Camping Solar Set ups

Romer

RS Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Aug 22, 2005
Messages
9,415
Location
Centennial, Colorado
I have solar on my Kimberley Karavan and that is awesome letting me keep my Lithium batteries charged for days at a time

Some times I go with my Roof Top tent and have debated on a small solar setup. I do have dual batteries and when moving every few days that has kept the fridge running 24 hrs with no issues

I am curious what some members have for small setups and what they can do with them. How small do they pack as well.

This thread is about collecting what folks have already and a good place to ask questions.
 

DaveInDenver

Rising Sun Ham Guru
Joined
Jun 8, 2006
Messages
11,089
Location
Grand Junction
I assembled a pair of 50 watt panels into a suitcase that feeds a controller (I use a Morningstar Sun Saver 15 MPPT) that I can plug into a panel either under the hood or in the back wall of the bed.

It made the most sense for me because of the way the 'Nest works mounting a panel fast to it renders it useless when deployed. Plus doing it this way allowed me to tweak tilt and aim, so my panel can follow the sun all day and any time of year.

This was Mk1, just one panel. Which I found was OK for maintaining but over the course of a day wasn't quite enough if I needed to put significant charge back in. I only run the fridge, which consumes about 1.5 A-hr, so about 36 A-hr per day (although I actually only see about 24ish as it rarely runs all night except on the White Rim in August).

A 50W panel was giving me generally only about 25 to 30 A-hr per day. The Mk2 100W suitcase on most days gets me back to float from overnight draw by lunch.

IMG_0710_mid.jpg
 

Romer

RS Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Aug 22, 2005
Messages
9,415
Location
Centennial, Colorado
Dave, I have an Anderson connector tied to my battery setup to connect the trailer while driving. Can I plug that MPPT controller in there and will it charge the battery with what you described? I actually have an MPPT controller I pulled out of the camper as I wanted one with Blue tooth so I could see how the panels were doing
 

fyffer

Rising Sun Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Messages
138
Location
Trinidad, CO
As result of a previous incident had to modify an existing set up (Marco). Running a new 100 W renogy solar panel (cables) permanently mounted (semi hidden) beneath my roof rack. To a new waterproof (renogy) PWM controller under the Hood to dual batteries. Batteries are always fully charged even when not driving (2-3 weeks). Traveling running a big fridge, several accessories inside, a newer 1200W pure sine wave converter (rarely used) except USB port (As I am a smoker and anticipate a future B/C- pap of sort).

For my camper I do have a MPPT controller connected to a 1700ah LiPo Renogy battery, thats hooked up with an automatic transfer switch 3000W renogy inverter. That really is not working worth a ..it. (sucks more power than it provides).

But the rig itself is exceptional, thanks Marco.
Could send PIC's if wanted.

Mike
 

Inukshuk

Rising Sun Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2005
Messages
6,253
Location
Denver, CO
Couple cheap folding panels 100W panels that I hook up as needed either to Dometic PLB40's (40AH Li-ion) or the truck battery.
One is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FH85FW9/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_89S07360JZ1QPD0FSSPX?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 I grabbed for $65.00 on a crazy sale. Very convenient to carry and use.
Second is older style hard panels that don't pack nearly as well but were equally cheap. I have used them through the truck group 31 battery. But only once, when I was at one spot for a week.
Never needed solar when it was just a 50 QT ARB running, but the 75 qt dual zone Dometic needs more power.
I have found that by day I charge a PLB40 and run the fridge direct off the truck (i.e. not through the PLB40. Then at night I draw down the PLB40 running the fridge.
 

Shuksan

Rising Sun Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Messages
820
Location
Denver
I have had a few setups over the past few years as I our camping has adjusted with kids.

I have a jackery 300 and the 100 W folding panel a number of us got for a steal at $65. I mostly use this setup when solo camping or just out with a kid to run a heated blanket in the RTT, charge headlamps, etc.
IMG_3759 2.jpeg
When we bought a travel trailer last year, the factory solar/batter setup was insufficient. Installed 4 x 100 W panels on roof (series/parallel setup) to a victron mppt to charge a 200 Ah LiFePO4. Turned off converter as it isn't necessary to keep us topped off. Battery comes inside for the winter. Maybe went a little overboard, but it was fun and we have enough juice for whatever we want. Not wired into the trailer's AC systems, but we really don't use those (AC and microwave). Will probably add a small inverter for charging laptops.
IMG_4884.jpeg
Planning to put a 50/100W flex panel on my hardshell RTT as a permanent battery tender for the land cruiser. Not necessarily for camping, just to keep battery happy.
 

