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Old 08-30-2016, 11:08 AM   #1
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Solar on TV?

So what do folks think about mounting the solar panels on the TV? I have a 16 Sport and a Tacoma. I've heard concerns about not charging while off on a day hike or adventure but what's the downside if the trailer is parked in the shade?
The up of course is to be able to follow the sun with the solar array while keeping the trailer parked.
I'd love to hear what the more experienced of you have to say about the ups and downs of this idea.
THANKS! Larry
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Old 08-30-2016, 12:09 PM   #2
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I've thought about it as well, and decided it would be easier to move a portable solar panel into the sun when we need it, as well as best orientation to the sun. Pretty much the same idea.
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Old 08-30-2016, 12:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Llittle54 View Post
So what do folks think about mounting the solar panels on the TV? I have a 16 Sport and a Tacoma. I've heard concerns about not charging while off on a day hike or adventure but what's the downside if the trailer is parked in the shade?

The up of course is to be able to follow the sun with the solar array while keeping the trailer parked.

I'd love to hear what the more experienced of you have to say about the ups and downs of this idea.

THANKS! Larry

It is definitely do-able. I had 500 watts of solar on the roof of my Sprinter tow vehicle with none on the 19' Bambi trailer 10 years ago. Worked very well, but I also had a 2800 watt inverter and 300 amp-hour AGM battery bank in the van as well.

Used it as my own personal 20 amp power post for the trailer when needed.


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Old 08-30-2016, 01:28 PM   #4
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I would think a movable panel would be a better solution.
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Old 08-30-2016, 01:35 PM   #5
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Here's the rack I'm considering. http://www.warriorproducts.com/catal...tems/bed-rack/ It slides into the Tacoma's factory tracks inside of the bed. Conceivably I could even remove the whole rack/solar array by sliding the rack out of the bed and use as a truly portable set up. I have the TM-2030 and SC 2030 and would be able to put more panel surface area on the rack than the 16'
Anybody done anything like this?
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Old 08-30-2016, 01:42 PM   #6
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I would think a movable panel would be a better solution.
For a small system, perhaps.....but it would be a bit of a chore moving 5 X 100 watt panels.....especially the challenge of storage when not in use.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:15 PM   #7
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Here's the rack for the pick up bed: http://www.warriorproducts.com/catal...tems/bed-rack/
This thing slides into the factory tracks. If necessary I could even slide the rack with the solar array out of the truck.
The other possible advantage would be the accessibility for tilting the panels.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:20 PM   #8
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Solar panels on tow vehicle

Hi Llittle54:

I mounted two 100 Watt solar panels (AM Solar model SF100) on a bracket on top of the 8' long Alaskan Camper in the bed of my tow vehicle, a 1992 Dodge 3/4 ton 4x4 truck. Earlier this month I installed a DPDT rocker switch (On-Off-On with a LED in the paddle for each On position, Cole Hersey model 58332-33) in the solar panel output line just above the camper's charge controller (a Blue Sky PWM Sun Charger 30 model) inside the Alaskan.

Pushing the DPDT switch rocker in position A sends the amps from the solar panels (wired in parallel) to the charge controller inside the Alaskan camper. Pushing the rocker switch in position B sends the solar panel amps down a different 10/2 cable to a 30 amp capacity Anderson connector mounted under the trucks' rear bumper, then on to a separate Blue Sky PWM Sun Charger 30 charge controller inside my 1953 Airstream travel trailer. The cable to the Airstream uses two 30 amp Andersen connectors to connect and disconnect underneath my truck's rear bumper, similar to the 7 way trailer cable to the Airstream.

The Airstream's battery is charged from the two solar panels atop the truck only when plugged into the Airstream and rocker switch position B is selected, which is always when towing the Airstream along treeless highways and often when the truck is parked close to the Airstream. There is nothing on top of my Alaskan to block the sun's rays hitting the solar panels. With a 10/2 cable extension, I can park the Dodge in the sun and still connect it to the charge controller in the Airstream.

