solar power

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MOAK

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Hello all. It's high time to discuss solar panel power options. I run a dual battery system so when our fridge/freezer, our power inverter, used to charge up the phones, the laptop, and the camera batteries, runs our 55ah agm batteries too low to start the cruzer after a 24 hour period, it is time to start thinking about solar power. Sometimes we may stay at a basecamp for 3 or 4 nights and find ourselves having to go for a drive just to charge up the battery. Sooo, after a bit of research I'm finding out that a 150 watt solar panel may be just more than enough to keep the primary battery charged up. Problem is, there is only about a half million brands of solar panels and related equipment on the market and they are all priced about the same... Does anyone use solar panels at your basecamp and if so what brand are you using and what do you think of it?
 
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Winterpeg

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ShawnR

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I don't yet. But when I get and build my adventure trailer, I'm going to put a battery bank in it and run solar to charge the batteries. I'm thinking four deep cycle batteries connected in parallel to increase amp hour. I've seen on other forums people were happy with the solar panels bought at Harbor Freight. I haven't really researched them yet, but I'm going to look at them when the time get's closer.
 

Steve

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Please note: This is actually a post by @BPD53 which somehow was attributed to me. Michael is looking into what happened. ~Steve

I have had good luck with Grape Solar and Renogy Solar. I have also had good luck with Morningstar Charge Controllers.

I currently have:

Three 100 Grape solar panels on the camper with a Morningstar Tristar 45

One 100 watt Renogy solar panel for my truck (just removed) with Morningstar sunsaver 6.

All companies have offered good support. I also recommend portable vs. rigid mount. I would like the option to park in the shade and move the panel where it is needed. Just my two cents.

West Virginia has a lot of trees, so solar kinda sucks while camping. I took my solar off my truck and bought a larger battery. Good luck with your project.
 
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Cpl J

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So, if you are only running a single battery, and wanting to run a fridge and only stay out for a couple of nights. the 150watt would probably be to much?
 

Steve

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I have had good luck with Grape Solar and Renogy Solar. I have also had good luck with Morningstar Charge Controllers.

I currently have:

Three 100 Grape solar panels on the camper with a Morningstar Tristar 45

One 100 watt Renogy solar panel for my truck (just removed) with Morningstar sunsaver 6.

All companies have offered good support. I also recommend portable vs. rigid mount. I would like the option to park in the shade and move the panel where it is needed. Just my two cents.

West Virginia has a lot of trees, so solar kinda sucks while camping. I took my solar off my truck and bought a larger battery. Good luck with your project.
Ummm, I didn't write this! Some error in the database? Who's comment is this that somehow was attributed to me? @Michael

I just changed my password for good measure.
 
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El Solis

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I have the Renogy folding 100W panel system and for the plug and play the cost is worth it. I added an Anderson connector to my secondary battery so I don't have to connect w the alligator clamps. I made a 25ft extension for it as well w Anderson connectors on each end. Definitely have used the extension. I have no problems running the fridge/freezer (nat luna), charging stuff, quick burst of the compressor for my Roadshower etc.
 
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BPD53

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Ummm, I didn't write this! Some error in the database? Who's comment is this that somehow was attributed to me? @Michael

I just changed my password for good measure.
It was me. I sent a email requesting someone call me regarding the matter. I would like to tell them what happened (so they can tell me what happened).
 

Steve

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It was me. I sent a email requesting someone call me regarding the matter. I would like to tell them what happened (so they can tell me what happened).
Kenneth, I got your message, and will let @Michael know what happened. No harm, no foul.

Steve
 

MOAK

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OK, research nearly completed. Since we will be mounting the panel to the front section of our roof rack it will be roughly 70 - 80% efficient. Given that, with an 80 watt panel we would break even with the fridge set at 35 degrees. The Engle is our dedicated freezer so a 100 watt panel will break even, so given my old rule of thumb, "always get one size bigger than you think you need" we are gonna go with this 120 watt kit. We should be able to keep batteries topped off, power the fridge & keep the converter going indefinitely. Believe me, with the complete silence at our campsites, there is nothing worse at 4 or 5 AM than hearing the ear piercing "low battery" alarm sounding off on the inverter..
https://www.solarblvd.com/product_info.php?cPath=1_272&products_id=2748
this will fit perfectly across the front of the frontrunner rack..
 
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1Louder

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I have the Renogy folding 100W panel system and for the plug and play the cost is worth it. I added an Anderson connector to my secondary battery so I don't have to connect w the alligator clamps. I made a 25ft extension for it as well w Anderson connectors on each end. Definitely have used the extension. I have no problems running the fridge/freezer (nat luna), charging stuff, quick burst of the compressor for my Roadshower etc.
I have a similar setup but with an SAE connector. I also have a PowerFilm 60 watt panel. Both work well but the Renogy just works a bit faster. I have gone back and forth about a fixed panel but I just don't think they are efficient enough. The sunlight just changes too often. With my setup I can camp in the shade and move the panels where they need to be. Renogy kit was a good deal. They are just heavy. Powerfilm is super convenient but also nearly 3 times the price for less output. 60 watts isn't powerful enough to charge two batteries at once. I have 1 deep cycle in my truck, an ArkPak, and a single battery in my trailer. If the truck charges the ArkPak there is a huge draw of power so I typically charge them separately. I have yet to test charging the truck and trailer (connected with the 7 pin) at the same time with my 100 watt suitcase to see how well that works. I know the Renogy kit did great with my buddies dual battery setup. He has two Odyssey batteries with an IBS controller.

