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Old 03-09-2024, 01:28 PM   #1
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Should I buy this solar panel?

This solar panel is available locally, used once apparently, for $135., $110 less than Costco sells it for. It would use it as supplementary input for the 160W solar panel on the roof of the 5.0TA. I have two 6V lead acid batteries.

The panel measures 40.2 in. × 1.4 in. × 26.4 in. so would likely need to be carried behind the seat of the truck.



We have had sufficient power from our batteries in the past but we have mostly travelled in the summer months when the sun is high. We are planning a trip south in April/May of this year, hoping to mainly boondock so I wonder if this panel might be a good idea to have along in case we aren't collecting what we need from the rooftop unit. There may be a need to run the furnace. Otherwise our power consumption is limited to use of the LED lights, fans and charging our devices.

Besides wondering about the quality of Coleman solar panels, my other question is about the included solar controller. It is only 8.5A and I see ppl on here get seperate 100/20 controllers for their portable panels. (I realize the 300W inverter would only be good for charging devices, etc. but we don't use 120V appliances in our trailer anyway.)



If deploying and then storing the panel proves to be a PITA I can always sell it and mount another panel to the roof. I'm really thinking this would just be for backup.

Thanks for any input.
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Old 03-09-2024, 02:02 PM   #2
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Our power consumption sounds very similar and we boondock a lot in Spring. We bought a Renogy 100W portable and have never needed it so we stopped taking it.

We have one rooftop 170W panel and dual six volt Interstates that always seem fully charged by noon.
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Old 03-09-2024, 02:09 PM   #3
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Our power consumption sounds very similar and we boondock a lot in Spring. We bought a Renogy 100W portable and have never needed it so we stopped taking it.

We have one rooftop 170W panel and dual six volt Interstates that always seem fully charged by noon.
Exactly our experience so far. Thank you.
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Old 03-09-2024, 02:44 PM   #4
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You can find these Coleman kits new for $129 without inverter. Specs on this seem purposely vague. The controller is probably worth about $10. My take is there are better options for not much more money.
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Old 03-09-2024, 02:51 PM   #5
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Exactly our experience so far. Thank you.
"April/May, to the South" --- The sun will be high enough to give your roof panel plenty of energy. The problem you might encounter - depending on your destination - is shade, typically from trees at your campsite.

A portable with 20-50 feet of wire gives you the option of camping in shade to stay cool but obtaining your power from a sunny spot near by. So, do a quick Google Earth preview of your chosen location. If it is easy to see your campsites, then little to no shade to interfere with charging. But if you can't see a specific campsite then it is likely shaded. (Make adjustments for seasonal factors like leaves, etc.)
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Old 03-09-2024, 03:31 PM   #6
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You can find these Coleman kits new for $129 without inverter. Specs on this seem purposely vague. The controller is probably worth about $10. My take is there are better options for not much more money.
Prices in Canada are a bit higher but I get your drift. I have seen Renogy panels of similar size on sale for less than this one.

I wonder if I could pick one up along the way if I find I need it.
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Old 03-09-2024, 03:42 PM   #7
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"April/May, to the South" --- The sun will be high enough to give your roof panel plenty of energy. The problem you might encounter - depending on your destination - is shade, typically from trees at your campsite.

A portable with 20-50 feet of wire gives you the option of camping in shade to stay cool but obtaining your power from a sunny spot near by. So, do a quick Google Earth preview of your chosen location. If it is easy to see your campsites, then little to no shade to interfere with charging. But if you can't see a specific campsite then it is likely shaded. (Make adjustments for seasonal factors like leaves, etc.)
Thanks Alan.

We are heading in a southwest direction from our home in Winnipeg, Manitoba to the general area of southeast Utah. At that time of year I suspect shade from leaves won't be much of an issue, if at all.

My biggest concern really was use of the furnace and its fans draw on the batteries. Otherwise our use of 12V electricity is quite limited.
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Old 03-09-2024, 05:36 PM   #8
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Thanks Alan.

We are heading in a southwest direction from our home in Winnipeg, Manitoba to the general area of southeast Utah. At that time of year I suspect shade from leaves won't be much of an issue, if at all.

My biggest concern really was use of the furnace and its fans draw on the batteries. Otherwise our use of 12V electricity is quite limited.
Good choice of camping area!


However, I noticed the 2015 date of your trailer - do confirm that the batteries are in good condition, otherwise it won't matter how much electricity you can generate in the daytime if the batteries can't store it. The three legs of the Power Triangle => Make it, Store it, Use it. They pretty much have to be in balance.
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Old 03-09-2024, 05:54 PM   #9
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The batteries were replaced last year so we're good there.
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Old 03-28-2024, 10:32 PM   #10
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Hello Everyone,
Does anyone have summer-time off-grid solar experience with the Houghton 9.5k B2TU AC and the 12v compressor fridge? If so, would you recommend 12v, 24v or 48v solar panels and equipment? Number of and wattage of panels? Lithium battery(ies)? How much run time and down time? Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-30-2024, 07:10 AM   #11
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I decided not to purchase the Coleman panel I originally asked about but have been keeping my eyes open for others.

On my local Buy and Sell site someone has a few of these available:Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Portable Solar Suitcase. I'm definitely more comfortable with the Renogy brand and wonder if the 20 Amp Voyager Charge Controller included with the panels makes this kit a good backup to my 160W panel mounted on the roof.

The folded size of 20"x24" is nicely compatible with carrying it along.

From the reading I've done here on the forum it seems it would be best to have the controller mounted next to the batteries but this controller is attached to the solar panels. I assume there will be line losses if the panel is any additional distance from the trailer with an extension to the cord. It seems it would function as intended if the attached cord is long enough.

