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Old 12-22-2023, 04:49 PM   #1
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Portable Solar Panel

I am getting a new (2024) 21C with a solar setup - 2 -200 watt panels and 4 lithium batteries. I did purchase the Solar Port wired to Charge Controller. I am a novice and don't know anything about solar power. I want to purchase a 3rd panel (portable) to plug into the solar port wired to the charge controller. The only solid information Escape could provide is that the panel needs to be 24v to be compatible with the system I am getting in the trailer.

Can anyone recommend a portable panel (hopefully at least 100 watt) that will plug into the solar port and work with the system coming in the Escape? I tried reading up on the subject to self educate myself, but it seemed the more I read the more I needed to know, and I don't have any confidence in getting the right equipment.

Last summer Samuel told me that Escape was going to be selling a 100 watt panel that plugged into the trailer 7-pin light wiring harness, but recent communication with him revealed that there were problems with the setup and they are no longer offering it.

If anyone knows a panel (and any other equipment/adapters) I will need, I would greatly appreciate it!
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Old 12-22-2023, 07:35 PM   #2
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I'd probably get this panel, https://www.renogy.com/200-watt-12-v...olar-suitcase/ and remove the solar controller, wire the panels to a SAE plug on 20 or 30 feet of AWG12 or 10 wire, making sure to get the polarity correct (I think Zamp plugs are the reverse of normal SAE plugs). Check the polarity of the zamp port when the sun is shining on the factory panels.

I have the older 100W version of that panel, its well made, its got a nice protective case
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Old 12-22-2023, 08:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
I'd probably get this panel, https://www.renogy.com/200-watt-12-v...olar-suitcase/ and remove the solar controller, wire the panels to a SAE plug on 20 or 30 feet of AWG12 or 10 wire, making sure to get the polarity correct (I think Zamp plugs are the reverse of normal SAE plugs). Check the polarity of the zamp port when the sun is shining on the factory panels.

I have the older 100W version of that panel, its well made, its got a nice protective case
Thanks John, this is the detailed information I am looking for. Escape told me to make sure the panel that I get is 24 volt - do you know if this panel (without using their solar controller) would be compatible? Evidently if the portable panel I put on is 12 volt, it will make the panels on the roof of my Escape, which are 24v, scale back to just 12v and I will lose the productivity of 24v.
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Old 12-22-2023, 09:07 PM   #4
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That renogy says it's 24V max, 18v at max output, which is pretty typical for solar panels used to charge 12V batts
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Old 12-22-2023, 09:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by scottarue View Post
...
Evidently if the portable panel I put on is 12 volt, it will make the panels on the roof of my Escape, which are 24v, scale back to just 12v and I will lose the productivity of 24v.
If your new panel has a blocking diode - and it ought to - then it is impossible for the roof panels to "scale back" at all. But that said, if the roof panels are providing 24 V, the 12 V panel will not contribute any power unless the roof panels are shaded or otherwise not providing much power on their own.

The simple solution would be to purchase 2 fairly small 12 V portables and hook them in series to provide 24 V. It becomes a matter of what you want to spend and transportation space available. Small 24 V portables may be hard to find.
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Old 12-22-2023, 09:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
That renogy says it's 24V max, 18v at max output, which is pretty typical for solar panels used to charge 12V batts
From the spec page:


Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18V
Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 21.6V


Yes, typical values for a "12 V" panel.


A 24 V panel will be closer to 30 V at Open-Circuit.
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Old 12-22-2023, 09:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
From the spec page:


Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18V
Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 21.6V


Yes, typical values for a "12 V" panel.


A 24 V panel will be closer to 30 V at Open-Circuit.
yeah, then I'd want to see the actual specs for said factory panels. FWIW, the 360W panel I upgraded my E21 to has a open voltage around 40V, and a MPP voltage around 36.6V at 9.8A output. I use an MPPT controller which very efficiently converts this down to 14.4V at 25 amps...
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Old 12-22-2023, 11:13 PM   #8
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And it would be helpful to know if scottarue's roof panels are wired in series or in parallel.
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Old 12-23-2023, 09:25 AM   #9
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Since your rooftop panels are wired in series (12v times 2= 24v) adding a 12v panel to the same controller will really do you no good.

