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Old 11-28-2016, 03:54 PM   #1
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Portable Flexible Solar

I have a 160 watt suitcase style portable panel, weighs in at 40 lbs and has a folded size of 40"x40"x3". Went in with my brother for it when I bought the trailer in 14. With the roof top 160 panel I've had no need for it, till now.

Problem, it does not fit anywhere, besides being a beast to lug. Even if I were to take only half of the set, it's still too bulky. Can't fit in the trailer, anywhere. The dog does't want it in the back seat of the truck, and it doesn't fit in the bed of the truck unless I leave the tonneau cover at home.

Picked up one of the flexible 50w panels off Amazon, weighs 2 lbs. at 21"x21". Built a break down frame for it out of oak that adds 2.5 lbs. The panel will fit in the front storage on the 5.0TA, just. The frame can go anywhere, takes about a minute to assemble.

Not too sure how long these this will last, the surface of the panel seems like it'll get scratched up pretty easy. The backing of this is a plastic sheet, maybe an 1/8" thick.

Will make due with the single 50w portable for this winter, if it works out I'll turn it into a 100w suitcase style for next winter.
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Old 11-28-2016, 04:28 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
, the surface of the panel seems like it'll get scratched up pretty easy. The backing of this is a plastic sheet, maybe an 1/8" thick.
A friend replaced the traditional heavy ones on his boat with two 100 watt ones. They sat around his shop for awhile until he made very lightweight aluminum frames for them. During this time he managed to knock a drill off his workbench onto the panel on the floor. No worries, no damage, could barely see a slight mark and they work very well.

If I add another panel it'll certainly be a plastic one for ease of hoisting.

Ron
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:45 AM   #3
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Looking forward to hearing how that little unit works out! Nice framing job too!

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Old 11-29-2016, 11:27 AM   #4
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I am seeing the same issues with my suitcase panel. I think I bought a bit earlier and only got a 120 watt panel. The advantage is it is a bit smaller and fits into my 21's wardrobe (barely). It still weights a hefty 40+ lbs and is a chore to haul around.

I have to believe that solarblvd or someone similar will come out with a lightweight panel like you are building.

I know it will be hard to compare a 50 watt to 160 watt but I am curious how it will do in production.
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Old 02-14-2017, 08:45 PM   #5
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A quick update, 7+ weeks on the road in the south, MS to AZ, mostly AZ.

Have really had no need for the portables, the 160w panel on the roof has prove sufficient to recharge our batteries every day. We've been using less then 20 amps a night with the furnace running. Keep in mind we don't have an inverter installed so no microwaves or coffee pots to load the batteries.


Made 2 50w portables using the flex panels, both of the panels store up high in the fifth wheels front outside storage, completely out of the way. The breakdown frames go in the storage bin next to the entry door. They weigh about 3 lbs total each. I did change to MC4 connectors, which can be a pain to pull apart, but they work well.

Set them up for a week in the no hookup section of Lost Dutchman just to play with them. Had to run the fridge on battery to cause enough drain to allow the panels and the controller to work fully. 2 weeks ago at 1 pm in full sun with the panels pointing south and at 60 degrees +/- I got 4.5a from the rooftop flat mounted 160 watt panel and 5.7 amps from the pair of 50 watt portables.

Looks to me like I can get about 20-25 amps from the rooftop unit, and about 30 amps from the portables on a good cloudless winters day in AZ.

Issue to be looked into... Noticed one day around noon, the batteries had been just about topped off by all the panels, 4 amps left to go. The Trimetric monitor showed the solar chargers output varying from 0 to about 10 amps, just kept cycling like that, 0, 4.5 or so, then 10+/-, then back to 0. Will need to call Bogart wen we get home and talk to them about it. I didn't want to spend the time messing around, better stuff to do.

I'm happy with the flex setup, but do have to look at the above issue.
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