solar setup at costco. Good buy - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-22-2006, 09:27 PM   #41
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Holes in roof.. scares me.
You haven't seen my massive towering bulk have you I am 5 foot one on a good day. Things on the roof might as well be on another planet to me.
Are you telling me you dont carry an 8 foot extension ladder?

So you have a squeegy on a stick. No big deal. I stand on my front propane tank and squeegy from there. Takes me 30 seconds.

I think carting around those panels will get old quick. Not only are they heavy but are kind of aukward. 4 holes in the roof is no big deal. When you mount just use butyl tape and stainless hardware. This weekends wet adventure produced no leaks.

Ok. Since you have to cart around the panels. Why not mount them permanently and cart around a light 8 foot extension ladder.
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Old 05-22-2006, 11:01 PM   #42
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Sorry Gina, you can't have my extension ladder!
On a more helpful note, would those panels fit on a roof rack for your tug? If so, they would also provide shade and keep your Element cooler inside, which your dogs just might appreciate. Some creative wiring with maybe an extra plug might do the trick. The top of the Element may also be a little more accessible than the roof of the "Shady Bush II". Land Rovers can be ordered with a "shade" panel for the roof and it doesn't generate any electricity!
Has anyone else come up with mounting possibilities for solar panels?
Watching with interest...
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 05-23-2006, 06:07 AM   #43
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So how many amps does this 45 watt coleman put out per hour??. Sounds like it is doing a great job! The 54 watt up here may even be a shade more powerful.
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Old 05-23-2006, 07:34 AM   #44
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45 watt panels put out about 3 amps max.
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Old 05-23-2006, 07:35 AM   #45
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This guy/gal seem to have pretty good feedback.
http://stores.ebay.com/Cheap-12-Volt-Products
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Old 05-23-2006, 07:49 AM   #46
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45 watt panels put out about 3 amps max.

Live Free or Die, I drove down to Danville, NH. last August from Northern Ontario to pick up my Trillium.
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Old 05-23-2006, 08:26 AM   #47
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The panels are not real good for using as a direct power source, tho you can run small fans, charge cell phones and use a bunch of little low current draw items from them directly. (At nite.. they don't work to well for this )

They are for battery charging mostly, and when connected, your battery and onboard electrical acts as a filter.

Daytime battery use is minimal for most folks, so the panels replenish during the day, and rest at nite while you are using the juice.

It takes a LONG time to charge a dead battery with a panel because of the low current capabilities. Bigger panels help, but not by much. I trickle charge with a couple little VW 3.5 watters paralleled (7 watts) and it takes nearly a week for the battery to come up to a full charge when it's depleted pretty low.

Currently (excuse the pun) I don't come home with a low battery as I have the tow set up to charge. It always gets parked with a full charge and the little VW chargers keep it topped off.
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Old 05-23-2006, 08:47 AM   #48
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Well just got off the phone with Costco in Barrie they have 25 of the icp 54 watt set ups on their shelves at $289.00 Cdn. So I guess it is a no brainer to get these for my battery(ies)
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Old 05-23-2006, 10:24 AM   #49
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Thank you all for sharing your solar experiences!
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Old 05-23-2006, 11:54 AM   #50
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So.. During this last campout, there was a whole clan of family members camped out before we got there. They took up every site but one which we snagged. After we set up i noticed that they had their big generators going. 2 massive rv,s, 3 quads , a few tents, the big dodge diesels to tow their monstrosities. We had the very farthest spot away from the clan and THANK GOD. What a racket those generators were making. So much for a quiet campground. So i sat there like a solar snob thinking to myself how great solar is. No stinky gas, no racket, no exhaust fumes, just pure clean silence. I am actually glad it poured the whole time because we had a good excuse to leave and find a secluded spot.
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Old 05-23-2006, 01:10 PM   #51
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I guess some like or need the noise (the Dodge word gave it away )
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Old 05-24-2006, 05:55 PM   #52
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...Has anyone else come up with mounting possibilities for solar panels? ...
I have not settled on a good mounting method on my Boler for my solar panel (I currently have one 30 W unit), so for a temporary setup I built a couple of brackets which clamp on to the crossbars in the roof rack of my tow vehicle. The idea was to park in the sunniest available position within cable reach, and plug the charging cable into a jack on the trailer (or just clip the alligator clamps onto the battery posts), but so far I have only plugged in to my portable power pack and recharged it.
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Old 05-24-2006, 07:09 PM   #53
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I agree with Kurt, I think the roof of the tug might be a great location for the panels. If there was a quick and easy way to mount and unmount them it would be even better!

Now I don't know if to invest in solar first or a generator.
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:17 PM   #54
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So back from the sunny south with my 54 watt solar kit! Yaaaay, NOT. Nothing is compatable, the dogs. What is in it is 3 18w panels that don't connect together and wiring that doesn't go into the charge controller, and instructions for a single panel. It would be sooooo nice if companies would actually provide pictures of what you actually need to do rather than little electric diagrams. I take it that every wire needs to be cut, spliced, taped and then sealed off with those handy littly screw on connectors? I wonder if anyone here has actual pictures of the way they connected this wiring together. I mean does everything run through the controller now, the wiring from the converter to the battery, the wiring from the panels, the wiring from the battery?? They also gave me three cigarette light plugs that can connect to the little battery connectors. Can I connect these two and charge the battery from the tug?? So much to learn. Pictures of the wiring connections would be great, explanations with plus minus signs don't do me a lot of good though I do understand then, I gotta see things. me . Paddy
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:37 PM   #55
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Paddy, you don't have to be an elctronics genious to hook these up.

