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Old 06-23-2021, 09:00 AM #1
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Trying to find 3rd gen Roof Mounted Solar

I am struggling to find the old threads I was looking at for semi-permanent solar overlanding setups. The search engine isn't finding me the same results it used to.

Does anyone have any build threads or links to some they could share?
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Old 06-23-2021, 10:17 AM #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TravThePro View Post
I am struggling to find the old threads I was looking at for semi-permanent solar overlanding setups. The search engine isn't finding me the same results it used to.

Does anyone have any build threads or links to some they could share?
Saw this guys build on youtube that has solar panel on roof to power a jackery

Amazing SUV 4Runner Camper DC FRIDGE and POWER with SOLAR- Bye bye FRONT SEAT! - YouTube
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Old 06-23-2021, 10:59 AM #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TravThePro View Post
I am struggling to find the old threads I was looking at for semi-permanent solar overlanding setups. The search engine isn't finding me the same results it used to.

Does anyone have any build threads or links to some they could share?
If you're not using the better search method, it's using this link:

https://www.google.com/search?source....0.Lmv91WWK9Z8

(or just dropping "site:toyota-4Runner.org/3rd-gen-t4rs/" without the quotes, into Google).

Beyond that, break it up into the components ~ a mounting system (rack), which is the only 3rd Gen specific thing... From there it's just picking the panel and mounting, pretty easy and I would *NOT* rely on old info here as panel choices change constantly with new build technology. Then wiring them up, which could be 3rd gen specific I guess when picking the pass-through spot. Picking a battery bank, an inverter (if you so choose) and mounting those.

Installing solar works the same on a house as a car, so looking Here for that info doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Personally, I've been down the solar route before and it doesn't fit my style of camping. It's best suited for open areas (not parking under trees/in the shade) where you don't move for long stretches of time. I've found that a 100ah LiFePO4 gives me somewhere between 3 and 4 days of power for my needs/uses. I tend to use 5 gallons of water in ~3 days and carry ~3 days of food with me, so that's my limit of staying in 1 spot. Plus, I'm on the east coast, so trees everywhere and you Want the shade. The time I'm out in the Rockies I get a Little more sun, but still pretty shaded. I was simply never getting as much charge as I was using so I had to constantly top-off with a shore charger. 2nd iteration I went with a 40a DC-DC charger, which takes 2 hours of driving to FULLY top my battery from an unusable state. No idea on idle to charge as I've not needed to do that in 3 years and ~ 180 nights of camping. I don't even have a shore-power charging option for this setup. Doesn't have the "look at me!" factor of solar, but cheaper, more robust and works better. Also, there are hybrid systems that allow multiple charge sources if you really want to leave your options open to go any direction.

Consider Your use before going one way or another. Just because the lemmings are jumping off the cliff, doesn't mean that's the best option..... ;)

This is my charger: 12V DC-DC On-Board Battery Charger | Renogy Solar ~ and no, I see no difference in fuel economy with the charger running (it's switched in 2 ways, a main on/off so I'm not charging while not camping and a 5min delay so the load isn't added to a cold-start engine).
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Old 06-23-2021, 12:20 PM #4
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I haven't got around to posting my solar setup in my build thread, so I'll just put it here for now. My setup is really small. The main goal was to just offset the fridge/recoup as much as I could, but the panel size I could use was really limited due to wanting to fit them in the Gobi rack.

It's two 30W Amazon panels in series, so that I have a better shot at getting some power while in the shade, since it's overcast so much here. I wanted an MPPT controller so it wouldn't create interference with my ham radio, the way PWM controllers reportedly do. This is the controller I used, and I really like it. Amazon.com: Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 75V 10 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth): Industrial & Scientific The bluetooth is great for keeping an eye on things (let's be honest, this is most of the fun of a solar setup), and you can even run their management software on a raspberry pi, to keep an eye on things remotely. I used that for a while to monitor my battery level from inside the house while the truck was parked outside.



This setup is not big enough to run the fridge for multiple days, as I quickly found. It is enough to keep my aux battery from draining down during the work day with the truck in a wide open parking lot, and the fridge running a lot because of the sun.

Some numbers. Testing at my house (mostly shaded) showed that on an approx 70F day my 37L ARB fridge used about 320Wh hooked up to 120V, using a KillAWatt meter. The best solar harvest I had at my house with about a 5 hour window of clear sun was 230Wh, with the controller using about 20Wh itself. On an overcast day it's about half that. When I tested it at work (wide open parking lot, full sun) I came out and the aux battery was sitting at 12.66V after the fridge ran the full day. The panels sucked up 250Wh during my 8 hour shift, and the first few hours weren't optimal, since I started at 7.

