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Old 10-02-2016, 07:09 PM   #1
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45W solar kit

Bought a 45W kit yesterday, so now have to figure out how to tie it into our Parkliner. Picked it up on sale for $129.99 at Harbor Freight.





Need a sunny day to test it out!

Frank
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Old 10-02-2016, 08:09 PM   #2
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We have their older version purchased several years ago with a metal stand that had to be assembled.
That new stand looks much easier to assemble.
We initially used it to test the solar concept and it worked well, but now stays home to provide charging duties for long term parked car battery charging.

I never figured out the best way to mount that particular controller in our Scamp, but then my son gave me a nice controller that was easy to mount inside our Scamp, and then I ended up buying a single 90 watt movable panel that was much easier to set up than the 3 single 15 watt panels.

I still bring that 90 watt panel along for backup, but have since added another 90 watt panel directly on our roof! Most of the time the rooftop panel is plenty for us, but who knows, maybe I'll end up doing what Larry (Beetlefreak) did and mount 400 watts of panels on our roof.

Solar is habit forming!
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Old 10-03-2016, 03:43 AM   #3
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Now ya got my attention! Any idea what make, brand, model of controller your son gave you?

I'm a bit hesitant to mount panels on my roof, but ya never know...

Thanks!

Frank

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Originally Posted by Radar1 View Post

I never figured out the best way to mount that particular controller in our Scamp, but then my son gave me a nice controller that was easy to mount inside our Scamp,
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:40 AM   #4
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Frank, Our son gave us a Windy Nation P30L PWM controller. Seems to work pretty well, although the MPPT style controllers are supposed to squeeze more power from the sun in some conditions, especially in cooler temperatures, but at a higher price.

This link gives advantages of both, and seems to imply that MPPT style converters aren't worth the extra cost until you get past about 170 watt systems.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:50 AM   #5
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Thanks, that is helpful. I doubt we'll ever even get close to 170W, let alone 100, so the PWM is probably what we need. I want to install something in the trailer with a connection on the outside that I can plug the panels into when camping. I would probably look for something able to handle 100W in case we get another 45W.

Basically, all I'm looking for is lights (and we have LEDs) and USB plugs. We are equipped to make coffee and toast on one of our propane grills (inside or out) anyways. When I camp, no matter the weather, I like being outdoors!

Frank

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Originally Posted by Radar1 View Post
Frank, Our son gave us a Windy Nation P30L PWM controller. Seems to work pretty well, although the MPPT style controllers are supposed to squeeze more power from the sun in some conditions, especially in cooler temperatures, but at a higher price.

This link gives advantages of both, and seems to imply that MPPT style converters aren't worth the extra cost until you get past about 170 watt systems.
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Old 10-03-2016, 08:14 AM   #6
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To keep it simple I have connect the controller to the battery and leave it connected. I do not use alligator clips to connect the controller to the battery I used proper battery connectors. But I do have an plug in connection on the line from the controller to the battery that allows me to easily disconnect the controller from the battery if need be. From the battery to the solar panel I have another easy connection right at the battery that I plug the free standing panel into when needed.

Some use MC4 type connections for this and I have seen just simple waterproof Automatic wiring connectors as in the photo below used as well - I believe you can get them for different wire gage sizes. If you splice in our own connections make sure you use some shrink wrap on the wiring connection to keep the connection dry.
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Old 10-03-2016, 08:31 AM   #7
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I have seen some criticism of the kit I bought suggesting the controller drains the battery it is connected to at night. I want a controller inside, maybe hooked to the interior power panel, that will charge the batteries when it's sunny, and not discharge them when it's not sunny!

I'm not geeky enough to figure this out quickly, but I will figure it out.

Thanks Carol,

Frank


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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
To keep it simple I have connect the controller to the battery and leave it connected. I do not use alligator clips to connect the controller to the battery I used proper battery connectors. But I do have an plug in connection on the line from the controller to the battery that allows me to easily disconnect the controller from the battery if need be. From the battery to the solar panel I have another easy connection right at the battery that I plug the free standing panel into when needed.