Someone posted up they might have 4 batteries for a trailer. To me that seems like gross overkill. Dual should be plenty. If you are concerned about running out of juice you should go bleeding edge and get 1 or 2 lithium ion batteries. Unlike AGM they can be run all the way down and weigh half as much. I would invest more money in solar and less money in batteries since at the end of the day (so to speak) you always need a way to charge your battery(s) back up.
 

Winterpeg

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OK, research nearly completed. Since we will be mounting the panel to the front section of our roof rack it will be roughly 70 - 80% efficient. Given that, with an 80 watt panel we would break even with the fridge set at 35 degrees. The Engle is our dedicated freezer so a 100 watt panel will break even, so given my old rule of thumb, "always get one size bigger than you think you need" we are gonna go with this 120 watt kit. We should be able to keep batteries topped off, power the fridge & keep the converter going indefinitely. Believe me, with the complete silence at our campsites, there is nothing worse at 4 or 5 AM than hearing the ear piercing "low battery" alarm sounding off on the inverter..
https://www.solarblvd.com/product_info.php?cPath=1_272&products_id=2748
this will fit perfectly across the front of the frontrunner rack..
Why do you have your inverter on all night? Do you plug your fridge into it? And if so... why don't you use it on DC instead? From what I understand DC is more efficient.
 

1Louder

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Why do you have your inverter on all night? Do you plug your fridge into it? And if so... why don't you use it on DC instead? From what I understand DC is more efficient.
Yeah I missed that. Running a fridge off of AC vs DC is a great way to kill your batteries. The fridge thinks it's plugged into the wall with not a care in the world for power management. I know lots of folks run a CPAP machine.
 
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MOAK

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Why do you have your inverter on all night? Do you plug your fridge into it? And if so... why don't you use it on DC instead? From what I understand DC is more efficient.
Oh,, no way.. the fridge is 12 volt dc and thats what we are drawing with it. . The inverter draws very little, maybe 4 or 5 milliamps. If it's being used to charge things up or power our water pump it's drawing 1 amp per 10 watts.. I leave it in the "on" position all the time to act as a moniter. When the battery gets down the alarm sounds off. As stated in my first post, the converter is used for charging phones, laptops, pads and cameras.. You guys didn't miss a thing, However I did neglect to mention that the inverter is used to power our water pump, which is also a very limited draw. 20 watts = 2 amp/hrs and we might run it a total of 5 minutes a day, which is milliamps a day. If any one is more knowledgeable than I on what may be flawed mathematics,,, I'm all ears.
 
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Winterpeg

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Oh,, no way.. the fridge is 12 volt dc and thats what we are drawing with it. . The inverter draws very little, maybe 4 or 5 milliamps. If it's being used to charge things up or power our water pump it's drawing 1 amp per 10 watts.. I leave it in the "on" position all the time to act as a moniter. When the battery gets down the alarm sounds off. As stated in my first post, the converter is used for charging phones, laptops, pads and cameras.. You guys didn't miss a thing, However I did neglect to mention that the inverter is used to power our water pump, which is also a very limited draw. 20 watts = 2 amp/hrs and we might run it a total of 5 minutes a day, which is milliamps a day. If any one is more knowledgeable than I on what may be flawed mathematics,,, I'm all ears.
Cool... good idea to use it as a monitor. My fridge will shut itself down prior to killing my battery so I don't need the warning system (it's one of the first things I check in the morning though.... right after my coffee, lol)
 

trikebubble

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I have a portable panel setup, so I can use it with the Xterra or our travel trailer. I bought two 75 watt Coleman panels from Canadian Tire and two of their 30amp controllers. I have a controller permanently mounted in the X, and one in the trailer. I have a line running to the grille on my X to which I plug the harness into that runs to either one or both 75 watt panels. I generally use both panels when trailer camping, and only used one 75 watt panel on our last 3 1/2 day mini-overland adventure and it kept everything charged up just fine. I have a Dometic CF-50 fridge that keeps my beers nice and frosty, along with some led strip lighting and sometimes I plug the evil iPhones in to charge up as well.
I like my portable set up, as it allows me the ability to park the Xterra in the shade, but still run the solar panels out into the sun if need be.

Here's my setup with a single panel on the windshield in sun. When afternoon hit, I was able to move the panel ahead 10' to keep it in the sun.


 
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MOAK

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I'm really on the fence with portable or mounted. I really like the renogy 100 watt portable, and I really like the idea of 120 watt mounted on my rack, each for roughly the same price. The problem with portable one might ask? We are already packed to the gills as we need room for a driver and 3 passengers in the rig. ( grandsons ) If I mount one, I'd rig up some hinges on the nose of the rack so it would tilt up at an angle. Keep the ideas coming !!