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Old 01-13-2020, 06:35 AM   #1
redfernclan
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wiring portable solar panel

I have a Passport 2012 2100RB that did not come with solar option. Purchased a solar panel from costco that puts out 5.8 amps. Plan on attaching a piece of plywood on panel and keeping it portable. Use it like a side walk sign.
Controller is not water tight-can not mount on tongue and would rather not put in in the battery box- too much acid.
Looking around and came across the light for the pass through storage up front. Idea is to mount controller in pass through storage, use adapter to tie into light for storage compartment that would tie controller to batteries. Run wires from controller to bulkhead fitting with plug in on outside of trailer. Have 25 ft wires coming off of solar panel [14 gauge] with quick disconnect.

Pull into spot and set up. put up panel and plug into connector. Done.
Would this work? Any problem back feeding the batteries? Controller says to mount withing 5 ft of batteries but I don't know why.
Wires for light should handle 5.8 amps MAX so wire size should not be an issue.
I know enough to be dangerous, that's what scares me.
Other option is mount the controller on the back of panel and hope it stays dry.
Not really an option, as I live in Oregon, get it?
Thank you all for any ideas and thoughts.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:08 AM   #2
danf
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You might try over here with that question:


https://forum.solar-electric.com/cat...-power-systems


I live off grid and installed my own equipment. The wire length limit for the controller is likely due to voltage drop. In order to charge properly, you have to have as little voltage drop as possible. Having said that, you could probably get away with a little more distance but you really don't want to it to be too long.



Not knowing the wiring diagram, I would wire directly to the battery.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:01 AM   #3
flybouy
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Wire length has been explained above. Connecting to a pass thru light is a bad idea, that wire travels back to the distribution panel, thru the fuse, and back out of the panel all the way back to the battery.

Why not just take some 14 gauge wire from the battery with an in line fuse holder to the controller mounted in the pass thru?
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:03 AM   #4
redfernclan
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I was thinking voltage drop and that would explain it. Too much and it would over charge the batteries. Thanks, kind of confirms my worries.
Maybe I could just mount a weather proof box next to the batteries? I'll see if I can find some sort of box.
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:23 AM   #5
flybouy
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Originally Posted by redfernclan View Post
I was thinking voltage drop and that would explain it. Too much and it would over charge the batteries. Thanks, kind of confirms my worries.
Maybe I could just mount a weather proof box next to the batteries? I'll see if I can find some sort of box.
Depending upon the physical size of the controller I'm sure you can find a weatherproof box to accommodate.
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Old 01-13-2020, 11:12 AM   #6
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Here is the box I use for my battery monitor shunt. It is mounted on the tongue of the trailer and it does a good job keeping the shunt dry, it may work for you.

https://www.amazon.com/SOCKiTBOX-Wea.../dp/B009RX5GI2

You may also have some luck searching for “waterproof combiner boxes”.

Good luck
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Old 01-13-2020, 03:07 PM   #7
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IMO, don't use 14 gauge with 12v dc system. Looks like drop will be .29v over 10 feet at 12v and 5.8a. Kinda surprised the controller would spec out 14 gauge. This may help https://www.calculator.net/voltage-drop-calculator.html IMO, I wouldn't use anything smaller then #10.



Depending on what you have for a panel and the type of charge controller, it's possible the battery will see greater than 5.8a at times. If it's a standard "12v" panel and a PWM controller then probably not, but if the panel is greater voltage and you have an MPPT controller, you will.



If you go with bigger wire, you may not have to replace it if you decide to add panels.
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:08 PM   #8
redfernclan
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controller does not spec out 14 gauge, it is actually about 18 gauge. The 14 gauge is what I am using from the panel to the controller. Sounds like controller is getting mounted on the tongue somehow.
Thanks for all the points.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:16 AM   #9
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I have my controller in a water tight utility box mounted to the battery box. I used 10awg wire between the controller and battery. I use 50 amp plug similar to this DEFEND INDUST 50A 6-10 Gauge Universal Battery Connect Quick Disconnect Wire Harness Plugs with Handle for Winch Auto Car Trailer Driver Electrical Devices,2Pcs https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T723RT9..._hXXhEbCQZ11HZ to connect the solar panel, just keep it lube with dielectric grease and capped when not being used.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by fbird77 View Post
I have my controller in a water tight utility box mounted to the battery box. I used 10awg wire between the controller and battery. I use 50 amp plug similar to this DEFEND INDUST 50A 6-10 Gauge Universal Battery Connect Quick Disconnect Wire Harness Plugs with Handle for Winch Auto Car Trailer Driver Electrical Devices,2Pcs https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T723RT9..._hXXhEbCQZ11HZ to connect the solar panel, just keep it lube with dielectric grease and capped when not being used.
This is total overkill for the OP's application.

