portable solar hookup - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Modifications and Alterations
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-24-2016, 05:53 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: paso robles, California
Trailer: ex Casita/ 2016 Escape 21 '16 TRD 4x4
Posts: 117
portable solar hookup

We spent a week under a group of large pines in Yosemite National Park which rendered our rooftop solar panel unusable. I purchased a 100 watt solar panel with 30 amp controller from Amazon for $168 and hooked it up. install wasn't too bad.
Jerry
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20161024_141345.jpg (158.6 KB, 137 views)
File Type: jpg 20161024_131345.jpg (291.5 KB, 129 views)
File Type: jpg 20161020_121925.jpg (358.2 KB, 112 views)
File Type: jpg 20161020_121911.jpg (271.3 KB, 101 views)
__________________

jerryandmaria is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-24-2016, 06:31 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Trailer: 1979 Boler B1700
Posts: 12,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryandmaria View Post
We spent a week under a group of large pines in Yosemite National Park which rendered our rooftop solar panel unusable. I purchased a 100 watt solar panel with 30 watt controller from Amazon for $168 and hooked it up...
I believe that the Renogy Wanderer is a 30-amp charge controller (rather than 30-watt)... which is good.

I'm glad this worked out well. As discussed in previous threads, it is also possible to just wire the external panel into the input of the trailer's existing solar charge controller.
__________________

Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-24-2016, 06:35 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: paso robles, California
Trailer: ex Casita/ 2016 Escape 21 '16 TRD 4x4
Posts: 117
I thought about that, but can't figure out how to get at the wiring in the back of the controller where the roof top panel comes in.
Jerry
jerryandmaria is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-25-2016, 11:49 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
advenas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Seattle, Washington
Trailer: 2017 Escape 17B
Posts: 322
I am in the process of putting together my build sheet for a new 17B. I am ordering the two 6V batteries and the solar panel options that Escape installs. I am not ordering an AC unit nor will I be using many electrical appliances, etc while boondocking. I think the only serious current draw will be the furnace if it's cold out.

So the question is....would there be any benefit to having a portable solar panel system to augment the Escape panels? Other than winter time with low sun and high draw using the furnace a lot I can't think of any.
__________________
Rick
advenas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 07:28 AM   #5
Site Team
 
padlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Southwick, Massachusetts
Trailer: 5.0 TA #6, 2012 F150 EB
Posts: 5,959
I would agree with you, with light usage I have no need for a portable unless I want to stay off grid in the winter for more then a few days.
__________________
Happy Motoring
Bob
padlin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 08:52 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
Vermilye's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Oswego, New York
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2018 Ford F150
Posts: 3,512
In my case I probably use more amp hours than most but I found that with 195 watts of solar on the roof I still needed my portable 160 watt panel during the winter at Quartzsite, AZ. I use between 30 - 40 amp hours per day. During the summer, I find the rooftop panels provide all I need since I rarely use the furnace.
__________________
Jon Vermilye My Travel Blog
Travel and Photo Web Page ... My Collection of RV Blogs 2018 F150 3.5EB, 2017 21
Vermilye is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 09:05 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 14,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
In my case I probably use more amp hours than most but I found that with 195 watts of solar on the roof I still needed my portable 160 watt panel during the winter at Quartzsite, AZ. I use between 30 - 40 amp hours per day. During the summer, I find the rooftop panels provide all I need since I rarely use the furnace.
Jon, when you use your portable panel, do you isolate the fixed panels from the charge circuit. I was told recently at a solar shop here in town that the system will only perform as good as its weakest link (he called it the Buffalo Theory).
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 03:59 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Vermilye's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Oswego, New York
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2018 Ford F150
Posts: 3,512
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Jon, when you use your portable panel, do you isolate the fixed panels from the charge circuit. I was told recently at a solar shop here in town that the system will only perform as good as its weakest link (he called it the Buffalo Theory).
I'm not sure what he is referring to. In the case of panels wired in series, unless you have bypass diodes, any shaded panel will limit the charge current from all panels.

