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Portable Solar Panel


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Back in the early fall, 2008, we had 200 watts solar installed on our Elite.

Last year, we installed a 12v refrigerator, which adds to our electricity appetite. We also picked up an inexpensive Coleman 100 watt panel, to use as a "suitcase" solar, though it doesn't fold.

Last fall, Oliver installed a Furrion port for us. Paul recently wired it to our solar controller.

Today, we had a nice clear day, and I tried some tests on the Coleman panel, just to see what we could expect. Yesterday, Paul covered our existing fixed panels with dark moving blankets, so I could record readings only from the portable panel.

Yesterday, feeling really decadent, I purposely ran down the batteries so I could get to bulk stage charging. Not essy to do, with all led lighting. Ran the front jack up and down a few times. Tried running the power hog furnace fan awhile. But in 78 degree weather, I had to turn it off after awhile. Finally, started today with 20 hours down, leaving both exhaust fans on overnight.

Our $100 /100 watt panel recharged the battery in less than four hours of full sun.

But, when I covered some cells with another blanket, I saw a huge loss of power coming in. Even two cells covered lost 50 per cent. 12 cells covered obliterated any gain.

The good news is, I think I can manage between the cheap portable panel, if i can keep it out of the shade, and our much better quality fixed panels, and not have to run the generator most days.

We honestly didn't expect a lot out of the Coleman, but in full sun, I was getting 5 amps in. It will definitely require attention, though, to keep the batteries up.

Sherry

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Thanks for the report, I have been considering a 120 watt suitcase unit for those shaded sites. But you are killing me....

 

But in 78 degree weather, I had to turn it off after awhile.

 

Here is my concrete cat yard art looking out from under the patio table.....

 

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After the second snowiest February on record we have -15 degree windchill tonight. The sun is sure pretty to look at though, from inside.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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...Even two cells covered lost 50 per cent...

 

Sherry is correct here and this is important to remember folks. Covering even one cell on a panel with a shadow will reduce the panel's output to 50%.  Keeping them clean is just as important.  By the time we got home from Winnipeg this summer, our panels were covered with red dirt.  They were hardly putting out anything. I had to get up there and wash them off in Quartzsite.

Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

      ALAKAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA       ABBCMBNSYTsm.jpg

 

 

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It's great to hear about success with portable panels.  Ours has been a waste so far since we've yet to take it out with us - entirely due to the size/weight and nowhere decent to store it.

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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It’s great to hear about success with portable panels. Ours has been a waste so far since we’ve yet to take it out with us – entirely due to the size/weight and nowhere decent to store it.

 

 

Folding solar blanket, the good side:

 

412FD233-AB00-4B9B-BDC5-DFD54830858B.thumb.jpeg.e415f300670a3b75f9e858d2603ad553.jpeg

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The cables are beautiful, using a really heavy gauge wire and high-amperage Anderson Powerpole connectors.

 

The bad side - they are not yet sold in the USA so you would have to have it shipped in from Oz, they require a charge controller in the RV, and they are the cost of a really nice generator: ... https://www.redarc.com.au/solar-products/solar-blankets

 

A more affordable HardKorr: .... https://fordraptorlights.com/products/hardkorr-150w-flexible-folding-solar-mat

 

I have not seen a Chinese knockoff but I would not be surprised if there is one out there. I would buy a 120 w or larger one for up to $300. It would easily fit on a shelf in the closet or in the rear attic. There are a number of them listed at Alibaba (wholesale) but i haven’t seen them for sale here. ..... https://www.alibaba.com/countrysearch/CN/folding-solar-blanket.html?searchweb=Y&

 

Anybody have a link to one?

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Overland, I have to admit, I'm not to worried about transporting a $100 panel. We experimented with it a bit last fall, but had to use a multimeter to get any readings, as it wasn't yet wired onto the trailer's controller. We just used the little cheap 8.5 that came with it on the Costco sale. I just wrap it in a packing blanket and lay it over crates in the pickup bed. It only weighs about 15 pounds. Easy for me to handle. I think i will try to make an adjustable frame from spare pvc pipe, rather than prop it against milk crates this spring. I'm surprised at how well it works for the sale price.

John, love the blanket solar, but I just picked up 5 100 watt panels (flexible sun power) on a closeout deal for around $2 a watt. These will go on the boat. Even the hard korr is too pricey for me, at $7 plus per watt. Suaoki has some 60 watt blankets on amazon, quite reasonable, but I question the quality. Suaoki used to have a decent rep in the boating community. The amazon reviews were quite mixed.

As we've been shopping for solar for the boat, I am surprised at how much more reasonable pricing has become. But, i still think we're better off with sun power panels in a marine environment. Even if i had to pay twice as much, their rep in flexible panels is pretty strong in the boating forums and reviews... we'll see.

Sherry

 

PS, John, if it makes you feel any better, we've had rain, and the high tomorrow is only in the 60s. Have to dig out the long pants..

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
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An FFI ...

The Coleman panel I'm using is on sale thru 3/29 at costco.com ( not in the store) for $99.

It's an inexpensive way to try portable solar...

