Solar Panel 101 for Dummies - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 07-31-2019, 04:38 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Name: Richard
Trailer: 2009 Scamp 13'
Alberta
Posts: 124
Solar Panel 101 for Dummies

Sorry to flog the proverbial steed, but..... I know nothing about solar panels or electricity, but Im interested in buying a small panel that I could set up on a sunny day to supplement my battery. I have a 13 foot Scamp and will be on the road for a couple of months. As I understand it, having a panel could cut down on the time we need to stay at campsites with hook-ups simply because our battery is getting too low to stay at a BLM, Forest Service, or unserviced site. Is there a good link here or elsewhere that can help get me up to speed? There is SO much information and SO many opinions, Im dizzy. But Im really looking for a simple way to somewhat expand our options to wander aimlessly, and still have lights at night. We can put the fridge on propane, so our needs for electricity are very modest, but still necessities. Thanks for any basic guidance.
__________________

Richard Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 04:48 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Glenn Baglo's Avatar
 
Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
Posts: 6,222
Your needs sound similar to mine. I have two 40 watt Coleman panels. They connect to a hub which connects to a controller, which connects to battery terminals. You could start with one panel ( no hub ) and add, if required. I now leave my generator at home.
Got them on sale at Canadian Tire. Open a Canadian Tire account and set a Sales Alert for the panels. They are on sale every few weeks. I paid half what they are currently listed at.
You could pay more for better panels, but why?
Panels come with everything you will need, and some stuff you won't.
Currently listed at $269 CAD. If I recall, I paid $99 and have seen them at $79.
Attached Thumbnails
Solar Honda.jpg  
__________________

__________________
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
Glenn Baglo is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 04:50 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
John in Santa Cruz's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Escape 21, behind an '02 F250 7.3 diesel tug
Mid Left Coast
Posts: 1,787
I attached a pigtail to my Casita's battery with a PowerPole PP30 plug, and got a Renogy 100W 'solar suitcase' portable solar panel, and put a PP30 on it instead of the default battery clips. The battery pigtail was just enough to fit through the vent on the battery compartment door, so I could leave that closed and locked even with the solar panel plugged in.


This worked great, I'd aim it at the morning sun before going to bed, and on a sunny day my battery would be fully charged by the time I got up.

I had LED lighting in the Casita, so the primary use of electricity was running the heater fan at night, the ventilation fan during the day, and the water pump.

here's the pigtail...


and here's the solar panel setup (far left)

John in Santa Cruz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 05:14 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Raspy's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19 on order
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 1,593
The simplest way to deal with the problem is some variation on what Jon said. And it is what I did too.

Get a Renogy 100 watt solar suitcase. The one that comes complete with the controller. Easily found on Amazon. Make up a cord that is long enough to place the panels where they can point to the sun. My cord is a #12 heavy duty extension cord, easily found at Home Depot, and cut to 20' in my case. The suitcase already has the controller and just needs to be wired to the battery with some sort of plug, there are many to choose from, or even alligator clips.

The charging is all automatic and all you have to do is point the panels at the sun, and keep them out of the shade.

The suitcase stores easily and is a wonderful tool.

If this is the route you want to take, and I highly recommend it, you can get more help on doing the plugs and wiring at the battery, but it is all very simple stuff.

With careful use, this should supply all the power you need.

At some point, you'll have to make sure your battery is big enough and in good enough condition. But that is not the driving issue here and may be perfect as it is.

Jump in, get the suitcase and get it set up.

Once you get going, you'll begin to see how it all works out for you and how much power you have to play with.
__________________
I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt.
Raspy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 05:41 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Name: Richard
Trailer: 2009 Scamp 13'
Alberta
Posts: 124
Thanks for the clear and concrete advice. What does the controller do? Manage the charging of the battery as electricity is produced by the solar panel?
Richard Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 06:01 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Raspy's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19 on order
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 1,593
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Davis View Post
Thanks for the clear and concrete advice. What does the controller do? Manage the charging of the battery as electricity is produced by the solar panel?
Exactly.
__________________
I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt.
Raspy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 06:40 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Name: Douglas
Trailer: Lil Snoozy
MD
Posts: 101
Registry
I use the Acopower 105 watt foldable solar panel that weighs less than 1/3 of what the Renogy solar suitcase weighs. And it folds into thirds, not halves, so is much more compact. You do have to prop it up on something and it is sort of flexible. But it is so light that it is super easy to store and deploy.

This version (which I don't own) has legs to prop it up, which is a nice addition.

https://www.amazon.com/ACOPOWER-Port.../dp/B07FB643MH
Air Doug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 06:59 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 2,343
Registry
I have the Renogy suitcase model as well. Bought on Amazon Prime Day. Like John, I installed a pigtail on my battery which allows me to connect to the battery without leaving it out in the open.

