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Old 03-02-2024, 11:42 AM   #1
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Newbie Micro Minnie FLX Owner with Solar Questions

Hi all, great to be here---seems like there is a ton of expertise to draw on. So I purchased a Minnie Micro FLX last season. We had some issues with power running down. I saw some posts here indicating that we should take a power inventory of e.g., the fridge, etc and perhaps change some settings. But beyond that I would like to supplement our power resources by 1) getting maybe 200W of extra panels. The Solar on the Side seem really expensive...there are cheaper systems with what looks like lots of adapters (like the Dokio). Can I just plug a Dokio panel into the side of the rig with the right adapter? If it goes through the inverter I am guessing I need to match the output Voltage with the input of the inverter? How about one of these portable power packs...can I use one to plug into the power system and just use that as a supplementary battery? Do I need to open the battery compartment and hook the two together? Ideally I would like to get solar panels that work with both the power pack and can be directly hooked up to the RV battery. What think all you experts??? Altho I am a biochemist I am clueless about this stuff, but teachable....
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Old 03-02-2024, 12:25 PM   #2
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@Jojohoho,
I don’t like the idea of mixing solar panels of different wattages and voltages. And I definitely don’t believe that portable panels and roof panels should share the same charge controller.

I believe the whole solar on the side thing went awry when Winnebago started wiring the side port directly to the same charge controller that services the roof panels. Well, how the heck are you supposed to match up roof and portable panels so you don’t overpower the controller of waste money by wasting power that the controller can’t use? The answer is you really can’t, unless you get duped into buying compatible panels from GoPower for way more money then you should have to spend. So, if you want some portable panels its better that you re-wire so the inside wire of the port doesn’t go to the charge controller that services the roof. Install an additional charge controller dedicated to the portable sidewall port. This will give you complete flexibily on what portable panels you use, and will have no affect on what the roof panels are doing. The 75/15 will only cost $125.

Don’t know your exact setup, but suppose you have 2x200w roof panels feeding a 100/30 mppt controller. Leave them the heck alone and disconnect anything else that may be connected to that charge controller’s input side. Now connect those wires coming from the sidewall to a new 75/15 mppt controller which you wire to the dc bus through its own fuse. Pick virtually any portable panel on the market and it will not exceed the parameters of a 75/15 controller. 400w portable, or two 200w panels wired in series. It doesn’t matter. If connecting multiple portables, always wire them in series so you can send low amperage through the cable. Lower amperage allows you to use a longer cable without any appreciable voltage drop. Just don’t exceed the voltage input max of the controller.

Seems some FLX owners do some serious hand wringing if they want to increase battery capacity because an extra Lithionics 300ah battery costs a fortune. But you don’t have to buy a Lithionics. I wouldn’t suggest you wire a Lithionics with a different brand having similar specs. But there are two ways to slay the beast without forking over $5k for a second Lithionics. First way is to buy a powerstation. With a powerstation, you can just plug your shore power cable into it and it will mimic a pedestal at a campground. Easy peasy. No installation, and as much ac power as you want to pay for, but way way less than another Lithionics., but more money than option #2. Plus, you get to keep the powerstation when you sell the RV. The second way is to buy whatever size/capacity LFP you want or can afford and connect it to the dc bus using an A/B disconnect switch such that it cannot be online when the Lithionics is online and vice versa. In this setup, when the Lithionics is offline, the added LFP will charge using your existing charging system, which I believe is a Xantrex inverter/charger. If you’re concerned about not dung able to use all the fancy readout doodads get over it. Just buy your added LFP with built-in Bluetooth, or add a Bluetooth shunt to it.

Now, for some, they would prefer to not need to do any intervention while using their system. Those are the ones who deserve to pay $5,000 for a second battery that can be had for $1,200 by going with another brand. That’s why Winnebago/Lithionics price it that way. For others who aren’t too lazy to flip a switch, they can add battery capacity as can be added in any other RV. Wow, what would have happened to Lindbergh if he couldn’t bring himself to flip a switch to change fuel tanks. Same thing here. Easy/inexpensive and some effort versus no effort and gawd awful expensive.

Take a look at photos in my upgrades and mods album. So easy to do solar and batteries right.
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Old 03-02-2024, 02:42 PM   #3
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Mixing panels of different voltages and or wattage in series or parallel connection inevitably reduces overall performance of entire system..

A couple of years ago I went with what Jim suggests by adding a solar power station having a 3600 watt inverter charged by a 600 watt 44 volt solar panel.. Power station has a 30 amp NEMA plug that has output 3900 watts continuously when i've tested..

Examples of system wattage loss when combining different panels can be found on:
https://solarpanelsvenue.com/mixing-solar-panels
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Old 03-02-2024, 03:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jojohoho View Post
Can I just plug a Dokio panel into the side of the rig with the right adapter? If it goes through the inverter I am guessing I need to match the output Voltage with the input of the inverter? How about one of these portable power packs...can I use one to plug into the power system and just use that as a supplementary battery?
Lots of things to respond to.

