Sprinter-Forum    
 

Go Back   Sprinter-Forum > Sprinter-Based RV's & Conversions > Sprinter-Based RV Brands > Airstream > Sprinter Westfalia


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-08-2016, 11:24 PM   #11
onemanvan
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Benson Arizona
Posts: 180
Thanks: 41
Thanked 113 Times in 70 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Heed previous advice regarding semi-flexible solar panels... I purchased a couple of 100 watt semi-flexible panels 'made in china' and several years later they are trash! The PET film is delaminating... For use as a 'portable' panel they are OK because they won't be exposed to full sun 24/7 365 days a year so will last longer... Portable may very well be the best way to go. Concur Morningstar controllers are very good! This outfit offers a good assortment of Anderson Powerpole 'plug & play' connectors and cables: http://goo.gl/n8i3QR

Note this comment from another forum:

In recent times (since about March 2013), we have seen the emergence from China of
a range of semi flexible polymer based panels. Of course in this case we are dealing
with lower labour costs in the manufacture, but there are significant differences in the
construction method as well. In this case, the cells are encapsulated between two very
thin layers of EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate). Then a back and top sheet are laminated in
place. Importantly, the top sheet is a PET (same as the plastic used in a drink bottle).
We believe that the PET will not have the same UV stability as the Solbian product
and the panel will have a life of about 4 to 5 years with full sun exposure. A gradual
fading of the top surface would reduce the amount of sunlight available to the cells
and the power of the panel would start to fall away. Also, the PET does tend to get a
bit soft in very high heat, which lowers the cell stability within the panel. This can
lead to micro breakages of the cells and an associated drop in power.
Attached Images
File Type: png Screenshot 2016-02-08 at 3.54.23 PM.png (367.6 KB, 153 views)
File Type: png Screenshot 2016-02-08 at 3.55.00 PM.png (283.1 KB, 125 views)
File Type: png Screenshot 2016-02-08 at 4.01.41 PM.png (250.4 KB, 118 views)
File Type: png Screenshot 2016-02-08 at 4.14.54 PM.png (420.3 KB, 117 views)
onemanvan is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to onemanvan For This Useful Post:
JoeHike (02-09-2016), OldWest (02-10-2016), Rock (04-05-2016), Wasaabi (02-24-2016), WestyTat (02-09-2016)
Old 02-08-2016, 11:25 PM   #12
OldWest
T1N Westfalia
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,363
Thanks: 110
Thanked 365 Times in 285 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

9. Does solar make sense?

Solar makes sense for those who boondock or drycamp (no hookups) unless they drive a lot every day.

Solar panels can top off the last 20 percent or more of the batteries which would otherwise require hookups for hours and hours or driving for hours and hours.

For those who primarily weekend and can plug in every week, solar may not be worth the expense.

With 200 watts of solar panels, no need to ever hookup except if several days of rain (or presumably clouds in the Pacific NorthWest). Less solar needed if drive. More solar if had bigger inverter for microwave/blender (and more batteries).

For me, solar was definitely worthwhile. But if I were to do over again, I would have gone to John Palmer in Florida for the installation Or imposed on some of the knowledgeable Westy owners for their help.

Equipment choices would have been different. Would have lived with the bigger Bogart Engineering meter (instead of small aesthetic but problematic Xantrex LinkLite), a larger solar controller, and a TrikLStart to engine battery.

Pearls of Wisdom.

There are several highly regarded manufacturers who have quality and excellent follow-up (Morningstar). There are other manufacturers who may have had good products but changed and also poor followup.

If handy, some cheaper options may be fine as can just fix or dispose. If not as handy, may want better quality components.
OldWest is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to OldWest For This Useful Post:
Wasaabi (02-24-2016), WestyTat (02-09-2016)
Old 02-08-2016, 11:34 PM   #13
OldWest
T1N Westfalia
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,363
Thanks: 110
Thanked 365 Times in 285 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

10. Heights

Scaffolding is the best way to do a solar install. The Westy curves inward at top, so a stepladder does not work well. Similarly, leaning a regular ladder against fiberglass top doesn't feel right (lean on edge not sides). AMSolar has a power lift but expensive to buy/rent.

A plank of wood across top of hood (ends held by scaffolding on each side) gives access to front edge of roof.

If working on curved portion of roof, elevate front end of van with RhinoRamps or Lego Lynx type blocks so curved portion of roof is more parallel to ground.

Open upper bunk to use as platform.

I removed acrylic skylight (arm brackets and hinges) to work on top of roof.

OneManVan just unscrewed skylight hinges so fully opened skylight would tilt backwards on arms for access to curved roof.

