solar controller location - advice needed

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by northpoletim, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. northpoletim

    northpoletim New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2019
    Totally new to solar, but I picked up a 50W panel and a Renogy Wandered 10A controller. I'm planning to use the panel in a portable setup (not mounted to the trailer). Now I'm trying to figure out the wiring and where to put the controller, but getting a little lost.

    I have a 2003 Coleman Carmel popup, with a battery by the hitch and a converter at the back. The options I've thought about are:
    1. Put controller near the battery (inside or outside with weatherproofing box). Wires from the battery to controller, panel to controller. Optionally take the wires currently going to the battery (to the converter) and hook them to the 'load' terminals on the controller.
    2. Put controller near the converter. I haven't had a chance to look at my converter wiring yet, but I'm assuming there's a wire going directly from the battery to the converter right now. Take that off the converter and hook it to the battery terminals on the controller. Then add wires from the controller's 'load' terminals to the converter. Then wires to the panels.
    3. Put controller on the back of the solar panel. Seems the easiest, but the controller manual warns that I need to connect to the battery before the panel. So I'd have to be sure to disconnect one of the wires from the controller to the panel, connect to the battery, and then reconnect the wire from the controller to panel. Plus weatherproof the controller.
    4. Or are there better options I'm not thinking of?
    I've spent several hours trying to figure this out, but getting lost. So thought I'd just ask!

    Also, do I need to disconnect the controller from the battery when driving or when connected to AC power?

    Thanks, in advance, for your advice to this solar newbie!

     
  2. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

    Messages:
    3,108
    Likes Received:
    272
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Thornville, OH
    I would only use the panel and battery connection on the controler. Load would be if you want to run a light dusk to dawn, etc..

    Run the battery wires parallel to you current battery wiring. At either the battery or converter. Use a fuse
     
  3. northpoletim

    northpoletim New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2019
    Thanks. If placing it near the converter (and without using the load terminals) then would I connect the controller's 'battery' terminals in parallel to both the battery and to the converter? Using a junction box?
     
  4. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    315
    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    When I was using my panel as a portable I ran 2 bolts through the front lip of the battery box so that I could hang the controller there when camping. It was weather protected by the front bunk and had a very short run to the battery. If you don't like that you should mount it inside the camper as near to the battery as possible.

    Do not share wires with the current camper wiring or use the frame for ground. Run both wires directly from the battery connection of the controller to the battery posts. You should fuse the positive wire if it's run into the camper. I have 2 fuses, one at the battery and one at the controller.

    The only advantage you would get from the load connection is a low voltage disconnect, but disconnect at 10.8 volts does not protect your battery much and it's limited to 10 amps or less.
     
  5. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    141
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Location:
    Thousand Oaks CA
    Put your controller as close to the battery as possible. On my Carmel, I velccroed the controller to the battery box. Large alligator clips connected to the battery with two feet of 8g wire (fused), and 20 feet of 10g landscape site from the panel to the controller. Totally portable- when I packed up, the controller and wire went into the panel case, all ready for the next trip.
    It would be and mostly protected from the weather by the front bunk.
    As the controller gets farther from the battery, you'll potentially have voltage drop issues.
     
  6. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,267
    Likes Received:
    765
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Location:
    Elkins WV area
    I have my controller mounted in a Dewalt drill case close to the battery. Being close I can put the temperature sensor on the battery. I leave the case open for heat dissipation, and can close when raining. I use Anderson connector's to hook everything together
     
  7. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,156
    Likes Received:
    237
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Location:
    Raynham, MA
    I have my controller sitting on top of my battery box when it's hooked up. I use these:
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rig-Rite-400-Trolling-Motor-Quick-Disconnect/25991393
    [​IMG]
    to connect it to the battery (They are 10 gauge)

    I might get around to putting two screws in my frame to hang the controller off of, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

    When I'm not using the controller (travelling, storage) I have a little plastic toolbox that is filled with foam rubber I cut out to hold the controller. Protects it real nice.
     
  8. northpoletim

    northpoletim New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2019
    Wow, it's so helpful to hear how everyone has theirs set up. Great ideas here! I hadn't considered a temporary setup for the controller, but that could work really well in my situation where I'm not often using solar. Would love to hear what others do as well.
     
  9. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    1,381
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    I also plan to keep everything portable myself. However I considered putting the controller in my front storage box. However I saw a downside to that and may do what others have done and just keep it on the battery box under the cover if the bunk. With perhaps a smaller plastic box to make it a tad more waterproof.
     
