Really happy with the solar purchase I made

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by tfischer, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    Back in May I bought a portable solar panel system, knowing we were going to be camping 7 days/6 nights off the grid at Yellowstone. Now that we've done that trip, and a few shorter ones, I can say I'm very happy with this solar panel setup.

    Here's a link to what we purchased: unfortunately, it looks like it's currently unavailable, but maybe the company has switched to a newer model or something: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H9V9NZW

    We didn't go crazy with power usage at Yellowstone, but we ran plenty of lights (LED), charged up 4 cell phones and 2 Apple Watches every night, and occasionally flashlights, camera batteries, etc via the 12V system, had the furnace running on some chilly nights, water pump, fans during the afternoon, etc. Every morning the voltage had dipped down a little, but every evening it was topped off and then some. I believe we could have camped indefinitely with this setup... and that was with the panel spending time in only partial sun at best, as we had a pretty heavily treed site.

    I brought along our generator as backup, hoping not to need it, and we never even unpacked it.

    I did modify the setup so I can mount the controller right by the battery, and the long wire from the panel to the popup has the higher voltage from the panel, rather than the lower stepped-down post-controller voltage, which accounts for voltage drop better. I made 15' and 25' extension cords and so far have just chained them together every time we've camped so that I can put it 40' away in a sunny spot.

    Here's the Amazon review I wrote back in June about it. I'm a little less concerned about the legs now than I was then, as they've held up fine:

    Got this for our pop-up camper so that we can extend our time without shore power and generators. The setup is great, and the panel seems to be well constructed.

    So far I'm happy with this purchase. I deducted a star for the following reasons:
    * The legs are quite flimsy. So far they work well but I wouldn't trust them with a harsh wind, and definitely not significant weight being placed on them (e.g. a little kid leaning/sitting in them)
    * The controller doesn't tell you how many watts are amps is being pumped into your battery. That seems to be a strange omission, more important than voltage which it does report. My battery definitely charges with this panel, but I can't tell how many of the 150W actually make it there. Someday I'll probably replace the controller. I did a bunch of googling trying to figure out how to show the wattage, because this is such a basic thing, finally found a site selling the same controller saying it doesn't do it.
    * The bag is great, but it ripped at the zipper seam the first time we took it out. My wife repaired it, and I've been extra careful the last few trips and it's held up so far.

    It's more efficient if you use a long wire from the panel to the controller and a shorter wire from the controller to the battery, so I removed the controller and added additional quick connects so I can do that. I also added a quick connect to our camper battery so I can just plug this in rather than have to remove the battery box cover and use the clamps.

    All in all I like this setup and would recommend it.​
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  2. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that seems to happen with most of the Dokio products, possibly they just can't keep up with the demand. I have had one of their 100 watt soft folding panels for about 3 years and am well pleased with it. The controller, however, was upgraded almost immediately. They're still competitively priced even if you don't count any value for the controller.
     
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  3. PeterS

    PeterS New Member

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    Since the price is not listed on amazon, can you say how much you paid for the setup?
     
  4. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    About $170, IIRC
     
  5. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    What did you end up using for quick connects? MC4 or Anderson, or something else?
     
  6. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    How is it connected to the batteries?
     
  7. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    It comes with alligator clamps that you can use to connect to the battery. I didn't want to always pop open my battery box so I added a connector to the battery that I can just plug it in.

    I don't know what the connectors are called, but it's the ones that many trickle chargers, etc use. Looks like the "4 flat" trailer connector except only two pins, one male and one female.

    OK doing some googling they're called "SAE 2 pin connectors". They are available cheaply from Amazon.
     
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  8. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    Here's what I ordered from Amazon. The top one is what is connected to my battery (permanently) and lets me just plug in the solar panel (it has fuse and weather cover for the plug when not in use). The bottom ones are what I used to make extension cords with, and also made it so I can put the controller right next to the battery.
     

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  9. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    Perfect. Thx. I’m about to buy a panel/controller combo. How long is your extension cord?
     
  10. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    Sorry. Just saw the length in the op
     
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  11. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    I only got a 100 watt panel. Mine didn't come with legs but I figured I could Jerry rig something or just lean it up against something. Im also very happy I purchased it. The controller it came with will be the first to go, but I have time. It sure comes in handy to give the battery a quiet charge, I may have to put a lock on mine so I don't have to constantly remove it every time I want to leave camp.
     
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