Show us your solar panel install on your 80

SmokingRocks

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I went through your solar thread. Great work.

How do you like the RowPow batteries? I use an Odyssey 2150 but would like to move to the RowPow or similar. I wonder if they could be mounted in the right rear quarter.

I’m going to be adding drawers soon so I’m trying to keep the space clear.
I did a TON of research on LiFePO4 batteries before buying, theres some really good reviews on the youtube where they physically open up and expose the dangers of the 'amazon special' cheap lithium batteries and on the flip side they do the same for the expensive guys like Battle Born to show what a quality cell pack looks like.

I settled on RoyPow because it's an American company with a decent reputation and the reviews were good (the negative reviews were mainly from idiots who charged their batteries with SLA battery chargers and killed them as a result). Further, the RoyPows have a built-in Battery Management System (BMS) that controls when the batteries can accept charge and are able to discharge based on the battery's temperature, and voltage. Having a BMS is CRITICAL with lithium batteries as they cannot be charged below 32°F and above 122°F, safe discharge also has to be within 14°F - 167°F. Working outside of these parameters will damage the battery permanently. This is why I have my box temperature controlled which should allow me to get 2000-4000 cycles out of these batteries before they degrade to 80% of their rated capacity.

The RoyPows are still on sale, if you have the Honey extension on your chrome browser you can get an additional $20 off the 18ah batteries so its like $110 out the door for a 18ah LiFePO4 battery, you would need a ~36ah SLA battery to equal that capacity which is about the same cost and will only last you 200-300 cycles.

I added a simple 100w panel with a controller to my main battery. It works really well so I can run my fridge while on camping trips, but I may end up doing a dual batt setup as well. I ran a large 4 wire cable up my snorkel to have wiring for my roof lights also.

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Looks Good! The one thing I would say is that you should try to eliminate any shading on the panel that may be cast by your rack or tent. Shading even 2% of the solar panel can decrease its output by up to 75%. Your 100w panel in direct light may net 6-7 amps worth of charge after your PWM or MPPT charge controller. The hotter the panel gets the more that number will decrease. That front bar will cast shade on at least 2% of the panel if the sun is coming in at an angle so you may only be getting 1.5-2amps out of that panel. Shading is your biggest enemy, way more so than the angle of the panel in relation to the sun.

A quick way to improve your setup would be to elevate the front of the panel so it's inline with the top bar on the rack and then angle it up (raise the side that meets up to the tent) so it can fit in that space. This will also give you the added benefit of being able to park with the panel directly facing the sun at a more appropriate angle, which will further increase it's yeild.
 
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Thanks and after 4 trips with the RTT, its gone now so the solar panel is wide open. I've considered either adding a 2nd panel or a dual batt setup. Yours is fantastic and well thought out! I need to research more before I decide. The only issue I ran into was my fridge shut off once on my last 3 day trip due to cloudy days. I started the 80 and it was fine of course but I think a 2nd batt setup would be useful on non perfect days.
 

SmokingRocks

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If you ever have any questions feel free to send me a PM! Happy to help.

I'd suggest a second panel run in series with an MPPT controller like a Victron in conjunction with a second battery! Have one battery be solely dedicated to the starter, that way whatever happens to the other batteries you are still able to start your rig.

Keep in mind that panels in series are more sensitive to shade than those in parallel, but IMO the increase in potential energy yield is worth it. I only run my pannels in parallel because the Renogy DC-DC + MPPT charge controller can only accept 25v solar input.
 

SmokingRocks

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If any of you have lithium batteries in a rear storage box and you live in a hot climate you may want to consider venting the box some way. I installed a temperature-controlled fan and a fresh air duct and yesterday's data logging showed that it kept the box 31°F cooler than the rest of the cab on a 97°F day. Lithium batteries don't like anything over 120°F.

Cab Temp (sensor is in a shaded area)

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Temp sensor inside Box
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I data logged the previous day with the fan off and the box closely followed the cabs temperature trend. So this is a major improvement.
 

thatcabledude

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I added a simple 100w panel with a controller to my main battery. It works really well so I can run my fridge while on camping trips, but I may end up doing a dual batt setup as well. I ran a large 4 wire cable up my snorkel to have wiring for my roof lights also.

