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Old 06-17-2017, 01:01 AM   #1
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Transportable solar panel options for a 2006 17b

Hi everyone,

We have a used 2006 17b, and we are planning a two week boon docking camping trip this summer. We've done this without a generator, or solar with our past couple of trailers (a chalet ltw, and an aliner ranger), but we were considering some sort of easily transported or portable solar option. We have a single battery (which is new), and are not yet prepared to install a panel on the roof, but thought it might be a good idea to at least begin researching 'pack able' solar panels. Ideally we would like something just to help boost our battery life, as we don't plan on using too much electricity (but we do know that our fridge is larger than our prior trailers, and it uses an electric fan-in the minimum).

Ideally we would like something that is light weight, fits in our front storage bin or under the bed, and can be moved easily into the sun.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for your suggestions in advance
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Old 06-17-2017, 01:13 AM   #2
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I'm using two 40-watt Coleman portable panels from Canadian Tire. They go on sale regularly for about $99 each. You will also need a hub to connect the two panels to a single controller ( each panel comes with a controller, so you will have a spare ).
This set-up seems to do the job. Fridge runs on propane with minimal 12V draw for the control. Biggest draw is the furnace fan. Most interior lights have been converted to LED.
You could start with just one panel and see if that's all you need for your electrical use. I used to carry my Honda 1000 generator 'just in case'. Stays home now.
Sign up on Canadian Tire and set a sales alert for the product.
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Old 06-17-2017, 06:07 AM   #3
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If you're a tinkerer.

As I had no where to conveniently carry a 40 lb 160 watt folding panel, I made a frame out of wood for a couple 50 watt flexible panels. I break them down and store them in the front storage of the 5.0TA. They weigh about 3 lbs. It does take a couple minutes to put them together if needed.

I have noticed the flexible panels I have are susceptible to scratches.
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Old 06-17-2017, 07:42 AM   #4
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I do not have direct experience with this set up, but Larry from Little House Customs has tested the tri-fold Samlex units for quite some time and now offers them through their store. The tri-fold design seems very convenient for storage. Available in 90 or 135 Watt configurations. With the integral controller and the battery on the rear bumper of a 17 this should be plug and play.

http://www.amazon.com/Samlex-Solar-M...00IACWRDS?th=1

https://littlehousecustoms.com/store.html#elec

There are plenty other portables available now too, but they are typically bifold and won't pack up as small. Check out Renogy, Zamp and Go Power...
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Old 06-17-2017, 08:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
If you're a tinkerer.

As I had no where to conveniently carry a 40 lb 160 watt folding panel, I made a frame out of wood for a couple 50 watt flexible panels. I break them down and store them in the front storage of the 5.0TA. They weigh about 3 lbs. It does take a couple minutes to put them together if needed.

I have noticed the flexible panels I have are susceptible to scratches.
Bob, I carry my portable Go Power 80W panel under the steps to the loft. Granted, I did open up the top step to give me enough height, as there was not quite enough. This works great, and it is out of the way of all the other stuff I am storing there, though do need to finish the organization of this space.

That said, if I was doing it again, I would likely consider using a couple semi-flexible panels like you did. The ones I got, identical to the Lensun panels, have that tough ETFE coating on them, pretty much eliminating scratching of the surface. Two 60W panels like the ones I am using on my roof would be more than adequate. $308 for two of them is a good price. Of course, if this is your only solar you will need to add a charge controller too.
2PCS 60W(total 120Watt) 12V Black Flexible Solar Panel for RV,Camper,Boat Solar Charger
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Old 06-17-2017, 09:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jim Bennett;202138
That said, if I was doing it again, I would likely consider using a couple semi-flexible panels like you did. The ones I got, identical to the Lensun panels, have that tough ETFE coating on them, pretty much eliminating scratching of the surface. Two 60W panels like the ones I am using on my roof would be more than adequate. $308 for two of them is a good price. Of course, if this is your only solar you will need to add a charge controller too.
[URL="http://www.lensunsolar.com/Flexible-solar-panel/Black-flexible-solar-panel?product_id=217"
2PCS 60W(total 120Watt) 12V Black Flexible Solar Panel for RV,Camper,Boat Solar Charger[/URL]

If these ever fail I'll look for better panels. It was just an experiment when I made the first one so I bought cheap, 99$ each, just looked for grommets in the corners so I could bolt thru them. I had the 160w suitcase, I'd have had to put it in the back seat of the truck and 40lbs is just too much to mess with.

I have changed over to a heavy 10g AC extension cord and dropped the dedicated cable. I like having an 120vac extension cable on the off chance something happens to the 30A, although I've only needed it once.
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Old 06-17-2017, 01:51 PM   #7
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I carry a 160 watt rigid panel from Solar Blvd (This is a newer model). While it came with a soft case, the zipper died after 4-5 uses. I built a case for it out of luan & 1" by. Not light, but it cranks out the amp hours!
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Old 06-17-2017, 02:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
If you're a tinkerer.

As I had no where to conveniently carry a 40 lb 160 watt folding panel, I made a frame out of wood for a couple 50 watt flexible panels. I break them down and store them in the front storage of the 5.0TA. They weigh about 3 lbs. It does take a couple minutes to put them together if needed.

