GP-FLEX-200 System Additional Panels

turbopilot

New member
My 2016 Unity MB came with the GoPower GP-FLEX-200 PV panel system. This is a 200W system. GoPower offers add on panels (GP-FLEX-100E)which are supposed to work with the same 30 amp solar controller which is part of the GP-FLEX-200.

I have seen some videos support 4 and 5 GP-FLEX-100E panels with the same 30 amp controller. Depending on how you read the specifications it would appear that 5 panels might exceed the rating of the controller. Anyone upgraded the FLEX-200?

500 Watts on the roof would be nice.
 
Since no response to this question, I will answer it myself. The GoPower controller will support five panels. Just finished installation today. Pretty much plug, glue and play.

Nice work! Looks to be a neat, well thought installation. Will these panels provide more than the two house batteries can take in? Could you add another couple batteries for additional storage? How complicated is the gluing down of the panels?

Thanks, Bob
 

turbopilot

New member
Nice work! Looks to be a neat, well thought installation. Will these panels provide more than the two house batteries can take in? Could you add another couple batteries for additional storage? How complicated is the gluing down of the panels?

Thanks, Bob
With seasonal variations and clouds you really never get too many amps from a roof based RV PV system. Today when I rolled it out into the sunshine I turned on all the DC sources in the camper including the inverter running the satellite TV system. System draw was 15 amps which just happened to be what the panels were providing around 1PM in sunny California. The sun was 32 degrees above the horizon, so 40 degrees lower than it would be in June.

Panels glued down with SikaFlex-221 per GoPower suggestion.

 

alichty

2014 LTV Unity TB
With seasonal variations and clouds you really never get too many amps from a roof based RV PV system. Today when I rolled it out into the sunshine I turned on all the DC sources in the camper including the inverter running the satellite TV system. System draw was 15 amps which just happened to be what the panels were providing around 1PM in sunny California. The sun was 32 degrees above the horizon, so 40 degrees lower than it would be in June.

Panels glued down with SikaFlex-221 per GoPower suggestion.
What is this "sun" you speak of? The weather droid on this evening's newscast described this next week by pointing out the days where there would be some "non-rainy hours" present. :rolleyes:

I thought you folks on the southern portions of the left coast were supposed to get the El Nino fire hose.

I like the solar harvest numbers you are recording at the moment with at least somewhat marginal conditions with the sun angles. For me the main problem with solar is that I am primarily an off season camper who leaves my RV in storage from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and prefer cloudy/stormy conditions to clear skies for my outings. The benefits of solar during the seasons I am usually out don't really pencil out well for $$$/benefit. The notion of being able to add enough panels to even start to make up for my typical lack of solar opportunities is encouraging. :cheers:
 

PortlandRV

2012 and 2016 IB
Just completed my first long trip in the 2016 Unity MB up to Friday Harbor, WA in the San Juan Islands. Got a good overhead image of the rig and Flex panels on the ferry trip out to the islands.

Nice! We are heading up there in June. Where did you camp on the island?

Drones are pretty handy for checking on the roof too.
 

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Just completed my first long trip in the 2016 Unity MB up to Friday Harbor, WA in the San Juan Islands. Got a good overhead image of the rig and Flex panels on the ferry trip out to the islands.


Nice shot of the top of your Unity. Busy place up there! ;-) I think I'm going to add two more flex panels to my rig when it arrives. I trust that you had a nice trip...
 

turbopilot

New member
Nice shot of the top of your Unity. Busy place up there! ;-) I think I'm going to add two more flex panels to my rig when it arrives. I trust that you had a nice trip...
Good trip. Everything worked.

Not sure what constraints you may have with the new rig but if you are going to add 2 panels suggest you add a third for a full system. It is hard to have too many watts available on the roof since so many issues can impact how much solar energy you can capture.

One subtle benefit of having a bunch of watts available on the roof with the Blue Sea ML-ACR is that your batteries (camper and cab) are almost always topped off and conditioned when you need them. Any time you leave the rig not plugged into shore power (either for storage or just parking it while away) the batteries are constantly being topped off automatically awaiting your return.
 

andrewj

Member
Nice to know we can load a Washington state ferry and not rip the macerator off. Did you notice the tide levels? They have improved the transition plates.

