Rooftop solar panels - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 04-20-2010, 11:30 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 26
Rooftop solar panels

The assembly and delivery date of our 19' escape is fast approaching.

We got an email from Tammy and Reace a couple of days ago telling us they're starting to order the options and amenities for our trailer.

I have a couple of questions concerning the optional permanently mounted solar panels and charger:

We don't get much hail here in sunny SoCal, but we have encountered hail storms in our travels with La Casita.

How damage resistant are they? Will they stand up to moderate hail storms and such?

Will they keep a dual 6v battery system sufficiently charged for extended 'no hook up' camping?

I could buy a small generator and smart charger for about the same cost, but not having to deal with the noise and having to carry a fuel container full of gas would be nice.


Rich McCormack (Poway, CA)
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Old 04-20-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Everett, Washington
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21
Posts: 59
Re: Rooftop solar panels

The answer to hail might depend on the brand of panel being installed, however, I suspect that all the manufacturers make their panels in pretty much the same way from a weather resistance standpoint. After all, these are outdoor, sky facing, devices. Hail is a fact of outdoor life.

The panels I own are made by Sunsei. Their website has the following FAQ that includes hail resistance.

“Q6 Can the SE-1200/1500 be left outdoors without protective covering?
Yes, these panels have been weather protected and can be mounted outdoors. They are completely weatherproofed, and can withstand ½ inch hailstones, up to 180ºF heat, and operate under 3 inches of snow (on sunny days).”

I have researched, but do not own, Kyocera solar panels. Their documentation does not give specifics. It lists “hail impact test” on a list of items for which their panels “exceed government specifications”. I would expect they can stand up to some pretty nasty hail.

While damaging hail conditions could be encountered somewhere, it is probably unlikely. The panels are designed to survive outdoors.

As for the ability of the panels to allow extended camping, that depends mostly on how much power you are pulling from the battery. If you have all led lighting and go easy on the furnace (the double pane windows and extra insulation options would help there) you can probably run indefinitely as long as there is sunshine. The panels will provide some power even on cloudy days and in the shade (good thing since most of us always park the trailer in the shade). Even if not enough to completely recharge the battery every day, any amount of output will greatly stretch your independent time. I have 54 rated watts of panel for our trailer and so far our battery stays fully charged. With that situation, we can go indefinitely. That said, we have not yet encountered an extended time with overcast sky or been in heavy shade. I am a big believer in solar over gasoline generators. With the dual 6V batteries giving you plenty of AmpHour depth to work with, the solar should be a real winner.


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Old 04-20-2010, 10:13 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Austin, Texas
Trailer: '09 Escape 19 "Grasshopper"
Posts: 221
Re: Rooftop solar panels

I agree with Keager in that the solar panels are manufactured to withstand all the inclement weather elements such as hail. We haven't encountered any yet but expect to b/c it's a common summer event here in central TX. We have had several days of large sleet pellets which hasn't caused any damage. The panel and VHB tape mounting has held up well so far in weather as low as the single digits & as high as the mid 90's F. It's also handled lots of dust, pollen, rain, sleet & snow. Unfortunately, it hasn't seen much sun yet due to our unusually wet winter season.

You didn't specifiy what wattage panel you are considering. Ours is 95 watt which should be more than enough especially considering we also got the extra insulation, tinted thermal windows, all LED lights & dual 6v batteries as also mentioned by Keager. We just got back from boondocking 5 days at a music festival where it was raining & cloudy the whole time yet our batteries still had 78% charge upon packing up at the end. If we actually had sun, I bet we would've maintained closer to a full charge.

I also am a big believer in solar over gasoline generators. Maybe I should've just said "Ditto to everything Keager said"


Brad & Shay

'09 Escape 19 "Grasshopper"
'14 MB GL350 BlueTEC; '99 Toyota 4Runner V6 4WD
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Old 04-24-2010, 08:47 PM   #4
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Re: Rooftop solar panels

good info is posted here
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:12 PM   #5
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Re: Rooftop solar panels

Thanks to all for the input. I did some online research over the last couple of weeks and have come to the conslusion that solar panels are meant for outside use and are probably sturdy enough to withstand most weather situations (up to golf ball size hail, according to one company). I'm asuming the panels will reliably withstand frozen water from sleet thru maybe half inch hail. I think anything much bigger is going to seriously affect ALL my gear, not just solar panels. I'll make every effort to avoid such situations.

Whether they will keep a dual 6v battery system topped up enough for extended boondocking is still a question, and I don't think there's an objective answer to it. It depends on individual user habits. I've decided, with conservative battery use, a 95w panel should do the job for us. I'm going to go with the solar panel and charger and adjust our power use as necessary to accomodate any specification limitations.


Rich McCormack (Poway, CA)

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Old 04-28-2010, 07:39 PM   #6
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Re: Rooftop solar panels


I'm glad that you got your answer to solar panel question.

FYI - I wouldn't post your email address (in the post) you might become victim to spam mail, just a suggestion.
Former 17ft Plan "B" Escape
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:47 PM   #7
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Posts: 897
Re: Rooftop solar panels

Hi Rich,
Met with Ian and Jenny the outer day (Houdini) and they love their solar panels. He said they could go two weeks if necessary (not sure what you do with your waste water for all that time, but at least 2 weeks off power). One of the keys he said was LED lights. He could run ALL of his lights for an evening and use less power than ONE regular bulb. Good to know. Wish I'd gotten solar with Hokie. Of course, if you never boondock, and are like Alf who likes to be hooked up to a "power bush", you wouldn't need it : - )
"In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning, I will offer my prayer to you, and wait in expectation" Ps 5:3
'11 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab (5' bed) 09 Escape 5.0
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:30 PM   #8
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: St-hyacinthe, Quebec
Trailer: 2010 Escape17
Posts: 75
Re: Rooftop solar panels

I got a kyocera solar panel since 6 years now. I did a project a saw on the web. I bought a 40 watts low voltage (15 volts), 3 amps panel, 40 feets of cables and some L aluminium bar to had A frame to my solar panel. My frame was to make a 45 degres angle to my panel and made it portable. I was able to follow the sun all day and NEVER RUN out of 12 volts. I had only one battery and 2 THINLITE 8 watts, one front and one rear and use the furnace without running out of juice...that was my set for my Scamp 13. With this set up, I'm able to catch at least twice the sun as a roof set up.

Now, my futur set up, consist to had a controller, to know more what going on without using my multimeter, in my futur Escape17 (pick up july 2th) and a second battery in parallel. I kept the same panel for my GREAT ESCAPE.


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