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Author Topic: Portable Solar for occasional use  (Read 3230 times)

StephenM

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Portable Solar for occasional use
« on: October 14, 2016, 07:39:38 AM »
Good morning,

Most of our trips will be in the upper mid west and Ontario Realistically we will boondock for maybe 10-12  nights a year due to needing electric hooks for air con. On these trips we will spending most of our time outside and use LED lights, furnace and water heater frugally. The on board genset will be used for a while in the morning and evening if needs be.

From speaking offline with Kevin Means and a few solar experts I have judged that a 150w to 200w system is what I need to start.  I would love a roof system but that is not something I can afford to have installed professionally and do not want to undertake this myself (maybe in a few years time).


Has anyone gone down the portable route? and if so would love to hear how.you have gotten on with it.

Also if I started with one 80 to 100w system and got another can I hook both up to my battery bank?

Thanks in advance,

Stephen








« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 07:53:36 AM by StephenM »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2016, 09:23:01 AM »
The first thing that occurs to me is that a 100W panel will be something like 24"x48"x 2.5" and you need a way to tote it around as well as some sort of (preferably tiltable) bracket for when it is deployed.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Frankedj

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2016, 09:37:27 AM »
The Renogy 100 watt mono panel is 47" x 21.3" x 1.4" and weighs 16.5 lbs. They have 0.13" tempered glass covering them.

When you pick your starter system pay attention to the maximum amperage/wattage that the solar controller can handle to make sure that you will be able to add on the number of panels you want to in the future. Some controllers are designed to be daisy chainable.
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StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2016, 10:50:46 AM »
HI Gary,

I would probably store it under the bed.

Hi Frank,

That makes sense of the daisy chaining.

This is my winter project :-)

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2016, 01:17:38 PM »
For storage two 80 watts would be better.

Has anyone ever come across the Eco Worthy brand?

rickeoni

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2016, 04:15:02 PM »
I have the eco worthy portable for my TC. The wires that it comes with are way undersized ( easy fix) also the controller is subpar. I added the MPPT from eco worthy as well. I use an anderson connector and 6ga wires to connect the panels to the controller, and the I cannibalized a cheap set of jumper cables to connect the controller to the batteries. I see 10 amps to the batteries in nice sun.
2008 F450
2006 Adventurer 85WS
2016 Glacier Peak 26RKS

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2016, 05:12:25 PM »
Thanks Rick,

How much was the controller from them?

Any issues with the legs?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 05:31:06 PM by StephenM »

rickeoni

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2016, 06:29:44 PM »
This is the one I use

http://www.eco-worthy.com/catalog/worthy-mppt-solar-charge-controller-12v24v-p-182.html

with this portable setup.

http://www.eco-worthy.com/catalog/worthy-200w-foldable-monocrystalline-solar-suitcase-p-92.html

the legs are a little flimsy, but are workable. Biggest thing is this rig is HUGE!

Rick

« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 06:34:21 PM by rickeoni »
2008 F450
2006 Adventurer 85WS
2016 Glacier Peak 26RKS

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2016, 09:07:36 PM »
Are you happy with it Rick?

Why do you say the controller is sub par?

Do you think the dimensions are true to size as what is advertised?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 09:21:04 PM by StephenM »

rickeoni

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2016, 10:00:37 PM »
Stephen.

Almost 4 feet long is right, like I said huge. As for the controller, only a tiny light to tell you its working. I want to see what's going on. I was also curious about MPPT controllers and when I bought it, it was only $45.



2008 F450
2006 Adventurer 85WS
2016 Glacier Peak 26RKS

HappyWanderer

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2016, 10:37:28 PM »
A small folding table makes an excellent tilting mount for portable solar panels. Sturdy, and easily moved to track the sun throughout the day.

After dealing with multiple small panels daisy chained, I would go with one large one. It's one item to store instead of two or three.

We only boondock two or three times a year, so an expensive solar system doesn't make sense for use. We've gone four days with our portable solar, without running the generator. That's with LED lights and the fridge on propane.

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2016, 06:24:48 AM »
Hi Rick,

I have a  trmetric battery motor which will tell me what's going in to the battery.  Would you think I would need a better controller like you have? Also if I could ask the seller can I upgrade the controller.  One other question for you, what do you use to store yours? I read folks on Amazon use the shipping box.

Hi HW,

Great idea with the table.  What kind of system and watts is it?  For me cheaper is better :-)


StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2016, 07:18:27 AM »
Eco worthy have more items on their home page for sale than on Amazon.  They do have 200w folding poly setup for 356$, also they have a 120w Mono one for 273$ but even folded it's 4 foot long.  I was hoping to store the kit inside the house and not the basement.

The 100w mono could be made option also.

rickeoni

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2016, 07:37:19 AM »
I store mine on the dinette seat of my TC. I am sure the stock controller is just fine, just my OCD getting the best of me. I do not use it with my fifth wheel, as I have a permanent roof mounted solution for it.
2008 F450
2006 Adventurer 85WS
2016 Glacier Peak 26RKS

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2016, 07:59:30 AM »
That sounds like a great storage idea, I presume you have the dinette made up as a bed?