 

Sherry

 

Screenshot_20190326-112357_Chrome.thumb.jpg.4eb58ba932e014cf72aeac2d0042f219.jpg

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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I've looked at the solar schematic for new Elite II's....and I see connections from the solar panels to the charge controller.

 

What I don't see is the external port for connection of a portable panel.

 

A couple questions for those who have their Olivers...(mine's not due until August.)

 

1) What type of connector does Oliver factory use for the accessory (portable) solar connection?

 

2) When using a portable panel, does the Oliver factory installed "external solar connector" line go directly to the battery or does it also go to the onboard charge controller?  (In other words does the external panel need it's own charge controller?)

 

I think the current systems being installed are Zamp...  and those portable systems all say...they have their own charge controller, and connect them directly to the battery.

 

Thanks for any feedback.

 

 

 

 

2019 Elite II (Hull 505 - Galway Girl - August 7, 2019 Delivery) 
Tow Vehicle: 2018 F150 EcoBoost, King Ranch, FX4, MaxTow Package, 10 Speed, 3.55 Rear Axle
GVWR 7,000#, Payload Sticker 1557#, Truck GCWR=18,100# ,Tow capacity: 12,200#

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That's a very good question.

On my sister's rpod, the zamp solar port is just a wire and a fuse. But, her trailer had no other solar, so no controller.

On our 2008, we had retrofitted solar, in late 2008.

We added the solar port recently, and my husband wired it to our existing controller, after we checked with the manufacturer to make sure we had the controller capacity.

If you don't have fixed solar on the trailer, you will need a controller, I'm pretty sure...

What is in the new trailers?

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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I haven’t looked at a current production trailer, but this is what they installed in mine (218).

 

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882B1BBD-6A25-44E7-A04F-53F35F2A7745.thumb.jpeg.4f52a05112d93436836ce0fcdb15938e.jpeg

 

The installation instructions call for an inline 10 amp fuse to protect the wiring inside the trailer. Mine did not have one... make sure yours does. The positive and negative wires run directly to the battery, so you need a panel with an onboard charge controller and an output of no more than about 8 amps. A 100 or 120 watt would be perfect.

 

I sourced a compatible 20 amp male plug and high quality Anderson Powerpole connectors to make a heavy gauge power cable to run my ARB fridge (inside my truck) off the trailer when parked. It works dandy. And I can use the cable as an extension for a solar panel in the future. I can post more info if anyone is interested. Here is the plug...https://www.amazon.com/CNLINKO-Industrial-Circular-Connector-Waterproof/dp/B01M4RQ3X1/ref=pd_cp_263_1?pd_rd_w=W9luB&pf_rd_p=ef4dc990-a9ca-4945-ae0b-f8d549198ed6&pf_rd_r=Z19YVZZ7KAH8KQMVWZS6&pd_rd_r=993fda2b-55b9-11e9-bfd2-9b05f136c4af&pd_rd_wg=EJPXx&pd_rd_i=B01M4RQ3X1&psc=1&refRID=Z19YVZZ7KAH8KQMVWZS6

 

It would be nice if they added a picture on the standard features page.

 

I am not at all liking the tacky happy face sun sticker, it needs to come off. It says Solar Charge right on the cover. It’s not even straight ?

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Mine came with a Zamp port and I had the option to pay more for the Furrion. It goes direct to the battery, so the portable panel will need a charge controller on it (which most if not all do). Of course I’m sure you could rewire it to go through the onboard charge controller easily. Just make sure you don’t overload the controller. I’ve never checked if there’s a fuse on the port but my panels (also Zamp) have a fuse on them.

 

I don’t understand the 8 amp limit John. Can you explain?

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Well, if you run 10 amps through it, the fuse will pop. Possibly. I picked 8 amps as a safe 80% load. Most smaller panels are fine, I would not try a 200 watt setup through the Furrion connection. You could always add a second one and use two separate panels and harnesses.

 

If you knew for sure your panel peaked at 10 amps, I guess you could increase the fuse to a 15 amp one without any risk.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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If I were ordering one today it would be a Renogy 100 watt folding suitcase with controller and carry case, it is highly regarded at Expedition Portal. Not my rig... but I love those round ARB LED driving lights, they will absolutely blow out your retinas if you look at them directly.

 

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John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Well, if you run 10 amps through it, the fuse will pop. Possibly. I picked 8 amps as a safe 80% load. Most smaller panels are fine, I would not try a 200 watt setup through the Furrion connection. You could always add a second one and use two separate panels and harnesses.

 

If you knew for sure your panel peaked at 10 amps, I guess you could increase the fuse to a 15 amp one without any risk.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

I see. I think though that if you were going to run an unregulated panel to the trailer that you’d want rewire both the panels and trailer to minimize voltage drop. Something like 4 awg and add an appropriate breaker.

 

That was my original plan but the size of the panels and all that cable made the idea less appealing.

 

I agree with John that the Renology seems to be the best value/highest rated.  When I was buying, it seemed like they never had any in stock, so I went with the Zamp, which is probably just as good of a panel, but about 30% more expensive so not a great buy.  Having said that, I've been seeing reviews of the newer/cheaper polycrystalline panels and if I were buying today, I think I'd look more closely into them.

