Portable solar panel vs mounted - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Escape Systems | Water, Waste, Charging & Propane
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 06-05-2015, 10:23 AM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Rangeley, Maine
Trailer: 2005 Escape 17B Sold 2016... 2016 Escape 19.
Posts: 113
Portable solar panel vs mounted

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!
__________________

sallemann is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 11:01 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 11,934
If you do a search here, and over at FGRV, you will get lots, and lots, of opinions on the topic. And only you can say what is right for you, as different folks, in different situations have done many differing setups.

Right now, I just use a portable 40W that does a nice job of adding to my dual 6V batteries. I have rarely done more that 4 cold nights in a row, so the batteries alone are good enough. In the future, with lots of travel, and little use of serviced campsites, this will likely change.

I would not hesitate in the least to have Escape mount a permanent panel on the roof. There are many successful installations, and the 3 that have had trouble are a rarity. I imagine Reace will work diligently to ensure that future installations are even better.

If you are travelling in bright sun, the permanent installation will charge on the fly, and if setting up on a sunny site will also charge great.

However, if you set up your trailer in the shade, then the charge will not be that strong.

With a portable panel, you can set it up to get the maximum gain from the sun. You can also bring it out only when needed. If you do a lot of serviced sites, then this might be the way to go. The downside is it doesn't charge while not set up, and some will worry about it being stolen a lot.

My thought for future setup at this time, is to have a permanent installation, and if I find that is not adequate, supplement with a portable panel stowed nicely away somewhere, to be brought out only as needed. I would be that for the most part, the permanent mount would fit the bill, but it sure would be nice to add in the portable panel as required. Kinda the best of both worlds. My thoughts may change into the future though.
__________________

__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 11:01 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Kelowna, British Columbia
Trailer: 2008 Escape 17b
Posts: 1,874
Quote:
Originally Posted by sallemann View Post
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.

Only 3 solar panels have blown off out of however many have been installed is an interesting stat.
I wouldn't worry too much about the added holes. These trailers have a number of holes that, so far, I haven't heard any problems about. The awning produced holes, the bathroom vent produced a hole, so did the AC (if you have one), the wires from your solar panel (if you have one) produced a hole, the fantastic fan produced a hole and so did (those with) a refer vent on the roof, the black tank vent produced a hole too. My thought is that 4 bolts holding the solar panel to the roof is the least of, and possibly the smallest holes your roof will incur.
J Mac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 11:05 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
NW Cat Owner's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Seatac, Washington
Trailer: "The Trailer", 2nd Gen 21' & a 2017 Tundra CrewMax in Blazing Blue Pearl
Posts: 2,493
I don't know anything about it, other than you need to make sure it doesn't walk off via a ten finger discount while you're out sightseeing in your TV.
__________________
Laura and Dirk and Spike (the cat)
www.UnderKittySupervision.com
NW Cat Owner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 11:09 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Rangeley, Maine
Trailer: 2005 Escape 17B Sold 2016... 2016 Escape 19.
Posts: 113
Thanks guys... really appreciate your input.

We have a 2005 17B and we have had to address leaking in the bathroom vent... and when we first got the trailer, the holes for the awning had some leaking that we had to address. That's why I'm concerned about having more holes put through the fiberglass. You guys both have newer trailers... have you had to deal with any leaking? I'm wondering if the materials/techniques ETI uses in more recent trailers have alleviated the leakage issues.
sallemann is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 11:27 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Kelowna, British Columbia
Trailer: 2008 Escape 17b
Posts: 1,874
I've not experienced any leaking but, if I did, I'd use butyl tape and an exterior caulk to fix it, because in my mind, these two combined are the best sealer around.
J Mac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 11:32 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Rangeley, Maine
Trailer: 2005 Escape 17B Sold 2016... 2016 Escape 19.
Posts: 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by NW Cat Owner View Post
I don't know anything about it, other than you need to make sure it doesn't walk off via a ten finger discount while you're out sightseeing in your TV.
Yes, absolutely a concern and consideration. Thanks.
sallemann is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 12:18 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
alanmalk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Arvada, Colorado
Trailer: '21 - 'Velocity'. Tow: Toyota Tacoma V6, 4X4, manual.
Posts: 547
Quote:
Originally Posted by sallemann View Post
Hi...
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?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to your main question. It depends on your camping style and needs.

For example - in order of increasing solar power needs:
1) If you mostly camp where 110 AC is available then the bare minimum single battery, no solar, is OK.

