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Another SOLAR question


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#1 Doekele

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Posted 24 November 2023 - 02:32 PM

Hi all,

 

I've been digging in to all the Solar related information you can find on this great forum. It might just be me, but I'm still finding it really difficult to understand the options for adding a portable solar panel to our set-up.

 

We have a 2023 Fleet model, with the solar package installed, but we would like to have a bit more charging capacity available during our one year trip (Starting 1st of April next year).

 

With some great Black Friday deals out there, I've set my eye on this Renogy 200W portable panel:

 

https://www.renogy.c...msz0Im8=.HLdMzK

 

But with my limited knowledge on solar and electricity I'm still struggling with some questions (never been able to fully grasp the electricity/solar topic, to be honest I think it is hard to understand at all....  :) )

 

I hope this forum can help me with the decision to buy it or not. 

 

Question 1: Can I add a 200W panel to the FWC solar set-up I have in my Fleet, or is that number of W to high?

Question 2:. I've learned (thanks forum) that the polarity of the renogy is (probably?) reversed to the polarity of the Fleet solar set-up. Can I use this converter set? https://www.amazon.c...lv_ov_lig_dp_it

 

Thanks for the help, any other advice would also be much appriciated!

 

Cheers,

 

Duke


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#2 Jollyrogers

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Posted 24 November 2023 - 03:27 PM

#2 Yes you can use that converter you linked at amazon. I HIGHLY recommend you use a multimeter to check polarity and voltages. If you don’t know how, learn. Mine was reversed, but don’t just assume it’s reversed.

#1. I don’t know what size MPPT controller you have, or how the roof panels are wired and what voltages they operate at. I attempted to look at FWC’s “solar package” but found it too hard to navigate.

Edited by Jollyrogers, 25 November 2023 - 02:50 AM.

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#3 Wandering Sagebrush

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Posted 24 November 2023 - 03:28 PM

Duke, my opinion and 2¢…  the answer to question 1 lies in how FWC wired the auxiliary port and if to the solar controller (probably Zamp), what can it handle.  So dig in to any documentation on the controller, and confirm capacity.  I suspect the port will be wired to the controller, but verify.

 

Question 2… yup, Zamp wires the SAE connection in reverse.

 

If your aux port is wired to the controller, you could change that to connect directly to the battery to use a portable that has its own controller.  If you want to keep things wired as delivered by FWC, your portable should not have a controller.

If you don’t have a multimeter, I recommend adding one to your tool box, it makes things a lot easier.

 

Double check my thoughts.  I wouldn’t want to have you damage anything if I’m wrong.


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#4 Jon R

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Posted 24 November 2023 - 10:59 PM

50 amps at 13 volts is 650 watts. Is that what you really meant?
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#5 bajaphile

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 02:30 PM

You'll want to find the FWC solar charge controller and see what it is rated for prior to adding anything, but its probably rated higher by a fair amount than the stock panels. I would most likely add a duplex wire to the existing wires going to the charge controller so that the panels are in parallel. The wire can run out one of the tie down doors, or whatever and have a plug so you can plug in the additional 200w. 

 

I use the Renogy 200W suitcase panels and like them. You can camp in the shade and always move the panels and angle them for max power. They are pretty heavy which is good in high winds. Even in Mexico summers,  I will max out at 180w in the mid day. I use a Victron MPPT charge controller and it hovers around 10-12 amps. Voltage will depend on your charge settings/battery requirements. 


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#6 dennis 221

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 03:15 PM

I use a overland bugout plugged into outside back connector
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#7 Doekele

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 03:16 PM

Thanks you all for the advice and guidance! Really helpfull and much appriciated. I think I just have to pick one of the options out there, and make it work! 


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#8 GflGdog

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Posted 30 November 2023 - 11:42 PM

HIghly interested in this topic as well. Have a Rockpals 200w portable panel, 18V 11.1A. My controller is a Victron 100/15 MPPT. The roof panel is 160W, 27.3V, 5.86A. Im figuring I need to upgrade to a 100/30 MPPT to handle the 200W panel as a second panel  to plug into the back of the camper. Am i figuring this correctly? Anything Im missing?


