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Old 01-28-2022, 06:38 PM   #1
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Portable suitcase solar questions

I am in the planning stage for solar in the future. May be late this year or next year but it's coming. My TT is not solar ready; there is no solar prep. Because of that, I have decided on a portable suitcase system with the panels used only to charge the battery bank. I captured the first picture from a Youtube video. I like it, even though it use two 100W panels instead of one 200W panel, because (according to the author) this method doubles voltage but the amp output remains at 5.5amps - - which means a smaller solar plug (10A) and up to a 50 foot extension (instead of only a 10 foot extension if using a single 200W panel) can be used without worrying about voltage drop. Also, the charge controller can be mounted at the trailer (in the forward storage, in my case) only a few feet from the battery box, thus using smaller cable and decreasing voltage drop there, too.

Couple of questions. Does the solar charger need to have a screen? Once it is programmed for battery type and such and mounted in the storage area I won't be looking at it often, if ever. A follow up to that, if I connect the charge controller as I drew up in the second picture, wouldn't all the important info - charging amps, volts, state of charge and all the rest be shown on the AiLi battery monitor screen? I think the AiLi monitor won't care where the input is coming from - solar or shore power - it will just show it. Am I wrong? This suit case system would be completely separate from the shore power system and only used/plugged in when there is no shore power. Would hooking in a charge controller the way I have it diagrammed interfere with the shore power system or the battery monitor?
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Old 01-28-2022, 06:52 PM   #2
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Where it says fuse recommended here on the positive cable between the batteries and charge controller I would install the appropriate size circuit breaker otherwise it looks good.
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Old 01-30-2022, 02:46 AM   #3
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I like the remote screen as it makes it easy to keep an eye on the panels, like when it’s time to move them.
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Old 01-30-2022, 07:07 AM   #4
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At least bluetooth to your phone
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Old 01-30-2022, 09:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by MrPukaShell View Post
At least bluetooth to your phone
The AiLi monitor is wired, not BT. It's also less than half the price of a BT-capable Victron SmartShunt.
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Old 01-30-2022, 10:20 AM   #6
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thats my set up ,except i have 1 ,,100 watt Monocrystaline RENOGY panel. 30 amp controller .a stand i made for panel. I cut 3ft. off of long wires added ends from amazon, dropped them out a hole in front of trailer, hook up panel, and done . i dont have a fancy meter to check voltage 12v is always available if sun is shining. turn panel mid afternoon, used a 220 v dryer cord to hook up battery to c- controller. just cut off the ends, added battery ends. put controller on a 1x6 clamped wires down to board , they pull loose if you dont secure them . 1 deep cycle battery , nothing special. no inline fuses , going on 10 years and no problems. i have a $15.00 body alarm for security , hooked to panel, black with a pull lanyard , cleaverly hidden on panel to a tent stake burried by stand. less than 10 min. set up.
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Old 01-30-2022, 11:26 AM   #7
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... i have a $15.00 body alarm for security , hooked to panel, black with a pull lanyard , cleaverly hidden on panel to a tent stake burried by stand. ...
Smart idea.
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Old 01-30-2022, 12:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Thomas ho View Post
i have a $15.00 body alarm for security , hooked to panel, black with a pull lanyard , cleaverly hidden on panel to a tent stake burried by stand. less than 10 min. set up.
That's clever. I had wondered about security and just assumed that I would have to put any panels away at night or when unattended. Is the alarm waterproof?

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Originally Posted by mysery1 View Post
Where it says fuse recommended here on the positive cable between the batteries and charge controller I would install the appropriate size circuit breaker otherwise it looks good.
I agree. I have read that the fuse size should match the amp rating of the charge controller - 20A controller = 20A fuse - - 30A controller = 30A fuse. Is that correct?

Since no one has addressed my question(s) directly, I will assume that the AiLi battery monitor, when solar is hooked up, will give me all the info I need and not interfere with anything - nor will a charge controller patched into the system conflict with other wiring.