From his description he has this https://www.coostc.com/coleman-100w-...100389117.html

The 8.5 amps is the MAX allowed by the controller.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:33 PM   #11
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Yes it is overkill. I use that connector because it's easy to cap off, plug and unplug, you keep it greased it'll stay corrosion free. I find that it's an easier plug for me to use than the mc4.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:09 PM   #12
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“Pull into spot and set up. put up panel and plug into connector. Done.”
Unfortunately, not done. You’ll have to rotate the panel and adjust the angle ever so often to track the sun, otherwise you’ll never get the full benefit. Been there, done with that. I ended up mounting mine flat on the trailer roof. Not optimum, but I don’t have to worry about them. I was always banging the panels into something while moving them. Don’t forget about the wind possibly knocking it over and breaking the panel. Depending on where you are, it might even grow legs. All that didn’t work for me, it may work fine for you.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:47 PM   #13
redfernclan
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Thanks again for all of the tips and tricks. All good things to consider. Now I'm almost thinking of wiring in a pigtail to the batteries and just having a connector mounted to the tongue. Plug in controller, plug in panel and go with it. Of course, have a cable and lock to stop it from running away. We don't use a huge amount of power, just looking for something to bring the batteries back a bit if we decide to watch a movie or something. As far as adjusting it, I'm getting old a feeling it more and more. Sitting in camp having a cold one or two as I adjust the panel as the wife walks around the lake sounds pretty good
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:48 PM   #14
fbird77
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A lot of depends on where and how you camp. I've been at camp sites where a stationary panel wether on the camper or ground suffices. Most sites I get a stationary panel would only work for at most a couple of hours. I have thought about a panel fixed on the roof and a second to chase the sun.
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:24 PM   #15
redfernclan
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I had a 23 ft Nash with a really good set up on the roof so I kind of know what to expect. Even on a cloudy day under the trees I could still get about 1.5 amps out of the panel and that suited us just fine. I figure if I can move a panel around and aim it, it can only get better. I'll post again when it's all wired. I'm sure I'm not the only one who bought one of those panels.
Thanks again for all of the points and tips!
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redfernclan View Post
Thanks again for all of the tips and tricks. All good things to consider. Now I'm almost thinking of wiring in a pigtail to the batteries and just having a connector mounted to the tongue. Plug in controller, plug in panel and go with it. Of course, have a cable and lock to stop it from running away. We don't use a huge amount of power, just looking for something to bring the batteries back a bit if we decide to watch a movie or something. As far as adjusting it, I'm getting old a feeling it more and more. Sitting in camp having a cold one or two as I adjust the panel as the wife walks around the lake sounds pretty good
I'm all for the "KISS" policy in mods of this type. If you're thinking of mounting the panel on plywood and making a sandwich sign type of stand then good. You can mount the controller on the backside out of the weather. The closer to the panel the better.#10 wire from the controller to the sidewall solar port. The port wires directly to the battery distribution block with a 10a inline fuse. That's all you need to park, set up and charge the batteries.
If you want to watch a little TV, I'd suggest running #10 wire from your battery distribution block to your entertainment center and installing a 500/750w inverter just for the TV. Simple, easy and inexpensive
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:32 AM   #17
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Just a couple things. 1) It would be much lighter to use PVC the same way you are using the plywood. Attach a pipe on the top back, then attach a u of pipe to that so you can hinge it out to support your panel. 2) A 60 watt panel like yours will only produce about 300wh per day. This means your daily usage could only be about 200 watts or so if this is your soul charge source. On a mild night a furnace would use more than that. 3) I have helped several people simply screw their controller into the inside of the top of the battery box. You can always get a bigger box, or a cooler with a vent hole added on the back.
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Old 01-19-2020, 10:07 AM   #18
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I purchased solar panels from Harbor Freight w/ solar charge controller (not weather resistant). My trailer is a little Bullet Premier bumper pull. It has a connector alleged to be for solar panels on the front of the frame; however, after much looking both online and at the trailer, I could not find the other end of this 'connector'. My solution: mount the controller in the 'pass-through' on a wall up out of the way so it won't get damaged from cargo loading or shifting. I also mounted a fuse block and grounding bar coincidentally. I ran a 10G stranded wire from the fuse block / grounding bar through the floor (with calking) and directly to the batteries on the tongue. One connection on the fuse block is connected to the controller, another is connected to a cigarette lighter plug next to the bed for my C-PAP, another is connect to only an Anderson Power connector for accessories.

Granted, to use the solar panels, I have to set them up, open the cargo door and run the wire into the cargo storage and connect it to the controller; however when I'm charging with solar I don't expect rain.

This installation gave me a fused circuit for the solar controller, the 12V cigarette lighter plug, and I have room for additional accessories if / when I want.

It would have been nice if Keystone would have published the specs so I could find their connection at both ends, but lacking that information I developed a solution that works for me.
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Old 01-19-2020, 10:41 AM   #19
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LCrabtree, I have a 2019 Bullet 248RKS that I bout with a boondocking kit(?). It has a jack for the portable solar on the driver’s side. It has a flip-up cover. It fits the plug of the solar panel. I use the jack to check battery charge state.
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Old 01-19-2020, 03:52 PM   #20
redfernclan
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I ended up just siliconing the controller to the under side of the battery cover. If the acid eats it up, I'll move it. Cheap controller anyway. I then wired the other end to a bulkhead connector on the battery cover. Put 25 ft of wire on the back of the panel with a connector for the bulkhead fitting. If were dry camping, I'll take the panel, set it up and plug it in. Rain of shine, should do the trick. Don't use the furnace when we are dry camping so it's just to top off the batteries for the water pump, lights and maybe a movie.
Thanks for all the tips!
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