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Old 08-06-2016, 06:44 PM   #1
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Dual Solar Panels on a 21

We've decided on most of the items for the build sheet for our 21 but one of the items I'm considering is having two solar panels installed. I've been told it can be done but we won't be able to get the Jack TV antenna. That's okay with us since watching TV is not that important to us.

I've done some searching on the forum to try to determine if any other 21 owners have two panels but haven't been able to find anything. Anyone have any experience with dual panels? I'd like to find out what type/size of controllers are used etc.

Another configuration I've been considering is having one installed on the roof and then going with an additional portable panel. There are both pros and cons with going this route. How would this be wired in? Would the controller have to be upgraded and then the portable panel wired through the controller? My understanding is it's not a good idea to have two separate solar power sources going to the batteries.

We live in the PNW and plan on doing most of our camping in the off season. Between the cloudy days, treed campgrounds and short days we want as much solar as we can pull in.

Thank you.
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:55 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldstersOutside View Post
We've decided on most of the items for the build sheet for our 21 but one of the items I'm considering is having two solar panels installed. I've been told it can be done but we won't be able to get the Jack TV antenna. That's okay with us since watching TV is not that important to us.

I've done some searching on the forum to try to determine if any other 21 owners have two panels but haven't been able to find anything. Anyone have any experience with dual panels? I'd like to find out what type/size of controllers are used etc.

Another configuration I've been considering is having one installed on the roof and then going with an additional portable panel. There are both pros and cons with going this route. How would this be wired in? Would the controller have to be upgraded and then the portable panel wired through the controller? My understanding is it's not a good idea to have two separate solar power sources going to the batteries.

We live in the PNW and plan on doing most of our camping in the off season. Between the cloudy days, treed campgrounds and short days we want as much solar as we can pull in.

Thank you.
Hi: OldstersOutside... Ask Jubal; he knows every thing about wiring an Escape trailer!!! Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:59 PM   #3
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You can, and should, hook both solar panels to the same controller, irregardless of being portable or not. Last I knew the controller ETI uses is 30A, which is more then enough for a pair of 160w panels.

Personally, I'm going to use a portable for the 2nd panel, but find the 160w suitcase too ungainly to tote around. Going to take along 1/2 the 160w set this winter to AZ. If it turns out to be too much hassle I can add a 2nd fixed panel, probably a 100w. I have the JACK on my 5.0TA and it limits the width of a 2nd panel size also.

Hopefully Jon will pipe in, he had both the fixed and portable on his 17.
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Old 08-06-2016, 08:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldstersOutside View Post
We've decided on most of the items for the build sheet for our 21 but one of the items I'm considering is having two solar panels installed. I've been told it can be done but we won't be able to get the Jack TV antenna. That's okay with us since watching TV is not that important to us.

I've done some searching on the forum to try to determine if any other 21 owners have two panels but haven't been able to find anything. Anyone have any experience with dual panels? I'd like to find out what type/size of controllers are used etc.

Another configuration I've been considering is having one installed on the roof and then going with an additional portable panel. There are both pros and cons with going this route. How would this be wired in? Would the controller have to be upgraded and then the portable panel wired through the controller? My understanding is it's not a good idea to have two separate solar power sources going to the batteries.

We live in the PNW and plan on doing most of our camping in the off season. Between the cloudy days, treed campgrounds and short days we want as much solar as we can pull in.

Thank you.
We live in the pacific NW, have two solar panels running thru one controller, and have an escape 19. I guess two out of three makes us somewhat similar.

IMHO
-I beleive that two fixed panels are better than one fixed and one portable. No one will attempt to abscond with a fixed panel off the roof of a trailer but you will never want to leave your portable panel out and take a long walk away from the trailer. Portables can be moved and angled to catch the optimum sun rays but do you really want to be attending to them all day?

I beleive its better to over panel the trailer with fixed panels and suffer the lack of efficiency. First cost is higher but operating cost (hassle) is less.

For controller technology there is pwm or mppt. Mppt will provide more amps to the battery ONLY IF the solar panels output voltage is high. The solar panels used by ETI are from go power and product 17.2 volts. Not really high enough voltage for mppt to create a good increase over pwm, maybe 5-10%. The solar controller ETI provides is a samlex pwm30 . Using pwm technology. So unless you want to provide your own system you will be using pwm and 17.2 volt panels. I felt having ETI do the install was better because then it would get done in a reasonable time. I often overestimate what I can/will do.

