Last updated: 12/24/2016

Sample Solar and Electrical Systems

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Copyright © 2002-2017 John Mayer. All rights reserved. For reuse policy see Reuse Policy

The sample systems shown here are simply that - samples. They may or may not meet your design goals, or pricing considerations. Like everything else in the RV world you will need to make tradeoffs. But these systems will meet many peoples needs. The components work well together and are my choices for best of breed for the type of system specified. There are other good components available that will also work well together. These are simply my choices and should be considered a starting point.

Note that while I try to keep this up to date, it may be old information. You need to do your own research - or you can contact me directly with questions and to confirm if my package reommendations have changed. The prices were at the time of writing, and are likely different as you read this - but they serve as an indication of pricing.

Refrigerator Only Package

This package supports a residential refrigerator, but does not supply other house circuits. It is intended to be paired with a residential refrigerator to support daily travel and a single night without shore power hookups or the requirement to run a genset. There is NO SOLAR in this package - thus, unless you choose to add a genset there is no ability to recharge the battery bank other than shore power. It must be stressed that this option ONLY supports the refrigerator - no other power outlets are on the inverter. There is no subpanel so house outlets cannot be easily added later. The pure sine wave inverter does have an automatic transfer switch to move from shore to battery power.

This configuration is intended for the person that never boondocks but wants to ensure that a long travel day, travel in hot weather, or a Park power outage does not affect the performance of the residential refrigerator.

While there are some slightly cheaper inverters than the Magnum specified, the advantage of the Magnum is that it is pure sine wave, has a transfer switch, and a decent size battery charger.

This package minimizes the costs associated with supporting a residential refrigerator. While some additional savings could be achieved, this package cuts the costs pretty well. Prices are at time of publication.


  • Kisea Abso SW1210 pure sine wave inverter (no charger). With remote switch and transfer switch. Total cost under $300 at

  •  Trimetric 2030RV battery monitor. 500 amp shunt. Solar Sellers 2030RV $142, shunt $26.

  • Battery bank: 400 amphours of battery is the typical configuration. It can be any battery bank: Trojan wet cell T105 x 4 (450 AH); Lifeline AGM GPL-4CT 6 volt x 4 (440 AH); Lifeline AGM GPL-L16T x 2 (400 AH); Fullriver AGM L16 x 2 (400 AH). I recommend that the standard package for this configuration be AGM. The typical target customer for this configuration is a “set it and forget it” type of person - having a no maintenance battery bank is beneficial for this customer category. While 200Ah of battery (half the sizes specified above) could be used and support the refrigerator during a travel day, this has the potential to stress the battery bank significantly if an overnight stop is included. The larger 400 Ah bank should be used - it will maximize battery bank life.

Installation Notes

  • ONLY pure sine wave inverters should be used with residential refrigerators. Even Samsung - that used to allow Modified Sine Wave inverters no longer recommends them.

  • Wire the inverter with the extrenal transfer switch so when on shore power the refrigerator does not run from the inverter. Leave the inverter "ON" and you will automatically keep the refrigerator running if/when power drops.

  • No subpanel - wire 20 amp dedicated circuit direct to inverter (input power source). Inverter output needs a breaker- either routed back through main loadcenter as “refrigerator” or an independent inline breaker. It is best to put a breaker in the loadcenter.

Medium System

This system consists of solar panels, a medium size MPPT solar controller, and a pure sine wave 2000 or 2800 watt inverter with subpanel. It will run most house loads and the solar is adequate to keep the batteries charged under moderate load scenarios. The controller is maxed out with the three panels that are specified, so there is no room for expansion.

This configuration is intended to support moderate boondocking power requirements. Living offgrid for a week or more using moderate power should be easily achievable. It should be pointed out to all customers that offgrid living - unless one is an avid boondocker - requires support of a generator of some sort. Either a portable generator like a Honda 2000 used just for battery charging purposes, or an in built genset.

While this system is sized to support boondocking, it is not sized to support a residential refrigerator AND long term boondocking without making some compromises. With good solar conditions and/or running a generator some on a daily basis a residential refrigerator could easily be used. But it will require some compromise on energy usage.


