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Old 01-03-2019, 04:04 PM   #1
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Factory-installed solar or no?

It’s an $850 CDN option. Was wondering if Escape owners feel it is worth it.

Thanks.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:15 PM   #2
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Absolutely. It’s done, in place and it works.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:33 PM   #3
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We don't do extensive boondocking but do stay several days in campsites with no hookups. Our previous trailer had two 6-volt batteries and we found that much of the time they were more than adequate to get through 3-4 days of off grid camping. We are relatively sparing in our use of electricity, but in cold weather the furnace does take a fair amount.

We got the ETI solar package in our new 5.0TA. For us it will mean the difference between really having to watch our batteries when dry camping vs. essentially never having to worry about electricity, with the solar panel providing some recharge daily we will likely never run short of electricity. And so much easier to have it all done by ETI and ready to go from the factory rather than having to fool with adding it later. An added plus for us is that when storing the trailer for several months away from home without electricity the solar panel will keep the batteries fully charged.
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:07 PM   #4
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We the solar package on ours with an inverter and have alternated between dry camping and full hookup. The solar is definitely worth it, we leave the inverter off all the time and just turn it on to use the microwave or a blender. The solar keeps up if you have sun and will make power on cloudy rainy days. My wife and I would get it again if we purchased a new 5.0.
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:15 PM   #5
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We had the factory retrofit on both our 19 and now the 21. For the way we camp, it’s perfect. We don’t use a lot of electric accessories and the batteries are always back up by noon or so. The 170 Panel on the 21 with dual six volt batteries is all we need. Definitely worth it for us.
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:22 PM   #6
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Our 2018 trailer has dual roof top solar panels .
In the summer , it’s more solar than what we need or can use and in the winter when our trailer is in storage they just sit there doing absolutely nothing . ( No Sunlight)
Our 17 ft trailer has a single 27F battery and one 100 watt Renogy portable solar panel .
The only time we’ve had an issue was after camping for 4 days in rain / extremely cloudy weather in the Fall . It has been more than ample and the cost was under $300
If you plan on camping without hookups then I would go with a single factory solar panel
If you plan on camping with hookups , I would skip the factory solar . If you decide at a later date to add solar , you can buy a portable solar set up for half the price of the factory solar
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik65 View Post
It’s an $850 CDN option. Was wondering if Escape owners feel it is worth it.

Thanks.
It depends. The Escape solar package is worth what you pay for it but you have to remember that you are getting a minimalist system. PWM instead of MFFT, solar panels bolted to the roof, and battery monitoring that is fairly useless.

I installed my own solar package and it did cost more than the Escape one. But it has a Victron MFFT with bluetooth, 200 watts of flexible ETFE solar panels without holes in the roof, and a Victron battery monitor. You do get what you paid for.
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:55 PM   #8
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The price tag is higher than if you do it yourself, but that's assuming your labor is free. If you do a lot of camping without hookup, solar is a good idea.



We choose to have the factory installed solar because then it's done and we can use it from day 1... we just came back from an 11 days trip.. only the first day we plugged in, the rest we either camped at BLM land or state/national park without hookup.. the battery is charged before noon everyday except the last day when it's mostly cloudy, but it got to 88% anyway...

we have ETI installed a zamp port for external panels but so far have not need it...
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:32 PM   #9
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We didn't get the factory solar on the roof since we like to camp in the shade. YMMV
I have a portable setup (GoPower 120) that I like, and works great. If we do more boon docking, I might miss the added capacity of the rooftop panels.
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:55 PM   #10
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ETI previously used the GoPower GP-160-RV kit. I believe they changed to this:
https://gpelectric.com/products/over...kit-170-watts/

Same basic kit just 10 more watts.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:10 PM   #11
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Pretty much what Caddoster says.

I think it's great never having to worry about your batteries, at least in other then extreme conditions, the panel is just there, doing what it's supposed to.

If you are of a mind, you can do it yourself, save a few $ at the cost of your time. Doing it yourself, you can customize it as you wish. The GoPower works fine for folks that can't or don't care to do it themselves.

Solar is certainly not something you have to have, but it sure is nice.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:11 PM   #12
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We choose to go without the Escape installed solar because we do so much camping in shaded areas. I installed a portable system with the controller permanently mounted inside. I was able to choose a controller that was capable of charging my dual six volt batteries at the recommended 15.3 volts. It has a convenient socket on the outside of the trailer to plug the 120 watts of portable panel.

Even with portable panels we still are hard pressed to find enough sun to fully charge. After two weeks of boondocking we are usually at 80% battery, even during mid summer. My point is, if you are going to be in the shade for extended periods, those roof top units have limited value.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:23 PM   #13
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We search out the shade as well to park our trailer and use portable solar pointed at the sun to top up if required.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:31 PM   #14
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Erik65, we purchased the single 170 watt solar with the GoPower controller from ETI, and drove down the Pacific Coast (HWY 1) from October 26 to Thanksgiving, on our maiden voyage, before heading home. One time we went eleven days before we had a electric hookup. Half the days were overcast or rain days. Nearly every campsite was shaded to various degrees. We have two Crown AGM batteries (220 AH's). After eleven days our batteries were at 11.8 volts in the morning after a night running the furnace (the furnace ran every night). I was surprised at how well the 170 watt solar panel kept up with our needs, despite it being November, rainy/cloudy, and camping in shaded campsites.

