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Old 01-16-2017, 02:44 PM   #1
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Solar Charger

What solar charger does Escape install as part of the solar build? I am looking to get a battery monitor installed after the fact. The monitor I'm looking at is the Bogart TM-2030 battery monitor which (they say) pairs best with their solar charger: SC-2030 Solar Charger — 30 Amps Max- 12 or 24V PWM type - Bogart Engineering

Thoughts?
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Old 01-16-2017, 03:38 PM   #2
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I do not know what charger ETI uses. I did not have the solar option added to our build. My thought was to install the Bogart battery monitor after delivery. If I add solar, I would use external panels and have the SC-2030 mounted in the storage pod that has the batteries.

I am having ETI run a Cat5 cable (4 twisted pairs) from an overhead cabinet (driver side, front) to the battery box. I can use two pair to run the TM-2030 and the other two to connect the SC-2030 if and when I go solar.
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Old 01-16-2017, 05:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbrandenstein View Post
I do not know what charger ETI uses. I did not have the solar option added to our build. My thought was to install the Bogart battery monitor after delivery. If I add solar, I would use external panels and have the SC-2030 mounted in the storage pod that has the batteries.

I am having ETI run a Cat5 cable (4 twisted pairs) from an overhead cabinet (driver side, front) to the battery box. I can use two pair to run the TM-2030 and the other two to connect the SC-2030 if and when I go solar.
if you plan on mounting the SC-2030 (or any charge controller) in the Escape storage box on the Escape 19 with the batteries , you might check with the mfg of the SC-2030 to see if it is sealed and/or has a conformal coating (Protect electronic circuits from harsh environments that may contain moisture). A few mfg's do, and many don't.
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Old 01-16-2017, 06:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the heads up. The instructions say it should be kept out of direct rainfall, but not much else. I will ping Bogart for more clarification. As it has a large heatsink, putting it into a weatherproof box is probably not advised.
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Old 01-16-2017, 07:59 PM   #5
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I have done what Bob is planning and had Escape run a length of 2 pair phone cable or 4 pair network cable, I think the cable was a kit sold by Bogart, both wires will work. On the 21, with the batteries inside, it was not such a deal. However on a 19 with the tongue batteries and depending where you want the Trimetric there can be a lot of wire fishing that Escape can eliminate.

Just to clarify, it is not necessary to use a matched battery monitor and solar controller. Though I will say from the specs I have read that the SC-2030 is a good unit. What makes it good in my mind is it is one of the few controllers that will allow you to reach the charge levels recommended for Interstate dual six volt batteries. If you study the Interstate website or contact their support staff you will learn that the recommended charge rate for the dual six volt is 15.3 volts for two hours. Be sure to use those settings when setting up the absorption charge rate on the SC-2030.

For a full discussion of this check this link on the forum for: :Is You Battery Really Charged?"
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Old 01-16-2017, 08:26 PM   #6
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I did the SC and the TM from Bogart, I like the set. There is a lot of settings available if you like to dink around with such like me, or you can use one of the presets. Ralph at Bogart is easy to ask questions, just call and leave him a message, he's always called me back. My controller has no weather cover, if it got wet I'd have to trash it, it's pretty much just a pc board.
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:38 PM   #7
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Solar option

The charge controller that Escape is now using is from a company called Carmanah?? And is part of a package supplied by go-power. It charges the battery at 14.4 volts in bulk mode and is not adjustable. It does have a led display but it is installed under the seat on the drivers side so viewing the display will be a pita. The batteries, at least on a 5.0ta will be on the passenger side of the dinette. None of this seems ideal to me. The Carmanah charge controller sounds like the kind "handy Bob" installs in dumpsters. I had been planning to pay the $800 for the solar option but now I'm considering installing my own solar gear.
Does anyone know what Escapes solar prep package includes or cost?
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:00 PM   #8
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I'm not sure about the 5.0TA, but I'm pretty sure that on the new 21, the solar charge readout is above the refrigerator. Although "Handy Bob" "installs (them) in dumpsters" I'd be surprised of Reace would install something of as low quality as what you are describing or that GoPower would put their brand name on something that bad.

