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Old 03-28-2018, 07:40 AM   #1
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Which solar panel?

Hello Escapees...

Need your assistance with information on solar panel to get for our 19 Escape. We are having this one Zamp (I think its called) plug placed on our trailer, right by the battery. We are supposed to get a solar panel and regulator type box to charge our battery with.

There are so many options in the market that it is difficult to figure out which one would be the best choice... any ideas greatly appreciated... Warren and Maria
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Old 03-28-2018, 10:29 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
Hello Escapees...

Need your assistance with information on solar panel to get for our 19 Escape. We are having this one Zamp (I think its called) plug placed on our trailer, right by the battery. We are supposed to get a solar panel and regulator type box to charge our battery with.

There are so many options in the market that it is difficult to figure out which one would be the best choice... any ideas greatly appreciated... Warren and Maria
This topic gets talked about every few months, and everyone has their own ideas of what is best. On the search at the top of the page search “portable solar” and read some of the past threads.
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Old 03-28-2018, 10:51 AM   #3
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This thread might be a good start:
www.escapeforum.org/forums/f40/whats-the-best-portable-solar-panel-9608.html
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:20 PM   #4
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Thank you...

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Originally Posted by AKCamper View Post
This topic gets talked about every few months, and everyone has their own ideas of what is best. On the search at the top of the page search “portable solar” and read some of the past threads.
Noted and thank you for the tip... I have checked a couple of threads but I have not yet seen a situation where more than one person prefers a certain solar panel brand... there are so many out there... I will keep checking... thanks... Maria
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:22 PM   #5
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checking it right now... thanks Dave! Maria
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:27 PM   #6
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I'm leaning toward flexible because of weight, and Renogy. Thinking of making a frame that would grip the top/bottomw of the panels between a couple of 1x2 or some such, with a handle to screw them together and a way to attach a leaning pole for support. I suppose there are a lot of possibilities to be found searching the inter tubes.
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:32 PM   #7
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One question, are you getting roof mounted solar? It sounds like you aren’t. Are you getting dual 6 volt batteries? Are you getting the storage box? These are important questions since I recommend mounting the charge controller close to the batteries. This is talked about extensively in the threads.
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Old 03-28-2018, 05:01 PM   #8
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Hm... here are our answers to your questions...

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One question, are you getting roof mounted solar? It sounds like you aren’t. Are you getting dual 6 volt batteries? Are you getting the storage box? These are important questions since I recommend mounting the charge controller close to the batteries. This is talked about extensively in the threads.
Hi,
No mounted solar.
No dual 6 volt batteries... just the one (12v?) the ETI provides.
No storage box.
ETI to place the Zamp (?) plug near battery.

Yes, i have been reading some of the threads; I have to be honest all of this is like Chinese to us; we are truly 'newbies'... hanging onto every word from all of you nice folks for guidance... again, thanks a bunch for all the input! Warren and Maria
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Old 03-28-2018, 05:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
Hi,
No mounted solar.
No dual 6 volt batteries... just the one (12v?) the ETI provides.
No storage box.
ETI to place the Zamp (?) plug near battery.


Yes, i have been reading some of the threads; I have to be honest all of this is like Chinese to us; we are truly 'newbies'... hanging onto every word from all of you nice folks for guidance... again, thanks a bunch for all the input! Warren and Maria
In this case, I'd look for a portable panel includes a controller. While you could save $ by purchasing an individual panel & adding your own controller, a package is easier, and you don't need to add the hardware to support the panel.

As to the size, with the single battery, a 100 watt panel will do a good job of keeping your battery charged, providing you don't have a string of cloudy days or put the panel in the shade.

As to brand, there really isn't much difference between hard framed panels, so if you are going with one of them, I'd look at the support hardware - can the angle be adjusted? Does it come with a case? Does the support legs fold inside the folded panel? Does it have the standard SAE (Zamp) connector & a decent length of cable?

If you decide to go with a flexible panel, you will save weight and possibly have easier storage, but I'm not convinced with the reliability of the flexible panels. Some have been OK with them, others have had failures.

Again, if it was me & I had no experience with portable panels, I'd go to a large RV show where some of the different brands might be displayed, or attend a nearby fiberglass trailer rally where you see the different brands & can talk with owners. I will say that there are many very overpriced portable systems out there...
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:26 PM   #10
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In this case, I'd look for a portable panel includes a controller. While you could save $ by purchasing an individual panel & adding your own controller, a package is easier, and you don't need to add the hardware to support the panel.

