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Old 07-03-2015, 11:08 AM   #1
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Default Auxiliary Solar power

I am sure that a number of folks have added some solar powered panels to assist in the charging of their batteries when they are dry camping. I purchased one a awhile back (18 volt 8 amp unit) and it is worthless. For a portable one what is the best that you have found? and is it necessary to mount on the roof? if so did you rewire to accommodate the unit

Bob K
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:26 PM   #2
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I just got a portable folding 120 watt unit -- puts out six amps, which is more than enough to replace the 17 amps we use per day. So far, it is great. But this is the summer, with lots of bright Calif sunshine. We will see how it does under less than perfect conditions.
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Old 07-04-2015, 10:01 AM   #3
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Can you tell me what brand you bought and where you found it? I have found a 100 Watt unit on Amazon (RenogyⓇ Foldable Solar Suitcase Battery Charger 100W) ( Maximum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18.0V with a 10 amp charge controller) but I have been told that the 120 Watts is the way to go. But trying to find one that is reasonable is not easy.

Thanks
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Old 07-04-2015, 07:36 PM   #4
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I got lucky -- I got it from a private party for less than half of retail cost. No warranty, of course, but I took a chance and it paid off. And it is a no-brand Chinese unit. When I bought it, I brought along a battery and used my multimeter to make sure that the panels were working.

But knowing what I know now, I would seriously consider paying full price for a 120 watt unit. It really did the job for us this last trip -- I did not run our generator once in ten days or so, and usually I do. I have a Honda 2000, the quietest generator available, and I hate to run it. I go camping for the silence!
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Old 07-05-2015, 02:45 PM   #5
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That is great to know I have two of the Honda 2000s and I able to combine them so that i can run our air if necessary. But I also want to get to the point where i can just use the sun if air is not required. My scenario is that I have to use a CPAP at night and that can be taxing on the batteries. I will work on finding a 120 watt unit at a reasonable price. Thanks for the input.

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Old 08-04-2015, 12:39 PM   #6
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bakobza
Sorry I did not see your post earlier. I admit I generally only read the "Repair and Modificatlons" posts, so I did not see yours under "Community." If you are interested, you can look back at a series I posted on my solar install on the following dates in Repairs and Modifications: Jan 8, 10, 14, 17 and Feb 7, 2015. I will also do a new follow-up posting today on the same forum. My system is Renology.
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Old 08-05-2015, 12:20 AM   #7
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I bought the 100 watt Renogy portable solar that you were looking at on Amazon. I got mine from Renogy on sale for $199. I also bought 15 ft of additional power cord.

I got the opportunity to use this panel for five nights last week. The campsite I was in was mostly shaded so I had to play solar chess to get in 4 - 5 hours of charging in a day. There was a wildfire in the area so a couple of days were overcast which limited the charge amount. The temperatures got to 95 degrees so we used the vent fans more than normal.

The solar panel allowed me to use my CPAP for all but one night. Unfortunately my generator also was unusable for that last night so I went without the CPAP that night. The main lesson I learned was that I would have had a different result if I had another 15 - 20 feet of power cord, and I need to pay more attention to the amount of shade when I select a campsite. Other than this I was happy with the way the solar panels worked. I am not sure if the extra .5 or so amps of a 120 watt system would have made enough difference.

I should also add that I have 2 Group 24 12 volt batteries on the trailer. I will probably switch these out for 6 volt batteries at some point. This will give me better power storage.
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Old 08-05-2015, 08:04 AM   #8
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If you add a longer cord, you may need a heavier gauge. A 12 gauge wire is good for about 15 feet. A 10 gauge is ok for 25 feet. (The smaller the number, the heavier the gauge.) The issue is voltage drop -- too much resistance with a small cable. But the bigger cables are heavier and harder to handle.
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Old 05-14-2018, 05:33 AM   #9
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We also have 2 of the Honda 2000 generators but would rather be more quiet with solar panels. So what you are saying is that a 120 watt solar panels can run everything in my FF trailer?
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:13 AM   #10
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I think any solar panel 120 watts or over would be good to keep a battery charged. The Key is a controller.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:41 AM   #11
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we have a HQSD 100 w panel that we carry around in our van. we don't mount it to the camper because we have used it with 3 different camping set ups. I have bought several HQSD 30 amp charge controllers. and have installed them in the different campers. we also like to set up in the shade and so want to be able to move the panel around. I also think the panel might last longer from not being in the elements all of the time, even when not in use.

In our 95 rialta, we have a dometic 12 v (danfoss compresses) refrigerator/freezer instead of a gas fridge. It works great, but will use about 3-4 Ah every time it starts up. on a hot day, it can pull down the charge of the batteries. The rialta has a generator on board, but it is not very quiet, so we really liked using the solar. We have 2 100 Ah batteries in that camper, so it really gives us a lot of reserve.

when we got the fun finder, we put in another charge controller and even though we don't use that much power from our battery, it is great to charge it up after a cold night where the furnace comes on a few times.

the HQSD products seem very efficient and work so well we don't think about it much. They aren't real fancy, but once set up, it is nice to just be able to glance at the charge controller and check the battery level.

they do come with wiring connectors that would be a pain to use if not permanently installed, so we changed them. It looks funny, but we cut off one end of a heavy duty extension cord and connected it to the charge controller. We then wired a heavy duty plug end to the panel. When we camp, we set up the panel in a good sunny spot, then pull out the cord out from the charge controller and plug it in. the controllers and cords are mounted in different spots on each camper.

On the fun finder, I put the charge controller under the fridge, on the door of that little cabinet.

It's become one of our regular camping set up chores, and we kind of enjoy it.
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