Aerolite Solar-ready? What do I need? - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 12-27-2016, 04:25 PM   #1
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Aerolite Solar-ready? What do I need?

Hello,

I just purchased a '16 Dutchmen Aerolite 282DBHS that is Solar-Ready. It has a plug on the outside that is labeled solar ready and I have panels i'm ready to purchase. What do this plug do...Does it go to a solar regulator or just straight to the battery? I want to put 2-100watt panels on the roof but am guessing I need a way to regulate the power coming from the panels before it just cooks my batteries. Didn't find anything in the manual.
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:08 PM   #2
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Hi Dave,
Welcome to the forums!

The plug on the side is for portable panels. You have to have a regulator with your panels. If you are going to roof mount them you will need to probably pull cable for them. One fairly easy path is down the fridge vent if you have one. I haven't installed solar on any of my RV's yet. I use a 100 watt portable suitcase set from Renogy that plugs into the side port.

We have some guys on here that have done solar, so hopefully they will chime in shortly.

Aaron
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Old 12-28-2016, 12:07 PM   #3
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Hi Dave
Welcome to the forum. As Aaron stated above there are a bunch of people here that are more experienced in solar than others, I am sure they will chime in.
My Aerolite has a female Furrion Plug which is wired direct to the battery (fused at 7amp). I have purchased a Male matching plug from eBay and wired to some battery tender accessory plugs so I can plug in a battery tender, or a 12vdc blower to blow up inflatables, etc. See my registry for more details. Who knows maybe someday I will actually plug in a solar panel

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Old 12-28-2016, 05:38 PM   #4
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The basics of a solar charging system are panels -> charge controller -> batteries. You want to make efforts to minimize the wire distance between the charge controller and batteries, as well as use adequate wire gauge, in order to minimize voltage loss due wire resistance. I don't know what the "solar prep" feature entails, but wahoonc's post describes a plug in port that likely ties into the camper's existing 12V wiring from the main power center to the battery/batteries. In my head, this describes a portable panel system that is only deployed and hooked up when you are setup for camping. You will require a solar charge controller between the panels and the plug in port, but suffer from voltage loss along the long wire path from the port to the batteries. That can be compensated for if you use a charge controller with adjustable charge parameters or voltage sense lines separate from the charge path, but charge controllers with these features are usually intended for setups with more wattage than OP is describing (i.e. more expensive but offer more capacity and features). It sounds like it could be a useful bit of pre-wiring, but I prefer my solar setup to be permanently attached to the batteries so that it is charging and maintaining them every day all day when exposed to sun. This means during camping, travel, and storage, rather than only when you have deployed your panels and hooked them up to the port.

gjwinner850's post and link suggest that the solar prep port is limited to 10A and fused at 7A. This means that any solar input greater than roughly 7A * 12V = 84 watts will exceed that rating. Now the reality of solar harvest is that you are only going to achieve a panel's max watt rating under ideal circumstances for a short window of time during a day, so your proposed 200 watts of panels may not pop that fuse or otherwise exceed that rating. But they have the capacity to and I wouldn't be OK with that setup myself. Maybe you can just increase that fuse size if it is easily done? Based on this rating, I'd say this solar prep feature is aimed at attaching a small solar panel for maintaining an already fully charged battery/batteries during storage. If OP wants a solar charging setup with a goal of having meaningful recharging capability, then don't bother with the pre-wired feature and do your own install from start to finish with at least 200 watts of solar panels. Rule of thumb is 100 watts of solar per battery, but with small systems you should plan on a bit more wattage than that since you'll be more dependent on a daily harvest to get through the next night.
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