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


The following 2 links are experts and 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 Bob and owe him many thanks for all his knowledge. A retired electrical engineer very compassionate about RV solar, who was off grid by 2003, and now, 12 years later still not using 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, (it's free, but he welcomes donations!)

JACK MAYER RV SOLAR ELECTRICAL

Another expert, he wrote a book about RV Solar and has it available for free. 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 those little shadows?
Surprise! Minus 6.4 amps
from these two panels! This is 90 % of the output of a full panel.

2. USE BIG ENOUGH 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 proper cable size. (Don't waste money on wires bigger than needed for 2% drop on MPPT systems or 5% on PWM systems)  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, or simply clip some of the fine wire strands off larger wire until it fits. This won't affect anything. 

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. (A temperature sensor on a controller that is located in a heated area will not see the battery temperature, so it will not work.) The Sunsaver controllers do a good job in cold weather with built in temperature compensation, and the ProStar and TriStar remote temperature sensors are a must. (adding the temp sensor to Prostar controllers requires soldering 2 wires)

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. 100% full charge is a beautiful thing to see.
                                                                 

6. CORRECT CHARGE CONTROLLER VOLTAGE SETTING IS USUALLY 14.8V FOR FLOODED BATTERIES *check with the battery manufacturer

If you can get a TriStar controller it has a 14.8 volt set point, or Bogart SC2030 can easily be set to any voltage at all.  It is even smarter than a Tristar. It will charge better and faster than any other controller. The smaller Morningstar controllers are 14.4 volts with built in temperature sensors, which will get the batteries full, but it takes longer. The RV Battery Charging Puzzle


Detailed Wiring Diagrams and Photos
                                     
DISCLAIMER : Always make sure that all of your equipment is properly fused and grounded for safety. Also, be sure to read and follow the advice and instructions that come with your equipment. While our projects have actually been constructed and tested under actual operating conditions, we do not guarantee that they will meet all electrical codes in all locales. Nor do we suggest that our advice supercedes the recommendations of a licensed electrician. Hey, we're just trying to help!
                                    

SOLAR BATTERY WIRING DIAGRAMS

BATTERY TO INVERTER WIRING  / AC Wiring - Interfacing to Your Load Center

FUSES / BREAKERS For panels - charge controllers 

     
 

Fuses/Circuit Breakers:

"In-line fuses or circuit breakers are important to protect the wiring and components in your system from shorts and other catastrophic failures. Place one on the positive wire within a foot of your battery and another in between the combiner box and the charge controller. The size of the fuse or breaker depends upon the size of wire used in your system. Place no larger than a 30 amp fuse or circuit breaker for 10-AWG wire; no larger than a 48 amp fuse for 8-AWG; no larger than a 74 amp fuse for 6-AWG; and no larger than a 120 amp fuse for 4-AWG wire."  -Mello Mike

Fuses for Inverters to battery: Always use the exact factory recommended size fuse stated in the installation instructions

-Jack Mayer

More good info and pics:

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 below



                           

How to install Spider Wire to parallel panels video

 







                                                        Typical Wiring Examples above

EASY DIY PLANS 

Build your own combiner box with parts from home depot

           



       


System photos below from HANDYBOB

A SMALL CAMPING TRAILER



SMALL FULL TIME TRAILER


FULL TIME FIFTH WHEEL “GENERATOR” COMPARTMENT



  OFF GRID SOLAR                          EMERGENCY POWER KIT  $549                   


RV SOLAR HOT WATER           WIND TURBINES                 CABIN / HOME
                                                                                             SOLAR HOT WATER


              

RV SOLAR KITS