Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Solar Panel Mod

Okay - I finally made a decision on what to do with my solar/generator/battery issues.  One of the campers parked near me when I was in La Posa South highly recommended this guy named Brian, who I ran into while filling my fresh water tank last week.

I told him one of my neighbors had recommended his solar work, and he asked what I needed, so we exchanged phone numbers and made an appointment for him to come out and see that I had, test my batteries to see if they were still good, and to check the amps on all my electrical gadgets.  Generally see what was going on, and how we could make it better.

Checking out the batteries

He ended up coming out three times, twice to check things out and then finally to do the job.  I have two Interstate 6V 225 AH batteries, wired in series, and Brian said they were fine.  He checked the amps on my electrical gadgets and they were good, all low amp hours.  Everyone says the wall controllers don't show correct readings, but mine measured correctly.

Changing the Catastrophe Fuse to the correct terminal.

This is what I run, as measured by Brian with his meter:

Amp draws per hour for electrical items in The Palms:
1.      Go-Power 1750 Inverter    1.2 amps
2.      Laptop computer                3.8 amps when not charging, up to 5 amps when charging
3.      Cell phone charging            minimal draw
4.      Coffee warmer                    1.3 amps
5.      TV and antenna                  2 amps
6.      200 W small inverter          minimal draw

I'm not running anything with a huge draw. If I run my A/C, coffee maker, microwave, toaster oven or hair dryer, I turn on the generator.

Brian said my batteries were fine, but there was a loose terminal wire that could make a difference - and he tightened it.  My T-fuse, or catastrophe fuse, was wired to a negative terminal instead of a  positive terminal, and he changed that. 

 He said I have exactly what I need, except this time of the year when the days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky, it would help to tilt my solar panels.  So that's what we decided to do.  I was lucky, it was far easier and cheaper than replacing or adding batteries, or adding another solar panel. 

During the summer when we have longer days and the sun is high in the sky - traveling overhead - my batteries do a great job.  There are probably four months of the year that I'd need to tilt the panels, during the months with the shortest days while I'm here at Quartzsite.

Checking Amps

I got the tilt kits in town and Brian came out and installed them for me on Thursday, and boy, do I see a difference.

Removing the solar panels

Checking the wire - I think?

Attaching the tilt kits.

And they are tilted!

Both Friday and Saturday, when I rolled out of bed around 10:00 a.m. (yes, that's 10:00 a.m.)  my controller readout was 14.3 or 14.4.  That's a full battery bank, folks!
Beautiful job!  Don't they look great?

Brian Boone – (406) 270-4820  If you're going to call Brian, make it as early as possible in the season, because he's getting busy.  Right now he also has a full time job, so he's doing solar installs, consults, etc. after work and on his days off.  He's young and energetic, super knowledgeable, and honest, and he charges a very fair (low) rate for his expert work.

I highly recommend him and his work.  I'm expecting him to have his own full time business next year and if he does, he'll be a star in the solar industry.  I'm really happy he's here at Quartzsite so I can call him during the winter months if needed.
While Katie and I were walking this afternoon we met up with one of our readers, Linda, and her friend, Mel.  Their motor homes are parked near the Dingbats and as we walked by, her dog walked toward us on his lead.  He's a Deer Chihuahua like Katie.  I don't see many of this breed, so we stopped and talked.  Sunny is one year older than Katie and they are about the same size and color and seemed to get along well.

I'm going to bring my camera tomorrow when we're walking over near her campsite so I can get a photo of the two dogs.  It was nice meeting you, Linda, thanks for reading Me and My Dog  ...and My RV, and Mel - he doesn't have a computer, so he's not reading this - but it was nice meeting him, too!  :)

From me and Katie, have a great Sunday, everybody! Rolling on the floor laughing


  1. How nice to find an Rv repairman that is honest and does good work. I'm going to put him on Pinterest in case we ever need solar. The tilted panels look pretty cool. I guess that means this time of year, you'll have to park so that the panels are facing the right way?

  2. Good repairmen are hard to find and especially around "Q" this time of year. It'll be interesting to see how everything works out for you. I'm assuming you're going to be the one to crawl on top and tip those panels?:

  3. Thank you for this post. Our goal is to go south next winter with a new RV & both of us retired.

    I'm still trying to figure out all this battery/generator/amps/volts stuff but it sounds as if the full battery you have from tilting the panels will mean you won't have to use your gen? Is that a correct assumption? I saw someone on one of the blogs I follow dusting off their solar panels...

    It's so great to have an honest, hard-working person who does good work. I hope Brian can quit his day job 7 do solar full-time!

  4. The tilting panels look great, Barb! What took you so long? I mentioned this months ago, and I know a few others did, too. :)

  5. I think Jim is going to install the tilt mechanism on ours and possibly reposition one of the three panels while we're here, too.
    Let us know where you are and we'll stop by after we move over to the Lazy Daze group.

  6. Now this is a post that I've been eagerly waiting to read. Full charge early in the morning is great !!

  7. That's fantastic! You got some important work done by someone who has expertise and for a fair price. Score!!! Thanks for including the amp data.

