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Thread: A question of fixed vs portable

  1. #1
    Forum Enthusiast TasmanSam's Avatar
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    A question of fixed vs portable

    Hi all, just after some advice on potential solar setups I am considering.

    I am installing a Projecta IDC25 DCDC charger so that I can use the solar input to keep my batteries topped up when the car sits for a few weeks as it does regularly.

    I am tossing up between mounting a flexible thin panel on top of my rooftop tent and wiring it in permanently, or getting a folding panel and wiring in an anderson plug on the back of the car and setting the panels up whenever the car sits.

    I like the ease of a fixed panel, but the portable panel does give me some flexibility such as parking the car in the shade. Anybody have anything to add to that? Cheers!

  2. #2
    Forum Enthusiast barnsey's Avatar
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    had mine parked in the shade with 4 x 60 watt fixed panels last week, it was still putting in 18+ volts to the redarc BMS keeping my 2 x 120 ah batteries fully charged to 13.8 volts during the day without any problems,
    I watched a few movies on the tv, had my 100 liter fridge freezer running at -18 & 6 degree 24/7 for 3 days & batteries only dropped to 12.9 overnight before the sun came up and topped them up again,


    this was at 8 am in the morning & around the same each day

  3. #3
    Administrator Gary's Avatar
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    I've used both fixed panels and portable panels, and am happier with the fixed panels overall.

    Fixed - just set them up right, and they do the rest.
    - don't have to pack them up each time
    - don't have to find a place to store them when travelling
    - don't have to fiddle around all day chasing the sun

    Just make sure you fit the biggest panel possible.

  4. #4
    Forum Fixer OffRoadDave's Avatar
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    Good to know, I just bought myself an old Jayco pop top that I'm adding solar too, starting with a 200w panel and MPPT controller to begin with, and if that isn't enough I still have plenty of roof space for another 200w panel.

  5. #5
    Administrator Gary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OffRoadDave View Post
    Good to know, I just bought myself an old Jayco pop top that I'm adding solar too, starting with a 200w panel and MPPT controller to begin with, and if that isn't enough I still have plenty of roof space for another 200w panel.

    What will you be running off it Dave?

    I have a 125 watt panel on top of my Cruiser connected to about a 75 AH auxiliary battery, which keeps the Engel humming away and the beers cold. I also used this panel on top of my Jeep, which had a 120 AH AGM auxiliary, and which kept up faultlessly up the Cape for 9 weeks. On our last trip to Lostock Dam, I parked the Cruiser midday Friday and didn't start it until Monday morning, and the auxiliary batter kept charged up without a problem.

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    Forum Enthusiast TasmanSam's Avatar
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    Brilliant, thanks everyone! Gary, you nailed my reservations about portable panels.

    Looks like I will go down the flexible route on top of the James Baroud tent.

  7. #7
    Forum Fixer OffRoadDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    What will you be running off it Dave?

    I have a 125 watt panel on top of my Cruiser connected to about a 75 AH auxiliary battery, which keeps the Engel humming away and the beers cold. I also used this panel on top of my Jeep, which had a 120 AH AGM auxiliary, and which kept up faultlessly up the Cape for 9 weeks. On our last trip to Lostock Dam, I parked the Cruiser midday Friday and didn't start it until Monday morning, and the auxiliary batter kept charged up without a problem.
    At this stage not a lot, but I want the ability to run up to two compressor fridges if the need arises. I've had problems with my car keeping up with 2 fridges in the past using a 120w panel to keep the 100ah battery charged.

    I plan on having the Anderson plug to the car work both directions to give the ability to charge the auxiliary in car if I want. It's probably overkill but I've had niggly issues with charging batteries for years and I've had fitful of chasing these problems.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Administrator Gary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TasmanSam View Post
    Brilliant, thanks everyone! Gary, you nailed my reservations about portable panels.

    Looks like I will go down the flexible route on top of the James Baroud tent.
    Just be careful what flexible panel you use. I've heard recently that some of the flexible panels have issues charging. Not sure what the problem is with them exactly, but I do know that I have a 100 watt fold up solar blanket, which I'm not very happy with. Hopefully someone might have a bit more info on the issues with the flexi panels.

  9. #9
    Forum Fixer OffRoadDave's Avatar
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    The single biggest problem I've heard of most, with the thin flexible panels is overheating and killing the cells, whenever you use them try to keep an air gap under them, the same as you would with a traditional panel.

  10. #10
    Forum Enthusiast JamoGLXR's Avatar
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    why not get one then aim for both?
    Like everything they have pros and cons.

    Fixed drawbacks: if your out and about people tend to pull up in the shade and shaded panels don't do a great deal in the shade. when you on the move and the MPPT or PWM takes a little time to kick back into service after the panel voltage drops too low. Damage and Drag/Lift are some other things the think about.

    Portable drawback: it takes up room and time to get in and out, its gotta be accessible. if your disciplined you can get a bit more more often out of portable just that whole panel being square to the sun (until you duck away and cant adjust the panel) but can also suffer more loss because cables tend to be longer plus connections.

    you probably wont know what works best until you try both systems each horse has a course; bit like Wagons vs utes / Front vs rear locker / IFS vs live axle.
    Age old debated and best of luck

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