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Old 10-21-2017, 01:40 PM   #1
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Portable solar panel connection to charge controller

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I picked up this flexible panel on a Lightning Deal at Amazon last weekend. Im looking for guidance on both the inside connection to the charge controller and the external connection to connect the panel on the outside of the trailer.
Im not sure if an MC4 Y connector is the way to go inside or something else?
Outside, I am open to suggestions. If you have pics of your install on a 5.0 or 21, I would be interested in seeing your solution.
Thanks!
Chuck
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Old 10-21-2017, 02:03 PM   #2
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I used a panel mount 2 pole SAE connector on both my 17 & 21. While you could use MC4 connectors on the trailer, they are not designed to be connected/disconnected over & over; they are a bit of a pain to open. You would need to add an SAE connector to the panel if you use one on the trailer. I have purchased both inline & panel SAE connectors from Solar Seller.



Where you connect it depends on whether it has a controller & whether you already have an on board solar controller.

If the portable panel has a controller & the trailer does not, connect the SAE connector to the batteries. No controller on the portable panel & a built in controller in the Escape, connect to the input of the Escape's solar controller. No controller on/in either, add a controller to the trailer & wire to it.

You do not want to put 2 controllers in series - if the panel has a controller & the trailer has one, either bypass the controller on the portable panel & wire to the trailer's controller (best solution) or keep the portable panel's controller in the circuit & wire the connector to the batteries. There is no problem having 2 controllers both feeding the battery in parallel.
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Old 10-21-2017, 02:25 PM   #3
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Thanks Jon.
I should have had more detail in my initial post. We have the ETI 160W panel and stock controller. I was looking for a break in the wiring from the panels to the controller under the dinette, but I haven’t found one, hence the MC4 Y connection question.
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Old 10-21-2017, 05:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckster View Post
Thanks Jon.
I should have had more detail in my initial post. We have the ETI 160W panel and stock controller. I was looking for a break in the wiring from the panels to the controller under the dinette, but I haven’t found one, hence the MC4 Y connection question.
You should be able it put a small combiner box ( can make one) where you want to connect to wires. Make sure to run heavier wires from there to your controller. Read "The RV Battery Charging Puzzle " Bob shows a picture of a home made combiner box. Make sure to run heavy wires to your portable panel if you want to put it a long way from your trailer.
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Old 10-21-2017, 05:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckster View Post
Thanks Jon.
I should have had more detail in my initial post. We have the ETI 160W panel and stock controller. I was looking for a break in the wiring from the panels to the controller under the dinette, but I havent found one, hence the MC4 Y connection question.
I paralleled mine (well, actually, Escape did) at the input terminals of the GoPower controller.
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:01 PM   #6
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If your intent is to permanently attach the new panel to the roof, Id swap out the existing MC-4 connectors on the roof for some Y versions then run the new panel into the Y. Avoids attaching a combiner box to the roof, and no new splices in existing wiring.
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
If your intent is to permanently attach the new panel to the roof, Id swap out the existing MC-4 connectors on the roof for some Y versions then run the new panel into the Y. Avoids attaching a combiner box to the roof, and no new splices in existing wiring.
That is how I've done it when both MC-4 connectors cracked apart. Just added a connection for a portable into the new wiring connection.
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
If your intent is to permanently attach the new panel to the roof, Id swap out the existing MC-4 connectors on the roof for some Y versions then run the new panel into the Y. Avoids attaching a combiner box to the roof, and no new splices in existing wiring.
Post title is,"portable solar panel connection to charge controller". That is why I suggested a combiner box next to the charge controller. The wire from the panel on the roof are probably only 10 gauge so you really don't want to start adding panels unless you don't mind voltage drop. Voltage drop is the enemy of a solar system.
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Old 10-21-2017, 07:45 PM   #9
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Chuck, if it is just the panel with no controller, I would do just as you are thinking, and put MC5 Y-connectors just before the stock controller with leads to the port you are going to plug the panel in to.

This is what I did, though I had to bypass the controller mounted on my portable panels to do so.

My portable panels are 18V and my fixed at 17.V, so work fairly well together.

This photo was taken to show my controller and breakers, but you can see (though out of focus) the Y-connector at the bottom of the photo, though it is not connected to the port yet. That is something I plan to do over the next while.
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Old 10-21-2017, 08:26 PM   #10
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Can you get to the back of the controller? If so, are the terminal blocks big enough to double up the cables? This is what I did on my non ETI controller.

If not, you could splice into the existing cables where ever you can get to them. Pickup some male and female MC4's, and put them on the cut ends. Insert a set of Y's between the ends you just put on. Run new cables from the other input of the Y's to a bulkhead connector of your choice that goes through the trailer shell. You then make up a set of cables to run from the trailer to the panel, the ends you choose would depend on what you pick for a bulkhead connector style (SAE is easy like Jon mentions) and what you put on the panel pigtail. I used MC4's, but as mentioned, they are a hassle to get apart and put together. If I were to do it over I'd use SAE's.
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