Solar Panel Connetion adding a controller too... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-20-2009, 02:57 PM   #1
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Name: Jim
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Hey

Question for the group...my rig is getting a complete re wire........wow it turned out to be a big mess

so i am going to add a solar controller and want to mount my panels on the front or rear window as the day goes..or move if i am in the shade...so...my question......can i put 12 volt outlets...front and rear mounted outside... and then put a 12 volt plug attached to the solar panel with 8 gauge wire..and just plug in as needed when im am going solar?

the plugs would be hooked directly to the controller......

and my second question...if this would work....could i then use the outlets for power when i need to hook something up outside?

Thanks Group....

this is the controller i am getting...i am having this pre set for solar.......if i get a wind turbine at a later date i am all ready...

i am getting a volt meter with this with a couple extra feet of wire...so i can mount this inside underneath the front love seat thing..next to my wiring and battery....the led lights will be underneath the seat with the volt meter above the fridge so i can see the battery status....

he sell the whole package including a box for a bit more coin.....this way i can install in my location for less....

what you think? i will be posting pictures soon..including the whole wire mess........


http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...e=STRK:MEWAX:IT
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:35 PM   #2
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So just how big is a panel that outputs 160 AMPS. You're talking some serious wattage here. It says it will handle 2800 watts. Wouldn't you need a trailer just to carry it around. I think that this unit is made for home use and a large array of storage batteries.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:49 PM   #3
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If you're talking about mounting the "cigarette lighter" style of socket on the outside/front of the trailer, one thing to consider is that I've never found one of these that is really waterproof. Even the marine ones. I have reluctantly used those on boats, because if I convert my stuff that uses them to a more waterproof type of plug/socket, then I won't be able to use them in the car (GPS, computer charger, etc.). But I wouldn't use them in a non-sheltered location, unless you can find something that really is waterproof (and then, please share your find ).

OTOH, have others used them on trailers? Maybe even a rainstorm at 60 mph is not as good at finding flaws as a good sized wave

I don't see the panel you mean, but maybe it's 160 watts? That would be a largish but not unreasonable panel size.

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Old 09-20-2009, 05:49 PM   #4
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There are a couple practical plug connectors you can use with a low-amps solar systems (e.g. 10 amps and under) like most FG trailer folk have. One option is to use a marine-type cigarette lighter socket with a watertight cover. Gina D has a portable solar panel array that works that way, and I think it's just plain nifty. Well worth a look.

Another option is to use two-pole trailer connector plugs (see picture) like those you find on most battery chargers. Just make sure the exposed pin for the plug wired to your trailer's electrical system is the "ground" side connection so you don't short out your controller if it touches your trailer frame.



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Unfortunately these connectors will not work as a power outlet outside your trailer. Most solar charge controllers have blocking diodes that prevent power from running backward through the system to the solar panels at night.

The charge controller you mention might be overkill for a fiberglass trailer. At 160 amps capacity it looks like its designed to power a small off-grid cabin with several 12v batteries, not just one or two batteries in a trailer, and I'd be worried that it might damage them by providing too much juice as the batteries come up to capacity.

All but one or two fiberglass setups I've heard about have seven or ten amp charging systems that are designed for the RV and marine market. Two I can recommend are the Sunsei and Morningstar brand systems. Gina D has has an ASC controller and likes it. The main thing to look for is a controller that offers multiple charging levels depending on your battery's level of charge. (Fast charge when the battery is low, a medium rate charge as the battery voltage heads over 12.6 or 12.7 volts, then a trickle charge as the battery tops 12.8 volts.)
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Old 09-20-2009, 07:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
There are a couple practical plug connectors you can use with a low-amps solar systems (e.g. 10 amps and under) like most FG trailer folk have. One option is to use a marine-type cigarette lighter socket with a watertight cover. Gina D has a portable solar panel array that works that way, and I think it's just plain nifty. Well worth a look.

Another option is to use two-pole trailer connector plugs (see picture) like those you find on most battery chargers. Just make sure the exposed pin for the plug wired to your trailer's electrical system is the "ground" side connection so you don't short out your controller if it touches your trailer frame.


