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Old 11-14-2017, 04:35 AM   #21
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What is the objection to the MC4 connectors?
well, it's not the connectors that bother me altho i have experienced the issue you note with different manufacturers. mostly it's that 2 wire arrangement that i find objectionable. they're just kinda difficult to manage. currently i have the pairs of wires secured with plastic wire keepers and they kinda get in the way when packing up...i'll get used to that. then there's the cost. they were sorta pricey and i'm sure i could have made cables (without using 2 per panel) for less $'s.

oh, and i stand corrected on "renogy"...either i or my spell check were mistaken.

i'll pass this one on for what it's worth...i found, in a big box sporting goods store, these gizmos. "pole light storage clips" (fishing department) that happen to be the perfect size for those mc4 connectors. the big panel on the truck cap has it's wires just loose on the roof and i thought flapping in the wind may cause them some damage. (yeah, i tend to overthink) so these things, for five bucks, canceled that concern...(i also kinda like the "star wars" look)


p@
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Old 11-14-2017, 11:27 AM   #22
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Name: Gordon
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Nice find, Patrick.
You may also want to consider adding dust caps like these:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-pairs-Dus...torefresh=true

I've found that MC4 connectors are very secure, but can be difficult to separate, even with the special tool. If you file the sharp nibs down a little, you can pull them apart by hand, and yet they are still pretty snug and suitable for a temporary set-up.
I used white tape (for visibility) every foot or so to join the extension wires together. I admit I haven't used this portable panel yet, but it tested fine in my driveway. So far, I've been able to get plenty of charging from the permanent panels on the roof of my Scamp. I don't mind having the trailer in the sun here in the northwest. When it's hot, I'm not in there. And the residual warmth in the evening is appreciated. Works for me.

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Old 11-14-2017, 12:50 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by AliceGardner View Post
Hi, I purchased a brand new Scamp 16' this past summer and I am wanting to get a solar panel on it over the next few months. I have an RV SOLAR ELECTRIC catalog and design planner booklet and am getting close to being ready to choose a 100 watt system which I could add another panel to later if I want (it looks like I would use 26 or so amp hours/day).

But the thing that bothers me is the best way to fasten it to the fiberglass shell. What's the state of the art on adhesives for something like that? Or other options? I do NOT want to drill holes in my fiberglass shell - I know that much. I'd rather just go with a suitcase setup than do that. I'm still open to recommendations on going with flexible vs rigid panels too. Want to make suggestions either to help with choices, or for who are the experts to consult with on these questions?
Thanks a million,
Alice
The information on how to properly apply VHB tape is found on the 3M website. It covers surface preparation and which version of the tape is suitable for which substrates. If you want to know how to properly apply a material and what it rated strength is then always head to the website for the maker of the product. 3M is a great company and does extensive testing on their products with high quality laboratory testing equipment designed to test for failure in strength such as how much pulling before it fails and life cycles of UV and water issues as well. They have been in the adhesives business a great many years. I would choose their products over a similar product from an unknown source. The few dollars difference in cost is worth it.

You will of course see stories of failure for the installation of solar panels using VHB tapes. What you won't see is did that person follow the installation instructions carefully including getting exactly the right kind of VHB tape needed and any necessary primers needed for their substrate situation. You don't just buy some tape, peel off the liner and stick it on. You have to do your homework first or you may indeed have a failure if you got the wrong tape and did not use the recommended primer if one was required.
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:36 PM   #24
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Trailer: 2015 Casita 17SD
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We went with a remote panel, because I live in Florida and shade is a treasured commodity. When we dry camped in Arizona, we had tree cover at many sites and had to "walk the panel" to get the best sun.

I have a simple setup with one flexible 100W Suaoki panel (Amazon Prime Day special $135) and a 20A EPSolar Tracer MPPT controller, which gives me enough capacity to add an additional panel. Battery was upgraded to a Trojan group 27. I made a tiltable frame from 3/4" PVC. I also made some short, removable 90 degree PVC legs so that I can strap the panel to the roof of the truck or trailer. Not to drive around with, but to make the panel less likely to be stolen, or molested by elk.

I clipped the MC4 connectors off the panel because they are really not designed for frequent plugging/unplugging. Since I have a surplus of nice quality 10-3 cable, I made two 30' extension cords with conventional 20A plugs and sockets. I put a plug on the panel and a short pigtail with a socket attached to the controller. These cables can be used to either connect to shore power, or to connect the panel to the controller. The cable then enters the trailer just like the 30A cable.

I know it ain't to code, but the "solar pigtails" are clearly marked "DC ONLY" and I'll switch them to PowerPoles or something else if I ever sell the trailer. I like having enough cable to reach either the sun or a distant a/c outlet and only need to carry one type of cable.
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Old 01-27-2018, 07:42 PM   #25
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Name: Dave
Trailer: 1986 Scamp 16
Pennsylvania
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We are planning on mounting a 100W flexible panel to the roof with VHB (underneath the panel) and Eternabond tape (over the edges).

Between the two, I imagine it will be pretty secure. Has anyone else used the Eternabond tape?
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Old 01-27-2018, 08:31 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by DeBreez View Post
..

I clipped the MC4 connectors off the panel because they are really not designed for frequent plugging/unplugging. ... made two 30' extension cords with conventional 20A plugs and sockets. ...
I know it ain't to code, but the "solar pigtails" are clearly marked "DC ONLY" and I'll switch them to PowerPoles or something else if I ever sell the trailer. ...
You are right about MC4 connectors not being designed for frequent connection and disconnection, but the main consideration is not having the panel in the sun when you connect or disconnect them (throw a blanket over the panels). If the attached panel is energized, there will be arcing which will after some time increase the resistance in the connector. The benefit of the MC4 connector is that they are water proof and not that hard to put on, although the gendering can be confusing.

I use a Marine Trolling Motor plug with a jack built into the camper for my daily connection / disconnection, and stay with the MC4 connectors for the rest of it. They are used when I want to change panels or put it all in storage.
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Old 01-27-2018, 08:37 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
The information on how to properly apply VHB tape is found on the 3M website. ...You don't just buy some tape, peel off the liner and stick it on. You have to do your homework first or you may indeed have a failure if you got the wrong tape and did not use the recommended primer if one was required.
Darn good post.. I have been preaching this for some time. Heck, most people don't even know that there are different types of VHB tape let alone that there is much technical data about how to use it.

But even if your use of VHB tape is perfect, you still have to consider the possible failure of the underlying substrates. The case I often refer to is one in which it appears (but maybe is not confirmed), that the VHB tape used on the roof of a fiberglass camper worked fine, but the gel-coat actually separated from the fiberglass and caused the loss of a solar panel on the highway.
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Old 01-27-2018, 09:46 PM   #28
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Iím a 40 year RV tradesman. I have installed hundreds of solar panels. Not one has been ďtapedĒ on, for good reason. When a licensed technician does a job, he has to stand behind it. For his customer, for safety, for his license!
I donít understand how people can say ďI donít want any holes in MY RVĒ! Every RV, Fibreglass or not has hundreds of fasteners which are sealed by the approved sealants. Why not four screws holding a solar panel?
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Old 01-28-2018, 10:36 AM   #29
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Smart idea to go with portable solar unless a proper mechanical connection is established between your solar panel frame and mounts to the RV roof. Lots of incidents of panels coming off on the highway after high temps or moisture etc.
Everyone! Please do the RIGHT thing if you install your solar panels. Don’t run the risk of causing an accident, injury or death and the ensuing implications!
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