  • Magnum MS2812 pure sine wave inverter with 125 amp DC charge section. Wholesale Solar.  $1985 To slightly reduce costs the 2000 watt Magnum could be used. Wiring issues and remote panels are the same.

  • ME-ARC remote panel for the inverter. Wholesalesolar $240

  • Trimetric 2030RV battery monitor. 500 amp shunt. Solar Sellers 2030RV $142, shunt $26. Manual.

  • Solar controller: Morningstar Tristar MPPT60. Wholesalesolar. $505.

  • Tristar Remote Meter 2 for solar controller. Wholesalesolar $112

  • Battery bank: Trojan wet cell T105 x 6 (675 AH); Lifeline AGM GPL-4CT 6 volt x 6 (660 AH); Lifeline AGM GPL-L16T x 4 (800 AH); Fullriver AGM L16 x 4 (800 AH).

  • Solar Panels: 3 x 275 watt SolarWorld panels. Total wattage is 825. Array size is maxed out with the specified controller.

Installation Notes

  • For solar controller - mount temp sensor at battery bank. Run Ethernet cable from controller to router closet. Use minimum #4 cable from combiner box to controller and from controller to battery bank. Use inline breakers on both sides of controller.


Grande System

This system is designed for the high energy consumer that boondocks in a variety of conditions, and wishes to ensure they always have the best power choices possible. It maximizes battery storage, charging sources and solar gain. It can easily support a residential refrigerator and minimal compromises on energy usage. The configuration will support 1300 watts of solar panels.

Load Sharing

This package provides for load sharing when hooked up to lower amperage shore power. Load sharing provides the ability to supplement shore power with battery power to ensure more coach electronics are usable on a 30 amp or smaller shorepower connection. This is handled by the inverter - power from the incoming shore source is synchronized and supplemented with inverter power from the battery bank. This is done automatically as loads demand power - the user only has to enable the feature.

Converter Supplement

This package also provides the ability to run off the inverter while simultaneously charging the battery bank on a low-powered shore circuit. This is typically used with a 15-20 amp circuit in a friends driveway, with a small portable generator charge source (like a Honda 1000), or a low power/bad power Rally hookup.

The typical inverter/charger is a singular function device - it is either charging the battery bank, or inverting power from the bank, but not both at the same time. In this package a 60 amp converter is added to the coach so that an independent charge source can be used to charge the battery bank WHILE the inverter is independently supplying coach power. This works in conjunction with solar to provide power to the coach battery bank while the coach’s house systems also consume power. The net result is the ability to support coach loads off the battery for longer periods of time - indefinitely if used judiciously.

The converter is sized such that a 15 amp circuit or Honda 1000 can drive it. This small, light, quiet portable generator is ideal for supplemental battery charging. Use of a converter also allows power that is low voltage to be used for battery charging - most converters accept power down into the 90 volt range and still perform to specifications. You would not be able to run coach systems directly off of 90 volt power.


  • Magnum MSH3012M pure sine wave hybrid inverter with 125 amp DC charge section. WholesaleSolar. Note: does not show on their website but they have them.

  •  ME-ARC50 remote panel for the inverter. Wholesalesolar $240

  • Magnum BMK kit for battery monitoring.

  • Solar controller: Magnum PT-100 MPPT controller. Integrates into the Magnum network with the BMK, inverter and controller all using the ME-ARC50 remote for monitoring from a single panel. This controller can handle 1300 watts on a 12 volt battery bank. But that is "pushing" it.

  • Converter - standard smart controller with 3-stage battery charging, 45-60 amp. Wire into battery bank but do not plug into power outlet. Used for “driveway boondocking” or low shore power situations (described above). Coach is run off of inverter and converter charges bank independently.

  • Solar Panels: 4 x 325 watt SolarWorld panels. Total wattage is 1300. Array size is pretty much maxed out with the specified controller. You can easily change the panels, but the max is around 1300 watts using 13.4 volts as the lowest voltage output.

  • Battery bank: Lifeline AGM GPL-L16T x 6 (1200 AH); Fullriver AGM L16 x 6 (1200 AH). Alternatively, 8 batteries of the same type would give you 1600 Ah.