2) If you occasionally camp away from 110 AC for only a few days or less, then the two 6v battery option is OK with no solar.

3) If you boondock for more than a few days then two 6v batteries and the roof mounted solar will work, as long as the panel gets direct overhead sun for a few hours.

4) If you camp in the fall through early spring season ( low sun angle ) or park in shade, then a second portable panel may be necessary. You will learn this by trial and error.

Since we are planning to camp in both shade and in the low sun season, I asked ETI to install a "porthole" for a wire near the battery compartment so I could connect a portable panel when the time came. There may be other similar options, like a 12v connector wired to the GoPower controller. ETI will provide the specifics.

My thoughts on keeping the portable panel from walking off while I'm out fishing: A chain to the nearest stationary object - picnic table, tree, etc. Or a pair of ground screws with the panel on an A-frame and a chain between the 3 objects ( so the ground screws can't be unscrewed.) Of course, nothing will stop a determined person from cutting a chain.

The PITA factor is relative to the size of your portable panel. Little ones in the 40 watt range are probably easy to deal with. The biggest - in the 150 to 160 watt sizes are likely to need to live in a pickup truck bed until needed. (Note, stay away from the 200 watt and up sizes. In addition to being huge, they are designed to produce voltages that aren't compatible with the Escape installed controller. Plus, if you don't need that much power then you are denting your wallet for no reason.)

There are probably excellent websites with more info. Keep watching this forum and someone will provide a link.

--
Alan
alanmalk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 01:01 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Patandlinda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Ventura County, California
Trailer: 2013 19 Escape
Posts: 4,008
Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to your main question. It depends on your camping style and needs.

For example - in order of increasing solar power needs:
1) If you mostly camp where 110 AC is available then the bare minimum single battery, no solar, is OK.

2) If you occasionally camp away from 110 AC for only a few days or less, then the two 6v battery option is OK with no solar.

3) If you boondock for more than a few days then two 6v batteries and the roof mounted solar will work, as long as the panel gets direct overhead sun for a few hours.

4) If you camp in the fall through early spring season ( low sun angle ) or park in shade, then a second portable panel may be necessary. You will learn this by trial and error.

Since we are planning to camp in both shade and in the low sun season, I asked ETI to install a "porthole" for a wire near the battery compartment so I could connect a portable panel when the time came. There may be other similar options, like a 12v connector wired to the GoPower controller. ETI will provide the specifics.

My thoughts on keeping the portable panel from walking off while I'm out fishing: A chain to the nearest stationary object - picnic table, tree, etc. Or a pair of ground screws with the panel on an A-frame and a chain between the 3 objects ( so the ground screws can't be unscrewed.) Of course, nothing will stop a determined person from cutting a chain.

The PITA factor is relative to the size of your portable panel. Little ones in the 40 watt range are probably easy to deal with. The biggest - in the 150 to 160 watt sizes are likely to need to live in a pickup truck bed until needed. (Note, stay away from the 200 watt and up sizes. In addition to being huge, they are designed to produce voltages that aren't compatible with the Escape installed controller. Plus, if you don't need that much power then you are denting your wallet for no reason.)

There are probably excellent websites with more info. Keep watching this forum and someone will provide a link.

--
Alan
We use a very heavy braided cable which is encased in a vinyl cover .It locks onto the folding stand with a good lock and so far just lock to front frame for our 80 watt portable panel . We now purchased a connecter that plugs into our trailer plug . 80 watt is not too heavy and goes into a case . We store inside trailer .
The give you 15 lead wire and if you think you need more can get 30 ft . So far the 15 ft has been plenty .I do the best I can to not have it walk away but in our mind would rather now replace panel someone steals then hurt or damage someone else or there property with a flying panel .Pat
Patandlinda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2015, 01:03 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Patandlinda's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Ventura County, California
Trailer: 2013 19 Escape
Posts: 4,008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patandlinda View Post
We use a very heavy braided cable which is encased in a vinyl cover .It locks onto the folding stand with a good lock and so far just lock to front frame for our 80 watt portable panel . We now purchased a connecter that plugs into our trailer plug . 80 watt is not too heavy and goes into a case . We store inside trailer .
The give you 15 lead wire and if you think you need more can get 30 ft . So far the 15 ft has been plenty .I do the best I can to not have it walk away but in our mind would rather now replace panel someone steals then hurt or damage someone else or there property with a flying panel .Pat
Sorry Allan this wasn't meant for you . You have been very helpful giving me information . Pat
__________________

Patandlinda is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:43 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.