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Misc Solar questions - part 2

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  • Misc Solar questions - part 2

    OK, more questions today after spending 12 hours yesterday researching everything solar related and putting together a parts list for my planned system. I think I'm going to replace my existing 300w Jaboni panel with four REC 360w Alpha panels. I'm thinking of installing two panels each in series and then both sets in parallel. The OEM panel is 9" longer than the REC panels and I'd prefer more walking room on the roof.

    Major components so far:
    (4) 360w REC Alpha panels
    (1) Victron Multiplus 3000/120
    (4) Battleborn 100ah heated batteries (probably add a couple more later)
    (1) Victron SmartSolar 150/100 solar charge controller
    (1) Victron Lynx Distributer

    I already have a Victron BMV-712.

    1- I plan to get the Victron SmartSolar 150/100 MPPT charge controller. Does that sound correct as far as sizing? Panel specs are 36.7vmp, 43.9voc (still not sure which to use) and 9.82a lmp.
    2- Do I need the Victron VE. Bus Smart Dongle in order to get stats from the Victron Multiplus inverter? Do I need the dongle if I get the Cerbo GX and Touch 50?
    3- Other than the convenience of the quick glance at the GX screens (Touch 50 and Color Control), is there any information there I can't get from the mobile app?
    4- Between the Color Control GX and Touch 50 GX, which do you prefer? Wait, what is the Cerbo GX? Too many options...

    This project is at the edge of what I'm willing to do myself. Not really because of the technical merits but more because it's a pretty big project. I'm still not sure if I'll do it but the more I learn, the less daunting it becomes. The one thing I REALLY want to be able to do is run the microwave from the inverter. I think I just need to move that breaker to the sub panel where the residential fridge is but I haven't researched that yet so that's just a wild guess and gives you a clue as to how little I know.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by bertschb; 02-14-2021, 02:15 PM.
    Brian & Kellie
    2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
    2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

    Previous setups:
    2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
    2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

  • #2
    Originally posted by bertschb View Post
    Victron Lynx Distributer
    Unless you're using the associated Lynx Shunt, too, the Lynx Distributor is just a very expensive "dumb" bus bar. I'm not a fan of this device for "small" systems, unless the fuse setup or ease to connect the batteries is worth the expense. Below is what I wrote about the Lynx elsewhere (and old pics):

    No paperwork or manuals came with the Distributor nor is anything available online. So after looking at pictures and then having the Distributor in my grubby hands I assumed the device's output is to the two connections sticking out of the left side. (You would too, right?) Pictures 1, 2, 3 and 4 show the layout.

    In case it is not obvious how this goes together, I placed the fuses in pic 3 and "x'd" out the tabs that will get removed. The ground 2ga wire goes underneath the hot 2ga wire (not shown but hopefully you can figure it out from the picture).


    Click image for larger version

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    What I couldn't find was hardware to attach the 4ga wired lugs to the Distributor's output. It was then I found out that (as usual) I was wrong. Those connections on the left are for connection to a device called the Lynx Shunt (not the same thing as the shunt for the BMV-712!). A dummy panel removes from the right side and I'm supposed to use those connections on the right side as the output.

    Click image for larger version

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    Bottom line: I sent the Distributor back to AMSolar for a refund and used the busbar gbkims and TucsonJim recommended with a single 400A fuse.


    Originally posted by bertschb View Post
    2- Do I need the Victron VE. Bus Smart Dongle in order to get stats from the Victron Multiplus inverter?
    With the list of parts in your system, my counsel is to take it one more step further and get the Color Control GX or GX Touch 50 to integrate all of the Victron components. https://www.victronenergy.com/panel-...ote-monitoring Just the ability to easily leverage the Power Assist function is worth the cost, let alone all the other advantages that are too long to list.

    Originally posted by bertschb View Post
    I'm thinking of installing two panels each in series and then both sets in parallel. The OEM panel is 9" longer than the REC panels and I'd prefer more walking room on the roof.

    (4) 360w REC Alpha panels
    (1) Victron SmartSolar 150/100 solar charge controller
    I copied TucsonJim's approach (the combination of parallel and series) with my setup and I'm very pleased.

    The setup, panels and MPPT should be a good match. It's been awhile since I did the math, but watching Garrett's video on YouTube for the specifics should verify the choice.

    AM Solar: How to Select the Best Solar Charge Controller for Your RV, Skoolie or Van

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di499j08IeY


    Originally posted by bertschb View Post
    (1) Victron Multiplus 3000/120
    (4) Battleborn 100ah heated batteries
    An excellent match. A minimum of three batteries is required to maximize the capability of the 3000vA Multiplus. Four is a great balance of capability vs space vs cost. Says the guy who bought four batteries...

