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Old 08-11-2013, 08:14 PM   #1
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Solar - Roof Mounted or Portable

Our 2010 Escape 19 was BS, which is before solar. Roof mounted solar after the fact did not seem like a viable alternative so we resorted to a portable 75 watt unit. I am going to try to compare the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Please add your opinion.

Roof Mounted

Pros:
Painless, there is nothing to do except check the battery level.
Cons:
You can only check the battery level. There is no control to direct the unit toward the sun.
Cost of, I guess, around $800.

Portable

Pros:
Low cost, I spent $150 US and it plugs into the trailer side Bargman plug.
In dark or shaded areas you have a chance of placing the unit in the sun
Changes in technology are easier to implement.
You put it in use only when you need it, if you have shore power or plenty of battery storage it is not put in service.
Cons:
Portable means you need to have a place to store the unit.
Inconvenience of a five minute set up and take down.
Moving the unit means greater chance of damage.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:26 PM   #2
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As the famous pitchman says with the built in you "set and forget about it", all automatic and By 10 am I'm full so you do not need to have it hanging around and moving and possible theft.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:08 AM   #3
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With the GoPower solar controller that Escape uses you can monitor:
The % of battery charge.
The battery voltage.
The amperage charging rate.

Minimum 10 guage wiring for less resistance between the panels and battery.
95 watts per panel
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:42 AM   #4
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I can see the advantages of portable, but for me, its not worth the savings$$$.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:07 AM   #5
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Roof mounted solar

Like fudge_brownie our 2010 Escape did not come with solar, but we opted to have Escape install a GoPower unit on the roof.

Ladybug goes solar! | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Things I've noticed:
  • a roof mounted panel can charge the battery while driving
  • you do need to give attention to finding a site with some sun
  • the unit has no trouble keeping up with our needs for power
  • going solar opens up lots of new options for camping
  • going solar gives a new sense of freedom
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:02 AM   #6
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I have the factory-standard solar on my 19. I find that even in full sun, the meter says the panel is providing about 4.5A. That's only about 55W, out of a 95W-rated panel. So while I wouldn't choose to fuss with moveable/removeable panels, understand that less-than-optimal panel placement (i.e. a horizontal panel does not face directly into the sun) does have an impact.
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:19 AM   #7
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Would something like this improve the performance?
VoltagePro.com. Tilt Mount Kit for Go Power! 50, 80, 95, and 110 watt solar panels ARM-UNI
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:28 AM   #8
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That would help, but can still only provide truly optimal position if you're willing to constantly adjust the angle and rotate your trailer around the campsite.
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:30 AM   #9
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I also have the factory standard, roof top solar, and do like it a lot. I waffled about buying it, since on my previous trailer (a pop-up) I had portable units, which I also liked for the ability to direct towards the sun. There have been times when, as Doug notes, the horizontal panel is less than optimal. I've been toying with the idea of wiring in the portable panels, and having the best of both worlds.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:07 PM   #10
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I wonder about the wisdom of trying to extract the maximum power from a solar panel
  • we have found that we have enough power for our needs with a horizontal panel
  • even with a tilting panel you will still need to orient the trailer the right way
  • shading from trees or other parts of the trailer will still impact solar output
How much is enough?
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