How To Use Solar Panels With A RV/Trailer/Fifth Wheel Prewired With A Furrion Solar Port
Solar panels have become popular among campers that do a lot of dry camping, also known as boondocking. RV and trailer manufacturers noticed this a couple of years ago and have started putting prewired ports on new models. Large brands like Grand Design and Forest River are two manufacturers that have done it.
These ports make it easy not only to recharge your RV house batteries when you’re outdoors camping but also when your trailer is in storage and you want to trickle charge the batteries.
I have been to a couple of RV dealerships that have tried to sell me solar panels that are compatible with these Furrion ports, but the fact is that you can connect any compatible third-party solar panel.
If you’re looking for the easiest way to use a solar panel with the Furrion solar port, I recommend the Acopower 100W solar panel (click to view on Amazon), paired with the Acopower Furrion adapter.
I also recommend using an Acopower extension cable. That’s all you need, and most people don’t need more than 100W to charge their RV batteries. A 100W panel like this won’t output more than 10A, and is safe to use with the Furrion solar port.
To make your boondocking experience even better, I highly recommend getting a portable power station. For example, the No products found. that has an expandable 288Wh battery capacity, three AC outlets, USB A and C ports, among other features. The River can be charged with the Acopower panel above as long as you connect the included MC4 to XT60 adapter to the built-in bypass which doesn’t go through the charge controller.
Today I’ll show you how to use the Furrion solar port, and share my solar panel recommendations.
The Adapter You’ll Need To Connect Third-Party Solar Panels To Furrion Solar Ports
The Furrion solar port is a rare two pin port, not found on most solar panels. You can probably imagine why they would do this (hint: they make proprietary solar panels that use this port).
Most solar panels nowadays come with MC4 connectors, so what we need is an adapter that will turn these MC4 connectors into the 2 pin connector used by Furrion.
The Lixin MC4 to 2 Pin does exactly that.
Note that the female MC4 connector is the positive (red) wire, and the male connector is negative (black). This is compatible with most third-party panels from companies like Renogy, HQST, Newpowa, etc. It’s important that you buy the right adapter for your solar panel.
If you have a solar panel that has a positive female MC4 connector, and a negative male MC4 connector, the adapter you’ll need is the CNLEIFU MC4 to 2 Pin adapter.
What Makes A Solar Panel Compatible With The Furrion Solar Port
The Furrion ports I have seen (yours might be newer and different) have a 10A limit. 10A is 120W, so we want to stay below that to not blow a fuse.
Another thing you must know is that the Furrion prewiring is basically just an electrical wire going to your batteries with a fuse on it, nothing more. So you need to use a solar panel with a solar charge controller to prevent overcharging.
Related Post: Renogy Lithium Vs Battle Born Batteries
The Furrion solar port on your trailer will be the same no matter if you have a Grand Design or a Forest River RV.
Solar Panel Recommendations Compatible With The Furrion Solar Port
Now, let’s take a look at a couple of good solar panel options that come with a built-in solar charge controller. Paired with the Lixin MC4 to 2 Pin, you’ll be able to plug these panels into the Furrion port.
The links below take you to the product page on Amazon.com.
Renogy 100W Portable Foldable Monocrystalline Solar Panel – I have two of these, one with and one without a solar charge controller. I use them with my power station, but it’s also a great choice to charge RV batteries with. The adjustable kickstand makes it easy to angle the panels towards the sun, and the included protective case keeps it protected during travel. The solar charge controller tells you amperage, battery voltage, and charging status. Paired with the Lixin MC4 to 2 Pin it will work with your Furrion port.
Acopower 100W Portable Solar Kit – The Acopower 100W solar panel is one that sticks out due to the solar charge bypass. This allows you to charge both a power station and a 12V battery at the same time. To use this with a Furrion solar port, you would need the Acopower Furrion Adapter. Paired with a power station like the Jackery Explorer 500 that lets you use regular 120V electronics like TV, computers, and CPAPs, you would be able to use the Acopower solar panel to recharge both your 12V trailer batteries and the portable lithium battery.
Renogy 12V 100W Monocrystalline Bundle Kit Solar Panel – You could also buy a solar panel kit like this that comes with a charge controller. You would connect the MC4 wires to the charge controller (female to positive, male to negative), then connect the positive male MC4 connector from the panel to the female MC4 connector you set up in the charge controller, and the negative female from the solar panel to the negative male from the charge controller. The charge controller clearly shows where the solar panel wires go vs the output wires to the battery.
Then you’d need some Renogy MC4 Extension Cables to make the connection between the charge controller and the Lixin MC4 to 2 Pin. Just make sure you connect the MC4 male to the positive on the charge controller (by the battery icon).
Most solar panels have relatively short cables, so you won’t be able to put the solar panel very far away from the port.
Therefore, I recommend using MC4 extension cables between the solar panel and the adapter. I use and recommend Windynation MC4 Extension cables. You can choose from many different lengths, and I have taped mine together with electrical tape to make them easier to deal with.
Before purchasing extension cables, you need to consider the total amperage your panel is going to output. A 100W panel will output about 6A, and I recommend using this calculator (click on Solar Cable Gauge Calculator) to get an understanding of how long an extension cable can be with a specific gauge before the voltage loss will exceed 3%. Below the calculator, you can also see the maximum current for different wire sizes.
What Can A 100W Solar Panel Run?
A 100W solar panel connected to your batteries will charge the batteries so you can use 12V appliances in your camper, like your water pump, furnace fan, 12V TV, and lights. It will not power outlets or run your microwave, air conditioner, or 120V TV.
To power your outlets with your 12V batteries, you need an inverter that changes 12V DC power to 120V AC power. An example of an inverter like this is the KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V Power Inverter. This is wired to your battery, then you can plug your 120V devices directly into it.
Since it’s a little bit harder to install an inverter than plugging in a cable, a popular solution nowadays is to buy a solar generator. A solar generator usually contains a 12V lithium battery, a solar charge controller, and an inverter that powers regular 120V AC outlets.
I use a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 that has 1045 watt-hours and a 1500W inverter, so I plug my travel trailer into it with a Camco 15A to 30A. This allows me to use the outlets and run everything in my camper except for the air conditioner.
I charge the Yeti with 400W of solar panels. When I plug the Yeti into my camper, it charges my 12V trailer batteries as well, so I never need to connect my solar panels to the trailer batteries.
How Long Will It Take To Recharge My RV Batteries?
This question is hard to answer in one sentence without knowing the battery capacity and solar panel size, therefore I wrote a post that goes through this, click here to view it.
Can I Use Goal Zero Solar Panels?
Goal Zero solar panels don’t have a charge controller built-in, so in order to connect one to a Furrion port, you would have to wire a charge controller in-between. It would be possible with a Boulder 100 but not a Boulder 200 due to the amperage.
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment down below.