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Adding a 2nd Solar Panel

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#1 Regulator23

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Posted 27 February 2023 - 01:05 AM

I am new.  I just purchased a 2018 Grandby model.  It came with a single, factory installed, solar panel mounted to the Yakima tracks.  If I was to add a 2nd panel up there, is it prewired for that or is it going to be a big deal?  There appears to be plenty of room to fit a second one there.  Thank you.


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#2 Jon R

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Posted 27 February 2023 - 03:04 AM

For the wiring you can buy premade 10awg SAE connector (matches the roof connector) splitter to connect two panels in parallel.

https://www.amazon.c...1&pd_rd_plhdr=t


Or you can use an SAE to MC4 patch cord an use MC4 splitters (this is what I did because my panels have MC4 connectors.

Building safe mounting provisions is typically more challenging than the wiring.
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#3 Beach

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Posted 27 February 2023 - 03:59 PM

Be sure your controller is rated to handle to additional amps. 


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#4 ckent323

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Posted 27 February 2023 - 07:06 PM

I recommend that you think about the following:

 

First figure out how much power you use and need for the type and seasons of camping you will be doing.  Remember to factor in consecutive days of low Sun, clouds, rain, etc. if appropriate to your type of use (boonie camping no shore power, occasional shore power, etc).

Size your Solar and battery storage needs to accommodate the power needs you have already figured out (above)

Think about roof weight and if you are going to need to replace your solar controller to accommodate the added solar panel(s)

Consider buying the largest single panel that will fit on your roof.  It will be cheaper and lighter in total weight than any combination of two or more solar panels.  Yes, I know you already have one panel but the additional cost of one large panel may not be much more than another smaller panel.  I bought a 360 watt LG residential panel for $310 in May 2021.  I did have to upgrade my solar controller with a new one to accommodate the new panel.  I previously had two 100 W panels and the single new 360 W panel is less than the combined weight of the two 100 W panels. Only one set of wires too.

If you do decide to add a second panel to your existing system, assuming you are using industry standard MC4 connectors, you can buy a Y cable, to connect to panels together in serial or parallel, on Amazon.

I hope this information is helpful

Craig


Edited by ckent323, 28 February 2023 - 07:18 PM.

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#5 goinoregon

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Posted 27 February 2023 - 08:46 PM

good advice from craig above


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#6 Regulator23

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Posted 28 February 2023 - 01:21 PM

I recommend that you think about the following:

 

First figure out how much power you use and need for the type and seasons of camping you will be doing.  Remember to factor in consecutive days of low Sun, clouds, rain, etc. if appropriate to your type of use (boonie camping no shore power, occasional shore power, etc).

Size your Solar and battery storage needs to accommodate the power needs you have already figured out (above)

Think about roof weight and if you are going to need to replace your solar controller to accommodate the added solar panel(s)

Consider buying the largest single panel that will fit on your roof.  It will be cheaper and lighter in total weight than any combination of two or more solar panels.  Yes, I know you already have one panel but the additional cost of one large panel may not be much more than another smaller panel.  I bought a 360 watt LG residential panel for $310 in May 2021.  I did have to upgrade my solar controller with a new one to accommodate the new panel.  I previously had two 100 W panels and the single new 360 W panel is less than the combined weight of the two 100 W panels. Only one set of wires too.

If you do decide to add a second panel to your existing system, assuming you are using industry standard MC4 connectors, you can buy a Y cable, to connect to panels to gether in serial or parallel, on Amazon.

I hope this information is helpful

Craig

Great feedback.  Thank you.  I just got home with the camper last night so today, the work/evaluation begins!  It only has 1 battery as well so I really do need to start with a thorough assessment of my estimated needs.


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#7 jsduty

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Posted 28 February 2023 - 11:14 PM

Also, don't forget. about the portable solar panel plug at the rear of the camper. It's a nice option to have so you are able to find some more sun if you are camped by a shade tree. It is my understanding that plug is ready to go with the solar controller on the newer campers. I have 1 Panel on my roof of our 2022 GRANDBY   The portable panel is my list. 


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#8 Regulator23

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Posted 01 March 2023 - 01:39 AM

Also, don't forget. about the portable solar panel plug at the rear of the camper. It's a nice option to have so you are able to find some more sun if you are camped by a shade tree. It is my understanding that plug is ready to go with the solar controller on the newer campers. I have 1 Panel on my roof of our 2022 GRANDBY   The portable panel is my list. 

Thanks.  One of the responses said to verify that the solar controller can handle more.  I read and It appears that the controller is only good for up to 200 watts.  My panel on the roof is 160 so I assume I could only put a 40 watt portable one.  Unless there’s something I’m missing.


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#9 Jon R

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Posted 01 March 2023 - 05:44 AM

The “200 watts” is almost certainly your MPPT controller’s output limit. Its input is self-limiting, so you likely can connect more that 200 watts of panels as long as your panel network maximum open circuit voltage is below the controller’s voltage limit. Check the manual, though.

Edited by Jon R, 01 March 2023 - 05:47 AM.

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#10 PaulT

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Posted 01 March 2023 - 09:06 AM

You can replace the existing charge controller with one that can handle more solar energy. Charge controllers are much less expensive than they were a few years ago so keep that option in mind.

 

Paul


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