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Solar panel in the luggage rack
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, IMDBui.

If you want a panel that is hard mounted to your pop-top to deliver its rated output, you have to park the vehicle very precisely. Panels not oriented at 90 degrees to the sun will not deliver their rated output.

The whole purpose of a solar panel(s) is to charge your auxiliary battery to replace battery power you have used, without running your engine. Solar panels on a moving vehicle do not charge well. The reason is that the constant changes in panel output that occur due to being in motion (unless you are driving in only one direction in constant sun at the right angle) lead to constant changes in charge controller output and deep cycle batteries do not charge well in those circumstances. An auxiliary battery system should be configured so that any time one is operating the engine, the auxiliary battery is being charged.

I store my folding panel in my garage in one place together with all the stuff I usually load up for a camping trip. This way, my van is not a break-in target when I use it when not camping. Note that without the suitcase, the folding panel sits well below the plane level of the Westy pop-top.

In actual use, I think you might well find that a portable panel is very useful, especially if you camp anywhere featuring trees. We have a few trees up here in BC. So, a quick-release mount for your panel might be a good idea.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
This one from Renogy fits nicely:
...
It's a 100W folding unit that comes with a charge controller attached.


Odd. Mine doesn't:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


It fits, but it won't lay flat.

I've also got the controller near the battery and use the city water for solar connection: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7413296#7413296 .
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ThankYouJerry
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^ Does it fit without the case? Also, what kind of controller? MPPT or PWM? Jay Brown says MPPT provides about 20% more current to the battery. I think Renogy will provide that panel with MPPT if you ask them.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ThankYouJerry wrote:
^^^ Does it fit without the case?


Don't know; haven't tried (because I won't be traveling without the case). If I get a chance, I'll try this week for the sake of you all considering one.

ThankYouJerry wrote:
Also, what kind of controller? MPPT or PWM? Jay Brown says MPPT provides about 20% more current to the battery. I think Renogy will provide that panel with MPPT if you ask them.


PWM. I don't have a system that requires the more costly MPPT. The 100W is actually overkill for my setup, but I planned for potential expansion. Perhaps in the future I'll need to upgrade to MPPT, but for now the PWM is working well.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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joetiger Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
Thanks, IMDBui.

If you want a panel that is hard mounted to your pop-top to deliver its rated output, you have to park the vehicle very precisely. Panels not oriented at 90 degrees to the sun will not deliver their rated output.

The whole purpose of a solar panel(s) is to charge your auxiliary battery to replace battery power you have used, without running your engine. Solar panels on a moving vehicle do not charge well. The reason is that the constant changes in panel output that occur due to being in motion (unless you are driving in only one direction in constant sun at the right angle) lead to constant changes in charge controller output and deep cycle batteries do not charge well in those circumstances. An auxiliary battery system should be configured so that any time one is operating the engine, the auxiliary battery is being charged.


This is valuable info, thank you. I keep going back and forth between a more permanent mount vs. going portable which, for anyone following along, is discussed at length in this thread :

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=609971&highlight=solar+portable
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imdbui
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

joetiger wrote:
Howesight wrote:
Thanks, IMDBui.

If you want a panel that is hard mounted to your pop-top to deliver its rated output, you have to park the vehicle very precisely. Panels not oriented at 90 degrees to the sun will not deliver their rated output.

The whole purpose of a solar panel(s) is to charge your auxiliary battery to replace battery power you have used, without running your engine. Solar panels on a moving vehicle do not charge well. The reason is that the constant changes in panel output that occur due to being in motion (unless you are driving in only one direction in constant sun at the right angle) lead to constant changes in charge controller output and deep cycle batteries do not charge well in those circumstances. An auxiliary battery system should be configured so that any time one is operating the engine, the auxiliary battery is being charged.


This is valuable info, thank you. I keep going back and forth between a more permanent mount vs. going portable which, for anyone following along, is discussed at length in this thread :

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=609971&highlight=solar+portable


Good points. I hadn't considered all those benefits of a portable panel. I think the best of both worlds would be to have a semi-permanent install that can be removed and positioned. Guess it all depends on how you'd use it though.
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
Howesight wrote:
This one from Renogy fits nicely:
...
It's a 100W folding unit that comes with a charge controller attached.


Odd. Mine doesn't:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


It fits, but it won't lay flat.

I've also got the controller near the battery and use the city water for solar connection: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7413296#7413296 .


Hey Kamz:

I agree that the Renogy 100W folding unit is a tight fit in the luggage rack. I had to press firmly on the "suitcase" to get mine to sit flat. I think there is some variance in the suitcase size. In my case, I was not too worried because I do plan to make a luggage rack cover and then not use the suitcase at all. Did you find the 100 watts was enough for your rig? I have not had much opportunity yet to test mine.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
I agree that the Renogy 100W folding unit is a tight fit in the luggage rack. I had to press firmly on the "suitcase" to get mine to sit flat. I think there is some variance in the suitcase size.


That must be it. When I was in Bullhead/Laughlin in February, I put it up in the bin to make the short trip to Lake Mohave. I tried forcing it down (unlike in that garage pic), but it wouldn't go. The case is rather thick, plus the zipper and handle; so all three are the issue. It's not a big deal; just makes attaching hooks behind it a little more difficult.

