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Old 06-11-2016, 07:42 PM   #1
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Solar Questions

I have a 100 Watt solar panel that I'd like to semi-install. I already have the battery cables run the shortest distance possible, my charging controller is installed, and now it's time for the wires from the panel to the controller.

A few things to note:
1- I don't want to install the panels on the trailer. This limits angle of panels for best sunlight.
2- I may upgrade to 200 watts in the future if warranted.

My questions:
1- Does the length of the cable from the panel to the controller matter? I know the shorter the length from controller to battery is important, just not to the panel.
2- Has anyone else created a wire storage/compartment that makes for easy access when setting up solar when the are NOT attached to the trailer? I was thinking of creating a water tight box/storage compartment directly underneath my charging controller on the bottom side of the trailer. Upon setting up camp, I'd open the storage, pull out the cables and connect my panels after setting them up for maximum sun exposure.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-11-2016, 08:36 PM   #2
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You pretty well have the same system as i have....although i have an 80 watt panel...pushing into 2 true deep cycles.
Dont overthink it...match power in to power out...and along with a nice buffer, which the 2 batterys provide.
Stop at the first panel....and invest your money in a good deep cycles....because 200 watts is over kill for these units.

D-mo
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Old 06-11-2016, 10:14 PM   #3
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Let say you have a 30 ft cable to the panel of 12 gauge wire. At 200 watts output you will have a little over of 10 amp with 30 feet of wire at 10 amp you will only lose .6 volts ( or 6 watts ). You want 14 something volts at the battery, the controller will eat up around 2 volts so you will need about 17 volts at the controller, most panel will be around 20 volts at full sun, so at full power there is no problem. With a cheap controller (PWM ) you would lose it anyway. Now with a MPPT controller it would be costing you about 3% of your panel output. Do you care? It depends on how close you are to meeting your power needs.
I use a 20 ft cable with 30 and 60 watts of solar power, with no problems.
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Old 06-12-2016, 06:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by 1A Camper View Post
Do you care? It depends on how close you are to meeting your power needs. I use a 20 ft cable with 30 and 60 watts of solar power, with no problems....
X2 on your analysis. 12 ga is fine, 10 ga really doesn't cost that much more or is less flexible anyway. However, PWM controllers often cost less than MPPT but many are definitely not "cheap controllers." The model is different and the results are extremely close to MPPT. Most use MPPT since they want to use higher voltages by putting panels in series, which is not the case here.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:30 AM   #5
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I have around $175 invested in my 100 watt panel and controller with a 25 feet of cable on the panel. I installed the controller in my front storage compartment an Velcro it there. I put a quick disconnect to the solar panel on the out side and store it in front when not in use.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:07 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! I'll not worry too much about it.

Now I just need to build a storage compartment for the solar cables.


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