quick and easy solar????? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-06-2009, 08:58 AM   #1
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Looking for recommendations for a very portable solar panel to hook up with ease to boost our battery. A forum search on solar panels brings up tons of references, excuse my laziness but in reading through several I have yet to find something simple. We do not want a roof mount.

I thought I would just buy one from Real Goods but they are out of the smaller ones. Our first weekend out in our Escape drew the battery down in short order just using the lights and heater (heater only for short time in a.m. and p.m., lights we used in evening are LEDs). We are about to set out on a week long trip and judging by the continuing cold here in the NW we will be using the heater more than we'd planned.

We have a second residence on our family property here which runs on solar (used part time by family members) and I know there are good and not so good quality panels, so hoping someone can recommend something of good quality that we might be able to order (ASAP!), receive, take along and hook up easily. Unrealistic?

thanks

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Old 05-06-2009, 10:19 AM   #2
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uni-solar flex panels you can roll up like a newspaper are the most portable ones I have seen. Harborfreight has some inexpensive models too.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:40 AM   #3
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Not unrealistic at all.

Northern Tool sells a 13w folding panel.
West Marine has regular type panels
Harbor Freight has a 15w three panel setup with controller.

Most of the smaller panels come with some sort of connectors, as they do not require controllers.

Bonnie

p.s. In very general terms, the more watts you buy, the more amps will flow into your battery for charging. Just a thought.

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Old 05-06-2009, 10:52 AM   #4
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We got this 45 watt unit a couple of months ago and are very happy with it. We boondock almost exclusively.

It was about $200 with shipping from eBay. (It turns out it was Harbor Freight's eBay store and about $30 cheaper than their HF site.)

The panels and frame come in 4 flat boxes. After removing the packing material, I store two panels in one box and one panel and the frame in the other.

Good luck.



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Old 05-06-2009, 11:16 AM   #5
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This is all very helpful. My husband will bring home the Northern Tool catalog from work (he's a propane tech) and we'll look up what they have; I called local Marine supply places and they do not have anything in stock but could order something; will consider the Harbor Freight 45 watt but might be a little more than we want to carry or need. Some of the uni-solar models are not longer sold in the US but will look to see what is.

Thanks!
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:30 AM   #6
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is that harborfreight unit for use with one battery or more? I noticed just one set of aligator clips in the photo. WOuld you know fi the panels are waterproof and can be left in the rain, Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:37 AM   #7
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Hi guys - we have used a Uni-Solar flexible panel (10.3w) for 3 years and it works great for us. It is supported on an easel-type frame so we can move it to track 'the rays' - just fold 'n go when it's time to relocate. However, we only use it for our 12-volt lighting; our only other electical draws are cell phone & laptop, which we recharge with a small inverter while driving, or using a small motorcycle-type battery kept up with smaller panels. IMHO, you need a LOT of battery storage capacity to run an electric heater - we use a small propane cat-heater (NOT while sleeping) when boondockinge

Hope this info is of help in your search. Travel safe & have fun in your wonderful Escape!
L 'n D
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:50 AM   #8
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is that harborfreight unit for use with one battery or more? I noticed just one set of aligator clips in the photo. WOuld you know fi the panels are waterproof and can be left in the rain, Thanks in advance.
Ken,

The alligator clips are attached to the controller posts with ring connectors so you could add another if you want.

They are waterproof, though we have not tested this yet.

Pat
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:48 PM   #9
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Costco.com has a coleman 60w solar kit for sale for 319.00 (CL3900).
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
We got this 45 watt unit


Attachment 19970


Pat
I also use the Harbor Freight Solar Panels: 3 each 15 watt panels connected in parallel for 45 watts total.
Link to my installation posts
I store them in a Jackson Guitar Case that was a factory reject. The case was given to me by someone who no longer works in the industry...
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:30 PM   #11
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I also use the Harbor Freight Solar Panels: 3 each 15 watt panels connected in parallel for 45 watts total.
Link to my installation posts
I store them in a Jackson Guitar Case that was a factory reject. The case was given to me by someone who no longer works in the industry...
Nice set up. Is 45watt sufficient enough for boondocking for about a week or two?
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:37 PM   #12
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Nice set up. Is 45watt sufficient enough for boondocking for about a week or two?
I think Fredrick's setup is my favorite portable solar solution. As for your question . . .

