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Old 11-18-2004, 09:23 PM   #1
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Jerry's Crown

Whoa, Jerry! That's a pretty serious array of solar panels I saw in the photos you added to your site...lookin' good. What kind (brand/model/size) panels are they and what are you using for a charge controller? And, as long as I'm asking questions and I know how much you like to type...what do you have for a battery bank(s)?

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Old 11-19-2004, 11:15 AM   #2
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Hi Les,
In the 70’s I lived in the woods with no electricity for about 10 years. Since then I’ve lived at least 4 months a year with no electricity, or only the electricity I could make my self. We and all our friends had batteries and solar panels. All we could afford. The problem was ALWAYS the same, we could always get batteries cheap or free at the junk yard but we never had enough solar panels to keep them charged. On the second day the weather was bad we were out of luck. I made up my mind, if the money ever fell out of the sky I would do something about it. Well it did and I did. Now once again I have very little money BUT I do have electricity. It should save me about $50 a month while I’m here in the north country. In the south I should have enough for a couple of other families. This winter is the trial run. We shall see how it is in the real world.
Jerry

Here is a basic list of my electrical stuff.

Solar Panels--1580 Watts
10--158 watt Kyocera 158G

Outback PSPV Combiner plus breakers

Charge Controller--70 Amp
OutBack MX60 MPPT

Batteries--1580 Amps @ 12 Volts
8--Trojan L16H 395 Amp 6 Volt

Inverter/Charger--3000 Watt/120 Amp Charger
ProSine Pure Sine Wave

Assorted Fuses/Breakers/Wires
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Old 11-19-2004, 09:46 PM   #3
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Hey Jerry...thanks for the run down; that's a bunch of stuff I'm familiar with and coming from an "old hand" (that's a compliment! ) like yourself at off-grid living it makes me feel good that I was travlin' down the right path with regard to my thoughts on solar. I've gots lots of experience with boat electrics with regard to storage systems, chargers, inverters, alternators, and such but not much with solar panels. Your list helps a lot.

I've considered the L-16 batteries (tall buggers); I'll have to make a lower hanging compartment (like some of the stuff on Bruin Gilda) to accommodate their height since the "skirt" that hides the underside of my bus is only 14" in height. I've also looked awfully hard at 8D AGM batteries; I use a lot of AGM's in marine applications and they seem to be doing well...expensive though! But they'll fit under the bus and not require checking electrolyte level, etc...I'm still thinking hard on those L-16's though!

1580 is some serious wattage; who needs an inverter for a microwave! ('course, I've never seen a 12-volt micro! And the power cord would be a little heavy! ). Shoot even getting 50% out of those puppies would keep a bus going pretty well. You've gots *lots* of amp-hours in your batteries; how many days (without sunshine or charging) were you calculating for? And on average (if there is such a thing) what do you think you'll get from the solar panels for total watts/day in Oregon? [You can tell I'm still trying to get a handle on this solar stuff!]

And one last question...since the panels have the ability to put out a lot more than 70 amps how does the rating on the charge controller come about?
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Old 11-19-2004, 09:47 PM   #4
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JB Wrote
"I think I may be mind boggled . As Les stated this is a serious array. Very impressive. I have 8 Dyno's at about 2000 watts. What would you reccommend for solar panels for me? I will probably go to Mickey D's once a week and recharged with food and electricty so my needs are not as great as yours. "



Hi JB,
I have no idea how much you need only you know how much electricity you use every day. BUT, I can tell you this, for many years we had 1 sometimes 2 chepo deepcycle 12 volt batteries with 3 40 watt panels and a 200 watt inverter. We had lights, music, laptop, hf and vhf radio gear, and assorted small appliances. NOTE, This was in the south in the winter in the sun and in the northwest in the summer. The bottom line is buy as many as you can afford and see how it works. You can always add more. The price is not going down. I bought my other ones used about 20 years ago. They cost about the same today as they did then. Unlike almost everything else you buy they hold their value.
Jerry
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Old 11-20-2004, 09:59 PM   #5
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Solar

Hi Les,
It all looks like it’s a lot more than it really is. In real life, you loose 1/3 of your panels by laying them flat. You lose more by not tracking them. You’re only supposed to use 1/2 of your batteries. There are percentages of lose for the inverter, charge controller, wires and every thing else that’s connected to the batteries. If you do the big long formula, You find out you only have about 60% of what you started with. The Manufacturers want you to believe and brag about how much power you can produce but it only adds up on paper. How much this system will produce is an unknown. I think the batteries could last a couple of weeks if I was cool or three days if I wasn’t.
These panels are rated 6.8 amps at 23.2 volts. With 10 panels that’s 68 amps at 23.2 volts. From my experience there’s no way you’d ever get over 7 amps out of these panels unless it was a crystal clear freezing day and tracking the sun. I don’t think I’ll have a problem with to much power to the charge controller with them flat on top of the bus but that’s why we call this the trial run. These panels are wired in 5 sets of two for 24 volts. Each set goes to it's own breaker so I have control of how many are on or off. One thing I know for a fact at this point is that the MX60 MPPT charge controller kicks ass. Two panels, that’s 13.6 amps max, and the charge controller is putting 18 amps into the battery. Magical stuff.
I’m about half way done with wiring the panels. I’ve got one more day of sun. and it’s COLD.
Jerry
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Old 11-21-2004, 09:44 AM   #6
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Hi Jerry,

I agree about the COLD part! 'Course our fellow members farther east and north are probably even colder

Well, talk about assumptions , I wondered about the 70 amp controller because I assumed (oops!) that things were at 12-volts not at 24-volts; that makes a considerable difference.