We carry kayaks in our class A so space while traveling is at a premium. I was hoping to get a system small enough to store it under our bed.

I am leaving heavily towards the 120 watt mono kit.

I have emailed the Amazon seller with some questions.



« Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 08:15:45 AM by StephenM »

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2016, 09:52:33 AM »
I used the calculator from Go power, it put my weekend usage at about 130amps  and they reommended the 80 watt model.

I had discounted the 120w Go power offering due to cost but the 80watt is affordable to me.  I like the price of the Eco Worthy one but I would need to extend the cable, get Anderson connectors a storage bag so it adds to the price.




StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2016, 11:56:09 AM »
I ordered the 100w Mono rv kit from Renegy with 20ft of cable for 329$. I like this option as it will let me mount the charge controller where I like and don't need to use crocodile clips.

Kevin Means

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2016, 01:07:49 PM »
Are you happy with it Rick?
Why do you say the controller is sub par?
I'm quite sure the portable solar kits you're looking at come with PWM controllers. There's nothing wrong with PWM controllers as long as the solar array they're controlling isn't putting out high voltage. MPPT controllers have the ability to convert excess voltage to amps - PWM controllers don't. And it's all about putting amps back into the batteries.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2016, 01:19:35 PM »
Hi Kev,

The Renogy one came with a 30A pwm Adventurer controller. 

https://www.renogy.com/renogy-adventurer-30a-pwm-flush-mount-charge-controller-w-lcd-display/

I am glad I got this sorted as can set it up this week.

The Go Power kit was 440$ with an extended cable so saved some cash and got an extra 20w of solar.  The 120w Go power kit was 600$ and Zamp even more.  I like the idea of mounting the controller and not mucking about with battery clamps.



« Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 01:21:10 PM by StephenM »

Tom_M

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2016, 07:46:16 AM »
Virtually any panel can be portable. Just purchase a panel or panels that suit your needs and buy an appropriate controller.

Solar Blvd is a good source for reasonably priced panels.
https://www.solarblvd.com/

One panel you might consider is a 120 watt flexible panel they have on sale. It only weighs about 6 pounds.
https://www.solarblvd.com/product_info.php?cPath=1_25_42&products_id=3083
Tom
2005 Born Free 24 Rear bath

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2016, 08:08:18 AM »
Thats great to know for when I decide to add another panel to the setup.

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2016, 02:14:03 PM »
The solar kit arrived today.

I did not want to drill any holes so mounted the Controller in a storage compartment and fished the cables up through a drain hole.  I might move it later but it's fine for now.

Getting 4.5amp when the sun comes out.


StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2016, 02:14:40 PM »
Another pic

Kevin Means

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2016, 03:39:30 PM »
Looks good Stephen. Renogy makes a good product. Just curious... how far is the controller from your battery-bank? If you have a few minutes, you should do a little experiment that shows the effects of shading. With your panel facing the sun, look at your Trimetric and note how many amps the panel is putting out. Then put a piece of cardboard (or similar) over one of the corner solar cells and note the difference in the panel's output. Then shade two cells and note the difference. By the time you shade 3 cells, your panel will be putting out almost no power - even though the overwhelming majority of cells aren't shaded. It really drives home the importance of not allowing your panels to become shaded. Welcome to the world of RV solar!

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Lou Schneider

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2016, 04:37:21 PM »
The main problem with a portable solar system is having it "grow legs" and disappear while you're away from the campsite.  Small, high priced generators like the little Hondas have the same problem but at least the generators can be secured to the trailer with a heavy a chain or moved out of sight while you're gone.  It's harder to secure or conceal a couple of solar panels.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 04:40:59 PM by Lou Schneider »

rickeoni

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2016, 06:08:10 PM »
Had my portable for many years, still have it, never grew any legs, arms or other appendages!
2008 F450
2006 Adventurer 85WS
2016 Glacier Peak 26RKS

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2016, 09:22:19 PM »
I sure will do Kev.

The controller is about 5 foot from the battery bank.

I plan to use the lock from my Ems and chain it to park bench.  To be honest we will proably only have it out when I am near by.

My wife was not impressed when I told her I got the kit.

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2016, 06:00:34 AM »
Hi Kev,

Did not get a chance to perform that test yet, will do so when it comes out of storage.

All,

Now that I am happy with the contoller install I am ready to purchase another portable panel, I have thought about roof mounting but decided against it.

My existing system has a 20 ft cable running to the contoller. I plan to use a branch connector to tie in to this cable. Renogy told me I have to use a panel of similar voltage.

I am leaning towards getting another Renogy folding panel which is 250$, before ordering has anyone used mixed brand/wattage of panels in a portable scenario?

I do really like the protective case that comes with the Renogy.



« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 06:21:50 AM by StephenM »

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2016, 06:49:54 AM »
If I have my panels connected and I run the genset for an
Hour or so will both charge the batteries?  Also if on shore power will deploying the solar allow for a faster charge?

