What to check about solar installation when buying a new motorhome?

Aug 3, 2019
49
18
Nottingham
Funster No
62,953
MH
N+B Arto 79R A Class
Exp
10 years with hires, Newbie owner
Hi,

I’ve agreed a price on a 2012 N+B Arto 79R for my first motorhome and am about to commission an inspection to satisfy myself that it’s all ok.

It has a solar panel fitted as well as two leisure batteries.

I read a thread somewhere that there are lots of things that can be done wrong on the electrics of such an installation, from the way to wire batteries on parallel, to regulator choice to wiring thickness. I can’t, however, now find the thread which detailed all of this.

I want to give the inspection engineer a list of things to check on the solar and battery install (the inspection list only gives high level descriptions). What should I ask them to make sure they check?

Thanks

Chris
 

funflair

LIFE MEMBER
Dec 11, 2013
11,736
11,180
Guisborough
Funster No
29,351
MH
N&B Flair 8000 IVECO
Exp
since 2012
Well I suppose at a very basic level you want to know that the panel is still securely fastened to the roof and that it all works OK, you might want to know if it's a rigid panel or flexible then getting deeper into it there are subtle differences like a decent MPPT regulator can be £100 or more and an E-bay special could be yours for £10, then of course the wiring may be done correctly with appropriate fuses and going through any current monitoring if the van panel supports such a display, or it may be a "rats nest". I really don't know what level of detail to expect from an inspection and it may depend to some degree what you are paying.

Martin
 
OP
chenderson1965
Aug 3, 2019
49
18
Nottingham
Funster No
62,953
MH
N+B Arto 79R A Class
Exp
10 years with hires, Newbie owner
The regulator is top left. It’s not a great photo as it was really hard to get to. Any idea whether it’s a decent one or not?
 

Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
19,048
18,904
On the coast in West Sussex
Funster No
658
MH
Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
To me it looks like a cheapish PWM regulator but I wouldn't worry about. If you only want it to top up your batteries it will be OK. If you are going to be off grid a lot easy enough to change for a decent one.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: DBK

DBK

Jan 9, 2013
13,506
21,577
Plympton, Devon
Funster No
24,219
MH
PVC, Murvi Morocco
Exp
2013
Everything in the solar setup can be changed relatively inexpensively compared to the price of the MH so I wouldn't worry too much about it. I can't identify the controller but a replacement will be about £100 if for some reason you want to change it. I suspect, given the age of the vehicle, it was probably professionally fitted so it should work satisfactorily.

Just concentrate on the expensive things like mechanical condition of the vehicle, tyre damage, damp and any signs of major damage covered up. Plus of course, does everything work? Fans, windows open, heater etc. As was mentioned earlier, if it's a private sale you need to be more careful as your rights are less.
 

funflair

LIFE MEMBER
Dec 11, 2013
11,736
11,180
Guisborough
Funster No
29,351
MH
N&B Flair 8000 IVECO
Exp
since 2012
Solar technology international STS01204 and not very expensive I imagine, https://ciiva.com/part/sts01204-2556035

Have to agree with the comments above that suggest that in the grand scheme these add on bits are fairly trivial, when we bought or Flair it had one panel and a cheap controller, we wanted more capacity so just stuck three more panels on and added a better controller to the original, the van also had an inverter but it was only when we started to use it that we realised that it was totally useless as for starters it was not pure sine wave and secondly it was on that much cable that nothing would run because of the voltage drop, would an inspection have shown this up? most likely not and if it had stopped us from buying the van we would have been the losers.

Martin
 
Oct 8, 2014
369
333
Wiltshire
Funster No
33,737
MH
Autotrail Excel 600B
Exp
Previous VW Camper + Caravan
The regulator is top left. It’s not a great photo as it was really hard to get to. Any idea whether it’s a decent one or not?
It looks very like the first solar regulator I fitted to my boat - cost me about £5 from eBay. I wasn't impressed, and replaced it with one for £20, which is much better. I have a CTEK MPPT regulator in my M/H.
 
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