Overwhelmed, need advice.

#1
Hey y’all. I’m putting together a to do list for 2019 and power management is at the top.

Current setup is dual battery with a Blue Sea ACR. The house battery runs an indel tb51b and assorted led camp lights.
The current house battery is a 48aH yellowtop.

I’m goung to upgrade to a 100 aH house battery first thing.

The rig, a suburban, is used for base camp for fishing weekends and for music festivals. The longest it will sit in one spot is 5 days. With the constant opening and closing of the fridge it runs pretty much constantly except at night.
The battery is being depleted in about two days.

I want to add solar but am completely overwhelmed by the amount of info on the forum.

Please, tell me what so,ar set up you’d recommend for my needs.

Thanks
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
#2
You've got ~44" between the roof rack rails, you can fit many models of panel crossways and there's room up there for at least 2 panels and if you don't have a sunroof, probably a 3rd. Depends on the panel model and mounting, you ought to get at least 7Ah per panel and potentially twice that.
A little creativity in the mounting frames and you can have panels that can be readily raised / tilted to generate more power than they would if mounted flat. The more perpendicular to the Sun, the more power generated.
I'm here in Los Angeles, ~34degN and even now just a couple weeks past the winter solstice I'm still getting ~5A out of a flat mounted panel on my Sub's roof.
My setup is atypical, for several of my own reasons and I'm a cheap bastard, so I can't give you much 'market' advice on what to use. My system works for me / my needs. Mostly having 120VAC available from my vehicle via a 1000W inverter. I have an Aux battery in our factory under-hood location, but again I've chosen an atypical battery for my (limited) 'House' needs, preferring to use a standard Grp78 that matches my Starter battery and both of which are a widely-available and relatively affordable variety.

You'll get the best performance keeping your vehicle interior as cool as possible, your cooler sheltered from the sun, and being able to store as much power as possible during peak solar-generating hours. Your decision to up your 'house' setup to 100Ah is a good one. I'm curious where you intend to mount them?
My own platform design could be tall enough to hold several batteries in the rear cargo area. In my case - again driven by my own design decisions, which include the intent to have a receiver-hitch-mounted winch which could be plugged in at both front and rear of the vehicle - I've run 1/0 cabling to the rear corner of my vehicle and have a power distribution / conversion setup there that will let me charge or power just about anything, via a variety of connector types.

Too, having 2-3 panels on the roof will go a good way towards keeping your vehicle interior cooler. The elevated painted plywood deck I've put over most of my vehicle roof has made a large difference in keeping the interior cooler. The shade from 3 panels would be quite similar in effect.

Consider what other electrical uses you'd like to facilitate, now would be the time to implement them. Camera and drone battery recharging?
Too, you might consider multiple inverter solutions both for redundancy but more importantly to 'right-size' the inverter to the charging need, as an inverter is itself a power consumer and running a huge inverter for a small charging requirement will waste a lot of precious juice.

Lastly consider a larger-output alternator, or even one from the emergency vehicle market sector, as those are typically engineered to put out more amps at lower RPMs. See also the competitive car stereo hobby / market for other power-generating enhancements. All of those things have a stiff price though.

Really depends how much of a 'turn-key' solution you are looking for, or how much you ascribe to the 'buy once, cry once' purchase model. Again for my own reasons I went with as simple and inexpensive design as possible. Figuring my seteup would be changing over time and partly because most of my DIY projects are more akin to prototyping or 'proof of concept' designs, mine is an iterative process, things evolve over time or are re-worked. So I wasn't going to sink $1000+ into higher-end brand name parts. Your methods and choices probably differ.
It might help to convey some of your preferences in this regard, to help shape the responses you get.
 

FlipperFla

Active member
#3
Panels have drastically dropped in price in the last several years. You can purchase a mono 180w panel and controller for around $200 this would give you a little under a 10A charge.
 
#5
I have a 100W foldable panel that I mount to the bonnet (hood) with straps so it doesn't blow away. A vehicle battery and a house battery that after a 300+ mile day charges enough to last about 3 days of just sitting. I rig up the panel to a solar controller after one day and it keeps the house battery very well charged to operate fridge and interior added lights. The batteries are 3 years old and I am thinking of replacing them soon as they are a bit weak and when sitting in the garage go to 11.8 volts. enough to start the LR but not enough to run the fridge.
The vehicle does keep a bit cooler as there is a full length roof rack and I usually leave the moon roof open just a bit to exhaust the interior. Darkened windows help, but in 100 deg days nothing really helps.
 
#6
You've got ~44" between the roof rack rails, you can fit many models of panel crossways and there's room up there for at least 2 panels and if you don't have a sunroof, probably a 3rd. Depends on the panel model and mounting, you ought to get at least 7Ah per panel and potentially twice that.
A little creativity in the mounting frames and you can have panels that can be readily raised / tilted to generate more power than they would if mounted flat. The more perpendicular to the Sun, the more power generated.
I'm here in Los Angeles, ~34degN and even now just a couple weeks past the winter solstice I'm still getting ~5A out of a flat mounted panel on my Sub's roof.
My setup is atypical, for several of my own reasons and I'm a cheap bastard, so I can't give you much 'market' advice on what to use. My system works for me / my needs. Mostly having 120VAC available from my vehicle via a 1000W inverter. I have an Aux battery in our factory under-hood location, but again I've chosen an atypical battery for my (limited) 'House' needs, preferring to use a standard Grp78 that matches my Starter battery and both of which are a widely-available and relatively affordable variety.

