I Installed a Solar Panel for my Lil Snoozy - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:27 AM   #1
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Name: Dan
Trailer: SOLD - Lil Snoozy 2014
East Tennessee
Posts: 79
I Installed a Solar Panel for my Lil Snoozy

I needed a way to recharge my battery while traveling from point A to point B with nightly stops in-between that's without shore power and still keep our 110VAC/12Volt truck refrigerator going the next day of travel plus recoup the battery loss from the previous night usage of 12Volt lights & water pump.

I ruled out using my 2000 watt Honda Generator because I don't like it running on the tongue while traveling or carrying a gasoline can. It's too noisy at campgrounds and has restricted run hours, plus it's a high theft item!

A tow vehicle charging wire was questionable at best. The voltage drop from the engine compartment to the trailer battery would result in low battery amperage input, plus the continual power being consumed by the 12Volt truck refrigerator would prevent efficient charging.

And so I decided on a solar panel. I didn't want to put any holes in the my Lil Snoozy's roof, so I mounted a 100 watt solar panel on the roof rack of my Highlander.

* I ran 10 gauge solar cable from the Solar Panel thru the back hatch of my Highlander and out the bottom of the vehicle to the 7 Way Connector on the Highlander which I had recently changed over from a 4 way connector.

* I used the 4 standard pins on the Highlander 7 Way Connector for the normal trailer light functions.

* Used one more pin for the trailer surge brake release during trailer backing.

* I then used the last 2 pin connectors on the Highlander 7 Way Connector for the Solar Panel Cables.

* I used the corresponding pins on the Trailer 7 Way Connector with 10GA-2 Tray Cable to the Charge Controller in Battery Box on the Snoozy's tongue.

* I then wired the Charge Controller in the battery box to the 12Volt Battery with some more 10 gauge solar cable. If more amperage is needed, I will replace the 12Volt Battery with two 6Volt Batteries.

* I also made up a 20ft. Extension Cord with a male and female 7 Way Connector using 10 Gauge Low Voltage Lighting Wire. With this cord I can park my tow vehicle behind/beside the trailer or where the best sunlight is to charge the battery if at a campsite without shore power.

I hope this will help anyone else thinking of installing solar panels.

More pictures on request

SOLAR SYSTEM COST:
$120.00 Renogy 100W Polycrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel-5.62 Amp-17.8V
$54.00 Morning SunSaver SS-10-12v Charge Controller 10A 12V
$48.00 4ea-7 Way Trailer Connectors (2 complete sets)
$23.00 20 ft. of 10GA Low Voltage Lighting Wire (for an extension cord)
$21.00 8 ft. of 10GA-2 Tray Cable (from trailer 7 pin connector to charge controller)
$14.00 Solar Panel Cable 25 Ft - Mc4 Pv Extension- 10 AWG - 600vdc (panel to 7 pin on TV)
$3.00 10AWG Fuse Holder (between charge controller and battery)
Total $283.00 Plus Hardware
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:00 AM   #2
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Nice write-up, Dan! 😊
Where did you source your components? (Wire, connectors, charge controller, panel)

Ray


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Old 04-25-2016, 09:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by rdickens View Post
Nice write-up, Dan! ��
Where did you source your components? (Wire, connectors, charge controller, panel)

Ray


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Thanks Ray,

*The Solar Panel, Charge Controller, Solar Cable, Fuse, Connectors and Stainless Steel Corner Brackets all came from Amazon.
*The 7 Way Trailer Connectors came from E-Trailer.com but you can pick them up most any where.
*10GA Low Voltage Landscape Wire can be bought at Lowes
*solarpanelstore.com has the 10 GA-2 Tray Wire
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:11 AM   #4
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I have wondered about a rack mount for a solar panel. How did you attach the panel to the rack? Looks like some kind of latch but can't see it clearly in the picture. Nice photos by the way.


I'm not likely to hook up while going down the road but I like the idea of a 100 watt panel that I can park in the sun while trailer is in the shade when camping. Inside a Scamp 13 ft. not really any good spot to store a 100 watt sized panel.
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:27 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by RogerDat View Post
I have wondered about a rack mount for a solar panel. How did you attach the panel to the rack? Looks like some kind of latch but can't see it clearly in the picture. Nice photos by the way.


