May 17 – 19 -- I’m working a boondoggle right now. Our son decided he wanted a solar installation for his trailer, so I offered to help. We had some long chats and decided they would be best served by a portable panel since some of their favorite spots are shaded and the sun angle is always low enough that panels need to be tilted to be efficient.
Like most current trailers, their unit came without ANY 12 volt outlets. For someone using state parks or boondocking, 110 volt outlets are a waste of time and energy, so we started the project by installing three 12 volts outlets. While I’ll gladly admit to being a molded fiberglass aficionado, it was sure easy to mount new wires in a stick-built rig!
This project has been several months in the planning which gave Jeff time to get all the bits and pieces ordered. We used #8 zip cord cabling from PowerWerx and Anderson Powerpole connectors for the feed from the panel.
The pass-through in the front of the trailer provided all the access we needed for running the cables to and from the controller. We picked up the positive feed to the battery at the battery cutoff switch,
and ran the other three cables down and through the floor in the corner.
After long discussions about the pros & cons of various controllers, he decided to go with the Renogy Solar30 based on its adjustable charge point and the “good enough” theory. This one does a great job of showing what the panel produces, and tracks battery voltage, but it is NOT a battery monitor like the much more expensive TriMetric which I still covet.
One of the Anderson connectors was bolted to the trailer frame at the front street-side corner, providing a point for connecting the extension cable from the panel. It is protected by a mud guard when not in use.
I’m not a fan of portable systems because it seems that storage for them is often an issue. In this case, the panel slides into a simple mount in the top of the pass-through. Simple, easy, and out of the way.
The installation was easier than I’d anticipated. We were done early enough that we took the family out to Eklutna Lake, one of three campgrounds in the very large Chugach State Park, for initial testing. This campground is pretty much a worse-case example for solar testing with lots of tall trees to shade the panel.
With an initial positive test, we headed to the Kenai for 10 days of extended testing.