You'll get the best performance keeping your vehicle interior as cool as possible, your cooler sheltered from the sun, and being able to store as much power as possible during peak solar-generating hours. Your decision to up your 'house' setup to 100Ah is a good one. I'm curious where you intend to mount them?
My own platform design could be tall enough to hold several batteries in the rear cargo area. In my case - again driven by my own design decisions, which include the intent to have a receiver-hitch-mounted winch which could be plugged in at both front and rear of the vehicle - I've run 1/0 cabling to the rear corner of my vehicle and have a power distribution / conversion setup there that will let me charge or power just about anything, via a variety of connector types.

Too, having 2-3 panels on the roof will go a good way towards keeping your vehicle interior cooler. The elevated painted plywood deck I've put over most of my vehicle roof has made a large difference in keeping the interior cooler. The shade from 3 panels would be quite similar in effect.

Consider what other electrical uses you'd like to facilitate, now would be the time to implement them. Camera and drone battery recharging?
Too, you might consider multiple inverter solutions both for redundancy but more importantly to 'right-size' the inverter to the charging need, as an inverter is itself a power consumer and running a huge inverter for a small charging requirement will waste a lot of precious juice.

Lastly consider a larger-output alternator, or even one from the emergency vehicle market sector, as those are typically engineered to put out more amps at lower RPMs. See also the competitive car stereo hobby / market for other power-generating enhancements. All of those things have a stiff price though.

Really depends how much of a 'turn-key' solution you are looking for, or how much you ascribe to the 'buy once, cry once' purchase model. Again for my own reasons I went with as simple and inexpensive design as possible. Figuring my seteup would be changing over time and partly because most of my DIY projects are more akin to prototyping or 'proof of concept' designs, mine is an iterative process, things evolve over time or are re-worked. So I wasn't going to sink $1000+ into higher-end brand name parts. Your methods and choices probably differ.
It might help to convey some of your preferences in this regard, to help shape the responses you get.
Size matters!
 
#9
I have a 100W foldable panel that I mount to the bonnet (hood) with straps so it doesn't blow away. A vehicle battery and a house battery that after a 300+ mile day charges enough to last about 3 days of just sitting. I rig up the panel to a solar controller after one day and it keeps the house battery very well charged to operate fridge and interior added lights. The batteries are 3 years old and I am thinking of replacing them soon as they are a bit weak and when sitting in the garage go to 11.8 volts. enough to start the LR but not enough to run the fridge.
The vehicle does keep a bit cooler as there is a full length roof rack and I usually leave the moon roof open just a bit to exhaust the interior. Darkened windows help, but in 100 deg days nothing really helps.
Sounds like a similar setup to mine. What kind of fridge are you running and how many amp hour house battery?
 
#10
I’ve noticed the Renogy systems in this range. Know anything about them?
Renogy panels an controllers have good reviews. Check out Hightec Solar and Renogy on EBay. Im going to upgrade to the Hightec 180W mono. Got really good reviews, free shipping , American made, 15 year warranty, 3 buss for low light conditions.
 
#11
I’ve noticed the Renogy systems in this range. Know anything about them?
Renogy gets alot of good reviews. Good value for the price. Watch for sale prices. I bought a couple 100W 'mono-modules last month .95/watt. They are good construction,
Also their 20A MPPT controller. No comment on its performance yet. But its quality construction too, albeit fairly large. Hope it fits its proposed location... Once it quits raining, I will get those things installed.
 
#12
Another option for panels is to make use of the increased voltage an MPPT controller can handle, a higher voltage panel can produce useful power for a longer period than the standard "12 volt" offerings.
I found an "orphaned" panel from a commercial solar installer for less than $.50/watt, most installations use pairs of panels, a broken or unused one is no use to them.
The panel is 310 watts and runs about 35-40 volts. Even before the sun touches it I am getting a few amps at 13 volts to charge my house battery, full sun is 20+ amps per hour, probably 3-4 times your draw.
It measures 4' x 6', with a few pieces of angle aluminum and some U-bolts it sits happily in my rack and hasn't minded horrible washboards or off-roading.
I use a Victron controller, for the reliability, programmability and the bluetooth interface, which is pretty awesome, but it was not the cheapest option. they are not really happy in the engine bay, but the closer you can put them to the house battery, the better. If you can afford it, oversize the cables between the controller and the battery, see if you can get 0-3% voltage drop.
Generally, an MPPT controller can handle (but not use) an excess of watts, but not an excess of voltage. If your panel is less than 80% of the rated voltage, you should be fine. Look to the Voc (open circuit voltage) rating on the panel to see what the highest output is. Call around your local solar companies (you do not want to pay for shipping, they have already) and ask if they have any single panels they want to get rid of. Most are going to be at least 250-300 watts, have proper wire & MC4 connectors and a pretty sturdy frame. Half price is an ok place to start, you may be able to get them for less. With a good size panel, the efficiency is not as important as with "12v." panels, 16% or better should work fine if it is between 30-50 volts.

Here is a link for an MPPT that can handle up to 290 watts of power, has a 5 year warrantee and a bluetooth app. It's sold by PKYS, cheaper than Amazon and he provides excellent support and clear informative instructions and blogs on all things power related. Even if you decide to shop elsewhere, his information is top quality, and should help you figure out how to put together a safe, reliable system.
https://shop.pkys.com/Victron-Energ...ntroller-with-built-in-Bluetooth-_p_7182.html
 
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