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Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install
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Vnyd Dog
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:50 pm    Post subject: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Greetings,
I was inspired by recent threads on solar panel discussions and was determined to outfit myself with a setup in time for possibly the last camping trip of the summer (still hoping I get wife approval for DOB in October). While I admire all the unique rooftop mounts, I wasnít ready to commit so I discovered from the previous thread the solar suitcase. That seemed to fit the bill so hereís what I opted to do. I liked the GoWesty SAE solar box and also thought the VanagonLife SAE plug in their rear vent was pretty cool. But, I wanted to keep City Water and I have a Truck Fridge so the flue is no longer in use.
I got the idea to follow others and put the PowerWerx PowerPole in flue with a small twist. For some reason Iím attached to that flue cage and donít like the smooth look. Guess Iím nostalgic that way so I decided to make an ďaccess holeĒ through the flue cage to access the PowerWerx mount in the block-off plate.

Hereís what Iím working with:
https://www.solarblvd.com/products/solar-cynergy-160-watt-foldable-12-volt-solar-panel-2/

Review: Iím a solar noob. I chose this purely based on watts and price. Iím at entry level so I greatly appreciated that it included a basic charge controller. Otherwise, the frame seems sturdy as do the latches. It was pre-wired with 14 AWG so Iím setting out to make a 10 AWG pigtail to connect into all 10 AWG wiring shown below. Anyway, Solar Boulevard was easy to work with. You have to call in your order which I did on a Monday morning and was told they assemble these to order and that it would ship by Friday. By Tuesday afternoon I had received a FedEx shipping notification and on Thursday afternoon I had received it. The only small glitch was it was missing the carrying ďcaseĒ (bag) they charged me $25 for. No trouble. Another email and itís on its way. I worked with Sergio. Very responsive and for $179+$25 bag +$35 shipping +tax, I was about $250 out the door for a setup. Because the suitcase just includes 14 AWG pigtail from the controller, Iím going to fab a 10 AWG harness with PowerPoles to connect to to my 20 foot extension I ordered. Hereís the unboxing:
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As I mentioned, I liked the PowerWerx equipment and they are here in CA too so I called them up and got some tips on what I wanted. Decided to run all 10 AWG using 45 amp connectors. Placed an order online for the below components and received two days later.

Off-the-shelf 20í cable:
https://powerwerx.com/powerpole-connector-extension-cable

PanelPole (note, it comes with smaller 30 amp connectors which I heard could be difficult to squeeze 10 AWG into so I ordered more 45s to replace the top set)
https://powerwerx.com/panelpole-panel-mount-powerpole-housing

PowerPole 45s:
https://powerwerx.com/anderson-powerpole-connectors-45amp-bonded

I discovered their website offers a neat design your own cable. Since I was going to need a cable to run from the panel down to aux batt., I took them up on this and ordered 8 feet (to be safe) with PowerPoles on one end and battery rings on the other, all in 10 AWG:
https://powerwerx.com/dual-conductor-custom-cable

Donít forget your dust condom:
https://powerwerx.com/powerpole-weather-resistant-dust-cap-cover

Here it all is in person:

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On to wiring. Most of this is probably way basic for all you out there, but putting this thread together helped me walk through step by step and I figure it may help others who are newer to the scene. First, routing battery cable inside van.
This is my existing setup:
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1 of 2 aux batts installed in neat location by SAH, nice and close to the water hoses but also close to the hookups making for easy-ish wire-fishing.

First, Iím making the holes. I love the smell of drilled van parts in the morning:

Pilot hole through and through:
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Larger hole in flue vent cage:
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1 1/8 hole drilled for PanelPole:
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And removed the whole assembly after holes in:
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Seal it and mount it:
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Fishing it through:
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With the cabling in the aux batt area, button up the flue:
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Now I had ordered an 8-footer so here Iím going to trim to fit. Yeah I wasted a few bucks on battery rings only to have to cut em and re-crimp. I hadnít considered aspect when I did the custom cable but their website gives you the option of leaving the ends bare, which I should have done since I wanted to trim to fit with just enough slack to be able to service the panel and remove if necessary:
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Done and hook up to batt:
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Voila, van wiring in and done thanks to easy stuff from these guys.

Make a new pigtail for the solar controller:
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In, on, and connected!
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Iím energized!

And a nice bonus, it DOES fit on top.
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Last edited by Vnyd Dog on Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jimf909 Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

That's a helpful post! Well done and thank you.
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Bills85Westy
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Nice write up! I've never made a permanent external connection for my solar setup. (Mine is through the drivers window) so this has given me some good ideas! Thanks,

Bill
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Vnyd Dog
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Added a pic I was able to confirm this am it does fit up top.
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[email protected]
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

You might think about placing the charge controller in the van in case of inclement weather. Don't think it's water tight.
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Vnyd Dog
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
You might think about placing the charge controller in the van in case of inclement weather. Don't think it's water tight.


