Introducing The Lensun 100W Hood Solar Panel – Mounted on 5th Gen 4Runner Hood

Lensun Solar Panel Feature Image

How to run a Solar Panel on the Hood of your 5th Gen 4Runner with The Lensun 100W: It Provides Consistent Efficient Charging Power You Can Depend On

If you have been camping or overlanding lately, you’ve probably noticed more and more solar panels being used. I took my family camping a few months ago and I was surprised at how many people had some sort of solar panel setup for charging batteries. I grew up camping and we always had a gas generator but technology has now come a long way.

Solar panel setups are commonly seen as either portable folding panels or panels permanently mounted to roofs. The main issue with the latter is that you are taking up valuable space on the roof. Plus, if you load gear up there, you’ll likely block the panels from the sun.

Luckily, Lensun Solar has created a more flexible hood mount panel that will not interfere with roof space. In this article, I am going to go over the installation and review of their hood solar panel for non-scoop hoods (more options available).

Who is Lensun?

Lensun is a solar energy company based out of China and is well versed in solar panel options. They offer hood-mounted solar panel options for numerous vehicles including foldable and semi-flexible panels for flat and non-flat surfaces.

Products:

  • Lensun has two options for 5th Gen 4Runners.

Find It Online:

When selecting your solar panel, you can choose the solar panel and/or vinyl and MPPT controller. I opted for all three for this install, along with the single-piece option.

Specifications

Single Solar Panel Electrical Information:

  • Peak power: 100W
  • Solar cell efficiency: 22.5%
  • Maximum power voltage: 21V
  • Maximum power current: 4.76A
  • Open circuit voltage: 24.78V
  • Short circuit current: 5.23A
  • Power allowance range: +/-3%
  • Maximum system voltage: 500V
  • Net Weight: 3.5kg/7.7 lbs
  • J-Box: IP 68 rated with 2m/6.5ft cables and MC4 connectors
  • Values at standard test conditions: Air Mass – AM1.5, Irradiance – 1000W/m2, Cell Temperature – 25°C

Three Solar Panels Electrical Information:

  • Peak power: 20W
  • Solar cell efficiency: 22.5%
  • Maximum power voltage: 16V
  • Maximum power current: 1.25A
  • Open circuit voltage: 19V
  • Short circuit current: 1.37A
  • Power allowance range: +/-3%
  • Maximum system voltage: 500V
  • Net Weight: 1kg/2.2 lbs
  • J-Box: IP 68 rated with 2m/6.5ft cables and MC4 connectors
  • Values at standard test conditions: Air Mass – AM1.5, Irradiance – 1000W/m2, Cell Temperature – 25°C

Installation

Parts/Tools Needed

There are two routes you can choose when installing your panel. You can place the panel on a vinyl underlay to protect your hood, or you attach the panel directly to your hood. I opted for the vinyl underlay as it would protect my paint if I ever had to remove the panel. If you do not want to install over vinyl, then jump down to the panel install.

Vinyl Install:

Lensun Vinyl Install

Lensun sells precut dry install vinyl but you can use other vinyl as well. Lensun’s vinyl comes with a squeegee, all you will need is a heat gun.

For a more in-depth description, Here is an article I wrote as well as a video I made on how to install Lensun vinyl.
Flat surface vinyl installation, like the one pictured above, is the easiest. Make sure your hood is clean and you are installing it in a clean area. You do not want debris under your vinyl and if possible, don’t install when it is too cold or too hot out as this can make the vinyl more difficult to work with.

To install, start at the top of the hood closest to the windshield. There is a little flat spot and then the hood starts going down towards the front. I started my vinyl just on the edge of that flat spot. I positioned the vinyl with about 1/2” on each side of the main hood lines.

Work your way towards the front of the hood minimizing bubbles. If you get a big bubble peel the vinyl back a little to smooth out the air and continue on. Since the solar panel is going to cover the vinyl, it does not need to be perfect, however, the fewer air bubbles there are the better the contact and longevity of the product.

Solar Panel Install:

If you prefer to watch a video, click this install video, otherwise read on.

Step 1. Prepare Solar Panel

Solar panel with double sided tape

By now, you have either installed the vinyl or have an idea of where on the hood you want to install the panel. First, you need to prep the panel and your hood/vinyl by wiping it down with alcohol. I used the alcohol wipes that came with my VHT double-sided tape.

If you didn’t install vinyl, wash your hood and let it dry. Once dry, wipe clean with alcohol.

When the surfaces are cleaned and dried, apply the double-sided tape to the panel. I put lines of tape about 6” apart down the solar panel and one strip all the way around about 1/2″ from the edge. A good amount of tape was used, but I would rather overkill that, than risk the panel not holding while driving down the freeway. I used just under 2 rolls of tape.