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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John, thanks for posting the link on the aftermarket male connector for the Furrion port. It's the same one we used. Furrion has not yet made their proprietary connector available, to my knowledge . Paul found the connections a bit tedious, but it's working for us, so far.

There is a zamp to Furrion convertor on the zamp site, and amazon.

These two remind me of vhs and beta battling it out... Furrion ports on a bunch of manufacturers units, Zamp on a bunch of others...

Sherry

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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John, thanks for posting the link on the aftermarket male connector for the Furrion port. It’s the same one we used. Furrion has not yet made their proprietary connector available, to my knowledge . Paul found the connections a bit tedious, but it’s working for us, so far.

 

There is a zamp to Furrion convertor on the zamp site, and amazon.

 

These two remind me of vhs and beta battling it out… Furrion ports on a bunch of manufacturers units, Zamp on a bunch of others…

 

Sherry

 

Plan to install a Furrion exterior inlet like John's unit. Purchased the Renogy 100 solar panel with controller and suitcase. Will go for less than 10 amp fuse if I'm understanding what's been said in this thread so far. Thinking about installing inlet on the exterior next to LP bottle area.

 

Thanks for the information.

Bill

LE2 #75 Tundra

 

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I like the idea of having the port either at the front or the back, so that you don't limit your distance from the trailer if the sun is on the curb side.  You might have an easier time running the wiring from the back though.

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Plan to install a Furrion exterior inlet like John’s unit. Purchased the Renogy 100 solar panel with controller and suitcase. Will go for less than 10 amp fuse if I’m understanding what’s been said in this thread so far. Thinking about installing inlet on the exterior next to LP bottle area

Use a 10 amp, that is the specs for the connector and you don’t need to downsize it.

 

The male plug is rated at 20 amps and you need to use as large a cable as possible. I used 10 AWG and it was a tight fit. Soldering was a little tricky, you need a big iron. The bigger the conductor, the less the voltage drop. This is very important with longer cables when you are using a regulated panel that is only putting out less than 15 volts at best, at its onboard controller.

 

The factory location is ideal, it is super easy to reach it from under the dinette and also to run the cable into the battery compartment.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Would there be any gain by installing the solar controller inside the hull at the port connection?  Theoretically you could run higher voltage from the panel to the controller.  Thinner or longer wires.  Or do all these portable panels max out at 14V anyway?

2018 OLEII #344   |   2018 Ford Expedition


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Typical voltage from an unregulated panel is ~17-18 volts.  You can run two or more in series to increase that voltage though, but you'd want an MPPT charge controller to take advantage of it.

 

Generally though, it's better to have the controller nearer the battery, since it will be measuring the voltage of that circuit to determine its switching.

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have just arrived back to MA with Hull #435 and my only real anxiety over the way I had optioned our New Ollie II was if I should have had the Zamp system installed by Oliver vs Installing my own. I had the portable panel from from my previous camper and had installed its system; which was pretty easy to do. So I decided to skip the solar option and do it again on my own (DIA/DIY (Lol)). I have begun the process:

 

These are the components I have ordered so far:

 

Victron Energy VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle

Victron BlueSolar 75/15 MPPT Charge Controller - 15 Amps / 75 Volts

 

To go along with my existing HQST 100 watt semi flex solar panel.

 

I am thinking of adding a monitor but not sure if I want to just get a simple monitor for just the solar or upgrade to a full RV monitor system like the Simarine.

 

https://www.simarine.net/product/pico-battery-monitor/

 

I will keep you posted on how it goes.

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States our Ollie II has been:


CTDEMEMDMANHNJNYPARITNVTVAWVmed.jpg


 

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No I did not have it installed. They said it was very easy to do.

 

Here are the parts I ordered to install the port.

 

Furrion FSPINS-PS White RV Solar Port Inlet

SolarEnz Adapter for Solar Panel Suitcase 2 Pin Power Industrial Circular Connector and MC4 Connector

 

When I get started on the install I will start a new thread and submit photos and let you know how it goes.

States our Ollie II has been:


CTDEMEMDMANHNJNYPARITNVTVAWVmed.jpg


 

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I have just arrived back to MA with Hull #435 and my only real anxiety over the way I had optioned our New Ollie II was if I should have had the Zamp system installed by Oliver vs Installing my own. I had the portable panel from from my previous camper and had installed its system; which was pretty easy to do. So I decided to skip the solar option and do it again on my own (DIA/DIY (Lol)). I have begun the process:

 

These are the components I have ordered so far:

 

Victron Energy VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle

 

Victron BlueSolar 75/15 MPPT Charge Controller – 15 Amps / 75 Volts

 

To go along with my existing HQST 100 watt semi flex solar panel.

 

I am thinking of adding a monitor but not sure if I want to just get a simple monitor for just the solar or upgrade to a full RV monitor system like the Simarine.

 

https://www.simarine.net/product/pico-battery-monitor/

 

I will keep you posted on how it goes.

 

Since you’re getting the Victron charge controller, I’d highly recommend that you get a Victron monitor as well. Not only is it highly rated but you’ll have the option to later add the Victron color control which is a super nice upgrade.

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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