Some use MC4 type connections for this and I have seen just simple waterproof Automatic wiring connectors as in the photo below used as well - I believe you can get them for different wire gage sizes. If you splice in our own connections make sure you use some shrink wrap on the wiring connection to keep the connection dry.
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Old 10-03-2016, 08:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frank_a View Post
I have seen some criticism of the kit I bought suggesting the controller drains the battery it is connected to at night. I want a controller inside, maybe hooked to the interior power panel, that will charge the batteries when it's sunny, and not discharge them when it's not sunny!

I'm not geeky enough to figure this out quickly, but I will figure it out.

Thanks Carol,

Frank
Frank few of the controllers are weather proof so it is best to mount them inside the trailer as it is on my current trailer.

On my old Scamp I did not want to mess with figuring out how to get it mounted in the trailers so I made it real simple and found a heavy duty plastic hinged weather proof camera type box that the controller fit into and panted it black and mounted it to the outside to the battery. Mounted it so that when I opened up the box the hinge was at the top of the box and the controller still had some weather protection should it rain. Worked fine mounted like that for well over six years.

If you put a quick connection between the controller and the battery it was simple to unplug the controller to avoid a battery drain & to stop it from operating inside the box without venting . I actually have that on current trailer as the solar was added after the fact and the controller is not tied into the trailers main battery disconnect switch used when trailer is put into storage. Just make disconnection it part of your routine set up and take down of the panel.
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:23 AM   #9
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those connectors that Carol showed are commonly available for electric trolling motors for fishing boats. Big box stores will often have them.

Size wise that three panel set up is rather large for the wattage produced. As individual panels it might pack away better. Me I would try that set up as a free standing device to see how it worked rather than mount it. Then purchase a higher end panel for any mounted solution or if I found I needed more wattage.

Single 50 watt panel is not much more in cost and will probably take up less room, easier to mount a single panel also. Controllers are cheap so you could actually use individual single 15 watt panels from your kit to maintain batteries while parked and use another to keep lawn tractor or similar batteries properly charged over winter.

These type of flexible panels I have seen installed on FGRV's https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DXZ2QGY?th=1 run between $109 - $179 They can be mounted with special tape directly to the roof.

Single 100 watt in aluminum frame are about $150 but those are just a panel you have to provide the wires and controller. Have read here on the forum of folks making stands for them or mounting them on camper or even on roof rack of car. Last one made a lot of sense to me, park camper in shade and car in sun for charging.

This company makes several sizes of portable folding units at good prices if you decide you need something larger. https://www.amazon.com/ECO-WORTHY-Po...ct_top?ie=UTF8

Run from right around $100 to $350 for the large 200 watt units. Self contained "suitcase" design which can be nice. Have not used them personally but have been looking at them.
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:29 AM   #10
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The connectors Carol showed are the ones this system uses, and commonly available at any auto parts store, as they are used for all kinds of trailer lights.

Right now I'm just going with what I bought. My primary concern is an interior controller that would charge both batteries. I have a bench top charger in my shop that charges any other stuff, including the batteries for the RV in winter. That will start within the month, along with trailer winterization. It's great Parkliner moved the batteries to the front, but they are a bear to get to!

Thanks,

Frank
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Old 10-03-2016, 11:45 PM   #11
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if you put in 4 good quality 12V batteries and install 400Watts,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radar1 View Post
We have their older version purchased several years ago with a metal stand that had to be assembled.
That new stand looks much easier to assemble.
We initially used it to test the solar concept and it worked well, but now stays home to provide charging duties for long term parked car battery charging.

I never figured out the best way to mount that particular controller in our Scamp, but then my son gave me a nice controller that was easy to mount inside our Scamp, and then I ended up buying a single 90 watt movable panel that was much easier to set up than the 3 single 15 watt panels.

I still bring that 90 watt panel along for backup, but have since added another 90 watt panel directly on our roof! Most of the time the rooftop panel is plenty for us, but who knows, maybe I'll end up doing what Larry (Beetlefreak) did and mount 400 watts of panels on our roof.

