Which Solar Panels?

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    Doug Elam

    I am in the beginning learning phase of installing solar on my 5th wheel. I have been looking at different systems, and I have been considering the Renogy 800 watt 12 volt Solar Premium Kit. It is the Eclipse kit, with 8 slightly smaller panels, which I have determined that they will fit on my roof, but may be a little tight for walking up there. (32 ‘ ) Then, I am looking at different higher watt solar panels, like roughly 300 watts, so I only need 3, or maybe 4. They are bigger but will still fit. With those, I would have to piece everything together such as my charge controller, wire and so on. What is the best option? Does Renogy make good equipment? Would a different charge controller for a slightly bigger system be a better trade off? Is a kit from Renogy a good choice? When you go about building a system, were do you get your equipment, or is it all just a matter of price and availability? Thank you.   Doug.
    <h1 class=”prd-title”></h1>


    Hi Doug,  Your at the right place, Ray haves a lot of knowledge .   This is what we put on our class C last spring .   We are not full timers yet , but we are boondockers here in the north east and this keep’s our battery at full charge  .   This year we are up grading the battery bank to add more storage.  We are very happy with it.

    Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    70 customer reviews | 171 answered questions , List  Price:
    Amazon.com – $614.99 & FREE Shipping 


    Jeepers Doug, what are you wanting to power with that 800-900w of power on your roof? Blackpool illuminations? 😉 Given you sound unsure have you calculated the power you actually need? No point in over doing it. But that said you Americans do do everything much bigger over there.

    Without question, if they will fit, go with the 300w panels. They are always much cheaper per watt and often for sale cheap as leftovers from a solar farm installation. *BUT* those panels will probably have a Voc of 38v or so and Vmpp of 32v or so. Check the label on the back of the panel. You will then *have* to run them into an MPPT charge controller (however I recommend to be using one anyway) like the Epever tracer 4210AN. If 600w is enough however for your needs get two big panels and wire them in series and you well have lower cable losses. Put the charge controller next to your batteries on short thick cables. Make sure you have enough batteries because you could be charging them at up to 40 amps, maybe more, (up a big cold mountain on a windy very sunny day).



    Eddie & Aileen

    I must be one of those Americans over doing it, we run 1500-watts on our roof with two 65-amp MorningStar/TriStar PWM solar charge controllers. 10-years strait fulltiming (16-total), and 7-years “Off-Grid RVing”and loving it. With more solar power & power storage you can live off grid longer with less visits to town for gas. We where only in a camp ground 3-days this year, and only 2-days last year. If you are truly wanting to go “Off The Grid RVing” your solar and water systems need to be set-up to fit your needs.

    Good Luck!

    Happy Trails!!!


    Hello Eddie and Eileen, 1500 watts! Maybe 6 x 250 watt panels, that’s 5m x 2m of clear roof space just to fit the panels? What batteries do you have? I don’t use power like that at home. What are you driving, must be a bus? What are you powering, must be a steel foundry?  :Big-Grin:   :Cool:

    We’re planning on joining you next year from about May 19 and I’ve been really enjoying the love your rv blog as part of making plans to ship our motorhome across the pond on a roro ship to Halifax, NS and found the forums from that.

    We’re in a seemingly modest 6.5m (21.5ft) coach built, ci carioca 656, and until I started needing to charge our electric bike batteries we managed, still with more power than we needed, with a single 100w panel for lighting, TV, laptops and phone charging and two 95ah 12v leisure batteries. I can’t imagine what you are doing with 15 times that much power. Since upgrading the bikes to electric I’ve upgraded to a single 265w watt panel for charging the bikes which now fills all the available roof space I have, and an Epever tracer 3210AN charge controller. I still manage to run the 130w fridge for a few hours a day with the excess power we would otherwise throw away and save a bit of propane as a result

    We’ve been spoiled by the free camping, water, waste points, refuse bins and even electricity (not that we tend to bother with electric hook ups) everywhere in France, Spain and Portugal and the we won’t bother you if you don’t bother us attitudes in continental Europe generally and so slightly apprehensive as to what we will find in Canada and the US and how spread out and accessible those things may be? From reading it all seems very spread out from what we are used to.