Howesight wrote:
Did you find the 100 watts was enough for your rig? I have not had much opportunity yet to test mine.


Like I said above, 100W is overkill for my van, but I wanted to be prepared for potential future expansion. It keeps my little aux battery topped up quite easily. All that runs off my aux is the ARB, Dometic fan, Westy kitchen stuff, and LED lights.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
ThankYouJerry wrote:
^^^ Does it fit without the case?


Don't know; haven't tried (because I won't be traveling without the case). If I get a chance, I'll try this week for the sake of you all considering one.


Update:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


It fits without the case. I might have to reconsider my not-without-the-case travel requirement, and simply make a thinner protective cover for it. Think

Edit: This all was posted in the folding panel topic, but decided to post it here too:

100W Renogy folding panel:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Removed charge controller from panel and wired in 45 amp Anderson power poles (50 amp that comes with the panel wouldn't fit in the GoWesty city water hook-up box without major modification):
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Stuck the charge controller behind the rear seat:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

(see page 13 for more charge controller info)
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Last edited by kamzcab86 on Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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ThankYouJerry
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^ Thanks. That helps seal the deal for me Very Happy .

Only thing better would be if Renogy made "the perfect folding Westy solar panel" designed specifically for the Westy luggage rack... say 18"x44" plus a case and say... 200W Very Happy Pray ???
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:


It fits without the case. I might have to reconsider my not-without-the-case travel requirement, and simply make a thinner protective cover for it. Think


Not sure if this has been mentioned but the renogy 100w folding panel fits perfectly in the upper rear bed area with the top closed...with the protective case. I've been very happy with mine.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

outwesty wrote:
Not sure if this has been mentioned but the renogy 100w folding panel fits perfectly in the upper rear bed area with the top closed...with the protective case.


True, but I've already got enough rearward weight when traveling. Wink Plus, for me, the panel is only used when parked for more than just a night; being in the luggage bin gets it out of the way until it's needed.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is my ideal scenario. A luggage rack hard cover with a flexible panel mounted to it. It would attach using the luggage cleats in the front and some sort of latch in the rear. So it could be unlatched and moved away from the van, or just left in place. The space below the cover will provide a small amount of storage. Too many projects now to work on it.

The Renogy 100W panel looks great, but just need to measure to make sure it can fit onto a cover. It looks close. I imagine trimming the solar panel is out of the question.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The cover would be something like this, maybe rigid PVC with steel tabs that slide into the cleats rather than bungees.
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Dave:

The panel that Kamz and I are both talking about is the Renogy 100watt folding panel. I found that it will fit in the luggage rack with its suitcase, but it is a tight fit, requiring you to squeeze the suitcase down a bit. Without the suitcase, it is not even proud above the top plane of the luggage rack and would fit under a luggage rack cover. That is my plan, and as such, my cover will be shaped to ensure the Renogy will fit. In that case, there will be no need for the suitcase.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
Hi Dave:

The panel that Kamz and I are both talking about is the Renogy 100watt folding panel. I found that it will fit in the luggage rack with its suitcase, but it is a tight fit, requiring you to squeeze the suitcase down a bit. Without the suitcase, it is not even proud above the top plane of the luggage rack and would fit under a luggage rack cover. That is my plan, and as such, my cover will be shaped to ensure the Renogy will fit. In that case, there will be no need for the suitcase.


It's Joe's fault Embarassed , he revived an old thread and I was looking at Dubnuts post of the Renology 100 Watt flexible panel. BTW, I measured the distance between the luggage rack cleats and it is over 21", so I think my plan will work. Now back to your regularly scheduled thread.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

davevickery wrote:


It's Joe's fault Embarassed


Guilty as charged. I finally finished my battery project so now I'm pondering solar power in earnest. Much to consider!
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm finally searching for a luggage rack solution for my solar setup too.

I rarely use the luggage-rack so a permanent setup is best for me. I have a portable 270w panel I can attach to the van when I'm parked in the shade.

The luggage rack would be awesome for just keeping the batteries topped off for the fridge or when parked in close quarters of others (festivals).

Looks like the 25w & 35w mounted panel setup which would have been ideal inside the luggage rack is no longer available at Solarblvd. I'd like to get to at least 60w up there 100w ideal but likely a dream without crazy modifications to the luggage rack itself.

Anyone find any recent panels that fit in the luggage rack?

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here you go. Zamp panels from Germany. It should fit perfectly in the luggage rack and give you 80 amps. You can get the panel without the controller if you desire.
http://www.zampsolar.com/product/slim-line-80-watt-30-amp-solar-rv-kit-zs-80-30a/
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks nice, but the measurements are 20" deep not 18" not sure it would conceal in the luggage rack without popping up.

Have you installed this panel on your rig?

Westified wrote:
Here you go. Zamp panels from Germany. It should fit perfectly in the luggage rack and give you 80 amps. You can get the panel without the controller if you desire.
http://www.zampsolar.com/product/slim-line-80-watt-30-amp-solar-rv-kit-zs-80-30a/

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not installed it. I went and carefully measured my luggage rack. At the bottom it is 19.5" wide. Up about 1.5 inches it is 20 inches wide. So if you use the included brackets screwed to the bottom of the rack it should fit and be either flush or slightly lower than the top of the rack. Measure your rack. I think they are all the same size.

Here are Timwhy measurements:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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