We have
-a total of 320 watts in two panels that ETI installed.
-The controller is a samlex model 30pwm. It can take a max input of 30 amps and output 30 amps and handle two battery banks.
-the controller is situated close to the battery on the drivers side front bench
-we have 2x6v batteries for 232 amp hrs. They are the ETI provided ones. I will change them out to Trojan T105 when they die.
-we run an electric motor off a 12 v battery. I have a port installed in the drivers side front across from the solar controller and load center. I have a lead from the second battery bank slot on the controller to a connector that can run outside the trailer and we charge the boat motor battery up off of solar as well.

We routinely tow with our dometic 6.7 ft fridge on solar. Sometimes we gain power sometimes we lose. It depends on the day. We do NOT have AC or microwave. All in all the above setup works well for us in BC.

We do a lot of dry camping or boondocking. You must ask yourself why you are considering two panels. We did this to allow ourselves more dry camping duration. Currently the limiting factor for us is the black water tank size.

John
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:18 PM   #5
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We have one 95 watt and 2x6v batteries and boondock 40-50% of the time, a 1,500 watt inverter and tow the trailer with the fridge on battery mostly.

We use the inverter to charge electronics and sometimes for a coffee maker. We often find ourselves in the trees/shade, cloudy weather, in the shoulder seasons so use the heater (fan running off power) a fair amount.

I find when it's cloudy we are just keeping up after 5 days off the grid, if we used the inverter a fair bit we would go into a deficit and draining the batteries below 80% and would not recover. If it's sunny no problem and go for weeks.

I think a single 160 watt would be about right for us. If we were going to use the inverter more and be off grid for > 2 weeks I would consider 2 x 160 watt panels.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:29 PM   #6
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I have two 40 watt portable panels and find myself getting up every fifteen minutes to move the panels for optimum exposure. I could just ignore them, but it would be easier to ignore them if they were fixed on the trailer roof.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:32 PM   #7
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We routinely camp on sites with limited sun. The only method of capturing it is a 50 cable connected to a portable panel. A roof top panel looses effectiveness if there is any sort of filtered sun such as a bare tree branch covering part of the panel. I like the portability and the ability to reach the sun rather than hope it is going to reach me. Full and direct sun is needed for at least three hours on our 120 watt panel to replace what we use over the course of a day.

On the other had I find that with the dual six volt batteries I can camp during the summer months for one week without getting below 50%. This is with charging our nine different electronic devices and using LED lights, microwave, my sons CPAP, pump and water heater with abandon. We even run the vacuum cleaner every other day. Water heater and refrigerator are using propane. Those dual six's are like the Energizer Bunny.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldstersOutside View Post
We've decided on most of the items for the build sheet for our 21 but one of the items I'm considering is having two solar panels installed. I've been told it can be done but we won't be able to get the Jack TV antenna. That's okay with us since watching TV is not that important to us.

I've done some searching on the forum to try to determine if any other 21 owners have two panels but haven't been able to find anything. Anyone have any experience with dual panels? I'd like to find out what type/size of controllers are used etc.

Another configuration I've been considering is having one installed on the roof and then going with an additional portable panel. There are both pros and cons with going this route. How would this be wired in? Would the controller have to be upgraded and then the portable panel wired through the controller? My understanding is it's not a good idea to have two separate solar power sources going to the batteries.

We live in the PNW and plan on doing most of our camping in the off season. Between the cloudy days, treed campgrounds and short days we want as much solar as we can pull in.

Thank you.
It was my understanding that ETI would NOT install two solar panels. FWIIW

and

as we already own a 160 watt suitcase, with a very thick extension wire... i decided to just keep it, and to have ETI wire in the pigtail for it, when they wire in (single) solar.

in sunny California we sometimes are boondocking in spots where the trailer is shaded, but there is sun nearby..... so I put the portable in the sun, and have a beer, and relax, and tending to the solar panel gives me a "job" while i relax. Gives me a task.

i'll stick with that plan.
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Old 08-06-2016, 11:44 PM   #9
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ETI has installed two panels for some people. Whether they have had problems with that and do not want to do it any more, I don't know. Of course, it was only possible in some instances depending upon what other items were to go on the roof, but it has been done.
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Old 08-07-2016, 06:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
We even run the vacuum cleaner every other day.
Vacuum cleaner? Are you using an inverter, or do you have a 12V vacuum?
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