I can easily add a third 100 watt solar panel to the rack on the Alaskan, but the Alaskan's roof vent prevents me from adding a fourth panel. However, if you have a topper (or even just a pickup bed rack) on your Tacoma, you should be able to fit four 100 watt solar pans up there on your Tacoma and send their amperage to a charge controller inside your 16' Sport. The 30 amp Andersen connectors I use can be plugged together and pulled apart (connected and disconnected) while the wires are hot, a useful benefit. Andersen connectors come in many larger sizes to fit your needs, but my yellow pair at 30 amps capacity are the smallest ones made.

Look here to see the solar panels atop my Alaskan camper, which power the Engel 12 volt marine refrigerator I installed in it:

http://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/t...in-1966-8-nco/

I have not yet amended my posting there to show the new DPDT rocker switch. Enjoy!
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:30 PM   #9
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So what do folks think about mounting the solar panels on the TV?
A couple of negatives to think about:

1. No solar to maintain your batteries when the trailer is in storage.
2. Your TV will charge your house battery while you are driving. I'm not sure how you would feed into the trailer on the move.
3. They may create a lot of wind noise on the top of your TV while travelling.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:20 PM   #10
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Lemonade solutions . . .

Hi Adventure.AS:

Here are my lemonade solutions:

1. I store my 1953 21' Flying Cloud in my backyard, where it is always plugged into 120 volts A.C. from my garage. The 120 volts always run my Intellipower model PD6140A power converter with 3 stage battery charger, which correctly maintains my Sears Group 31M AGM 12 volt battery during storage.

2. Charging your Airstream battery from the tow vehicle alternator is not particularly efficient given the typical undersized wire used for the long distance run to the trailer battery; and the possible conflict for the alternator between charging the vehicle battery-- its primary task -- and the trailer battery as an afterthought (unless wired correctly to separate and isolate the two batteries and charging demands). The solar panels, by contrast, have only one task - charge the trailer battery - and with proper gauge wire (10/2 in my case) and Andersen connectors, the solar panels can do that single task admirably when on the road or boondocking.

3. I never noticed any wind noise above the symphonic purring of my Cummins turbo diesel engine, but newer vehicles may be quieter and wind noise, if built into the solar panel mounting, may be noticeable. But mounting the solar panels above and behind the cab may reduce that possible concern.
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Old 08-30-2016, 10:54 PM   #11
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Thanks for your time and comments folks! Still up in the air but it's good to hear it's been done. I have access to shore power at home as well. The idea of keeping the panels hooked up while traveling had not crossed my slow mind. Thanks again and I look forward to any other comments.
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Old 08-31-2016, 09:53 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Llittle54 View Post
Here's the rack for the pick up bed: http://www.warriorproducts.com/catal...tems/bed-rack/
This thing slides into the factory tracks. If necessary I could even slide the rack with the solar array out of the truck. The other possible advantage would be the accessibility for tilting the panels.
Hi Larry:

The bed rack is a good idea. But a fully enclosed utility topper for the bed of your Tacoma has the following advantages:

1. Lockable dry storage for all sorts of gear and camping equipment. Lockable secures all that stuff when you are parked on the street, in a parking lot or at a remote campsite or trailhead. Dry is a benefit in the damp and wet state of Washington and near the shoreline.

2. Out of sight, out of mind. Mounting solar panels on the roof of an enclosed pickup topper puts them up out of sight for most people, where they are less noticeable and far less of a convenient temptation for ne'er-do-wells. Mounting them just above the top of the pickup bed puts them in plain sight and at a lower level that ne'er-do-wells will find convenient for stealing.

3. With a short step ladder stored inside the camper topper to reach them, the topper mounted solar panels can also be tipped for better alignment to a lower sun.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:19 PM   #13
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For a small system, perhaps.....but it would be a bit of a chore moving 5 X 100 watt panels.....especially the challenge of storage when not in use.
Ha! Yes. 500 watts is a lot to move.

I have 2 x 100 fixed on top of my sport 16 and it is plenty for my power usage. Batteries are typically fully charged by 10:30 am.
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:21 AM   #14
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I'm about to place an order for a Leer 100XQ cap for my 2015 Frontier. I plan to add the Thule Aero Bar Roof Rack. Not sure I will add solar, but now I have the ability to do that.
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