FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby settinsails » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:48 pm

I went with a Renogy Eclipse 100 watt solar suitcase kit off of amazon on Prime day. It came with a 100 watt foldable panel with adjustable legs, a 30 amp controller, power cables, temp sensor, and voltage sensor. All nicely packaged in a padded semi-rigid case.

I use it on a pair of group 29 deep cycle batteries. Instead of using the supplied alligator clips, i wired in a waterproof trolling motor connection (10 gauge wire), and a 1,2, 1+2, off switch. This allows me to charge one battery at a time, both combined, or totally off.

I used it on our Rustic Trail Teardrops Grizzly Bear in Oshkosh a couple weeks ago, and was getting 6.6 amps of power in full sunlight. I didnt have to run the generator all week (very nice weather and temps helped that out tremendously).

I went with the suitcase so I could use it on the trailer, or with any of my vehicles when camping without the trailer.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:00 pm

Great thread! I'm thinking the 65w minimum is for polycrystalline panels though. I have a 40w MONOcrystalline panel and it topped up my battery from a very slight discharge in a couple of hours. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient and also smaller than the polys. They can also withstand higher temps.

I've got a PWM controller for now, but my system is wired up for future expansion. I'll be adding another 40w eventually and also eventually switch to a MPPT controller. I haven't mounted the panel yet because I'm building the brackets today. Once mounted, I'll let the battery drain well and then see how long it takes to charge back up. I get around 13.6 volts and 2 amps in full mid-day sunshine so it's a trickle. Adding the 2nd panel will give me at least 4 amps, and I'll just keep expanding from there. We use very little battery when camping; maybe 30 minutes of LED light and some light use of the water pump, and the carbon monoxide detector is always on. The battery is 85 Ah so with constant trickle during the day, it should easily last a week.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby settinsails » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:51 am

i didnt go with a hard mounted panel setup, because Id want to get my camper under the trees or under an ez-up canopy to keep the roof and body shaded, and be able to place the panels in the sun. Something to consider for your mounting. you could use wing nuts to be able to easily remove them from their mounts to get them out in the sun.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby GuitarPhotog » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:18 pm

I have a 100W Renology panel for my TD. I made a stand/cover from a couple of pieces of angle aluminum and a piece of plywood. When the plywood is over the panel, it protects the surface, when it's folded back, it makes the legs (alum. angle) much more rigid.

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby southpennrailroad » Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:10 pm

Hi everyone. It has been quit some time since I have been here and I built a thow to live in. I purchased two sets of Harbor freight 100 watt solar panels. 8 panels total. Equals 200 watts. This may sound stupid but I originally had one set. I was happy with that but am I right in saying that two sets should charge my battery in half the time it took to one set hooked up? I am planning on getting three batteries befor winter sets. Thanks for your response.
:R
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Shadow Catcher » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:24 pm

SPR everything else being equal you should have twice as much current going into the batteries. And welcome back
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby southpennrailroad » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:54 am

Shadow Catcher wrote:SPR everything else being equal you should have twice as much current going into the batteries. And welcome back

Thanks. Almost ten I think. I am going to get a much better battery then this harbor freight one. I'm learning more and more. I have been living in my home built thow for the past two winters and only been heating it by the cooking stove. Use about twenty 20lb tanks throughout the winter. Like how I use the floor to keep my milk cold and still sleep in 80 degree temps from the bed up. The trailer is well insulated. But really want to get self sustaining on the solar.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby RixPlace1 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:06 pm

I've been dilling and dalling over solar for 4 months trying to understand all the techstuff.
Have gone back and forth yes and no then back agin ad nauseum. So I stopped thinking about it
and got on to the imp stuff.Galley cabs,what color to paint,size of bunks,how many lites needed,
And then my neighbor lectrician sat me down and explained it in simple terms. Sed 4 100 watt panels on roof
you do the install, I don't climb ladders any more, so I did, granted I'm ultra fussy about where to drill
holes in roofs, but then in 2 hours I had the 4 panels screwed into roof,and sealed, neighbor sed what to do with wires
I did it,fed them into hole near fan,I mounted the charge controller and inverter, he put fuses where needed, wired into batteries
3 hours and we were finished. Shazam the panels started producing,the batts started charging and we were off
Simple advice yeh It can be challenging and confusing, but some to the best advice I've ever read has been on this forum.
Straight to the point, and down to earth.Gen'l Ike in his book and interviews over the years after WW2 credited
American kids from the farms and ranches and from under shade trees as being worth 2 divisions in the overnite cando repairing of
damaged trucks,planes, radios etc. And I think some of their children and grand kids may be guys on here
Just do it Da==ed it
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby GuitarPhotog » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:28 pm

