Need to figure out what solar we may need. too many choices!


Active Member
Aug 23, 2007
Los Angeles
We haven't done much dry camping at all, as we usually have campgrounds with electrical.

But this summer we plan to do a few 3-5 day stints where we may not have access to electricity.
In our 2010 Coleman Sun Valley, we have just 1 battery, Interstate Group 27. We switched to all LED last year. We don't have A/C at all, and hot water heater doesn't work. 😰 Just a furnace, which I doubt we will use much in July up the 101 in California. Yes, there is the water pump. Yes, nice to charge up phones for the 4 of us, but what else am I missing that might use power? Built-in frig will be on propane.
The one thing we are also wanting to purchase is an additional portable frig. Probably this one. Says 45 Watts on it. But I can never figure out what that all means exactly. But found this on the Jackery website "Operating a 12v fridge for 12 hours daily will consume around three amps per hour, or 36 AH."

So yes, to keep that frig running, we will need some solar I am sure. But how much and what might we need? I see 100 W panels and 200W panels, and then you need a charge controller, I assume those connect directly to the battery to top it off right.
Like this one from Renogy? But I see also the "suitcase" foldable type, OR even the flexible type, which would be better for storage as we are not going to mount anything to the roof. But that suitcase is way more money. over $300. OR is the one from Harbor Freight good enough too?

But then my wife was thinking maybe we get one of those Jackery boxes and panel that goes with them. and again there are many choices there too, how large of one of those do we need? Is the Jackery 300 good enough? But that plus their panel is like $600 right?
OR can you use any other solar panel and plug them right into a Jackery? In case we decide to get just a panel now for summer and then on Black Friday buy the Jackery box.
Oh and I assume we could just plug the Shore Power from the trailer in the Jackery box?

I know this is about of my brain going all over, So thanks in advance. And feel free to ask any other questions.


2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
Northern Virginia
Just wanted to point something out in case you are not aware. Your electrical outlets in the camper will not work on 12v power unless you already added a 12v outlet. i Personally chose the cheapest 100 watt solar package I found On sale with Amazon. I figure it would be a good place to start if I found I needed to add an additional panel later I could. With that said the panel is huge and storing it is a big problem since like you, I didn’t want to attach it to the roof. So from that aspect thinking about storage the folding may be the better option. I don’t have the second fridge but for everything else 100 watt will be more then enough for your needs. that second 12v fridge however is where I’m stumped.


Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
Southeastern PA
I’m a big advocate of Jackery. I have a 500 and a 240. The 240 is just an emergency supply for home and the 500 is for camping. I don’t really trust published stats for anything, I work off real world experience. I took my Jackery 500, hooked it to a 100 watt solar panel and ran my CPAP for 21 days over the Winter Solstice (my post on this). So, my suggestion is to get that 12v fridge and test it. If it doesn’t work for you, return it.


Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
With only a few 3-5 day trips. And not really using anything with voltage. You may be better witha good cooler, and a small protable phone charger. The jackery and such are good, but how many times do you expect to charge the phones? Every day? Just another idea.


2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
Northern Virginia
With only a few 3-5 day trips. And not really using anything with voltage. You may be better witha good cooler, and a small protable phone charger. The jackery and such are good, but how many times do you expect to charge the phones? Every day? Just another idea.
To add, if you go this route you may not even need a solar panel. You should easily be able to get three or more days on your group 27 battery so long as you conserve the use of your water pump and not use the furnace.


Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
Albuquerque, NM
With our Coleman Cobalt, we did fine with 60 watts of solar, we mostly camp in the 4 Corners States. We had just one group 24 battery on that, to run two LED ceiling lights and the furnace, plus the occasional item in the 12v outlet, such as a fan. We also moved the panel connection between the trailer battery and the freestanding (Goal Zero) storage battery, which we had from the previous popup, which had no electrical system. We used the GZ battery for charging cell phone and Kindles.
I did camp 3 nights without solar, but after we got it, if we were dry camping more than overnight, the solar panels got put out. That's how we still do it, with our small TT and 2 golf cart batteries. It's easy enough to put the solar panel out, so we figure we might as well let it do its job. We have found that the water pump and furnace are both power hogs. In both the popup and TT, we haven't tried to reach tropical temperatures with the furnace, just comfort, such as setting the thermostat at 55° for overnight.
[Full disclosure, we actually run two solar systems on our TT, because we had the one from the popup, which was not sufficient for the TT. We use the old solar panels to charge the Goal Zero Yeti - handily, the charging cord runs in through the escape exit window - and use that to charge phones, Kindles, and run my sound machine at night. The 12v outlet is in a most unhandy spot, and we haven't found a place to relocate it, at least easily. The nice thing is that we can take the GZ Yeti anywhere outside, if we want to run a fan, charge the phone (such as when I'm waiting for a text to pick up my husband from a hike), use the one of the lights we have for it. Two systems isn't something we would have thought u=of using, except we had the equipment.


Super Active Member
Apr 13, 2015
LaLa land (SoCal)
Look on Amazon for the Renogy suitcase.I got for $199 with the controller and clamps to attach it to the battery. I plan on using it just like you. I bought a 12v cooler last year. They don't run constantly so use less power then you think. As I never had trouble going 3 days on my group 24 battery . I figure 100 watt solar and my new group 27 should work just fine. If I do find that 100 watts isn't good enough I'll just top the battery off with a jump for my TV. Till I can get a second battery and maybe another suitcase solar panel.


Active Member
Sep 19, 2022
Western Oregon
I have had many of these questions, and my power supply is still a work in progress. Most of my camping is going to be of the boondocking variety, but I still wanted the option of Shore Power if available. Or generator power, But I'd like to not have to carry a generator, gas and then babysit an expensive piece of equipment.

My camper has very little in the way of 12v accessories: a few led lights, usb chargers but a big 12v refrigerator which needs constant power. How to power this when boondocking? Solar with a good lithium battery sounds like the best setup, but my trailer wiring is mostly done with little room for fitting all the gizmos required.

I do already own a Jackery 1000. It will run my fridge for a couple days, but I'd like to use it only as backup. I have a Noco AC to DC battery charger onboard, but will only work with Shore Power.

After researching all the options, I have about decided that the best thing for me is a big a** lithium battery. I believe I can fit up to a 300AH battery in the former potty cabinet where my Noco charger resides. The main downside to this option is the price of said battery, but if I can hold off purchasing for a while I think the price will drop.

With 300AH, I am quite sure I can run for a week without any need to recharge. 200AH may even suffice, with the added bonus of a lower price tag.

Edit to note that the Jackery 1000 can also serve as an ad-hoc Shore Power, although not as efficiently as it invokes an Inverter when used as an AC source. Still, I could plug my Noco charger into it to top up the battery if necessary. Then, the Jackery can be recharged from the 12v outlet in the TV.
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