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Head's up... My brother's Baja Rack (Tacoma) rusted just like yours. Once it got about like what your looks like in your pic it went downhill very rapidly. Eventually BajaRack replaced it for free and the new one had WAY better powder coating.
 
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My setup is super simple. Cheap renology panel bolted to the hood, ran to a controller in the back then controller to my starting battery (i do not have duals... yet)

This panel has been mounted here for years after being unhappy with the loss of rack space and poor charging it got behind my boxes. No issues with driving at speed, it did wear out my hood struts pretty quick though. When I upgrade it will be to a flex panel and DZUS fasteners so I can pop it off and keep the rig in the shade and move the panel to some sun.
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If any of you have lithium batteries in a rear storage box and you live in a hot climate you may want to consider venting the box some way. I installed a temperature-controlled fan and a fresh air duct and yesterday's data logging showed that it kept the box 31°F cooler than the rest of the cab on a 97°F day. Lithium batteries don't like anything over 120°F.

Cab Temp (sensor is in a shaded area)

View attachment 2737298

Temp sensor inside Box
View attachment 2737299


I data logged the previous day with the fan off and the box closely followed the cabs temperature trend. So this is a major improvement.
Wow, so the cabin got about 40° hotter than outside temp? And then your fan was able to cool the battery area down 30°. How big is that battery box? Is this just having the truck parked in the sun all day?
 

SmokingRocks

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Wow, so the cabin got about 40° hotter than outside temp? And then your fan was able to cool the battery area down 30°. How big is that battery box? Is this just having the truck parked in the sun all day?
Yup truck parked all day with the windows up during a roughly 100°F summer day.

My battery box is in the front upper compartment of my storage box/sleeping platform.
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Ducted air is pulled from the coolest area I thought exists when the rig is parked on the street, under the truck. The only shaded area.
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I wanted the battery box to heat in the winter when it's cold and vent in the summer when it's hot. So I got these components:
High static pressure 120mm case fan: Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 3000 PWM
Temperature Ramping PWM: Temperature Control Speed Controller
Heating / Cooling Controller: Inkbird Dual Stage DV 12V Digital Temperature Controller
Battery Heater: Facon 7-1/4"x25" RV Water Holding Tank Heater Pad

You can check out the thread HERE if you are interested in more info.
 

musthave

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@SmokingRocks , great information, thank you.

In general my cabin temp in the sun hits 120 on a hot day. Even with windows cracked. I’ve considered venting the hot air out with a fan or two. I’m not sure how that would work though. Bringing in air from underneath might be wise. How/where did you run it?
 

80t0ylc

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@SoCal80series said: I agree with your thoughts. For me I am wheeling for most of the day and this is when my panel is charging my aux. battery. I usually camp in late afternoon and will park in shade if available knowing my battery is charged.

An aux battery can be charged by your alternator through a properly installed isolator while you're "wheeling for most of the day" and will do it at least as well as any solar panel setup and make the mounted panel unnecessary while your engine is running.

I agree with @bajaphile about mounted panels. I have 2 folding portable panels - a 100 watt Renology for my squaredrop trailer and a 125 watt Zamp for the aux batt in my 80, mainly for a fridge. The 80 aux batt is charged through an isolator and is setup to also charge the trailer batt when it's being towed. Both the 80's aux and the trailer batts are AGM and have served me well. Being able to park in the shade and keep the portable panels pointed at the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, while camped works well. It's not the setup for everyone, but it's simple, flexible, reliable, keeps me (somewhat) entertained and works for me.

I've heard that lithium batts give superior performance, but the operating and charging temp ranges that @SmokingRocks quoted has me concerned:

"Having a BMS is CRITICAL with lithium batteries as they cannot be charged below 32°F and above 122°F, safe discharge also has to be within 14°F - 167°F. Working outside of these parameters will damage the battery permanently."

Where I live, plus where I travel and want to travel makes a lithium batt prohibitive, at least with the above perameters in mind, without major modifications to control the temp where the lithium batts are mounted.
 
