Best solar panels and inverter for no hookup

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by jcrew6311, May 6, 2020.

  1. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Will be camping end of May without hookups and am considering solar panel with something to allow us to charge phones, tv with DVD, and keep battery topped off for lights etc. We have a Fleetwood Niagara. I know there are hundreds of options out there so I'm just curious what you all have found to be best value for what you get.
     
  2. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member

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    depends if you really prize $ value above ease to procure/operate, reliability etc. Some of us pay more for Renogy gear, but you don't have to. For example, I have a $10 charge controller on my yard gate PV system and its doing OK (so far).
     
  3. ezakoske

    ezakoske Active Member

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    I would have like to have gotten the Renogy suitcase, but settled for a lightweight flexible 100W panel that I put up on the roof before I raise it and an inexpensive controller - both from ebay. So far so good.
     
  4. slowcarfast

    slowcarfast Member

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    I don't have any first hand experience, but I'm planning to try grape solar panel from Home Depot (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Grape-S...ts-and-12-Volt-Systems-GS-Star-100W/204211365) with a MPPT controller from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Controller-D.../B07BHKJSFN/ref=psdc_2236627011_t1_B01GMUPH0O). Read some good things about these pieces. We shall see. Plus a frame for the panel and wiring and connectors for a clean install. I intend to leave the panel unmounted from the pup with a length of wire so I can move it around the campsite.

    As for charging devices, I don't currently intend to install an inverter. Just use 12v adapters, and you could use a portable 12v inverter for the TV.
     
  5. A-Ranger12

    A-Ranger12 Active Member

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    Something that is easy to set up and take down. Otherwise, it will gather dust in the garage instead of generating power.

    Our new to us Aliner came with a small Zamp suitcase solar panel. Take it out, put on the ground, plug it in, and walk away.
     
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  6. bearman512

    bearman512 Well-Known Member

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    Slowcarfast the PV is good but you will never be able to justify a MPPT controller on such a small system.
    Just put a Renogy Wanderer 10Amp PWM controller for under $20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NPDWZJ7/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 you can purchase a Bluetooth transmitter for $40 https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Bluet...th+Module&qid=1588941258&s=lawn-garden&sr=1-1
     
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  7. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    I reclaimed a gifted ecoworthy folding 100w, bypassed the controller for one inside (viewstar), use SAE connections (wired 10g) and 12g landscape wire. With the plugs slightly apart I can check panel voltage. Leave it 24/7 to maintain battery.

    SAE.jpg panel.jpg
     
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  8. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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  9. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    I got the below solar panel from amazon. At the time it was on sale. I wanted the suitcase style but of course that wasn’t on sale. It was almost plug and play if I bought the correct wires leading to the battery. I’m not going to fix the panel to anything except maybe to build a cheap frame to prop it up to get optimal sun. I need to keep the panel movable so I can chase the sun. I camp under a lot of leaf cover. I got it last season and it worked great when I had the sun. One campground I spent a lot of time chasing the sun as the trees were so dense so hardly managed to recover my usage power for the day there. That was expected though, just something to keep in mind.

    HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit with 10A PWM LCD Display Charge Controller

    Sold by: HQSTSolar
     
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  10. slowcarfast

    slowcarfast Member

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    At what point do you think MPPT becomes worthwhile? I have thoughts of expanding slightly but probably not more than 200-300W of panels. And I do have a tendency towards overkill. I want to be able to boondock with some heater use (propane). Probably makes sense to start with a cheap controller though and see how it works for me.

    I don't know anything other than a little bit of time reading things from strangers on the internet!
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  11. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    When ya can get an extra 100w panel for the difference in price (pwm vs mppt).
    When ya need to series connect panels (mppt can accept higher input voltage) or use bigger high voltage panels, like 300w '24v' panel.

    I think I paid $25 for a ViewStar 1024BN that now lists for $75. I wanted the LCD screen display. MPPT can be had for about the same price, PWM even cheaper.

    https://hqsolarpower.com/on-sale/
     
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  12. slowcarfast

    slowcarfast Member

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    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  13. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    manual for controller
    http://www.srnesolar.com/Private/Files/637033780889172656999450022.pdf

    I look at the voltages on the last page, 14.4v (they call it boost voltage) and boost charge time (2H), fairly standard for a 'flooded' battery setting, that controller only has one setting. Boost time is how long it holds temp corrected 14.4v once the battery has reached that voltage. Other will have parameters for SLD, GEL also.
    I also look at float voltage, this is the maintenance mode voltage (13.8v) should be OK for most flooded batteries.
    most all controllers have temp correction so that is good.

    For more money you might be able to find controller that is somewhat or fully programable, the above settings will work.
     
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  14. West Coast Canuck

    West Coast Canuck Jumped to the dark side ......

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    I have a Go Power 120 watt suitcase folding solar panel with a built in digital charge controller. It reads the battery charge level as well. I also bought a 30’ extension cable to to keep the panel in the sun as much as possible. At full sun, I get 6.7 amps
     
  15. Mark CASTELLANI

    Mark CASTELLANI Member

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    going to be watching this thread... we just bought the Harbor Freight "Thunderbolt" 100w system. Have only "plugged-in" to shore power once and we want to try Solar as means to keep the battery charged as we're doing more and more early Spring and late Fall camping and using the heater blower more. It may not be the "best" setup but, for less than $150.00, we'll give it a try
     
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  16. Ed Llorca

    Ed Llorca New Member

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    I was in the same spot you are in and this is what I came up with. I bought a used 'home size' panel on craigslist for $100 it is a 300W panel. Why so big? because we all like to camp under shady trees so there might only be good sunlight to charge for a couple or three hours and you need to make those count. I would have bought bigger but they get heavy. that is a 40V panel so I had to buy a controller. Victron MPPT blue on amazon for $70 has a great battery charger (4-stage) so your batteries will last longer and it has a cutoff so you don't empty your batteries completely. It also has a bluetooth connection so I can monitor the system from anywhere on the campsite. I use an old phone for that and it also controls the stereo. For batteries I bought two costco golf cart batteries ($120 each) way cheaper than Trojan. I also got a xantrex inverter (ebay) for limited 110 power. It took a bit to install and wire but it came out perfect. Since my trailer was nose heavy by design I put the batteries in the back to help a little bit with trailer balance as a fringe benefit.
     
  17. taztig

    taztig New Member

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    Not a bad idea but would find a temp mounting solution for supporting wind gusts that can pop up at any time.
     
  18. DM27

    DM27 New Member

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    We camp without hookups for 2 weeks each fall. I had the cheap $20 controller before and upgraded to this Renogy MPPT controller:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DNW1755/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    Yes, I'm sure the efficiency gain with only a 100W panel is small, but I like the additional features on the controller, where I can see how many amps its producing and how many amp hours/day it puts into the batteries. The $20 controller only shows voltage, which doesn't tell you how many amps it's producing. Plus I'm well set to add additional panels in the future. I've left both the panel and controller unmounted so I can move it if I'm camped in a shady spot.
     
  19. Ed Llorca

    Ed Llorca New Member

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    Forgot to mention you need to do a power budget first and foremost otherwise you may build a system too small for what you want.
     

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