Do any of you with more knowledge of solar have any opinions about this kit as a backup unit?
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Old 03-30-2024, 07:50 AM   #12
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I recently purchased the Renogy 100 watt panel with charger and wired it directly to the battery, per recommendations here, through a backwards wired Zamp port. Goofy Zamp standard.

I liked the Renogy panel because it seemed durable, adjustable and heavy enough not to blow away on a windy day.

Seems to work great so far.
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Old 03-30-2024, 09:15 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by iamunique127 View Post
I decided not to purchase the Coleman panel I originally asked about but have been keeping my eyes open for others.

On my local Buy and Sell site someone has a few of these available:Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Foldable Portable Solar Suitcase. I'm definitely more comfortable with the Renogy brand and wonder if the 20 Amp Voyager Charge Controller included with the panels makes this kit a good backup to my 160W panel mounted on the roof.

The folded size of 20"x24" is nicely compatible with carrying it along.

From the reading I've done here on the forum it seems it would be best to have the controller mounted next to the batteries but this controller is attached to the solar panels. I assume there will be line losses if the panel is any additional distance from the trailer with an extension to the cord. It seems it would function as intended if the attached cord is long enough.

Do any of you with more knowledge of solar have any opinions about this kit as a backup unit?
I have the same Renogy panel and like WillyB I use the Zamp port and have it wired to it's own Victron 100/20 MPPT controller which is mounted under the DS rear bench close to the batteries. Works great, easy to carry and its well protected in it's case although it's a little heavy. I only need it when I'm camped in a shady spot which seems to be rare so far, so I don't always carry it.
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Old 03-30-2024, 11:02 AM   #14
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I recently purchased the Renogy 100 watt panel with charger and wired it directly to the battery, per recommendations here, through a backwards wired Zamp port. Goofy Zamp standard.

I liked the Renogy panel because it seemed durable, adjustable and heavy enough not to blow away on a windy day.

Seems to work great so far.
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Originally Posted by SRS View Post
I have the same Renogy panel and like WillyB I use the Zamp port and have it wired to it's own Victron 100/20 MPPT controller which is mounted under the DS rear bench close to the batteries. Works great, easy to carry and its well protected in it's case although it's a little heavy. I only need it when I'm camped in a shady spot which seems to be rare so far, so I don't always carry it.
So, did you guys remove the connected 20A Voyager Charge Controller and mount it near the batteries or use a different charge controller all together? You would then need to extend the cables from the panel to the Zamp port, which then leads to the controller, right?

Here is a poor photo of the controller mounted to the panels:
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Old 03-30-2024, 11:25 AM   #15
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So, did you guys remove the connected 20A Voyager Charge Controller and mount it near the batteries or use a different charge controller all together? You would then need to extend the cables from the panel to the Zamp port, which then leads to the controller, right?

Here is a poor photo of the controller mounted to the panels:

I ordered mine without the controller. It's pretty easy to bypass the Voyager if you get a panel with one. Over the holidays Victron had a sale and I got a great deal on a 100/30 which I connected to my roof solar and dedicated the 100/20 that came with my E17A to the portable. It was simple to reroute the Zamp wires to the 100/20, but a challenge finding a location to mount the 100/20. Its best practice to have the controller near the batteries due to the electrical resistance of the 10awg extension cord wires coming from the panel which may be 20-30 feet long depending on how you use your panel. My extension wire is 20 feet.
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Old 03-30-2024, 12:16 PM   #16
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I use the controller that came with the Renogy and I've fired it directly to the battery, not through the controller that Escape supplied.
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Old 03-30-2024, 01:38 PM   #17
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I use the controller that came with the Renogy and I've fired it directly to the battery ....
FWIW that strikes me as the simplest and most cost effective approach with this particular package.

Presumably the portable panel will be situated to avoid shading / optimize exposure, rendering the particular advantages (and complication) of a separate and more costly dedicated MPPT controller moot.

The built-in Voyager PWM controller should work great in that situation, delivering all the energy the panel is capable of to the battery.

Just for your consideration.
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Old 03-30-2024, 01:38 PM   #18
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I use the controller that came with the Renogy and I've fired it directly to the battery, not through the controller that Escape supplied.
So you disconnected it from the panels, installed it near the batteries and then run the panels to the Zamp port you showed earlier?
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Old 03-30-2024, 04:15 PM   #19
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Hello Everyone,
Does anyone have summer-time off-grid solar experience with the Houghton 9.5k B2TU AC and the 12v compressor fridge? If so, would you recommend 12v, 24v or 48v solar panels and equipment? Number of and wattage of panels? Lithium battery(ies)? How much run time and down time? Thanks in advance.
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The voltage of the solar panel (s) has to match what the solar controller supports... PWM controllers require typically 18v panels (often called 12v) while MPPT controllers support higher voltage panels, like my 360W panel is nominally 36v at max load and around 44V open circuit max voltage... A higher voltage panel can use skinnier wires at the same wattage.

I've never tried to run AC on batteries, but I have a Norcold DC compressor fridge freezer, the n2175... My dual 200AH lithiums can run that with the rest of my usual loads for a week with no sun, that's about 700WH a day, and if I'm getting reasonable sun, I'm charged each day by mid morning. If the batteries are run way down low, 2 full days of sun brings them back to full. The batteries are 5260 watt*hours total.
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Old 03-30-2024, 05:29 PM   #20
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So you disconnected it from the panels, installed it near the batteries and then run the panels to the Zamp port you showed earlier?
No, I left it on the panel. I'm sure I'm loosing efficiency but I'm not worried as we are not big consumers of energy. I have a 20 foot extension to reach out of the shady areas when needed.
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