    Originally posted by bertschb View Post
    This project is at the edge of what I'm willing to do myself. Not really because of the technical merits but more because it's a pretty big project. I'm still not sure if I'll do it but the more I learn, the less daunting it becomes.
    The advantage you have is the project will be in a 5vr vs the confines of a travel trailer. If you don't have all the right tools, factor that into your costs. Good wiring (and connections) is critical to a successful project.

    Originally posted by bertschb View Post
    The one thing I REALLY want to be able to do is run the microwave from the inverter. I think I just need to move that breaker to the sub panel where the residential fridge is but I haven't researched that yet so that's just a wild guess and gives you a clue as to how little I know.
    How about starting a thread on just that topic in the Electrical channel?





    Attached Files
    Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

    Howard, 2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the feedback Howard. I like the Lynx Distributer because it saves some space by combing negative and positive bus bars along with fusing. I'm following the guy who created Explorist.life (excellent solar resource) and he used the Lynx system with output on the left. He attached the BMV shunt on the negative side using a solid piece of copper bar. He then attached a cutoff switch to the positive side using another solid piece of copper bar. It looks like this:

      Click image for larger version  Name:	Screen Shot 2021-02-14 at 11.35.45 AM.png Views:	0 Size:	606.6 KB ID:	42900

      I've looked at several solar charge controller calculators including the one from Victron but I'm just trying to verify my choice. I'll check out the video from AM Solar. And yes, I'll tackle the microwave later.

      I do have tools to make cables (I redid all the wiring in my front compartment) and I'll order the crimper for MC4 connectors.
      Last edited by bertschb; 02-14-2021, 02:58 PM.
      Brian & Kellie
      2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
      2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

      Previous setups:
      2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
      2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

      Comment


      • #4
        Brian ( bertschb )
        I hope you don't mind an opinion from this JAUO ("Just an Unqualified Owner") : consider using the output studs provided by Victron for your wiring and skip the copper bars. The connections meant for the Victron Shunt will be protected by the covers that come with the Distributor. If space is a constraint I understand sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Here's an example of what the Shunt and Distributor look like when connected as intended. (Output connections on the right aren't visible.)

        Click image for larger version

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        At minimum add thick, adhesive-lined heat shrink over that positive connection between the Distributor and switch. Having that negative and positive so close together, unprotected, looks like an invitation for a major "oopsie" to me. Four Battle Born batteries can deliver a lot of power very quickly.

        Click image for larger version

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        Howard
        Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

        Howard, 2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

        Comment


        • #5
          bertschb

          I thing I forgot to mention: the Victron SmartSolar MPPTs come in TR and MC4 versions. The TR version is for direct wiring (what I have) and the MC4 is for MC4 connectors. The SmartSolar MPPTs have Bluetooth connectivity built-in (vs the BlueSolar versions that do not and require a dongle).

          Wasn't sure you knew about that distinction...

          Click image for larger version

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          https://www.victronenergy.com/solar-...can#datasheets
          Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

          Howard, 2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

          Comment


          • #6
            bertschb you mentioned maybe adding batteries later. old and new batteries do not play well together. start with the additional ones or wait to add to the string when replacement time comes.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tortuga View Post
              bertschb you mentioned maybe adding batteries later. old and new batteries do not play well together. start with the additional ones or wait to add to the string when replacement time comes.
              Thanks for the feedback.

              According to Battle Born, you can wait up to two years to add batteries to an existing bank.

              "A partially used lead acid battery will drain energy from a new one, reducing the total amount of battery power available. This is not the case with Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries. You can add new batteries to your original Battle Born bank up to two years down the road without damaging, reducing lifespan, or harming them in any way.?
              Brian & Kellie
              2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
              2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

              Previous setups:
              2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
              2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by howson View Post
                ... the Victron SmartSolar MPPTs come in TR and MC4 versions. The TR version is for direct wiring (what I have) and the MC4 is for MC4 connectors.
                I did notice this but without experience, I don't see much of an advantage with either one. I can add MC4 connectors and use that model or just direct wire. I guess the latter would be less work. And yes, I'm absolutely getting the Bluetooth version. I don't understand why the inverter doesn't have Bluetooth connectivity built in.
                Brian & Kellie
                2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
                2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

                Previous setups:
                2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
                2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by howson View Post
                  ...consider using the output studs provided by Victron for your wiring and skip the copper bars. The connections meant for the Victron Shunt will be protected by the covers that come with the Distributor.
                  I think the guy that created that wiring diagram (Explorist.life) preferred the flat copper bar over a very short cable with two lugs for reliability reasons. A crimped lug (in this case two of them) isn't as reliable as a piece of copper bar. But, I do understand your point that it's exposed. And that's an excellent point!

