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Old 05-14-2021, 11:03 PM   #1
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Adding an Inverter

One of the things I regret not getting was an inverter to match my solar install. My 21 C has the standard dinette so a little fishing will be in order. I think Iíve studied the wfco enough to figure out some of the variations. A few years back someone posted the process for me but I lost the thread. I think it invoked a separate transfer switch and a sub panel.
There are a couple of options with built in transfer switches now from progressive dynamics as well as go power. Right now I see the solar charge controller inserted between the cables from the roof to the battery and then the twelve volt battery connected to the wfco. I know the wfco converter charges the batteries also (dual 6 volt).

So I also understand that an inverter will be mounted close the battery on the passenger side close the the battery box , what I am unclear about is the feed from the inverter back to the sub panel, as I assume I need the sub panel to isolate the AC breaker for the air conditioning from the inverter. Does to inverter feed back to a breaker in the wfco first then the sub panel.? Iím really unclear about this configuration. I know from discussions to feed the inverter with 2/0 cables. From there Iím a bit hazy, I also want to get the microwave on its own breaker. Am I better off with a separate transfer switch close to the wfco ?

I know thereís some smart engineering folks on this forum , my expertise is in computer networks and wireless , but this one has stumped me a little. Iíve seen the wiring diagrams but still need it spelled out if someone will be so kind.
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Old 05-15-2021, 04:34 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwave View Post
Does to inverter feed back to a breaker in the wfco first then the sub panel.? I’m really unclear about this configuration. I know from discussions to feed the inverter with 2/0 cables. From there I’m a bit hazy, I also want to get the microwave on its own breaker. Am I better off with a separate transfer switch close to the wfco ?
Something to consider, if you are considering replacing the WFCO and adding an inverter, is a combined charger/inverter like the Xantrex Freedom XC. It does automatic transfer from AC mains to inverter output AC. It is both a charger (replaces the WFCO) and an inverter. That will simplify the wiring diagram.

One thing that worries me though, about all of these high frequency converters is, that, if you push beyond their limits, when they fail, they can blow out the things they are connected to. Sorry to be pessimistic, but just be aware that an inverter can burn out appliances. So for me personally, I'd be extra cautious about the AC inverter and charger, how it's wired, and about fuses well below it's limits.

Also don't take my word for it. Get someone knowledgeable to help you hands on with AC/DC stuff.
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Old 05-15-2021, 06:10 AM   #3
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John: You will find the thread below helpful. Especially the wiring diagrams posted early on to help you visualize what needs to be done. On the AC side of the inverter you wire into a transfer switch. The transfer switch also recieves a separate power feed from a dedicated 30A breaker in the WFCO main panel. When you are on shore power the transfer switch knows this and it passes the power through to the sub panel. When there is no shore power it “transfers” to the other source of power (in your case the inverter feed) which then powers the sub panel. The sub panel gives you flexibility to delineate what you want fed from the inverter. There are large AC loads like air conditioners and electric hot water heater elements that most people don’t want to run on the inverter so those circuits stay as-is in the stock WFCO panel. You also don’t want the inverter feeding the WFCO converter/charger because that is then a loop of using the battery to feed inverter to then feed the charger that feeds the battery. Don’t want that happening! Any questions just ask. I’m in the middle of adding a combo inverter/charger/transfer switch like richm mentioned above so I’ve studied all the different options.

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...ons-19833.html
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:30 AM   #4
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Great , I’ve been studying a little more and I think I understand the sequence now. 30 amp feed from the wfco to a transfer switch ( or the ac input of an inverter with a built in transfer switch) out put of the ac side of the inverter to subpanel (or standalone transfer switch then subpanel), then move the desired ac circuits leaving the wfco the breakers on the subpanel. Any thoughts on the built in versus a standalone transfer switch ? The one advantage I see would be I’d only have to fish one new ac line from the inverter to where the mount is . Has anybody had issues with length of the wiring of the ac circuits when moving to a sub panel?
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Old 05-15-2021, 02:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by oldwave View Post
Great , Iíve been studying a little more and I think I understand the sequence now. 30 amp feed from the wfco to a transfer switch ( or the ac input of an inverter with a built in transfer switch) out put of the ac side of the inverter to subpanel (or standalone transfer switch then subpanel), then move the desired ac circuits leaving the wfco the breakers on the subpanel. Any thoughts on the built in versus a standalone transfer switch ? The one advantage I see would be Iíd only have to fish one new ac line from the inverter to where the mount is . Has anybody had issues with length of the wiring of the ac circuits when moving to a sub panel?
I would not bundle the Inverter AC line to the switch with the existing DC lines going that way. I separate my AC and DC lines.
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Old 05-15-2021, 11:49 PM   #6
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Anybody have any experience with the Progressive Dynamics PD 1618 ?
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Old 05-16-2021, 07:39 AM   #7
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Anybody have any experience with the Progressive Dynamics PD 1618 ?
https://www.progressivedyn.com/1618-...ave-inverters/

No specific experience with that unit but I do have experience with their converter/chargers. They have been flawless for me and they also have great customer service.

