solar setup at costco. Good buy - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-25-2006, 11:50 PM   #61
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Hi Dave. I didnt hook any trailer wiring to the load terminals on the controller. Just because i have everything fused and each load has a seperate fuse and seperate run of wire directly to the battery. The way i have it now everything functions perfectly and the charge controller tells me what state of charge my battery is in. I dont know if it makes a difference or not.

Speaking of the charge controller.

It works fine but the state of charge indicators are not great.

You have one light which is illuminated at 75% charge and above.
You have a second light illuminated when the charge is between 25% and 75%( This is pretty lame) This is like your gas guage just sitting in one spot till your almost out of gas. Then it thankfully tells you your almost out of gas.
The third light is illuminated when battery is below 25% .
And flashes at 10 %.

The solar kit is not very user friendly out of the box but once you make it fit your application it works great.

Good luck with your system.
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Old 05-26-2006, 12:11 AM   #62
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Heres a better picture.
Attached Thumbnails
solar_schematic_2.JPG  
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Old 05-26-2006, 10:21 AM   #63
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Not very user friendly is an understatement, you have to take it apart to make it work no doubt voiding any implied warranty by doing so.
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Old 06-02-2006, 08:54 AM   #64
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For those in Baja Canada, the following might be of interest:

Harbor Freight Solar Panels

Just as a heads-up - the price on the website above does not reflect it, but I got a Harbor Freight flyer in the mail with the same solar panel kit and they have dropped the price by $20 down to $180, for mail-order and internet sales only. There is also a $5 off plus a freebie gift coupon with the ad. If there is any interest, I can post the exact item number and coupon codes when I get home from work tonight in case anyone wants to place an order and does not have a flyer handy.

I hadn't ordered mine yet; I guess sometimes it does pay to procrastinate!

That's a pretty good price, only $4/watt with extras included. They also have just a single bare 50-watt panel for $350, or $7/watt. Seems like a no-brainer!
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Old 06-02-2006, 10:23 AM   #65
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Any ideas on how to determine if a solar controller is working or not? The UHauls have a solar panel on the roof for trickle maintenance charge while in storage. I'd like to test that out and make sure its working properly.

A.
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Old 06-02-2006, 11:26 AM   #66
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I would assume that you'd place the solar panel in full light then measure the voltage going from the panel into the controller and the voltage coming out of the controller to the battery. You should see more than 15 volts or so going in and no more than about 14.2 coming out with a fully charged battery.

Disclaimer - I've not done actual testing on one of these, but if I understand the theory correctly, that's what you should see.
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Old 06-02-2006, 11:43 AM   #67
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Lee, you are correct. It doesn't have to be in full light, as long as you get "Something" off the panel over a volt or two it is working. More light, more output. Fortunately.. with a panel, it either works, or it doesn't.. you'll get voltage or an open. Not a lot of gray area.

I doubt Uhaul put a controller in with a 15 watt panel. General practice is to use a controller for anything over 15. 15 is too small to have accidents with.

If you get nothing, (An open), several things can be happening. Most likely there is a loose wire, but next would be a blown blocking diode. These are easy to replace, as long as you can get in there. Take the diode to Raydeeoh Hack and they should have a replacement. They are usually simple zeners. Mine are in4001s.
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:20 PM   #68
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I doubt Uhaul put a controller in with a 15 watt panel. General practice is to use a controller for anything over 15. 15 is too small to have accidents with.

I'm not sure what you might call it. The solar panel wires from the roof are connected to a metal unit that is mounted to the side of the battery box. From that unit wires are connected to the battery. Its about 4"X6". Both the input and out put are labeled with a + and -.

Remember, UHaul did manufacture these trailers for rental use. With that in mind, most every thing on it is bigger, stronger, more substantial than any other FG camper I have ever seen.

Its standard UHaul equipment, for the 13fter anyway.

I would, just for the heck of it, like to test it out and see that its working correctly.

Makes sense to simply check the output at the 2 sources with a full battery.


I just checked the UHaul parts list for the camper. They call it a "voltage regulator". Same thing as a controller?



A.
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Old 06-03-2006, 06:04 PM   #69
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Has anyone else come up with mounting possibilities for solar panels?
Kurt & Ann K.
Here's an idea from a DIY photography site.

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Old 06-03-2006, 06:46 PM   #70
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Andy, that does sound like a controller, or a facsimile of. Basically, a controllers main function is to regulate the input to the battery..

Controllers have that function, they also act as thier own blocking diode and most all of them I have seen have at least one LED indicating a voltage is coming from the panel. Some have others indicating battery charge level.

All you need to do is disconnect the lines from your "Voltage Regulater" at the battery and measure across them with a DVM. If you leave the battery connected, you will get a false reading from the battery voltage.

You should see anywhere from 12 to 14.7 volts. Hard to tell not knowing exactly what you have.

