May 6 • 17M

Unboxing the Solar System for Our Aliner Scout Popup Trailer RV

The 6 Key Components of Our System

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Follow our journey as we buy a Rivian R1T electric truck to pull a travel trailer equipped to run exclusively on solar power!
Episode details


In today’s episode, we unbox the solar system components we bought for our Aliner Scout popup trailer RV. There are six components to the system we discuss today:

  1. Charge Controller

  2. Bus Bar

  3. Battery Monitor

  4. Inverter

  5. Battery

  6. Solar Panels

We’ll share some details and links for each of these items in this newsletter. We ordered everything from Amazon.

Note that we have not received any compensation from any of these vendors, nor will we earn anything if you purchase any of these products. We don’t necessarily recommend any of these products, but they are the ones we chose.

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 20 amp Charge Controller

We’ve already concluded that the charge controller we chose is underpowered for our system. While it can theoretically handle 2 KW of solar panels, that would only be true if the total voltage were precisely 100 and the total amperage were 20. Using this controller, we can install our 500-watt system of five panels in a series producing 60 volts (12 each) at 8.33 amps but not in parallel, which would produce 12 volts at 41.6 amps—more amps than the little unit can handle.

4 Post Power Distribution Block Bus Bar

The bus bar allows us to keep the wiring to the battery a bit more organized. In that regard, we can use all the help we can get!

Renogy 500A Battery Monitor

The battery monitor allows you to see how much charge you have in your battery, which is essential when relying entirely on the solar system for power.

Victron Energy MultiPlus 2000VA 12-Volt Pure Sine Wave Inverter

The inverter converts the direct current energy stored in the battery into alternating current, just like the power in your home, to run things that plug into the wall in the trailer. In our Aliner Scout, the air conditioner and refrigerator run on a/c power. The inverter also incorporates a charge controller that converts shore power or grid power into direct current to charge the battery. We hope never to do this, but want this capability in case of a storm or a long, hot night. The inverter weighs almost 30 pounds! That is a big dent in our towing capacity.

PIONERGY 12V 200Ah Plus Lithium Battery,Built-in 200A BMS

Made in China, this big lithium battery will hold about 2.4 kwh of energy—pretty good for one battery. We found some highly reputable domestic batteries at three times the price. We decided to gamble on replacing this three times rather than spring for the more expensive model. We’ll let you know if we have to replace this and how long it lasted. The battery can discharge energy at up to 2 kW, which matches the inverter’s capacity. We hope they are both big enough for everything we want to do.

The battery weighs about 47 pounds, but it will replace an old lead-acid battery that holds much less energy and weighs a similar amount.

As of this moment, the battery is delayed due to weather, according to FedEx. We haven’t seen it yet.

Newpowa 100W Semi-Flex Solar Panel 12 Volt Monocrystalline Lightweight Module

We purchased five of these 100-watt solar panels that weigh just four pounds each. Together they will produce 500 watts either as 12 volts at 41.6 amps or 60 volts at 8.33 amps. As mentioned above, given the constraints of our charge controller, we plan to install them in a series generating the 60 volts at 8.33 amps.

At just 4.2 pounds each, the panels together weigh just 21 pounds. We don’t anticipate much trouble resulting. Fingers crossed!

Future Updates

Over the next six or seven weeks, we’ll be installing all of these components on the trailer. We’ll share what we learn. If you have tips, insights or suggestions, please share!

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Note that we have not received any compensation or free product from any vendors. We chose these products purely on the merits. Having done that independent research, we have used affiliate links to the products in the descriptions that allow us to earn small commissions if you make a purchase. The links do not result in an increased cost for you.