As to the size, with the single battery, a 100 watt panel will do a good job of keeping your battery charged, providing you don't have a string of cloudy days or put the panel in the shade.

As to brand, there really isn't much difference between hard framed panels, so if you are going with one of them, I'd look at the support hardware - can the angle be adjusted? Does it come with a case? Does the support legs fold inside the folded panel? Does it have the standard SAE (Zamp) connector & a decent length of cable?

If you decide to go with a flexible panel, you will save weight and possibly have easier storage, but I'm not convinced with the reliability of the flexible panels. Some have been OK with them, others have had failures.

Again, if it was me & I had no experience with portable panels, I'd go to a large RV show where some of the different brands might be displayed, or attend a nearby fiberglass trailer rally where you see the different brands & can talk with owners. I will say that there are many very overpriced portable systems out there...
Everything Jon has said . We have a really nice Go Power portable panel which also comes in a case . And now after all this time putting solar on our roof . Bought 3 60 watt black fiberglass backed flexible panels by Lensun . Can purchase Lensun which makes a portable too and Go Power on Amazon too. The Go Power portables come with the charge controller
Installed . You can also get the Lensun with or without the charge controller . The difference between the two is weight . Our Go Power is heavier because of glass but is very sturdy and legs that you can adjust . We also cable to trailer frame through the legs . The Lensun portable is a lot lighter and don't see how you could cable it though . We looked at it but decided to put solar on roof so it is always there and someone can't walk off with . Pat
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:54 PM   #11
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Since you are thinking solar, (I know money doesn’t grow on trees) but the dual 6 volts and the storage box are two of the best options out there. We have those and a Renogy 100 watt portable panel and it works great.
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:34 PM   #12
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In this case, I'd look for a portable panel includes a controller. While you could save $ by purchasing an individual panel & adding your own controller, a package is easier, and you don't need to add the hardware to support the panel.

As to the size, with the single battery, a 100 watt panel will do a good job of keeping your battery charged, providing you don't have a string of cloudy days or put the panel in the shade.

As to brand, there really isn't much difference between hard framed panels, so if you are going with one of them, I'd look at the support hardware - can the angle be adjusted? Does it come with a case? Does the support legs fold inside the folded panel? Does it have the standard SAE (Zamp) connector & a decent length of cable?

If you decide to go with a flexible panel, you will save weight and possibly have easier storage, but I'm not convinced with the reliability of the flexible panels. Some have been OK with them, others have had failures.

Again, if it was me & I had no experience with portable panels, I'd go to a large RV show where some of the different brands might be displayed, or attend a nearby fiberglass trailer rally where you see the different brands & can talk with owners. I will say that there are many very overpriced portable systems out there...
Vermilye,
Very clear and to the point input... thank you... we have gone to RV shows but we did not look into the portable solar units/vendors because the entire time we thought the RV we would buy would have the solar permanently installed on the unit... but after talking to the Escape 17 (we saw) owners, they told us about portable solar and we decided to pursue that option...

I agree, some of the prices I have seen on the Internet for portable solar panels are out there... we'll shop around a bit and see what we can find... will definitely keep your advice in mind... thanks a bunch! Warren and Maria
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Old 03-28-2018, 11:46 PM   #13
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Since you are thinking solar, (I know money doesn’t grow on trees) but the dual 6 volts and the storage box are two of the best options out there. We have those and a Renogy 100 watt portable panel and it works great.

I second the advice for a storage box and dual 6volt batteries. I’m currently working for 10 days consulting at my old company. I’m at a campground without power. My rooftop 95 W panel and portable panel keep my battery charged just fine if I’m around to move the portable with the sun. But while in the office all day I can’t do that. I had to break out the generator tonight to top off my charge. If I had dual 6s, I could have made it to the weekend.

My point is that situations change. I never would have imagined that this opportunity would have come up when I bought my trailer. It may be a stretch to buy a box and batteries now, but a year from now you won’t miss the money, but you will surely miss the capability to camp off the grid if the situation presents itself and you are lacking power.

