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Old 06-18-2021, 01:53 PM   #1
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Solar Panels + Portable Panels Same Time

Has anyone here experimented with using their solar panels installed on their roofs and also using portable panels at the same time on days you need a little extra juice? Both would have separate charge controllers.
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Old 06-18-2021, 06:05 PM   #2
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Many people on this site do just that with no issues.
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Old 06-23-2021, 06:32 PM   #3
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Yup I do. Have 200 watts on the roof and then 2 x100 watt panels that I move to where the sun is shining. I have them wired in parallel with the other panels. They are the lightweight flexible solar panels. I also made PVC supports the same size as the solar panels that I can use as window awnings.
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Old 06-23-2021, 06:53 PM   #4
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Yes, this is why models with rooftop OEM solar systems also have 'solar on the side' inlets.
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Old 06-23-2021, 08:51 PM   #5
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If I find I want additional panels then I'll take the external route because that would make it more practical. The reason is that you can move it to where the shade isn't. The only problem is that it would probably be an item of interest for low life scum to easily walk off with. This would really bother me since the reason for being outdoors is to be away from the camper for a good amount of time.

Suppose I could wire up an internal camera that records. If the unfortunate event were to happen, I'd be walking the grounds on the hunt after watching the footage.
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Old 06-28-2021, 04:13 PM   #6
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I'm looking at adding a one or two portable panels to the the 2X 100W roof panels myself. The charge controller I have is a PWM from Renogy and is supposed to be capable of handling 400W. I was thinking I could add a pair of MC4 Y connectors like these into the lines I have running along the frame from my roof top panels. Would that work? Just trying to avoid buying & installing another controller if I don't need one.
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Old 07-01-2021, 03:17 PM   #7
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That would work fine so long as the portable panel has very similar electrical characteristics to the roof panels. You should probably consider an MPPT controller too.
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Old 07-16-2021, 11:35 PM   #8
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Last few trips have been a combination of rain/overcast and tree cover, and didn't recall seeing 100% recharge with 190W OEM roof setup. Although my batteries never depleted, they did get down to mid 30% by the time I got up in the morning.

Went ahead and ordered a 200W suitcase panel to plug into the side so I can move around when needed.

Not sure it will get here before our trip next week and will probably need it since we're adding a city dweller who's never been camping. Will have to train on proper power/water conservation.
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Old 07-20-2021, 08:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRoverComeOver View Post
Last few trips have been a combination of rain/overcast and tree cover, and didn't recall seeing 100% recharge with 190W OEM roof setup. Although my batteries never depleted, they did get down to mid 30% by the time I got up in the morning.

Went ahead and ordered a 200W suitcase panel to plug into the side so I can move around when needed.

Not sure it will get here before our trip next week and will probably need it since we're adding a city dweller who's never been camping. Will have to train on proper power/water conservation.
This is what I did also. Note from the other posts to ensure the correct polarity before plugging in your suitcase panel to the side of the trailer.

I purchased the Renogy panels and the polarity was reversed. This may be the case with yours, unless you bought panels from the same brand as noted on the sticker on the side (in my case, GoPower). Luckily, the extension cable I also purchased for the panels came with an adapter to reverse the polarity.

edit: here's a link to another thread re: checking the polarity. See in particular this post that describes a configuration that does not require the use of an adapter.
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Old 07-20-2021, 09:20 AM   #10
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We have a 190W roof-mounted solar panel. I get about 1.4A at best on a sunny day. You can do the math, but it would take days to recharge 50 to 100 amp-hours, and that is assuming you have no load on the batteries. Unlikely to have no load as long as the battery switch is on. We have two lead-acid batteries with about 100 useable amp-hours. Two nights boondocking on cloudy days with just our lights, max fans, and DC fridge running, we used all 100 amp-hours, and that was after running our generator for about an hour to recharge. I initially looked at adding a second rooftop panel and a portable panel, but after seeing the miserably low amp output from our 190W panel, I would save your money and invest in a good inverter generator. Portable panels are also quite expensive and easily stolen. Solar panels mounted flush on the roof are not optimal. They need to be tilted at about 45 degrees, preferably rotating with the orientation of the sun. Not practical on a rooftop, and unless you want to spend your whole day chasing sun rays and repositioning your portable panel, I recommend you spend your time hiking and actually enjoying your camping trip. Don't get me wrong. I really wanted to love our solar system. But I do not think the technology is there yet. Maybe when they develop compact 1000W solar panels that track and travel with the solar orientation, we'll be making some headway. Just my two cents.
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Old 07-20-2021, 10:36 AM   #11
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It seems the OP's question has been suitably responded too. So, as far as increasing solar yield in low light situations, a couple of things must be understood. This applies primarily to fixed RV arrays.