                  As for the shunt- I already have the BMV-712 shunt. Does the Lynx shunt provide anything additional beyond the cover? If not, I'd hate to toss my existing shunt just to get that cover. It does look nicer though :-)
                  Brian & Kellie
                  2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
                  2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

                  Previous setups:
                  2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
                  2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bertschb View Post

                    I think the guy that created that wiring diagram (Explorist.life) preferred the flat copper bar over a very short cable with two lugs for reliability reasons. A crimped lug (in this case two of them) isn't as reliable as a piece of copper bar. But, I do understand your point that it's exposed. And that's an excellent point!

                    As for the shunt- I already have the BMV-712 shunt. Does the Lynx shunt provide anything additional beyond the cover? If not, I'd hate to toss my existing shunt just to get that cover. It does look nicer though :-)
                    No, I'm not recommending getting the Lynx Shunt. The BMV-712 (or Smart Shunt) is perfect for our applications IMHO. The picture was just to show how the two components were meant to go together. If you take care to protect the positive terminal on the left side of the Distributor to prevent an inadvertent short it will probably be fine. To be honest, if I'd thought of the copper bar (and heat shrink protection) I might have gone that way, too, as the ease of connecting the batteries plus the individual fuses makes it a nice setup. I just wish the Distributor would "talk" to the VE bus without the Lynx Shunt component.

                    Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

                    Howard, 2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bertschb View Post
                      I did notice this but without experience, I don't see much of an advantage with either one. I can add MC4 connectors and use that model or just direct wire. I guess the latter would be less work. And yes, I'm absolutely getting the Bluetooth version. I don't understand why the inverter doesn't have Bluetooth connectivity built in.
                      I did a similar install, except I have three sets of two series 200w panels. I use the same charge controller and it has room to spare so I’m sure you’ll be happy.

                      FYI the Multiplus has Bluetooth connectivity but you can’t change any of the settings (except maybe power assist) you’ll need the mk3 usb to Ethernet adapter and a laptop or android phone (won’t work with iPhone) to setup and configure the multiplus. Keep that in mind.

                      I ditched the MC4 cable per this AMSolar video and used their two conductor cable and combiner box. I did use one MC4 cable on each panel to make the series connection, then cut the others as they indicate.

                      https://youtu.be/ZQ1DizeGkZM
                      Neil Citro
                      2018 Reflection 28bh
                      2019 F350 6.7L Long Bed Crew Cab

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bertschb View Post
                        Thanks for the feedback Howard. I like the Lynx Distributer because it saves some space by combing negative and positive bus bars along with fusing. I'm following the guy who created Explorist.life (excellent solar resource) and he used the Lynx system with output on the left. He attached the BMV shunt on the negative side using a solid piece of copper bar. He then attached a cutoff switch to the positive side using another solid piece of copper bar. It looks like this:

                        Click image for larger version Name:	Screen Shot 2021-02-14 at 11.35.45 AM.png Views:	0 Size:	606.6 KB ID:	42900

                        I've looked at several solar charge controller calculators including the one from Victron but I'm just trying to verify my choice. I'll check out the video from AM Solar. And yes, I'll tackle the microwave later.

                        I do have tools to make cables (I redid all the wiring in my front compartment) and I'll order the crimper for MC4 connectors.
                        Brian
                        There are two issues with the copper bar. One is sizing. In my case of 400A I would need a 1/4" by 1" wide bar. Info provided from my Victorn dealer. The Lynx power in bar is 5/16" by 1". I was going to try the copper bar approach until I placed my Lynx power in bar (same as the distributor sans fuses) and my FUSE and then switch side by side. There is a significant height difference between the connection points (all 3 are different heights). Looks good on paper but some sort of shimming is going to be needed to have everything line up. I guess you could try bending a reverse curve in the bar, but to do so you would need to use a longer bar.

                        On my system I was told there should be a fuse between the Lynx power in and the switch to protect the switch circuit - and it makes sense. . To me when I investigated the Lynx distribution bar, the fuses in the distributor bar protect the battery in feeds. Not sure if it is needed with the BMS in the Battle Borns already protecting them. I went withe cheaper Lynx Power in set up as I decided I did not need the redundant fuses. A lot of $$ in fuses there.