For the last 18 years as a tech coordinator for a small school I had a low-voltage electricians license. Too often people buy into the latest/greatest devices when they really only provide perhaps a 1-5% improvement, if that. I was going to purchase the latest/greatest Victron solar controller when I got back, but after seeing the performance of the lowly GoPower, and knowing how to use the GoPower (yes, I read the instructions a couple of times), I'll stick with the GoPower controller until I see a real need to have something better. PS: our GoPower is zip-tied underneath the rear bench and I use a simple 12v plug-in meter that I read every evening and morning.

We're leaving on January 23 to head to Arizona for the winter. Considering how well it worked in November, further north, in cloudy/rainy weather, camping in shaded sites, Arizona should be no problem for our solar.

We don't have an inverter, and for our camping see no need for one. YMMV!

Purchased the $850 Canadian ($640 US) single panel solar system from ETI because where else are you going to get a 170 watt solar system installed at that price? Plus, it also charges going down the road. The $640 solar is a no-brainer. If you do need more watts, there is a plug for a second panel already on the roof to add a 100 watt flexible panel, and/or you can add a portable panel.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:16 PM   #15
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Short version: factory solar is good. Longer version is a story about us driving around the US for a year with hookups only every few months and getting by with one roof panel and one portable panel. That was the old trailer. New trailer has two factory roof panels. And still have the portable. They all get used, at different times and places and ways.
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:04 PM   #16
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My ETI installed solar system has performed well for nearly 6 yrs. We have rarely plugged our trailer into AC electrical services and have never had issues with the dual 6V batteries getting excessively run down. I would also recommend going with the factory solar if you have no desire to build your own system. (Although I did install my own flexible panel and mppt controller system on my 15B Escape).
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
It depends. The Escape solar package is worth what you pay for it but you have to remember that you are getting a minimalist system. PWM instead of MFFT, solar panels bolted to the roof, and battery monitoring that is fairly useless.

I installed my own solar package and it did cost more than the Escape one. But it has a Victron MFFT with bluetooth, 200 watts of flexible ETFE solar panels without holes in the roof, and a Victron battery monitor. You do get what you paid for.
Forgot you were another Lensun semi-flexible install . On our 19 have 180 with 3 60 Watts panels ,MFFT Victron controller and Victron battery monitor also. I enjoyed installing my own system and learning along the way . I did get a lot of guidance from Dave who also installed his own . No regrets . Pat
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:06 PM   #18
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It depends. The Escape solar package is worth what you pay for it but you have to remember that you are getting a minimalist system. PWM instead of MFFT, solar panels bolted to the roof, and battery monitoring that is fairly useless.

I installed my own solar package and it did cost more than the Escape one. But it has a Victron MFFT with bluetooth, 200 watts of flexible ETFE solar panels without holes in the roof, and a Victron battery monitor. You do get what you paid for.
What did you spend and looking back would you have spent less? Am with you that a no holes in the roof install is preferable. Bolting through has been done by ETI for only 2-3 years and the jury is still out as to any potential negative side effects from that such as condensation collecting/transferring on the bolts.

Get another bid from AM Solar; it is true you almost always get what you pay for- especially with these kinds of options.
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:07 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Patandlinda View Post
Forgot you were another Lensun semi-flexible install . On our 19 have 180 with 3 60 Watts panels ,MFFT Victron controller and Victron battery monitor also. I enjoyed installing my own system and learning along the way . I did get a lot of guidance from Dave who also installed his own . No regrets . Pat


Not to be persnicketty, but it’s “MPPT” (Maximum Power Point Tracking). Ok, maybe that is a tad persnickety.
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Old 01-03-2019, 11:01 PM   #20
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We debated factory solar vs. portable solar. This is the information that we found that helped us make a decision:
-ETI will install a zamp port that allows you to plug in your own portable solar panel for fairly cheap (I believe it was under $100, but not 100% sure), so you could down the road have solar if you felt that the 2 6V battery option was not sufficient enough for your needs
-Reading some of the older posts on the forum, some issues with portable panels is that the wind can blow them over, they can get stolen if you leave them out when you aren't around, where to store them when not in use, you can't get the same sun exposure in every park whereas during the day while driving a rooftop panel would get a fair amount of sun exposure, etc.
-ETI offered us the option of wiring our trailer for factory solar so that it would be easier to add later. We went with this choice, as it was a few hundred dollars and gave us the option of adding rooftop panels later if we needed it. So far, the 6 V batteries have been sufficient for us, but the solar option is there for us or available to a potential buyer if we ever decide to sell. We live near ETI, so there's not the travelling logisitics to add it on later.
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