Panels, too many choices





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  1. #1
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    Question Panels, too many choices

    Just spent 3 hours searching and reading many threads with the word "solar" in them. Hasn't helped...

    Quite simply, what are the most popular brands and sizes of solar panels that you guys use for permanent mounting on a vehicle? I realise that everyone has different needs and power requirements so I'm not looking for specific advice on a setup, but more general advice on the good brands, weight considerations, pitfalls to watch out for, etc.

    I've seen those semi-flexible panels (they appear to be fibreglass laminate?), then there's the glass with the alu frames etc etc. I'm guessing I'm looking for about 140W to 200W or so & I will get an appropriately sized Victron MPPT once I've figured out what panel to get.

    For reference, I will be running a permanently installed 45l fridge with DC-DC on a 105Ah deep cycle. I want to permanently mount a panel on the double cab roof to supplement the 2nd battery. Roof has no rack currently, I will build a mount as low profile to the top of the roof as possible. Obviously looking to minimise wind resistance with the build and panel choice.

    Alternatively, is this just a doff idea?
    Chris
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Panels, too many choices

    2 to 3 of 80W with the 3rd one a portable panel. Canadian seems to be a good choice but a number of makes that are good. Just stay away from the real cheapies.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Panels, too many choices

    Will the fridge be running permanently, or just be installed permanently? If the fridge is just sitting there 90% of the time the battery should be fully charged by the DC-DC. When you use the fridge while driving on holiday, you should be charging faster or at the same rate at least as your current draw. Unless you park for extended periods with the fridge running I dont see why you need to permanently install a panel on the roof. Rather take a loose panel for those odd occasions. Otherwise you have to park your vehicle in the sun for those extended stops, making the fridge run almost constantly anyway.
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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Panels, too many choices

    Quote Originally Posted by LandyLove View Post
    Will the fridge be running permanently, or just be installed permanently? If the fridge is just sitting there 90% of the time the battery should be fully charged by the DC-DC. When you use the fridge while driving on holiday, you should be charging faster or at the same rate at least as your current draw. Unless you park for extended periods with the fridge running I dont see why you need to permanently install a panel on the roof. Rather take a loose panel for those odd occasions. Otherwise you have to park your vehicle in the sun for those extended stops, making the fridge run almost constantly anyway.
    I would prefer to have the fridge running permanently which is why I'm interested in putting in a panel. The vehicle is my daily driver, typically 30 minutes of use twice a day + the odd client visit, and spends a decent amount of time in the sun every day. It would be nice to keep the fridge stocked with a few beers & cokes etc.
    Chris
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Panels, too many choices

    I have a 150W panel installed on my Hilux canopy, it was the biggest panel I could fit and would rate this as the absolute minimum. Ideally I'd like to rather be between 200 and 240W, but for this I need to carry a separate panel.

    If camping for instance and you don't do any driving your setup will be challenged by a day or two of rainy weather. Keep this in mind. Tricks like adjusting the fridge setting warmer at night and colder during the day whilst you benefit from the solar input also helps.
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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Panels, too many choices

    The flexi panels tend to vibrate in the slip stream and break the internal electric links, unless you glue them down directly to the roof.

    Then you seem to get the very light weight fixed panels, which almost are just the flexi ones with a thin frame around them. I guess these will probably have a similar problem.

    Then you get a 3rd, thicker, heaver stronger house type which will most likely be best for your installation on a roofrack.

    Additionally: can you set your fridge to turn off on a high battery level? To protect the second battery for those days where you don't park in the sun or use the vehicle. If it's only got cans in it, if it switches off that wont really be a problem. Will just get cold again once you start driving again.
    Last edited by Quiksilver; 2020/07/29 at 09:36 AM.
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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Panels, too many choices

    I used a 100watt Set solar panel, with 4x4 direct controller (cheapish orange one). Worked well for me so far
    Installed on my previous canopy with this track from 4x4 Direct.



    These Brackets attached to the fixed panel as they are cheap and do the job.

    Then this to attach the panel to the track.

    I drilled 3 holes in the canopy(fibreglass) roof per track and mounted it that way. Busy converting that over to my new Alu canopy being built.

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