I wanted to discuss our Auxiliary Battery Bank. This is the power source for our outdoor lighting, water pump, porch fan, and USB outlets.
Inside the cabin we use standard 110v which utilizes a lithium generator, AGM battery bank, and 400w solar panels.
Outside the cabin we have other power needs such as, power interior/exterior lighting, power a ceiling fan, power USB plugs for charging electronics, and power a 2gpm water pump.
We have 4 deep cycle marine batteries (connected in parallel). This bank will be stored in the frame of the porch roof. We will need a controller between the bank and the solar array. The solar array consists of one 120 Watt Foldable Solar Panel by PowerFilm. We'll be installing the panel on the roof of the porch. The wiring will run up under the porch roof to the solar control and then to the battery bank. From the bank we'll run power lines to our 12v accessories. The PowerFilm is instrumental in making this idea come to life.
We chose the porch roof as an installation point to it ease of access. I want to be able to quickly take down panels, fold them away, and pack it into my bug out pack or trunk. This is by far the most portable solar panels in existence. I've found smaller panels before that pack tighter but they are almost useless due to their lackluster ability to absorb energy. I needed something that could be expanded and draw over 100 watts.
We tried out this solar panels with our GoalZero Yeti (You'll need RA-16 Extension Adapter with 4.75mm Barrel Connector (Amazon ASIN # B00HWD10P2) for the proper conversion) and even took it on a rafting adventure in our man made raft. We were able to use our trolling motor to travel nearly 100 miles by keeping our batteries topped off with the PowerFilm.
PowerFilm 120 Watt Foldable Panel Review
So I wanted to take a moment and give you a walkthrough of the PowerFilm 120 Watt Foldable Solar Panel.
The Looks: It's folded and packed tight. The material appears to be tan canvas. It doesn't stick out as a fancy eye sore. The tan color is a great choice. It blends in well so if you want to keep a low profile, it'll match great in environments covered in sand, foliage, or even snow.
The Size: Folded: 14.5 x 14.0 x 3.0. Unfolded: 86.5 x 55.0. When folded it uses hook and pile tape to stay shut. It weighs about 6lb.
The Use: Place the solar panel in the sun. Connect your device to the charger using a male 12V car charger adapter (RA-1) and the included female 12V car charger adapter (RA-2). Optionally, the charger can be connected directly to a 12V battery for battery charging and power storage.
The Nitty Gritty: So yea, this thing will soak up the sun. It will output 7.2 amps. You are going to need a solar controller either built in to the device that accepts and collects the power or a standalone controller. I mentioned you can use Goal Zero to handle both of these. While there are many electric generators designed for offgrid use; I recommend the Inergy Technologies Lithium Kodiak. It has a controller and inverter built in. You will need the RA-7-NEUTRIK-M - PowerFilm 15' Cable w/Male Neutrik End. Amperage may drop if you go much longer than 15 feet. With this setup you can power rotary saws, refrigerators, phones, and more.
The Tips: Angle the solar panel toward the sun for best results. Always store in a cool dry environment. Not designed for use in the rain. Allow time to air dry before packing if the panel is wet. Routinely clean the solar panel to ensure best performance.
The Certifications: Yep, it's built to Mil-Specs! CE, MIL-STD-810G, RoHS, Berry Amendment Compliance.
The Techs: Rated Voltage at Pmax 15.4V. Rated Current at Pmax 7.2A. Open Circuit Voltage 21.9V. Short Circuit Current 9.1A
So now that you've got an understanding of the PowerFilm capabilities I want to discuss our setup at the Cabin. The below diagram outlines how we will setup our cabin for power and water.
As we spend more time at the cabin we are constantly considering new methods and items to improve our efficiency and comfort. Our latest thoughts are represented above.
PowerFilm, BossWatt, and Inergy Technologies helped bring all this together and I hope you contact them or use if you need assistance and equipment to power your offgrid rig.