If it were me, I would find a way for rooftop solar, dual 6s and the storage box. The camping flexibility those options provide are totally worth eating Mac and cheese for a few months.
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Old 03-29-2018, 07:05 AM   #14
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I also started with one 12 volt battery (The higher capacity one) and the 95 watt roof mounted solar. When my battery went bad, I upgraded to two 6’s and it was easy to replace the battery case with two. (I don’t have the storage box). This past January I was camping off grid in cold temps and it was a challenge keeping the batteries topped up with the low angle sun. So, I’v added a 100 watt portable solar and will see how this works out. So my point is that you can make changes as you move forward.
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Old 03-29-2018, 08:10 AM   #15
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I also started with one 12 volt battery (The higher capacity one) and the 95 watt roof mounted solar. When my battery went bad, I upgraded to two 6’s and it was easy to replace the battery case with two. (I don’t have the storage box). This past January I was camping off grid in cold temps and it was a challenge keeping the batteries topped up with the low angle sun. So, I’v added a 100 watt portable solar and will see how this works out. So my point is that you can make changes as you move forward.
Also of interest are the group of owners that have modified their solar panels such that the angle of incidence of the solar pan with respect to the sun greatly increases power output from the panel(s).
I have a 10kW MicroFit solar generation system on my farm. The solar arrays (2) with 52 panels track the sun from East to West during the day. As well and of importance to solar power generation, the arrays also tilt to compensate for the seasons. These motions are all 'automated' by means of light sensors, two per array.

Now, excuse me for getting off topic. But, it is proven that flat solar panels vs tilted and in fact tracking panels have a much improved energy output. Something to consider for boon docking if maximum generation is a concern/requirement.
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:04 AM   #16
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I have to agree with tilting of solar panels if you camp in winter. I converted my 2 160 watt panels so I could tilt them (scroll down) to the proper angle for the Quartzsite, AZ area, and the morning charging went from a couple of amps to 8, even better as the day went on. During the summer when the sun is overhead, the need for tilting is not as important, but the low winter sun is tough on flat mounted rooftop panels.

One other point that might help. A general rule for roof mounted solar is at least one watt of solar per amp hour battery capacity. The basic Escape 160 watt panel with the 220 amp hour 6 volt batteries is a bit underpowered, so adding a portable panel is a good idea, again particularly for those that camp in the winter (or shade).

In my case, I have 2 160 watt roof panels & a 160 watt portable. Since adding "tilt" to my rooftop panels, I have not needed the portable, but without the tilt I found it necessary in mid December at Quartzsite. I do admit to using more amp hours than most since I run a microwave, toaster, make a pot of coffee, and use a power hungry laptop a couple of hours per day. According to my Bogart Trimetric battery monitor, I use between 40 - 50 amp hours per day.
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:34 AM   #17
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kstock, would you post what portable panel you purchased? thanks.
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Old 03-29-2018, 01:40 PM   #18
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I have to agree with tilting of solar panels if you camp in winter. I converted my 2 160 watt panels so I could tilt them (scroll down) to the proper angle for the Quartzsite, Az

In my case, I have 2 160 watt roof panels & a 160 watt portable. Since adding "tilt" to my rooftop panels, I have not needed the portable, but without the tilt I found it necessary in mid December at Quartzsite. I do admit to using more amp hours than most since I run a microwave, toaster, make a pot of coffee, and use a power hungry laptop a couple of hours per day. According to my Bogart Trimetric battery monitor, I use between 40 - 50 amp hours per day.
Jon,

Your set up is very interesting thanks for sharing the additional pictures.
The imbedded comments are particularly informative.
I’ve been following your Blog. Have you found your MIA B&W filters?
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Old 03-29-2018, 06:47 PM   #19
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Jon,

Your set up is very interesting thanks for sharing the additional pictures.
The imbedded comments are particularly informative.
I’ve been following your Blog. Have you found your MIA B&W filters?
Unfortunately, no. I ordered replacements that arrived yesterday (today's blog has waterfall photos with the new 6 stop ND filter). Since I bought replacements, I expect the old ones to show up any day!
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Old 03-29-2018, 07:17 PM   #20
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kstock, would you post what portable panel you purchased? thanks.
I went with the Lensun semi flexible panel. I also mounted the connection on the passenger side into the cabinet above the sink as that’s where the controller resides on my classic 19.
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