The only thing that caught my eye which seems common for inverters with a built-in transfer switch is that it is only rated for 20A. This may be ok depending on what you plan to power. This would require a 20A branch breaker feeding the unit from the WFCO main panel in lieu of the 30A discussed earlier.
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Old 05-16-2021, 07:47 AM   #8
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Has anybody had issues with length of the wiring of the ac circuits when moving to a sub panel?
If you read the thread I linked earlier NewYorkHillBilly had some challenges on one circuit reaching but was able to work through it.
https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...tml#post370191
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Old 05-16-2021, 10:36 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
https://www.progressivedyn.com/1618-...ave-inverters/

No specific experience with that unit but I do have experience with their converter/chargers. They have been flawless for me and they also have great customer service.

The only thing that caught my eye which seems common for inverters with a built-in transfer switch is that it is only rated for 20A. This may be ok depending on what you plan to power. This would require a 20A branch breaker feeding the unit from the WFCO main panel in lieu of the 30A discussed earlier.
My trailer had stock ac outlets, so under the bench, the sink/gfi, the bedroom outlets and the microwave. Not sure if the twenty amp would cover that. No heaters or other high consumption volume electric. Microwave is the question.
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Old 05-16-2021, 12:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
https://www.progressivedyn.com/1618-...ave-inverters/

No specific experience with that unit but I do have experience with their converter/chargers. They have been flawless for me and they also have great customer service.

The only thing that caught my eye which seems common for inverters with a built-in transfer switch is that it is only rated for 20A. This may be ok depending on what you plan to power. This would require a 20A branch breaker feeding the unit from the WFCO main panel in lieu of the 30A discussed earlier.
I guess thatís really what the wfco is rated for anyway for branch circuits?
Though escape seems to ignore that.
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Old 05-16-2021, 01:32 PM   #11
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I guess thatís really what the wfco is rated for anyway for branch circuits? Though escape seems to ignore that.
True. NewYorkHilly spoke to WFCO about it and they really didnít have a good answer. Iíll be ignoring it too because with my current design I need to feed my Xantrex Freedom XC 2000 with a 30A breaker.
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Old 05-16-2021, 11:22 PM   #12
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Rather than start another thread, could I add a second flexible panel to the roof and use the mc4 connectors of the existing panel? Or would the wire gauge need upped ?
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Old 05-17-2021, 11:03 PM   #13
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Rather than start another thread, could I add a second flexible panel to the roof and use the mc4 connectors of the existing panel? Or would the wire gauge need upped ?
If you have a MPPT controller, it's possible to put the panels in series, which will double the voltage instead of the current, which will allow you to use the same gauge wire. Just make sure that 2*Voc (open circuit voltage) of the solar panel is less than the maximum voltage of the solar input of the MPPT controller.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:37 AM   #14
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I have a pair of 160 watt panels on the roof of my 2017 21, and have had no problems with the Escape supplied #10 wiring. I might be losing a bit of amperage having the panels in parallel, however I'd lose a lot more if one of the panels was partially shaded & they were in series. The total output of the two panels is low enough that the short runs on an Escape of #10 wire will be fine.
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Old 05-18-2021, 09:40 AM   #15
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I have a pair of 160 watt panels on the roof of my 2017 21, and have had no problems with the Escape supplied #10 wiring. I might be losing a bit of amperage having the panels in parallel, however I'd lose a lot more if one of the panels was partially shaded & they were in series. The total output of the two panels is low enough that the short runs on an Escape of #10 wire will be fine.


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If you have a MPPT controller, it's possible to put the panels in series, which will double the voltage instead of the current, which will allow you to use the same gauge wire. Just make sure that 2*Voc (open circuit voltage) of the solar panel is less than the maximum voltage of the solar input of the MPPT controller.
The 10 gauge wire that ETI installs is fine for up to 30 amps (theoretically 60 amps in a perfect situation that never happens in real life), and you're also limited to the 30 amp rating of an MC4 connector. Two 190 watt panels might hit 20 amps on a perfect day.

