Which battery type is better, Lithium or AGM?
Though most of our customers use a lithium solution, we know that it just isn’t practical for everyone. If you are someone who only uses their RV occasionally for no longer than a weekend at a park, then a couple of AGM batteries will suffice for your use case. If you are someone who travels in their RV often on longer trips, and ever envision yourself straying away from a shore plug, then Lithium is well worth the cost. When running more loads, or longer periods, lithium wins the day hands down. Not only is lithium a lighter solution than a heavy AGM battery, but it packs in more energy that you can use. You can pull more energy out of it at a faster rate, as well as charge it at a faster rate. Not all “Lithium” batteries are equal though. The term Lithium actually is a bit mis-leading. There are actually several different chemistry combinations that all fall into the lithium ion category. The two that we carry are LiFePo4, and NMC.
Why do you use multiple, smaller controllers instead of a single larger controller?
There are a couple of reasons we set our solar installs up with multiple smaller controllers in lieu of a single larger controller.
Breaking up a large array into multiple circuits ensures that we can run smaller, cheaper, lighter wire from the panels down to the charge controller without hooking the panels up in series.
Panels hooked up in series tend to be very inefficient in our experience, as a bit of shade cast on one of the panels will eliminate or drastically reduce the output of all panels on that circuit. For this reason, we hook up all of our panels in parallel.
We can actually install two 50 AMP MPPT solar controllers for less than a single 100 AMP solar controller, so not only does it have more efficient output, but it is more efficient on your wallet!
I have a generator, will I still be able to use it with your system?
Units that have an onboard generator have a transfer switch that “chooses” if the coach will run on shore power or generator power. This is all done behind the scenes without any interaction from the user. Whether we are setting your entire coach up to be off grid, or simply a few inverted circuits, your generator will work with your system just as seamlessly as before your upfit!
How do you estimate how much solar we will need?
There are two main methods to our solar estimation and both of them have an end result in an estimate issued in total array size rather than individual panels. This is because we often do not know just what we can fit on a roof until we physically see the coach. Quoting the total array size gives us the flexibility to use what ever size panels we need to (due to your particular roof lay out) in order to meet that output amount.
With that said, “method 1” would be with a smaller system, typically when not running the air conditioners from an inverter and battery bank, we take the information we receive in our discussions about how you want to use your coach, and determine how much solar you would need to replenish your bank in a day. This ensures that we minimize the amount of time you need to run a generator to charge your batteries.
“Method 2” is used when we are looking at installing full off-grid set up. This method is a bit different because when we are looking at running large loads like an air conditioner, we simply can not put enough solar on an RV to ensure the battery bank stays charged. In this type of set up, the solar serves 2 purposes. 1) It extends the run time between needing an outside source to top off the bank. 2) It decreases the time to charge the bank in a scenario where the charging is done during the day when the sun is out. Our estimate for this type of system typically starts with quoting the amount of solar we are confident we can fit on your roof, and assessing the maximum amount that we can fit once your coach is on site.
With either method, when your coach arrives, we determine the maximum amount of solar that will fit on your roof using the two sizes of panels we most often install. When we install the panels, even if you do not want to maximize the solar array at that time, we follow that pattern so if in the future, you decide you do want to maximize your solar array, there is still room to achieve that goal!
Can we stay in our RV during the install?
We don’t allow customers to stay inside of their coaches during the install! We are so sorry for the inconvenience. It is our shop policy.
Soon, we will have a hospitality packet for you to use as a resource while you are here. This will include local places to eat, shop, stay, camp, and more! Our lounge area is being redone as well and will include Wifi and TV.
Why do you try not to use outside products for installations?
We try to sway away from using outside products for two main reasons. One, we stand behind our brands because our company has personally tested these products and our team knows the inefficiencies of each to give you the best quote we can. Two, we have experience with each company to know the quality of our products so we can continually give you the best components we can.
What size panels do you install?
We carry a variety of sizes, but we tend to use the 175 watt and 300 watt panel the most in our upfits. This is due to the two sizes having different footprints. The 175 watt panel is the largest we carry in a 26” x 58” size. The next step up is 77” x 38” and the largest output we have in that footprint is our 300 watt panel. Because we only use MPPT solar controllers, we can use the larger panels with higher voltage to efficiently charge a 12 volt battery bank with no problems! We tend to use a mixture of both sizes to maximize the amount of solar we can fit on a roof.
Which is better, monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels?
Monocrystalline solar panels can produce about 5% more power than polycrystalline solar panels of equal size. Polycrystalline cells are square in shape with a blue color. Monocrystalline cells are black and more octagonal (squares with beveled corners). Both types of panels will work fine but we mainly sell the more efficient monocrystalline panels.