Was considering the Alaskan ferry but the have a page of warnings for RV overhangs.
 

nwboater

New member
All those panels make for an interesting patch work but honestly, between the Sprinter's alternator and my rig's single 90 watt panel, our house battery is pretty much always topped off when touring southern climes. Do you have additional batteries to store all that collected solar power? Honestly, other than the Sat TV, what appliances requires so much energy? Fridge runs on LP, stove is LP, HWH runs on propane...? Help me understand :)
 

turbopilot

New member
All those panels make for an interesting patch work but honestly, between the Sprinter's alternator and my rig's single 90 watt panel, our house battery is pretty much always topped off when touring southern climes. Do you have additional batteries to store all that collected solar power? Honestly, other than the Sat TV, what appliances requires so much energy? Fridge runs on LP, stove is LP, HWH runs on propane...? Help me understand :)
In the absolutely best case (noon, clear sky, June 21) your 90 watt panel will put out 7.5 amps. It is all down hill from there. On that perfect day I would guess at most you could harvest 40 amps from that panel during daylight hours. Rule of thumb in the industry is that a randomly oriented solar panel should put out around 25% of its rated wattage output as amp-hours per day in the summer. In your case this would be around 23 amps a day on an average summer day. Given that you are using 20 amps alone in 24 hours just to power the propane valve, I don't see anyway you are keeping your battery charged by that panel alone while occupying the camper.

My Unity uses around .8 amps an hour just by turning on the battery switch before any DC sources are powered up. That's 19 amps per day. My propane switch uses .9 amps with a 24 hour consumption of 22 amps. So my unoccupied Unity uses around 46 amps per 24 hours just sitting there with no DC sources powered except the propane valve.

One of the last items on my list of upgrades is to convert to a 12 volt compressor refrigerator. With nominal duty cycle that refrigerator will consume around 40 amps per 24 hours. But for Summer operation I will be able to leave the propane valve off most of the time offsetting the that demand by around 20 amps in 24 hours. 500 watts of solar power on the roof should easily power the refrigerator during the day with more than enough excess power to recharge the house batteries from overnight use. Using the 25% rule of thumb my 500 watts of solar panels should provide me with around 125 amps/24hrs on an average summer day.
 

turbopilot

New member
All those panels make for an interesting patch work but honestly, between the Sprinter's alternator and my rig's single 90 watt panel, our house battery is pretty much always topped off when touring southern climes. Do you have additional batteries to store all that collected solar power? Honestly, other than the Sat TV, what appliances requires so much energy? Fridge runs on LP, stove is LP, HWH runs on propane...? Help me understand :)
In the absolutely best case (noon, clear sky, June 21) your 90 watt panel will put out 7.5 amps. It is all down hill from there. On that perfect day I would guess at most you could harvest 40 amps from that panel during daylight hours. Rule of thumb in the industry is that a randomly oriented solar panel should put out around 25% of its rated wattage output as amp-hours per day in the summer. In your case this would be around 23 amps a day on an average summer day. Given that you are using 20 amps alone in 24 hours just to power the propane valve, I don't see anyway you are keeping your battery charged by that panel alone while occupying the camper.

My Unity uses around .8 amps an hour just by turning on the battery switch before any DC sources are powered up. That's 19 amps per day. My propane switch uses .9 amps with a 24 hour consumption of 22 amps. So my unoccupied Unity uses around 46 amps per 24 hours just sitting there with no DC sources powered except the propane valve.

One of the last items on my list of upgrades is to convert to a 12 volt compressor refrigerator. With nominal duty cycle that refrigerator will consume around 40 amps per 24 hours. But for Summer operation I will be able to leave the propane valve off most of the time offsetting that demand by around 20 amps in 24 hours. 500 watts of solar power on the roof should easily power the refrigerator during the day with more than enough excess power to recharge the house batteries from overnight use. Using the 25% rule of thumb my 500 watts of solar panels should provide me with around 125 amps/24hrs on an average summer day.

Using the Sprinter alternator or propane generator to charge the batteries is a very inefficient and noisy alternative. It also requires manual intervention. Solar panels are passive. They just do the work without any need to get involved.
 
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In the absolutely best case (noon, clear sky, June 21) your 90 watt panel will put out 7.5 amps. It is all down hill from there. On that perfect day I would guess at most you could harvest 40 amps from that panel during daylight hours. Rule of thumb in the industry is that a randomly oriented solar panel should put out around 25% of its rated wattage output as amp-hours per day in the summer. In your case this would be around 23 amps a day on an average summer day. Given that you are using 20 amps alone in 24 hours just to power the propane valve, I don't see anyway you are keeping your battery charged by that panel alone while occupying the camper.

