Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Have you made changes to your coach? Improvements? Remodel? New technology? Tell the story and show some pictures here.
chuckster
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
Location: Meridian, ID

Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by chuckster »

Howdy,

Here is my Renogy 200W solar suitcase with kickstand frame. It came with a 20A waterproof PWM charge controller. I added a 10 AWG wire harness and plug and installed to the battery bank so I can just plug in quickly and easily. This should get me by for boondocking this year and maybe I’ll do a rooftop solar system next year or beyond when it’s time for new 6V batteries.


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Happy trails!
Chuck in Meridian, ID
'01 Safari Zanzibar 3646 (side entry)
Cat 3126B / Allison MD3060
Magnum M-Series "Blue Max" chassis
Owner since 8/2020

TDJohn
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:34 pm

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by TDJohn »

Chuck,

If I recall correctly, you mentioned that you were planning to relocate the solar charge controller from the suitcase panels to the coach near the batteries. I would strongly recommend doing that, as that would minimize voltage drop from the charge controller to the batteries. If practical, it would be best to mounted in the compartment next to the battery bank. This would protect the charge controller from acid vapors and the elements. The solar panels normally produce 17 to 22 volts, depending on the panel. So sacrificing a bit of voltage drop on a long wiring run from the panels to the charge controller is not a notable loss, but when you have a long wire run between the charge controller and the battery bank, like you have now, you will be losing a lot of efficiency and not effectively charging the batteries. The charge controller will regulate the voltage somewhere around 14.2 volts, depending on how it was programed. So, for an example, if you have a drop of a half a volt over that long wire run, the batteries will only be getting 13.7 volts, which equals to very slow and ineffective charge.

Also, looking at your photo of your two battery banks, they are both wired in such a way that they are not ideally balanced. I have attached your same photo with some crude arrows point to where you should relocate the main feed cables that I circled in red. You also have noticeable corrosion on some of your terminals. I recommend mixing a half gallon of warm water with a good amount of backing soda and pouring it on the areas where the corrosion is. It will fizz and clean up. After the initial cleaning, remove the cables from the terminals and clean cable ends and the terminals with a wire brush. Reconnect all the cable and then apply a liberal amount of dielectric grease on the terminal, including the base of the terminals where the battery casing meets the terminals, as that is where the battery acid is likely seeping out. The grease will slow that down and keep the terminals from corroding.

One last thought, regarding the smaller original Safari solar panel(s). If and when you do decide to add solar on the roof, consider connecting that original panel to the engine battery bank (assuming the panel still puts out power/voltage), it will provide just enough power (aprox. 3 to 5 amps) to maintain and trickle charge the engine/chassis batteries.

If you have questions or want to discuss solar ideas/options, send me a PM and I will send you my number.
Last edited by TDJohn on Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John
'95 Serengeti, Cummins C8.3-300
Allison 6spd.

chuckster
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
Location: Meridian, ID

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by chuckster »

Hi John!

Thanks for taking the time to assist! Yes, I do plan to add a solar charge controller close to the batteries from the compartment next door. I am going to leave the 20A solar charge controller attached to the solar panels and disconnect (not use) it. That way I can use the suitcase away from the coach for other applications and uses. I do plan to clean up the messy battery area but was in a hurry to test the system out. :lol:

I am posting a couple of drawings to make it easier to get clearer direction from you and so others can learn from it too.

So first let’s talk about the 2 banks of 6V house batteries (wired series/parallel for a 12V 450Ah system). Below is a hand-drawn drawing of how the batteries are currently hooked up. I have numbered the cables starting with “C” and the battery terminals starting with “T” to make it simple to discuss. None of these cables are part of the solar charging harness. I’ve left those out to discuss where they should go. So I am assuming your red markup arrows are NOT suggestions of how to rewire the batteries themselves. Good Lord if you are! :shock:

C1 and C2 cables connected to terminals T7 and T8 run off to what I guess is the output of the charger/inverter system? The inverter is the old, original Xantrex 1500W 12V inverter
https://www.ecodirect.com/Xantrex-81-15 ... 8-1522.htm
In your middle red arrow annotation, I believe you are talking about moving the negative solar battery cable lug from T3 to T7. Hoping you are not saying to relocate BATTERY cable C1 to T3 because these will not be able to be moved because they are already snugged with the length they are already so it would need to be replaced with a longer one.

For your third farthest right red arrow annotation, I believe you are talking about moving the Positive (+) solar charger lug cable to T8.

For your first red arrow annotation on far left, not sure what you’re suggesting but I included a hand-drawn diagram for that as well! The two black 12V batteries on the left of the four green 6V batteries are for the motor. Thanks for your help!
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Kind regards,
Chuck in Meridian, ID
'01 Safari Zanzibar 3646 (side entry)
Cat 3126B / Allison MD3060
Magnum M-Series "Blue Max" chassis
Owner since 8/2020

TDJohn
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:34 pm

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by TDJohn »

Chuck,

For the House battery bank (green batteries), if the length was not an issue , you would move "C1" to "T3". You can rearrange the four 6V batteries where the short cables would not be and issue, and the bank would be balanced. The only catch is, you would need new interconnect cables "C3" and C4" (they would need to be longer than what you have). If you are interested, I can PM you a drawing of that rearrangement later on. I don't know how old those 6v batteries are (they look a bit beat), and they don't have a very long lifespan. Unfortunately the quality of Interstate batteries has really gone down hill in the last 5+ years, so you may want to choose to hold off, and go through the fuss of rearranging the batteries when you install news afters these expire.