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2016, 09:56:25 AM »
Both voltage sources are active, but the higher voltage tends to dominate. Whether the result is faster charging or not is hard to say, but probably not, or very little. The battery(s) can only accept so much charging rate anyway, and chances are the onboard charger is already providing that max rate. Battery charging is not at all like filling a water tank - two hose are not automatically faster than one.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2016, 10:32:15 AM »
Thanks Gary,

I have been doing a lot of years work so questions keep popping in to my head.

If the generator is running will the 12volt items still drain the battery or will they powered from the convertor, I am sure it's the latter but wanted to be 100% sure.

Also realistically how much amps an hour could I expect the genset contribute to the battery?

When I did my audit I did not include any generator run time, I know it will get used for an hour in the morning and evening.

Alpena Jeff

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2016, 10:51:34 AM »
Just tracking this thread...as you were.  8)
Jeff & Judy
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StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2016, 11:18:37 AM »
Sounds good fellow Michigan dweller

I did spend night in Alpena on our Huron tour when we first moved from Europe.

Kevin Means

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2016, 12:32:01 PM »
You can leave your solar plugged in while the genset is running and it won't hurt anything, but as Gary said, you won't notice any faster charging times. And yes, your converter will power both the 12 volt house systems and the charger while the generator is running, so your batteries won't drain - they'll charge. How many amps your generator will put into your batteries depends on the charging stage (bulk, float etc.) the output capability of the charger and other things in the coach that are running. The converter shares its output with the charging circuit and other things that require power.

When our house-batteries are below about 85% SOC, the battery monitor indicates that the charger's output in the bulk charge stage is 150 amps. When the batteries are fully charged, however, the charger's output indicates only 1 or 2 amps (if nothing else is on.) Your charger's max output is probably less, but your battery monitor will display how many amps it's putting into the batteries at any given time.

Kev
« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 12:33:44 PM by Kevin Means »
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2016, 12:44:37 PM »
That great to know Kev.
Unfortunately my rig is in storage now so cannot test anything out.

Renogy have 30$ off the 100w mono portable (no contoller model) and offered me a further 5% off, I need extension cable and 2 branch connectors bringing the price to 258$.

The only issue is I order now it will spring before I can test it, and if any issues will be outside the return period, but if I wait it could go up in price.


« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 12:52:22 PM by StephenM »

tanglemoose

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2016, 07:43:20 PM »
We have 160 watts go power mounted on roof... so no legs can move, nothing ever to set up... we love it... generator goes in truck, but is like a lost puppy, never fired up all summer.... absolutely love our solar... of course use gas coffee pot.. and very little tv... but then, we are camping!!
Donna and Mark
and our Golden Lexie
New 2017 TT Keystone Cougar  Same model... but NEW Features!
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2013 Toyota Tundra
Living in Cold Montana Country.....

john owens

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2016, 12:54:44 PM »
If I may step in and ask a question along these lines...We just returned from a 12 day stay in Quartzsite. I deployed two of my three 100 watt panels while boondocking to find out how well my current solar setup would work. The panels and controller did there jobs well but my factory 1000 watt inverter decided it didn't want to participate. Every time I switched on the inverter from the factory installed remote switch at the main control board I would get an overload fault code. Even with nothing turned on. Generater had to be used each day instead, I was not happy camper. This coach has had its share of electrical gremlins since day one, I have had to replace many components over the last year since purchase...My new question for those that know is I want to replace the 1000 w inverter with a 2000 watt or bigger PSW inverter. Is this just a matter of unplugging the old and connecting the new? I have seen things like transfer switches and a few other things that I am not sure about...What do you guys think?? many thanks in advance..
2011 Winnebago 37F Class A  2012 Unlimited JK 2001 HD roadking  1964 Manx 1641cc buggy 1985 22'Lazy Daze Class C 2007 Chaparrel 26' deck boat..Thats all folks!!

Paul & Ann

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2016, 01:34:18 PM »
I would think that before you did anything else, you should figure out why your system is not working as you expected.  If you would provide some more details, someone on here may be able to help.

What do you have for a battery bank?

What brand and model do you have for an inverter?

What brand and model do you have for a solar controller?

What size and how long are the cables running from the battery bank to the inverter?

Perhaps, others will have more questions.
Paul & Ann  Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J
http://stoughrvadventure.blogspot.com/

StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2016, 02:49:17 PM »
That's a shame you had an issue, at least you had a generator.

All,

I just purchased another 100W portable setup without charge controller.  It was 226$ with branch connector (30$ off panel plus 5% pf total)
That brings me to 200w for a total cost of 555$ (Zamp was 950$ for 200w and Go power 700$ for 160w).

They will easily store under the bed and only take a few minutes to setup.




StephenM

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Re: Portable Solar for occasional use
« Reply #39 on: November 11, 2016, 12:44:41 PM »
Just to follow up in case anyone is thinking of going down the same route as me.

Getting two 100w panels make them far easier to carry and store than one big one.  At 27 by 20 inches each folded they are not in any way ungainly.




 

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