When the fridge isn't in the truck, it's great, because I've never come out to an aux battery that was anything less than tip top.

Would I do it again? If I already had the dual battery setup and all of that infrastructure, the solar stuff (panels and controller) was less than $200, and I have zero complaints. Is it a viable off-grid setup? No, definitely not at this size.

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Old 06-23-2021, 02:04 PM #5
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unless you are going to park your car for prolonged periods solar is insufficient for any of your need and price is high.

i would strongly advice to have a high amp alternator with aux battery somewhere.. that setup will require a master/slave battery combiner charger controller.. but will worth the setup.

i can help you with calculation of how big the aux battery should be if you give me the load and time.. also will provide you how efficient the system would be if having a 300w of solar panel.
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Old 06-23-2021, 02:34 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertegal7 View Post
unless you are going to park your car for prolonged periods solar is insufficient for any of your need and price is high.

i would strongly advice to have a high amp alternator with aux battery somewhere.. that setup will require a master/slave battery combiner charger controller.. but will worth the setup.

i can help you with calculation of how big the aux battery should be if you give me the load and time.. also will provide you how efficient the system would be if having a 300w of solar panel.
Having both a small solar and a high amp alt with an aux battery, I would go the high amp alt route if I just had to pick one, especially if you have anything with a decent load.
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Old 06-24-2021, 12:04 AM #7
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Originally Posted by 02Limited View Post
Saw this guys build on youtube that has solar panel on roof to power a jackery

Amazing SUV 4Runner Camper DC FRIDGE and POWER with SOLAR- Bye bye FRONT SEAT! - YouTube
The Jackery 1000 combined with 2x100 Watt panels would be perfect for a simple plug-and-play build. I cannot even fathom spending $1400-1600 plus tax on a basic setup like that though. I do appreciate you linking it, the guy had some other sweet things he did with his rig that I could see myself doing in my build.
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Old 06-24-2021, 01:06 AM #8
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Originally Posted by Brian. View Post
If you're not using the better search method, it's using this link:

site:toyota-4Runner.org/3rd-gen-t4rs/ - Google Search

(or just dropping "site:toyota-4Runner.org/3rd-gen-t4rs/" without the quotes, into Google).

Beyond that, break it up into the components ~ a mounting system (rack), which is the only 3rd Gen specific thing... From there it's just picking the panel and mounting, pretty easy and I would *NOT* rely on old info here as panel choices change constantly with new build technology. Then wiring them up, which could be 3rd gen specific I guess when picking the pass-through spot. Picking a battery bank, an inverter (if you so choose) and mounting those.
I learned all of this in my web design/navigation class! Incidentally, I seem to have forgotten it all until your reminder here. This is going to make it so much easier finding all those threads that have sunk deep into the forum.

It's crazy just how much solar technology is changing every year. The price nearly doubling on similar builds I blueprinted 2 years ago doesn't have me smiling either.

The main two things I wanted to see examples of are the mounting and charge controllers. Wiring it doesn't have me worried at all. I currently plan to run it through the back hatch wiring loom with a few other added rear accessories.
Quote:
Installing solar works the same on a house as a car, so looking Here for that info doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Personally, I've been down the solar route before and it doesn't fit my style of camping. It's best suited for open areas (not parking under trees/in the shade) where you don't move for long stretches of time. I've found that a 100ah LiFePO4 gives me somewhere between 3 and 4 days of power for my needs/uses. I tend to use 5 gallons of water in ~3 days and carry ~3 days of food with me, so that's my limit of staying in 1 spot. Plus, I'm on the east coast, so trees everywhere and you Want the shade. The time I'm out in the Rockies I get a Little more sun, but still pretty shaded. I was simply never getting as much charge as I was using so I had to constantly top-off with a shore charger. 2nd iteration I went with a 40a DC-DC charger, which takes 2 hours of driving to FULLY top my battery from an unusable state. No idea on idle to charge as I've not needed to do that in 3 years and ~ 180 nights of camping. I don't even have a shore-power charging option for this setup. Doesn't have the "look at me!" factor of solar, but cheaper, more robust and works better. Also, there are hybrid systems that allow multiple charge sources if you really want to leave your options open to go any direction.

