Bigfoot Solar System - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 07-23-2018, 01:46 PM   #21
Name: Richard
Trailer: Escape 21
Posts: 53
Originally Posted by Steve and Rosemary View Post
Hi Rick, I'm glad to hear it went well. It sounds like you connected your panels in Parallel, right? So did you put a switch in at all? I guess you could remove a fuse which would act like a switch, right?

Any thoughts you'd be willing to share on portable vs. roof-mount would be helpful. I'm trying to decide between flexible (lightweight) and rigid (durable) panels and am weighing the benefits of both roof-mount and portable setups. Do you find hauling the 100 watt panels around is a pain or is it doable?

Thanks for letting us know what you ended up doing. Happy camping!
Yes, the panels are connected in parallel.

I find the portable panels to take about 15 minutes to deploy. They are both a pain and doable. I have a cable to lock them with, but it is not all that secure, so I don't want to keep them out when we are not around. I keep the panels on a rack that rests on the top of the widow frames in our truck bed cab. We went with portable because wife wants to camp in the shade whenever available.

Sometimes I wish I had a panel mounted on top of the Escape roof. It would be very handy while driving or when we overnight at Walmart or a truck stop.

I think if we were more willing to camp in the sun, I would have gone with the roof top mounted panel.

Rick and Vicky Reed
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Old 07-23-2018, 02:03 PM   #22
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Name: Zach
Trailer: 91 Bigfoot 17
Posts: 1,976
This is also my experience. I bought portable panels at first to avoid drilling and mounting to the roof. Now I love them because I camp in the shade whenever possible.

But I also stealth camp around town fairly often, or in areas I don't really trust leaving the panels out. But I need to charge the battery...For this reason I'm convinced that I want roof-mounted panels in addition to my portable panel. Both would be really, really nice. If I had to only have one type...for my personal type of trailer use, I guess the portable are more adaptable to different situations. I've left my camper in the work parking lot for a few days when I was out in the field, and used a ladder to haul the panels to the roof and left them there while I was gone, laying flat. A pain, but workable. Much less chance of theft, and still a good charged battery when I got back.

But both is definitely the best option.

The portable panels can be a pain. I bought a package which included folding panels (90w), a few different battery-connection choices and an aluminum case. The case really helps. The photo shows how I transport it. Silver case on the left. Between getting the case out, pulling out the panel and standing it up, then putting the case back in my truck 15 minutes would be the absolute max. Probably not more than 5 if I'm motivated. I have a ratchet strap holding the case in place.

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Luckily there's not much theft where I live. It only takes once...but so far I've had good luck leaving the panel sitting out while I'm gone during the day. No lock.

It's heavy and it takes up space and a little time, but it's the only way I have to charge my battery so it's just part of setting up camp.

When I save the money, though, roof-mount panels are definitely happening.

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Old 07-23-2018, 04:52 PM   #23
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Name: Steve and Rosemary
Trailer: Bigfoot
Posts: 256
Camping in the shade is pretty important to us too. Plus, I am a little unsure about mounting anything to the roof right away; I'd like to confirm my calculated usage and needs before doing anything permanent. For both of these reasons, I've been leaning towards starting with a portable set-up that could later be turned into a roof-mounted one.

Thanks to you both for your feedback and updates.

Rosemary (not Steve)
LUCINDA 1989 Bigfoot 5th Wheel | Steve, Rosemary, Maude Pod & Tripawd Hope
'Glass trips: Moab 03/10 * The Swell 5/26/11 * Antelope Island 12/21/11 * Strawberry Res 6/12 * Whitney Res 6/14 * Uintahs 7/15 * East Fork of Black's 6/16 * St Mary-Ennis-Lava 6/18
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Old 07-25-2018, 07:57 PM   #24
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Name: James
Trailer: In the market trying to decide.
Posts: 2
Originally Posted by Tim D. View Post
Thanks, George. As I mentioned, much of the credit goes to HandyBob, who seems to be able to cobble solutions from scraps. We benefited from our experience living for 9 months in the first Bigfoot 17, so when we met HandyBob for upfitting the second Bigfoot 17 we knew what we wanted.

I'll go more into the electronics in a subsequent post, but to answer your question our theoretical maximum current is 4 x 4.63, which puts us over 18 amps. I believe we had that today. We ran the fridge on 120v from 9am to 4pm and will be at 100% charge by sundown.

We use a Morningstar Tristar PWM controller. I may one day get the MPPT version of that controller, but for the moment I am satisfied.
Very nice set up but I would upgrade to the MPPT version when able they work better in my experience. I know things have drastically changed in Solar in the last few years so it would not hurt to check it out. If you are happy with what you have I understand. I would not be in a hurry to replace it but I would do the research for when you are ready to. System is awesome. Cant wait to see the batteries and rest. Thanks for posting. Jim
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Old 07-30-2018, 12:45 PM   #25
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Name: Garnet
Trailer: Bigfoot 17'
Posts: 10
B17 Solar Solutions?

Well Done! Working on my B17 now and contemplation the solar install. Interested in any input.
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Old 01-31-2020, 07:42 AM   #26
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot
Posts: 28
I am going to put a solar system in my 21' 2008 Bigfoot. I am in contact with Bob as well or I should say my wife Daniela has opened the path to a future conversation. I would like to not put solar panels on the top of my trailer. Is it feasible to use a portable panel system that is deployed on site and keep a smaller semi permanent panel on the top of my truck cap for trickle charging while moving?
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:54 AM   #27
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Name: John
Trailer: Hymer
Posts: 168
What are your objections to mounting panels on the roof? A semi permanent panel on your truck would need an awfully long cable. Would that be less hassle than a small panel on the trailer for the same purpose?

Different but related, I picked up some “charge while moving” capacity just from upgrading my trailer connector cable to one with 10 gauge charge wires from the vehicle alternator. If yours only has 14 gauge charge wires like mine did, that might be an easier, more practical upgrade than a panel on your TV running all the way back to your trailer.

Bob’s been helpful to me also. See what he thinks. He’s been very generous with his time (and much less intimidating than he comes across on his blog ). I think what you’re suggesting is doable, I just wonder if there’s a simpler way to overcome your objections to panels on the trailer. See what he thinks. He strikes me a a good out-of-the-box problem solver. Either way, best wishes for you with whatever system and solution you go with.
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Old 01-31-2020, 09:14 AM   #28
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Name: John
Trailer: Hymer
Posts: 168
Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
Of course it is.. and IMHO it is generally the preferred method...
Did you miss this part – "smaller semi permanent panel on the top of my truck cap"

I don't know that I've ever seen that.
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Old 01-31-2020, 09:54 AM   #29
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
Posts: 3,735
Originally Posted by OCJohn View Post
Did you miss this part – "smaller semi permanent panel on the top of my truck cap"

I don't know that I've ever seen that.
No I missed that.. my bad. off topic reply was deleted.

But to answer the question asked, yes it is possible. I do seem to recall someone who had solar panels on a tow vehicle and used it for the trailer. The wire run would be longer than having the panel(s) on the trailer but other than that I see no reason it would not work OK. Controller near the battery in the trailer would be best also. A charge line seems the better option unless you also want the solar power when you are parked, running a cord from the tug to to trailer.

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