As for the two 12v engine starting batteries (chassis battery bank), It is simple, move "C2" to "T4". Leave the rest as is.

I will remove the photo I posted, to eliminate confusion, since it's not clear enough to be legible.
John
'95 Serengeti, Cummins C8.3-300
Allison 6spd.

chuckster
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
Location: Meridian, ID

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by chuckster »

Hi John,

Sure. Go ahead and post the diagram with the batteries arranged where C1 and C2 do not need to be lengthened/replaced in order to balance the batteries. Getting longer interconnect cables is a simple solution. Also indicate where you’d connect the solar charge harness in your diagram.

Too bad about Interstate quality. Seems like everything is going downhill in quality. :|
Chuck in Meridian, ID
'01 Safari Zanzibar 3646 (side entry)
Cat 3126B / Allison MD3060
Magnum M-Series "Blue Max" chassis
Owner since 8/2020

TDJohn
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:34 pm

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by TDJohn »

Chuck,

I sent you a PM.

The solar gets connected at the same terminals as "C1" and "C2" do. For proper balancing, all connection points, meaning, power coming in and out need to be connected to the same terminals as the "C1" and "C2" cables are connected to.

Right now the top two brands are Crown batteries and Trojan batteries. Crown has better prices and is the best bang for the buck for top shelf. There is an outfit out of Louisiana that sells the (CR235) 6v 235 amp/hr golf cart batteries for $154 ea. with free shipping if you order four or more. Crown also has the higher capacity golf cart battery, (CR260) 260 amp/hr for $183. The dimensions are the same, except that it is a little taller by about 5/8", and the batteries do fit in the battery compartment. The CR260s is what I have been using, and they have been working great.

Here are the two links to the Crown batteries mentioned above...

https://www.psjanitorial.com/crown-battery-cr-235/

https://www.psjanitorial.com/crown-battery-cr-235/

Here is the link to the other sizes and types of batteries they cell, including the Crown AGM batteries if someone needs AGMs. Again, if you order 4 or more batteries from this outfit, the give free shipping. That is a big plus, as usually you get killed on shipping costs with items being that heavy.

https://www.psjanitorial.com/batteries/ ... F1EALw_wcB
John
'95 Serengeti, Cummins C8.3-300
Allison 6spd.

chuckster
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
Location: Meridian, ID

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by chuckster »

Hi Safari Friends,

Just to bring some closure to this thread, John (TDJohn) sent me a message with a picture of the balanced connection diagram. Thanks, John. I am sharing it here below. It required me buying a 24” positive and a 24” negative 2 AWG cable with 3/8” lugs (yellow color on diagram) but I am able to re-purpose the other cables to accommodate the proper wiring. With this wiring the original two battery banks being the top two batteries and the other bank being the bottom two batteries changed to the two batteries on the left being a 12v bank and the two batteries on the right forming a 12V bank by being wired in series. I will now wire the solar controller to the terminals I’ve indicated on the drawing I’ve attached after I de-acidify the batteries with baking soda/water mix and put dielectric grease on the terminal post, cable ends and nuts. At least I wont have to spin any of the batteries around to keep cables C1 and C2 in their current positions. :lol:

I will place a link to this discussion in the Electrical section for visitors hunting for this type of info.
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Chuck in Meridian, ID
'01 Safari Zanzibar 3646 (side entry)
Cat 3126B / Allison MD3060
Magnum M-Series "Blue Max" chassis
Owner since 8/2020

TDJohn
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:34 pm

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by TDJohn »

Chuck,

Battery manufacturers and others like inverter manufacturers recommend that the interconnect cables be as large as the cables that the batteries feed, meaning "C1" and "C2" in your case. I would suggest at a minimum 0/2. Being that you have an inverter, 2 gauge is just too thin. Years back, when I bought my Safari, it had 2 gauge interconnect cables and they showed major signs of overheating, not a good thing. It's not going to cost that much more for a few, fairly short cables. In my humble opinion, it's just not a good area to skimp out on, but that is up to you.

Safe Travels! :mrgreen:
John
'95 Serengeti, Cummins C8.3-300
Allison 6spd.

chuckster
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
Location: Meridian, ID

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by chuckster »

John,

I went with 2 AWG (3/8” lugs) as the other interconnect cables were. It looks like C1 and C2 are likely just a tad larger...likely 1/0? No worries..I’ll post the wife outside the battery banks to keep her hand on them and alert me if they’re getting a bit warm. :lol:
Chuck in Meridian, ID
'01 Safari Zanzibar 3646 (side entry)
Cat 3126B / Allison MD3060
Magnum M-Series "Blue Max" chassis
Owner since 8/2020

chuckster
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:53 pm
Location: Meridian, ID

Re: Added Renogy 200W solar “suitcase” system

Post by chuckster »

UPDATE: I went ahead and got the heavier 1/0 gauge cables that looked like what the inverter was using. Should be hooking everything back up this week in preparation for a short week long road trip.
Chuck in Meridian, ID
'01 Safari Zanzibar 3646 (side entry)
Cat 3126B / Allison MD3060
Magnum M-Series "Blue Max" chassis
Owner since 8/2020

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