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Old 08-06-2019, 11:40 PM   #1
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Another solar install

When working on my 2019 Escape 19 build I wanted a different solar setup from the one offered. I wanted more power, flexibility and better bang for my bucks (donít we all want that?). The roof area on the Escape 19 is limited and the hump doesnít help (also I do like the look). I ordered the trailer with the solar prep and installed the solar panels on a car style roof rack.

1. Attached Yakima tracks on the roof in the approximate area the Escape supplied panel is installed, the challenge was finding the exact place to drill the shell while causing minimum ďdamageĒ, I used six screws for each track.

2. Installed the Thule 78Ē long steel load bars to the tracks with Thule Podium foot pack 460 and Thule 3101 fit kit.

3. Attached four 80 watt Renogy solar panels to the load bars. Initially my plan was to secure the panels to the bars with screws and nuts but then I found an accessory clip from Thule enabling me to avoid drilling and making it possible to position the panel anywhere along the bar.

4. The four panels are configured in parallel (Iíll experiment with a different options later) and connected through the factory installed solar prep wiring to the charge controller. Iím using a Victron MPPT controller that works great with the Victron battery monitor I installed earlier.

Some notes on the install.
You may notice that the roof tracks are Yakima while the other pieces of the rack hardware is from the Thule brand. Iíve been using Thule for many years on many cars but I found the Yakima track a bit sturdier, compatibility was not an issue.

The Renogy panels are 19.5Ē in width, four fit perfectly on the 78Ē load bars. Thule discontinued the 78Ē size bars and also the Podium 460 foot pack but they are still widely available from many sources online. I got most of these parts for a great deal in an REI garage sale, originally planning to do this install on our now sold Escape 15, I guess sometime itís good to put things off.

I must admit it was a lot more work than I anticipated but I do like the result, I really like the ability to use the full width of the roof and the flexibility to attach whatever I need to the rack without drilling new holes in the trailer. Now If I ever more power I always have the front of the trailer to work with.

As for the cost, I did end up spending more than the cost of the Escape solar setup but I got almost double the power and a more advanced system.
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:02 AM   #2
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Nice looking install, and lots of power too
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:25 AM   #3
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Nice install. A agree with your assessment of the Victron solar controller. I installed their SmartSolar MPPT product and am finding it gives better information than the TriMetric, certainly easier to understand. Did not need to install their battery monitor.

I would encourage you to consider operating your panel system at 24 volt.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:00 AM   #4
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Depending on the wire gauge, 24V might be a wash at best here due to shade on the middle two panels. I guess you could put the middle two in series with each other and the outer two in series with each other and limit shading losses compared to parallel.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Defenestrator View Post
Depending on the wire gauge, 24V might be a wash at best here due to shade on the middle two panels. I guess you could put the middle two in series with each other and the outer two in series with each other and limit shading losses compared to parallel.
Not sure I understand the "shade on the middle two panels" statement.
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Old 08-20-2019, 01:49 AM   #6
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Not sure I understand the "shade on the middle two panels" statement.
The A/C looks close enough to the panels that it's likely to shade the middle two panels sometimes. If they're connected in parallel you lose probably 20-40% of your total output from the shading. If you connected them in series pairs (left two in series, right two in series), you'd lose more like 40-80% of your total output from the middle being shaded. Then I realized you could put the middle two in series and the outer two in series and limit the shading losses to around what you'd see with parallel wiring.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:16 AM   #7
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I like rack mounted panels for a couple of reasons.

The way I look at your potential shading situation is:

1. Parking is random. To generalize, at best there's only a 1 in 4 chance you'll be pointed with the A/C towards the sun.

2. Then the time of year that the sun would be low enough to potentially block the panels, lets say 4 months of the year or 1 in 3.

3. Throw in the number of times where a small difference in output would be a disaster.

As Alfred E. said, "what, me worry"

I never sweat the smaller details.

Ron
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:37 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
I like rack mounted panels for a couple of reasons.

The way I look at your potential shading situation is:

1. Parking is random. To generalize, at best there's only a 1 in 4 chance you'll be pointed with the A/C towards the sun.

2. Then the time of year that the sun would be low enough to potentially block the panels, lets say 4 months of the year or 1 in 3.

3. Throw in the number of times where a small difference in output would be a disaster.

As Alfred E. said, "what, me worry"

I never sweat the smaller details.

Ron
Exactly what I was thinking when working on it. I took into consideration the AC and used the shorter 80w instead of the 100w panels, pushing them away from the AC as far as visually acceptable (to me). The problem I have is always "sweating the details" but I think the shading will not be a issue.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:48 AM   #9
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One solution to low angle winter sun is to make the panels tiltable. I did this in 2 steps - the first just let me tilt them towards the rear, with arms cut to the proper length to get mid winter Phoenix, AZ sun angles. The next step was to add some loose pin hinges so that I can now tilt them in 3 directions. About a 4 fold improvement over flat panels in mid winter. Photos at my Escape 21 modifications page.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:59 AM   #10
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No question tilting is the best way to get the most out of your panels. I'll keep mine flat for now and see how it's working for me.
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