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.

Solar Kit

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.

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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.

Butyl tape underneath the solar panel brackets and gang box. Extra Dicor on top.

Sealant: Butyl Tape Seal and Dicor Sealant. Wires on top secured with nylon wire clamps. Wires run through double entry gang box.

The kit features (2) 100 watt monocrystalline solar panels and a 20amp Bluetooth MPPT controller.

solar kit

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.

Batteries

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

solar wiring
There should be a fuse on the battery positive lead.

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.

solar kit parallel battery diagram

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.

Accessories

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.

Thank You

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.

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Best 73! – Rich,K0PIR

Video coming soon

Sources:

Eco-Worthy

Batteries on E-Bay

Nylon wire clamps

Double entry gang box

4 gauge 3/8” hole battery terminal lugs

12V Blade Fuse Box

Dual USB Port Charger

Can I connect batteries of different Amp-Hours in series?

Disclaimer: You understand and agree that Ham Radio K0PIR and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates shall in no event be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, or exemplary damages.

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K0PIR

I'm an Amateur Radio enthusiast. I love the hobby and experimenting with radios, antennas and software. On my YouTube channel I upload videos on the Icom 7300 and Icom 7610 along with Ham radio software programs. I hope to inspire people to try new things in Amateur Radio.

6 Responses

  1. Barry Youmans says:

    Hi Rich, I’d be interested in how you’re powering your IC-7300, directly from the battery or through the inverter feeding a typical 13.8 VDC power supply. My IC-7610 gets rather squirrely (VCO/PLL unlocks) when the DC input voltage drops below ~ 12.2 VDC. So does my IC-7000 even more so. I might need to either add a 2 volt 150 aH single cell battery in series to my 150 aH deep cycle battery, (making a ~ 14 volt battery) or use one of the voltage boosters sold that have been proven to be “quiet”. Thanks, Barry KI8B

  2. Dave Riehl says:

    Envy you going dry camping up there in God’s country. I grew up about 100 miles north of you in Raleigh, NoDak. Call was WN0HSG, rare DX for the novices at the time!

    • K0PIR says:

      Hi Dave,
      Good to hear from you and I hope all is well.
      Right after I have a contact with someone and they thank me for South Dakota, they often ask me if I know anyone in North Dakota 😀
      I am grateful for the opportunity to live in this area.
      Take care, be safe and best 73!

  3. K0PIR says:

    Hi Barry,
    It’s good to hear from you and I hope all is well.
    In my vehicle I use a voltage booster. It is an inexpensive one from China, but it does work with my IC-7000.
    In my camper I am running the 7300 off of the AGM batteries without issue.
    Best 73!

  4. Jan A. Heise says:

    Rich,
    Nice upgrade to the RV. I appreciate all the info. I use my IC-7300 in my travel trailer portable and have always cranked up the EU-2000 when needed. I was interested in the cables lying on the roof. Do you leave them connected when traveling, which makes sense? How are they routed down off the roof? Cable management from the roof has been a concern of mine. Also, have you investigated the Lithium Ion batteries. They are expensive, but supposed to pay off long term.
    73, Jan K4QD

  5. K0PIR says:

    Hi Jan,
    It is nice to hear from you and I hope all is well where you are.
    Yes the cables are secured on the roof with screws and wire clamps. I bought a weatherproof waterproof gang box for the wiring. I drilled a hole through the roof and above the cabinets so the cabling goes inside the cabinets and then down the wall to the storage area under the bench seat. I used Panduit to cover the wires on the wall.
    Yeah I heard a lot about the lithium ion batteries at QuartzFest and I plan on getting them in the future. I’ll probably buy batteries that come out of an electric car. The Nissan batteries are popular and lightweight.
    Thank you so much for commenting, stay safe and best 73!

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