RixPlace1 wrote:I've been dilling and dalling over solar for 4 months trying to understand all the techstuff.
Have gone back and forth yes and no then back agin ad nauseum. So I stopped thinking about it
and got on to the imp stuff.Galley cabs,what color to paint,size of bunks,how many lites needed,
And then my neighbor lectrician sat me down and explained it in simple terms. Sed 4 100 watt panels on roof
you do the install, I don't climb ladders any more, so I did, granted I'm ultra fussy about where to drill
holes in roofs, but then in 2 hours I had the 4 panels screwed into roof,and sealed, neighbor sed what to do with wires
I did it,fed them into hole near fan,I mounted the charge controller and inverter, he put fuses where needed, wired into batteries
3 hours and we were finished. Shazam the panels started producing,the batts started charging and we were off
Simple advice yeh It can be challenging and confusing, but some to the best advice I've ever read has been on this forum.
Straight to the point, and down to earth.Gen'l Ike in his book and interviews over the years after WW2 credited
American kids from the farms and ranches and from under shade trees as being worth 2 divisions in the overnite cando repairing of
damaged trucks,planes, radios etc. And I think some of their children and grand kids may be guys on here
Just do it Da==ed it



Putting the panels on the roof means you must park in the sun! My panel is at the end of a 25 ft cord, so I can park the trailer in the shade and put the panel in the sun.

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby John61CT » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:47 pm

southpennrailroad wrote:I purchased two sets of Harbor freight 100 watt solar panels. 8 panels total. Equals 200 watts. This may sound stupid but I originally had one set. I was happy with that but am I right in saying that two sets should charge my battery in half the time it took to one set hooked up?
No. Say you bring the bank down all the way to 50%, and one set recharges back to 100% in seven hours. The 50-80% part at high amps acceptance may be two hours, and the last 80-100% takes five.

Higher amps/watts only speeds up that first part, say you have high CAR batts cuts the two hours down to one hour.

But the second part, a lead battery can only accept low amps, still takes five hours.

This is greatly simplified, lots of variables, just an example.

southpennrailroad wrote:I am planning on getting three batteries before winter sets. Thanks for your response.
:R
Generally speaking I recommend 200W of panel for every 100AH of battery.

Best battery value is 2x 6V Duracell golf cart from Sam's Club or Batteries+.

Don't buy this kind stuff from HF anymore.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby John61CT » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:49 pm

What's a thow?
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Camp4Life » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:19 am

John61CT wrote:What's a thow?


Tiny House On Wheels
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby G-Mac » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:55 pm

Hey guys, I need a bit of clarification.

I have a 200W kit that I'm about to install with a PWM controller. I'm adding this kit to my TD that has an inverter/charger already installed. Here's where I need clarification:

The solar controller has 3 connections (solar, batt, load). The solar and batt connections are obvious, but the load isn't as simple. If I were building from scratch, I'd run my loads to that connection, but in this case, my loads all run to the inverter/charger and then to the battery. It appears that the normal thing to do in this situation is to just ignore that set of connections, and let the solar controller charge the batteries. I'm assuming the controller will be able to tell and adjust to the camper being plugged in.

I'm also pretty sure I don't want to connect my inverter/charger to the load connection and back feed when plugged in.

So, am I on the correct path? Any help appreciated!
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby bdosborn » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:03 pm

Nope, you don't want to connect your charger to the load terminals. You got it right, don't connect anything to them. The controller is used to turn off loads once the battery gets below a voltage level but you might as well not use it if you have other loads connected to the battery that aren't going to run through the solar controller.

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby John61CT » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:37 pm

You could use it for less-important loads you want to shut down as batt voltage drops.

But likely its the inverter should get that treatment 8-)

Also will be limited amps
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