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RV Solar energy is a boondocker's delight. You get free electricity or alternative energy and it is so incredibly q-u-i-e-t............ shhhhhhhh.......... not a sound...........
Since we have been coming to Quartzsite several times, we figured this would be "the place" for a great solar energy source.
We found a really great company called Discount Solar right in Quartzsite,AZ at 540 East Main Street.
Many RV'ers choose to live in RV Parks or campgrounds and are always plugged in. Many others, like us, would rather enjoy the quiet and solitude of an outdoor area without a neighbor 10 feet away. I know that sounds terrible, but it's so true. Today's RV parks seem to really "jam" as many spaces as possible into their location.
That's all well and good for the people who have to have that security of being plugged in and have a neighbor within whispering distance!
RV Solar is for the RV'er that wants to smell the outdoors (not exhaust fumes), as well as, see it.
Solar energy requires several things - solar panels that collect the sun's rays, heavy duty wiring to a central junction block, main feed wire of all that energy to a control box, more heavy duty wire to the batteries and several fuses to protect everything in between.
That all sounds simple enough - but, perhaps not?
We made the mistake of assuming we could install it ourselves, since it already had a single panel. All we had to do was add more panels..... that was our downfall.
Luckily, we found Discount Solar to help us "fix" our mistake.
An RV Solar Panel will put out energy that is measured in Amps or Watts. The trick is to really understand what that actually means. We had a 90 Watt solar panel already factory installed, so we "assumed" we were good to add more. Well, we almost burned our RV up!!!!!
About 12-13 watts generated from a solar panel will produce 1 amp of power for charging the batteries.
Our 90 watt panel would therefore produce a maximum of 7 amps (90 divided by 13). No biggie, right? Correct - because the wiring and controller were designed for only that 7 amp maximum "heat" going through the wires.
We added 3 large 135 watt solar panels to our roof for maximum battery power. Well, that suddenly became 3 x 135 = 405 watts + the original 90 to total 495 WATTS!!
Divide all those 495 WATTS by 13 to find the Amperage produced and we suddenly had a maximum possible HEAT of 38 Amps going through our system that was designed for 7 amps - that works out to over FIVE TIMES the amount of energy going through the wires and controller.
If you look at the right side - negative/ground area - it burned the wire covering right off, obviously heated up and melted the plastic and could just as easily have started a FIRE up on the roof!!!!
As a typical do-it-yourselfer, I assumed all was good. However, we had also gotten to the point of very little solar power coming through the system down to the batteries. Couldn't understand what was wrong? Duh!!
Finally, after several discussions with Discount Solar, I brought our RV in and their lead technician was able to pin point the problem quickly.
I had made the fatal and almost too dangerous "assumption" that a system designed for 7 amps could just as easily handle 38 amps!!
Moral of the story - don't assume anything.
Have a qualified company like Discount Solar guide you and take what they "suggest" seriously.
While we're talking about them, they have great products of everything you will need for your RV Solar system, the expertise to install it for you (or guide you if you're a do-it-yourselfer!!) and the patience to answer all your questions honestly. A refreshing change.
Just an example would be their junction block for connecting all the RV Solar Panels together.
It is the best designed junction block I've ever seen. Solid brass, well organized and easy to install. (Seems they are also the type of connectors used for high quality sound systems!) Plus, they recommended to have each panel wired individually to the junction block. I had all four of mine "daisy-chained". Each panel was accumulating up to 9+ amps to go from the first panel to the 4th - the wiring from the 4th to the junction block was extremely overworked!