Whether 45 watts will do it for you or not depends on a few things. If you're a summertime camper and convert your trailer's lighting to LEDs and don't use your trailer's furnace or other electric appliances, 45 watts is more than enough. Our single 50-watt, roof mounted solar panel panel can run our LED lights, water pump, and still run our furnace to blow away the chill in the evening and morning, but not all night.

If you camp in the winter time when there is less sunlight to charge the battery it might be enough to run a set off LED lights, but you'd be out in the cold for running the furnace. (Which is why we have a Portable Buddy propane heater that keeps our trailer toasty warm for four-five hours on a one-pound propane bottle.)
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:08 PM   #13
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I just purchased 2 of these

Sun 50 Multicrystaline 50w panels

They are light as a feather, have great protected connectors, and the frame is versatile enough to give you a multitude of mounting options... or keep as portable if you wish. They are about 2x2 square.

at 185 bucks each for 50 watts, they are a MUCH better deal than the Harbor Freight/Costco set. more power, half the weight and 1/2 of the size, better quality cells and less expensive. (Generally.. sometimes the HF ones go on sale for 179)

I plan to roof mount mine, keep the 15 watter on my rock guard AND keep my 3 13 watt foldables for situations where I need more power, but I am thinking those times will be rare. If ALL my panels are deployed.. I will have 154 watts.. I think my heater will run then..
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:35 PM   #14
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these sounded like the best deal, but they are sold out! <_< we are running into this........summer coming, economics, everyone wants solar these days.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:29 PM   #15
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Penney, call them and see if you can get on a back order list.

I originally ordered only one, but thought about it overnite and called the next morning to add a second to the order before it shipped. They were VERY easy to work with and added the panel for cost only.

The service on the phone was very good.. and they were even having paypal and website problems on their end.. they shipped the second panel with the first even tho they could not take payment at that time. I made the payment 2 days after it actually shipped, when their problem was corrected.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:43 PM   #16
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I have a 55 watt panel that is adequate for me. I changed from a group 24 to a larger group 27 battery. I run my lights, non LED, and can also run my furnace also occasionally charge things like phone & computer. My furnace only cycles a couple of times during the night because all I'm trying to do is keep the chill off not keep the trailer warm.

Two 50 watt panels 2x2 that Gina mentions sounds like a way to go. 100 watts surely ought to do it. Price sounds good too.
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:56 PM   #17
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Ordered one! Thank you all for your input, I looked into everything everyone suggested, which helped me get a good idea of cost per watt range. I ended up calling Real Goods and talking to one of the techs there to see what they would recommend since the one I first looked at on their web site was out of stock, but they have a lot and are long time leaders in solar technology.

Here is what was recommended for our needs:

Kyocera 40 Watt Solar PV Module

It's a polycrystalline module with 36-cells and tempered glass cover. Number of cells increases efficiency, this seemed good for the size, 20x25x2, 10#, $277, available to ship right away, a good quality panel w/ aluminum frame.

also ordered the CML 10 controller, which is large enough to add another panel later.

They have some really cool high quality roll up panels and solar film but too much money for us right now.

We should get it just before going on a trip next week, now all we need is the sun!
Fortunately for us in the NW 'bright' works too!

Penney

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Old 05-07-2009, 04:14 PM   #18
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Here is something I just read about. Peel and stick solar panels.
http://www.uni-solar.com/interior.asp?id=102
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Here is what was recommended for our needs:

Kyocera 40 Watt Solar PV Module
Penney, what are the dimensions of that panel, I could not see it on that page (could be going blind though).
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:40 PM   #20
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real goods is cool. if you ever make it to california go to there store in hopland. its awsome!
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