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@SoCal80series said: I agree with your thoughts. For me I am wheeling for most of the day and this is when my panel is charging my aux. battery. I usually camp in late afternoon and will park in shade if available knowing my battery is charged.

An aux battery can be charged by your alternator through a properly installed isolator while you're "wheeling for most of the day" and will do it at least as well as any solar panel setup and make the mounted panel unnecessary while your engine is running.

I agree with @bajaphile about mounted panels. I have 2 folding portable panels - a 100 watt Renology for my squaredrop trailer and a 125 watt Zamp for the aux batt in my 80, mainly for a fridge. The 80 aux batt is charged through an isolator and is setup to also charge the trailer batt when it's being towed. Both the 80's aux and the trailer batts are AGM and have served me well. Being able to park in the shade and keep the portable panels pointed at the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, while camped works well. It's not the setup for everyone, but it's simple, flexible, reliable, keeps me (somewhat) entertained and works for me.

I've heard that lithium batts give superior performance, but the operating and charging temp ranges that @SmokingRocks quoted has me concerned:

"Having a BMS is CRITICAL with lithium batteries as they cannot be charged below 32°F and above 122°F, safe discharge also has to be within 14°F - 167°F. Working outside of these parameters will damage the battery permanently."

Where I live, plus where I travel and want to travel makes a lithium batt prohibitive, at least with the above perameters in mind, without major modifications to control the temp where the lithium batts are mounted.
You’re right about the battery being recharged by the alternato. In my build thread I discussed the reason I put the panel on as primarily for disaster preparedness. In Cali we are experiencing more rolling blackouts in the summer. This is a small insurance against that.
 
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I have a lot of wires on the roof but run the solar leads across the underside of my rack down the hatch and tailgate down to the frame where it plugs into an SB50. The wires run up into the passenger rear quarter panel where my Redarc BCDC and LiFePo4 is.
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I have a temp sensor at the battery with alarm set to alarm at 120°. So far I haven’t seen the temp get that close, but it’s pretty mild at home here. Worse case scenario if I see temps below freezing or above 120°, I have a manual shut off switch at the battery to kill charge and/or discharge.
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All batteries hate heat, but imo especially when you spend good money on a battery that is quoted to last 4-5 times longer than your typical lead acid battery, monitoring its temp is good to do in making sure you maximize that investment.
 

SmokingRocks

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@SoCal80series
I've heard that lithium batts give superior performance, but the operating and charging temp ranges that @SmokingRocks quoted has me concerned:

"Having a BMS is CRITICAL with lithium batteries as they cannot be charged below 32°F and above 122°F, safe discharge also has to be within 14°F - 167°F. Working outside of these parameters will damage the battery permanently."

Where I live, plus where I travel and want to travel makes a lithium batt prohibitive, at least with the above perameters in mind, without major modifications to control the temp where the lithium batts are mounted.
I wouldn't be scared off of Lithium as an option, you just need to do research and be educated going in. Many batteries have a BMS built-in that shuts off the battery automatically when the temp range is outside of its preset limits. So theoretically I didn't need to add a heater or fan to my box it would just work. I am just a belt and suspenders kind of guy so I did add those items. Additionally, there are many BMS circuit boards out there that are cheap and can be easily added to a system to provide additional safety.

Lithium is a much better solution for Overlanding as you get 100% of the rated amp-hour capacity (compared to 50% of a traditional battery at a 20hr rate, less if your load is higher) and it is a fraction of the weight. Before I had a 35ah SLA AGM deep cycle battery that was in my rear battery box, it was like 30lbs and took up the same space, running both fridges would put it at a 5hr rate so I would get like 10 amp-hours of actual capacity out of it which is horrible.

Now with my Lithium setup, I have a full 54 amp-hour capacity and it weighs 15lbs total.
 

SmokingRocks

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@SmokingRocks , great information, thank you.

