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Old 06-25-2019, 12:58 PM   #1
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SUN #11314
Shaw520 is an unknown quantity at this point
Solar Panels,...fixed or portable

Im trying to get all the pro and cons of each set up.

Fixed;
Pro's 1. Panels are hard mounted,..No set up required
2. Charging all the time,. while shopping, traveling, ect
Con's 1. Less direct sun light.
2. Makes sealing the roof more of a project.

Portable;
Pro's 1. Panels can be moved and aimed for more direct light.
2. Unit can be used on other RV's, boats, trucks, ect
Con's 1. Set up time.
2. Constantly moving panels around.

Please feel free to add to these pros/cons as I make a decision on which way to go.
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Old 06-25-2019, 01:47 PM   #2
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SUN #2943
Tod Osier is an unknown quantity at this point
There are a couple of folks here that are happy with their portable panels, but I love (LOVE!!!) my fixed. Panels are cheap these days and design you system and then go up a bit (add an extra panel) so you don’t have to worry about moving a panel around or efficiency. Super nice to charge all the time.

Have you read handybob?
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Old 06-25-2019, 02:07 PM   #3
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SUN #11314
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
There are a couple of folks here that are happy with their portable panels, but I love (LOVE!!!) my fixed. Panels are cheap these days and design you system and then go up a bit (add an extra panel) so you donít have to worry about moving a panel around or efficiency. Super nice to charge all the time.

Have you read handybob?

Handybob ???
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Old 06-25-2019, 02:41 PM   #4
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SUN #2943
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Originally Posted by Shaw520 View Post
Handybob ???
He is a somewhat cranky, but very practical rv solar expert. Search handybob and plan to spend some time reading through it, but I found it incredibly worthwhile reading his thoughts and seeing his recommendations.
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Old 06-25-2019, 04:56 PM   #5
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SUN #11314
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Wow! ,.. just started reading his blog,.. a lot to read,.. I like his no-nonsense approach.
Ive bee looking at the Renogy 100 watt suitcase with Voyager controller,... but I have much more research to do before I pull the trigger. Like handybob says,.. a good controller with heavy enough wire mounted as close to batteries as possible is key to fully charging.
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Old 06-25-2019, 05:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaw520 View Post
Wow! ,.. just started reading his blog,.. a lot to read,.. I like his no-nonsense approach.
Ive bee looking at the Renogy 100 watt suitcase with Voyager controller,... but I have much more research to do before I pull the trigger. Like handybob says,.. a good controller with heavy enough wire mounted as close to batteries as possible is key to fully charging.
Taking his approach made a ton of sense for me. All the components that he recommended have performed flawlessly for me.
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Old 06-26-2019, 07:27 AM   #7
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I use a home built 100 watt panel. I built a aluminum frame for a commercial fixed panel it allows me to set the elevation and it's very easy to point into the sun. It folds flat and easily stores on the bed and only weighs about 18#. With roof panels you only get full smoke at noon being able to turn and elevate I can charge from dawn to dusk. I can go indefinitely with the panel all though not the best it will make power on a cloudy day. It connects to my batteries through a 50 amp Anderson Power Pole and a 10 foot #10 SJ cord. I have connections on both ends of the camper. Because the panel serves different purposes the controller is built into the panel assembly this allows me to have only one controller there is maret to running higher voltage in a fixed situation but with only 10 feet of cable and a #10 wire the loss is very small so it's a wash. If I leave the panel gets locked to the camper safety chain. The ideal of putting holes in the roof to support a panel to me was a big turn off just another reason for a ground mount.
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Old 06-26-2019, 07:50 AM   #8
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I use a home built 100 watt panel. I built a aluminum frame for a commercial fixed panel it allows me to set the elevation and it's very easy to point into the sun. It folds flat and easily stores on the bed and only weighs about 18#. With roof panels you only get full smoke at noon being able to turn and elevate I can charge from dawn to dusk. I can go indefinitely with the panel all though not the best it will make power on a cloudy day. It connects to my batteries through a 50 amp Anderson Power Pole and a 10 foot #10 SJ cord. I have connections on both ends of the camper. Because the panel serves different purposes the controller is built into the panel assembly this allows me to have only one controller there is maret to running higher voltage in a fixed situation but with only 10 feet of cable and a #10 wire the loss is very small so it's a wash. If I leave the panel gets locked to the camper safety chain. The ideal of putting holes in the roof to support a panel to me was a big turn off just another reason for a ground mount.
I like that you added 2 ports. One further advantage I see is also the ability to move it to where there is sun, that would be great in the eastern forested sites if the camper is in the shade.