Yes you're right! Good idea. More wiring...
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shagginwagon83
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Oh man. I'm a little jealous. I just bought the 130w panel from Wise Food Storage. Mine comes with a sweet suitcase though. I'm glad it fits behind the bunk for you.
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Deedee22
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:19 am    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

This is great! I love the modular setup as opposed to attaching to a roof, since I'd only really be using it if I'm parked for a couple of days. I was looking at a setup that has the battery abs controller and outlets built into the setup itself. Expensive but pretty streamlined.
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Vnyd Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:26 am    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Yeah I'm happy with how it came together. There are a lot of more sophisticated setups out there but my goal was a basic install plus I was fortunate enough to already have a solid aux foundation to build on. Test run next weekend camping in the Tahoe area.
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baltik
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Be careful about moisture, I used the same anderson powerwerx connector and water tested it prior to install, the rubber lid was not water tight at all...

I ended up installing mine in lieu of the city water hookup...

On a separate note - does the 160w fit in the luggage rack?
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Vnyd Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

baltik wrote:
Be careful about moisture, I used the same anderson powerwerx connector and water tested it prior to install, the rubber lid was not water tight at all...

I ended up installing mine in lieu of the city water hookup...

On a separate note - does the 160w fit in the luggage rack?

I'll watch for this. And yep, barley fits;

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

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TommyBoyGomes
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:34 am    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

I just got the same panel the other day and am still in the process of wiring everything in.

In your setup, I would move the charge controller into your van as close to your batteries as possible. Between your charge controller and batteries, use the thickest gauge cable that can fit in the terminals. Right now, I imagine there's a lot of voltage drop between CC and batteries which will undercharge your battery.

You may also want to consider a more functional charge controller like a Bogart or Morningstar that allows you to set charging voltage and profiles for your batteries. The one that comes from solar blvd is a little limited. Good luck!
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ntaramorris
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

Awesome write up and associated pics!
Really curious about the performance of this panel (i.e. how many amps are you seeing it produce). You also answered the question "Will it fit in the top bunk"- thank you!

I have a 100 Watt panel on the rear of the pop top and a Windy Nation 30Amp PWM controller mounted behind the drivers seat in my '88 Westy. I am trying to figure out the best way to add this panel into my system (not the connector type but where in the system).

A.From Foldable panel controller direct to the Aux (House Battery)
or
B.Eliminate the foldable panel controller and wire into the existing controller.

Thanks,
Jeff

88 Westy 2.5 Subaru (Bruce Vanner aka. The Hulk)
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

ntaramorris wrote:
Awesome write up and associated pics!
Really curious about the performance of this panel (i.e. how many amps are you seeing it produce). You also answered the question "Will it fit in the top bunk"- thank you!

I have a 100 Watt panel on the rear of the pop top and a Windy Nation 30Amp PWM controller mounted behind the drivers seat in my '88 Westy. I am trying to figure out the best way to add this panel into my system (not the connector type but where in the system).

A.From Foldable panel controller direct to the Aux (House Battery)
or
B.Eliminate the foldable panel controller and wire into the existing controller.

Thanks,
Jeff

88 Westy 2.5 Subaru (Bruce Vanner aka. The Hulk)


I think a couple of people have said that this panel will fit in the top bunk. I bought my portable 130w panel from WiseFoodGroups and it fits in the top bunk. I would imagine if you added another panel you would need to upgrade to a MPPT controller.

This is my 130w panel sitting out for an afternoon. I think my battery was topped off already... But figure I'd post this to make you switch to the MPPT side


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

My second battery and associated terminals and solar hardware are under the rear seat. This allowed me to follow the battery cable into the engine compartment through the firewall and route the solar panel hookup (Andersen PPC) near the license plate opening. The hookup plug lives behind the license plate and is really easy to get to when I need to hook up the solar. No drilling in any external parts of the van - no leaks!
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Vnyd Dog
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:25 am    Post subject: Re: Solar Blvd 160w suitcase and PowerWerx Install Reply with quote

izzydog wrote:
My second battery and associated terminals and solar hardware are under the rear seat. This allowed me to follow the battery cable into the engine compartment through the firewall and route the solar panel hookup (Andersen PPC) near the license plate opening. The hookup plug lives behind the license plate and is really easy to get to when I need to hook up the solar. No drilling in any external parts of the van - no leaks!


That sounds like a cool option too! I've not had an opportunity to really test out my panel. I got it right before a short camping trip but was so busy in camp with kids I didn't fiddle with it. Come holiday season, the MPPT ShagginWagon has is on my list.
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