Harbor Freight Solar on Sale till 4/4 - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-11-2010, 01:29 AM   #15
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Glad it worked out for you.We started out with a single 50w roof-mounted panel, and found that it really quite did the job for us and our LED-lit trailer most days.

Most days. Very important qualifier. We did find that we ran low on juice when we were in Yellowstone and night time temps in the teens kept our furnace running much of the night.

We have since installed a second roof-mounted 55w panel and will be adding an electricity-free Wave-3 catalytic heater to our 5th wheel. I think either of these by itself would have been enough to keep our trailer warm and well-lit in Yellowstone.
My project now is to do the LED lights. I have been hesitant because I tried it in a 13' Scamp I had and the lights never seemed bright enough. If you know of a good LED reading lamp or fixture please let me know.
I have a Wave 3 but there is no place to mount it in my Scamp.
How long did it take to recharge your battery with just the one panel?
Thanks again,
John
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Old 04-11-2010, 02:44 AM   #16
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One panel can manage about 18 Amp-hours of charging capacity on a typical September day when you're in the sun. A furnace that runs for a total of six hours during the evening and night consumes about 18 Amp-hours. Our first night in Yellowstone it ran pretty much non-stop for ten hours -- 30 Amp-hours. We have a 55-Amp-hour Optima AGM spiral cell battery. (Which means it has a usable capacity of about 25-30 Amp-hours.)

We tried to use our backup-heater, a Portable Buddy ceramic heater, the next night, but the Oxygen depletion sensor on those things don't work over 7000 feet, so the darn thing kept shutting itself down after an hour.

Our reading lights are custom made. I bought Home Depot track lights when they were on a close-out sale and re-plumbed them with MR-16 socket connectors, then went out and bought some MR-16 LED light replacements; the 2w versions cost me $13 each and are bright enough for me, my wife likes more light and has a brighter 5w version (don't have a pic of that one).



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I also put an 1156 socket in one and turned it into a "Sconce" light in our 5er's loft.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:52 PM   #17
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Thanks,
John
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:38 PM   #18
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Thank you John and Peter,
I now know how I'm going to go with my "new" Trillium 4500.
What were your opinions on the controller John purchased?

Roy
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:06 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by peterh View Post

My solar panels are roof-mounts. That has the advantage of making them harder to steal, but limits our choice of campsites. Someday I will add a third, portable panel to the collection.

Attachment 27143
Peter that looks really clean! Do those tilt up or are they flat mount. How heavy are they? It looks like they are about a foot wide, but I didn't see anything that narrow on the Ramsond site. Maybe the 20-25 watt ones?

It gave me an idea for mounting my Harbor freight panels end to end. My camper's about 12-1/2 feet long in the body so I think I should be able to do all three on one side.

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Old 08-24-2010, 11:58 AM   #20
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Roy: The only two controllers that I both like and have direct experience with are the Morningstar SUnSaver and Sunsei controllers. The specs on the Rasmond unit look a lot like the Sunsei controller, and it looks like it can be mounted in a viewable location a lot more cleanly than the other two. I may buy one and give it a try . . . they're fairly inexpensive.

Matt: I didn't actually weigh my panels before putting them up on the roof, so I can't answer that one, but the weight of my 105 watt system is considerably less than that of Harbor Freight's 45 watt panel set. As for the rest:

* My panels don't tilt. Tilting would have been nice, but it greatly complicates the mounting system and adds extra setup steps. We prefer the more hands-off approach of a fixed, roof mounted system so we can park it and forget about it.

* Currently you can get two 20-watt panels off of eBay for less than Harbor Freight's 45 watt set, and, because amorphous panel outputs drop 20% in the first few days in the sun, those two 20w panels will actually generate more power than the HF set. They'll also weigh much less and take up much less room. Just be sure to buy from a reputable eBay seller with a long history. (I noticed Rasmond isn't currently selling, but he's probably just on vacation or somesuch.)

* Many of the 20-watt panels are long one way and narrow the other. It makes them a good choice for mounting them on either side of the headspace ridge many fiberglass trailers have running down the center of their trailer. Most larger-wattage panels are wider; at 13" wide mine are an exception to that rule. The HF panels are the same width and about three feet long, but at 50 pounds for the set you might find you need to reinforce your fiberglass roof to prevent sagging. One of the features of my mounitng system is they sit on contoured blocks that mostly match the shape of my trailer roof and they sit over or close to structures inside the trailer that hold the roof up.

--P
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:33 PM   #21
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Roy: The only two controllers that I both like and have direct experience with are the Morningstar SUnSaver and Sunsei controllers. The specs on the Rasmond unit look a lot like the Sunsei controller, and it looks like it can be mounted in a viewable location a lot more cleanly than the other two. I may buy one and give it a try . . . they're fairly inexpensive.

(I noticed Rasmond isn't currently selling, but he's probably just on vacation or somesuch.)
Thank you Peter.
Is this the seller?
http://stores.ebay.com/Ramsond-e-Commerce-Central

If so, what the 16 or 16.5% efficiency mean that he has posted on some of the panels?
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:04 PM   #22
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Thank you Peter.
Is this the seller?
http://stores.ebay.com/Ramsond-e-Commerce-Central

If so, what the 16 or 16.5% efficiency mean that he has posted on some of the panels?
Yep . . . that's the guy.

Solar cell efficiency refers to the percentage of solar energy a solar panel catches and converts to electrical energy. 16-16.5% efficiency is the norm for most crystalline cells like the ones Ramsond sells; amorphous cells (like Harbor Freight's) start at 9% efficiency but rapidly drop to 7% once they've been out in the sun for a short while. (The drop is due to something called the Staebler-Wronski effect. A new manufacturing technology promises to reduce this effect someday.)

The net effect is a solar panel with 16% efficience only needs to be half as large and half as heavy as a panel with 8% efficiency.
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:57 PM   #23
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It appears that Ramsond will take $3.00 USD per watt on the solar panels and the controllers can be had for $19.99.
I've put some bids in and made a "best offer" I'll post how it all works out.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:20 PM   #24
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...The drop is due to something called the Staebler-Wronski effect.
...
The net effect is a solar panel with 16% efficience only needs to be half as large and half as heavy as a panel with 8% efficiency.
So barring the Staebler-Wronski effect, a 50W panel is still a 50W panel using either technology because they are measuring output?
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Old 09-12-2010, 10:09 PM   #25
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I wondered why the battery in my Lite*House stopped holding a charge. Up on top of the trailer, I discovered that the OEM 5W solar panel had taken a hit and that the glass was shattered. I was about to buy the HF 45 W panel when I found this thread. I'm shopping on eBay. So how are folks roof mounting the Ramsond panels?
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:44 AM   #26
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It appears that Ramsond will take $3.00 USD per watt on the solar panels and the controllers can be had for $19.99.
I've put some bids in and made a "best offer" I'll post how it all works out.
Following up, the $3.00 USD per watt "best offer" and $19.99 for the controller works. One only has to find the right listings to do it with the ebay seller Padova Imports. Free shipping to the lower 48 went well.

eBay My World - padovaimports
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:06 PM   #27
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I just returned from a 2 week trip and my 50W Ramsond panel kept my group 29 battery fully charged. I had 2 days of rain and no sun so I did hook up the charge line on the truck for one day.
I made a maximum bid of $175.00 and the panel ended up costing me $152.00.
I bolted directly through the roof with 1/4 inch bolts and Nylock, self locking nuts.
I cut off the excess bolt length with my dremel tool.
If I were to do it again I would use rivets.
John
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