Portable Solar - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-28-2014, 06:51 AM   #1
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Name: Bob
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA
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Portable Solar

Have seen a number of folks looking into buying the portable folding kits over the last year or so, was wondering how these are working out for you in practice. I'm concerned about security as we tend to be away from the trailer for the day. Also many places we go have tree cover to some extent, do you have to keep moving the panel/s chasing the sun? Is it more hassle then it's worth?
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Old 11-28-2014, 07:14 AM   #2
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Name: Larry H
Trailer: Trillium
Arizona
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Hi,

I bought a used 110W panel in Phoenix for $85 so I
would not have to worry so much about theft. Using
spray paint I put my nickname in huge letters on the
back of the panel. Holes were drilled in the panel
frame to mount folding legs fabricated from used
aluminum ($2/ pair crutches at thrift store). I used
it for a couple of months this summer in the eastern
Sierras with no one bothering it. It kept the Trillium
130AH battery charged up even when using the
ham radio part of the day. The panel is about 10
years old and only puts out 90>100W. The
controller is a BlueSky Solar Boost 2000.

The panel was moved to follow the sun when I was
around camp . If planning to be away from camp all
day I tried face it due south. It is on the end of a 25 ft
cord so the trailer can remain in the shade while the
panel is in the sun. I find this arrangement preferable
to trailer mounted solar panels. No one bothered the
panel. Maybe I was just lucky?

I think it is worth the hassle especially if not moving
the trailer too often. If you move often the tow vehicle
charging system should keep up with light electrical
usage.

Hope this helps, Larry H
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Old 11-28-2014, 07:23 AM   #3
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Thanks Larry. Good idea about marking it, maybe paint it bright yellow or some such.
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Old 11-28-2014, 11:18 AM   #4
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I have a portable panel due to camping in areas with lots of trees regularly. If I am around I do move it every once in awhile to catch the most sun.

I have left it many times while away from the trailer for the day -both in busy campgrounds and at more remote BLM lands. If I am away from the trailer I do not leave it in a highly visable spot though. If I am going to leave it attached I usually just stick it up on the roof of the trailer... you can't even notice it. May not be in the best position for the sun but its better than nothing. My panel sat on the roof of the trailer while at a music festival for 4 days last summer with 30 thousand plus people camping & walking right by it ..... it survived that.
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Old 11-28-2014, 03:55 PM   #5
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i suspect that a solar panel like the ones we use don't have much value to a thief and i've never seen one in a pawn shop. in the years that i've camped the only time something was stolen was a bunch kids taking the beer out of my cooler. and yes, moving the panel around is worth the effort to keep a battery topped off. something very satisfying about getting power from the sun...

p@
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Old 11-28-2014, 06:59 PM   #6
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Thanks all, appreciate the answers. I have 160W roof mounted now which works fine in the summer but 2015 starts late fall and winter trips. Have been debating with myself whether I should add to the roof mounted or go portable, hence the questions. A quickie test by another showed the huge difference in flat mounted vs angled, especially when the sun is low in the sky.

Now I just have to decide how much to add and where to get it.
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Old 12-19-2014, 09:11 PM   #7
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Never would have thought to do it, but putting the panels on the trailer roof while away for a few hours makes a lot of sense. Thinking at the very least that could deter a would-be snatch and grab thief, and could also look to be attached up there, further discouraging potential opportunists, particularly them short in stature.
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:09 PM   #8
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Thought about putting them on the roof, but then there is the wire running down to the battery ( giving the ruse away ) and I'd be living in fear of a wind coming up.
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Old 12-20-2014, 06:11 AM   #9
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We put ours up on the roof sometimes too, as do other family members, as much to keep them out of the way of activities, an if in the sun, a great way to aim right at the sun, as down on the ground, there is a lot more shade.

As I rarely camp in a campground, and the ones we do came in often have power, have never used a panel there.

We have used ours at music festival, like Carol does, a bunch of times. Never an issue.

I really doubt that anyone would steal it while camping, and if they did, I have no doubt Karma would deal with them.
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Old 12-20-2014, 10:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Thought about putting them on the roof, but then there is the wire running down to the battery ( giving the ruse away ) and I'd be living in fear of a wind coming up.
When I leave the panel on the roof I also leave my front window guard in the down position so that the wire leading from the battery to the roof is pretty well hidden behind the propane tank and then behind the guard. Hardly noticeable unless you are up close and actually looking for it.

I also drilled a hole in the frame on mine so I can use a thin rope on it if I am worried about wind. When its on the roof I tie it down either to an awning bracket or to one of the roof vents. That way if the wind picks up it isn't going to go far.
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Old 12-20-2014, 11:24 AM   #11
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Name: kootenai girl
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I just purchased a 90 watt one in a hard case so haven't been camping with it yet. I already am not that keen though due to the size and weight.
As someone who usually camps without a lot of extra stuff it is a big heavy thing to pack around. Previously had an 80 watt roof fixed one and really liked the convenience of never having to set up or worry about it. We don't use much battery power though so maybe that helped as didn't worry too much about shade etc.
Will see how we like it when camping starts again though.
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Old 12-20-2014, 01:13 PM   #12
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I agree the great your power needs and the bigger the panel you need to meet that need its going to impact how practical it is to go with a movable panel. Once you getting into panels larger than 60w the storage can become an issue. Although some manufactures are packing more watts into smaller packages. For example there are now 80w panels that are the same size as the first 15 w panel that I purchased 7 years ago.

I made a padded cover for my panel and I have a flat empty wall on the outside of the bathroom that I installed a couple of marine plastic fittings and use light buggies to keep the panel secure to the wall while traveling. On the inside of the bathroom I used SS acorn on the screws which don't really stand out on the wall as they match the other acorns that Scamp uses all over the inside of the trailer.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:19 AM   #13
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Name: Jeri and Bob
Trailer: 2008 Casita FD
Washington
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We added a 80 w portable panel about three weeks ago. When Sunny it charges our 105 ma battery easily from about 12.4 V in about 4 hours. When partly sunny it takes all day. That's in Death Valley and Lake Mead in December. Charging is more efficient in the cool weather we've been having.

Currently where we are the sun at noon is only about 30° elevation so we put two or three Lego plates under each leg ... It makes a difference.

It is only moved a time or two a day. In the morning it is usually set facing approximately 160° then about 180 true south, finally about 200° true. Sometimes not at all.

Home Depot will put loops in the end of plastic covered twisted wire of any length you desire .... just add a padlock.
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:06 PM   #14
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Portable solar

In April 2014 I bought a 160 watt foldable solar kit from solarblvd. Used it to charge the trailer battery and an 800 amp power box with inverter I use for a CPAP for 2 weeks in Colorado, it did a great job with no issues. I did have to use the generator a few times when the clouds and rain lasted most of the day. For security I drilled a small hole in the frame and installed a small eye bolt to attach a 25 ft dog tie-out cable that pad locks to the trailer. When I am around camp I will adjust the panels direction, but have had good performance just pointing it south when going hiking for the day. When it is folded and stored in its nylon carrying case it fits nicely in the bigfoots clothes closet. I intend to put together a permanent plugin for the battery, a longer cord, and a better controller closer to the battery but for a no frills way to try solar I feel it was 239.00 dollars well spent.
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