Added panels should be wired in parallel, and as long as the voltages are close, there should not be a problem. I chose my added rooftop panel to provide as close a match voltage wise to the Escape installed 95 watt panel as possible. They work well together even though the Escape GoPower panel is a mono with a Vmp of 17.2 & the added 100 watt panel is poly with a Vmp of 17.4.

I set my portable panel so that I could bypass the built in (to the panel) controller & feed it to the input of the trailer's controller. So far it has worked well even though the portable panel has a Vmp of 18.

During the low angle winter sun I usually found I got more charging current from the 160 watt portable than I did from the combined 95 & 100 watt panels on the roof. The roof panels are flat & the portable can be aimed at the sun...
__________________
Jon Vermilye My Travel Blog
Travel and Photo Web Page ... My Collection of RV Blogs 2018 F150 3.5EB, 2017 21
Vermilye is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 04:20 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Trailer: 1979 Boler B1700
Posts: 12,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Added panels should be wired in parallel, and as long as the voltages are close, there should not be a problem...
That looks right to me. With a simple on-off or PWM controller (that is, anything other than Maximum Power Point Tracking), the panel(s) will be forced to run at the battery voltage until the battery is nearly fully charged anyway, so using separate controllers wouldn't change that. Once the PWM controller starts throttling back the rate of charge, it won't matter if the panels are not at their optimal voltage.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 05:20 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 14,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
I'm not sure what he is referring to. In the case of panels wired in series, unless you have bypass diodes, any shaded panel will limit the charge current from all panels.

Added panels should be wired in parallel, and as long as the voltages are close, there should not be a problem. I chose my added rooftop panel to provide as close a match voltage wise to the Escape installed 95 watt panel as possible. They work well together even though the Escape GoPower panel is a mono with a Vmp of 17.2 & the added 100 watt panel is poly with a Vmp of 17.4.

I set my portable panel so that I could bypass the built in (to the panel) controller & feed it to the input of the trailer's controller. So far it has worked well even though the portable panel has a Vmp of 18.

During the low angle winter sun I usually found I got more charging current from the 160 watt portable than I did from the combined 95 & 100 watt panels on the roof. The roof panels are flat & the portable can be aimed at the sun...
Not certain what he was referring to either, maybe it was the fact I was talking an 80W portable, with about 200W on the roof. I have no idea what the voltage output of both are, or will be. Maybe I was misunderstanding him too. I do have the portable already, but still undecided as to what I will do on the trailer, have Escape install, or install later. I am contemplating using a couple 100W flexible panels too.

What is your plan for your new trailer as far as solar goes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
That looks right to me. With a simple on-off or PWM controller (that is, anything other than Maximum Power Point Tracking), the panel(s) will be forced to run at the battery voltage until the battery is nearly fully charged anyway, so using separate controllers wouldn't change that. Once the PWM controller starts throttling back the rate of charge, it won't matter if the panels are not at their optimal voltage.
Are you suggesting a separate charge controller for the portable panel? This is what the fellow at the solar store here said to do, but to isolate both systems, so it was one or the other operating, at least that was what I understood. The guy seemed to know his stuff, maybe I need to go visit again and get ideas straightened out, so that way I can get it straight in me own wee mind.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 05:27 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: paso robles, California
Trailer: ex Casita/ 2016 Escape 21 '16 TRD 4x4
Posts: 117
Doesn't make sense to me. When my rooftop 160 w panel was in the shade, my portable solar100 w panel with 30 amp controller hooked straight to the battery was putting in 15.2 vdc. Enough to charge the battery when I had enough sun. I am unable to get to the built in controller above the fridge.
jerry
jerryandmaria is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 05:45 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Trailer: 1979 Boler B1700
Posts: 12,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
I was told recently at a solar shop here in town that the system will only perform as good as its weakest link (he called it the Buffalo Theory).
Buffalo Theory: A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.

