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Old 01-02-2017, 07:25 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: West Kelowna
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British Columbia
Question Solar Install

Hey all. So we purchased our 2017 Aspen Trail 2340BHSWE in September. We have a 4000w Generator to drag around with us when headed into the bush but just picked up 2 of the Coleman 40 Watt Solar panels from Canadian tire for $90 bucks each to use when in Provincial or state campgrounds that have no hookups and I don't want to run the noisy Gen set. My question is how are guys mounting them to the roof of their units? I want to install them the best way possible and I have heard so many different ideas on how to do it. Also these panels came with the 7 amp charge controllers and 8' of wire. I will upgrade the wiring as I need it longer anyways but thoughts or experience with the charge controllers and what a good mounting kit is?

Thanks for any info
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:33 PM   #2
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We use a portable 2 panel 80 watt setup, the charge controller is mounted on the back of one panel and the panels are hinged together. This setup allows us to put the panel in the sun and the trailer in the shade. The connection is done via plug at the battery box which houses 2 - 6 volt batteries. I also replaced original cable with 25 feet of 10 or 12 gauge cabtire cable. In order to monitor power use, a Bogart Engineering TM-2025 was installed and this tracks all usage and can also identify when something has been inadvertently left on. This may not be the ideal installation, but it has functioned well for us and we very seldom have to use the generator when out and about.

Cheers
Daryl B.
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Old 01-03-2017, 03:08 PM   #3
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I applaud your investment in solar, but those panels were very expensive with respect to $/watt. They should do fine at keeping up with parasitic draws but have a hard time achieving a meaningful recharge on a daily basis. At the most, you'll see around 6 amps under ideal charging conditions. So estimate 6A * 4 hrs/day = 24 Ah/day harvest, sometimes more but usually less. Therefore, I'd keep them as a portable kit that you plug in during camping or storage. An advantage of keeping them portable is that you can park the camper in the shade and set the panels up in the sun. You can also relocate them throughout the day to maximize harvest. With a roof-mounted permanent install, you must park in the sun for them to work. Longer wire may make your panels more useful but keep in mind that this will add resistance which will cause voltage loss in your solar harvest. On a permanent install, the goal is to minimize the wire length between the controller and batteries in order to minimize this voltage loss. You can counter this resistance by using larger gauge wire.

For a permanent install, aim for a minimum of 100 watts per battery. For a smaller system like 2 batteries or less, aim for even more watts per battery because you'll be more dependent on the daily harvest to get through the next night.

I'm not in Canada so I don't know the shipping hurdles or pricing comparisons. But I have bought my solar panels from Solar Boulevard with great results. At least this might give you a good idea of a $/watt pricing scale for solar purchases. If buying several panels, then there is money to be saved by buying higher voltage panels (less $/watt) and using an MPPT controller (more expensive than a comparable PWM but that cost is offset by the savings with the higher voltage panels).
https://www.solarblvd.com/index.php?cPath=1_269
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2012 Aspen Trail 2710BH | 280 watts of solar on the roof | 2x6V GC batteries | 100% LED lighting | 1500 & 300 watt PSW inverters | so far strictly boondocking
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