Safety first.
OldWest is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to OldWest For This Useful Post:
Wasaabi (02-24-2016), WestyTat (02-09-2016)
Old 02-09-2016, 12:07 AM   #14
jackfish
2013 LTV Unity MB
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Rural Independence, Oregon
Posts: 1,604
Thanks: 340
Thanked 795 Times in 548 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Are you sure you want Gel batteries and not AGMs?
__________________
You learn something every day whether you want to or not.
jackfish is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2016, 04:45 AM   #15
WestyTat
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Nomad
Posts: 40
Thanks: 34
Thanked 5 Times in 3 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Thank you all for great information. Let's keep it alive ( at least for a while B-) )
Yes, jackfish, gels. Why?
1. Gel batteries are recommended by our manufacturer.
2. More Amp/h
3. Longer life.
4. Less sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
5. No maintenance required.
6. 3 times more discharging cycles than AGMs.

T.
WestyTat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2016, 11:47 AM   #16
jackfish
2013 LTV Unity MB
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Rural Independence, Oregon
Posts: 1,604
Thanks: 340
Thanked 795 Times in 548 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Your charging equipment had better be up to the task, otherwise those gels will be ruined in short order. Lifeline/Concorde disagrees with much of your stated advantages for gels. I can't get my head around many of your points as IMHO they are not borne out by the literature or experience.

http://bdbatteries.com/agmvsgel.php

I'll take this AM Solar quote to the bank, "It is our opinion that the "gel-cell" type batteries have proven to be inadequate in deep cycle environments and we do not recommend them."
__________________
You learn something every day whether you want to or not.
jackfish is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to jackfish For This Useful Post:
CaptnALinTiverton (02-10-2016), MattDundon (03-26-2016)
Old 02-09-2016, 07:26 PM   #17
WestyTat
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Nomad
Posts: 40
Thanks: 34
Thanked 5 Times in 3 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackfish View Post
Your charging equipment had better be up to the task, otherwise those gels will be ruined in short order. Lifeline/Concorde disagrees with much of your stated advantages for gels. I can't get my head around many of your points as IMHO they are not borne out by the literature or experience.

http://bdbatteries.com/agmvsgel.php

I'll take this AM Solar quote to the bank, "It is our opinion that the "gel-cell" type batteries have proven to be inadequate in deep cycle environments and we do not recommend them."
Point taken!
Maybe I was reading wrong articles. There are as many opinions as there are people or websites. Back to homework. Thanks for averting me for potentially making a mistake :-)
WestyTat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2016, 09:28 PM   #18
jackfish
2013 LTV Unity MB
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Rural Independence, Oregon
Posts: 1,604
Thanks: 340
Thanked 795 Times in 548 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

If you are looking for information in a few spots these two sites come the closest:
http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm
http://www.amsolar.com/home/amr/cpag...education.html

Here's a good primer on 12 volt DC:
http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm
http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volta.htm

Good Luck!
__________________
You learn something every day whether you want to or not.
jackfish is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to jackfish For This Useful Post:
CaptnALinTiverton (02-10-2016), OldWest (02-10-2016), WestyTat (02-09-2016)
Old 02-10-2016, 02:16 AM   #19
OldWest
T1N Westfalia
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,363
Thanks: 110
Thanked 365 Times in 285 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Whether gel or AGM, key is to match charging regimen with battery.

Gel: As original coach batteries were gel (and Westfalia may still be equipping with gels as of a couple of years ago), the onboard battery charger is set for lower charging voltage (14.0 v?) and for maximum of 10 amps.

The central computer console above windshield also shows 10 bars state of charge based on gel. There may be a switch on back of the console to switch to different type of battery (not sure what effect would be).

AGMs: Getting more popular and easier to find. Supposedly more vibration resistant and quicker to recharge (able to take higher charging current).

As far as number of discharge/charge cycles, specs differ depending on manufacturer of gel and AGM.

That voltage and low amperage charging current may be too low for some AGM batteries.

OneManVan did post a way to adjust the voltage on the onboard charger.

The engine alternator may provide the higher charging current some AGMs might like (one advantagd of the AGMs is the ability to charge more quickly).

Central computer console will show only 7 or 8 bars even when AGMs are fully charged.

Conclusion: Some Westy owners replaced with gels and some replaced with AGMs. And some have apparently gone to Lithiums!

Can't wait for Lithiums to come down in price as more cycles and much lighter weight!
OldWest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-10-2016, 02:22 AM   #20
OldWest
T1N Westfalia
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,363
Thanks: 110
Thanked 365 Times in 285 Posts
Default Re: Going Solar

Following the intrepid leadership of other Westy owners, I replaced mine with Sears Platinum Group 31 AGM (apparently rebadged Odyssey batteries). Although onboard charger is poor match for these batteries, I figure (a) don't discharge heavily so higher charging current preferred would not be happening, (b) solar set up provides higher charging voltage, and (c) engine alternator would provide the lots of amperage preferred if batteries discharged a lot.
OldWest is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to OldWest For This Useful Post:
CaptnALinTiverton (02-10-2016)
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


support Sprinter-Source.com
Click here or the banner before shopping at Amazon. A percentage of your purchase goes to support Sprinter-Source.com

All times are GMT. The time now is 01:33 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.