I have noticed the flexible panels I have are susceptible to scratches.
Bob, those were the biggest problems I saw when looking at portable panels. They were heavy and difficult to store, often being big. The flexible ones are quite a difference.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:02 PM   #9
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What size?

Wow, thank you for all of your detailed response! This forum is fantastic. Now we are wondering about the size of panel we should look at. We don't have ac, we've changed over all lights inside and out to led, and don't leave the water pump on when not in use, we may use the furnace, but we are mostly 2 season camping here in BC, in some fairly densely forest areas. It seems like there's a wide variety in solar watts and we aren't sure now where to focus our attention.

We are now leaning towards the either foldable or flexible type of solar based on all of your suggestions, any further pros/cons you've found with these?
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Journey View Post
Wow, thank you for all of your detailed response! This forum is fantastic. Now we are wondering about the size of panel we should look at. We don't have ac, we've changed over all lights inside and out to led, and don't leave the water pump on when not in use, we may use the furnace, but we are mostly 2 season camping here in BC, in some fairly densely forest areas. It seems like there's a wide variety in solar watts and we aren't sure now where to focus our attention.

We are now leaning towards the either foldable or flexible type of solar based on all of your suggestions, any further pros/cons you've found with these?
For perspective ETI used to provide a 95W fixed panel and now provides a 160W panel option. This newer offering appears to work well for most people with light power needs such as yourself. Other larger power users have supplemented the ETI offerings with an additional fixed panel or portable. Don't forget about the MaxxFan though that you may like to run for many hours. Even though it is portable and can be moved you need to account for the fact that you will have some shade (you mention densely forested areas) and not always have the perfect angle to the sun and that derates the capacity. There are some experts on the forum that I'm sure can help with an estimation on exactly where you should land, but I suspect some of the larger portable options in the 120-160W range is a good place to start.
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Old 06-18-2017, 02:50 PM   #11
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It all depends on your usage. If it were me, I'd get a 2nd battery first. I used to be able to go 5 days with just 2 12v batteries, unless I had to run the furnace which could put it down to 3 days.

I'd then pick up the biggest suitcase that I could store and easily move around, maybe 120w. If you want to build your own using flexible panels see what the dimensions are and figure out where you want to be able to store them. As they are your only panels I'd look for 100w or better total.

I've been fine so far with the rooftop 160 watt, but know some folks who get away with 100 watt and some needing up around 300 watts for long term winter use.
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Journey View Post
Wow, thank you for all of your detailed response! This forum is fantastic. Now we are wondering about the size of panel we should look at. We don't have ac, we've changed over all lights inside and out to led, and don't leave the water pump on when not in use, we may use the furnace, but we are mostly 2 season camping here in BC, in some fairly densely forest areas. It seems like there's a wide variety in solar watts and we aren't sure now where to focus our attention.

We are now leaning towards the either foldable or flexible type of solar based on all of your suggestions, any further pros/cons you've found with these?
Purchased a GO Power folding 80 watt solar system . Have 2 6 volt batteries . Will only useAC if have hookups . Thought we needed more in watts for panels . Then this year found the batteries needed to be charged better . Bought a battery charger suggested by Eric . Keep batteries hooked up at home pretty much all the time . Recently went on boondocking trip to beach . Was nippy at night so heater was run , cooking , showers every night , led lights . 4 days put panels out for about 5 hours and the batteries went right back to 100%
1 day wanted some TV and instead of the solar ran 1000 watt generator for about 3 hours
Batteries charged right back up and watched some TV . We have pre solar wiring , still haven't decided on that . But what I learned is if our batteries are fully charged to begin with
And the use I said ,really for us don't need a whole lot of solar . We have a portable 200 watt inverter but not much use . If it was cloudy we have a little generator . Looking at the flexible panels and may do that but what surprised me we had all we needed this trip . And our batteries are now 3 1/2 years old so not new . I guess it depends on how you camp and what your power needs are . We also have the microwave oven and like the AC would have electrical hookups to use those . We also have always shut our water pump off if not needed . Use dish water lots to flush the toilet because found grey tank fills very fast compared to black . Water capacity is also small compared to what we were used to . We carry fresh water also . Hope this helps . Pat
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Old 06-18-2017, 08:00 PM   #13
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Portable Flexible Panels

Bob,
I was intrigued by your design of a portable flexible panel in this thread,

Portable Flexible Solar

yet in this thread you are recommending the purchase of foldable rigid panels. Is there some design issue, or implementation problem with the frames that you constructed? I thought it was a great idea to obtain lightweight panels.

Easy to store and lightweight this seemed like the best option.
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Old 06-19-2017, 12:26 AM   #14
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Paul,
Above was my feeble attempt at writing a response to the OP's question so they could go either way, flex or rigid panels, figuring most wouldn't want to build break down frames like I did and would want a store bought solution. Writing is not my strong suit.

The only change I need to make to mine, is a better way to keep the legs open at the desired angle.
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Old 06-19-2017, 01:07 AM   #15
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The Coleman panels I have come with an aluminum frame and a means to prop them up.
My 'suitcase', however is the box it came in, with all the corners reinforced with several layers of packing tape.
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