Your MPPT solar controller accepts the 24 volt panel inputs (37.6 VMP in our case) and converts/outputs at 12v (13.6-14.6v in our case) for our lithium batteries. In this situation you need to install another solar controller wired to your battery for the portable to have maximum output, since both controllers output 12v (again, 13.6-14.6v) to to the battery.

We have one Victron 100/50 controller for our 24v rooftop panels and a second 100/20 controller for our 12v portable and they work perfectly together, with zero loss.

Food for thought,

Perry
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Old 12-23-2023, 09:30 AM   #10
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Maybe I'm off base here, but I'll through this out for consideration. Just before I received my trailer Samuel emailed me and told me if I connected a panel through the zamp port, I needed a 24 volt panel. Anything less would de-rate my solar charging system. That left me pretty confused since most panels are 12 volt and the Go Power panel they provide is a 12 volt panel. What he really meant was that the open circuit voltage needed to be 24 volts. The panels themselves, I believe, are still called 12 volt panels. For me at least, being an electrically challenged individual, the terminology left me initially confused .

FWIW, I've wired the zamp port to a second controller inside the trailer so if the roof solar is shaded, the portable will still output full power when moved into the sun.
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Old 12-23-2023, 09:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Perry Butler View Post
Since your rooftop panels are wired in series (12v times 2= 24v) adding a 12v panel to the same controller will really do you no good.

Your MPPT solar controller accepts the 24 volt panel inputs (37.6 VMP in our case) and converts/outputs at 12v (13.6-14.6v in our case) for our lithium batteries. In this situation you need to install another solar controller wired to your battery for the portable to have maximum output, since both controllers output 12v (again, 13.6-14.6v) to to the battery.

We have one Victron 100/50 controller for our 24v rooftop panels and a second 100/20 controller for our 12v portable and they work perfectly together, with zero loss.

Food for thought,

Perry
Right you can put them together in a network and they coordinate charging.
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Old 12-23-2023, 09:59 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by SRS View Post
Maybe I'm off base here, but I'll through this out for consideration. Just before I received my trailer Samuel emailed me and told me if I connected a panel through the zamp port, I needed a 24 volt panel. Anything less would de-rate my solar charging system. That left me pretty confused since most panels are 12 volt and the Go Power panel they provide is a 12 volt panel. What he really meant was that the open circuit voltage needed to be 24 volts. The panels themselves, I believe, are still called 12 volt panels. For me at least, being an electrically challenged individual, the terminology left me initially confused .
Most panels available for RV's today are considered a 12 volt "series" panel and have a VMP (optimum operating voltage) from 18 to 21 volts and a VOC (open circuit voltage) around 24 volts. Wiring 12 volt panels in series doubles the voltage and halves the amperage. Apparently Escape is wiring both panels in series.

Our 100 watt Renogy 12v portable purchased in February 2019, has an 18.6 VMP and a 22.1 VOC. A seller's numbers can change over the years as the manufacturing of the panels become more efficient.

Most 24 volt "series" panels will have a VMP from 36 to 42 volts and a VOC from 42-48 volts. Our 200 watt Rich Solar panels purchased in 2023, have a 37.6 VMP and a 45.4 VOC.

In either case, when combining any panels in the same "series" you want the VMP to be as close as possible.

Best practice is to have a separate controller for each dissimilar series, that's why we have a Victron 100/50 for our 24v rooftop series, and a Victron 100/20 for our 12v portable series.

A good read on mixing solar panels is at Mowgli Adventures site.

More food for thought,

Perry
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Old 12-23-2023, 10:11 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by scottarue View Post
I am getting a new (2024) 21C with a solar setup - 2 -200 watt panels and 4 lithium batteries. I did purchase the Solar Port wired to Charge Controller. I am a novice and don't know anything about solar power. I want to purchase a 3rd panel (portable) to plug into the solar port wired to the charge controller. The only solid information Escape could provide is that the panel needs to be 24v to be compatible with the system I am getting in the trailer.

Can anyone recommend a portable panel (hopefully at least 100 watt) that will plug into the solar port and work with the system coming in the Escape? I tried reading up on the subject to self educate myself, but it seemed the more I read the more I needed to know, and I don't have any confidence in getting the right equipment.