Thanks for the responses.
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Old 01-30-2022, 12:18 PM   #9
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is alarm waterproof? put it in a baggie ,drop cord through a hole in bottom of bag. drop a rock in bag , it will sit by hole next to cable , like a ice cream cone bottom tip. alarm is the little black square with a phone cord type plug. $ 15.00 Amazon.
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:16 PM   #10
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Solar Suitcase

This is just an FYI. If you trash one side, check to make sure it can be replaced
and you don't have to buy another complete unit. My Renogy 200 was picked up and slammed into the ground by a wierd gust of wind. I now have a 100 watt panel and no way to replace the bad side.
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:17 PM   #11
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I'm new to the solar world and I like this as a simple way to implement it. One question I have is about using two 6 Volt batteries. Does this make for a better system?
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:36 PM   #12
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This is just an FYI. If you trash one side, check to make sure it can be replaced and you don't have to buy another complete unit.
I don't think I will buy a ready-made suitcase kit. I have been watching some youtube videos and it looks quite simple - - and a lot cheaper - - to buy the panels, the controller, the cables, and the plugs & jacks separetly and make up your own suitcase kit. My plan (for now) is 2 (two) 100W panels connected in series, some 10 gauge cable to the charge controller (mounted in the front storage area) and some 8 guage wire the 4-5-6 feet to the battery box. If something untoward happened, I could just unscrew the hinges from the bad panel and replace it with another off the shelf 100W replacement.

Lot's of youtube vid's of people doing this.
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:40 PM   #13
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I'm new to the solar world and I like this as a simple way to implement it. One question I have is about using two 6 Volt batteries. Does this make for a better system?
From what I have gleaned in my searching, finding a true deep cycle 12V true battery is a mostly frustrating endeavor. True deep cycle 6V's are all over the place. And if you are going to be charging/discharging/charging/discharging your battery bank, it is best to have a true deep cycle one.
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:51 PM   #14
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my stand is a "C" channel c side up, a 3 ft. 1x3 piece of aluminum ,each side about 10 inches from ends of c channel, slot in c channel where 1x3 is inserted into this cut out . drilled a hole in 1x3 and hammer a 10 inch green top tent stake each side. holds stand down. a hinged bar each side raises up to each side near top of panel. bottom of pael sits in c channel , wben tilted back to meet arms it locks panel in c channel. bungee cords hold panel to binged arms . panel is laid back in about 10 o' clock position. add rocks to 1x3 bar back by hinge . big rocks.. arms fold down , to 1x3 bar and they slide in to c channel ,1 each side .for storage. end result is a 4 ft. x 4x3 inch cube stand . this is made out of a rv awning arms ,the old style non electric. Free in the r.v. dealers junk awning pile. just ask for some. get pleanty if free. you can put them across a broken boat transom to squeeze it back flush , 1 each side and bolts.
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Old 02-01-2022, 09:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by yukongold View Post
From what I have gleaned in my searching, finding a true deep cycle 12V true battery is a mostly frustrating endeavor. True deep cycle 6V's are all over the place. And if you are going to be charging/discharging/charging/discharging your battery bank, it is best to have a true deep cycle one.
True deep cycle 12V batteries are readily available at Sam's, Wal-Mart, Batteries and Bulbs and, I'm sure, many other vendors. They're often distinguished from dual-purpose ("marine") batteries by a two letter code. Dual-purpose batteries are "DP"; deep cycle batteries are "DC". Some brand names (e.g., Trojan) have a longer cycle life, according to tech specs published by the respective companies.

A pair of 6V GC2 batteries fit in the same footprint as a pair of 12V group 24 batteries. They're heavier because their lead plates are thicker, giving them much higher capacity. They also cost more but not dramatically more, considering the higher Ah capacity.
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Old 02-01-2022, 10:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by yukongold View Post
I don't think I will buy a ready-made suitcase kit. I have been watching some youtube videos and it looks quite simple - - and a lot cheaper - - to buy the panels, the controller, the cables, and the plugs & jacks separetly and make up your own suitcase kit. My plan (for now) is 2 (two) 100W panels connected in series, some 10 gauge cable to the charge controller (mounted in the front storage area) and some 8 guage wire the 4-5-6 feet to the battery box. If something untoward happened, I could just unscrew the hinges from the bad panel and replace it with another off the shelf 100W replacement.

Lot's of youtube vid's of people doing this.
Yes. Lots of good vids on YouTube. Here’s my panel setup.
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Old 02-02-2022, 12:50 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by chriscowles View Post
True deep cycle 12V batteries are readily available at Sam's, Wal-Mart, Batteries and Bulbs and, I'm sure, many other vendors. They're often distinguished from dual-purpose ("marine") batteries by a two letter code. Dual-purpose batteries are "DP"; deep cycle batteries are "DC". Some brand names (e.g., Trojan) have a longer cycle life, according to tech specs published by the respective companies.

