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Old 06-05-2015, 01:43 PM   #11
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I used portable panels when I had a pop-up, and got the roof mounted installation when I bought the 17. It was 95 watts then, and fairly ample for our needs. Now have the 19 with the 160 watt roof panel, and it's done great so far. I also had Reace install a porthole on the forward driver side, so I could later on connect a portable panel if needed/wanted. Also had the controller mounted under the driver sie dinette so I could patch any portable panel into the controller as well.
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Old 06-05-2015, 02:43 PM   #12
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Hi...

We're working on our build sheet. We had planned on getting a mounted solar panel, but hearing that 3 have blown off is making us reconsider that decision. I know that we could ask ETI to bolt it to the fiberglass, but I'm really hesitant about adding holes. Every hole is another area of maintenance.

I don't know much electricity in general, or solar panels in particular. I'm wondering if you all can give me your thoughts on the idea of using a portable solar panel vs a mounted one.

- Would it be a PITA to set up and use a portable solar panel?
- Should I have ETI do anything to our trailer to make using a portable one easier or more effective?
- Should I get the 2 6 volt batteries to use with the portable panel?
- Is there a good site I could look at to learn more about this sort of thing?

Thanks so much for your thoughts!
I agree on avoiding holes, the waterproof hull/shell is the main reason I went with to a fiberglass trailer. Any hole is a potential problem and will require periodic checking.
Can't speak on the subject of ETI's use of epoxy, but that's how I attached mine. Could be a few contributing factors to the failures, knowing ETI they are on top of it.

I like the simplicity of use with a roof mount panel, but many do use the portables, your choice of course.

If you plan on camping without hookups I'd suggest 2 batteries, with or without solar.

If you want a good primer on 12 volts, try The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1), it's in 2 parts, read both.
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Old 06-05-2015, 02:50 PM   #13
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This may be a dumb question, but do you just hook up the leads from the solar suitcase onto the appropriate terminals on the battery (s) or am I missing something?
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Old 06-05-2015, 02:59 PM   #14
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You are correct, in the simplest method, you just connect the suitcases clips to the battery terminals. If you have a roof mounted panel too, there are other considerations.
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:08 PM   #15
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This may be a dumb question, but do you just hook up the leads from the solar suitcase onto the appropriate terminals on the battery (s) or am I missing something?
My 80 watt portables came with many connecters one end connects to their end -one way was actual clips for pos and neg terminals , one connecters you can permanently install on battery posts and just connect to the end . I now have ordered their connecter to just go to trailer connecter . I don't need to open box or connect directly to my batteries . The panel I ordered was a go power and the 2 previous connecters all came with their folding system . I bought my on Amazon and noticed a little price drop less then 400. Also I would mention their whole system is very well made and they give you a nice case . Pat
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:12 PM   #16
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My 80 watt portables came with many connecters one end connects to their end -one way was actual clips for pos and neg terminals , one connecters you can permanently install on battery posts and just connect to the end . I now have ordered their connecter to just go to trailer connecter . I don't need to open box or connect directly to my batteries . The panel I ordered was a go power and the 2 previous connecters all came with their folding system . I bought my on Amazon and noticed a little price drop less then 400. Also I would mention their whole system is very well made and they give you a nice case . Pat
I do have 2 6 volts and got the 80 watt instead of their 120 watt because of size and weight and if I had ordered at factory I would of only gotten 95 watt anyway . I did talk to them and was told I can add a little more too. Pat
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:13 PM   #17
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This may be a dumb question, but do you just hook up the leads from the solar suitcase onto the appropriate terminals on the battery (s) or am I missing something?
There are a couple of scenarios where it is perfectly fine to hook solar directly to the battery. Both require a certain amount of effort on your part which otherwise would be handled by the charge controller.

1) You are certain your battery is less than 80% full. Then the battery will accept all the charge from the panel, even 150/160 watts, without the voltage rising too much. But keep an eye on the voltmeter and disconnect if it goes close to, or over 15v.

2) Your panel is small - say "suitcase" size, 40 watts or less. Then the panel behaves more like a trickle charger and is unlikely to do any harm even if the voltage goes over the full mark (14.x to 15.x depending on what the battery manufacturer says is a maximum charging voltage.) But keep in mind it is not a great idea to apply that voltage on a regular (daily) basis to a full battery. Not that anyone wants to waste precious fishing time to charge a full battery...

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Old 06-05-2015, 03:27 PM   #18
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There are a couple of scenarios where it is perfectly fine to hook solar directly to the battery. Both require a certain amount of effort on your part which otherwise would be handled by the charge controller.

1) You are certain your battery is less than 80% full. Then the battery will accept all the charge from the panel, even 150/160 watts, without the voltage rising too much. But keep an eye on the voltmeter and disconnect if it goes close to, or over 15v.

2) Your panel is small - say "suitcase" size, 40 watts or less. Then the panel behaves more like a trickle charger and is unlikely to do any harm even if the voltage goes over the full mark (14.x to 15.x depending on what the battery manufacturer says is a maximum charging voltage.) But keep in mind it is not a great idea to apply that voltage on a regular (daily) basis to a full battery. Not that anyone wants to waste precious fishing time to charge a full battery...

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Hi Allan . We installed a volt meter and keep a watch on that . I really don't think my batteries are ever fully charged many discussions before . Plugging in for couple days or I have a external charger 1 x month never have I gotten more then 13.7 . When the external charger runs it will only go up to 14.7 on fast charge . My generator which is only a 1000 watt got the best . When I see batteries going down before night especially if I need heater I hook up portables during daylight . After they settle down they are only 13.5 or 13.6 . To charge these 6 volts would take a really expensive charger . The panels do have a controller on the back also . If I get another panel thinking of by passing that panel charger controller and getting a better one . Still trying to figure all this out . But I think my batteries never get over 85-90 % no matter what I do . Pat
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:35 PM   #19
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If you have a roof mounted panel too, there are other considerations.
Like what?
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:40 PM   #20
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All good points, but nobody has mentioned price.

The solar option with ETI is $850 CAD.

Portable options can be considerably cheaper. I just received a 120 watt suitcase with a built-in controller from solarblvd. This weekend, I am going to build a 10' tray cable that will plug into the 7-pin pigtail. All of this for less than $250 USD, shipped. It should fit nicely through the oversized storage hatch on my 19'.

Though, I will comment that I am not impressed with the build quality of the suitcase from solarblvd. One of the latches doesn't line up correctly, and the mounting hardware they use is not adequate, IMO.
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