ChewBaca

Rising Sun Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2014
Messages
113
Location
Thornton
I have a goal zero yeti 1000 that I picked up from Costco several years ago. I first used a 100 watt solar panel from Amazon to charge the yeti but the panel was too big to lug around all the time so I recently purchased a refurbished fold up 100 watt panel that is working so far. I wasn't sure what size of yeti to get when I first made my purchase, maybe its too much for my needs but so far does a great job with my fridge, heating blanket, coffee maker, charge station while I'm out.
 

AimCOTaco

Commander
Staff member
Cruise Moab Committee
Joined
Aug 13, 2010
Messages
2,058
Location
Longmont, CO
Ken,
I laminated a thin renogy 100W panel to my RTT with just some silicone sealant in a few spots. This is fantastic for keeping up my house battery vs the fridge in summer and also maintains my set when parked outside for extended periods.
If I'm not running the RTT I can connect a folding set (the Rockpals shown above) of 100W panel and connect to the same controller.

As a systems engineer, you should really check out the Victron controllers and related gear (it's more yacht tech / less Grampas RV, IMO)... mine tracks the history which gives me lots of data about my use efficiency and the overall condition of my batteries. (I'm using the SmartSolar 100/20 bluetooth and SmartBattery sensor with Bluetooth)

20220221_091314.jpg


Controller app screen shot.
Screenshot_20200722-144200.jpg

I've been on a few week long trips with this set up and it's been great. I plan my parking to get morning sun exposure most of the time, it's nice to see the output when in the tent and have the battery voltage available on the phone around camp.
 

Stuckinthe80s

Rising Sun Member
Staff member
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Messages
1,860
Location
Lakewood, CO
Thanks for starting this @Romer as it is and will be nice to see everyone's setup. I remember the deal on the folding panels and wish I could have gotten in on that.

I'm planning on something modular and transportable as it will be moved between my 80 and my camping trailer as necessary. Hopefully @RayRay27 posts his setup as I recall it being a lot like what I plan on doing.
 

RayRay27

Cruise Moab Committee
Cruise Moab Committee
Joined
Jun 26, 2015
Messages
1,139
Location
Thornton via Boulder
I have a simple system I put together myself. I have a 100w zamp panel with a solar controller that came with my camper when I bought it.
20220225_161102.jpg

20220225_161110.jpg


I then built a battery station using a group 24 deep cycle marine battery from orileys and a camper battery box. I installed a 12v DC socket and dual USB plug in with a rocker switch and volt meter.
20220225_161126.jpg

20220225_161142.jpg


I then installed a 400w inverter that I had laying around from harbor freight on top along with a small solar panel to trickle charge it. On the back of the battery box I installed a connection to directly plug in the solar panel.
20220225_161153.jpg

20220225_161117.jpg


Then when I'm not using it I leave it on the battery tender until I need to use it.
20220225_161504.jpg

20220225_161520.jpg


This type of set up may not work for a lot of people because it's kind of awkward and heavy to transport around but when I looked at the cost of some of the battery stations on the market I was able to build this for around 170 bucks. Plus I can change the battery out once it's done, something that you can't do with most of the stations you buy now.

It fits all of my needs right now. I can charge all sorts or devices and run a tv and DVD player if I wanted to off the inverter on top with the panel plugged in.
 

floating_lc

Wincher
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
74
Location
Boulder, co
I'm no craftsman, but I managed to cobble together a small system contained in the back of my fj80 - 165ah 12v battery, Renergy controller, Renergy 100w flex panel mounted to my RTT, and a cheap 1600watt inverter I extended the faceplate on. I can work full time remotely (laptop), run my fridge, lights, etc with zero issues using this system as long as it is sunny most days. As a backup, I have a small inverter mounted up front powered by duel front battery setup (3 batteries on this rig is a bit much but nice)

IMG_20210926_191942311.jpg

IMAG0469.jpg
IMAG0462.jpg
IMAG0466.jpg
IMAG0455.jpg
IMAG0477.jpg
 
Top