The idea is apparently that the lower-performing panel will limit the output of the higher-performing panel. In this case, the voltage of the panel in the shade will supposedly limit the voltage of the panel in the sun... but it won't because panels have blocking diodes to prevent reverse current flow, so in the most extreme case the stronger panel will just reverse-bias the other panel - no contribution from the "slow buffalo", but no waiting for it either. If there is no blocking diode, then there is a potential but unlikely issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Are you suggesting a separate charge controller for the portable panel? This is what the fellow at the solar store here said to do, but to isolate both systems, so it was one or the other operating, at least that was what I understood. The guy seemed to know his stuff, maybe I need to go visit again and get ideas straightened out, so that way I can get it straight in me own wee mind.
No - just the opposite. There isn't much point in two separate controllers... and if you do have two running at the same time, they probably won't work properly together. If only one is used at a time, then there's really no point in having two: you could just wire both panels to the same controller, and unplug or switch off one (and there's no point in doing that, either... just leave both connected).

A setup with two separate controllers in parallel would probably work if both are the MPPT type, but few people use MPPT controllers in RVs, let alone dual MPPT controllers.

May I ask which solar store?
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2016, 05:55 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 14,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Buffalo Theory: A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.

The idea is apparently that the lower-performing panel will limit the output of the higher-performing panel. In this case, the voltage of the panel in the shade will supposedly limit the voltage of the panel in the sun... but it won't because panels have blocking diodes to prevent reverse current flow, so in the most extreme case the stronger panel will just reverse-bias the other panel - no contribution from the "slow buffalo", but no waiting for it either. If there is no blocking diode, then there is a potential but unlikely issue.


No - just the opposite. There isn't much point in two separate controllers... and if you do have two running at the same time, they probably won't work properly together. If only one is used at a time, then there's really no point in having two: you could just wire both panels to the same controller, and unplug or switch off one (and there's no point in doing that, either... just leave both connected).

A setup with two separate controllers in parallel would probably work if both are the MPPT type, but few people use MPPT controllers in RVs, let alone dual MPPT controllers.

May I ask which solar store?
Thanks for the input. It does make sense. I am going to assume I misunderstood what he said.

The store is Solar Wholesaler. They seem to have quite competitive prices. I bought a couple 225Ah AGMs for $250 CAD each. A heck of a lot less than I could find anywhere else.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 03:09 AM   #14
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Auburn, California
Trailer: 5.0 TA hatched April 2017
Posts: 59
Question

Hopefully I still am on topic. Speaking with Sarah I was told to get a solar port (they would install it for me) to plug a portable panel into my charge controller. Can't find solar port on Amazon? Please educate me the charge controller will keep me from over charging my batteries and I can plug my portable panels into this and still have my roof top panels inline and working.
Terry H is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 06:02 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Box Elder, South Dakota
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2016 GMC Canyon Duramax
Posts: 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry H View Post
Hopefully I still am on topic. Speaking with Sarah I was told to get a solar port (they would install it for me) to plug a portable panel into my charge controller. Can't find solar port on Amazon? Please educate me the charge controller will keep me from over charging my batteries and I can plug my portable panels into this and still have my roof top panels inline and working.
Zamp makes a port that some folks have used.

Roof and Sidewall Solar Port for Zamp Solar RV Systems

The portable panel I chose uses MC4 connectors. Those won't fit the Zamp port so I am having ETI install a standard electrical port like they use for the non-removable power cord. They will run 2 wires from the existing charge controller and pigtail them under the dinette seat. When I pick up the trailer I will install MC4 connectors on the pigtail wires and then my portable panel will plug in at the port. Not quite as clean looking as the Zamp port but it'll work.
stephen99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 08:18 AM   #16
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 14,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen99 View Post
Zamp makes a port that some folks have used.