A pair of 6V GC2 batteries fit in the same footprint as a pair of 12V group 24 batteries. They're heavier because their lead plates are thicker, giving them much higher capacity. They also cost more but not dramatically more, considering the higher Ah capacity.
Well I disagree about the prevalence of TRUE DEEP CYCLE 12 volts in any of those three places but I fully agree with what you said on 6v's. They are virtually all deep cycle and a great deal better than flaky little GR24 batteries and two 6's are at least the punch of 3 2/3's Gr24's and have a much better service life.

I went from one GR24 to two Gr24 to three Gr24 to Two 225 amp GC2 then to really big deep cycle AGM's to 600 amps of LiFePo.. It's been a long learning curve when you do it all the hard way by trial and error like I have, but great to be on here working to push others in the right direction.
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Old 02-02-2022, 08:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by yukongold View Post
I don't think I will buy a ready-made suitcase kit. I have been watching some youtube videos and it looks quite simple - - and a lot cheaper - - to buy the panels, the controller, the cables, and the plugs & jacks separetly and make up your own suitcase kit. My plan (for now) is 2 (two) 100W panels connected in series, some 10 gauge cable to the charge controller (mounted in the front storage area) and some 8 guage wire the 4-5-6 feet to the battery box. If something untoward happened, I could just unscrew the hinges from the bad panel and replace it with another off the shelf 100W replacement.

Lot's of youtube vid's of people doing this.
Pretty easy to build your own, I built mine with two Renogy Eclipse 100W panels wired in series with a Victron MPPT controller located inside the trailer.

I sourced all of the stainless hardware from Amazon.

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Old 02-02-2022, 10:49 AM   #19
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Renogy 200 watt system

I have the Renogy 200 watt kit with a MPPT controller. I put it out using 50 amp Anderson Quick Disconnect connectors. It's fast, rock solid and I use them all the way. The solar controller is mounted as close to the batteries as I can get them and solid wired to the battteries (2-85ah Group 27 DC
Interstate from Costco). The solar controller has to be connected first as it needs to recognize the batteries type i.e. lead, AGM, etc. Then I deploy the two large and heavy Renogy panels that I joined with piano hinge. I purchased the renogy kit to angle the panels and it works great. I put threaded rivets in the panel frame and use threaded knobs to fix the angle. This way, I live in South Texas, I can have my camper in the shade and the panels up to 40 ft away. using a 30 ft, 10 gauge, THNN wire extension cord fitted with the 50 amp Anderson Quick Disconnects catching sun. The system works great and after retrieving from the back of the pickup and on the ground takes about three minutes to have it up and running. I looked for high tech solutions to align the panels ranging from auto sensing to manual rotation using a lazy susan and PVC pipe when my very wise and patient wife handed me a plastic drinking straw. She pinched it between the panels using the piano hinge, took a cutting board to align the straw to the panels and then I proceeded to eliminate the shadow thrown by the straw. Perfect alignment. I can even pre-position the shadow so it moves into the perfect position thus getting all I can out of the panels. We are going on 5 years with the same batteries and the same system. The only purchase I have added to it is a PulseTech.com Powerpulse unit that helps wit the desulfinate process. Just had the batteries tested and they are functioning to the Interstate battery standards meaning 100%. The Anderson connectors are the key to a fast and secure clamping method.
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Old 02-02-2022, 11:16 AM   #20
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Well I disagree about the prevalence of TRUE DEEP CYCLE 12 volts in any of those three places but I fully agree with what you said on 6v's. They are virtually all deep cycle and a great deal better than flaky little GR24 batteries and two 6's are at least the punch of 3 2/3's Gr24's and have a much better service life.

I went from one GR24 to two Gr24 to three Gr24 to Two 225 amp GC2 then to really big deep cycle AGM's to 600 amps of LiFePo.. It's been a long learning curve when you do it all the hard way by trial and error like I have, but great to be on here working to push others in the right direction.
Duracell GC2 @ Sam's:

https://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/p...p%20Size%20GC2

Duracell GC2 @ Batteries Plus:

https://www.batteriesplus.com/productdetails/sligc110
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