Solar Installation - 100w flexible and 100w portable suitcase

evpeelingevpeeling Member Posts: 69
edited October 2020 in Battery/Electrical & Solar

Hello all! I thought I would give a little walkthrough on my solar panel installation. Some things may seem obvious, but bear with me because I'm writing it for people who are complete newbies (like I was at the start)! I was intimated at first because I had absolutely no electrical experience, but I learned so many new skills with this mod.

Before starting the installation, I already had a 100W Renogy solar suitcase with the voyager charge controller. That worked just fine, but I wanted something permanent on the roof for when I was overnighting in parking lots, rest stops, etc. I never felt comfortable setting up a portable panel at those places where I was trying to be a little bit more incognito.

I set my system up so that I have a permanent 100W flexible panel on the roof, and if needed (for example I am parked under shade), I can plug my portable solar suitcase into the solar port on the tongue box for extra power. When plugged in, the solar suitcase is wired in parallel, which means I increase the amps and keep the voltage the same. Here is a link for more explanation on parallel vs series: https://www.renogy.com/learn-series-and-parallel/.

I linked a document with the parts I used.

Here are the steps I took:

Installed MC4 connectors on one end of marine wiring
How to install MC4 connectors -

Determined where I wanted to place the flexible panel, marked the outline in pencil, cleaned the surface well with 90% alcohol, and mounted the panel using double sided VHB tape. For the VHB tape to properly bond, the temperature has to be above 50 for three days.

Removed the solar port from the tongue box and snipped off the ring terminal ends and replaced with mc4 connectors. Connected solar panels to the charge controller as described in the video.

I decided to add spade fittings to all the wires connecting to the charge controller. It gave a better more secure connection. The charge controller connects to the battery with the wires with the ring terminal ends. I put a new ring terminal end on the negative wire to the battery and spliced together a positive wire and the old positive wire with a fuse to the battery.

Secured the wires with 3M ziptie mounts (make sure you clean the surface well with alcohol before installing ziptie mounts). Note: when installing the ziptie mounts, let them sit overnight before connecting the wire with the ziptie. That gives more time for the double sided tape to fully bond.

Ran the wires under the handle and into the battery box

Mounted the charge controller on top of the battery box and reinstalled the solar plug

When I am using the portable suitcase with the flexible panel I disconnect the panel from its built in charge controller. Both pannels need to go through the charge controller mounted on the trailer

Tested out the portable solar suitcase and seemed to be working just fine!

This was an all new learning experience for me and I learned as I went by watching youtube videos. If anything is confusing I am happy to help.

I will try to give an update on how everything is working after the first time out.

2020 Tag BD 5W, 2018 RAV4 Adventure, PA


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    JamesDowJamesDow Member Posts: 648

    I like your setup and appreciate the minimal damage/intrusion into the trailer.
    Wat type and size battery do you utilize?

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    evpeelingevpeeling Member Posts: 69

    @JamesDow I am just using the stock 12v deep cycle battery that came with camper. I am considering swapping it for two 6v batteries.

    Minimal damage was an important factor for me. I am hoping the double sided industrial tape will be sufficient. If the double sided tape doesn't seem to be holding my next step will be using some Eterna-bond tape on the windward edge.

    2020 Tag BD 5W, 2018 RAV4 Adventure, PA

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    evpeelingevpeeling Member Posts: 69

    I don't think I parts list attached to the original post so here it is.

    2020 Tag BD 5W, 2018 RAV4 Adventure, PA

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    Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Member Posts: 517

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve used and still have a 200W Zamp suitcase panel that I like. My current trailer is wired for the suitcase and my ARB frig. I do have a factory installed 195W flexible flat panel on the roof. They make the newer flexible panels with wiring beneath the panel but this would involve an entry hole into the trailer. Nothing better than added charge capability and it makes camping off the grid easier.

    Michigan Mike
    Linden, Mi
    2019 T@B 400

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    evpeelingevpeeling Member Posts: 69

    @Michigan_Mike I do like the look of the panels with the wires underneath, but I’m too much of a chicken to drill into the camper 😆

    2020 Tag BD 5W, 2018 RAV4 Adventure, PA

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    evpeelingevpeeling Member Posts: 69

    Posting an update on this - installed this almost two and a half years ago and the double sided tape has not budged in the slightest. And none of the ziptie mounts have fallen off.

    2020 Tag BD 5W, 2018 RAV4 Adventure, PA

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    packetjunkiepacketjunkie Member Posts: 72

    Where I camp there are no hookups, so I have gone heavy on batteries and solar.

    I have two 180-watt fixed panels with stands - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MN1QS7L/ and the factory 100-watt on the roof (~460 watts).

    I connect the external panels with Y-connectors to the connector on the tongue box which runs through a Renogy 40 amp controller with bluetooth option - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MSYGZGI/

    I also have a 160-watt folding panel and a 120-watt folding panel for days when there is less sun or I want to charge portable power banks. +~280 watts in folding panels in a pinch, but if I recall I have a 500-watt max on the controller so its not like I chain 5 panels up at once (although I suppose I could, I have enough adapters).

    I usually have a Starlink satellite running all day long (and into the evening); since I work remotely, it's not unusual for me to have a 32" Smart Monitor running with news during the day as well.

    I have 2x105aH Duracell AGM batteries (when they eventually go bad I'll swap to lithium). On normal days I don't drop below 80% during the night with full recharge before noon and all-day power off solar.

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    evpeelingevpeeling Member Posts: 69
    edited June 28
    Update: Mounted the charge controller in a waterproof electrical box. I know the renogy controller is waterproof, but I don't entirely trust it. Keeps off the road grime too. I also rent out my camper now and would rather not have anyone messing with the settings. 

    Link to amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PK6ZDST/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    2020 Tag BD 5W, 2018 RAV4 Adventure, PA

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