How do you set your offroad/overland vehicles solar system? Why you need solar powered?

Paul installed 3pcs Lensun flexible solar panel (50W, 30W, 20W) on his offroad vehicle Nissan Xterra roof and hood.

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The following are some questions we returned to him about the use of solar panels, and how he seted the off grid solar system on his car.

Why he installed solar panels in his car, and what convenience does solar powered bring to his life.

Lensun: hi Paul, many thanks for your puchased, how’s did you connect the solar panel?

Paul: Solar panels are hook to the redarc bcdc controller, Alternator takes over when the car is started. The system is all run off the battery and solar panels what you’re looking at in the picture is not hooked to the car at all, but through the bcdc controller to the front battery. (the front battery is the car primary battery, the back battery is the 2nd battery)

Front is controlled by the bcdc controller has two separate systems. Front battery is its own system, back battery has its own system, they do not share at all.  But by alternator, when I go out camping or I use a lot more power I hook up more solar panels and lay them on the ground.

The following is the front battery(car primary battery)

I just took it right now and it’s dark outside, this is the monitoring system that I put in for it, this is just the secondary battery, top solar panel give to the battery, second refrigerator, 3rd AC power, 4th DC power.

Lensun: So the car battery is charged by alternator and the solar panel charge the 2nd battery?

Paul: Yes, except Redarc bcdc solar is always charging according to redarc. Solar panels are only for the 2nd back battery,  the hook up to the front battery from the bcdc controller,  it’s only so it can see the alternator.

Hate to say it, but the 2pcs 100 foldable panels are Renogy I lay out when we go camping. Supposedly this is supposed to be there high end model,  it’s fading bending,  and looks like crap,  it’s only in the few days a month sun.

Lensun: how do you installed the flexible solar panel on the car roof? 

Paul: I screwed them on the sides, and made a little platform for the back, so I could screw it in, and then just use silicone on sides, cuz I remember the wind would pull it up some in the heat.

That’s real world pictures not cleaned just walked out at lunch, and took the pictures you want me to I wash them, they probably not been washed in over 3 months right there.

Nothing is underneath them to seal them under, I just put the screws and then seal around the sides, so I can remove them really easy.

I drove around for a few days with just the bolts and the heat cause them to come up a little bit so that’s why I put the seal around the sides.

Lensun: hi Paul, many thanks for your reply. could you tell us whats this black board under the solar panel, is it a aluminum board, pcb board or others?

Paul: ABS plastic really heavy duty good stuff, Really thin does not bend that easy weather’s really well.

Lensun: hi Paul, total Lensun 110w flexible solar panel, is it enough for you to use? did you check how many amp they produce perday?

Paul: It works perfect, when it is over a hundred degrees outside refrigerator comes on a lot more than regular, so I usually lay out a hundred Watt on the ground,  and if we’re out camping I have a total of 2pcs 100w on the ground, and the 110w on car family of 4pcs,  so they like there Electronics. The battery can support 340 watts.

Most I’ve seen come in is around 15 amps, the bcdc controller can support 40 amps, and the battery can support and Max of 25 amps, so round 310 works out well,  when on camping and driving around in daily use 110 works fine,  now park for a few days if it’s really really hot, I have to lay out 100 Watts more.

The two I lay on the ground are Renogy 100 Watts each,  wife got them for me gift,  they’re hard to take care of though,  so flimsy and cheap made and fading and bending.

Lensun: how many watt of your fridge? is it 12v?

Paul: When it’s on it pulls around 5 amps. I run it at about 33 degrees. It’s the ARB 37 I think. I have the 50 but it was too big for my vehicle

Lensun: the back 85amp battery only power the fridge or power other electronice devices too?

Paul: It Powers everything,Inside the vehicle,I have USB plugs cigarette lighters.
Two surge protectors 1500 watt sine inverter used for pumps to air up flotation devices, when we go to the lake, believe it’s used to run a coffee machine when we go camping, and a lot of other things.

