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I'm looking for a reliable, 80W or 100W portable solar panel system. There are lots out there but maybe you have had one for awhile and can give me a recommendation.

And maybe you can answer a question for me. I currently have a house battery and a Battery Doctor isolator. Is it okay to hook the solar panel (with controller of course) directly to the house battery? (i.e. it won't affect the van battery or any of the circuits that i have connected to the house battery via a fuse block?).
 

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Yes it is. The controller will have terminals just for that. Then the B-D will isolate the batteries so the solar doesn’t connect to the starter battery. Since you won’t have a need to charge from the starter battery very often, you should install a switch to disable the B-D unless you have an unusually cloudy or high use day(s). That lets the solar charge and float charge your batteries properly.
 

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the renogy 100W solar suitcase is a pretty good value. Plus when your friend runs over half of it, you still have a 50 w panel :)
 

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Don’t waste your time and money on"portable solar"! Yes, I know all the excuses but that’s all they are. In the real world permanent panels on your roof will work as well without any of the messing around. Unless you plan to park in a garage the panels will work just fine. I’ve never even tried yo park in the sun so my panels get the optimum exposure and I’ve never been short of power or fully charged batteries.

This is very similar to those people who spend all kinds of time and money building a bed that will fold up out of the way. After a few days they just forget it as it’s just a major PITA and it stay down all the time ;)
 

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This is very similar to those people who spend all kinds of time and money building a bed that will fold up out of the way. After a few days they just forget it as it’s just a major PITA and it stay down all the time ;)
Hey! I resemble that remark ;) Kinda in the throws of prototyping it, lately.

Back OT...

One thought I had after dismissing portable solar and probably equally silly, is a flexible panel above the windshield on a hightop.
 

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In my old Sprinter I spent all kinds of time building a bed that converted into a dinette. In 11 years I used it once as a dinette and the rest of the time it remained a bed!

Been there - did that ;)
 

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The way I come down on dual-use or extended use things is they only make sense if you use both modes.

Portable solar? Might make sense if you need extended capacity for long-term boondocking, or if you had some portable needs like a booth at swap meet or ham field event or something like that.

But these use cases are few and far between.
 

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Don’t waste your time and money on"portable solar"! Yes, I know all the excuses but that’s all they are. In the real world permanent panels on your roof will work as well without any of the messing around. Unless you plan to park in a garage the panels will work just fine. I’ve never even tried yo park in the sun so my panels get the optimum exposure and I’ve never been short of power or fully charged batteries.

This is very similar to those people who spend all kinds of time and money building a bed that will fold up out of the way. After a few days they just forget it as it’s just a major PITA and it stay down all the time ;)
I have to agree. I put 4 of the Renogy 100 watt panels on our roof. They do a great job of keeping the house batteries charged!
 

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...bed that converted into a dinette. In 11 years I used it once as a dinette...
Been there - did that ;)
For a couple of years we solved the bed or dinette issue... we just dragged around a cute little fiberglass trailer : )



What a cozy place on the trail! We would sleep in the van and lounge in the Parkliner:



but dragging that little trailer up forestry roads got as old as any daily conversion from bed to dinette,
So we got a Promaster with conversational lounge (swiveling cab seats) forward and a full time platform bed (with Froli Sleep System) in back.

( : All this and heaven too? . . . with 300 watts of solar attached to the PM roof < had to get back to the OP ; )

Thom
 

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I know this is somewhat of an older thread but I have the same question. 90% of the time the vehicle charging system is just fine for what we do. Once in a while we stay somewhere for a number of days. Having solar would be nice for that. I was thinking of a portable system because it is not needed much. Seems that most seem to think a permanently installed system is still the way to go even if you park in the shade. I would think the output would be much lower in the shade but maybe there is still enough to make a difference. Is it worth doing a 100w panel on the roof to start with?

My other concern is wind resistance. I think I would use solid panels raised off of the roof top with some kind of a rack. Does this take a bite out of MPG? I would think it would do so at least a little. I already have a fan on the roof so maybe it is not that much.

My loads are not that much. I have a fridge (~4A) and the roof vent fan (~2A at most) plus charging phones (~4A at most) and a few LED lights and other small fans.

Thx
 

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I know this is somewhat of an older thread but I have the same question. 90% of the time the vehicle charging system is just fine for what we do. Once in a while we stay somewhere for a number of days. Having solar would be nice for that. I was thinking of a portable system because it is not needed much. Seems that most seem to think a permanently installed system is still the way to go even if you park in the shade. I would think the output would be much lower in the shade but maybe there is still enough to make a difference. Is it worth doing a 100w panel on the roof to start with?