My Unity uses around .8 amps an hour just by turning on the battery switch before any DC sources are powered up. That's 19 amps per day. My propane switch uses .9 amps with a 24 hour consumption of 22 amps. So my unoccupied Unity uses around 46 amps per 24 hours just sitting there with no DC sources powered except the propane valve.

One of the last items on my list of upgrades is to convert to a 12 volt compressor refrigerator. With nominal duty cycle that refrigerator will consume around 40 amps per 24 hours. But for Summer operation I will be able to leave the propane valve off most of the time offsetting the that demand by around 20 amps in 24 hours. 500 watts of solar power on the roof should easily power the refrigerator during the day with more than enough excess power to recharge the house batteries from overnight use. Using the 25% rule of thumb my 500 watts of solar panels should provide me with around 125 amps/24hrs on an average summer day.
Thanks for the detailed information. I wish that LTV offered the compressor frig as an option but I'll give the new camper and frig a try to see how it works for us. My wife already wants to buy an ice maker... :-/ Anyway, how do you turn off the propane valve and still be able to use the stove or can you? I assume that if you turn the propane valve off that you need to have the compressor frig?
Thanks
 
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turbopilot

New member
Thanks for the detailed information. I wish that LTV offered the compressor frig as an option but I'll give the new camper and frig a try to see how it works for us. My wife already wants to buy an ice maker... :-/ Anyway, how do you turn off the propane valve and still be able to use the stove or can you? I assume that if you turn the propane valve off that you need to have the compressor frig?
Thanks
Just turn on the propane switch when you need it for the kitchen/hot water. I am thinking of installing another propane solenoid switch inside the RV to make it easier.
 

nwboater

New member
I assume the reason for the solar upgrade is that you mostly "dry camp". Since we mostly connect to shore power when camping, all of our energy needs are provided. Still, when we were beach camping in Baja the single 90 watt panel did a great job of topping off the "house" battery. We did run the generator daily but just long enough to run the electric coffeemaker ;-)
 

bezmark

2016 Unity CB
Great info, in layperson's terms, Turbopilot ! My 2106 Unity now has the 200 amp flex panels. Doing your math, these should be able to keep up with the darn solenoid open and still have a little left over ? I'll test it this summer in my driveway, as we would like to dry camp. I do most cooking outdoors. I also have a portable Yamaha generator that I could plug into on occasion (cloudy/rainy day) but I've read here that it takes the gen a long time to trickle charge the batteries. I wouldn't think the hot water tank uses too much to start ? Thanks.
 

turbopilot

New member
Great info, in layperson's terms, Turbopilot ! My 2106 Unity now has the 200 amp flex panels. Doing your math, these should be able to keep up with the darn solenoid open and still have a little left over ? I'll test it this summer in my driveway, as we would like to dry camp. I do most cooking outdoors. I also have a portable Yamaha generator that I could plug into on occasion (cloudy/rainy day) but I've read here that it takes the gen a long time to trickle charge the batteries. I wouldn't think the hot water tank uses too much to start ? Thanks.
Using a generator to get a full charge on a battery is very, very inefficient and noisy. With three stage charger it takes a long time to put in the last 20% of battery charge.

For summer operation, with "normal" uses of DC sources, 500 watts (in your case adding 3 more Flex panels) of solar power should be enough to get your batteries to 100% by the time the sun sets. This statement assumes nominal 125 amps from 500 watts of solar (i.e. 25% or 500 watts). Base draw of around 40 amps/24hrs for propane switch and misc constant DC system demands. That leaves round 85 surplus amps produced during the day to replace what is draw from the battery over night (i.e. LED lights entertainment ect). On a rainy, cloudy day in the summer you may need to use the generator/Sprinter alternator but only when the battery SOC is below 80%.

The neat thing about having 500 watts of solar combined with an automatic charge relay in a Unity is that you know for sure if it is a sunny day in the summer both the house battery and the cab battery will be at 100% as the sun sets no matter how much you have drawn down the house battery the night before.
 
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jackfish

Active member
Amp is a measure of current, amp hour is a measure of current capacity or usage.
 
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