I had a charge controller when just running my 15 watt panel to my house battery. I doesn't hurt a thing, even if most say it's not needed. I use the same controller for my larger system now.. where it DEFINATELY is needed.
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:38 PM   #71
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Just as a heads-up - the price on the website above does not reflect it, but I got a Harbor Freight flyer in the mail with the same solar panel kit and they have dropped the price by $20 down to $180, for mail-order and internet sales only. There is also a $5 off plus a freebie gift coupon with the ad. If there is any interest, I can post the exact item number and coupon codes when I get home from work tonight in case anyone wants to place an order and does not have a flyer handy.

I hadn't ordered mine yet; I guess sometimes it does pay to procrastinate!

That's a pretty good price, only $4/watt with extras included. They also have just a single bare 50-watt panel for $350, or $7/watt. Seems like a no-brainer!
Lee, I'd love to have that info. We usually get all the Harbor Freight flyers but seems in the last few weeks we haven't recieved one. Maybe they removed us from the mailing list.
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Old 06-04-2006, 05:55 PM   #72
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OK, I have done some poking around and learning through trial and error how HF handles their part numbers... I found this site which lists some of the current discount codes:

http://www.billt.com/harborfreight.htm

I have been playing around with their numbering system and it seems that the suffix, particularly the letters after the hyphen, are the ones that determine the pricing of the basic item number before the hyphen. For example, if you go to place an order from the website for the solar panels, it comes up as $199. If you click the "order from catalog" button and enter the same part number as the website but the suffix from the catalog, you get the $179 pricing.

It works for other stuff, too - I was looking at a 5-watt fluorescent shed light with a remote-mounted solar panel and it was $39 on the website. It wasn't listed in the printed catalog that had the cheaper price on the solar panels, but if I used that catalog's suffix, the price popped up as only $29.

There's also a 20% off your whole order coupon linked there, but it's only good for in-store deals, not catalog or internet. I don't have any stores near me. I suspect that this would be the best deal of any.
There is a list of HF retail stores here: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/retail_stores.taf

So, to get the $179 price on the solar panels with an online order, find part #90599 on the website (which will come up as #90599-1VGA and be listed at $199) and add it to your basket. Then, click the trash can to remove it from your basket. You'll also be presented with an option to order from the catalog. Click that button, then enter part #90599-4RPH. Presto! Price is now $179. Don't forget to also get the free attache' bag plus $5 off your order by entering Special Gift Item #35233-0RPE or one of the others listed on the billt site I linked above.

It seems that the number in the suffix is not important, but the three letters are. If you wish to buy other items, try going through the same steps like I did with the shed light and you might get some decent pricing. It's too bad they aren't offering free shipping any longer - probably a casualty of the incresed prices for fuel and transportation.

Hope that helps - let me know if it doesn't work out.
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Old 06-04-2006, 06:50 PM   #73
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Thanks for the info Lee!
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Old 08-04-2006, 07:11 AM   #74
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The solar panel package has arrived at our local Costco here in Tucson. It's now a four-panel setup with each panel being 15 watts. Comes with a controller, inverter, PVC frame and assorted parts. $280.
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Old 08-04-2006, 04:28 PM   #75
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I like it, mines a 3x18w and I had to build the frame but they did send me proper connector wire. Worked like a charm at the Emily meet. Paddy M.
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Old 08-05-2006, 12:15 PM   #76
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I am very interested in the 50 Watt solar panel from Harbor Freight that someone posted above, to add to the solar panel (also 50 Watt) that I have now. There is a Harbor Freight Store in town where I live (Tucson). I have a couple of questions for the more knowledgable people here.

- the Panel and system that I have now is Solar Pro (panel and controller). If the fittings are compatible, can I just plug this into the panel that I have to increase the input? Do I need to worry about compatibility, or are all solar panels brands able to be mixed?

- I have never heard of Chicago Electric Power Systems. Is this a good company, i.e. are their products a good quality? I'd rather pay more if it means getting something that works better (or at all). (athough this is an extremely attractive price, especially if they accept the 20% off coupon posted above.)

Thanks for your help
Nancy
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Old 08-13-2006, 10:43 AM   #77
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I think I will be getting one of these and adding a battery
Costco will have these in
Danville,Ca. on Aug 31- Sept. 3
Foster City, Ca. Aug. 17-20
if anyone else is looking
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Old 03-12-2007, 05:30 PM   #78
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Talking

Quote:
http://www.billt.com/harborfreight.htm

There's also a 20% off your whole order coupon linked there, but it's only good for in-store deals, not catalog or internet. I don't have any stores near me. I suspect that this would be the best deal of any.
There is a list of HF retail stores here: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/retail_stores.taf

Hope that helps - let me know if it doesn't work out.
Harbor Freight now has the $249.00 regular price marked down to $199.00, good until March 26 in the store I go to. I cannot find a 20% coupon in the link referenced. Am I doing something wrong, or has it expired?
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Old 03-12-2007, 06:06 PM   #79
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Am I doing something wrong, or has it expired?
Probably expired...Lee posted the coupon was available on June 4 two thousand SIX. You're only about 9 1/2 months late Frederick!
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:13 PM   #80
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I got an ad from Harbor Freight and they have the 45 watt panel kit for 199.99 good till March 26, 2007. The same ad has an extra 15% discount for any one item with coupon.
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