RV SOLAR INSTALLATION GUIDE

            
Guide applies to Solar 12 Volt battery system used for RVs, Off-Grid homes, Cabins, Camps, Farms, and Boats
         
 

  DETAILED, COMPLETE instructions with EVERYTHING you need to know to install an RV or Off-Grid 12 Volt Solar System that WORKS!

BHA Solar carries the high quality products the top experts recommend so you can have a great solar power system that works reliably for many years.
It's not rocket science


We've distilled down and summarized the most important points below

 

 GOLDEN RULES OF RV 12 VOLT SOLAR

If you have to pay someone else to install your system and they disagree with any of these rules, walk away. "It's Not Rocket Science"


1. NO SHADE

Just shading on one small square on a panel drastically reduces the output of the ENTIRE panel

More info & Photos LEARN MORE

 
See that little shadow?
Surprise! Minus 6.4 amps! This is 90 % of the output of this panel.


2. USE BIG WIRE

Voltage loss is the enemy in these systems, and is especially critical from charge controller to battery. Keep wire runs as short as possible, and use the biggest cable size as you can afford. No such thing as over wiring on 12v solar. Use a wire sizing calculator like this one

3. CHARGE CONTROLLER AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO BATTERIES

Distance under 3' with large wire. Max wire size accepted: 10 AWG for Sunsaver controllers, 6 AWG for ProStar, and 2-4 AWG for TriStar. Splicing a piece of 10ga onto larger wire is OK and won't get hot if done properly.

4. USE A REMOTE TEMPERATURE SENSOR

It will send more voltage when batteries are cold so they still get 100% charged. It'll reduce the voltage when batteries are hot so they don't overcharge. The Sunsaver controllers do a good job in cold weather with the built in temp compensation, and the ProStar and TriStar remote temperature sensors are a must

5. INSTALL A TRIMETRIC METER & WHOLE SYSTEM MONITOR

Every 12 volt solar system should have a real battery monitor that includes percentage (%) of charge. Not just voltage. This is the only way to ever be confident that your system is really working. learn more

                                                                                           

                     Trimetric 2030-RV. A beautiful thing to see for those of us who know.
                                                                  100% full charge.

6. CORRECT CHARGE CONTROLLER VOLTAGE SETTING IS 14.8V FOR FLOODED BATTERIES *

If you can get a TriStar controller that has a 14.8 volt set point, it will charge better and faster than any other controller. The smaller Morningstar controllers are 14.4 volts, which will get the batteries full, but it takes longer. The RV Battery Charging Puzzle

  The following 2 links for experts provide a massive amount of RV / OFF GRID 12v solar knowledge.
These are the best 2 free learning sources you'll find.


HANDYBOB

I really like this guy. A retired electrical engineer very compassionate about RV solar, who has lived in an RV for over 10 years without ever owning a generator.  This is aimed at the "frustrated, technologically challenged and budget minded RV owner who needs basic education about battery supplied electrical power."

It takes hours to read, he's long winded, and rants on the state of the RV manufacturing and RV Solar industries but If you read all of it and follow his advice, you will have a great system that works and gets the batteries 100% full so they last longer! Read it more than once

JACK MAYER RV SOLAR ELECTRICAL

Another expert, he wrote a book about RV Solar and has it available for free on his web site. His information is from the viewpoint of one who can afford to spend more money. It's well organized and has a LOT of expert advice and instructions with photos


Detailed Wiring Diagrams and Photos
    

                                                                       Typical Wiring Examples

More:

From Kelly's RV Solar Blog - Great blog with lots of interesting info and good photos.

Excellent complete wiring diagrams of 2 systems

Diagrams From Jack Mayer w/ reading at  RV Solar Electric  

Integrating a system with inverter & subpanel

System powering main load center w/ inverter

All charging sources integrated


                                                                Typical Wiring Examples

 






                                                        Typical Wiring Examples above

EASY DIY PLANS 

Build your own combiner box with parts from home depot

           



       


A SMALL CAMPING TRAILER



SMALL FULL TIME TRAILER


FULL TIME FIFTH WHEEL “GENERATOR” COMPARTMENT


OFF GRID KITS                   RV SOLAR KITS              MINI WIND TURBINES