Consider Your use before going one way or another. Just because the lemmings are jumping off the cliff, doesn't mean that's the best option..... ;)

This is my charger: 12V DC-DC On-Board Battery Charger | Renogy Solar ~ and no, I see no difference in fuel economy with the charger running (it's switched in 2 ways, a main on/off so I'm not charging while not camping and a 5min delay so the load isn't added to a cold-start engine).
Treating solar as a 'cool trend' along with not fully understanding the true output in various circumstances is a fatal flaw in these builds. Solar is not the solution for an overwhelming majority of these setups.

I wanted to go the solar route because I:
1) Enjoy designing working electrical systems. Learning, experimenting, and even failing with these projects is tons of fun. It is going to be used as an assistant power supply to make my 1-2 week trips with a fridge/freezer a viable option.
2) The high output alternators increase load + heat. The second issue with this is that your fuel consumption goes up if you exclusively use the vehicle to charge the system. I really doubt idling it every day would be an issue for me because exploring the mountains is so much better than sitting and wondering about them. Fuel is still the number one reason I have to leave the mountains early.

I've been looking into Renogy's panels and charge controllers for several years. I am actually planning to buy my solar panels from Renogy. They have great reviews on their solar panels, but have mixed reviews on the charge controllers. How has your experience been with the DC-DC controller?
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Old 06-24-2021, 01:52 AM #9
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Originally Posted by PrinceValorum View Post
I haven't got around to posting my solar setup in my build thread, so I'll just put it here for now. My setup is really small. The main goal was to just offset the fridge/recoup as much as I could, but the panel size I could use was really limited due to wanting to fit them in the Gobi rack.

It's two 30W Amazon panels in series, so that I have a better shot at getting some power while in the shade, since it's overcast so much here. I wanted an MPPT controller so it wouldn't create interference with my ham radio, the way PWM controllers reportedly do. This is the controller I used, and I really like it. Amazon.com: Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 75V 10 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth): Industrial & Scientific The bluetooth is great for keeping an eye on things (let's be honest, this is most of the fun of a solar setup), and you can even run their management software on a raspberry pi, to keep an eye on things remotely. I used that for a while to monitor my battery level from inside the house while the truck was parked outside.



This setup is not big enough to run the fridge for multiple days, as I quickly found. It is enough to keep my aux battery from draining down during the work day with the truck in a wide open parking lot, and the fridge running a lot because of the sun.

Some numbers. Testing at my house (mostly shaded) showed that on an approx 70F day my 37L ARB fridge used about 320Wh hooked up to 120V, using a KillAWatt meter. The best solar harvest I had at my house with about a 5 hour window of clear sun was 230Wh, with the controller using about 20Wh itself. On an overcast day it's about half that. When I tested it at work (wide open parking lot, full sun) I came out and the aux battery was sitting at 12.66V after the fridge ran the full day. The panels sucked up 250Wh during my 8 hour shift, and the first few hours weren't optimal, since I started at 7.

When the fridge isn't in the truck, it's great, because I've never come out to an aux battery that was anything less than tip top.

Would I do it again? If I already had the dual battery setup and all of that infrastructure, the solar stuff (panels and controller) was less than $200, and I have zero complaints. Is it a viable off-grid setup? No, definitely not at this size.
The testing data from this 60W setup is super helpful!

Realistic expectations would suggest that the fridge/freezer I am planning to buy (Dometic CFX3 75DZ) will eat a minimum of 2.5-3x what your 37L ARB fridge currently is. My plan right now is to have a 100W solar panel mounted on the roof with a 200W briefcase-style portable panel to set out in the light when needed.

The Victron 20/30A MPPT charger is in my top 3 for the charge controllers I considered going with. I honestly didn't even think about running a raspberry pi to it for the data, I was just planning to use the Bluetooth that is already built into them with my phone.

The fitment of those panels in that Gobi rack is sooo nice, I might not be able to post pictures of my crap when I finish it now haha. Thanks for sharing here first
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Old 06-24-2021, 02:30 AM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertegal7 View Post
unless you are going to park your car for prolonged periods solar is insufficient for any of your need and price is high.

i would strongly advice to have a high amp alternator with aux battery somewhere.. that setup will require a master/slave battery combiner charger controller.. but will worth the setup.

i can help you with calculation of how big the aux battery should be if you give me the load and time.. also will provide you how efficient the system would be if having a 300w of solar panel.
This is all true, I couldn't agree more that the high output alternator would be superior to solar in nearly every category(especially price).

I will have an auxiliary (parallel/12v) dual battery purchased for this. The overall maximum capacity of these batteries together will be ~200Ah.

