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Old 07-21-2021, 11:45 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jul 2021
Posts: 4
Solar System Advice, Large system, First Build

Hello all.

I will keep this brief. I'm sure this has been asked before in this forum, so please accept my apologies in advance. Any relevant links are appreciated.

My wife and I recently purchased 6x 320W Renogy Solar Panels for our bus conversion, and are still researching the rest of our system at this time. We plan on running a small AC unit occasionally, as well as an apartment sized fridge, standard amount of lighting, and 2 laptops charging. We wanted a bit of wiggle room. ( Child incoming, want to be able to upgrade to more comfortable AC, or fridge etc in future)

Now for the questions:

What inverter, charge controller etc would you pair with these panels. Finding a reliable review source online has been a challenge. Most of the compatible equipment does not have great ratings from what I have seen, so I thought I might ask here to get a rundown on what would pair best.

Secondly, batteries. We currently have 6x 200AH AMG batteries yet to be installed. Considering what I have listed above, do you feel that is adequate for our battery bank, or would you consider an alternative?

Links to peripheral parts of a solar system that you have found useful are also appreciated. This is my first solar build, despite my electrical knowledge it is a challenge.

If a thread is copied here that answers my questions, thank you in advance for pointing me in the right direction.

M + M

MaxnMag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2021, 12:07 PM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Cerrillos, NM
Posts: 369
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Front Engine
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72
The first red flag is AC as always. Consider the unit may pull 1500w and you will have ~7500 usable watt hours in your bank so you can run the ac for 5 hours before youíre dead with nothing else running. On a sunny day you likely wonít keep up with only 1900w of panels (you may be looking at 50% capacity flat depending where you are) so youíre going to have a tough time there. If youíre going to run AC I would consider doubling your panels and doubling your battery bank right off the bat, or depending on a generator. AC is hard.

First steps would be to settle on a battery voltage. I really push for people to look at 24 or 48v and if youíre considering high loads like AC then just eliminate 12v as an option from the start.

I happen to like Victron (3000w multiplus) for my inverter/charger but theyíre bulky and heavy and I would at least consider a high frequency inverter/charger (smaller and lighter) instead of a big giant one as it may do better on the road over bumps, but thatís really just superstition or a guess. I personally detest the cheaper ones from China via Amazon and sent a few back due to issues with them, so I personally would stick with name brands if budget allows. And inverter/chargers are way easier to manage than inverter and a charger and a transfer switch so I would stick with combined units.

Youíll need fusing, big wires (smaller if youíre at 48v) a battery monitor of some sort (victron smart shunt for me) and charge controllers. I bought renogy rover charge controllers but I feel like theyíre repackaged chinese Amazon stuff as they look identical to some others. If I were to start over I would stick with the victron ecosystem for communication and monitoring purposes.

Based on voltage and cable length youíll have to sort out wire sizing and fuses, but itís not all that complicated once itís all together.

Most people ruin their first set of lead acid batteries by not giving them enough charging for enough time and running them down so thatís the first hurdle youíll face and thing to look out for.
rffffffff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2021, 03:20 PM   #3
Bus Nut
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 504
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
That's a big system.

Inverter: depends on your power needs, of course. I agree that AC will drive the need up significantly. Sounds like you would want 3,000 watts minimum. Renogy or Victron would be my recommendation. If you want to spend a bit more and like the integrated approach get the Victron smartshunt and Victron inverter, they can both be managed from a single app.

I second the recommendation to do a power budget with actual devices and usage.

I have a 2000 watt Renogy that is powered by 280 Amps of LiFePo, for comparison. Barely enough power for a mid-sized portable AC unit. Your bus is the equivalent of a tin can in the sun and you will have days where you wish you could just blast the AC.

Power usage is everything, and an AC unit is the biggest factor. Your 600A of AGM is good for 300A (don't discharge below 50%). I recommend building a time machine, going back to when you bought those and instead buy LiFePo. 20% more expensive per amp, but 5-15 times the lifespan of AGM. Or, just run those batteries for a few years, research in the meantime and switch when you need to. Wild guess, you'll need double that capacity if you're full time and traveling the desert southwest.

[insert here the admonition, more elegantly stated by others, that skoolie life assumes minimizing on many fronts including power usage (AC comments notwithstanding), comfort and convenience, and the sooner one wraps one's head around that concept the happier one will be with the end product.]

Charge Controller. I have no idea what size charge controller will manage that many panels. Perhaps you want to consider two 60A MPPTs (I think one can handle about 3 of your panels), that way you have some redundancy. Do you really need all that solar capacity? Maybe start with three panels, or four.
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