Upon buying our Winnebago View Class C motorhome, the first thing we needed to upgrade was our solar panels, RV batteries and energy management system. Our Winnebago View solar upgrades and improvements to our Class C motorhome’s off grid electrical system and battery storage now allows us to boondock and stay off the grid longer.
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Winnebago View Solar Upgrades
Class C Motorhome & Class B Van Energy Management System Modifications
Before we proceed with showcasing our solar and lithium batteries upgrades and our motorhome energy management system modifications, we feel the need to throw out a personal disclaimer.
This is not a how-to tutorial. Nor is it an installation guide. It’s more of a ‘look how we improved our energy management system’ in our small Class C motorhome.
Everyone has different installation techniques from wiring, configurations and products unique to their solar setup.
As well, each RV manufacture model and each of their electrical components may differ.
Therefore, to avoid giving misinformation, questions that we can’t answer, critics (and critiques) and even liability, we are merely showing you what we used to update our 2019 Winnebago View solar so we can boondock longer.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to get a glimpse of our Winnebago View 24D solar upgrades.
We’ll include which batteries we chose to replace the OEM lead acid batteries and which type of solar panels we opted for and why. We’ll also briefly talk about our new solar charge controller and energy management system.
So, let’s charge right in to see how we can camp off grid for extended times without worrying about our energy output.
Winnebago View Battery Upgrade Replacements
Our 2019 Winnebago View 24D motorhome came equipped with two factory-installed NAPA 12-volt lead-acid marine/RV batteries.
They were fine for sustaining enough energy to run a few lights and our 12 volt refrigerator for an overnight but that was it.
The lead acid batteries were woefully inadequate for boondocking and camping off-the-grid for extended periods of time.
And, since most times we don’t plug into electric pedestals at campgrounds or RV parks, it was of utmost importance to we beef up our Class C motorhome’s energy storage system.
So, upon trading in our Landmark fifth wheel, Dan removed four of the six Battle Born lithium batteries to install in our small Class C motorhome.
Unfortunately, since our fifth wheel was deemed the ultimate boondocking RV, we had to leave two of the lithium batteries in the fifth wheel to complete the trade.
Upon taking delivery of our Winnebago View motorhome, Dan immediately removed both of the 70+ pound (each) 12-volt lead-acid batteries from our motorhome’s step well.
Now, for the time being, he only immediately replaced them with two lithium batteries just to get us down the road.
He stored the other two in a basement compartment until Dan could devote more time to research the system we wanted and more feasible location for installation.
Since there was nothing wrong with the 12-volt lead acid batteries, we sold them to Dan’s brother for super cheap.
This transition came a bit easier this time around because Dan was quite in tune with our fifth wheel energy management system.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Why We Installed Battle Born Batteries in our Fifth Wheel
Upgrading to Battle Born Lithium Batteries
We’re no strangers to lithium as we had them in our former Landmark fifth wheel. As mentioned earlier, we had six Battle Born lithium GC2 batteries installed in our former fifth wheel.
These blue and gray energy storage power houses are one of the most integral parts of our solar upgrades. It was a no-brainer to install the same lithium batteries in our new motorhome.
Not only is Battle Born a hugely reputable brand, their exemplary customer service we receive from the company Battle Born knocks their competitors out of the park.
Face it, there’s a lot to be said about buying something that’s manufactured in and dealing with the company IN the United States.
Battle Born Batteries, a subsidiary of Dragonfly Energy, designs, manufactures and assembles their lithium ion batteries right in Reno, Nevada; also known as the Battle Born State.
Battle Born’s LiFePO4 lithium iron phosphate deep-cycle batteries are the ideal solution to use in an RV, boat or off-grid power system.
For inquiring minds, LiFePO4 stands for Lithium (Li) Iron (Fe) Phosphate (PO4).
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.
But even better, lithium batteries will store energy and perform 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
A couple months later we decided to go boondocking off grid at Toadstool Geological Park in the Ogala National Grasslands in Nebraska. It was the ideal time for Dan to reconfigure our motorhome’s electrical management system. He had the tools, know-how and internet for research if needed.
