Solar Kit Installation For Portable Ham Station
As I write this I am boondocking in the Fort Pierre National Grasslands. I invested in a solar kit a month ago. The choices for me were limited due to cost, but it came down to Renogy or Eco-Worthy. I am happy with my Eco-Worthy 200 watt solar kit. It came with almost everything I needed except the batteries.
I wanted a solar kit because I had a friend buy seperate parts and then try to put them together only to find out it was more difficult than he anticipated. With the kit I knew I would get everything I needed and the parts would be compatible. The wiring would be the right size and the controller sufficient for the panels.
The only other purchases I needed were a battery and some sealant for the roof installation on my camper. I had no problem with the slightly curved roof.
The kit features (2) 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels and a 20amp Bluetooth MPPT controller.
Optional Inverter (1500 watt): I bought this one from Eco-Worthy and it does make a little noise in my Icom 7300, but I think it’s bearable. I’ll let you know. Fortunately I don’t need it when operating anyway and it works well with my TV, stereo, external speaker system, etc.
I needed good, long lasting batteries, so I decided on two 100Ah 12V AGM. They are very reasonable.
During this state of emergency we are in as a country, I used what I had in the garage to put this solar kit in. One example is using a spare set of jumper cables (4 gauge) for internal wiring. I already had the 4 gauge 3/8” hole battery terminal lugs.
Nuts, bolts, screws and panduit also from my junk box.
Solar Battery Bank Wiring
The batteries are wired in parallel with 4 gauge jumpers I picked up at a solar store in Quartzsite, AZ.
It is important to keep everything balanced. Example, the solar charger wiring is connected to the positive on one battery and the negative on the other battery. I did the same with the inverter.
Internal Wiring in Camper
My Salem Ultra Lite camper had a house battery on the tongue, so I removed it and moved the positive wire. The positive wire now goes to the solar batttery bank under one of the dining bench seats. The camper lights, frig, water pump, etc. will run off the solar batteries now. The solar batteries will also be charged when plugged into shore power.
One negative battery terminal is grounded to the chassis as was with the old battery.
I added battery straps, 12V blade fuse box to the system and also a nice dual USB port charger. The fuse box is attached to the MPPT controllers load terminal. The USB port charger is attached to the fuse box.
Also, I added a battery temperature sensor for the batteries. It attaches to the controller and the sensor is sandwiched between the two batteries.
I added a external LCD for the controller from Eco-Worthy, but the BT works good and has a pretty long range (100+/-ft.).
Does it work?
I have been dry camping for almost two weeks and have not needed the generator. My battery bank has not been below 11.91V. Fortunately there has been plenty of sunshine each day.
More on VARA HF
I have been using VARA HF to send e-mail and it is working great also. My go to channel is N0LCR-1 on 80 meters. See my earlier post on VARA HF.
I hope all is well where you are and you are safe.
Coming Soon – I will have a video, article and pictures of my campers Hi-Q mobile antenna.
If you have any questions, comments or solutions, please comment below. I prefer the comment section here or in YouTube over e-mail because your comments and questions will help others as well.
Best 73! – Rich,K0PIR
Video coming soon
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