For anyone considering the options of fixed vs movable, do a calculation of loss on horizontal panels, it is less than you would think. A second panel more than compensates. Also the voltage drop of a fixed system with short and thick wires is a lot lower. If I camped in the east more Iíd really consider a movable panel to catch sun that may not be right at the site.

I love the fact that that I donít have to do anything to manage the solar, just windex the panels annually.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:07 AM   #9
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SUN #11314
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I just purchased this unit https://www.ebay.com/itm/Eco-Solar-K...72.m2749.l2649

Its not the best out there but the price point is hard to beat and I will most likely add another panel to it. It comes directly from Windy Nation with 30amp controller and (2) MC4 connecters, and an impressive warranty ! I will add another battery and another panel later in the summer.

Ive decided to keep it a portable unit,.. in the NE the campsites are always shaded (preferred),.. Ive seen guys use 14GA extension cords up to 50' long,... keeping the controller close to the batteries is key to minimize voltage drop.

Also handybob mentioned that its important to get a controller that is adjustable,... many of the "kits" out there have fixed controllers that cap out at 13.8v,.. it needs to go to 14.4v to get a complete charge.
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Old 06-26-2019, 10:43 AM   #10
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SUN #2943
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaw520 View Post
I just purchased this unit https://www.ebay.com/itm/Eco-Solar-K...72.m2749.l2649

Its not the best out there but the price point is hard to beat and I will most likely add another panel to it. It comes directly from Windy Nation with 30amp controller and (2) MC4 connecters, and an impressive warranty ! I will add another battery and another panel later in the summer.

Ive decided to keep it a portable unit,.. in the NE the campsites are always shaded (preferred),.. Ive seen guys use 14GA extension cords up to 50' long,... keeping the controller close to the batteries is key to minimize voltage drop.

Also handybob mentioned that its important to get a controller that is adjustable,... many of the "kits" out there have fixed controllers that cap out at 13.8v,.. it needs to go to 14.4v to get a complete charge.
Before you commit to a cord that long, I'd do the calculation. I know that the wire from my controller to the batteries is lot heavier than that and it is only a few feet long.
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Old 06-26-2019, 01:41 PM   #11
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SUN #11314
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Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
Before you commit to a cord that long, I'd do the calculation. I know that the wire from my controller to the batteries is lot heavier than that and it is only a few feet long.
Yes,.. understood. From what I been able to gather is that the cord from the panel to the controller can be rather long at 12-14GA wire without significant loss,... but from the controller to the battery is where you want to keep it short and of heavy gauge,... I think they said 4ga min. So instead of mounting the controller to the back of the panel and running a long cord to the battery (like most portable kits do),.. you mount the controller close to the battery and run a long cord from the panel to the controller,....If Im understanding this correctly.

I may build a dry box on the A-frame to house batteries and controller.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:56 PM   #12
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SUN #2097
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You can go overboard with wire gauge. A 12 volt panel will do something close to 22 volts in direct sun so the loss at that voltage is a good bit less than at 13 volts for any length of cord. However at some point it becomes ridiculous because the panel is only capable of so much current. The big cables come in at high current from the batteries delivering current to things like inverters wanting to drive AC units or microwaves. The panel by itself will not give you a great deal of current however it will charge your batteries because your loads are intermittent and the panel is as long the sun shines. Big commercial arayes are series wired in the 600 volt range this takes care of the cable run loss. My system for the current I use is self sufficient I'm all ways ahead of demand. I have nothing but LEDs my water system has a 2 gallon accumulator that reduces the pump run time dramatically. I don't camp when it's cold enough to run the furnace unless I can plug in it's basically wants and needs. I do have an inverter I also have a breaker for my converter/charger so I turn off the converter and plug the camper into the inverter powering the outlets watch a little TV charge phones etc.so I'm not suffering at all with a 100 watt panel.
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