Attachment 23594


Unfortunately these connectors will not work as a power outlet outside your trailer. Most solar charge controllers have blocking diodes that prevent power from running backward through the system to the solar panels at night.

The charge controller you mention might be overkill for a fiberglass trailer. At 160 amps capacity it looks like its designed to power a small off-grid cabin with several 12v batteries, not just one or two batteries in a trailer, and I'd be worried that it might damage them by providing too much juice as the batteries come up to capacity.

All but one or two fiberglass setups I've heard about have seven or ten amp charging systems that are designed for the RV and marine market. Two I can recommend are the Sunsei and Morningstar brand systems. Gina D has has an ASC controller and likes it. The main thing to look for is a controller that offers multiple charging levels depending on your battery's level of charge. (Fast charge when the battery is low, a medium rate charge as the battery voltage heads over 12.6 or 12.7 volts, then a trickle charge as the battery tops 12.8 volts.)
Regarding connectors, I found one that can be used as a solar panel power inlet. Don't know the brand name -- it came from our local electrical/electronics surplus store [called OEM Electronics]. It comes with 8 AWG leads, terminated with connecting rings that fit the posts on my Morningstar SunSaver 10. It's hermaphroditic -- two of these can plug into each other, like the 2-pole trailer plugs, but the connecting pins are recessed to avoid shocks and/or shorts. You could possibly give yourself a shock across them, but you'd have to be trying fairly hard, like sticking a thumb and forefinger in both at the same time. Not good to put in the reach of small kids, but for most adults, I'd say they're very safe.

The photo below is of the entire assembly. Wire one into your solar controller, the other into the panel. Then you can run your solar line in through a door or window, or your 120V cord door if you have one.



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Or better yet, put an inlet in the side of your trailer (photos 2 & 3). I used a cover for a regular dual 120v outlet, plus some red rubber gasket material from Ace. I can plug the panel into this inlet, and place it up to 25 feet or so away from the trailer, which lets me park in the shade.



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The last photo is a closeup of the plug, showing the mounting flanges with holes for bolts or screws.



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I don't know the brand name or even any generic name for these plugs, nor do I know anywhere else to buy them. But, if you're interested, you might call OEM Parts at 719-635-0771, or see their eB*y store HERE. Maybe they would place them on eB*y if requested (?). Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with them at all, just buy stuff from them from time to time.

Don
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Old 09-20-2009, 08:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
could i then use the outlets for power when i need to hook something up outside?
No.

In the configuration you are intending, the "outlet" is really an input. Do not plug anything in there but a solar panel. Charge controllers don't like anything but those.

Depending on your controller, if you plug something into that socket, turn it on and try to draw current OFF your controller input like that, you could seriously damage it, or simply get nothing at all if the controller is protected from backwards current flow. (And it should be!)

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Old 09-20-2009, 09:03 PM   #7
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Those look like Power Poles to me or some copy of them.


http://www.andersonpower.com/products/sing...connectors.html


http://www.powerwerx.com/

They would be just OK for this application as they can come apart too easily for my use.
I would also be really careful to NOT use them as pictured with the same color connectors. I would get them in red and black for sure.
They will plug in "Keyed" if you set them up that way to insure correct polarity but they are also very easy to key backwards if you are not aware of what exactly you are looking at.

I use them for my Amateur radio solar connections as well as all radio power connections and I have them set up horizontal as in your pictures for radio use and vertical for Solar so I can not plug a solar panel into a radio and let the smoke out by mistake!

I would use a small trolling motor connector that is a twist-lock they sell even at Walmart. They are more waterproof and lock with a twist and ca only go together one way.

I also would heed Gina's warning that most solar systems are designed to not allow current to flow both directions for good reason so I would not look to that as an extra feature.