Mine came with pre terminated wires and connectors. I don't have my instructions anymore.. as a matter of fact, my testosterone levels kicked in and I didn't even use them (Sorry guyz, I'll go to my room now)

MINE came with 3 panels, each with a 2 wire pigtail, female, on marked with blue shrink tube, and one with green.

It came with a harness with 3 sets of MALE connectors (2 each) marked Green and blue as well and 1 "End" This parallels your panels together. Plug a panel into each of the pair of connectors one this 3 loopy thingy.

Take the Longer end, and plug into the long wire provided. Also matching colors. The bare wires on the end of this embilical cord then go to the + (Red) and - (Black) on your controller INPUT. Red is +, black is - .

You will then go from the + on your controller output to The + terminal on you battery. - to the negative terminal.

Go directly to your battery, don't bring your convertor into it.

If you didn't get pre terminated wires, I hestitate to give further instruction because I don't have panels in front of me to determine the + and - wire colors with a voltmeter.

I also didn't use the controller that came with mine, so pics of my set up won't help you. I have a larger and different type of controller with screw terminals.
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:56 PM   #56
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Paddy, you don't have to be an elctronics genious to hook these up.

Mine came with pre terminated wires and connectors. I don't have my instructions anymore.. as a matter of fact, my testosterone levels kicked in and I didn't even use them (Sorry guyz, I'll go to my room now)

MINE came with 3 panels, each with a 2 wire pigtail, female, on marked with blue shrink tube, and one with green.

It came with a harness with 3 sets of MALE connectors (2 each) marked Green and blue as well and 1 "End" This parallels your panels together. Plug a panel into each of the pair of connectors one this 3 loopy thingy.

Take the Longer end, and plug into the long wire provided. Also matching colors. The bare wires on the end of this embilical cord then go to the + (Red) and - (Black) on your controller INPUT. Red is +, black is - .

You will then go from the + on your controller output to The + terminal on you battery. - to the negative terminal.

Go directly to your battery, don't bring your convertor into it.

If you didn't get pre terminated wires, I hestitate to give further instruction because I don't have panels in front of me to determine the + and - wire colors with a voltmeter.

I also didn't use the controller that came with mine, so pics of my set up won't help you. I have a larger and different type of controller with screw terminals.
There are no colour coding of the wires in my set up whatsoever, there is no way to connect the three panels without cutting and splicing, no way whatsoever. So once all this is done can I just plug the wires from the panels to the controller and then the controller to the battery leaving the wires from the trailer already on the battery on the battery or do they need to be cut and plugged into the controller. Believe me I do not have pre terminated wires or any way to connect the three panels together. Typical Canada if you get a deal it is because someone is laughing somewhere
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Old 05-25-2006, 09:29 PM   #57
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So once all this is done can I just plug the wires from the panels to the controller and then the controller to the battery leaving the wires from the trailer already on the battery
Yes.

NOTHING should be wired to your controller input BUT a solar panel. Then controller to battery. Everything else just leave wired as is.

This is exactly how mine has been set up for a year, and I have had no issues. I even charge with my genset, car and onboard charger with the controller attached to the battery.

I am NO expert on the elctromechanics of the solar panel and the controller itself, (I just leave it as "magic" and don't wonder) but every time I read up on set ups.. it is emphasised numerous times that nothing goes on the input but a panel. I suspect it has to do with current draw, but once again.. I am making a semi educated guess on that.

I DID read instructions when first researching.. they promised war and pestulance if I did this.. so I don't.
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Old 05-25-2006, 09:35 PM   #58
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Paddy. I feel you pain. The costco solar kit is pretty badly put together. Its actually 3 seperate kits with 3 cheezy battery connectors and 3 cigarette plugs. No where in the kit can you wire anything to the controller without wire cutters, soldering irons etc. What i did was cut off all the connectors on the panels. I shortened all the panel leads to about 1 foot and resoldered the connectors back on. Then a made a 3 panel connector plug out of the connectors i cut off the cheezy battery connectors which promptly were fired in the garbage. The 3 connectors were wired to 10 guage wire that i ran from each positive and negative lead to the charge controller. Then 2 leads from the charge controller to the battery.The panels are permanently attached to my roof so if i have a problem with 1 particular panel i can just remove it, dissconnect the plug , reattach a new panel,and plug it back into the 3 panel connector plug .

Heres a picture i quickly drew up.
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Old 05-25-2006, 10:27 PM   #59
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Colin,

I have been following this thread as well, trying to figure out how best to hook these things up, both to the trailer roof and electrically speaking.

I like your idea of making a harness from the "extra" connectors, I might just do that.

Just wondering if you attached the trailer wiring to the charge controller's load terminals, or directly to the battery? Do you think it makes a difference?

I'm also looking for ideas for rooftop mounting of the 3 panels - I saved your picture of your rack, but I don't have easy access to someone to make me something like that and I'm considering something fairly easily removable as I have a south-facing porch on my house which I could move them too, and have additional/emergency power when not camping. Just a thought.

Thanks everyone for the info, I appreciate it!

Dave

P.S. Paddy - I bought the same 400W inverter from Canadian Tire, I thought the digital readout of battery voltage and load wattage would be handy!
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Old 05-25-2006, 11:25 PM   #60
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Do you think it makes a difference?
I don't see how it would, unless the battery filters, BUT.. why re arrange everything thats already done? Just connect the controller to the battery and be done with it. "If it ain't broke".

I wonder what kind of package was done for Costco? Did it come in a Coleman box? My package was 100% complete and well laid out. The wiring on the panels was about 6 inches long. All the quick connects were there. Nothing needed to be cut. If the one panel didn't have a bad crimp and diode, all I would have needed to do was connect via terminal and screw the long harness wires to the controller input.

I DID replace the main long pigtail with 10 gage wire tho. I wanted to lengthen it, but what came with it was fine for a shorter run.
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