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Old 09-20-2015, 01:31 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Adding More Solar than 160 Watts

I have been reading a number of the posts on solar panels and the fixed systems verses a suit case type portables. Can anyone give me a clear idea if I should ask about adding another 160w panel to my future 21 foot I have on order? I plan on boondocking a lot out west especially in the winter when the sun is at a lower angle. I am concerned about theft of the portable panels. I have limited knowledge of electrical systems so having ETI add it during the build makes a lot of sense.

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Old 09-20-2015, 02:13 PM   #2
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The 160W panel is 24x56 inches; not sure it would fit up there in front of the AC.......maybe worth a call to ETI.

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Old 09-20-2015, 03:48 PM   #3
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Earlier this year I asked that same question of ETI for our 5.0 TA that we will pick up next month. At the time ETI was installing 160 watt panels. The response I got back from ETI was that a 160 would fit up front on the 5.0, but I would be precluded from ordering the Jack TV antenna that is normally installed in that area. The Jack antenna won out. Don't know how the roof of the 5.0 compares to the 21 though.

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Old 09-20-2015, 03:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by tractors1 View Post
The 160W panel is 24x56 inches; not sure it would fit up there in front of the AC.......maybe worth a call to ETI.
I'm wondering if the panel could be rotated 90* and a second one put beside it making for a panel 48" wide and 56" front to back. Easy to join 2 panels together with a piece of light aluminum angle front and back. The angle could also be longer than the 48" to allow the brackets to be installed in an area over the cabinets so that the bolts wouldn't be visible. It would do away with connecting wires running from one area to another.

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Old 09-20-2015, 04:58 PM   #5
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I think a lot of it would have to do with your power consumption. If you are not using an inverter, and mostly use some lights, the water pump, and the furnace a bit, I would think you are fine. The dual 6V batteries will give you a few days of buffer, as I have used just them for 4 nights at temps around freezing without them getting too low. A couple times I was pushing their capacities though. I now use a 40W portable, and that does not keep up in very cold weather, but keeps the voltage fairly high.

If you went with a small portable unit you could place and aim, like my 40W panel, that would likely help when the 160W is not real effective. This is what I am considering for my 5.0 build.
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Old 09-20-2015, 06:19 PM   #6
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I agree with Jim B . Adding another roof panel still may not give you enough capacity if your trailer is parked in the shade. I would be more inclined to supplement. the roof panel with a portable solar panel. I would consider having ETI install rhe wiring and an outside receptacle so you could just plug a portable solar panel in when needed. Probably more cost effective than adding another roof mounted panel,
I have a 100 watt portable solar panel and it has worked well for me . When camped in the summer it is nice to be able to park the trailer in the shade and still be able to solar charge my batteries.
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Old 09-20-2015, 09:53 PM   #7
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ETI has installed a second panel on the roof for buyers before so they will do that. The panels are now 150-watt.
Cathy. Floating Cloud
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:04 AM   #8
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We ordered a 19 with a delivery date of June 29. we are getting the dual 6 volt batteries and am probably going to mount two 160 watt panels on the top of a canopy on the tow vehicle. I thought about having solar added to the trailer and still might, but I think I would see if ETI would use a different charge controller such as a Morningstar Tristar 45. If not then I would just use the two panels on the tow vehicle. The advantage of a separate solar panel (portable or on the tow vehicle) is that it could be in the sun when your trailer is in the shade. The best resource for information on solar for RV's I have found is in the Handyman Bob's blog. Google "The RV Battery Charging Puzzle" Bob Shearer knows more about batteries and solar power than anyone I know. I read an article years ago called "The 12 Volt Side of life" by Mark Nemeth and was impressed by his knowledge of battery systems and still am, but Handyman Bob's article goes into this decade with the newer technology. I was an auto mechanic for 38 years and I am totally impressed by both of these articles. A must read for solar RV'rs. At least in my opinion. It all depends how much boondocking you want to do.
Hooking up solar power and making it work well is something I am looking forward to accomplishing and with the knowledge found on the internet.
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:56 AM   #9
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I toyed with the idea of mounting one or more cells on my canopy. If I didn't sometimes carry a kayak I'd probably have gone that route.

One advantage that comes to mind, aside from the oblivious being able to position them a little more advantageously on a site, is that it'd be much more easy to install a tilting mount for maximum power input. Wouldn't even have to rotate them, you could point the vehicle towards the noon azimuth.

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Old 09-21-2015, 08:10 AM   #10
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You may need a really long power cord to charge the trailer batteries from panels on your tow vehicle, especially on those days where you are out seeing sights or shopping.

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