Portable 100w Solar Panel

Outnabout

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Jan 31, 2015
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Does anyone have experience with the Harbor Freight Portable 100 watt suitcase panels? Good? Bad? I have a panel on my roof and am looking to supplement when I need to place a panel away from camper in a shady spot.

I assume I just plug into the back wall outlet? After checking polarity of course. Thanks for any recommendations and advice.
 
I went with a Renogy 100w suitcase last fall that includes it's own solar charge controller based on advice from KP.
It's a reasonable sized kit and includes a protective suitcase. You're correct about checking polarity, and using the SAE connector provided by FWC on their newer campers.

We've successfully used the portable set up on two trips to increase our ability to charge an e-bike via 2000w inverter.
We've only got 130w panel on the camper and have a 100ah LiPo battery. Hope that helps.
 
Lighthawk said:
I went with a Renogy 100w suitcase last fall that includes it's own solar charge controller based on advice from KP.
It's a reasonable sized kit and includes a protective suitcase. You're correct about checking polarity, and using the SAE connector provided by FWC on their newer campers.

We've successfully used the portable set up on two trips to increase our ability to charge an e-bike via 2000w inverter.
We've only got 130w panel on the camper and have a 100ah LiPo battery. Hope that helps.
Thanks. I assume you have a charge controller for your 130w panel. I believe the solar connection on the roof and on my rear wall are spliced together and they both utilize the charge controller I use for rooftop solar. Won’t that controller work for the portable as well? I think I have read that two controllers don’t play well together. I certainly could be wrong. If KP gave you advice on your setup then I defer to that advice. I am still learning and will take all advice and experiential knowledge given. Thanks.
 
Wandering Sagebrush said:
I believe FWC connects the rear SAE plug to the solar controller (if installed), which might interfere with an auxiliary panel that also has a solar controller.
My 2015 was pre wired, no controller. Two wires were coiled and marked solar. I hooked up my controller using these wires. I have a rooftop panel. When I put a multimeter on the rear SAE plug I get the same voltage reading coming off the roof top panel. I am assuming that the rear wall socket is tied into the roof wires since I am getting the same voltage reading as my rooftop. When I get my portable without a separate controller I will just plug in to the rear wall SAE. Can anyone see a flaw in my thinking?
Thanks
 
If I understood KP correctly, the rooftop panel and the portable panel may be producing different outputs and a single controller won't optimize the results (example: truck in shade, portable in full sun). I also like the idea my portable panel with controller can be a stand alone device for other needs, even short term situations.
 
Lighthawk said:
If I understood KP correctly, the rooftop panel and the portable panel may be producing different outputs and a single controller won't optimize the results (example: truck in shade, portable in full sun). I also like the idea my portable panel with controller can be a stand alone device for other needs, even short term situations.
That makes sense. You could even hook your portable up straight to a battery standing alone. Thanks for the clarification.
 
We had the same Renogy set up as Lighthawk when we had our FWC Hawk. Because of the built in controller on the portable, we installed an external plug wired directly to the batteries and plugged the panel into that, bypassing the roof solar.
 
Ted said:
We had the same Renogy set up as Lighthawk when we had our FWC Hawk. Because of the built in controller on the portable, we installed an external plug wired directly to the batteries and plugged the panel into that, bypassing the roof solar.
That is a good idea. Where did you locate the external plug?
 
If the Harbor Frt panel holds up like their solar security lights(about 6-9 months) then I would pass on it. Spend a little more and get a Renogy or other brand name system.
 
I was at REI in Hillsboro yesterday and they have two used Ecoflow 160 watt portable panels for $220 each. I don’t know enough about that particular panel to recommend it, but it seems sturdy.
 
I was at Costco (here in Boise) the other day and they had some portable solar panels. I didn't pay much attention to what they were/are but I'm headed there today and will take a closer look and snap a photo. Worth checking it out if you are looking for solar panels.
 
For those using a portable panel, what guage wire do you use for the extension? I see gauges ranging from 10-16. I am inclined to use 10. What are your experiences?
Thanks
 
For those using a portable panel, what guage wire do you use for the extension? I see gauges ranging from 10-16. I am inclined to use 10. What are your experiences?
Thanks
I used 8ga
Shirbly Solar Panel Extension... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B55ZLDWH?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

I didn’t care for the voltage drop I was seeing and it was problematic with lithium and the solar suitcase. I eventually switched my suitcase to a series setup also.
 
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