Roof-Mount Solar Panel Issues vs Solar Suitecase? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-13-2018, 08:44 AM   #1
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Question Roof-Mount Solar Panel Issues vs Solar Suitecase?

We've ordered a 21' for June 2019 delivery. I'm trying to decide about the roof-mount solar panel:
1) I'm concerned about the additional penetrations in the fiberglass on the roof. Anyone have any issues (leaks, loosened mountings) with the roof-mount units?

2) Seems the collector panel would be something else to poke a hole in a cover if we put one on the camper
3) Since the angle of the collector is fixed, just how efficient would the roof-mount be?
4) I definitely think solar power is a good idea (and I'm getting the extra batteries), so what about an aftermarket portable (suitcase) collector? I realize such a unit is probably more expensive and more hassle than the factory installed roof-mount unit. Any recommendations for after market systems?

5) Where is a good hull location for a solar suitcase power cable connection? Maybe next to the 110v outlet on the passenger side? Or next to the shore power connection? Or somewhere on the rear closer to the inside electrical units?
Thanks.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:50 AM   #2
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The 165W solar panel with the dual 6 volts is an excellent combination. The panel will keep your batteries charged while towing or sitting. The panels are bolted and sealed and Escape has been doing this install for at least 4 years without leak issues. Prior installs were via VHB and sealant and some had issues with the panels coming off. As far as covering, some use pool noodles. I do not cover here in York, Pa because we try to use our Escape year round. Escape does offer a solar port for you to use a portable panel, but then you have to carry it someplace, the roof is out of sight and out of the way.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:08 AM   #3
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Mike, there is a ton of discussion on this topic in previous threads. I would suggest doing a search to check them out.

I love having my electrical needs being met with no reliance on being plugged into the grid.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:13 AM   #4
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Jim is correct, we have had many discussions of the pros and cons of each, it is not something that needs to be revisited.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:58 AM   #5
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I realize that almost every topic has been visited numerous times in the forum. Please be mindful the questioner may be new to RVing, new to forums, or even seasoned but new to a topic. When a poster raises a topic he/she is likely looking for others opinions on the subject and how they can relate that to their particular circumstances. Please realize that the forum does not lend itself to easily find information especially as it so often goes off topic you can spend hours reading irrelevant posts. Also the search can lead to out of date information and which can be confusing. I am not trying to rag, but I do appreciate the posts, the answers and the HELP that is lent. Ronn
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:07 AM   #6
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Here is one Solar Question
another Portable solar panel questions
another solar install on 21
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:19 AM   #7
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Both Jim’s make good points, Dilly. I have no experience with portable panels, but we do have the roof mounted panels offered by Escape. On a sunny day, our batteries are fully charged by 9:30-10:00 am. On a cloudy day or a wooded forest, with ‘some’ filtered sun, by noon. They are fixed, maintenance free, and effective whether in a fixed location or under tow. No waiting for camp to charge your batteries. It is by far, my favorite option!

Plus, when I’m in camp, enjoying a cold afternoon beverage, it allows me to make sarcastic remarks about fellow campers ruining my peaceful solitude with their infernal generators
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Old 10-13-2018, 01:40 PM   #8
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It depends a lot on your camping style...so keep this in mind when reading all the informative posts.
Personally we go out of our way to camp in a heavily treed spot with little to no sun.
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Old 10-13-2018, 07:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dilly View Post
1) I'm concerned about the additional penetrations in the fiberglass on the roof. Anyone have any issues (leaks, loosened mountings) with the roof-mount units?
None that I've read about

2) Seems the collector panel would be something else to poke a hole in a cover if we put one on the camper Yup, need to pad the corners, I use a noodle. Adds about 5 minutes to covering. Got to watch the antennas too. A couple folks here have glued down flexible panels on their roofs, no problem for the cover with those.
3) Since the angle of the collector is fixed, just how efficient would the roof-mount be? I've read you get about 30% from a fixed in the winter as opposed to tilting. Depending on the trailer, you can opt for a 2nd panel if your usage calls for such. Some have modified their panels to tilt, of course then you need to tote along a ladder.
4) I definitely think solar power is a good idea (and I'm getting the extra batteries), so what about an aftermarket portable (suitcase) collector? I realize such a unit is probably more expensive and more hassle than the factory installed roof-mount unit. Any recommendations for after market systems? Depends on your budget and how big you want it. You can pay $250 for 100w Renogy up to moe then $500 for a Zamp. Need to pay attn to dimensions and weight, they can be heavy and bulky.

5) Where is a good hull location for a solar suitcase power cable connection? Maybe next to the 110v outlet on the passenger side? Or next to the shore power connection? Or somewhere on the rear closer to the inside electrical units? Mines on the passenger side near the back, I think the back would have been a little better but it works okay.
I wouldn't be without the roof mounted, it's just too easy. Add tilt or portables if you have a need.

Some folks go with other installers like AMsolar, it's all they do so you can get top notch advise, equipment, and installation. If you are so inclined.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dilly View Post
We've ordered a 21' for June 2019 delivery. I'm trying to decide about the roof-mount solar panel:
...
3) Since the angle of the collector is fixed, just how efficient would the roof-mount be?
...
I have both a roof-mount 150 watt and a "portable" (bulky) 150 watt panel.

On Jan 15 last year, a bright sunny winter day, I measured 21 watts from the portable when flat on the ground, and 76 watts when angled directly at the sun (around noon).

So, a roof mounted (flat) panel is 14% efficient in mid-winter at 40 degrees latitude, at noon , in January.

That's why I put up with the bulky portable - to triple my output in late fall-winter.

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