My other concern is wind resistance. I think I would use solid panels raised off of the roof top with some kind of a rack. Does this take a bite out of MPG? I would think it would do so at least a little. I already have a fan on the roof so maybe it is not that much.

My loads are not that much. I have a fridge (~4A) and the roof vent fan (~2A at most) plus charging phones (~4A at most) and a few LED lights and other small fans.

Thx
I think having to get a solar panel out would be a pain. I wouldn't want to store one. Kind of a big clunky thing to store. And you won't really save any money over mounting it. Will you get more sun if you can direct it to the sun? Yes but you won't get sun if it isn't out. I think a mounted panel will do way better than a panel that you can tilt toward the sun because the mounted panel is always out. And you'll need to constantly move the portable panel to get the best angles for the sun.

I don't think the panels will hurt your gas mileage especially if they're mounted further back. You can always put a little fairing on the front. I'd go with 200 watts minimum. You can get the renogy eclipse panels if you're worried about space.

Solar is such an easy solution and its inexpensive as well. I'd say dollar for dollar is some of the best money you'll spend on the van. A fridge and fan (running at 100%) could use quite a bit of amp hours on a day. Even though you may be driving everyday, will you be driving at least a couple of hours? Anyone want to chime in on how long it would take to charge up 200ah of batteries at 50% from the alternator? Having all three systems, no way I'd rely on my driving to charge. I'd constantly be thinking about my batteries.

Ultimately I gave you a long winded response to say the same thing KOV said above. Don't waste your money on portable solar. There's a reason you don't see anyone using it.

Sent from my SM-P900 using Tapatalk
 

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There is another reason to have hardwired solar. Your batteries. Solar does a great job at charging them, keeping them full when you are not camping and most solar controllers have settings for your battery type. L-A batteries need to be filled while setting. Many of us with 200 watts or more really don’t use the alternator to charge. We can but why would you? The solenoid or Battery Doctor can be switched off. The alternator is designed to charge a starting battery not a deep cycle storage battery. Ask some folks who adopted solar late in their build like MsNomer and KOV. They come into the light and become evangelists for a reason. Solar is Magic.
 

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Here's the problem I had. We just went camping at the lake for a few days. Zero sun on the van as we were parked under a thick stand of trees. Thank goodness too cause it was hotter than ****. Took my Renogy 100w suitcase, set it out in the sun about 20 feet away and bob's your uncle. Been in several situations just like that already. Lots of trees here in TN and I park under them whenever possible.
 

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Here's the problem I had. We just went camping at the lake for a few days. Zero sun on the van as we were parked under a thick stand of trees. Thank goodness too cause it was hotter than ****. Took my Renogy 100w suitcase, set it out in the sun about 20 feet away and bob's your uncle. Been in several situations just like that already. Lots of trees here in TN and I park under them whenever possible.
That is my thoughts too. Some here have stated that you will still get some charge when parked under trees. Have you ever tested that to see how much loss there is? I would think the thickness of the forest you are in would make a difference too. I thought you would loose 80 or 90% of the capability but maybe it is less?

Guess maybe starting with a standard panel as a portable or portable system like you have is a good way to start. Cost is not that high and can always change it later if it does not work out.

I totally agree that parking the van in the shade is priority number 1 to keep it cooler inside.
 

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Here's the problem I had. We just went camping at the lake for a few days. Zero sun on the van as we were parked under a thick stand of trees. Thank goodness too cause it was hotter than ****. Took my Renogy 100w suitcase, set it out in the sun about 20 feet away and bob's your uncle. Been in several situations just like that already. Lots of trees here in TN and I park under them whenever possible.
I've been toying with the idea of adding a flexible 160W solar panel to be used when camping in shade for days at a time. I have 280W on the roof and I'm using a Midnight Solar The Kid 30A controller. I am wondering how I would go about connect the flexible panel to my system. Is there a way to add an external port to the system between the roof panels and the charge controller?

Thanks
Shaun
 

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I've been toying with the idea of adding a flexible 160W solar panel to be used when camping in shade for days at a time. I have 280W on the roof and I'm using a Midnight Solar The Kid 30A controller. I am wondering how I would go about connect the flexible panel to my system. Is there a way to add an external port to the system between the roof panels and the charge controller?

Thanks
Shaun
Sounds like you have a pretty big loss in charging ability when parked in the shade. Any thoughts on how much this loss is?

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

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If I understand your question correctly... in the shade there is zero charging ability. I'm talking about situations in many National Forests that are tree covered and the only sun might be a small area that I would move the portable panel to harness the sun.
 
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