Battery charging questions - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-09-2013, 05:34 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
When I need to leave the panel out and want to leave the trailer I use a bicycle cable lock understanding that if somebody really wants it they'll get it. So far it's worked for me.
Byron,
The reason you still have your solar panel is because the thieves pick up beds are already full of Honda generators.
Russ
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Old 11-09-2013, 06:51 PM   #30
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Russ,

We do not have a switch on the output of our 80 watt solar panel. We do have a switch on the Convertor and the charge line from the Tow Vehicle.

The output of the solar panel switches off by itself when its controller sees the battery as charged.

The reality is I've never worried about the conflict between the panel and convertor. During a week of travel we typically run all systems so the desulfate cycle gets it shot. Much of the time we have only the solar panel on.

Occasionally I turn on the convertor if it's raining, on cloudy days or during high latitude travels like spring time in northern climates. (In Newfoundland we often camp in their Provincal Parks, $9 a night. Most are heavily wooded and the days sometimes cloudy. Assuming we have electricity, and about a 1/3rd of their sites have just electricity, never water or sewer, we run the convertor.)

If it's a rainy day and we're driving I often turn on the tow vehicle's charge line to the trailer. It's quite obvious there's no science to what I do, just feel.

I do check the water level frequently. We carry a drinking size water bottle full of distilled water to top the batteries. One bottle lasts me 6-8 months.

I carried the 1 cubic foot, 1000 watt generator on our cross Labrador trip because I did not know what to expect and at that time we did not have solar.

If we expect really cold weather our rule of thumb is to seek a campground with electricity. If we see snow or sand storms we stay put, it's so much safer, we're retired and it makes Ginny happy. (Nothing's more important than keeping your travel partner happy.)
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Old 11-09-2013, 07:46 PM   #31
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Byron,
The only issue that bothers me about portability is theft. I would need to leave the campsite un-attended while hiking etc. I guess you just have to take your chances.
I put a lock on mine up on the roof of the trailer where you can not even see the panel. I have also attended some pretty big music festivals with a lot of people camping all around and left it up there for a number of days and so far (6 years)of doing that its not gone anywhere.
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Old 11-09-2013, 08:25 PM   #32
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I'm still debating. The Coleman 40W portable is on sale again at Can Tire. $124.99 this time.
I have a Honda EU 1000 genset already. Is the panel likely to drop in price? Is there a better panel soon? Do I really want to carry both? Is 40W enough to do the job ( I have all LED lights and find the furnace is the real draw )?
I'm highly unlikely to spend more than that on solar. If only somebody would get it for my birthday or Christmas.
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:34 PM   #33
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Byron,
The reason you still have your solar panel is because the thieves pick up beds are already full of Honda generators.
Russ
Generator thefts must be a California thing.
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Old 11-10-2013, 08:31 AM   #34
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Portable Solar Panel

Like Byron, I use a 75 watt portable solar panel. The portability is essential in my use as I am often camped under a forest cover. I have the ability to add a 100 foot extension cord to make my panel reach a sunny area.

Theft is always an issue, I do not think that solar panels have the appeal to a local thief that you think they may have. No resale, not a market, limited user knowledge and a bit bulky. They are more likely to be taken by a jealous camper for personal use, that camper could just as likely take your lawn chairs. Also being portable it can be put away when not in use.

I have published a brochure on building such a panel, cost runs $159 US and it is an easy project. Mike Magee featured the unit on this forum, I have just piggy backed on his design. The brochure is called "Solar Made Easy" and is in the Electrical section of the Document Center.

Based on Byron's recommendation my next purchase will be the Trimetric monitor. It looks like the combination of dual 6 volt batteries, portable solar and the Trimetric will make me a happy camper.
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Old 11-10-2013, 09:49 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
I'm still debating. The Coleman 40W portable is on sale again at Can Tire. $124.99 this time.
I have a Honda EU 1000 genset already. Is the panel likely to drop in price? Is there a better panel soon? Do I really want to carry both? Is 40W enough to do the job ( I have all LED lights and find the furnace is the real draw )?
I'm highly unlikely to spend more than that on solar. If only somebody would get it for my birthday or Christmas.
Glenn I think last winter they had them on sale for $99 if I am not mistaken. I dont see on the Canadian Tire site the size of the panels once folded up.

There is another place called Windturbine.ca that a lot of folks have gotten panels from here in BC that are known to be about the cheapest prices in town - they are on the Island but if I am not mistaken they do free del'v to the mainland.