Step 2. Install Solar Panel On 4Runner

weight down the panel so the tape sticks

Once all the tape is secured, peel back the strip of tape closest to the windshield. This way you can start by placing it from the windshield down to the front. Line the panel up and start peeling more tape back and pressing the panel down the hood. Slowly work your way all the way to the front.

I used rubber plates I had from my home gym to set on top of the panel to get a good seal. Anything weighted will work.

Step 3. Silicone The Edge (Optional)

tape off the edge for silicone

I put black silicone around the entire edge of the panel. I did this to make the solar panel water-tight and more wind resistant by restricting airflow under the panel while driving.

Mounting The MPPT Controller

The MPPT controller suggests not being near heat so it would be best to keep it out of the engine bay. This is what converts the solar to go to your battery or accessory. It has a “solar in”, “battery out”, and “accessory out”.

I debated between mounting it under the passenger seat or the rear cargo area. I ultimately decided on under the seat and ran my “accessory out” wire to the rear.

Routing The Wires

firewall entrance
I ran the solar panel wires directly under the hood and through the hood shroud. The shroud can be opened easily with a panel popper. I used wire holders to hold the wire in place and had the wire go down the hood hinge. The panel wires come with plugs.

I had to get Lensun’s extension cables since I was going into the cabin and the solar panel wires were not long enough on their own to make it to the passenger seat.

running wires under kick panel and door sill

I used the big grommet on the passenger side to go through the firewall. There is a little nipple on it that I cut open to access the main cabin. I ran the wire down the kick panel and door sill. There is already factory wire running there, so just follow those.

There is also a hole to go under the passenger seat. I removed all the seat bolts to have better access, but I did not have to unplug the seat fully to remove it, I just tilted it up.

My ground connection was made under the seat to the frame. I sanded the metal and then screwed in a self-taping screw to an o-ring connector for the accessory ground and the battery ground.

The battery positive will run to the positive terminal of your battery. This one goes back through the firewall and up along the firewall around to your battery.

MPPT controller under rear seat

I ran the positive for the accessory from the passenger seat, along with the passenger doors, and up over the rear wheel well to get to the factory power outlets in the cargo area.

Full time USB and 12v cigarette lighter

There I added a full-time power USB/battery level monitor and a 12v cigarette lighter plug. I mounted them directly below the factory power outlets.

full time usb and cigarette lighter below factory plugs

Fuse Block and Circuit Breaker:

fuse block and circuit breaker

I opted to clean up my wires and install a fuse block and circuit breaker. Some of you may have S-pod or something similar to hook up accessories to your battery. If want to know how to install, there are many articles on Trail4Runner if you do not already have something set up.

Bluetooth Battery Monitor:

Since the MPPT controller does not have Bluetooth, I opted for a Bluetooth battery monitor so I could pull up battery stats on my phone. Although it does not show me the output of the solar panel, it does give me stats for the battery which helps me keep an eye on the voltage. This is one of the only downfalls of the Lensun solar panel package.

There are other brand MPPT controllers that have Bluetooth built-in which will give you full stats of the battery and solar panel outputs. I would recommend going with one that supports Bluetooth since you will most likely not be looking at the screen on the MPPT controller. I heard from some others that they liked Victron Energy MPPT controllers.

Power Review:

Since the MPPT controller is not Bluetooth I do not have a long tracking of stats. These are the just stats I have pulled to see how it was working.

In the direct sunlight, I was pulling low 20’s in voltage and mid to low teens in the shade. Pretty impressive with the Max power voltage being 21V. I have spoken to a few others that have the same solar panel and they are getting similar results. I have seen some poor reviews for the 3-panel version for the hood scoop, but it is hard to say what conditions they are testing in.

Final Thoughts:

Lensun Solar Panel absorbing sun

The solar panel has been great. It has kept my battery charged while also running my fridge with the 4Runner off. I am still a fan of having it on the hood versus other locations. I had my hood vinyl wrapped before to deal with the glare and this has been great for dimming the glare as well.

Overall, I am really happy with the solar panel. I think this would be most useful for guys with a 2nd battery setup or running a fridge. That way this solar panel will always charge the second battery whether you are driving or parked.

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DANG
DANG
12 hours ago

i would like this but on top of the roof and to replace the shark fin

Mike Ford
Mike Ford
1 month ago

Super thorough article, great due diligence!

Colby
Colby
1 month ago

I have this and love it! Got it from 4runnerlifestyle.com!

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

Any idea how this would affect the 4runner’s legendary hood scoop blinding sun flare? Improve or resolve the sun reflection?

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