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Old 06-29-2020, 05:14 PM   #1
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Help with Portable Solar

I have been reading posts on this forum and on the web trying to educate myself on portable solar. I wanted your opinions on what I am planning and recommendations on which brands to consider.

The van: 2001 E350, v10, Quigley, EB50 SMB with PH top

Electrical demand: 2 way (12/120 volt) fridge, Suburban heater, Suburban hot water, Surflow water pump, misc LED lighting.

Battery: 12 Volt 4D Centennial Deep Cycle 210 AMP Hour

Existing battery charging: Shore power to stock SMB 120 to 12 volt converter (Progressive Dynamics Intellipower) with plug and play “Charge Wizard” controller. Also, battery charges from engine alternator when engine is running. Battery monitor with voltage and amps in and out.

I would like to get a soft portable suitcase solar system that will keep up with the demand of the fridge and the heater primarily. I estimate that we use around 30 to70 Amp Hours per 24 hours (average around 45 Amp Hours) depending on the weather while we are camping.

I think I need the following:
Soft solar panel suite case
Charge controller - I would like the controller to be sized to accommodate adding more portable panels in the future possibly.
Connector for side of van to connect to the van’s 12 volt house system
60 - 70 feet of extension cable for panel placement flexibility
Alligator clips with quick connector for optional hook up to van starting battery.

I am considering the Lensun 200 watt portable suitcase which includes a 15 Amp MPPT controller. The new version has 4x50 watt (the prior model had 5x40 watt - I saw that Scaf77 has this older version). Here is a link: https://www.lensunsolar.com/index.ph...product_id=381
They also have this panel with a different charge controller that is cheaper. Not sure what the difference is and if the more expensive one is much better. https://www.lensunsolar.com/index.ph...product_id=317

Is the Lensun kit a good option? What other brands should I consider that make a soft and lightweight folding panel kit?
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:29 PM   #2
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Same question answered in these two threads (offers a lot of insight) and a couple different applications to achieve your goal:

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...els-26428.html

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...els-26429.html
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:34 PM   #3
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Sounds like you've put a lot of good thought and research into this, but you should also consider where you will be camping. I see you are planning for a long extension cable which is very useful (I made my own 20'-25' extension cable using 12ga wire with Anderson PowerPole ends), just be sure to account for voltage drop over such a long distance.


The primary reason I think you need to think about where you will be camping is that the "soft" panels look very susceptible to falling over in the wind. Even my rigid frame 150W folding panels have fallen over in the wind, and never panel-side up. My panels are quite heavy however. If your panels fall over,, will they be safe from being stepped on?


FWIW, my 150W panel is more than adequate to keep my Group 31 battery on most days for my 63qt ARB fridge, my Fantastic Fan, and some LED lights. My solar set up is portable so I can reposition as necessary.





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Old 06-29-2020, 05:37 PM   #4
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Renogy 200W briefcase. Good unit for sure.
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Old 06-30-2020, 11:33 AM   #5
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If not for storage, I would take a hard suitcase over the folding panels, The lensun package folds up nicely and I do like newer 4x50 versus my 5 X 40. The ETFE panels are very rugged, I have more concerns about the wires in the folding panels then the actual panels. The can get blown over, but you could stake them down. The 4X50 will be a little easier to deal with than 5 panels, let's just say they can be a little tedious, especially if your chasing the sun.

Be careful in your calculations of needed power versus what is available from solar. The controller going from bulk charge to absorption will slow down the time it takes to reach a full charge. Throw in a bad solar day and you could get behind the curve. I always make a point of getting it on a shore power charger when I get home and go through a cycle.

Also, my preferred setup is to have the controller located at the van. Make sure you properly size the cable going back to the house battery(*) to minimize drop from controller to battery. The longer cable can be tied from the panels to the controller, you will still lose some power do to voltage drop but get more accurate charging at the battery.

I generally use the smaller anderson powerpole PP or 1327 series, you can use 15,30 and 45 amp contacts and they will take 10 awg wire. Many of the panels come with anderson powerpole SB series, a larger connector. If you were making long runs from a controller to battery this would be preferred as it can go up 6 awg.

-greg
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Old 06-30-2020, 10:53 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback Greg, very helpful and good point Broncohauler about the wind blowing panels over.

I and going to snap a couple of pictures of my electrical connections inside the van that shows what is existing. I would really appreciate your feedback to make sure my plan is sound. I will also post a wiring diagram of what I'm planning for connections.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:32 PM   #7
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Ok, here is a diagram of what I am planning for connections. Can anyone confirm if I am on the right track?

Wire Diagram: https://photos.app.goo.gl/C5q6A7icBqeXXoFJ9
Electrical under bench: https://photos.app.goo.gl/AqmyiPkosQKw13hT9

Thanks for the feedback!

Derek
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Old 07-02-2020, 06:34 AM   #8
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That looks pretty good, you should fuse the output of the solar controller though. Make sure you are comfortable with the added connection to large fuse, as they typically use set screw versus rung terminal holders for that fuse.

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