Our problem is the rear panel on our 5.0 is too often in the shade or the slant of the 5.0 reduces the harvest if the panel is located on the north end of the site. The 5.0 has an angle that the pull-type's don't have. In January, two years ago, at Death Valley, despite zero clouds, our 170 watt panel on the north side had virtually no power since it was shaded by the AC. We had to go into extreme conservation mode, so after 7 days our batteries were around 11.8v at rest and under 11.6 with the furnace running.

In addition, when our 5.0 is parked with the panel on the north side that negative angle at the rear provides less solar harvest, so a longer time is needed to fill the batteries. Add in a cloudy day and your batteries don't fill.

Using a MC4 solar combiner, I'll be adding two or three 100 watt panels to the 5.0, so on a perfect day the total from three 100 watt and one 170 watt panel may hit 25 amps, or 5 amps under an MC4 rating. I want them in parallel to reduce shading problems. Plus, the panel next to the bed escape hatch will be able to tilt.

We now have a Victron BVM-712 to monitor our batteries and a 100 watt portable with 45' of wire for extreme situations, but I find a portable a PITA. On Memorial weekend we will be adding 2-3 panels when our boys will be here to help install the panels.

Perhaps the moderators should move these last four posts into a new thread.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 05-18-2021, 09:48 AM   #16
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Thanks , I was looking at adding a 100 watt flexible as it’s easier to mount. Not sure if the dissimilar panels would be a problem ?
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Old 05-18-2021, 10:15 AM   #17
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I'll be adding two or three 100 watt panels to the 5.0, so on a perfect day the total from three 100 watt and one 170 watt panel may hit 25 amps, or 5 amps under an MC4 rating. I want them in parallel to reduce shading problems. Plus, the panel next to the bed escape hatch will be able to tilt.

Perry
Perry, which tilt system are you planning to use or are you doing a DYI tilt?
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Old 05-18-2021, 11:30 AM   #18
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Perry, which tilt system are you planning to use or are you doing a DYI tilt?
I wanted the knobs to tilt the front 100 watt panel if needed, so I purchased the Renogy tilt mount brackets, but Rich Solar appears to sell the identical brackets. These brackets are not high enough for a 190 watt panel. We did not want to use a wide panel in the front, plus it would be hard to tilt since the panel is so wide. Renogy makes two 100 watt panels the "Compact Design" is 18.6v (VMP), but the "Eclipse" is only 17.7v, so the "Compact Design" is better matched with our 19.3v GoPower 190 watt panel. The "Compact Design" is also $90 cheaper per panel than the "Eclipse" for a savings of $270 for the three we want.

AM Solar claims they have never had a panel blow off with 3M VHB 4950 tape.
According to their video the feet are 2 1/2" long by 1" wide, if I heard the video correctly.

Yesterday I purchased three feet of 2" angle aluminum 1/8" thick and six feet of 2" angle aluminum 1/16" thick, for $24. The 1/8" angle will be used to make roof mounts. I' use the existing Renogy angle to attach two panels, the 1/16" angle for the final, rear-most panel, and the remaining 1/16" angle will mount to the third panel to the roof. With the tilt mount from Renogy and the stock I purchased I'll easily have enough to mount three panels.

I'll be using the 2" x 1/8" angle stock but 4" long (vs AM's 2 1/2") and 2" wide (vs AM's 1") on my front panel that is located behind the escape hatch. The two panels behind the first panel with have two 1/2" feet in front and two 1/16" feet in back. So I'll be using 8 square inches of VHB tape vs 2 1/2" that AM solar uses. It should hold!

I'm dyslexic and when writing sometimes screw things up. If you want to talk just PM me your phone number.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 05-26-2021, 10:53 AM   #19
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Make sure to get an inverter large enough to handle your needs. 1000 or 1500 Watts are too small given many small appliances or hair dryers. I believe anything below 3000 is a waste of time and money.
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Old 05-26-2021, 02:01 PM   #20
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I replaced my damaged (missing actually, assumed damaged) original aluminum/glass panel with a 150W flexible about 5 years ago. In part, I chose a flex panel because of the ease of installation (I used Eternabond tape on the outside edge to the Escape 5.0 fibreglass roof) and weight reduction. They were also available in a size that fit perfectly in the allotted space. But...

Over the 4 seasons it's been up there, the tape install has been fine, but the panel is starting to fog (like old plastic headlights do). I expect this is having an impact on the performance. Flex panels are already at a disadvantage due to lack of air space and resultant heating; I knew this going in. Now however, it is becoming apparent that these panels will not last anywhere near as long as "proper" glass panels. See before (shinny) and after pics below.



Next time (probably not too far in the future), I think I will go with traditional panels expecting better performance and longer life.
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