While it may not be what you are looking for, a lot of folks here have the ETI supplied solar package and are very happy with it.
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:36 PM   #9
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I did my own solar install. I did not mount the panels on the roof though one of the options I choose was to have it wired for a roof panel. On a 21 not a big deal and not worth it especially since there seems to be a trend to go through the refrigerator vent. I am using portable panels. $25

A second part that they installed was the wire for the Bogart Trimetric, had WeGo ship them the wiring harness and they ran it through the wall and left one end in the cabinet where I wanted it and the other end next to the battery box, I had to install the shunt and finish the wiring. $35

A third part that I had them do was to cut the hole and mount an inlet to plug my panel into. They would not wire the inlet which was probably good so I was able to use the thickest wire capable of connecting. $40

The key reason for doing al this was to be able to install the Blue Sky 30 solar controller that has some charge rates that met the recommendations of Interstate. Finally, I wanted a viewable display rather than having a GoPower that I had to genuflect to read the screen.

GoPower is owned by Carmanah, not sure if that is recent. Carmanah seems to specialize in airport, marine and traffic lighting. Go Power is their RV division. One would need to know the specific model of GoPower controller to get the specs but the mention that it only charges at 14.4 volts would be a deal breaker for me.

However for the masses who want their roof mounted panel to charge their batteries while they drive down the highway, never camp in the woods, avoid shoulder season, always have lots of sun and "don't wanna think about it", the Escape installed solar is ideal.
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starbrightsteve View Post
Does anyone know what Escapes solar prep package includes or cost?
Not sure of the cost, but what they are doing is installing a weatherproof hub on the roof with cable down to the batteries.
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Old 01-16-2017, 11:27 PM   #11
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I'm not sure about the 5.0TA, but I'm pretty sure that on the new 21, the solar charge readout is above the refrigerator. Although "Handy Bob" "installs (them) in dumpsters" I'd be surprised of Reace would install something of as low quality as what you are describing or that GoPower would put their brand name on something that bad.

While it may not be what you are looking for, a lot of folks here have the ETI supplied solar package and are very happy with it.
I guess I should never have mentioned "handy Bob" and his dumpster installs. He just happens to not like stuff made in China and controllers that can't completely charge the batteries they are connected to. I'm still looking for info on where Carmanah solar stuff is made. I suspect it was not made in Canada or their web site would say so. I re-read my post and still can't find where I said go-power equipment is "bad" or that Reace installed low quality solar equipment. I did say that the Carmanah controller is not adjustable for voltage and bulk charges at 14.4 volts. Since that is what the specs list, it will not charge the battery completely or to the specifications listed by the battery manufacturer. This lower than optimal charging voltage may be intentional. The higher charge rate will cause the battery to loose electrolyte faster. The 14.4 volts may be "good enough" for folks that pay little or no attention to battery maintenance.
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:13 AM   #12
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There is a lot of great technology made in China, likely including solar controllers. Of course, they just make what the demand is for. Of course, this usually means North American suppliers looking for stuff cheap, which they are happy to supply.
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Old 01-17-2017, 08:23 AM   #13
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As Jim says "Made in China" no longer automatically means something is junk. Most likely, nearly everyone here is reading the forum on a computer, cell phone or tablet made partly or entirely there. I've had excellent products made all over the globe and terrible quality ones made in the US. While I would surely love (for many reasons) to see Made in the US or Made in Canada on more products, it's not even always possible to find them, ie a TV.

A case can be made that charging at the high voltages (that Interstate specifies) when outside temperature are high can in itself shorten the life of batteries due to excessive heat build up in the batteries. I see Bogart offers optional temperature compensation. In my opinion that would be an essential addition.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:07 AM   #14
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One other curve ball about computer parts: Often "made in China" means made in Taiwan. I wish things were still labeled as such.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:22 AM   #15
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The Go Power is fine for most folks. If you like to tinker, or want the absolute most out of your solar, then get something else and do it yourself or pay someone to do it after you get the trailer.

I got the "solar ready", as Jim B said, it's a set of cables run from the roof to the batteries, about 6', don't recall the gauge. If you don't want to drill the shell, then get it, like I did. There were MC4 connectors on the roof and bare ends at the batteries long enough to go where I needed. It was $50 in 2014.