Roof and Sidewall Solar Port for Zamp Solar RV Systems

The portable panel I chose uses MC4 connectors. Those won't fit the Zamp port so I am having ETI install a standard electrical port like they use for the non-removable power cord. They will run 2 wires from the existing charge controller and pigtail them under the dinette seat. When I pick up the trailer I will install MC4 connectors on the pigtail wires and then my portable panel will plug in at the port. Not quite as clean looking as the Zamp port but it'll work.
Why not replace the MC4 connectors on the end of the cable with something like the Zamp port? More water tight and easier to connect.

I plan you use some kind of hatch similar to this one which will have all my ports in it, including any antennas I may use, portable solar, coax for TV, etc. It will be on the back of the trailer and enter into the rear bench where most of the electrical/electronic stuff will be.

__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 08:30 AM   #17
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Box Elder, South Dakota
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2016 GMC Canyon Duramax
Posts: 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Why not replace the MC4 connectors on the end of the cable with something like the Zamp port? More water tight and easier to connect.

I plan you use some kind of hatch similar to this one which will have all my ports in it, including any antennas I may use, portable solar, coax for TV, etc. It will be on the back of the trailer and enter into the rear bench where most of the electrical/electronic stuff will be.

I will also be using the port for other things like wifi or tv antenna cables so that's why I avoided the Zamp port
stephen99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 08:48 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 14,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen99 View Post
I will also be using the port for other things like wifi or tv antenna cables so that's why I avoided the Zamp port
How do you plan on connecting these cables then? My thinking is that it would be much more of a pain to get access inside than doing it in an easily accessed hatch. I found in any trailer we have had that it was a pain in the butt to access underneath dinette seats. Mounting connectors to a bulkhead inside a hatch just seems a lot easier. Besides, I am not big on the quality of those cable ports used for a fixed power cable.

The potential connections I see could be:
- Coax for TV - from antenna or campground cable
- Wife Antenna
- Solar
- I might also do a DC outlet in there too

Nothing is set in stone for me yet though, as I don't even get my trailer for (exactly) two months. I will be adding whatever I do end up with myself.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 09:03 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Box Elder, South Dakota
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2016 GMC Canyon Duramax
Posts: 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
How do you plan on connecting these cables then? My thinking is that it would be much more of a pain to get access inside than doing it in an easily accessed hatch. I found in any trailer we have had that it was a pain in the butt to access underneath dinette seats. Mounting connectors to a bulkhead inside a hatch just seems a lot easier. Besides, I am not big on the quality of those cable ports used for a fixed power cable.

The potential connections I see could be:
- Coax for TV - from antenna or campground cable
- Wife Antenna
- Solar
- I might also do a DC outlet in there too

Nothing is set in stone for me yet though, as I don't even get my trailer for (exactly) two months. I will be adding whatever I do end up with myself.
Yeah, I realize it might be a bit of a pain but I don't expect to have to access the area often. The port you posted looks a lot better than the one I will be getting but too late now unless I want to pay the change fee and deal with the hassle of ordering the port etc. Just something I will have to deal with. I have lots of plans for other mods and have added numerous 12v drops for other things. By the time I get done with that stuff maybe they will have a way to wirelessly connect the solar panel to the controller
stephen99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-26-2016, 09:28 AM   #20
Senior Member
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Posts: 14,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen99 View Post
Yeah, I realize it might be a bit of a pain but I don't expect to have to access the area often. The port you posted looks a lot better than the one I will be getting but too late now unless I want to pay the change fee and deal with the hassle of ordering the port etc. Just something I will have to deal with. I have lots of plans for other mods and have added numerous 12v drops for other things. By the time I get done with that stuff maybe they will have a way to wirelessly connect the solar panel to the controller
Not a huge deal anyway, as you could always change things later out if you wish. Easy to do.

I too am getting a fair few 12V drops.

Wireless solar. How great would that be.
__________________

__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Escape Trailer Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.
×