If you have solar. I could use some help. - Page 5 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-17-2012, 05:08 PM   #57
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Name: Kevin K
Trailer: 17' Casita
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Don't want it outside when I travel. Front,top or back of camper.

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Old 07-06-2012, 07:50 AM   #58
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Trailer: Vixen Motor Coach
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Sorry for getting back so late Kevin. I forgot you need a week to return to life after vacation! So I got my temp rig all secured for our week in Yosemite and it worked wonderfully. The monocrystalline 50w panel I got on eBay for about $115 had lots of hot sun to soak up. We don't have a lot of big appliances or use much more than our lights but I have yet to replace the original incandescents in the Play Pac ... and there are 7 of them. I remember how quickly they ran down our battery last time and my UHAUL at the time only had the 5w panel which really couldn't keep up with the incandescent lights.

Anyway, the rig I have worked perfectly and was at max. charge even after one night I experimented and turned on all of the lights for a few hours. Neighbors must have thought we were nuts with all the lights on and us sitting out by the fire! The battery held perfectly and never got below 13v, so I will now transition over to a more permanent set up using what I have.

When they wired my truck with a new 7pin connector, they also did my trailer and the mechanic has is it so the truck battery can power everything in the egg. So all I had to do to keep things simple for my fast approaching vacation, was buy the same 7pin reciever that I got for the truck ($15), about 20' of 10-2 landscaping wire (stuff is great - really nice thick insulation and the 10 gauge wire matches the 3' lead that comes out of the solar panel), my deep cycle costco battery, and my Morningstar 10amp charge controller. The set up on my first play pac is different but to get through the trip this is what i did:

I wired the loose panel to the controller which I mounted inside the battery box, then to the battery. Then I used a couple of feet of the wire to hook up the 7pin receiver to the battery as well. I held it in place on top of the battery box with a bungee cord that I use to keep the battery cover on tight. I put the battery on the tongue/ battery tray, when we parked, and would simply unplug the male/trailer connector from the truck receiver and into the 'battery receiver.' I would then put the panel on the roof - and there we were. It was a little bit of work with everything loose, but I wanted proof of concept first. What I learned was my panel fits exactly under the truck bed tool box (I kept the cardboard box it shipped in for our trip) which kept it safe in transit. While some leave everything out at campgrounds, I still have a hard time leaving everything out. With all of the slack wire, I could leave the panel on the roof, (which had zero profile when i put it on a towel and was almost invisible), run the wire over the roof to the door and along the black door trim (blended in quite well) and put the battery just inside the door (thanks to roof sag there is a big enough gap for the wire and I could still lock the door). Kinda goofy but it got us through. Think I will mount the battery to the tongue permanently, add some pole mounts to the tongue as well and a telescoping pole to mount the panel to. I also thought the discussion about mounting the panel to the roof using 3m VHB heavy bonding tape was interesting. No holes to drill (except the one for the wire) and the person who already did it mentioned his AC unit would fall off his roof before his panel did.

Anyway, that's my report on the 50w panel. For a week, using the old incandescents it was more than enough. At some point I would imagine charging laptops and even adding a 12v crock pot or toaster oven to really put it to work. While the 50w mono panels in that price range are a lot alike, if you want a link to the one I got please do tell and let us know what you end up going with and how you decide to do it!

Sorry I didn't take any photos of my set up - I was too distracted by Half Dome and Mono Lake! I think I might have a bad photo from my phone when I did a test in my driveway before I bought the 12v wiring etc. if I can dig that up i'll post it.

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Old 07-06-2012, 10:06 AM   #59
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A couple of poorly taken pix from my phone ... the panel itself right out of the box and the subsequent test set up.

Second photo shows panel in background (with plenty of 10-2 landscaping wire. I think it was around $.70/ft at Home Depot - and the guy tossed in at least 3-4' extra!) wired to charge controller on ground next to battery. Charge controller runs to battery as does 7-pin receiver (seen for now sitting on top of tongue). When I plugged in the trailer/male 7-pin connector to the receiver, it actually worked and began charging right away and the 12v service inside the trailer went right to work lighting up my lights.

Side note ... I bought this Costco battery a year and a half ago and never used it a single time. When i went to charge it the day before doing this - it was still at 100% ... quite a pleasant surprise.
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