Also I just can not resist noting the original poster's name does imply at least some large working knowledge of electricity.....?
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:54 PM   #8
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Those look like Power Poles to me or some copy of them.

http://www.andersonpower.com/products/sing...connectors.html

http://www.powerwerx.com/

They would be just OK for this application as they can come apart too easily for my use.
I would also be really careful to NOT use them as pictured with the same color connectors. I would get them in red and black for sure.
They will plug in "Keyed" if you set them up that way to insure correct polarity but they are also very easy to key backwards if you are not aware of what exactly you are looking at... [snip]
My connectors do seem to be similar, if not the same, as the Power Poles, but mine (to me) seem to hold together fairly tightly. Maybe they're not exactly the same, or maybe I'm just easier to please in that regard...

Also, once they're keyed for polarity, as long as you leave them that way, they'll always connect red to red and black to black, and you can't reverse them accidentally. Having said that, I might put some black tape on the negative housings, just as a visual check, even though I would have to work at it to get them reversed.

The trolling motor connector sounds like it may be a better solution, but mine are already installed and I'm happy with them.
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:28 AM   #9
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great information

my panel is a 75 watt ..for now....i do have bigger plans.....the unit will work and will be adjusted for my use..and can expand upwards as needed..

after reading I am going to go with a set up from West Marine

its a waterproof twist lock setup.....

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/store...mp;classNum=316


im also going to install two addl 12 volt ports....waterproof....from the stag 2009 RV Accessories book....so i can plug in an outdoor led flood lamp

so i dont confuse the outlets and plug something else in them....

here are some pictures of the plug from a member on the scamper yahoo forum..Thanks Joy..


thanks Gina for the 12 volt plug information...i had to ask....it would have been just too easy a setup...







Quote:
My connectors do seem to be similar, if not the same, as the Power Poles, but mine (to me) seem to hold together fairly tightly. Maybe they're not exactly the same, or maybe I'm just easier to please in that regard...

Also, once they're keyed for polarity, as long as you leave them that way, they'll always connect red to red and black to black, and you can't reverse them accidentally. Having said that, I might put some black tape on the negative housings, just as a visual check, even though I would have to work at it to get them reversed.

The trolling motor connector sounds like it may be a better solution, but mine are already installed and I'm happy with them.
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:15 AM   #10
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... I am going to go with a set up from West Marine

its a waterproof twist lock setup.....

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/store...mp;classNum=316

...
This looks perfect - I wish I had seen this one before I set mine up. If I were to change over now, the twist lock inlet might cover up the hole for the existing plug, but there would be at least 2 screw holes left in the skin, where the outlet cover is attached. Hmm, maybe I could plug those up...?
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Old 09-21-2009, 01:36 PM   #11
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Jim,

Don, if you are talking about replacing a 12 volt outlet with the marine locking outlet, I believe the hole size is the same size. The paper work says that it fits a standard 1 1/8" hole. maybe a decorative flange would cover up the holes or a couple of rivets with caps on them.
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Old 09-21-2009, 02:03 PM   #12
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Jim,

Don, if you are talking about replacing a 12 volt outlet with the marine locking outlet, I believe the hole size is the same size. The paper work says that it fits a standard 1 1/8" hole. maybe a decorative flange would cover up the holes or a couple of rivets with caps on them.
Joy,

I would be replacing the rectangular plug shown in my original post (Post #5). If the diameter of the trim on the marine receptacle is at least 1 1/2" then it will cover my current plug hole plus the 2 mounting holes for the plug. But then the outlet cover mounting holes will still be there. I suppose I could cover those holes as you suggest with rivets or bolts, but the new 12v inlet would not be centered between them, since my current one is offset to the left. I'll look into this some more, but for now, I have plenty of other tasks that take priority over this, in terms of both time and money.
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:46 AM   #13
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Found the same Marinco kit for a lower price and free shipping -- at Amazon.com

Also found the spec sheets at Marinco.com, so I can check the dimensions to see if it will be easy to replace my existing port.
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Old 09-22-2009, 04:06 PM   #14
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I have 3 (15 watt 1.25 amp) solar panels and I am trying to find a way to have them plug into my new morning star controller. I my plug in 1 2 or all 3 depending on my needs .
I park in the shade and remote the panels.

So I want connectors outside the SCAMP going into one connection on the controller
Need some type of connector 3 in 1 out.
Could used some ideas.
THANKS DAVE
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