Made the 19 foot Escape plunge! Need Solar suggestions/reports - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-14-2018, 09:34 AM   #1
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Question Made the 19 foot Escape plunge! Need Solar suggestions/reports

Already have spent way too much time on this very helpful Forum!
Finally got to see a 19 ft 2017 and put our deposit down the next day
Bern and Ruth are here we hope to stay!
I have looked at lots of Solar discussions, but still struggling with the mediocre set up ETI puts in for we hard core boon docker wanna bees.
Original plan: Full double solar 170 Watt fixed, and blocked/added portable port /battery upgrade/inverter to all outlets/surge suppressor etc. But, looking at what you get for the money and the heavier weight of fixed panels has made me question (rather put the weight towards 4 6 volt AGM, has anybody done this in a new 19?) and upgrade to 2000 watt psw inverter and better monitoring gear along with a 40 amp MPPT charge controller.
I would love to see and hear about successful upgrades to the roof and hardware!
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:03 AM   #2
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I'd concentrate on using less 120v battery hungry appliances and use 12v and propane for all your needs (except for a/c). The stock 170 watt solar with dual 6 volts is enough to handle most of the 12v needs in a day and is recharged full before noon the next day. Other than lights which are LED and the pump, the furnace will meet most of your needs and the refer on propane works very well. Spending close to $2,000 to use 120v appliances can be done but the trailer can be use without it.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:25 AM   #3
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We have “Boondocked” camped several times for a week in a trailer with one 27F deep cycle battery , 100 watts of portable solar and no inverter without issue.
As Jim pointed out with 12VDC and propane the only thing you can’t do is run the A/C
We bought our trailer used and it came with dual solar panels , full inverter and the EMS system , if we were to order new we would have spent thee money elsewhere .
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:14 AM   #4
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Our single 160 Watt roof panel with one 12V battery works amazingly well in the Pacific Northwest, where it's cloudy and rainy for 4 months a year. We've never failed to recharge in half a day even under the huge trees in Redwood National Parks in California. However, we only. use our little 300W plug-in inverter to charge laptops. Everything else runs on 12V or propane.


If we're only going to be out for a couple of weeks I don't even pack my generator any more. Has maybe 30 hours run time in the last 4 years.
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:14 AM   #5
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Made the 19 foot Escape plunge! Need Solar suggestions/reports

Hi, Bernard, and welcome to the family. I am like-minded about wanting a robust off-grid setup, and have found a combination of Escape factory options combined with some carefully selected aftermarket options to work exceptionally well for us. On our 19 we had Escape install their solar package (with an additional second panel), as well as a custom solar port that I provided (for an additional third, portable panel only now used in special circumstances), and inverter and EMS. After delivery I replaced the factory solar controller with a BlueSky MPPT controller that can be programmed for the correct voltages that Interstate recommends for their batteries, along with a temperature probe, and a Trimetric battery monitor so I can see true state of charge on our batteries. The only thing I’d do differently now would be to use a Victron BM702 battery monitor instead of the Trimetric. The Trimetric works great, but it’s kind of clunky. And the Victron would do Bluetooth to my phone. Bells and whistles can be both practical and fun!
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Old 10-14-2018, 12:27 PM   #6
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Thanks all!
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Old 10-14-2018, 12:29 PM   #7
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So you stayed with the 1500 watt inverter? And what Amperage was the Blue Sky?
I will look now at the Victron.
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Old 10-14-2018, 03:41 PM   #8
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The only 4 battery setup I recall was used to run a 12v fridge, think they went with 3 solar panels on the roof.

I also didn't care for the stock equipment and did my own installs, but it's an old body style 5.0TA so mine will be different then yours. I used Bogart Engineering's Trimetric monitor (TM-2030-RV) and their solar controller (SC-2030), which work as a set. ETI ran the monitor cables for me as well as the solar panel cables up to the roof. I put in a Magnum Dimentions 1000w inverter (CSW). Had ETI install the Progressive Industries EMS.

Everything worked out fine but it's a good deal of work.
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Old 10-14-2018, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berndad View Post
So you stayed with the 1500 watt inverter? And what Amperage was the Blue Sky?
I will look now at the Victron.


Yes, we’ve been good with the 1500 watt inverter. The only appliance we use that comes close to max capacity is when we use our Instant Pot.

We chose the BlueSky 3000i MPPT for two reasons, first cause its MPPT, but second, and actually more importantly to us, it’s one of only a few solar controllers that can be programmed to the higher voltages that Interstate Batteries specifies for their 6V batteries, which gets us fuller, healthier batteries that should last longer than the chronically undercharged batteries that you‘re likely to have with a suboptimal setup.
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Old 10-14-2018, 07:19 PM   #10
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Bern and Ruth, a hearty congratulations on your purchase. We love our 19 as much today as we did when we picked it up almost 4 years ago.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:07 AM   #11
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Nearly every place we camp does not have electric hookups, so solar is important.

