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Old 01-13-2019, 07:26 PM   #1
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100W portable solar

I have a 100W Renogy solar panel (I may add more panels in the future) and 30 amp controller that I need to connect to my camper and I have a few questions. My thought is to make a few short wires and connect only as many as necessary.

1. Do I need a special type of wire?

2. I know larger wire is better but what gauge do I need for 3 or 4 15 foot extensions? Or is that length unreasonable?

3. Is there more resistance with two 15 foot wires connected with a MC4 connector than in one 30 foot wire?

4. Is there a suitable 2 strand wire (similar to a lamp cord) that I could use?

5. I have seen special crimp tools for the MC4, do I need this or will the crimp pliers that I have work?

Any other info you think will help is appreciated.

Thanks,
Ed
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:23 PM   #2
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1. Do I need a special type of wire?
Yes and no. You need stranded wire of the correct gauge that can fit standard solar connectors. If you don't, it will be a headache

2. I know larger wire is better but what gauge do I need for 3 or 4 15 foot extensions? Or is that length unreasonable?
It depends on where you're mounting this. That length is VERY long for DC solar. I would suggest a 15ft MAX.

3. Is there more resistance with two 15 foot wires connected with a MC4 connector than in one 30 foot wire?
Yes, but it's negligible.

4. Is there a suitable 2 strand wire (similar to a lamp cord) that I could use?
You need a multi strand wire of sufficient enough gauge. Jumper Cable wiring would be great.

5. I have seen special crimp tools for the MC4, do I need this or will the crimp pliers that I have work?
The special tools crimp all the way around the connector whereas your standard crimpers just flatten it out. That could cause it to be troublesome to fit into your connector.

Any other info you think will help is appreciated.

I'm curious as to where you plan on putting this panel. Your questions suggest it's going a long way away, but it should be much closer. Granted 100W isn't all that much, but if you ever plan on adding more panels, you'll wish you had more capacity.

What's your installation plan?
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kfergiez View Post
1. Do I need a special type of wire?
Yes and no. You need stranded wire of the correct gauge that can fit standard solar connectors. If you don't, it will be a headache

2. I know larger wire is better but what gauge do I need for 3 or 4 15 foot extensions? Or is that length unreasonable?
It depends on where you're mounting this. That length is VERY long for DC solar. I would suggest a 15ft MAX.

3. Is there more resistance with two 15 foot wires connected with a MC4 connector than in one 30 foot wire?
Yes, but it's negligible.

4. Is there a suitable 2 strand wire (similar to a lamp cord) that I could use?
You need a multi strand wire of sufficient enough gauge. Jumper Cable wiring would be great.

5. I have seen special crimp tools for the MC4, do I need this or will the crimp pliers that I have work?
The special tools crimp all the way around the connector whereas your standard crimpers just flatten it out. That could cause it to be troublesome to fit into your connector.

Any other info you think will help is appreciated.

I'm curious as to where you plan on putting this panel. Your questions suggest it's going a long way away, but it should be much closer. Granted 100W isn't all that much, but if you ever plan on adding more panels, you'll wish you had more capacity.

What's your installation plan?
Thanks for your reply. For now I'm planning on portable, i like to park in the shade. You could say that this is practice, I retire next month so after doing a lot more camping this summer we may be upgrading.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:44 PM   #4
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Should this be fused between the panel and controller, the controller and battery, or both?
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:50 PM   #5
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Congratulations on retiring!

The shorter the cable distance the better. It just prevents voltage drop.

You should definitely fuse between the controller and the batter, and there is some debate on fusing between the panel and controller. Usually because the controller has safeguards built in. I fused mine. Just in case. It can’t hurt.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:57 PM   #6
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since you won't get much with only 100w anyway, don't worry about fuses and special 'sizes' of wires - start easy and slow and get used to how it works and what it does - as you think about expanding in the future, you can then be more concerned about fuses and 'exact' wire sizes, etc.
I bought a 200w 2 panel package with 20amp controller, parallel connectors, and 20' of dual wiring, which might be 12awg, but is perfectly sufficient - and mine are mounted on the roof, with another 10' of wiring for a total of 30'... I get 10amps or more in full sun, which is perfect.

in essence, it's a trickle charge to the 4 house batteries when the sun is out...
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:09 PM   #7
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200W with even a PWM controller is not a trickle charge...could be 10A on a good day. Having said that 200W for a motorhome with 4 batteries is not very much.


Bottom line for the size of wiring, consult a voltage drop chart and size your wires to the current and length of the wire run and size them to have 3% voltage drop or less.
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:15 PM   #8
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We set up solar for our campsite the last 2 seasons. You can read about our decisions and install in our blog http://candlerboys.blogspot.com/2017...ter-1.html?m=1

Our setup ran everything except the A/C. Hair dryer, coffee, ice maker, TV, and kept a family of 5 charged and connected.
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by just4u_cara View Post
We set up solar for our campsite the last 2 seasons. You can read about our decisions and install in our blog The Road Most Travelled: The Road to Solar Power, Chapter 1

Our setup ran everything except the A/C. Hair dryer, coffee, ice maker, TV, and kept a family of 5 charged and connected.
I read your blog and couldn't figure out what sized solar panels you ended up with.


I have 2 100AH BattleBorns with a total of 200AH(100% usable) and I went with 700W of solar which is around 70% efficient most of the time with them laying flat on the roof of my trailer.
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Old 01-14-2019, 07:41 PM   #10
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We went with 2x 235W panels. (I think the entire solar story is over 4 or 5 posts.)

We went with a portable setup due to changing sites every season. And after calculating what energy we thought we'd need on a daily basis, that worked out to 4 batteries.
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