In general my cabin temp in the sun hits 120 on a hot day. Even with windows cracked. I’ve considered venting the hot air out with a fan or two. I’m not sure how that would work though. Bringing in air from underneath might be wise. How/where did you run it?
You can see the flexible pipe in this photo. I cut an opening through the floor, sealed it, and added an angled splash guard underneath. There is a dust filter over the grate just in front of the fan.
2289c117-82d1-4de7-884d-27baf24e6126-jpeg.2733434
 
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musthave

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I have a lot of wires on the roof but run the solar leads across the underside of my rack down the hatch and tailgate down to the frame where it plugs into an SB50. The wires run up into the passenger rear quarter panel where my Redarc BCDC and LiFePo4 is. View attachment 2738163View attachment 2738164
View attachment 2738151View attachment 2738153
I have a temp sensor at the battery with alarm set to alarm at 120°. So far I haven’t seen the temp get that close, but it’s pretty mild at home here. Worse case scenario if I see temps below freezing or above 120°, I have a manual shut off switch at the battery to kill charge and/or discharge. View attachment 2738152

All batteries hate heat, but imo especially when you spend good money on a battery that is quoted to last 4-5 times longer than your typical lead acid battery, monitoring its temp is good to do in making sure you maximize that investment.
Wow! That's an impressive setup! That 100AH battery is a beast! Are you running solar on top of the Ikamper? The simarine units are awesome in boats, never thought of using one in my cruiser, but why not? Awesome!
 
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Wow! That's an impressive setup! That 100AH battery is a beast! Are you running solar on top of the Ikamper? The simarine units are awesome in boats, never thought of using one in my cruiser, but why not? Awesome!
Ha, I blame my buddy Joe @Hyup for influencing me to go Lithium. It is pretty amazing how much power you have with a true 100ah and the fact that I can run high amp items with no problems. Yes the solar panel on the iKamper I helped create with Merlin Solar who is local to the shop I work for. Our shop sells the panels.

With the Simarine, it’s so modular to add anything you want, I felt it beat out the other monitors. The Redarc stuff it cool like the Redvision and Manager but those aren’t expandable and fairly limited in what you can do with them, and they’re like $2000+!!
 

SmokingRocks

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Redarc thinks their products are the only ones on the market that can do what they do. And they price it that way. Their pricing is insane.

And sure their products are top quality but when you have reputable companies like Victron and Renogy making similar products that are cheaper (and I’m not talking Chinese knock off cheaper) it’s hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars more on the redarc.

as far as temperature data logging I agree 100% that it’s important to keep an eye on it to protect the investment in LiFePO4 batteries. I use sensor push for all my temperature tracking.
www.sensorpush.com

I did look into the Simarine, it’s pretty slick, just did t really have a good spot to mount another screen.
 
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izzyandsue

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I am using the Jackery500 and two 100W panels (one rigid, one flex). The rigid panel is mounted on the front end of the long Bajarack (and stays there year round), the flex I use for the campsite. What I like about the Jackery is the ease of plug and play and having more than one vehicle, portability. The Jackery plugs directly into the solar panel and the 100W has plenty of power to send the max the Jackery can take and recharge. So understanding my needs may be different, here is how I use it.

When driving:
  • Second row seats removed, built a small plywood platform for refrigerator so that Jackery slides right behind seat, and fridge gets power directly from Jackery
  • Cables from roof rack rigid panel through sliding window and connect to Jackery to keep it charged
  • Jackery also powers a front 12V strip I have under the radio that typically charges phone and navigation (iPad). This strip has a switch so I can power it from starting battery (when ON), or Jackery (when OFF)
At campsite:
  • At campsites, I can remove the fridge and Jackery and setup my kitchen (10x10 pop up with attachable sides). The flex panel I can then place to catch the most sun and keep Jackery full (I don't move the site for 10 days)
  • With Jackery outside my tent, I can power laptop and other devices I need at night to do any work, etc.
  • In the morning I can recharge all flashlights with Jackery at the same time it is also being recharged by the panel
  • Jackery would go down about 65% full overnight, and back to 100% by 10 am (New Mexico late October sun)

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This is my crazy cool install
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The 180w sunflare panel hides under the rack in the roof, each solar cell (cigs) has its own diode so I still pull enough amperage to keep the fridge running continuously when parked out front.

The thin panel is on "rails" and I slide it out when needed at camp, when I use the battery for other uses or in hotter climate when the fridge has to work harder.

Currently my lipo battery is only charged from the panel.

I do not recommend driving with the solar panel draped over your windshield.
 
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