I've been doing a lot of research lately on Solar system installations and although I have the Know-How and tools to do it myself I am new to owning a class-C and don't want to mess up my RV. I've been calling around to different local (St. Louis, MO.) RV repair and accessory installation places to try and find out how much it would cost to have someone install it for me and I can’t seem to get an answer from anyone other than "Bring it in and we will give you an estimate" I really want just a rough idea on the installation cost before I pursue it further. Under 1K? over 1K? Over 2K? We own a 2008 Winnebago WF229T and the system I am looking at buying is: "http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BBDC9GC/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encod..."

 I guess what scares me the most is running the wires from point A (Solar panels on top of RV) to point B (Batteries and inverter/converter) and C (Monitor inside of RV). If someone has info on rough cost of installation I really would appreciate it.

Tags: cost, instal, solar

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Kenneth, while I do not know the cost of an install there are 30 pages of discussions in our archives on solar installations.   just type solar in the small search box very top right.  you might enjoy reading them and you can always use "send message" to communicate safely with any member on solar topics.

John T   might have an idea on costs, of course, labor for some shop to do it would be a huge variable.

Also,  be totally certain that a the holes for the install are totally sealed and do check them ofter. the majoy demis of almost all campers and class c's are roof leaks.    

let us know how it turns out.        pat

Thanks Pat,

I did start reading through some (quite a few actually) of the posts here regarding solar. Although I don't particularly want to DIY this project I might be forced to do so just out of what they want to charge. I have one place (So far) lined up to get an estimate when the weather permits me taking the RV from the storage location to the RV Repair location that has talked to me. I am a carpenter by trade but have experience in plumbing and electrical work. I also have access to lots of information from a licensed Electrician regarding wire gauges and such.

I will be sure to keep you all posted on my progress.

Now I am off to shovel (Using a snow blower) the snow from my driveway, 150' long, Uphill, in a horseshoe.

Hi Kenneth, I am with you on the long drive and snow thing. I was wondering if you have checked out any of the more portable units. I ask because I was thinking some time back about solar and had to decline. For me it came down to a question of am I planning full timing where I would benefit from and recoup my cost or, will I be  boon- docking and; would a portable unit fit my needs. In the end I couldn't justify the cost of either but I'm not you and your situation is different. Realistically I do most of my camping in State Parks and always have electric. Again your situation is different but consider it wisely Solar panels are like tires; they deteriorate over time and not necessarily by use. Will the cash outlay be worth the investment if your rig spends most of it's time parked in the driveway? Just some fuel for thought, anyway good luck on your project and have a good day.     

Pat was wise recommending you to get with JOHN T on the electrical part of the solar projects technical. I am a full timer and have both mono crystaline and flex panel solar panels. I prefer the flex (roll out) solar panels due to ease and flexabilty,, plus low profile Approx 2" high at most,, compared to mono crystaline at 6".

Average cost of the panels run around a DOLLAR a watt,,(thats average give or take).

My Mono crystaline panels are 100 watt each X 6   and my flex panels are 300 watt ea. X 2.

My total Wattage is 1200,,, averaging 725 to 800 watts effectively. I had the wiring original plumbed through

a tube down the side of RV along side ladder,(while in the test and see if I like the idea of back up solar).

After I was satisfied with the set up, I re-routed the wiring down through the Fridge roof vent down behind the cabinets to my battery bank set up. (I have 2 Marine deep cells set up now.) Im in the workings to have a total of 4 to 6  battery bank set up using 6 V golf cart type batteries, for long term off grid use.

I highly recommend using the roll out Flex panels if permanently mounting solar panels,, because they lay low on the roof line..

And as Rich Thomas pointed out,, Consider the over-all cost versus use. If your only going to venture out a couple times a year,, Its a fairly large chunk of change for very minimal use,, and yes, they do deteriate over time with different weather factors. ( small panels are good for keeping cabin batteries charged).

Good morning, Kenneth Carmin; 

     Like you, I am also concerned with the water-tight integrity of my motor home roof.  

     And, I have been collecting these things over a long time period, so I do not have a definite value on the total cost of the parts purchased, and I am doing the installation work myself.  

     With that point in mind, I have purchased a collection of very thin and light weight solar panels through a surplus solar system supplier,  www.recycledgoods.com   and they were made by a company called SoloPower.  They are semi-flexible and they are built on thin stainless steel sheet metal.  They do have the common MC-4 weathertight electrical connectors for use with standard solar panel exterior wiring.  When the weather is a little more co-operative, and I can finish the preparation of the roof, I will use sealant to literally glue these panels to the roof for a very low profile installation that does not make any holes in the roof, and has virtually no wind resistance.  They are wired as 72 cells in series for a "28 VDC" input to the MorningStar TS-60-MPPT controller, and the wiring is going across the roof and collected together at the refrigerator heat exchanger vent shaft, down that vent shaft, and through the wall at the bottom to get into the area under the galley sink where the TS-60-MPPT is installed. 

