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 > 100 watt Solar decision

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Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 06/27/20 12:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Brettmm92 wrote:

I'm planning on Boondocking for a few months, plan to run my phone, some lights and hopefully my refrigerator on a 100 watt solar panel charging the Travel Trailer Battery for a short time job.

After looking around I really like the harbor freight setup how it comes with lights and the charge controller has usb ports directly on it which makes me think that for my use, I wouldn't even need a power inverter. But I am pressed for time and don't have access to a harbor freight. I am going to rely on amazon shipping.

https://www.harborfreight.com/100-watt-solar-panel-kit-63585.html

But I see this on amazon and think it would be better cause of timely shipping but also I feel it would be more expandable in the future if I get serious about upgrading.


Amazon link renogy 100 watt Solar panel startup kit


I wish it was more like the Harbor freight where it came with lights and had usb ports on the charge controller as that's really all I need.

I was wondering if anyone had any insight on advice or maybe knows of a power inverter that would work for my situation.

I was also wondering if anyone knows if the harbor freight charge controller usb ports run directly from the panels or do they draw power from the battery or a mix of both. Specifically wondering when I could use lights from that. I could make a drive to a Harbor Freight but it really wouldn't be a cost effective or fun trip and it would suck if they didn't even have what I was looking for.

But I always appreciate y'alls input


Buy the 100W Renogy.

The HF kit you get FOUR 25W panels which means you have FOUR panels taking up MORE space, MORE to handle and MORE to connect via very cheap connectors/combiner mess which is not weather proof. The HF kit you get a dirt cheap controller which will not have additional settings.

You do not "need" the USB charging port on the controller, instead buy a regular 12V cig lighter plug charger.

You do not "need" that HF cheapo 12V bulb, it won't last and you can find much better lights.

You WILL in BOTH cases NEED to hook this up to a 12V battery, you cannot run devices directly for the solar panel.. The battery must be present and attempts to run without one will result in damage to your 12V equipment.

The Renogy uses standard connectors, you can buy ready made extension cables with connectors already on the them and you can expand your system by adding another 100W or even more panels any time.

There are some better prices than the Renogy if you search, if not in a kit with controller, you can sometimes get real bargains by buying panels separate from the controller.. That allows you to buy a more flexible and higher capacity controller.

But, I would really recommend steering away from the HF kit, it is a toy and even with coupons it is still a expensive toy.

Yes, there are folks who WILL STILL defend buying the HF kit, back in the early days the HF stuff was a deal, but now days it has been passed up and you can get a lot more wattage for a lot less money buying elsewhere.

HF has not kept up with the prices of panels, they sell individual 25W panels for $70, you can buy a off brand 100W panel on Amazon for $79.. FOUR times more power for $9 more!

You can buy 30A solar charge controllers on Amazon for $30.. 20A controllers for $20..

In reality, HFs kit should be priced no more than $100 without coupon and with 20% off coupon it would be $80, but, they have not kept up with technology and prices.. Instead they are asking $199.99 without coupon and 20% off coupon means you are paying $160..

I won't buy HF panels because of their pricing being so high and I have one only 15 minutes from my home!

wanderingaimlessly

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Posted: 06/27/20 01:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Brettmm92 wrote:

I'm wanting to run the refrigerator using propane but it's not a necessity but it would be nice to have it. Does the battery stop draining before it totally drains itself beyond being able to charge back up again? NO, thats up to you. I'm hoping the furnace is what ate the battery up because I would really like to be optimistic about the fridge thing. It likely did, but you have to connect either a battery or some other power supply to do much of anything.

The USB outlet is interesting. Are the standard travel trailer lights 12 volt? The round cigar lighter type are. I could imagine doing away with one light fixture and replacing it with one of those outlets. Do they run off the battery that's installed on the tongue of the Travel Trailer? YES I've noticed when I hookup the 7 pin to my truck the lights work but my battery has always been dead so I don't know what it enables for use other than the trailer e brake when it's functinoing. What works when you are plugged into the truck is basically what will work when you have installed a charged battery, lights and in some cases tv and radio.

Also I watched a well done "experiment" on the renogy solar panel alongside other panels and the brand "HQST" seems to be the same thing for cheaper, rebranded. I'm starting to think about getting the panel, charge controller seperately the more I look into it.
Here's the link Solar Panel Test The Renogy kit you listed and the one I did , both have 30 amp controllers, so you can add two panels later if needed and wont have to buy another controller. Just make sure you upgrade the wire size when you install it to allow for the added future load.

But the main advantage about these vs. the harbor freight is that I believe you can upgrade the charge controllers, inverters and wiring in the future and mount them on the roof in a series with other panels which would be pretty cool

An inverter can be added at any time. small ones 150 watt or so can even plug into the cigar lighter style 12 volt power plug.

Brettmm92

North Carolina

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Posted: 06/27/20 04:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yeah, I'm glad I've decided not to get the harbor freight panels.
But harbor freight has its place in my budget. Especially for things like pliers and simple tools that I know I'm not gonna be rough on.

