RV SOLAR INSTALLATION GUIDE
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.
The following 2 experts provide a massive amount of RV solar knowledge. These are the best free learning sources you'll find.
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
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
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
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.
Trimetric 2025-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 *
you can afford it, 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.
|Detailed Wiring Diagrams and Photos|
Typical Wiring Examples
From Kelly's RV Solar Blog - Great blog with lots of interesting info and good photos.
Diagrams From Jack Mayer w/ reading at RV Solar Electric
Typical Wiring Examples
Typical Wiring Examples above
EASY DIY PLANS
A SMALL CAMPING TRAILER
SMALL FULL TIME TRAILER
FULL TIME FIFTH WHEEL “GENERATOR” COMPARTMENT