You can buy any brand of portable 12v nominal solar suitcase or panels you want to plug into the port on the side of your Micro Minnie FLX (not Minnie Micro as you stated in your post, by the way). But, you already have 400w of solar and you have a 30-amp solar charge controller in your FLX. This just means that you could not add more than 100w of solar that runs through that 30-amp charge controller. See 500w of solar would put you pretty close to right at 30-amps.

As Jim mentioned, you can buy the kit you mentioned and connect it directly to the battery using it's controller. But you should gain some more experience with this stuff before going off on your own on this.

The battery power goes through the Inverter, not the solar panels. The solar panels are connected to the solar charge controller and it is connected directly to the battery. So, there is no voltage matching with the inverter needed.

Solar panels put out 18-21volts. It's the solar charge controller that changes that to battery voltage.

By "portable power packs" I'm guessing you are asking about things usually referred to as solar generators. They are not solar "generators" that that seems to be a popular description. You use these like you would use a generator - you plug them into your RV like you'd plug in a gas powered generator.

They are not very efficient when used this way unless you make sure to turn off your inverter and it's charger when you use the solar generator. Otherwise, your solar generator's power will try to charge your TT's built in battery and that's just not an efficient use of power.
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Old 03-02-2024, 03:18 PM   #5
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One more thing... newbie RVers kind of expect batteries to work miracles. And FLX TT owners expect them to be super miracles.

No matter how big your Lithionics system is - it's only 320amp hours. And the fact that you have 400w of solar on the roof is great but can't work more miracles. You still can easily use every bit of that power when boondocking/dry camping if you turn on power hungry appliances. And, it takes plenty of time to recharge the battery with your solar setup.

You can add solar - it will help some. You can spend $3,600 and add another battery which will help even more. OR, you can learn how to utilize the power you have and how to manage and conserve your existing but limited resources.

I'll bet your RV salesperson gave you the impression that your TT has so much power that you can move mountains and have power left over. It's not so. You only have so much.

If you want a surefire solution buy a 2000w Generator and put it in the back of your tow vehicle. Then, when you have run out of power you can start the generator and recharge those batteries and even run your A/C at the same time. Just a few hours a day will extend your power a great deal.

OR, you can pay twice as much for a "solar generator" and use that like a gas generator until that too runs out of battery.

The plus side of having a gas generator is that you can refuel it easily and instantly. A "solar generator" is not as easily recharged on demand.
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Old 03-02-2024, 04:02 PM   #6
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Don’t agree fully with Creativepart regarding connecting any panel to the solar on the side port. Voltage matching is extremely important in parallel configurations, and less important in series configurations. Maybe the input side of the GoPower controller isolates the roof panels from the portable sidewall, but I don’t think so. Could be that it makes a serial connection, which is less problematic. I could be proven wrong on this.

When you connect two panels of different voltages in series, the voltage of the array is the sum of the panels, and the amperage of the array will approximate the amperage of the lesser panel

When you connect two panels with different voltages in parallel the voltage of the array will approximate the voltage of the lesser panel.

So, IMO, it does make a difference if you connect dissimilar panels to the same controller. If you connect dissimilar panels to separate controllers, it won’t make a difference.

Voltages (Voc) of portable panels can vary greatly from the mono panels usually installed on rooftops. As noted by Creativepart, roof panels are usually, but not always 18-22 volts. Some roof panels like mine are over 30 volts (Voc). Many portable panels are showing up with high voltages in the 30+ range. For example, the Ecoflow 400w portable is 48 volts. You can’t mix these high voltage panels with a low voltage panel unless in series. Even still, plugging a 48v panel into the solar on the side, mixed with the roof panels is probably not a good idea.

Agree with Creativepart about consumption while boondocking. With a small camper like the 2108, if you’re using more tha 1kWh in a day, you’re not conserving. If you really need to burn through 2-3 kWh per day, get yourself a motorhome.
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Old 03-02-2024, 07:07 PM   #7
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As noted by Creativepart, roof panels are usually, but not always 18-22 volts. Some roof panels like mine are over 30 volts (Voc).
Let's not confuse the OP.

Are special SIGS panels with higher voltages available? Sure. So are 24v and 48v panels. But RV's typically have 12v nominal panels, especially as equipped from the factory on a smaller travel trailer.

I think the same is true of any possible problems mixing portable panels that are very likely to mesh just fine with the OEM roof panels. But that limitation of the 30-amp solar charge controller is a given.
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Old 03-03-2024, 08:45 AM   #8
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Thanks much!!! Sounds like the simplist thing might be to get a poser station I can charge from a seperate set of panels and just plug that in directly to the rig...
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Old 03-03-2024, 08:47 AM   #9
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Rod, what are the brands of power station and solar panels you are using??...and BTW, wow, 600 W sounds like LOTSA power...
Thanks so much for your advice.
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Old 03-03-2024, 08:52 AM   #10
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Thanks, very helpful!!
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