But I'm glad to know that the battery does about everything the 7 pin hookup does cause I'll definitely have lights and I know my fridgerator's power light is on.

After the few power inverter's I've looked at, this seems to be my favorite cause it comes with linkage and has other protections with it and has a good max watt to price ratio compared to others I saw- 1100 Watt inverter

Anyone care to share there information about a two 6 volt battery vs 12 volt? I like the convienence of the plastic battery case on the TT tongue seems like it's specifically made for the 12 volt but I keep reading/watching about this stuff and people always say that two 6 volt batteries are better

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 06/27/20 04:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The most power hungry 12 volt only device on the RV is the furnace.

Running an absorption fridge from 120 volts requires a huge investment in solar--about 1300 watts.

I would recommend about 200 watts minimum and double up on battery capacity if you plan to book dock much at all. That would give you about 1000 watt-hours per day to "play".

This plain english guide may help:

https://freecampsites.net/adding-solar/


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp hours of AGM in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 06/27/20 04:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Brettmm92 wrote:

After the few power inverter's I've looked at, this seems to be my favorite cause it comes with linkage and has other protections with it and has a good max watt to price ratio compared to others I saw- 1100 Watt inverter

Anyone care to share there information about a two 6 volt battery vs 12 volt? I like the convienence of the plastic battery case on the TT tongue seems like it's specifically made for the 12 volt but I keep reading/watching about this stuff and people always say that two 6 volt batteries are better


The inverter you are looking at is a modified sine wave unit. That means anything with an inductive load such as cell phone chargers may run much hotter and may consume more than the normally rated power. Motors won't be in love with it either.

The difference between 12 volt and 6 volt golf cart batteries, is that the 12 volts are not often true "deep cycle". The golf carts are--so they can endure cycling down to 50%.

If you want a battery that requires not much maintenance save your pennies and get an SiO2 which will allow 1500 cycles to only 20% state of charge.

The 12 volt you have now is likely a "marine" cycle where only the top 20% can be used. So although it says "100 amp-hours" probably only 20 may be used. Your furnace on a 1:3 duty cycle would use more than that.

Brettmm92

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Posted: 06/27/20 05:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The fridge would be great if it worked but I don't need it. I would plan on trying to use it with propane and the solar just to enable it to run off propane.

Doubling up on everything is out of my budget right now and might not be what I neccessarily want. Maybe if I start to get big on it and mounting things on the roof. For now I just want one panel, and one 12 volt or two 6 volt batteries.

I noticed that the renogy panel kit I was looking at comes with a 30 amp pwm controller, but has a cheaper option to step down for less $ to use a 10 amp pwm controller but that one has usb ports. That would enable me to not fret about the power inverter unless I want to expand. Is there anything bad about getting the 10 amp? I'm assuming it will charge my phone, batteries and hopefully keep my fridge running. And I could always upgrade charge controllers if/when the time is right.

TomG2

Central Illinois

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Posted: 06/27/20 06:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are dozens of helpful YouTube videos explaining and reviewing available aolar equipment. You will get nothing but bad comments on here about the HF stuff. They may be junk, I don't have any. I do like their Plug and Play concept. Checking polarity and finding out you have a positive ground system connected to a negative ground trailer may not be fun. I actually had to reverse the wiring labels on a Renogy panel to make it work with my controller.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 06/27/20 06:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Brettmm92 wrote:


Doubling up on everything is out of my budget right now and might not be what I neccessarily want. Maybe if I start to get big on it and mounting things on the roof. For now I just want one panel, and one 12 volt or two 6 volt batteries.

I noticed that the renogy panel kit I was looking at comes with a 30 amp pwm controller, but has a cheaper option to step down for less $ to use a 10 amp pwm controller but that one has usb ports.


Go with the 2 six volt golf cart batteries.

The biggest mistake I made was to by a charge controller that was "just big enough". If you did go with the smaller capacity controller and then found you did not have enough power from a single panel you might not be able to add a 2nd panel. The panels are almost the cheapest part of solar these days.

Having usb charging ports on a controller is not any particular advantage as you can find a 12 volt to usb adapter at a dollar store, for about a dollar.

Brettmm92

North Carolina

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Posted: 06/27/20 07:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm not sure what you mean about a 12 volt to usb adapter. Are you talking about the thing that sticks into a cigarette lighter and has a female usb on it? If not could you send a picture of what you mean?

And wouldn't I need a power inverter to use the adapter? I'm assuming that they can't just be easily hooked on a battery, or can they?

And I bought the 10 amp kit but can easily cancel it on amazon as it probably won't ship until Monday

Brettmm92

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Posted: 06/27/20 07:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

And I honestly am surprised that the panels are so relatively cheap. There's a decently reviewed 100 watt one for 75ish dollars on amazon that might be the same as renogy

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