are still able to deliver.  This client for example, with five 160W solar panels will now be able run a residential refrigerator and power an entertainment center.  The Tri-Metric monitor will allow them to view battery status down to the amp-hour and the Bluetooth dongle will send solar charging system data to a smart phone.

Equipment Added:   5x SF160 Solar Panels 3x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 70A (Sub 70A controller for a 50A controller) 1x BlueTooth Smart Dongle 1x Monitor Tri-Metric 2030A 1x Tri-Metric Wire Harness Complete

Equipment Added:
5x SF160 Solar Panels
3x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 70A (Sub 70A controller for a 50A controller)
1x BlueTooth Smart Dongle
1x Monitor Tri-Metric 2030A
1x Tri-Metric Wire Harness Complete

Victron 50A MPPT charge controller

Victron 50A MPPT charge controller

Tri-Metric Battery Monitor

Tri-Metric Battery Monitor

Roof mount combiner box

Roof mount combiner box

3/8/2017 - 2000 Monaco Imperial, 40'

With a 640W solar charging system, this client can now run a residential refrigerator, lights and some TV usage from energy captured by the solar panels.  As a part of the system core that we regularly install, the client will also be able to monitor their battery bank and determine remaining charge to the Amp-hour.

Equipment Added:   4x SF160 Solar Panels 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A System Core

Equipment Added:
4x SF160 Solar Panels
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A System Core

Blue Sky 3024iL Solar Charge Controller

Blue Sky 3024iL Solar Charge Controller

Existing Flooded Battery Bank

Existing Flooded Battery Bank

Roof mount combiner box

Roof mount combiner box

3/10/2017 - 2003 Country Coach Allure, 33'

We recommend four 160W solar panels when running a residential refrigerator, but sometimes you can get away with three if you aren’t running many other loads and you camp in sunny areas.  With the Magnum hybrid inverter, this client can draw power from shore power and the battery bank at the same time.  This makes a lot of sense when connected to a 15A source and you want to run large loads like air conditioners. 

Equipment Added:   4x SF160 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A (2ga) System Core 2x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets 1x Magnum MSH3012M Hybrid Inverter 1x Magnum Remote ME-RC50

Equipment Added:
4x SF160 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A (2ga) System Core
2x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets
1x Magnum MSH3012M Hybrid Inverter
1x Magnum Remote ME-RC50

Solar panel leads going to the roof mount combiner box

Solar panel leads going to the roof mount combiner box

Magnum 3012 Hybrid Inverter

Magnum 3012 Hybrid Inverter

AC Breaker Box

AC Breaker Box

2/24/2017 - 2010 Tiffin Phaeton, 42'

This client now enjoys the latest Bluetooth monitoring technology with their 800W solar charger and 640Ah AGM battery bank.  Charging current, battery voltage, remaining battery capacity and battery temperature can all be read through the Victron Connect app on a smart phone.
 

Equipment Added:  5x SF160 Solar Panels 3x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 70A 1x Bluetooth Smart Dongle 1x Victron BMV-702 1x Bluetooth Smart Dongle 6x AGM 220Ah 4CTs  

Equipment Added:
5x SF160 Solar Panels
3x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 70A
1x Bluetooth Smart Dongle
1x Victron BMV-702
1x Bluetooth Smart Dongle
6x AGM 220Ah 4CTs
 

Magnum Inverter

Magnum Inverter

800W of SF160 Solar Panels

800W of SF160 Solar Panels

660Ah battery bank

660Ah battery bank

2/15/2017 - 2016 Winnebago Sunstar LX27N, 27'

This class A motorhome got a 640W Solar charging system with a 440Ah AGM battery bank and a 2000W pure sine inverter.  In addition to powering their refrigerator, our clients will now be able to run appliances like a microwave, a blender, a coffee maker, etc. without turning on the generator.

Equipment Added:  4x SF160 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A System Core 1x MS2000 Inverter/Charger Complete Kit 4x 6V 220Ah AGM 4CT Batteries

Equipment Added:
4x SF160 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A System Core
1x MS2000 Inverter/Charger Complete Kit
4x 6V 220Ah AGM 4CT Batteries

System Monitors

System Monitors

AGM Batteries and Bluy Sky charge controller

AGM Batteries and Bluy Sky charge controller

Fuse panel

Fuse panel

2/13/2017 - 2010 Roadtrek 210 W.B., 24'

This client had a simple solar charging system installed.  Because of the tight roof space, we used our compact SP100 solar panels.  The addition of a single set of tilt bars allows for easy roof cleaning.