I mounted the monitor/control for the solar on the side of the cabinet next to the door, the controller is next to the batteries. FWIW I went with the Bogart set.
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Old 01-17-2017, 02:46 PM   #16
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The solar company here in town I am dealing with recommended one of their units made in China. This is the link to the manufacturer site with the controller. I would be keen to hear thoughts from those more in the know than I am.
Tracer1215BN/ Tracer2215BN/ Tracer3215BN/ Tracer4215BN-Products-solar charge controller—Beijing Epsolar Technology Co., Ltd

And this is the link to the remote monitor meter that monitors and sets things.
MT50-Products-solar charge controller—Beijing Epsolar Technology Co., Ltd

Just one of many videos on it.
MT50-Products-solar charge controller—Beijing Epsolar Technology Co., Ltd
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Old 01-17-2017, 03:29 PM   #17
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Please take the following for what it is, just my opinion, not a criticism of anyone else's decisions. Knowing myself, were I to turn my inner geek loose on it, I could get so involved in solar charging numbers that I'd spend a lot of time and money on what would most likely be FOR US very small percentage gains in actual performance.

Were I were building an off grid home and going all solar, I know I would spend a lot of time and money on the ideal solar system, but again FOR US, a camping trailer is another matter. Given our usual travel, our trailer still spends more days in storage than camping days. We're lucky enough to have enclosed storage with AC access. My thinking/method is that whatever sulfation our batteries may build up while being charged at lower than optimum voltages, are hopefully safely broken down by the high frequency pulses (rather than high voltage) of the BatteryMinder charger I keep on while in storage.

We spent 6 years with our 17B's dual 6v charged either by the tow or the WIFCO when out camping. The last few years it was plugged into the BatteryMinder whenever in storage. After the 6 years, the Interstates were still performing like new.

Granted, Mary and I do not consume a great deal of power when we are out camping, and some folks who do are going to want to squeeze every available electron out of those systems. Just because some of us choose simpler routes doesn't mean that we all "pay little or no attention to battery maintenance"
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Old 01-17-2017, 04:02 PM   #18
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OK, here is my take on the Tracer Series of MPPT controllers. From the spec sheet and user manual it appears all four models have the same features, just the voltage changes. They mention a prior model, I did not look at that.

On paper there are lots of things I like about this controller, the optional remote screen eliminates the need for something like a Trimetric. Most controllers get buried near the batteries and a remote screen allows you to run inexpensive phone wire and mount the screen at eye level in an accessable spot. Nice feature.

There is also an option for a temperature probe to monitor battery temperatures and adjust charging voltages and times accordingly. Another nice feature.

Finally the spec sheet claims that there are user adjustable voltage rates for absorbtion, equalize and trickle charge rates. This is nice.

The draw back is they do not tell how to change these rates. Apparently the unit can be programmed in any of four different methods:remote meter, programming device, connecting your PC or running an app on your phone. This is the weak link, all these methods use convoluted cable connections, look to require some button combinations to program, or use of an app that requires a phone with a USB connection. I tried to look at the screen shot of the app and could not discern its name or tell much about how it works. This unit may work out of the box but to make it work the way it is intended or advertised will require some programing and probably not with a nice easy to follow gui interface, ( The graphical user interface (GUI /ɡuːiː/), is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and visual indicators such as secondary notation, instead of text-based user interfaces, typed command labels or text navigation.)

As I look at the technology on this unit it is similar to what I have seen come out of China at other times. It has all the glitz and features to make it look good but no one but the engineer at the factory in Beijing has ever gotten one to work. Perhaps I over exaggerate.

There are so many good controllers out there from established companies such as Morningstar, Bogart, Blue Sky and at least ten more that to take a chance on something like this has a sizeable downside risk.
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Old 01-17-2017, 04:05 PM   #19
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We spent 6 years with our 17B's dual 6v charged either by the tow or the WIFCO when out camping. The last few years it was plugged into the BatteryMinder whenever in storage. After the 6 years, the Interstates were still performing like new.
Eric interested in what battery tender you use for your 6 volt batteries and is it waterproof ? Our trailer has to be outside . I use a waterproof battery tender on the truck when it is not in use . Also one on a VW that is in garage . Pat
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Old 01-17-2017, 04:21 PM   #20
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Pat it is a BatteryMinder. I had a BatteryTender but it had no desulation mode so I replaced it. The model I have -12248- is not waterproof but it has since been replaced by one that is, the 128CEC1. I was convinced by their website's explanations of the methodology and the "1 year 100% Money Back Guarantee and 5-Year “No-Hassle” 100% Warranty." They are far from cheap but seem to build a high quality product.
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