1) An MPPT charge controller is desirable in all cases, but really mandatory if the string voltage in significantly higher than the battery bank voltage. If a PWM controller were used on a "24V" string with a 12V battery system, about 50% of the energy may not be harvested. If a "12V" panel is used on a 12V battery system, the losses will not be as significant.

2) A solar panel string that is significantly higher voltage than the battery system is very desirable due to the fact it will achieve the required voltage delta earlier, and maintain it throughout minor shading events and produce later in the day.

3) if 3 or more "12V" panels were to be connected in series in order to achieve this high voltage delta on a 24V battery system for example, the advantage of the greater low light performance stated above would have to be weighed against the risk of shading on the greater panel area. For this reason, I prefer only "24V" (37.6V Vmp) panels for use in fixed RV arrays.
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Old 07-20-2021, 03:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRoverComeOver View Post
If I find I want additional panels then I'll take the external route because that would make it more practical. The reason is that you can move it to where the shade isn't. The only problem is that it would probably be an item of interest for low life scum to easily walk off with. This would really bother me since the reason for being outdoors is to be away from the camper for a good amount of time.

Suppose I could wire up an internal camera that records. If the unfortunate event were to happen, I'd be walking the grounds on the hunt after watching the footage.

I知 half done with my solar setup. Phase 1 for me was adding 200W to my roof and phase 2 will be the a portable setup. When I leave my campsite for an extended time, I値l just pack up my portable panels while my roof array will still provide some power to charge and run the fridge. I値l be running two separate MPPT controllers when I知 done.
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Old 07-25-2021, 09:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by robcrawford View Post
This is what I did also. Note from the other posts to ensure the correct polarity before plugging in your suitcase panel to the side of the trailer.

I purchased the Renogy panels and the polarity was reversed. This may be the case with yours, unless you bought panels from the same brand as noted on the sticker on the side (in my case, GoPower). Luckily, the extension cable I also purchased for the panels came with an adapter to reverse the polarity.

edit: here's a link to another thread re: checking the polarity. See in particular this post that describes a configuration that does not require the use of an adapter.
Thanks, read those links before and did have to use the reverse adapter..that thing does get hot and was shaded under the panel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PFeezzy View Post
I知 half done with my solar setup. Phase 1 for me was adding 200W to my roof and phase 2 will be the a portable setup. When I leave my campsite for an extended time, I値l just pack up my portable panels while my roof array will still provide some power to charge and run the fridge. I値l be running two separate MPPT controllers when I知 done.
As luck would have it...another trip and another shaded spot, and cloudy days. At least it didn't rain until 6 a.m. this morning while still sleeping. Had to get up to take stuff in so they wouldn't get packed wet later that afternoon. If I didn't have the new suitcase panel, I may have had my first battery depletion trip. I did manage to get down to 38% the last morning.




On the bright side......when I first tested it before heading out on our trip, it worked well. The battery showed 100% from the roof panel before turning on fridge. Just before I plugged in the suitcase, I saw I was down to 88%. The extra panel took me to 100% before heading out but didn't take note of the time. Did get a couple of pics.
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Old 07-26-2021, 08:27 AM   #14
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My 'reverse adaptor' was simply reversing the output cables on the Renogy charge controller.
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Old 07-26-2021, 03:50 PM   #15
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My 'reverse adaptor' was simply reversing the output cables on the Renogy charge controller.
Your post was the one I linked to... great idea. I will probably do that next time I'm using the panel to avoid needing the adapter.
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Old 07-26-2021, 04:41 PM   #16
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Yes, this is why models with rooftop OEM solar systems also have 'solar on the side' inlets.
Mine doesn't seem to have it... It's got an 80W panel and a 10A solar charger. I wonder how difficult it would be to upgrade it myself.
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Old 07-31-2021, 01:22 PM   #17
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Vendor Support Observation

I called and e-mailed Renogy and Go Power! multiple times and the latter has my approval on responsive support. Go Power! can actually answer technical questions on their and competitor products promptly even a few times a day. Spoken and written communication are from competent personnel with a grasp of the English language. The former is the opposite and looks like there may be a timezone difference from overseas.

The main deciding factors in going with the Renogy suitcase was weight and dimensions.
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Old 08-23-2021, 07:36 PM   #18
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Hit a couple sites the last trip and the river location had no usable sunlight and the suitcase would have been a waste to deploy. Went to plan B and used the available site power at night since I was outvoted on turning the A/C on since it was hot and humid. It was a bad couple of nights with the A/C noise and having to cycle off/on every couple of hours.
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Old 08-23-2021, 08:38 PM   #19
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Cool pic. Would make a great Geo/epro marketing pic. The A/C noise is white noise to me and actually helps me sleep better. What do you mean about 'having to cycle on/off every few hours?
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Old 08-23-2021, 09:04 PM   #20
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I have a 20 inch fan that I set on low and point straight up to blow air from the floor to the ceiling... more efficient distribution of the cool air
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