  8. Karen, I've always parked facing west because of where my solar panels are placed. That gives me the best bang for my buck.

    Wanderin', actually, no. Brian made it clear I should call him when I'm leaving Q and he'll come over and put them down, then when I get here next year, I'm to call him and he'll come out and put them back up. I said, "All part of the service?" and he said, "Free of charge!" Nice! I don't know if he will be able to keep that up, though, when he's super busy. :)

    Dawn, I'm still figuring all this electrical stuff out. Yes, I still need my generator, which I use for my kitchen appliances (coffee maker, microwave, toaster oven, bullet blender, etc., and my hair dryer). Panels should be cleaned from time to time with a wet cloth and then I dry them with another cloth.

    Mike - I knew I was going to have to do something, but honestly, I was getting so many different opinions from people, I decided to do nothing until I was confident about my decision. After talking to Brian, it all made sense. Thanks for YOUR opinion, though - yours is one I trust, too. :)

    Gayle - We'll be sure to get together! I think Katie and I are going to wander over to the Lazy Daze group today or tomorrow. We drove there today to make sure where they are. I'm easy to find, Jimbo already found us, but didn't stop because he wasn't sure. With three panels, you'll really get more energy from your panels when they are tilted. I'll be interested in your results. :)

    Denise - I was going to e-mail you yesterday, and got busy - yes!!! You were the most vocal and logical person I talked to about my system. All your information really helped. I hope Lee concurs!

    Kim, having the amp hour info really helped me, too. I had NO idea what I was using. Remember, though, my numbers might be different than someone else. Brian was surprised that my coffee warmer used so little, they (anything with heat) are usually more. And the rest of my stuff was purchased with low energy use in mind when I had a choice. :)

  9. Isn't it the greatest relief when you find someone to work on your RV/car/electronics/whatever problem that truly makes you feel confident in their work. Lucky you.

  10. Tilt bar kits are an absolute MUST in the winter time!! So glad you found Brian---looks like he did it right!

  11. It's always great to find a trustworthy repair person. The unfortunate part is when they get busy and you have to wait in line to get their services.

    Enjoy your week!

  12. Very interesting post and pictures. It sure is great when a personal recommendation hooks you up with an honest, hardworking craftsman like Brian.

  13. Glad you had such an experienced person to check out and fix you solar system...the panels look great in their tilted position.

  14. Isn't it always just the greatest feeling when something is fixed or figured out & is working fine again. And to run into reputable people is always such a huge bonus & just adds to that happy overall feeling.......

  15. Story about Katie's new counterpart is interesting; some dogs really seem to recognize "their" breed-mates. I had 3 Bedlingtons, only one of which went bonkers when he sighted another Bedlington, not a frequent occurrence. But once he saw one, he was just bananas until they were nose-to-nose; he could hardly contain himself. He liked all dogs but Bedlingtons were obviously in a special category. Subsequently I've had Affenpinschers, and one of 3 of them has been the same way; an Affen in a passing car where she couldn't get to it was torture for her; she'd cry for 15 minutes of staring out the window at the next 60 cars that passed, hoping...

    No matter how nearly alike another dog was, somehow they never once targeted look-alikes, only those of their own breed. Sounds like Katie may be another of the "breed-recognizers".


  16. Yup, we made all 5 of our panels tilt-able too. Also a layer of dust can hamper charging too, or in our case right now: ICE & SNOW~~!!

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  17. Do you have to lower the panels every time you drive to town or to the dump station? I still think about solar panels but will probably wait until I am not workamping anymore, since I usually have full hookups.

  18. I especially liked the amp hours readings!

  19. Well you will have to walk over and see us Lazy Dazers

  20. Teri - no - Brian said I could keep them tilted to go into town or down to the dump - about a mile away. I said, even at 45 mph?, and he said it's okay. Obviously not on the highway going faster, though. It would be a pain if I had to bring them down every time I took a short jaunt. I'll be careful.

  21. Good call on getting more juice by tilting the panels! Now you just have to make sure you park so they face the sun.

    Another way to get power from your system is with an MPPT charge controller. Since batteries and panels work at different voltages, you can lose a bunch of the power you are producing and a charge controller fixes that. You might have one already, but in case you don't- it's a tiny box and a pretty easy retrofit job.

    Sounds like Brian might know a thing or two about them- and I'm sure some of the vendors at Q will have them in stock.

    Happy trails!

  22. Happy Late Birthday - I hope you treated yourself well! Cheers!

  23. Nice Info! RV solar panel systems are nothing more than simple battery chargers connected to a few solar modules.

    High Efficiency Solar PV Modules | Solar Panel System Canada

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  25. that is good for environment it`s better and affordablesolar panel system installation visit

  26. Congratulations on the modified solar panels, Barbara! Brian did a great job on putting them up -- they look very nice! And I bet the RV is performing a lot better now, which would be pretty awesome. All in all, this is definitely a great upgrade. Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a great day!

    Johnie Schueller @ Terratek


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