I'm not likely to hook up while going down the road but I like the idea of a 100 watt panel that I can park in the sun while trailer is in the shade when camping. Inside a Scamp 13 ft. not really any good spot to store a 100 watt sized panel.
I used 90 degree stainless steel angle brackets bolted to the solar panel. Then put foam padding between solar panel and rack. I then used stainless steel radiator clamps to hold angle brackets to the rack and covered them in clear plastic tubing to protect the bottom side of the rack.
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Old 04-25-2016, 10:31 AM   #6
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That's about the same price I paid for my install myself monocrystalline solar panel 100 watts.
But I installed on the roof of our Bigfoot, fixed with a tape 2 "wide manufactured by 3M.
3M VHB RP25, 2 inches wide.
RP25 identifies exterior, protected from UV rays, but was advised to add some protection with some caulking UV-resistant, which will increase at the same time, protection against the weather ...

Two other members of the group have used this tape for about 5 years, including one for its solar panel and one for the bar that holds the awning of his trailer ...

Here is what appears in my installation. No hole in the roof, only two small perforations between the roof and part of the air-vent, I plugged with caulking, and then make the son along the top of cabinets and get under the seat to the before the trailer and connect to the controller of the solar panel ...
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Old 04-25-2016, 10:49 AM   #7
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Nice work Dan. It keeps the no holes integrity of the Snoozy roof intact.
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:11 AM   #8
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Gilles,

Did you scuff up the roof before installing the tape and brackets? Assuming you did, what did you use and how deep (through gel coat?) did you go? I like the convenience of a roof mount, even if it won't always be in the sun, and I also don't want to drill any additional holes. I use the racks on my tv for a cargo box and bike racks.

Thanks
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug in Sacramento View Post
Gilles,

Did you scuff up the roof before installing the tape and brackets? Assuming you did, what did you use and how deep (through gel coat?) did you go? I like the convenience of a roof mount, even if it won't always be in the sun, and I also don't want to drill any additional holes. I use the racks on my tv for a cargo box and bike racks.

Thanks

To be sure not to mislead anyone, I wrote to you the internet link with which I was inspired to install a solar panel on a fiberglass roof.
Add to this link, some comments from members of the Forum who have already experienced a few years ...

Mounts — AM Solar
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilles View Post
That's about the same price I paid for my install myself monocrystalline solar panel 100 watts.
But I installed on the roof of our Bigfoot, fixed with a tape 2 "wide manufactured by 3M.
3M VHB RP25, 2 inches wide.
RP25 identifies exterior, protected from UV rays, but was advised to add some protection with some caulking UV-resistant, which will increase at the same time, protection against the weather ...

Two other members of the group have used this tape for about 5 years, including one for its solar panel and one for the bar that holds the awning of his trailer ...

Here is what appears in my installation. No hole in the roof, only two small perforations between the roof and part of the air-vent, I plugged with caulking, and then make the son along the top of cabinets and get under the seat to the before the trailer and connect to the controller of the solar panel ...
I considered using some kind of self adhesive but imagining it coming off one day on the interstate would always have been in the back of my mind. Then there was still the problem of routing the solar panel wires to the battery box without any additional holes. Another reason is that 2 more inches on my roof wouldn't allow my trailer to fit under my carport!
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:49 PM   #11
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Another reason is that 2 more inches on my roof wouldn't allow my trailer to fit under my carport!
Had to laugh, this is where I am right now. I just ordered a carport but don't have a camper yet. So ordering the right height was keeping me up nights. Decided if I had about 8'10" in the center I could fit most smaller campers. We'll see...
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Old 04-25-2016, 01:45 PM   #12
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As I have an older (cheap) aluminum topper on my pickup I have considered just mounting the panels on it instead of the Scamp. The only downside is not charging the trailer batteries when the truck is away from camp. But then if a fellow had another set of batteries in the back of the pickup truck anyway.............
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Old 04-25-2016, 02:51 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TomandCallie View Post
Had to laugh, this is where I am right now. I just ordered a carport but don't have a camper yet. So ordering the right height was keeping me up nights. Decided if I had about 8'10" in the center I could fit most smaller campers. We'll see...
I know what your feeling. It was important to me that our trailer would be under cover also. When we went shopping for a fiberglass we of course already had a car port with a clearance of 7 ft 10 inches. So we were praying the the specs of our Lil Snoozy of 7 ft 7 inches was accurate as we "slowly" backed her under the carport the first time! Ha ha
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Old 04-25-2016, 02:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Timber Wolf View Post
As I have an older (cheap) aluminum topper on my pickup I have considered just mounting the panels on it instead of the Scamp. The only downside is not charging the trailer batteries when the truck is away from camp. But then if a fellow had another set of batteries in the back of the pickup truck anyway.............
Great Idea!
I guess that's the advantage of having a truck, an extra battery or two is no big deal!
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Old 04-25-2016, 05:19 PM   #15
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I used 90 degree stainless steel angle brackets bolted to the solar panel. Then put foam padding between solar panel and rack. I then used stainless steel radiator clamps to hold angle brackets to the rack and covered them in clear plastic tubing to protect the bottom side of the rack.
Dang that is an impressive bit of git-r-done with off the shelf parts and still have all the bases covered. Imagine a power screwdriver with a socket to fit the hose clamps could remove that pretty quickly.