  10. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    315
    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    The controller needs air flow for cooling while in use.
     
  11. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    1,381
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    . Thanks for the heads up. Back to the drawing board I guess.
     
  12. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

    Messages:
    3,108
    Likes Received:
    272
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Thornville, OH
    The simplest way is as Steve mentioned run the wires to the battery. But you could run the battery plus wire from the controler to an unused fuse location on the converter and fuse it, and run the battery neg from the controler to neg location on the converter or anyone neg/ground location.
     
  13. brwarrior

    brwarrior Active Member

    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    66
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2017
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    I mounted my controller (30A Wanderer) under the front "couch". Technically I'm 1" short of vertical clearance per the manual but it's the best I could do. I just lift the cushion to peak at it for status. I had previously used a spare Group 24 battery box but it wasn't that water or dust tight.
     
  14. hayyward

    hayyward Active Member

    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    110
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Location:
    Packerland
    What about adding length to the wires from the converter to the panel so you can chase the sun? Is it a simple splice to add same gauge wire?

    Edited to add: I'm looking at two models:
    1. Dokio 150W for $169.00
    2. Coleman 100W for $159.99
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  15. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Messages:
    6,549
    Likes Received:
    248
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2006
    Location:
    TX
    that 'coleman' controller is junk!

    I used 12g landscape wire to extend cuz HD doesn't stock 10g. Pair of wires, one has ridges to identify at other end! flexible.
    disconnect the alligator clips wire from the screw terminals on the controller, add wire and splice the alligator wires to the end keeping polarity correct. A nice but splice crimp with heatshrink + heatshrink.
    https://www.harborfreight.com/10-pack-10-12-gauge-watertight-heat-shrink-butt-connectors-66597.html

    https://www.harborfreight.com/42-piece-marine-heat-shrink-tubing-67598.html
     
    hayyward likes this.
  16. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,267
    Likes Received:
    765
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Location:
    Elkins WV area
    Between the two, I would go with the Dokio. I am using 2 100 watt Host panels that I found on flea bay, and a 30 amp Rich Solar MPPT controller. My panels are 50ft away from the controller with 10-2 wire.
     
    hayyward likes this.
  17. hayyward

    hayyward Active Member

    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    110
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Location:
    Packerland
    Thanks for that info, who'd have thought Coleman would brand junk.

    The Dokio 150W doesn't mention a controller in the description but it shows one in the picture. A different model, HQST 100W ($189) has a 10A PWM Controller. Not having a clue as to what any of that means, I found a good website describing it:
    www.enerdrive.com

    It's a steep learning curve, I think my brain just flatlined. I sure appreciate all the knowledge and experience of everyone in this portal!
     
  18. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    780
    Likes Received:
    409
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2017
    Location:
    New Plymouth, ID
    I have 2 100 watt HQST (rebadged Renogy) panels mounted on the roof in tiltable mounts, & currently my controller is mounted inside the lid of one of the battery boxes. I've read this is not the best location for one, but no issues so far. When my current batteries die, I plan on replacing them with 2 T-105s, & a waterproof controller I can mount on the side of the battery box, like this one:
    https://smile.amazon.com/Renogy-Voy...gateway&sprefix=renogy+voyager,aps,199&sr=8-3
     
  19. David Blackwell

    David Blackwell Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    33
    Joined:
    May 10, 2017
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Hi NorthPoleTim - I remember when I first started getting interested in solar power for camping. It can be really confusing. A lot of the members here have covered similar issues and going over some of their posts/questions/discussion can be worth your time. Do a search on posts with "solar" in the title. In the link below at #17, I mention a few sites that were very helpful to me on my own learning curve.

    Just to short-circuit your plans and cut to the key element: You need to set the goal first. For example, in my case I wanted to be completely off-grid/dry-camping (and hopefully catching fish) for 3-5 days until our food runs out. Many others simply want to charge a phone or two and maybe a laptop. It really depends on what you want to accomplish.

    The second key element is to plan first rather than simply start buying stuff. I threw more money than I care to mention at crap that didn't work in trying to reach my goal.

    Hope that helps.

    http://www.popupportal.com/threads/shopping-solar.121749/#post-1246125
     
    Garrity and hayyward like this.
  20. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Active Member

    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2019
    not much it don’t, speaking from experience with a less efficient Renogy Wanderer
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.