Solar Blvd 160 Watt Folding Solar Panel - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 03-04-2014, 06:58 PM   #1
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Solar Blvd 160 Watt Folding Solar Panel

For anyone interested, I added a review of my new 160 Watt Folding Solar Panel from Solar Blvd at my LakeshoreImages site.
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:24 PM   #2
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Excellent review. Good strategy to avoid generator use and meet power needs. How did you connect the folding panels to the battery? Clamps ?
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:30 PM   #3
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Thanks for the review Jon. Now you can have coffee several times a day! It would be interesting to do a comparison of your present hookup to hooking the panels up directly to the battery watching the voltage on the Trimetric. It would have to be a cloudless day, as voltage will fluctuate and mess up your test.
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:58 PM   #4
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Thanks Jon. I am seriously considering their 100w model and very much appreciate your review. Have you measured any output voltages from the controller?
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:00 PM   #5
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Great review Jon! Connecting to the trailer's 7 pin connector is a great idea.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:28 PM   #6
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Thanks for the review. Being electrically challenged I could not figure out the symbolism for the second set of outputs off the controller. One was leads to the battery, the second was for?
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:51 PM   #7
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I talked to Reace today about having my trailer set up to handle an additional panel. He is going to mount the charge regulator in the bench near the batteries. He is adding a hatch so i can hook the panel wires directly to the regulator.
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:10 PM   #8
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Jon, on your solar panel controller picture I noticed that your quick disconnects both have the hot (+) conductor exposed on the supply side. When using these quick disconnect connectors (which I really like) I always use the other side of the connector on the supply side so the negative (-) prong is exposed. That way if it bumps something while live it cannot short to ground. Your supply lead for the battery may be long enough to bump against the frame. You may want to change those and reverse the cable connections....however...on this setup it will either be hot on the battery side or the charging side...which one is most likely to be shorted may be most important...

Steve
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Being electrically challenged I could not figure out the symbolism for the second set of outputs off the controller. One was leads to the battery, the second was for?
Left to right of the photo, the connections appear to be
  • input from panel
  • output to battery
  • connection to loads

The symbol for load is a light bulb. Many controllers provide this sort of connection: you connect the stuff you want to power to these terminals, and the controller shuts the connection off if the battery voltage gets too low, to protect the battery.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:17 AM   #10
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Since I just sent my deposit for a 19' and am in the build sheet phase, what would everyone recommend, get the Escape stock solar panel and add the external, or try something else?

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Old 03-05-2014, 07:36 AM   #11
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Bill, thats what im doing. I went with the stock system and i can add another panel if i need. This way everything is wired and ready to go. pete
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:37 AM   #12
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This is a difficult question to answer because so much depends on your camping style. I am off the grid a great deal and want to get the most out of my batteries. For that reason I am going with external solar, it gives the user much more ability to customize the components. That said, I just ordered my 21, solar ready, so I can always convert.

This link contains a discussion of that configuration.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:48 AM   #13
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There is really no one right answer, and it all depends on your needs, Bill.

Just a couple thoughts of mine. As you have likely seen, there are near as many thought processes as there are owners.

If you aren't reliant on heavy power usage, and do will not be camping off grid for more than a few days, it is unlikely that you even need solar. I went 4 years never really needing solar, camping almost exclusively off the grid, and camped for up to 4 nights at temps just below freezing. I do have the dual 6V batteries. I did just add a 40W portable, wanting to ensure that the voltage did not drop too much in instances like this. It worked great for us last year.

Fixed panels do allow you the ease of not having to set up a portable, for many that alone would be a big factor. Also, it charges while travelling. Setting up my portable panel takes me two minutes tops, and I have really never had the need for more than the vehicle charging while travelling to top up batteries. Another advantage of fixed is storage, and not having to find a place to store a portable setup. I only bring mine along on trips where I know there will be extended off-grid time. With a fixed, you can have all the metering you want built inside the trailer. I guess you could do this too with portable.

Or, as you alluded to Bill, you could have one of each, and have the best of both worlds. A lot of it can come down to cost, and what the setup you choose is worth to you.

There are pluses to the portable units too. Like mentioned, you only need to bring them when needed. You can easily set them up for ideal solar gain, especially if camped under a heavy tree canopy. As well, like Jon alluded to, the angle of the sun much of the year is very low, and a fixed flat panel will not be near as effective. It would also be easier to change out, or add a panel to a portable solution.

So, as mentioned, there is no one correct way to do it. Heck, if I was to buy new now, I would be having to think hard like you are doing to decide which way to go, but for now, no need to hurt me wee brane.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
This is a difficult question to answer because so much depends on your camping style. I am off the grid a great deal and want to get the most out of my batteries. For that reason I am going with external solar, it gives the user much more ability to customize the components. That said, I just ordered my 21, solar ready, so I can always convert.

This link contains a discussion of that configuration.
This would likely be the way I would go if ordering new.....maybe.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:04 PM   #15
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For those that use the protable panels..... Are you concerned about theft? How do you secure them to keep them from being taken?
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:26 PM   #16
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I am not too concerned about theft at all myself. Granted, most of the time I am far away from most people with the trailer, but the few times I have been in a campground, I have left it, and my chairs, and my BBQ, and my stove, and so on, unattended without a problem.

Granted, my panel is only $250 retail price (paid way less), and maybe if I had a more expensive model, I would either put it away, or find some way to secure it. But even secured, a nice cordless grinder with a zip disc will have it freed in seconds.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:32 PM   #17
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Just remember, all the lock does is stop the honest theives or at least the lazy ones.
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