Solar is habit forming!
: which will give you about 22Amps to keep those batteries charged and a 2500 to 3000W charge control system, u can have electric stove, toaster, fridge, u name it but cannot run all at the same time as most items take 1500w and that is a lot of juice but if you do it carefully then you will never need to plug in and can boondock just about anywhere they will let you. We have found a 1000W inverter is plenty big enough to charge batteries for Cameras, 2 laptops, and a phone or 2 and be ready in the morning.
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Old 10-04-2016, 05:11 AM   #12
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A 45 watt panel will give you a little more than 2 amps charging current on a nice sunny day. I thought the HF kit came with a controller but perhaps not at that price. For my current panel I found a 6 amp Morningstar Sunsaver 6 charger on ebay for less than $30. It's potted so it can be left in the rain. I stuck it to the back of my panel with Velcro. Ten feet of 16 ga. lamp cord and a couple of battery clamps to connect to the battery. Keep it simple to start. I move it during the day as needed. For this small a panel you don't need anything fancy.
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Old 10-04-2016, 06:48 AM   #13
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My problem is my batteries are difficult to get to. I would like to figure out a way to hook both batteries to this controller and panels, or another controller, so my dual batteries could be charged. Obviously I am not geeky enough to figure this stuff out on my own, so need more help!

Really all we need out of this is lights (already LED), maybe the Fantastic Fan, and USB chargers.

Thanks for the help!

Frank
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Old 10-04-2016, 07:23 AM   #14
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You should be able to access your battery through the umbilical just like the charge line on your tow. Buy a mating plug at any parts store or Walmart. Connect your controller output to the correct pins on the plug. Plug and play.
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Old 10-04-2016, 10:28 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frank_a View Post
My problem is my batteries are difficult to get to. I would like to figure out a way to hook both batteries to this controller and panels, or another controller, so my dual batteries could be charged. Obviously I am not geeky enough to figure this stuff out on my own, so need more help!

Really all we need out of this is lights (already LED), maybe the Fantastic Fan, and USB chargers.

Thanks for the help!

Frank
Frank are the current batteries on your trailer set up in parallel? I am assuming you do have a way of opening up the box they are in in order to check them from time to time?

If that is the case simple install on the batteries wiring for the controller with a quick connection on one end as shown - that way you simple leave the controller wires connected to the battery all the time and you do not need to open the battery box up every time you connect the solar. Set it up so the quick connection is located outside the box so its fast and simple to connect or disconnect the solar system. You can get the quick connections that have a weather cap/cover attached to them that can be put over them when not in use.

If you want to keep it real simple you do not even need to mount the controller any where in or on the trailer. Simple leave it connected in line with the panel or on the panel itself. Assuming it is weather proof of course. Otherwise you will need to protect it some how in wet weather. This is assuming of course you are planning on leaving the panel moveable and not mounting it full time to the trailer.

You only need to use one controller on the two batteries that are set up in parallel. It does not matter if they are two 6 volts or two 12 volts or if you are using only one panel or three panels. You simple connect a controller that is rated for the max output of your panels to the batteries putting the negative to one battery and the positive to the other battery.

Bottom line is the solar system will work the exactly the same if you set it up in a very uncomplicated fashion or you decide to make it a very complicated install.

A controller mounted inside the trailer that shows you the actual amount of power going in and out and a whole lot of other stuff, is not going to give you any more power than a simple controller mounted on the outside of the trailer or to the panel itself, that has a green light on when charging and a red light on when not!

As far as what you will get out of the solar system keep in mind that all it is doing is charging your battery directly (just like a trickle charger) - so how well it does that is going to depend on its size and how much sunshine it gets.

Having said that I got by in sunny weather with a simple 35 watt panel on my old Scamp for days at a time without plugging in the trailer, using LED lights and 12v fans and charging up phones and keeping my furnace use down while running the fridge on propane - both of the later are power hogs.
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