Since upgrading our RV batteries, solar panels and solar charge controller, our Winnebago View motorhome can now sustain longer-term off-grid boondocking capabilities. We no longer need to be plugged into electric pedestals to produce electricity. Here’s exactly what we did to improve our small Class C motorhome’s solar upgrades.
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Before we proceed with showcasing our solar upgrades and energy management system modifications, we are throwing out this disclaimer.
This is not a how-to tutorial nor is it an installation guide. Honestly, everyone has different installation techniques and products. As well, each RV model and their electrical components can differ.
Therefore, to avoid miscommunication, questions that we can’t answer, critics (and critiques) and even liability, we are merely showing you what we added to our Winnebago View Class C motorhome.
We highly recommend anyone wanting to upgrade their own RV energy management and solar system to their small motorhome or any RV or camper, to extensively research and/or hire a professional installer.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to our energy management and solar upgrades we made to our Winnebago View Class C motorhome.
Solar & Energy Upgrades for Our Winnebago View Motorhome
RV BATTERY UPGRADE
Lead Acid RV Battery Removal
Our 2019 Winnebago View 24D motorhome came equipped with two factory-installed NAPA 12-volt lead-acid marine/RV batteries. While they may be fine for sustaining energy for an overnight, they were woefully inadequate for boondocking and living off-the-grid for extended periods of time.
Since we oftentimes don’t plug into campgrounds or RV parks, it’s important that we beef up our Class C motorhome’s energy storage system.
So, upon taking delivery of our Winnebago View motorhome, we immediately removed the two heavy 12-volt lead-acid batteries located in the step well. We replaced them with two of our four Battle Born Lithium LIFEPO4 Batteries just to get us down the road.
Until Dan could devote more time to our full-installation, we kept the other two lithium batteries in a storage compartment in our motorhome.
Since there was nothing wrong with the 12-volt lead acid batteries, we sold them to Dan’s brother for super cheap.
Actually, this transition came a bit easier this time around because Dan was quite in tune with our fifth wheel’s energy management system. Prior to trading in our fifth wheel, he uninstalled four of our six Battle Born lithium batteries and brought them with us to install in our small motorhome. Sadly, we had to leave two of our lithium batteries with the fifth wheel to complete the trade in.
Lithium RV Battery Upgrade
We’re no strangers to lithium batteries as we had six Battle Born lithium batteries installed in our former fifth wheel. These power houses are one of the most integral parts of our solar upgrades.
Battle Born 100ah (amp hour) 12 volt lithium ion batteries are designed and assembled in Reno, NV. These LiFePO4 lithium iron phosphate deep-cycle batteries are great to use in an RV, boat or off-grid power system. These lithium batteries can be used in 12, 24, 36 and 48 volt systems. Weighing in at only 29 pounds each, they pack the power of a 140 pound lead acid battery and will last 10 times longer.
- 12-volt Drop in Lead Acid Replacement
- 100 amp continuous output
- 200 amp surge output – 30 seconds 1/2 second surge output for higher loads
- 3000-5000 cycles – Acceptable Charging voltages 14.4 to 14.6 volts
- 10-year warranty
Anyway, we finally got to a warm and quiet location where Dan could devote time to reconfigure our motorhome’s system. After a few days, our coach’s electrical system was operating wonderfully on our amazing Battle Born super powers!
Battle Born lithium ion batteries are completely safe. That said, they require our charger or alternator to have the correct charging profile to keep them in tip top condition.
For more information on their packages, please check out the Battle Born Batteries website. If you have any questions, you can call them for a consultation. They also provide battery cables, converter chargers, inverters, solar chargers and associated equipment for an upgrade.
We do politely ask that you always mention our names, Dan and Lisa of ALWAYS ON LIBERTY, as we are affiliates and receive a small commission. This little bit helps pay for food and catnip for our two little fuzzy heathen Maine Coons.
BATTERY MONITOR SYSTEM
We paired the solar charger (we’ll talk about that later) with a Victron 712 battery monitor system. The battery monitor records the charge status of our RV batteries. Dan mounted ours next to our batteries that are installed in our motorhome basement storage.
Both devices are bluetooth capable, highly programmable and super easy to use. Victron is the industry leader in solar and energy management. Their bluetooth devices are revolutionary products. When in range of our RV, we can monitor our battery voltage, battery state of charge, and current, consumed amp hours on Dan’s smartphone.
“How do we recharge our batteries?”, you ask?
It’s quite simple. We use God’s gift of sunlight to supply the majority of the energy through our solar panels to charge our RV batteries.
SOLAR PANEL UPGRADE
Old Solar Panels
Our 2019 Winnebago View was came with two 100 watt SunPower flexible solar panels from the Winnebago factory.
In our opinion, the factory-installed solar panels and energy management system was grossly inadequate. They are seriously lacking in absorption needed for long-term off-the-grid boondocking adventures let alone keeping our refrigerator operating optimally during an overnight.
We had to replace the original flexible solar panels simply because they just weren’t cutting it for our energy needs. Seriously, they provided barely enough energy to maintain our battery charge levels but would not really recharge them. So, we looked into replacing them with better solar panels.
New Solar Panel Upgrades
Dan did extensive research on upgrading our solar panels. The biggest issue to consider is our motorhome’s roof space is quiet limited. So we decided to go with six 100 watt rigid frame monocrystalline compact solar panels because of their unique measurements.
These particular high-power solar panels are perfect for any off-grid application. They are shorter than the standard-size 100-watt solar panel but contain the same power output. This panel is better for applications that require a smaller footprint. That makes it a favorite for small RVs that have less real estate on the roof.
Each solar panel is equipped with a junction box and MC4 leads, connecting to a controller or expanding to more panels.
In fact, at a later time, we are considering making our own solar panel suitcase using similar solar panels because of their size.
Our Solar Panel Installation
After carefully measuring the location of each panel, Dan secured aluminum solar panel offset mounts to our motorhome’s fiberglass roof with VHB (Very High Bond) tape. The awesome thing is they don’t require drilling into our roof.
Dan followed up with sealant made for fiberglass roofs sealing around each solar panel offset mount.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This adhesive method above is ONLY FOR FIBERGLASS OR ALUMINUM ROOFS! Do NOT use this adhesive method on rubber membrane roofs.
After mounting, we took great care to seal everything up with special sealant to ensure there would not be any leaks into our motorhome. It’s a specially formulated neutral cure sealant designed to seal joints when installing roof vents, air conditioning units, skylights, satellite antennas and anything else that we may install on our RV roof.
Solar Charge Controller
The brain child of our RV solar system is a Victron 150/35 MPPT BlueSolar Charge Controller that replaced a ridiculously outdated and under-performing factory-installed solar charger.
Our new BlueSolar charge controller gathers energy from our solar panels and stores it in our batteries. Using the latest, fastest technology, BlueSolar maximizes the energy-harvest, driving it intelligently to achieve full charge in the shortest possible time. BlueSolar maintains our batteries’ health, extending its life.
The Victron BlueSolar solar charge controller is programmable, easy to install and more efficient for recharging our RV batteries. This upgrade allows us to recharge our RV batteries quicker and more efficiently than ever before.
So, there’s our solar upgrades and energy management modifications we made to our Winnebago View. We are super excited about where we can go and how long we can stay out there! All because of our solar upgrades!
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