Equipment Added:  3x SP100 Solar Panels 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 25A System Core 1x Roof C-Box 1x 15.5" Tilt Bar Set

Equipment Added:
3x SP100 Solar Panels
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 25A System Core
1x Roof C-Box
1x 15.5" Tilt Bar Set

Blue Sky IPN Pro System Monitor

Blue Sky IPN Pro System Monitor

Blue Sky MPPT Charge Controller

Blue Sky MPPT Charge Controller

Flooded batteries

Flooded batteries

1/12/2017 - 2016 Airstream 26U, 26'

This Airsteam owner had one of our Essential Lithium battery banks installed with a battery monitor, 2000W inverter and 500W of roof mounted solar panels.  Because lithium batteries are damaged when charged at temperatures below freezing, we included one of our cold charge automatic disconnect kits.  Along with the roof mounted solar, we included a 120W Zamp folding panel on its own Victron MPPT charge controller.

Equipment added:  5x SP100 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 50A System Core 1x Victron Color Control GX Monitor 1x 300Ah Victron Essential Lithium Battery Bank 1x Victron Essential Cold Charge Disconnect 1x BMV-702 Battery Monitor 1x Victron MultiPlus 12/2000 Inverter 1x Zamp 120 Panel Folding w/ Case 1x Victron BlueSolar 100/15 Charge Controller

Equipment added:
5x SP100 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 50A System Core
1x Victron Color Control GX Monitor
1x 300Ah Victron Essential Lithium Battery Bank
1x Victron Essential Cold Charge Disconnect
1x BMV-702 Battery Monitor
1x Victron MultiPlus 12/2000 Inverter
1x Zamp 120 Panel Folding w/ Case
1x Victron BlueSolar 100/15 Charge Controller

300Ah Lithium Battery

300Ah Lithium Battery

Solar Charge Controller

Solar Charge Controller

2000VA Inverter

2000VA Inverter

2/10/2017 - 2016 Airstream Flying Cloud FB, 25'

This client came to us with an existing 400W solar charging system using flexible panels (which we discourage due to reliability issues) and an additional 120W folding panel.  We replaced the original roof wiring because one of the four panels had stopped functioning, added two SP100 solar panels and upgraded the charge controller.  We also replaced the PWM charge controller on the folding panel and added a Victron MPPT charge controller with Bluetooth monitoring.  Next, we added a 600Ah Signature lithium battery bank and a 3000W inverter, which all fit tightly under the bed.  This is one of our most elaborate installs.
 

Equipment Added:  1x  600Ah Signature Lithium Battery Bank w/o Color Control Monitor 1x  Victron Multiplus 3000VA Inverter/Charger 2x  SP100 Solar Panel Kits 1x  Roof Mount Combiner Box 1x  Victron 100|45 charge controller 1x  Victron 100|15 charge controller 1x  Victron Bluetooth dongle

Equipment Added:
1x  600Ah Signature Lithium Battery Bank w/o Color Control Monitor
1x  Victron Multiplus 3000VA Inverter/Charger
2x  SP100 Solar Panel Kits
1x  Roof Mount Combiner Box
1x  Victron 100|45 charge controller
1x  Victron 100|15 charge controller
1x  Victron Bluetooth dongle

Lithium BMS components

Lithium BMS components

Charge Controller

Charge Controller

3000VA inverter and three 200Ah lithium batteries under the bed

3000VA inverter and three 200Ah lithium batteries under the bed

2/6/2017 - 2013 Pleasure-Way, Mercedes Chassis, 22'

We installed a 220Ah AGM battery bank and a 300W solar charging system on this client’s van.  In typical weather conditions, the solar panels will replenish about 75Ah per day (70% of the battery bank’s usable capacity).  Solar, combined with alternator charging will keep these batteries topped off.

Equipment Added:  3x SP100 Solar Panel Kits 1x Roof Mount Combiner Box 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 25A System Core 2x 12V AGM 4CT 220Ah Batteries

Equipment Added:
3x SP100 Solar Panel Kits
1x Roof Mount Combiner Box
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 25A System Core
2x 12V AGM 4CT 220Ah Batteries

Charge controller and shunt

Charge controller and shunt

Combiner Box

Combiner Box

AGM Batteries

AGM Batteries

12/5/2016 - 2010 Creekside FQ, 20'

This trailer got a powerful roof mounted solar charging system along with a Zamp 120W folding panel.  The folding panel has been customized to work on the same charge controller and monitoring system as the roof mount solar panels

Equipment Added:   3x SF160 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 50A System Core 1x BlueTooth Smart Dongle 1x Zamp 120W Panel with Folding Case 1x Portable panel plug

Equipment Added:
3x SF160 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 50A System Core
1x BlueTooth Smart Dongle
1x Zamp 120W Panel with Folding Case
1x Portable panel plug

480W roof mount solar system

480W roof mount solar system

50A MPPT Charge Controller

50A MPPT Charge Controller

Flooded Battery

Flooded Battery

11/14/2016 - 2007 Tiffin Allegro Bus, 40'

We installed a powerful 960W Solar charging system, a 300Ah AGM Battery bank and a 3000W inverter on this class A motorhome.  Fortunately Victron inverters can be installed in a variety of orientations.  This one is upside down.