Next step is a longer extension cord, as the best location sun wise is often not right next to the camper.

I like to camp at National Parks that rarely have hook ups. So its a generator or solar panel.

Side advantage for me with the portable unit is I use it on my Escape and my Trillium. And by not being permanently attached to the trailer, I can place it where the sun is, instead of being locked in on top of the trailer.
thrifty bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 07:10 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Glenn Baglo's Avatar
 
Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
Posts: 6,222
I didn't have to buy wire or connectors for my cheap Coleman.
Attached Thumbnails
Solar setup.jpg  
__________________
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
Glenn Baglo is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2019, 07:14 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Raspy's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19 on order
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 1,593
Here are a couple of pictures of my solar plug and the wiring to the battery.
The plug is a simple twist lock, water proof unit with weather cap.
Attached Thumbnails
0-1-1.jpg   0-3-1.04.18-PM-1.jpg  

__________________
I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt.
Raspy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2019, 08:50 AM   #11
Senior Member
 
Name: Richard
Trailer: 2009 Scamp 13'
Alberta
Posts: 124
Thanks for more helpful info. If I use an electrical wire around 20 feet long to allow me to place the panels in the sun, what gauge wire would I need? I know that too thin a gauge does NOT work well bringing electrical power to the Scamp if the length is too long. So I’d want to buy the proper thickness for the solar panel, but not more than is required for the application.
Richard Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2019, 09:45 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
Raspy's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19 on order
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 1,593
Richard,
I suggested a #12 heavy duty outside extension cord from Home Depot, or equivalent. Then cut it to 15-20'. These are durable, have fine stranded wire and are relatively cheap.

#12 is the wire size and is rated for 20 amps. You will be running about 8 amps during peak sun.

You are right that a small gauge wire does not work well with low voltage, but this size is fine, easy to get, is resistant to damage when stepped on, will lay flat on the ground, is a bright color, and is easily coiled up over and over for storage. It can easily be stored inside the suitcase.
__________________
I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt.
Raspy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2019, 10:22 AM   #13
Senior Member
 
Name: Douglas
Trailer: Lil Snoozy
MD
Posts: 101
Registry
If you are thinking about different wire lengths, this site from West Marine tells you what gauge wire to use in two different scenarios, 3% voltage drop and 10% voltage drop. You can see on it how Raspy's advice is good for 3% voltage drop for 20 feet of 12 gauge wire (falls between 5A and 10A on the chart).
https://www.westmarine.com/WestAdvis...e-And-Ampacity

Note that Renogy recommends no more than an additional 10 feet of 10 gauge wire extension to their suitcase . Check to see if the Renogy comes with only MC4 connectors; if so you will have to either buy the tool to install them on the extension cord or buy a cord with them already installed.

I got a cable with MC4 connectors already installed and cut it in two. The MC4 ends of the two cables plug into the solar panel. I installed Anderson power pole connectors on the other end to hook into my solar controller.

By the way, the Acopower panel cable comes with SAE and battery clip ends. The controller can be removed using the MC4 connectors so you can join it to another panel. Renogy does not recommend removing their controller.
Air Doug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2019, 10:31 AM   #14
Senior Member
 
Name: Peg
Trailer: 2016 -13' Scamp
Massachusetts
Posts: 174
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
Richard,
I suggested a #12 heavy duty outside extension cord from Home Depot, or equivalent. Then cut it to 15-20'. These are durable, have fine stranded wire and are relatively cheap.

#12 is the wire size and is rated for 20 amps. You will be running about 8 amps during peak sun.

You are right that a small gauge wire does not work well with low voltage, but this size is fine, easy to get, is resistant to damage when stepped on, will lay flat on the ground, is a bright color, and is easily coiled up over and over for storage. It can easily be stored inside the suitcase.

Can I jump in with a question? I have a controller and a 25W suitcase panel. If I purchase a second panel and connect them (in series), will I be able to charge my Group 27 deep cell battery (Scamp 13')? Do I need a full 100W - that is, purchase a 75W panel - or will a 50W do okay?
__________________

herons is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
solar, solar panel


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Fiberglass campers for dummies? Fiberglass 101? LurkerDan Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 46 04-18-2015 10:30 PM
Needed: Trailer Brakes for Dummies Doghaus Towing, Hitching, Axles and Running Gear 30 05-15-2014 11:29 AM
Solar Panel Set up Question - Grounding the panel? Anne H Electrical | Charging, Systems, Solar and Generators 2 09-07-2012 04:48 PM
Wiring for dummies - again Ian-Vicki Problem Solving | Owners Helping Owners 13 09-21-2007 02:41 PM
Dumping for Dummies Legacy Posts Plumbing | Systems and Fixtures 27 02-27-2003 08:35 PM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions Inc.