Lensun: do you think the solar is a must for you? we found most of the people do not install solar panel on their offroad vehicles or have a foldable solar panel.

Paul: For me yes, I love it,  I run a refrigerator sometimes,  I bring a TV, sometimes I bring the PS4 for the kids,  it makes coffee in the morning, phone chargers all depends on the situation.

If we’re at the lake,  I need air pumps,  if I’m camping sometimes my lights go out,  I need to charge them, Bluetooth speakers need charging,  I can go on and on how much I need it

With the refrigerator in the vehicle,  it also works great when you’re picking up the kids from school,  you don’t need to stop by the gas station,  and spend $15 on snacks,  just go to grocery store and put it in the fridge, Lunchables Gatorades Waters sodas are a must for kids, gas station runs get expensive.

Without the solar panels, I couldn’t run the refrigerator or anything else, most vehicle batteries die with a cell phone charging for few hours.

Lensun: many thanks. How do people charge the 2nd battery if they do not have solar panel?

Paul: They tie the batteries together the alternator is not smart enough, when done that way to charge both batteries. The back battery will die. You could try to use a battery isolator, but most newer cars have a smart alternator and only see the front battery, so when the front battery is full, it will also see the back battery as full, and just trickle charge it.

Lensun: but the alternator only work when the car drive, but the car does not always drive.

Paul: Yep so you have to have solar. That’s why I have solar. I sit in my car, and watch movies waiting for the wife sometimes in the grocery store. All my kids are practicing baseball or softball. I sit in the car and watch movies. Don’t have to waste gas with the car running.

Here’s another pic from a while back, I was going sleeping on the beach for two nights,  ended up just sleeping in the vehicle, so I set my vehicle up this way. Sheets were not on the foam mattresses at the time of picture.

If you go camping in the wild and don’t have solar panel,  there’s really no reason to bring a second battery it’s going to die so fast.

Lensun: Most people camping in the camp park, for example Kampgrounds of America, Good Sam Club… etc, people can get electronic there.

Paul: So if they go to a plug up one and pay the extra,  you wouldn’t need a battery they have power outlets at those campsites. I don’t like those, because too many people are around. Feel like I’m in a parking lot with trees growing out of it too many people around.

Lensun: so installed solar panel solved the problem of outdoor power, no need to worry about the battery is dead.

Paul: Yeah, I don’t have to worry about power,  my battery sits and float mode a lot even, when I am charging like 3 or 4 cell phones and speakers plugged in, and running a tablet on Wi-Fi, why the kids watch a movie no more dead battery.
Now at night you got to watch what type of fan to run, so you don’t kill your battery in the morning. Most small USB fans are fine you can actually run two or three of those at night.
Most tablets will last the night without even being charged, then the next day you can charge while you’re swimming.

Lensun: What do you think of the hood heat effect the solar panel’s output, did you test it? 

Paul: I live in Texas that Sun is hot here, there’s no car engine going to going to get as hot as that sun.

The solar panel that I lay on the ground we’ll get 170 +, the one on my hood we’ll get 170 +, not sure if it’s affecting. I’m sure it is but I don’t worry about it, I would just add another solar panel somewhere.

You would be really surprised with the heat shield underneath the hood,  it’s just as hot in the Sun on top of your hood as the same as your trunk, they make the heat shields on vehicles under the hood they actually work. I’m sure it’s affecting it, mine’s been on there while and it works great.

If your engine gets around 200 degrees in Texas, it’s almost 200 degrees on your back trunk. Engine heat not really affecting it in my opinion, those heat shields under the hood work pretty well.

When I got into the solar, and putting all the electronics in my car.  I bought a heat gun, so I could take temperatures, I was worried about the redarc controller overheating.

Lensun: so did you test the temperatures?

Paul: The ones on the roof we’re getting round 170 and the ones on the hood was getting around 170 and the ones on the ground we’re getting around a 170.

Lensun: so the hood’s temperaturer is almost same as the car’s roof, back trunk?

Paul: Yeah it really does not affect as much as people think.

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