Equipment Added:   6x SF160 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 70A System Core 1x Color Control Monitor 1x BMV-702 battery monitor kit 4x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets 2x 6V 300Ah AGM Batteries GPL-6CT 1x 3000W Victron MultiPlus Inverter

Equipment Added:
6x SF160 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 70A System Core
1x Color Control Monitor
1x BMV-702 battery monitor kit
4x 19.5" Tilt Bar Sets
2x 6V 300Ah AGM Batteries GPL-6CT
1x 3000W Victron MultiPlus Inverter

Inverter compartment

Inverter compartment

System Monitor

System Monitor

Inverter

Inverter

11/30/2016 - 2011 Airstream International, 28'

Our SP100 solar panels are ideal for the curved roofs on Airstream installations because of their compact footprint.  This client ended up with a 300W solar charger and two new AGM batteries.

Equipment Added:  3x SP100 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 30A System Core 1x Victron MPPT Control System Monitor 2x AGM GPL24 12V 80Ah Batteries

Equipment Added:
3x SP100 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron MPPT 30A System Core
1x Victron MPPT Control System Monitor
2x AGM GPL24 12V 80Ah Batteries

300W Solar Charging System

300W Solar Charging System

System Monitor

System Monitor

Solar Charge Controller

Solar Charge Controller

2/3/2017 - 2014 Newmar Canyon Star Road Hauler w/ 10' Garage, 36'

This client opted for a unique configuration with his lithium batteries and had us put them inside, under the couch.  Wiring was extremely challenging but the installation was a success.

Equipment Added:   600Ah Signature Lithium Battery System 1x Victron MultiPlus 3000 Inverter 6x SF160 Solar Panels 1x Roof C-Box 1x SunRunner Victron 150/70A System Core

Equipment Added:
600Ah Signature Lithium Battery System
1x Victron MultiPlus 3000 Inverter
6x SF160 Solar Panels
1x Roof C-Box
1x SunRunner Victron 150/70A System Core

Lithium under couch

Lithium under couch

System Monitors

System Monitors

Solar charge controller

Solar charge controller

2/03/2017 - 2016 Monaco Diplomat, 44'

Four months prior these clients had us install four SF160 solar panels and a SunRunner Signature 40/2 Pro Core.  On this installation they swapped out the Blue Sky components for Victron, added another 640W and got one of our 800Ah Signature lithium systems.  Now they have 1280W of solar with one of the most advanced RV battery systems on the market.

Equipment Added:  800Ah Signature Lithium System 4x SF160 Solar Panels 1x Victron BlueSolar MPPT 150/100 1x Victron BlueSolar MPPT 100/15 1x VE.Direct BlueTooth Smart Dongle 1x Magnum ME-ARC50

Equipment Added:
800Ah Signature Lithium System
4x SF160 Solar Panels
1x Victron BlueSolar MPPT 150/100
1x Victron BlueSolar MPPT 100/15
1x VE.Direct BlueTooth Smart Dongle
1x Magnum ME-ARC50

Signature Lithium Battery Bank

Signature Lithium Battery Bank

AM Solar combiner boxes can be used for more than just solar cables.  Here we have connected an antenna wire.

AM Solar combiner boxes can be used for more than just solar cables.  Here we have connected an antenna wire.

Magnum inverter with Victron charge controllers

Magnum inverter with Victron charge controllers

2/2/2017 - 2002 Chinook Premiere, 21'

This client was tired of worrying about his batteries running low while using a CPAP machine.  He also wanted to run a small refrigerator and power a laptop.  He ended up with a roof covered in solar panels (460W), a 300Ah AGM battery bank and a silent Suresine 300W inverter.

Equipment Added:  2x SF100 Solar Panels 1x SP100 Solar Panel 1x SF160 Solar Panel 1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A System core 1x Roof C-Box 2x AGM 6CT 6V 300Ah Batteries 1x SureSine 300-12 Inverter 1x PD4645 Charger Replacement/Upgrade

Equipment Added:
2x SF100 Solar Panels
1x SP100 Solar Panel
1x SF160 Solar Panel
1x SunRunner Signature MPPT 40A System core
1x Roof C-Box
2x AGM 6CT 6V 300Ah Batteries
1x SureSine 300-12 Inverter
1x PD4645 Charger Replacement/Upgrade

Charge Controller

Charge Controller

Battery Bank

Battery Bank

Blue Sky IPN Pro

Blue Sky IPN Pro