Skip to content

Archive for

Our 3rd RV Solar Installation

Oops! Actually, it’s our 4th Solar install . . .

First Solar Install (2006)

Second Solar Install (2009)

Third Solar Install (2012)

We’ve already booked campsites for much of the upcoming year and at first blush CA has some pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good campgrounds. (Apologies to Larry David.) Even better, several campgrounds are very close to us in Mariposa.

What does this has to do with solar?

Many of the prime (ocean front) campsites have no hookups at all . . . no water, no sewer, and no electric power. We can get by without the first two, but not the last, electric. After a day or two without an external power source, our RV batteries would die.

What to do?

Use our generator . . . the electrical output from our on-board generator is as good as plugging our RV into a power source. However, generators are loud and stinky. Also, RV parks typically put restrictions on when you can use them, and, finally, campers (including ourselves) don’t like generators.

Add more batteries . . . we’re going to add two more so we have a total of four. That alone increases our staying power. But with no way to charge these batteries, we’re not much better off.

Solar power . . . since CA is a very sunny state (about 68% yearly), solar should give us the charge we’ll need.

So here’s the plan . . .

Thanks to Bob McClory for the Solar Panel Wiring Catch (10 AWG instead of 4 AWG)

Because of the cost involved, this is a year-long project. We figured now was the time to act as we can take a 26% tax credit on our solar install – which ends this year. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty nice.

As you can see, we kind of favor Victron equipment.

Victron Smart Shunt

The first part of our solar install was a decent battery monitor so we know what shape our batteries are in.

Our current battery monitor system is a 21-year-old wall panel . . .

L = Low, F = Fair, G = Good, C = Charging

We really want to know more.

To do so, we installed a Victron Smart Shunt on our battery bank.

Right there in the upper left corner

Victron Smart Shunt

This shunt uses Bluetooth so we downloaded an app on our phone and/or tablets, and check on more stuff than we need to:

STATUS screen – that Time remaining is great info

HISTORY screen

TRENDS screen