    We have 100ltr (26.5 us gal) water and a cassette toilet. We can stretch that out to a week generally as long as we can find somewhere to empty the toilet. We have (for us) 2 months of propane and never need electric hook up. 350 mile diesel fuel range.

    We’re not full time but get at least 3 months and up to 8 months in the RV each year. We’re coming for a year to North America and considering near full time living and seeing some more of the world

    Richard and Julie.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by Flyingppg.

    High-flying PPG I’m a Canadian and I have 2880 watts of solar power on my fifth wheel I am running 2

    Solar charge controllers for the main system in the back of the fifth wheel I run Midnite solar classic 150 which pulls in anywhere from 45 to 90 amps then the front for my coach batteries I run a small one that runs 30 amps solar charge controller.

    This video shows my panels mounted to my roof of my fifth wheel.

    My main batteries are 1253 amp hour 6 volt

    My secondary Bank is 325 amp hours.
    <h1 class=”show-title” data-reactid=”105″></h1>
    <p dir=”ltr”>https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0cEt59jmUjw</p>

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by Jeff.

    Hello Jeff, that’s insane! Did you ever find out why your charge controller was struggling to find it’s maximum power point and running up and down the VI curve all the while? Didn’t seem right to me. Nice off road electric bikes too! It’s rare to see even a single large 60 element panel on a vehicle over here. You’re all doing solar on a completely different scale.


    Hi Flyingppg yes I am insane LOL.

    these rigs are  our homes , with the  charge controller I found it was the cloud effect that was causing a problem and I might need to add   Another Solar charge controller might have too much power.



    We are 1070 watts and 8-6 volt T-105’s 900 ah’s.


    @flyingppg I guess your little camper suits you fine.

    But me and the others here prefer to use free power from the sun instead of generators which need gas or burning costly propane.

    How much juice does a TV use per hour? Microwave? Electric appliances  Computer? My lifestyle is very comfy and lacks of little.

    Maybe you don’t use any of those, but we do. And the power comes from the battery bank which is fueled by our solar systems.

    When you are full timers, you will understand why we have our seemingly big systems.

    Hope to meet you when you are here!



    Stephen C Keller

    I’ll put in a plug for Eddie & Aileen. Eddie travels the country installing the solar units for people and has a lot of knowledge on the subject. I have learned a lot about installation just from his videos that he is in. I am sure he would help you decide on what would be best for your needs if you ask.

    Eddie & Aileen

    Thanks Stephen! I glad you got something out of all the “Horseing Around” Rush and I was causing during the time the videos where made.

    Happy Trails!!!:good:

    Jerry & Martha

    My goodness. After reading all this on the number of panels and all the watts and such.  We are way low for our outfit.  We are very new to all this and took the advise of our dealership.  We have a 39 ft Momentum 351.  The dealership told us that one 150 watt panel and two 12v batteries would be enough.  We are pretty good in the day time but at night we are pretty much dead in the water.  We are going to change over to 6v batteries (4) and another panel.  But after reading all this we may still be well below our needs.  We have to run our generator most every night for a couple of hours.  This will not help the life of the gen. or our budget.  But I can see that the dealership is a bit off on their figures.  They are also very expensive. Any ideas.  Thanks


    Dealers just want to sell their stuff.

    I’m glad you figured it out.


    Hello Jerry and Martha, it depends on the sun you have but if that is good generally a 150w panel and a couple of batteries will keep up with low energy lighting, charging your phones, a bit of laptop use and a little TV nothing more. If you are running a microwave, fridge, leaving your inverter on all the time then you need to spec up a lot! If you are running your generator for 2 hours a day that’s a lot of power and if you want to get off the generator then unless you want to install a lot of panels then you need to change how you live. Personally I live carefully but I only have a small roof space anyway. Richard

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