Originally Posted by johnm1
With that said, is there any kind of a guesstimate on how much loss there is in a "dappled" sunlit campsite? Like I said, we camp mainly in NYS and there are LOTS of trees in NYS. Hence the question about trying to chase the sun with a remote panel vs permanent mounting on the roof. Obviously permanent is way easier since I wouldn't have to touch the system after install except for checking the battery water level.
We camp extensively in NYSP's - mostly in the Adirondacks. I bought two 100 watt panels intending to put one on the roof and keep one portable. After a couple trips last year playing around with the portable one, I didn't even bother mounting the second one on the roof. We are now revising our file of favorite sites at the different parks based on "solar friendliness" but camping in the woods is a challenge when trying to generate solar power.
We've found that some sites have an open area in the tree canopy that allows for solar, but frequently there is no way to get the trailer unto the right spot. Portable is the way to go. And the other big advantage to portable is that it is easy to angle the panels. You can easily get 30-40% more output by angling the panels. With 200 watts of panels, we were making 8-10 amps regularly in the spot pictured below. But, I had to move the panels 3 times over the course of the day to keep them in the sun. Just laying them flat in one spot (as they would be on the roof) would only produce 2-3 amps most of the time. Went 5 nights (including one rainy day) with no problem keeping the batteries charged.
Roof mounted is also good for a built in battery maintainer in storage. At the beach or other open areas, roof mounted for sure, but in the woods, I would stay with portable. The one major downside - the panels are fairly heavy & bulky so transporting and setting them up is a pain. But they are useless if you can't get them into the sun. You can always put 20-30 feet of cable on one and try out as a portable. See how it does and then decide if you want to mount it (or mount a couple additional ones).
But the short story is we have been happy keeping them portable and love dry camping without a generator.