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Old 05-02-2019, 05:48 PM   #1
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Double solar roof panels—overkill?

Building a 19 list. I’m not using the Jack antenna, so Escape could add another 170w solar panel ($850 more) and tie it in to the other 170w solar panel I plan on putting on the build list. I’ll primarily be boondocking with the 19 with occasional RV park stays. Is it needed? Are there pros and cons to doing this setup? I know I could wire for a zamp port, I like the security that roof panels bring. Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:56 PM   #2
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If you use a lot of power then yes, it would be worth it. We use relatively little power and get by just fine with a single 160w panel. Need to figure out what appliances you want to be able to run while on battery power.
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:59 PM   #3
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We have the dual solar on our 21 . I like the concept of dual solar but am not thrilled with the wiring method used by Escape . Stringing exposed single conductors across the roof to tie the panels together does not look very professional to me . If I were to order a new trailer I would get a single panel on the roof and a Zamp port for plugging in a portable solar panel .
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Old 05-02-2019, 06:20 PM   #4
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Even if you don’t use a lot of power it’s possible that a second roof panel will be useful, particularly if you travel in low light conditions, eg winter or heavy canopied forest. In marginal conditions, every bit helps.
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Old 05-02-2019, 07:43 PM   #5
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A friend offered to wire up a zamp port for me so I got a portable 100W panel. Never use it. We do have the factory 160W panel and is all we need.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:25 PM   #6
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It depends on your power usage... our single 160W panel charges the battery by mid-day most times.. but we don't use a lot of power so it's easy to top off... (I think most morning he battery was either 80 or 90% anyway) we installed a zamp port during built but never needed it.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:54 PM   #7
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We have two on the roof and a zamp port. We do a lot of shoulder season camping and I would rather have more than I need than not enough.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:57 PM   #8
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I'm really good at a lot of things, but solar isn't one of them. People say you need to figure out 'usage' and match that to the panels and batteries. Flip, it either works or it doesn't! I have a 12 volt tester and know not to let the batteries get below the "kill" amps. I figure if my solar can't keep up (cloudy days, etc.), I'll just use my trailer as a 'hard sided tent." My tents never had a furnace or lights or a refrigerator. I'll still sleep warm (lots of blankets) and dry and off the ground. What's not to like? YMMV
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
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We do a lot of shoulder season camping and I would rather have more than I need than not enough.

Having that cushion relieves stress, and isn't that what camping is supposed to be about?
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:24 PM   #10
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Sounds like a commercial. Just remember- another panel from ETI - and another 8 holes in the roof to keep caulk fresh on.

Switched doctors a few years ago and this very bright lady osteopath reviewed my prescription for Lipitor. Based on my lab results she took me off and said if you don't need it don't put it in your body. So glad I didn't get to keep my doctor despite the promise.
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:31 AM   #11
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The one thing our Escape did not come with was any solar, now our current camping style we don;t really need it but when we do start going west more boondocking will be more involved. I think this is one of those things you cannot have to much of especially if you plan to camp off grid.
I do like the idea of less holes so one on the roof and one portable sound like the best option. I also will take a small wallet size to power phones and other smaller things.

Enjoy the journey,
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:38 AM   #12
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There are options other then drilling holes in the roof if you are doing your own solar.
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:30 AM   #13
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There are few things more frustrating than to be parked in a shady campsite with already weak batteries then watching a bright patch of sun slowly cross your campsite during the day, never coming within ten feet of the solar panels you have on the roof.

So yeah, I suggest that no matter what you do on the roof, make provisions for using a portable panel. If I were you I'd go for the whole shebang: two solar panels plus a wired socket for a portable panel.

The incident with the marching sunspot took place at Mora Campground in Olympic National Park. I was dumb enough to park under a shade tree at my previous campground so my batteries were already weak, and at Mora my three rooftop panels totaling 355 watts were useless as I watched that bright spot of sun slowly go by. I had a day-long cussfit, let me tell you.
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:44 AM   #14
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Park your trailer in the sun and open your sun shade awning......
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Old 05-03-2019, 07:59 AM   #15
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After 6 days in a mostly shady spot at Chiricahua National Monument I set up the portables. After a couple hours moving it to follow that little 6' sunny spot I gave up and went hiking. That was the only time I've needed it in the 3 years I've carried it.

If you know you are not going to see the sun and leave can live without running the inverter, one can go a long time before the batteries get down to 50%.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:22 AM   #16
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For some reason I seem to use a lot of power compared to others. One reason is using the MacBook, which is energy-intensive, but I'm sure that's not the whole story. I also use a lot of propane. Don't know why.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:59 AM   #17
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Mike, I leave my MacPro at home and bing a MacAir while traveling. As far as propane, hot water on for an hour in am, repeat in pm and then off. Electric heater for heat unless it is below freezing, then the furnace comes on.
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:20 AM   #18
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I'm another MacBookPro user, as well as generally making a 5 cup pot of drip coffee each morning, sometimes toast an English muffin or bread for breakfast, and want to be able to run the microwave when I want. Lots of phone, camera, and other rechargeable batteries & a cell amplifier, as well as the usual furnace and other 12V appliance use.

The result is I use between 40 - 50 amp hours per day during the winter in Arizona. A pair of 160 watt rooftop solar panels does not keep up with the low angle winter sun. I modified the mounts so I can tip the panels at the ideal angle for Quartzsite, AZ, and that helps, but if I have a string of cloudy days, or end up parked in the shade, I dig out a portable 160 watt panel. I've found that adding the portable during December & January keeps the batteries topped off during the shortest days.

During the summer, the flat mounted rooftop panels do fine. I know many that do fine with a single 100 watt panel, so it really depends on your usage.
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:56 AM   #19
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We use between 10-20 amp hours per day. The single roof panel is fine for us even in the winter. We can go pretty much 6-7 days without putting anything back in, so the case for a portable for us currently is no need.
One of the big things we do is keep the portable battery packs to charge all the phones/devices so it’s not coming off the trailer batteries. Whenever the tow vehicle moves the battery packs are recharged in the truck as well as laptops.
When we switch the trailer to Lithium batteries, it should eliminate any power/charging worries for most any situation.
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Old 05-03-2019, 02:34 PM   #20
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The result is I use between 40 - 50 amp hours per day during the winter in Arizona.

How do you measure your usage? My battery monitor measures drain and charge. Is there a way to measure drain only?
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