     Yes, this installation is a "compromise" of several factors, including flat panel mounting -- no tilt, no free air space underneath, but also no wind resistance and no hole mounting on the roof.  They are "semi-flexible," so I can walk on them also, but I have space to walk between them in the layout. 

     My goal is to have enough power to operate the radio transmitter and to run the LED lights and other electrical accessories, plus have enough power to keep the coach or house batteries charged.  Using the existing battery connection switches for Emergency Start use, I can connect the Engine Starting Battery into the circuit for keeping it charged also.  And there is a separate 32 Watt 12 VDC solar panel inside on the dash with its own charge controller that is normally available for keeping the Engine Starting Battery charged during storage time. 

     There is also a portable wind generator now made by Primus in Colorado (formerly SouthWest Wind Power in Flagstaff, Arizona) and a portable tripod and 25 foot tall mast for the wind generator, that can be plugged into the coach or house battery charging circuit for keeping the batteries charged with wind during the night or during storms when it is cloudy, and the solar panels put out only about 5 to 10% of their normal power under a cloudy sky or in the rain during the day. 

     All of my added electrical systems operate off the 12 VDC electrical system.  I do not use a 120 VAC inverter; too hard on the batteries.  Instead, if required, I can run the Onan 120 VAC generator for making 120 VAC electrical power for short time periods.  I also have and use passive solar energy control techniques for keeping the inside of the motor home comfortable.  The refrigerator, the hot water tank, and the house furnace all can be run off the propane tank with 12 VDC for the control circuits, and some additional propane cylinders can be carried in the rack on the back for extended use.  

     Is all of this a "practical thing" economically?   I do not really know how to evaluate that, and others may use criteria other than mine for that evaluation.  I can say that with this system, my radios can go much longer than I can without being resupplied.  I am the main limiting factor in how long I can be out there before needing to go get more supplies, and empty the holding tanks.  And I can say that this solar panel system is practical, because I have run my 100 Watt RF output radios off three 60 Watt polycrystalline panels for a total of 180 Watts plus the 12 VDC AGM 25 AH batteries for over 15 years now, and the 350 Watts of panels on the roof even when horizontal should be able to provide enough power to do that.  Again, my main goal is to be able to run the radios for a protracted period of time measured in weeks when commercial electrical power is not available, but there is a need for radio communication with other groups. 



          Latte Land, Washington 

  Kenneth, I haven't been on much lately as I'm at an antique tractor show in Florida and have slow internet. Since I have done my own solar install I cant help much with how much a dealer might charge for a turnkey operation, other then it will be around three times to do it yourself and maybe the labor will be twice the materials.

 I can give you an idea of my system cost and if you take that and double the cost of my self purchased materials then figure the labor as 2 or 3 times the material you may get in the ballpark of a turnkey system.

 I have four 100 watt 12 volt nominal poly crystalline panels wired in series that cost around $500.

 I bought and strongly suggest a 30 amp so called "SMART" 3/4 STAGE MPPT SOLAR CHARGE CONTROLLER that Bulk charges at 14.4 volts, Absorption  charges at 13.6 volts, Float charges at 13.2 volts, has an equalization cycle around 14.4 volts. Such a "smart" charger does a much better job of charging your batteries correctly and will increase their life. I paid around $250 for it.

 I have four 6 volt true deep cycle golf cart batteries wired in series parallel for 12 volts and 460 Amp Hours of total energy storage, cost was around $500

 I have a Pure Sine Wave PSW 2000 watt Inverter and I would NOT recommend or use a cheaper Modified Sine Wave MSW Inverter, cost was around $300

 So it cost me for a 400 watt system with 460 amp hrs of batteries and a 2000 watt inverter and a 30 amp MPPT solar charge controller around $1600 I WILL VENTURE A GUESS A DEALER WOULD CHARGE AT LEAST $3000 TO $4000 TO FURNISH AND INSTALL WHAT I HAVE?????

 At the very minimum I would suggest 200 watts of solar panels,,,,,,,,,20 amp MPPT solar charge controller, two 6 volt golf cart batteries, 1000 watt PSW Inverter. My 400 solar watts and a 30 amp controller and four batteries and a 2000 watt inverter keeps me fully self sufficient. Of course for people with more energy needs you may see 600 to 1000 solar watts, six to 8 batteries, 4000 watt inverter, maybe an Inverter/Charger. 

 PS I forgot I have a 60 amp Progressive Dynamics 9200 series 4 stage smart battery charger  to charge my battery bank when I'm in shore power, it was somewhere over $200 so add that to the above.

 Youre looking well over $1,000 more like $2500 and up depending on how many watts you need and how many batteries. Its hard to say not knowing your energy needs.

 John T  Retired Electrical Engineer 




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