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#9 ckent323

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Posted 01 December 2023 - 12:12 AM

GfiGdog, et. al.,

As an FYI - I strongly recommend not using the rated maximum output of a solar panel to calculate what it will provide.  It is best to detrate it based on the typical type of camping you do as well as where you do your camping. 

Consider that shade, clouds and time of day that is more than a couple of hours before and after noon will cause the panel to produce less current.  After 9 or 10 AM and before 5 or 6 PM in Spring through Fall is when most of the power is produced by the panel.  From mid July to mid September ithe panel will produce a bit more than April - mid July and mid September to early November.   Something between 50% and 70% of rated current may be reasonable to use for an 8 hour or so day.  I have seen a derating factor of 80% recommended for residential panels optimally pointed (tiled at the optimum angle) mounted on the roof of a house but our camper panels are seldom optimally pointed and even 70% of rated power may be optimistic.

Many campers use 30 - 45 amp hours a day (I'm sure some use more or less) so to recharge the house battery for the next day ideally you want the solar system to be able to fully recharge your house battery each day.

For example the 160 watt 5.856 amp rated panel might, at best, produce 5.86 x 9 hours x 0.70 = 35 Amp hours on a good summer day in the lower 48 and much less on a partially cloudy day or if there is any shade over the panel.  On a cloudy spring or fall day it might only produce 5.86 x 8 x 0.5 = 23.4 amp hours or less.

Because of this it is no surprise that many people with lead acid batteries are only getting 3 - 5 years of life because they are unable to fully recharge after every discharge.  If the lead acid batteries get fully recharged after every discharge and are rarely drawn down below 50% then they can last 8 years or more.

For this reason I further recommend to anyone who is considering a solar panel to get the single largest panel that will fit on your camper.  I single large panel (of say 360 - 400 watts) will be lighter and cost less than any combination of two panels of 100 Watts or more.  Many people will find that even during the shoulder season they can fully recharge a lead acid battery most days.

I hope this information is helpful,

 

Craig


Edited by ckent323, 01 December 2023 - 12:19 AM.

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#10 GflGdog

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Posted 01 December 2023 - 01:44 AM

GfiGdog, et. al.,

As an FYI - I strongly recommend not using the rated maximum output of a solar panel to calculate what it will provide.  It is best to detrate it based on the typical type of camping you do as well as where you do your camping. 

Consider that shade, clouds and time of day that is more than a couple of hours before and after noon will cause the panel to produce less current.  After 9 or 10 AM and before 5 or 6 PM in Spring through Fall is when most of the power is produced by the panel.  From mid July to mid September ithe panel will produce a bit more than April - mid July and mid September to early November.   Something between 50% and 70% of rated current may be reasonable to use for an 8 hour or so day.  I have seen a derating factor of 80% recommended for residential panels optimally pointed (tiled at the optimum angle) mounted on the roof of a house but our camper panels are seldom optimally pointed and even 70% of rated power may be optimistic.

Many campers use 30 - 45 amp hours a day (I'm sure some use more or less) so to recharge the house battery for the next day ideally you want the solar system to be able to fully recharge your house battery each day.

For example the 160 watt 5.856 amp rated panel might, at best, produce 5.86 x 9 hours x 0.70 = 35 Amp hours on a good summer day in the lower 48 and much less on a partially cloudy day or if there is any shade over the panel.  On a cloudy spring or fall day it might only produce 5.86 x 8 x 0.5 = 23.4 amp hours or less.

Because of this it is no surprise that many people with lead acid batteries are only getting 3 - 5 years of life because they are unable to fully recharge after every discharge.  If the lead acid batteries get fully recharged after every discharge and are rarely drawn down below 50% then they can last 8 years or more.

For this reason I further recommend to anyone who is considering a solar panel to get the single largest panel that will fit on your camper.  I single large panel (of say 360 - 400 watts) will be lighter and cost less than any combination of two panels of 100 Watts or more.  Many people will find that even during the shoulder season they can fully recharge a lead acid battery most days.

I hope this information is helpful,

 

Craig

Thanks for this input. And while I agree with what you say, at this point, and having the second panel as portable and more versatile in taking as much advantage of sun, Im hoping to supplement my existing system to help decrease recharge time. I know that its much more complex than just adding the second panel, got it when I purchased a portable solar generator, so I am wanting to use the panel for the additional available power I can generate. At this point removing my rooftop panel doesnt fit what I can do. 


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