They currently have a sale on - you can get a 20" x 30" 50 watt panel for $54 or a smaller 30 Watt panel 19 x 20" for only $33.00. They have a sale on the small controller you would need for them as well $19.
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:45 AM   #36
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I would recommend using two 30 watt panels. I believe you could install a simple hinge between the two of them. This makes for a nice compact unit for easier storage and with them in the closed position you have some level of protection. I believe with 60 watts you will have the opportunity to get a full charge every day. Of course there are so many variables such as time of year, shade, daily usage, battery condition, quality of controller that it is impossible to predict. Less that 60 watts and I would be concerned.

Perhaps someone else can chime in on what size they believe is the "optimum" panel?
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:04 PM   #37
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Byron, I built 120 watt solar panel for our Sunline. Really not too difficult, the major issue is handling of the thin and fragile cells. Today I saw 160 watts of cells on eBay for $43, 36-8+ amp cells where I bought mine.

I bought tabbed cells, meaning with the wires already on each cell. With the wires on it's just a question of soldering the wires to the next cell.

It's a fun project and may have advantages for some people because you can arrange the 36 cells for your own needs.
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:50 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
Byron, I built 120 watt solar panel for our Sunline. Really not too difficult, the major issue is handling of the thin and fragile cells. Today I saw 160 watts of cells on eBay for $43, 36-8+ amp cells where I bought mine.

I bought tabbed cells, meaning with the wires already on each cell. With the wires on it's just a question of soldering the wires to the next cell.

It's a fun project and may have advantages for some people because you can arrange the 36 cells for your own needs.

Thanks Norm.
My 65 Watt panel that I can move around works great for me. Since I have not only the house battery to charge and a second battery used for ham radio and pressed into duty sometimes charging electronic devices a portable panel that I plug into either batter and move around works best for me. I park the trailer in the shade when possible.
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Old 11-10-2013, 03:24 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I put a lock on mine up on the roof of the trailer where you can not even see the panel. I have also attended some pretty big music festivals with a lot of people camping all around and left it up there for a number of days and so far (6 years)of doing that its not gone anywhere.
A friend borrowed my 40W panel (the same one baglo showed, that I got for $100) because of a bad battery. We were at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, camping 4 nights, and never once did I fear it getting stolen. I really doubt there are that many folks of that evil nature out there, or at least out camping.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
There is another place called Windturbine.ca that a lot of folks have gotten panels from here in BC that are known to be about the cheapest prices in town - they are on the Island but if I am not mistaken they do free del'v to the mainland.

They currently have a sale on - you can get a 20" x 30" 50 watt panel for $54 or a smaller 30 Watt panel 19 x 20" for only $33.00. They have a sale on the small controller you would need for them as well $19.
That sounds like good pricing. You could put together a couple 30W like Paul said, and that would make for better storages. Plus, you could use some good tough cab tire cabling so it could handle foot traffic on it, then just connect to your 7-pin connector.
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Old 11-10-2013, 05:44 PM   #40
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I have an 80watt tether to graze rig similar to Byron's altho I sometimes bungee it to the front rock guard if the dogs are having a heavy macramé day with their tie out ropes. Depends on the season and angle of the sun also. If the sun track is high and no shade the rock guard mount makes sense. When the sun is low, I move the panel around to avoid shadows on the cells. I also have a pigtail made up of half a jumper cable lugged to a two pole flat connector that's the complement of the one exiting the cord on the panel. Gives me some solar charging for my truck battery in fall and winter. Now that I'm retired and don't drive 400mi. a week, sitting around feeding the vampire loads takes a good starter battery down pretty fast. I don't worry about conflict with the converter. It's on a breaker but the "switch" is when I pull the plug on the electricity tree and move to an offgrid site. I don't have a genset. I'm hoping I can get an honest 24 amphours of recharging daily in high summer as I recently installed a 12DVC/120VAC Norcold fridge and would like to make 48 hours offgrid before dropping to 50% battery SOC. We'll see.

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Old 11-10-2013, 05:45 PM   #41
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Generator thefts must be a California thing.
I wouldn't leave the gen unattended in plain sight in any state. I have seen generator theft warnings posted in California state parks, and Oregon along the Columbia river. Thieves know no boundaries. Even coolers go missing! Woopie! Free beer!
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Old 11-10-2013, 06:10 PM   #42
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If I were to hinge 2 hundred watt panels together, and fashion a stand for portable use it could be stowed for traveling on top of the rear mattress along with all the lawn chairs and barbecue stand. I would guess it would weigh about 40 lbs. Is the glass used on panels tempered? That 40 lbs. would adversely affect handling of the rig. Perhaps they could be stowed on edge nearer the front with some proper straps to secure. With all the chairs, tables, coolers, bbq, etc, there is a lot of stuff to haul in and out at each stop. Argh! more clutter! 40' of #4 2 conductor copper is not light either.
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