Jump to content

HOW TO: Remote mount the controller of a suitcase solar panel (not inside the trailer)


Recommended Posts

EDIT 05/10/21: related thread:   ...  https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/3247-how-to-external-solar-dc-power-cable-using-factory-furrion-port/

IMG_4237.thumb.JPG.bdf0598f9b911b065c825a71ebfcca7f.JPG

Some background.... most panels will come with standards MC4 connectors, which can use with up to 10 AWG wire and are waterproof.

2142298145_SolarMC4Connector.thumb.png.beb82b6d0da3f0a37774ff66882854e5.png

But if you have one disconnected and drop it in the dirt it will fill with crud, so you would need to spray that out with contact cleaner or alcohol. Anderson Powerpoles are used extensively in ham radio and other applications, they are not at all waterproof, but they are self cleaning by design, the spring loaded contacts "wipe" each other when you plug them in. They are more compact and they are color coded. The connectors are goof proof, they cannot be plugged in backwards. For this application the 30 amp bonded pair connectors are appropriate for the wire size. You must use their ratcheting crimper or a version of it. I replaced every existing MC4 connector with the Powerpoles.

 

1616987898_AndersonPowerpole.thumb.png.a8213fb0f092f52d59f50ee43830fe2c.png

My 100 watt Renogy solar suitcase came with the PWM controller mounted on a hinged flap, this is perfectly fine if the panel is to be used say 10 feet away, but you cannot place it much further because resistance losses along the wires will reduce the charging voltage at the batteries. The controller reduces the 18 to 20 volt panel voltage to say 14.5 volts, and it is less at the trailer. Ideally the controller should be located RIGHT at the batteries, and the panel itself can be far away. The (almost) full panel voltage is delivered to the controller, and at that point the controller reduces that value to charge your system. How far away you can place it depends on the wire gauge, the bigger the wire, the less voltage drop along the run (you must calculate the two wires as a pair, the "in and back" distance).

I happened to have some of these neat MTM in-safe storage boxes, the small size fits beautifully. The price is for three, they also have a 12" long version if you want a little more internal volume).

IMG_0165.thumb.jpeg.734743dca94215dbc22432f9816f8023.jpeg

I mounted the controller using long 1/8" pop rivets with washers. I drilled a couple of 3/8" holes at each end so the cables could be fed through and the lid closed. It is not at all waterproof, but it is splash proof. The controller itself is advertised as "rainproof". (Older versions were NOT.) I color coded the connectors with self adhesive heat shrink tubing so that when swapping them it would be clear which was which.

IMG_4239.thumb.JPG.7e180f38b0037dd71b82973ce21384ec.JPG

I modified my existing Furrion solar port harness (used with my ARB fridge in the truck) by splicing in a short pigtail. The wire is 12 AWG solar cable, for exterior use. It is very tough but not very flexible. In this pic, the solar panel is 20 feet away, and the controller box is tucked up on top of the front tire, for rain protection and so it won't get stepped on. The BAT lead is fully extended (not coiled inside).

IMG_4236.thumb.JPG.9ef53fbb5af78f7712433a87b2f5364e.JPG

The charging section for my ARB fridge is coiled up when not needed (or it could be used as an extra 5 foot extension, if the fridge is not being used):

IMG_4231.thumb.JPG.a90d1949881ab70f712425a39c74a9ef.JPG

Or the box can be placed on the ground:

IMG_4226.thumb.JPG.f539655e25081a9180c816b0112beffb.JPG

Or connected directly to a battery using the supplied alligator clips. You can add an additional 20 feet of cable, 40 feet total, it doesn't affect the charging amps.:

IMG_4223.thumb.JPG.1110bd786f499b2784cfd38b2e35721d.JPG

I added strain relief ties to reduce stresses on the screw connections.

IMG_4221.thumb.JPG.c5363237ac2993806f41ccb599069edc.JPG

IMG_4213.thumb.JPG.79983fd252c814fde15da5bd1b005c9d.JPG

Everything, including the extension cables, fits in the folded unit. I will hopefully get to test this in a few days, I will be camping in a shady site, if the sun shines I can try it out.

John Davies
Spokane WA

 

  • Like 2

"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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • The title was changed to HOW TO: Remote mount the controller of a suitcase solar panel (not inside the trailer)

I am camped at Kettle Falls (Lake Roosevelt COE) campground and the solar exposure is not great in the afternoon due to trees, so I set up the Renogy panel in a bright spot using 40 feet of cable. No worries, I am seeing a steady 6.5 to 6.8 amps, and the big rooftop ones are only putting out half that, and it is highly variable. Yay, I am pleased. Highly recommended mod!

John Davies

Spokane WA

1A65A390-9C79-4C00-9C17-8A777C77A91C.jpeg

4FB4D453-EC5F-40F5-AB6F-EC9D851CBD91.jpeg

  • Like 1

"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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...