Having had solar on our Bigfoot, researching solar for number or years, and talking to others who have solar (and know what they are talking about) we are getting one solar panel on our 5.0 TA we will be picking up in less than two weeks. I don't like the idea of that second panel being mounted up front directly in the airstream.

Using today's Canadian exchange rate for $850, $651.69 US, the single panel installed is cheap and the hard part is done. I can't find anyone to install a system even close to that price. It's a great start, and in the summer it will meet our needs. We will see how it works in the shoulder seasons. My guess is in two years we will have a flexible panel glued to our roof and perhaps, for the winter months, a portable.

For the past three years friends of our who camp like we do have had 300 watts on their roof with two AGM batteries and a 1500w inverter. They only use their microwave occasionally and have moved away from 120v appliances. Even in their first year when they hauled all their appliances they never ran out of power. They camp quite often underneath the trees at their daughters land on the North Shore and in the winter travel around the Southwest.,

The basic, Escape provided Go Power solar controller is being zip-tied underneath our rear bench. When we get home I'll probably be installing a Victron SmartSolar bluetooth controller that can be controlled with our phones and also have a Victron monitor underneath the bench as a backup to the phones.

If we weren't getting solar we would have four batteries, but one reason for a decent solar system is to eliminate two of the batteries. Because batteries are located underneath the rear bench and hard to access/maintain, we have decided to spend $460 on Crown 220 6v AGM batteries. Part of that cost is offset by not having to purchase Escape's flooded batteries for $270, so the AGM's are really only $190 extra.

We've had microwave ovens in our previous campers and don't use them, others do. Anything else can either be lp gas or 12v. We aren't TV users, but if that changes there are plenty of 12v TV's available. We've also been using the Melita coffee system for years.

Food for thought.

As always, YMMV.

Perry
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Old 10-15-2018, 12:34 PM   #12
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Great information and thanks for the great welcome.
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Old 10-19-2018, 01:57 PM   #13
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I initially planned to get the factory installed solar panels on the roof. They I read a good article, linked from this forum, that listed reasons to consider a portable solar panel instead. Such as, no holes drilled in your roof, the ability to put your panels in the sun even if your trailer is parked in the shade, and the solar unit can stay with you even if you sell your trailer. This has convinced my to reconsider my thinking.

Acknowledging the convenience of not having to set up the panels, I am wondering if anyone else have thoughts on this? (Silly question: this forum is full of people with lots of thoughts on almost everything.)
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Old 10-19-2018, 01:59 PM   #14
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Here is the link to the article.

5 Portable Solar Power Benefits: Reasons To Use Portable Solar Power
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Old 10-19-2018, 02:26 PM   #15
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There is the issue of potential theft of the solar panels while you are away from the trailer. I've camped a couple years across from a regular at Kettle River and his panel is leaning against the front of the trailer. Hasn't disappeared yet.
On the other hand, I found myself getting up every 20 minutes to move the panels so they had direct sunlight. Amazing how much the sun moves in a short time.
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Old 10-19-2018, 02:39 PM   #16
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Excellent point. That article never brought that up. Hmm.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:01 PM   #17
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I've been camping solar for 20 years. I never suggest using rooftop mounted panels as you usually want to camp n a shady area. I use outboard panel(s) and make up 25 ft sections of 10g marine wire with 2 wire flat connectors. This way I can simply point the panels at the sun. MOST IMPORTANT component is to make sure you get the MPPT charge controller. Most dealers use the cheaper PWM controller, but you lose 30% of your panels output. Only getting 70w out of a 100w panel doesn;t seem like much....but everything little bit helps with solar. PM me if you want a source for panels as there is lots of junk out there.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:10 PM   #18
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My trailer is stored in a storage lot with no power available. The roof mounted solar keeps the batteries charged, even through the winter. That wouldn't happen if I only had a portable as I certainly wouldn't leave it out and vulnerable.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:42 PM   #19
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My solar is on the roof. I just let it do its job and mostly forget that it is even there, except that I enjoy having my batteries recharge without ever plugging into AC power. Even when my 19' is covered for the winter, the solar keeps the batteries topped off so that when I uncover it in the spring, they are fully charged. However, the cover on my 15B does not let sufficient light through to charge the batteries. Best of both worlds would be to have both a portable panel and a fixed panel.
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:05 PM   #20
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I camped for 10+ years in Scamps with portable panels. Now have the 19 with the roof mount. I agree with the efficiency issues, however, there is a lot of inconvenience with portables. I prefer having the roof mount now that I've had it for 3 years, with possibly a portable to supplement if needed once full-timing. To date I haven't needed to add a portable, the roof mount has been more than sufficient. While there are cons to roof mount, I forget it's up there most of the time and it just always is doing it's job.
Some Cons to portables are:
Storage, setup-take down, no charging while towing, much higher risk of theft, have to be fiddled with all day to remain efficient.
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