Last summer Samuel told me that Escape was going to be selling a 100 watt panel that plugged into the trailer 7-pin light wiring harness, but recent communication with him revealed that there were problems with the setup and they are no longer offering it.

If anyone knows a panel (and any other equipment/adapters) I will need, I would greatly appreciate it!
Iím not sure if Escape is still installing Go Power but if they are I would call their tech support, they can be very helpful.
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Old 12-23-2023, 12:25 PM   #14
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Since the panel suggested by John already has a controller, you can simply wire a pigtail to your batteries and be done with it. No need to know how your roof top panels are wired or anything else. Easy peasy. Personally, GoPower may be more expensive, but their tech support is very helpful. I've had bad luck getting any support from Renogy in the past. It may be better now.
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Old 12-23-2023, 12:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by SageRpod View Post
Since the panel suggested by John already has a controller, you can simply wire a pigtail to your batteries and be done with it. No need to know how your roof top panels are wired or anything else. Easy peasy. Personally, GoPower may be more expensive, but their tech support is very helpful. I've had bad luck getting any support from Renogy in the past. It may be better now.
To get more power from your panel move the controller inside your trailer as close to the batteries as possible. At 14.?v to your batteries youíll have less line loss to your camper by having the controller inside with a short distance.

Food for thought,

Perry
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Old 12-24-2023, 02:03 PM   #16
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That 200W Renogy folding panel I suggested up there is 2 12V panels in parallel. it could be rewired in series to make ~36V which is a '24V panel'.
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Old 12-27-2023, 06:34 PM   #17
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Solar panell

I thought I would just add that we got an E 21C in March 2021 with two 190 W panels and two lithium batteries. In all our camping and including Boondocking for almost a week we never ran out of electrical power. And that was with the lights running plus using the microwave on occasion. No issues at all of the battery ever running low.

Of course Boondocking we use propane o run the heater and the fridge
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Old 12-27-2023, 07:48 PM   #18
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as I've said before, I have a single 360W panel, 412AH of lithium battery, and a DC compressor fridge. I can camp for a solid 7 days and nights parked in deep shade and only run the batteries down to about 40% capacity, one full day of sunshine and I'm back to 80%, by mid morning on the 2nd day, 100%. propane heat, minimal use of the 2000W inverter
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Old 12-27-2023, 08:22 PM   #19
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Before you buy a 200 watt portable decide if you have the room to carry that panel over the years. The 160 watt portables available in 2019 were way too large for us to comfortably carry. That same size is now 200 watts. Our 100 watt portable has been perfect for us, but we put a lot of solar on our roof, and rarely camp under complete shade. I really hate deploying and following the sun with a portable.

I'd rather have my roof full of solar than deploy our portable, yet we still carry the portable since it's small enough to fit in many spots in our camper and truck. In our Escape 5.0 it fit perfectly under the modified top step. Once we had 460 watts on the 5.0's roof it never came out. With our Bigfoot we carry it in the quad cab behind one of our Tern folding e-bikes.

Food for thought,

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Old 12-29-2023, 11:24 AM   #20
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Everything has a place and purpose. The fixed panels on our 5.0 are perfectly adequate for the majority of our camping. However, for those of us who camp all year round, a portable panel offers the benefit of being able to provide greater adjustability to gain as much solar as possible in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky.

We are in this situation now. We are camping in the southwest desert as I write this (thank you Starlink!). Our 5.0 is pointed due south so most of the solar is gained from the forward panel which has a slight forward tilt but is closer to horizontal. The max the rooftop panels have been able to produce in this situation is around 100 watts/7 amps at the peak of the day. I also have my 130watt GoPower portable with 10amp controller. It is adjustable so I can orient it for more direct sun exposure. It has produced around 110 watts at 7.5amps for a longer period of time since I can move it around. So unless you can adjust your rooftop panels or, like some, mount them on a stick and swivel them around, a portable panel is a great addition to your energy strategy. I had been thinking of getting a 200 watt to replace our older 130 watt, but as of now, I do not see the need to do so. The 130 watt seems to be doing its job just fine.
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