A few days later, our coach’s electrical system was completely revamped, vastly improved and operating wonderfully! Yes, we could say the sun was definitely shining down on us!
While Battle Born lithium ion batteries (or any lithium batteries for that matter) are completely safe, they do require the charger or alternator to have the correct charging profile to keep them in tip top condition.
Another part of our Class C energy management upgrade, we paired the solar charger (we’ll talk about that later) with a Victron 712 battery monitor.
Victron Energy is the industry leader in solar and energy management. Their bluetooth devices are revolutionary products.
Their battery monitor records the charge status of our RV batteries. Both devices are bluetooth capable, highly programmable and super easy to use.
Dan mounted our Victron next to our batteries in our motorhome basement storage so everything is kept neat and tidy.
So now, when in range of our RV, Dan can monitor our battery voltage, battery state of charge, and current consumed amp hours all on Dan’s smartphone.
Now, the burning question I’m sure you’re going to ask, “How do we recharge our batteries?”
Actually, how we recharge our Battle Born Batteries is quite simple.
We use that huge bright yellow orb in the sky to supply the majority of the energy through our solar panels to charge our RV batteries.
Winnebago View Solar Panels Upgrade
OEM Solar Panels
Our 2019 Winnebago View 24D came equipped with two (2) 100 watt SunPower flexible solar panels from the Winnebago factory.
While they may work for an overnight in a parking lot (with no medical devices), these factory-installed solar panels were grossly inadequate for what we needed to boondock.
They lacked necessary absorption needed for long-term off grid camping, let alone keeping our refrigerator operating optimally during an overnight.
In addition to replacing our lead acid batteries, we also needed to replace the original flexible solar panels. They simply weren’t cutting it for our energy needs.
Dare I say they provided barely enough energy to maintain our battery charge levels but would not really recharge them.
So, after a bit of research, measuring and calculations, we found better suited solar panels for our coach’s energy management needs.
Our New Solar Panels for Our Winnebago View
The biggest issue we had to consider was our motorhome’s roof space. A 25′ roof is limiting as it is. But when adding in rooftop vents and the air conditioner, it also limited our solar panel options.
As the final contender, we went with six (6) Renogy 100 watt rigid frame monocrystalline compact solar panels because of their unique measurements and low weight.
These particular high-power solar panels are ideal for any off-grid application on smaller RVs with limited roof real estate as they require a smaller footprint
They are shorter than the standard-size 100-watt solar panel yet contain the same power output.
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 may even consider making our own solar panel suitcase using similar solar panels because of their size.
Solar Panel Installation
This very high bonding tape is so strong and reliable which makes it that we didn’t have to drill into our roof.
Dan then, sealed around each solar panel offset mount using sealant made for fiberglass roofs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This type of adhesive method is ONLY FOR FIBERGLASS OR ALUMINUM ROOFS! Do NOT use this adhesive method on rubber membrane roofs.
Once he finished, he also sealed everything up with Heng’s sealant to ensure watertight integrity on our roof just in case.
Heng’s is 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.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰
Solar Charge Controller
The brain child of our Winnebago View solar upgrades 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 RV’s lithium batteries.
Using the latest 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 solar upgrade allows us to recharge our RV batteries quicker and more efficiently than ever before.
Wrapping up our Winnebago View solar upgrades
So, as you see, if you have a small Class C motorhome or even Class B van, there is an effective way to boondock off grid for extended periods of time.
In fact, now almost 4 years later, our Winnebago View solar upgrades allow us to continue enjoying our off grid capabilities using our much-improved RV’s energy management system.
We’ve stayed out in the desert for months at a time without plugging into any electric source.
Now for advice and encouragement, if you’re wanting to upgrade your own RV solar panels, electrical and energy management system, do diligent research on your current system.
You’ll need to conduct an electric audit to determine how much energy you need to survive for an overnight, a week or months like us.
If you’re not comfortable dealing with this type of installation, we highly recommend hiring a reputable RV solar consultant and installer.
For more information on Battle Born Batteries’ solar and battery bundles, check out the Battle Born Batteries. They also provide battery cables, converter chargers, inverters, solar chargers and associated equipment for an upgrade.
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