I considered roof top with VHB tape but I want to park camper in the shade, I don't want to route wires down the outside or make holes to get wires inside.

Main problem for me was stowing it away for travel. Best I can do inside is 30 - 40 watt panel which would fit against the side of the closet. I don't mind parking the car in the sun and running a connection wire. Just have to have some sort of indicator to hang on the steering wheel so I don't drive off while connected. For example a nylon bag the connection wire was stored in.

They make some rims, like for gulf carts with a bolt pattern that will fit the 4 bolt campers, which drop the height a couple of inches at least, and the e trailer 10 inch will fit the 5 bolt camper hubs, drops them 1.5 inch. Or you can swap to just rims with no tire, and put something like plywood down to protect the floor and drive into the garage. Scary sounding but hey it works.
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:36 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Gilles View Post
That's about the same price I paid for my install myself monocrystalline solar panel 100 watts.
But I installed on the roof of our Bigfoot, fixed with a tape 2 "wide manufactured by 3M.
3M VHB RP25, 2 inches wide.
RP25 identifies exterior, protected from UV rays, but was advised to add some protection with some caulking UV-resistant, which will increase at the same time, protection against the weather ...

Two other members of the group have used this tape for about 5 years, including one for its solar panel and one for the bar that holds the awning of his trailer ...

Here is what appears in my installation. No hole in the roof, only two small perforations between the roof and part of the air-vent, I plugged with caulking, and then make the son along the top of cabinets and get under the seat to the before the trailer and connect to the controller of the solar panel ...
How much of an issue is it having to give up a shady spot to park to have sun for your panel?

Any idea how much amperage your panel generates when parked in shade?
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ransom View Post
How much of an issue is it having to give up a shady spot to park to have sun for your panel?

Any idea how much amperage your panel generates when parked in shade?
Last week, just to see measures without performance for data, I did work with a cloudy sky, no sun of the day, the fridge was working on the battery with the solar panel.
He started at 10 hours in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon and the voltage has not descended below 12 volts.
It should be noted that the solar panel is a monocrystalline, which identified to me better performance than the polycrystalline.

I'll install again later, the ammeter to obtain complete figures on its performance.
To be continued...
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:45 AM   #18
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How much of an issue is it having to give up a shady spot to park to have sun for your panel?

Any idea how much amperage your panel generates when parked in shade?
Overcast but even level of sunlight is not as productive as bright sun but also is not detrimental. But according to some information out there at solar web sites.... shading some of the individual cells inside the panel can really flatten output.

This from Solar Choice is typical. (emphasis added)
Quote:
In extreme cases, a shadow does not necessarily need to fall on an entire panel–depending on the technology used in the solar panel in question, shading of even just one cell could flatten the output of the panel and in turn the entire string. Many modern panels, however, come equipped with devices called bypass diodes which minimize the effects of partial shading by essentially enabling electricity to ‘flow around’ the shaded cell or cells.
Partial shading and solar panel arrays - Solar Choice

So the effect may well depend on the design of your panel, I'm just guessing but I imagine the cost goes up as the number of individual cells in each bypass grouping go down. E.G if each line of 20 cells within the panel have a bypass diode that would cost less than if every 4 cells had one. If every 4 lines of cells had a diode that would cost less than every line having one.

The smaller the number of cells getting bypassed the less loss there will be. But imagine a big branch casting a shadow across several bypass grouping of cells.

I recall reading that on a camper roof install the shadow from AC, sewer stack or vent covers hitting the panel can degrade performance. I guess I figure that means I park under the trees so I'm in the shade to keep the camper cooler I get nothing or close to it from a roof top solar panel.
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:20 PM   #19
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I know next to nothing about this subject, but wouldn't it be most effective to have solar panels that are portable? Move them out into the sun point them right at it, and crack open another cold one? Why is this not standard procedure?
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:34 PM   #20
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I know next to nothing about this subject, but wouldn't it be most effective to have solar panels that are portable? Move them out into the sun point them right at it, and crack open another cold one? Why is this not standard procedure?
Besides worrying if some one might walk away with it if your not around and finding a place to store, it sounds good if your staying at one place for awhile. But I needed something to charge my battery while going down the highway from point A to B with stops in between without shore power. Can't travel if I need to stay waiting for the portable solar panel to charge my battery. Everyone has their own needs and the portable solar panel didn't fit mine.
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