I've heard good things about Outback products in general; seems like you concur so far.

Thanks so much for your "real world" assessment; that's what I was looking for. There's so much hype (that's the polite word ) when reading about solar it's hard to figure out what to really expect once it's installed.
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Old 12-06-2004, 03:29 PM   #7
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Power

Just a Quickie.
We are in Arizona. Cross the border tomorrow. Crown handles beautifully. Average MPG 10.8 at 60 MPH. It's been raining with dark skies for three days. Just looked at the Charge Controller, 27 amps going into the battery. Yaaahooo. If anyone replies to this I won't see it until March.
Be Kool
Jerry
'75 Crown
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Old 12-08-2004, 08:35 AM   #8
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Re: Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Campbell
If anyone replies to this I won't see it until March.
Be Kool
Jerry
'75 Crown
Well, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year anyway...we'll see ya in March!
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Old 03-16-2005, 08:59 PM   #9
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Back in the ussa

Well, I can't believe it's March already.
I hope you to had a wonderful holiday season.
5750 miles since the first of December. Man what a bus. We cruised at a little over 55 mph (2000 rpm) and got from 9 mpg (in the jungle and crossing rivers) to 12 mpg (on the freeways of the USA). All but the biggest hills we cruised over in 5th gear. This baby's got power. At the end of the day I felt better than when I drove the VW bus. I added a couple of tropical pictures under the road trip link on my bus page, more later, gotta go now.
http://www.peak.org/~jerryc/bus.htm
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Old 03-17-2005, 08:55 AM   #10
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Welcome Back

Welcome back Jerry , First of all i am glad things went well for you and the bus. It is a Crown after all. Now for the sad part , Boy oh Boy did you make me feel jealous. You don't know how good it makes me feel to see you actually live your dream . Keep up the good work. I will try to fill you in on the progress of "Farther" the Crown bus that I own at a later date.

My best to you and yours. J.B.
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:33 PM   #11
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Hey Jerry. Lovely shots btw!

I purchased a solar battery charger and the panel will need to be roof mounted. How did you do your mounts?
thanks!
pg
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Old 03-21-2005, 09:38 AM   #12
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Panel Racks

Hi PG,
I'll put a close up picture on so you can see.
Jerry
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Old 03-21-2005, 10:51 AM   #13
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This may be a dumb question, but do the solar pannels create any heat buildup in the bus?
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Old 03-22-2005, 09:59 AM   #14
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Shade

I think it was just the opposite, I got a lot of shade. BUT, the roof is painted with 3 coats of Bus Kote ceramic paint which insulates as well as reflects. The ceiling was never even warm. I also had two "fantastic" vent fans on from about 11 in the morning to about 8 at night. It stayed pretty cool for being out in the sun.
Jerry
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Old 03-22-2005, 11:48 AM   #15
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Panel Racks

I have a photo of the legs and feet of the racks. It seems it should be the same in principal for any bus. Just different angles.
Now if someone will tell me how to attach it to this message.
Jerry
[/img]
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Old 03-22-2005, 03:47 PM   #16
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Jerry, it posts like this in the text of your message...

"[IMG]the location of you file here[/IMG]"

Just leave out the " on either end, I did that so it wouldn't think I was posting an image.
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Old 03-22-2005, 05:21 PM   #17
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Posting Image

Thanks for the info but I think You left something out in your explanation.
This is what happens when I do what you say.
[img]c:\crown\leg&foot.jpg[/img]
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Old 03-22-2005, 05:35 PM   #18
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Leg & Foot of Panel racks

I just read the FAQ. I'll put the photo on my bus page and link to it there.
http://www.peak.org/~jerryc/leg&foot.jpg
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Old 03-23-2005, 12:00 PM   #19
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Sorry, I failed to tell you that it has to be uploaded to webspace somewhere. I thought you knew that. We can't see what's on your hard drive. Sorry about that. I have webspace if you need some to post it on.
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Old 04-11-2005, 05:44 PM   #20
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70 amp Controller

"And one last question...since the panels have the ability to put out a lot more than 70 amps how does the rating on the charge controller come about?"__Les Lampman

"From my experience there’s no way you’d ever get over 7 amps out of these panels unless it was a crystal clear freezing day and tracking the sun."____Jerry Campbell

Well Les, It seems once again that just because you can think about something doesn't mean that you KNOW anything. I'm referring to me of course. I had one day this winter when the charge controller was putting out 73 amps and another day, it was putting out 81 amps. A definite no no. I had to switch off one set of panels. This was with the panels laying flat and very dirty and very hot. I don't know what they would put out in the cold and clean and tilted toward the sun. The point is, I need another Charge Controller and to split my panels into two groups. The reason I almost never went over 70 amps was because the batteries were never low enough. My bus is not finished so I didn't have all the appliances i will be using in the future. The system will not put out the maximum unless the batteries are LOW. The MPPT Charge Controllers DO put out more than the panels are rated for and must be considered when designing your system.
Live and Learn
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