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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Follow up Solar Question

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Katdaddy

Petal, MS USA

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Posted: 04/07/21 07:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I bought a 130 watt solar suitcase lase year for our trips to the mountains, where we have no hookups. It came with a cheap PWM charge controller and alligator clips to connect to the batteries. Used it on our Fall trip and it worked great. On a previous question someone recommended upgrading to a better charge controller and mounting it inside the camper, which I am in the process of doing. In researching the install I have watched countless how to videos. With the suitcase as it stands I just hook the alligator clips to the battery and go. All of the how to videos say I need breakers and shut off switches and fuses. So, what is different between the two? I don't have a lot of space in my battery compartment to mount all of the devices that I see recommended. What do I really NEED? As always all help appreciated.


Little by little, one travels far - J.R.R. Tolkien
There ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. - Mark Twain

2oldman

NM

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Posted: 04/07/21 07:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For 130w I wouldn't bother with any of that.

Yosemite Sam1

Under the pines.

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Posted: 04/07/21 08:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've permanently installed my controller at the back on that aluminum ribs of the solar panel.

That's the address the problem of the connections keep on getting detached because the clips on the controller pressing down to lock in the wirings are too flimsy. Works like a charm now and shorten the time to set up and relocate to catch the sun for my solar panels.

mr_andyj

Georgia

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Posted: 04/07/21 08:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your solar panel probably puts out 18.x volts and the controller will drop that to around 13.x volts for the battery. 18 volts travels down wire more efficiently than 13 volts, so you want the controller as close to the batter as possible , within a foot or two.
I would mount the controller near the battery and use the clips to clip to something that leads to the controller.
Better yet, buy some "Anderson Plugs" and use those instead of clips.
PWM is fine for this small of a system. I prefer an MPPT controller, but both will do the job.

But honestly, your wire is probably so short to begin with that mounting the controller at the panel will be almost the same thing.

sgfrye

north carolina

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Posted: 04/07/21 09:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mr_andyj wrote:

Your solar panel probably puts out 18.x volts and the controller will drop that to around 13.x volts for the battery. 18 volts travels down wire more efficiently than 13 volts, so you want the controller as close to the batter as possible , within a foot or two.
I would mount the controller near the battery and use the clips to clip to something that leads to the controller.
Better yet, buy some "Anderson Plugs" and use those instead of clips.
PWM is fine for this small of a system. I prefer an MPPT controller, but both will do the job.

But honestly, your wire is probably so short to begin with that mounting the controller at the panel will be almost the same thing.


good advice here, especially anderson plugs

ndrorder

Southwest

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Posted: 04/07/21 10:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

To have what you have now with noticeable more performance, just install the MPPT controller on the panel frames like the PWM. Easy peasy.

If you want to squeeze every last amp out of the system, connect the charge controller inside the RV near the batteries or the disconnect solenoid depending where you plan to tie into the RV system. Connect to the RV system with a 20 amp fuse in the positive connection. Connect a 20 amp fuse to the input of the controller from the panels with a standard connector such as the Anderson plugs or I prefer the SAE plugs. Buy new larger and longer wire (old wire was sized to carry less power) to run to the panels with the appropriate panel connections. All this, and you may reap the benefit of an extra half amp or so depending on the wire connected to the panels now.


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Lwiddis

Near DVNP, California

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Posted: 04/07/21 12:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WindyNation sells a weatherproof four stage PWM controler for $25. Buy one of those and mount it to the back of the panel...or close.


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watt solar-Lossigy 200 AMP Lithium battery. TALL flag pole. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist 14 yr. Army -11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad


Lwiddis

Near DVNP, California

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Posted: 04/07/21 12:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I use this controller for my 30 watt panel when the TT is in storage. Three years of good service.

Sandia Man

Rio Rancho, NM

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Posted: 04/07/21 02:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have a solar suitcase we implement from time to time to supplement the solar panels we have on the roof, particularly when camping in forests or on cloudy days. Nothing wrong with trying to eek out an extra .25A/.50A, but as you have stated it may be more work than it's worth.

We have a Renogy solar suitcase and use the rear mounted solar charger until it went through one heck of a monsoon storm, ordered a slightly better water resistant solar charger from Renogy. We did go with a heavier gauge wire mounted directly to battery, simply deploy and connect.

Katdaddy

Petal, MS USA

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Posted: 04/07/21 04:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the replies. I have purchased a Rich Solar MPPT charge controller and plan to mount it close to the batteries. I was wondering if all of the recommended disconnects and fuses or breakers were really needed, as I have none with the current setup and it worked just fine.

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