                        From the different height measurements I am going to be using 4/0 cabling with crimped lugs between the connections, I figured out if I have the lug orientation 180 on each end (flat side of lug up on one end and down on the other) Things line up pretty well. It only increases the distance between the parts a few inches.

                        However after saying all the above I will defer to the experts on this.

                        Hope this helps
                        Keith

                        In edit I also believe the drawing is wrong on how the shunt is wired in. The cable going to the chassis should not be there as is prevents the shunt from seeing all the loads. The negative off the shunt needs to be tied in with all the other negative leads before going to the chassis from what I understand (could be wrong) OOPs I am wrong depending on where the negative battery leads tie in. If all the grounds are going to the negative bus bar then the shunt should work if the negative black wire goes to the battery feed. Experts if this is correct it saves me a lot of space on my design.
                        Last edited by Yoda; 02-15-2021, 02:36 PM.
                        2018 Reflection 150 Series 220RK 5th wheel. Reese R20 Titan hitch, Steadyfast system, 2004 F350 King Ranch dually

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ncitro View Post
                          FYI the Multiplus has Bluetooth connectivity but you can’t change any of the settings (except maybe power assist) you’ll need the mk3 usb to Ethernet adapter and a laptop or android phone (won’t work with iPhone) to setup and configure the multiplus. Keep that in mind.
                          Thanks for the feedback Neil

                          Will the Victron VE. Bus Smart Dongle allow me to use my iPhone (or MacOS) to tweak the Multiplus settings? I have an old Windows laptop but would really prefer to keep it buried in the bottom drawer as long as possible.
                          Last edited by bertschb; 02-15-2021, 02:52 PM.
                          Brian & Kellie
                          2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
                          2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

                          Previous setups:
                          2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
                          2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bertschb View Post

                            Thanks for the feedback Neil

                            Will the Victron VE. Bus Smart Dongle allow me to use my iPhone (or MacOS) to tweak the Multiplus settings? I have an old Windows laptop but would really prefer to keep it buried in the bottom drawer as long as possible.
                            I'm not sure what Multiplus Neil is referencing--my 12/3000 does not have bluetooth built in. To configure the Multiplus an MK3-USB adapter is required. https://www.victronenergy.com/access...erface-mk3-usb

                            The reference below is dated (maybe there's a new product?) but to the best of my knowledge the following is still true.

                            From https://community.victronenergy.com/...bluetooth.html

                            --start quote--

                            Justin Cook - Bay Marine Supply USA answered · Sep 25 '19 at 11:21 AM

                            @bigal, the MultiPlus line does not have BT built in; as @Rob Duthie mentions, there is a VE.Bus Smart Dongle that you can purchase to connect to the MultiPlus, BUT the big caveat there is that it has very little functionality in terms of control and/or programming. You can connect the dongle and then see the MultiPlus in VictronConnect on your phone over BT, and you can turn it on or off, and also set the input current limit, but that is all. For any programming needs you will still need the MK3 to USB adapter and a computer or tablet (although you can also get a Type A USB adapter to whatever type of port your phone uses, and connect that way as well), although for a (usually) small additional fee many distributors will program the unit for you before it's shipped out, so long as you have a very specific set of known parameters that you would like programmed into it.
                            Bottom line, all programming still needs to be via a hardwired connection, but if all you're looking for is to be able to check on your Multi and see what it's doing, the VE.Bus Smart Dongle will do that for you.


                            --end quote--

                            Even with a CCGX or Touch 50 with the CerboGX an MK3-USB adapter is required for programming the Multiplus.
                            Forum moderators are not GD employees--we are volunteers and owners presumably just like yourself. Unless specifically mentioned otherwise, we have nothing to gain should you choose to purchase a product or engage a service we discuss on this forum.

                            Howard, 2017 Ford F-350 DRW, '19 315RLTSPlus

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So it sounds like I need a MK3-USB adapter to program the Multiplus and then the VE. Bus Smart Dongle to monitor it with Victron Connect?
                              Brian & Kellie
                              2020 Grand Design Solitude 310GK-R, FBP, MORryde IS w/ disc brakes, 1,460w solar
                              2020 Ford F-350 Platinum SRW PSD Tremor, 60g TF fuel tank, Hensley BD3-F air bag hitch

                              Previous setups:
                              2019 Grand Design Solitude 373FB-R, 2019 Ford F-350 Platinum DRW Powerstroke, Hensley BD5 air bag hitch
                              2016 Grand Design Reflection 318RST, 2016 GMC 3500 Denali SRW Duramax, Hensley BD3 air bag hitch

                              Comment

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