The problem calculating this entire setup is the inefficiencies in real life. Dometic on their website specifies it draws: "Energy Consumption 12VDC (Ambient@90F, Internal@39F), 1.43[Ah/h]" Dometic CFX3 75DZ - Powered Cooler, 75 l | Dometic.com

This figure is certainly going to be more efficient than what I am actually going to get. Then the solar panels charge rates are even less consistent than the consumption rates are going to be.

I would be ecstatic if 300W solar panels averaged anywhere over 100W charge across a 24 hour time period.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe we can calculate this accurately without know the real-world data. Thanks
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Old 06-24-2021, 09:50 AM #11
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I've been looking into Renogy's panels and charge controllers for several years. I am actually planning to buy my solar panels from Renogy. They have great reviews on their solar panels, but have mixed reviews on the charge controllers. How has your experience been with the DC-DC controller?
Absolutely rock solid. The worst part of the whole experience was during installation, instructions were poor for the 12v trigger. I called (dumped to VM, no return contact) and emailed, took them more than 2 weeks to get back to me but they sent me a revised instructions PDF and apologized for the bad info and the delay. I did buy it pretty close to their release date, so I think it was early unit/production teething problems.

Once installed, zero issues. I have a cheap Chinesium battery monitor/voltmeter which shows that it doesn't Quite get to the full 40a (36~37amps), but I suspect that's the fault of the monitor and I've never bothered to check with my good multimeter.... kinda one of those "close enough" situations. I sure wouldn't hesitate to buy their products again.

I hear you on wanting to do solar because it's interesting, that's why I did it the first (last, only) time. I don't regret the experience, but I do regret the blinders I had on... cause me several years of frustration where the system just couldn't keep up with my needs except under absolutely ideal situations. And frankly, it cost a lot more. Looks like somewhere between 2 and 3 times as much as my current setup, plus the added complexity. Just a hard pill to swallow, realizing I was blinded by wants to the exclusion of paying attention to what would best suit my Needs.

Good luck with your build!
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Old 06-24-2021, 12:32 PM #12
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Originally Posted by TravThePro View Post
The testing data from this 60W setup is super helpful!

Realistic expectations would suggest that the fridge/freezer I am planning to buy (Dometic CFX3 75DZ) will eat a minimum of 2.5-3x what your 37L ARB fridge currently is. My plan right now is to have a 100W solar panel mounted on the roof with a 200W briefcase-style portable panel to set out in the light when needed.

The Victron 20/30A MPPT charger is in my top 3 for the charge controllers I considered going with. I honestly didn't even think about running a raspberry pi to it for the data, I was just planning to use the Bluetooth that is already built into them with my phone.

The fitment of those panels in that Gobi rack is sooo nice, I might not be able to post pictures of my crap when I finish it now haha. Thanks for sharing here first
The Raspberry pi will run Victron's Venus OS software, replacing the "need" for their Venus GX, which between that and the touchscreen, is like $500. It's a remote management interface, which while cool, was not at all necessary. The bluetooth from the charge controller gives all the relevant information and control features you'd need. The Venus allows you to manage it over a network, if that's your preferred poison.

This was definitely a novelty project, but I learned a lot, and was honestly surprised just how flippin simple it was to hook up the solar stuff. Like four wires. Pos/neg from panels into the controller, and pos/neg from the controller to the battery. Done. I didn't drill any holes, I just ran the wires from the panels down the rear driver's door weather stripping and passed through at the bottom (to avoid leaks as much as possible).
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Old 06-26-2021, 10:37 AM #13
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Ive got a 80w mounted directly to my factory rack mounts. The wires run into the cab and the charge controller is in the rear right cubby. I have some pictures in my signature build. Most photos are gone but on page 5 the current setup still seems to be working. You just motivated me to go find originals and upload online forums so photobucket watermark is gone

Maybe ill clean up the full build.

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Old 06-26-2021, 12:25 PM #14
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I have a SUNFLARE 105w flexible solar panel and a OVERLAND SOLAR 130w solar panel Iím installing in parallel as we speak with a REDARC BCDC1225D MPPT controller with 2 ODYSSEY-PC1400T AGM batteries.




This is the full extended version of the OVERLAND SOLAR 130W panel under the 105W panel





Finally this is just a shot of the OVERLAND SOLAR 130W panel


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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Old 06-26-2021, 01:15 PM #15
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This is the full extended version of the OVERLAND SOLAR 130W panel under the 105W panel
Cool idea, makes me think of the sliding setup the guy on the Everlanders YouTube channel built. How is it secured while driving?
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