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Adding 12v DC fridge & solar to 2001 Hawk (replacing ice chest)

solar 2001 Hawk engel truckfridge DC fridge

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#11 erika

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Posted 10 July 2021 - 01:24 AM

Great points, Beach & Goinoregon. We rarely have cloudy days or rain for more than a day (if we are lucky) but we definitely seek out shady campsites whenever we can. 


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#12 Jon R

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Posted 10 July 2021 - 04:40 AM

Adding 35% extra panel capacity over what is adequate in sunny conditions will not come close to making up for the loss of output in shade or overcast conditions. My 400 watts of panels put out about 60 watts midday in overcast conditions. Less in shade. I’m not saying 200 watts is a bad sizing choice, but it won’t put out much more than 30 to 50 watts on overcast days.
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#13 Vic Harder

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Posted 10 July 2021 - 03:40 PM

320w single panel on our Puma is plenty most days. Last August in Northern BC it couldn’t keep up. Having dcdc charging as an option provides a lot of flexibility and confidence.

Biggest thing is to have a good shunt based monitor so you can observe and adjust your usage
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#14 BlueSky

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Posted 12 July 2021 - 11:41 PM

I guess I might be the odd man out here since I have just one 110w flexible panel (Sunpower) on the roof, Victron solar charger, and a Lifepo4 100ah battery, and I live in CO and have no problem keeping my Dometic 50 qt fridge going. I use the lights, furnace on cold mornings, fantastic fan on hot afternoons, water pump, and I charge my phone too. I am simply not running out of power. I was going to add a DC-DC charger but decided against it.  Instead I have the old wire running from the bed plug-in wired to the truck's battery, and if anything ever happened to my Lifepo4 battery I would just connect the truck's battery and reprogram the Victron controller for Lead Acid. Just keeping it light simple works for me.


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#15 erika

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 03:55 PM

I guess I might be the odd man out here since I have just one 110w flexible panel (Sunpower) on the roof, Victron solar charger, and a Lifepo4 100ah battery, and I live in CO and have no problem keeping my Dometic 50 qt fridge going. I use the lights, furnace on cold mornings, fantastic fan on hot afternoons, water pump, and I charge my phone too. I am simply not running out of power. I was going to add a DC-DC charger but decided against it.  Instead I have the old wire running from the bed plug-in wired to the truck's battery, and if anything ever happened to my Lifepo4 battery I would just connect the truck's battery and reprogram the Victron controller for Lead Acid. Just keeping it light simple works for me.

Bluesky, this is all helpful info and especially great to know 110w has been enough for you in CO. We have another friend with a newer FWC Hawk in CO that has been fine with a 100w panel too. We camp in remote, high elevations in the summer and if there are any trees/shading, we still get many hours of sun. We'd also keep the same setup with our wired-in battery charger (to truck) and were wondering how that worked as a backup. 


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#16 BlueSky

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 08:35 PM

Bluesky, this is all helpful info and especially great to know 110w has been enough for you in CO. We have another friend with a newer FWC Hawk in CO that has been fine with a 100w panel too. We camp in remote, high elevations in the summer and if there are any trees/shading, we still get many hours of sun. We'd also keep the same setup with our wired-in battery charger (to truck) and were wondering how that worked as a backup. 

I have not tried the truck battery backup yet. I have a fuse that I can put in when I want the truck battery as main power supply in place of the LifePo4. I'll wait until I really need it out in the boonies before trying it out:)


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#17 oldhotrod

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 12:06 AM

I guess I might be the odd man out here since I have just one 110w flexible panel (Sunpower) on the roof, Victron solar charger, and a Lifepo4 100ah battery, and I live in CO and have no problem keeping my Dometic 50 qt fridge going. I use the lights, furnace on cold mornings, fantastic fan on hot afternoons, water pump, and I charge my phone too. I am simply not running out of power. I was going to add a DC-DC charger but decided against it.  Instead I have the old wire running from the bed plug-in wired to the truck's battery, and if anything ever happened to my Lifepo4 battery I would just connect the truck's battery and reprogram the Victron controller for Lead Acid. Just keeping it light simple works for me.

No, I am in a similar boat. I use a 160wt flex panel and 50ahr battleborn. The simple system has kept up with my 50L endelb cooler, fantastic fan and lights no problem although it would be the minimum in my opinion. 


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#18 BlueSky

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 02:34 PM

I figure there are 3 main things that can break in the solar charged battery system, the LifePo4 battery, the solar controller, or the solar panel. If the solar panel or charge controller dies, then I have to manage the amp hours I have left in the LifePo4 battery until I can plug into shore power somewhere.  Not the end of the world, but after a couple of days I probably have to head home and order stuff. I suppose a DC-DC charger would be handy in this situation.  If the LifePo4 battery dies, then I can put the fuse in to connect everything to the truck's battery and change the battery setting on the Victron controller for lead acid. If I put that fuse in and it blows right away, then I am kinda screwed unless I can figure out what is going on. I suppose if I were to head out for a few weeks, say to Baja, then I would add a DC-DC charger and a second solar panel on the roof because that thing is exposed up there and it could get damaged. I could also add a switch that isolates the LifePo4 battery from the system. Don't mind me, I was an aerospace engineer:)


Edited by BlueSky, 14 July 2021 - 02:41 PM.

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#19 craig333

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 03:43 PM

The way I see it is I'll get a bulk charge without a DC-DC charger and thats all I need until the solar can take over again. Unlikely I'd need shore power especially since I have an abundance of amp hours to start with. I even have my old controller still in place, just need to swap the wires if the controller failed. Nice thing about having two panels, I'll still get some charge even if one fails.


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#20 erika

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 02:38 PM

Thank you for all this info everyone! I'm still getting my head around how it all works. 


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