Thursday, November 23, 2017

How To Use The 2016 Tiffin Allegro RED Solar Pre-Wiring

tiffin

Well, let me start by saying that one would think this is an easy thing to deal with, but as it turns out it’s not quite that obvious.  When we bought our new 2016 Tiffin Allegro RED we had it pre-wired for solar.  We then asked the dealer to install some solar to just make use of the pre-wiring, nothing huge, keep the batteries topped off kind of thing.  They decided to install a single 80 Watt panel and a basic 10 amp RDK controller.  We picked up the unit, did our walk-through, drove it home and starting filling it back up.

Me being me, I decided to see if the solar was working, so I broke out a multi-meter and starting poking around.  Come to find out as I was testing I was not getting any voltage to the controller from the panel.  I found this strange at the least there should be something.  I ordered a new basic controller, wired that, and same thing still nothing.  At this point my head began to hurt wondering what the heck was wrong.  I should mention the controller was mounted by the dealer in the battery compartment where the solar pre-wiring was located.

So next I climbed onto the roof, removed the cover to the wiring location and tested the panel up there on BOTH sides of the splice.  That’s when I saw about 18 volts and DING!  the bulb went off that something was really messed up.  If you have ever visited the Tiffin factory you will learn that they are one of two coach manufacturers that custom labels every wire in a coach based on the model and floor plan.  On inspection of the wires I found this:

  • Roof – Labeled as Solar Panel
  • Battery – Labeled as Solar Power

This told me the wire in the battery compartment was NOT the same wire as the roof as the dealer technician has also thought when he wired it.  So where were the other ends of these two pairs?!  There in lay the question that needed a phone call to Tiffin Service to find out.  Come to find out these wires are stubbed out behind the cabinet over the driver’s head on the windshield.  There is removable panel there and BINGO….two pairs of wires.  Once this mystery was solved I verified the voltage on the panel side and order a THIRD controller, the same one tiffin uses the Go Power unit that supports up to 30 amps.  I also re-routed the wires to the driver side window cabinet where the inverter control lived and mounted it there.  I glued some extra 1/4″ plywood to the back of the thinner panel to make sure it was solid.  I also made sure to put a 30 amp fuse on the hot side of the battery connection which the dealer never did so I could disconnect the controller if needed.

Hopefully this helps you if you also purchased a new Tiffin Allegro RED that is pre-wired for solar.  I suspect any of the Tiffin units pre-wired are the same basic idea, but the inside locations of the hidden wires might be different.  I have since added a matching 80 watt panel and plan to add two 130 watt panels in the future which will be close to maximum for the controller.  It will actually be a little under which is also fine with me.  The thing I also learned is based on the connections, this feeds the house batteries and you want to connect BEFORE the house disconnect.  If you don’t then the controller will power off when the house disconnect is turned off and not do anything to keep the batteries topped off.  Seems obvious, but the original installer connected to the other side so when sitting stored there would be no power to the controller to maintain battery charge unless the house disconnect was on….sort of silly if you do want to completely disconnect the unit and still keep the house batteries charging with no help from shore power.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is currently a Field CTO for Tintri. In his role he spends the majority of his time talking to customers and partners alike helping develop use case architectures for the Tintri platform and software. He also acts as an active interface between the field and engineering/product management. Chris is active on the VMUG and event speaking circuit and is available for many events if you want to reach out and ask. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her promotional products as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years. Now he spreads both the word of technology and fitness along with the Team Beachbody Business through his blogs.

3 comments

  1. Thanks for posting the info on Tiffin solar wiring. Much better than I got from my dealer and Tiffin.

  2. The Allegra Open Road 36UA we bought this year was wired the same way. Fortunately I had asked before ordering the coach how they wired it. They put it there as most will use a smaller charge controller which will fit. I bought the Magnum MPPT charge controller which will work with multiple panels and interfaces well with the Magnum Inverter if you have that option.

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