Need help connecting my solar panels - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-17-2012, 05:04 PM   #15
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Here is another good site worth reading on the topic of 12 volt.

The 12 volt side of life
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Old 02-17-2012, 05:22 PM   #16
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Yes, this is the original solar panel, so it is working but probably not putting out much power. I need to get a multimeter to tell me how much.

The last owner told me that he rewired to trailer. So maybe everything except the solar panel has been replaced. I added the AGM battery because it sits inside the trailer under the bed and a sealed battery seems safer. The battery box has an exhaust tube to the outside. AGM batteries are less prone to sulfation than other batteries.

So if the little panel isn't able to charge the battery, I shouldn't connect it.

It seems a shame though to have a solar panel and not use it.

How big a solar panel do you need to charge a battery? Could I put it on the roof in place of the one I have there now?


To check your panel: with your multimeter on DC volts, use the 20 v. scale and measure the voltage across the solar panel leads with the panel unconnected to anything. I would expect about 17 v. in full sun. Next set your meter to DC current using the highest scale on your meter, probably 10 amps. Again in full sun measure the current flow between the two leads. This is the maximum current the panel is capable of providing. I would expect less than an amp or so based on the size of the panels I have seen in pictures and what was suggested by others. As was also suggested, good for a trickle charge in most cases. Important, while it is safe to measure the short circuit current of a small solar panel, don't even think of doing this to a large panel or your battery. Don't forget to switch your meter back to voltage when done with the current measurements.

AGM battery. Good choice in my opinion.

Expect lots of advice on solar panels and the peripherals.
Raz
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Old 02-17-2012, 06:11 PM   #17
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..........

So if the little panel isn't able to charge the battery, I shouldn't connect it.

It seems a shame though to have a solar panel and not use it.

How big a solar panel do you need to charge a battery? Could I put it on the roof in place of the one I have there now?
Connect it! The worst that will happen is that it will only help a little. Also, depending on the voltage the controller puts out, the solar panel may add some charge where the inverter leaves off. For example, if the controller supplies 14 volts and the inverter only 13, the inverter won't fully charge the battery, but the solar panel will help top it off.

The price of solar panels has fallen a lot in the past year or so. You can get a 60 watt panel for $130 on eBay any day of the week.
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:04 AM   #18
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I just put a 50 watt on my U-Haul VT, from E-bay, works great
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:58 AM   #19
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Wait! What is this device?
On our sailboat we had an E-meter to keep track of 225 Watts of solar and 5 batteries, it seemed like $$ overkill on the Compact II. What is this little device, and is it more reasonably priced?

Attachment 43230

I use this device to show me the battery charge state.

It also gives feedback on how much the different lights and the fan drain the battery.

I replaced a floresent light with two LED lights and am getting much more light for much less energy.[/QUOTE]
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:13 AM   #20
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I bought the Equus 3721 Battery and Charing System Monitor on Amazon for $15.33. I've seen other similar units available.

It is a simple device that goes into a car charger and shows you the current battery charge level.

It doesn't replace an energy monitoring system that you need if you have many batteries and solar panels.

But it can tell you when you should plug your trailer into shore power. it also appears to show the drain on the battery of your individual lights and other power drains.
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:56 AM   #21
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I have a round automotive voltage gauge mounted in my trailer and it works just fine.
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:58 AM   #22
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I bought the Equus 3721 Battery and Charing System Monitor on Amazon for $15.33. I've seen other similar units available.

It is a simple device that goes into a car charger and shows you the current battery charge level.

It doesn't replace an energy monitoring system that you need if you have many batteries and solar panels.

But it can tell you when you should plug your trailer into shore power. it also appears to show the drain on the battery of your individual lights and other power drains.
I think that it is just a digital voltage meter.
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:00 PM   #23
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keep in mind that Uhaul used black as the + , I fried my solar controller because of that.
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:51 PM   #24
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I found this monitor at Princess Auto and it works well as the 12V plug in the trailer is not located in the best spot, making it hard to read one that has the display on the end of the 12V plug in part. With this I was able to use double sided tape to mount the small display (smaller than it looks in photo) a few inches over where it is easier to read. It has a little alarm to warn you when the battery is getting to low.
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:58 PM   #25
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I think that it is just a digital voltage meter.
That's exactly what it is. They are using the lighter plug for convenience. I prefer a multimeter on the battery. That said, the advantage to this gadget is that you can leave it plugged in all the time and you will be more likely to look at it. You've got to remember to use the meter.

Carols has the addition of a comparitor circuit to compare the reading to a preset value, probably about 12.2 volts, and then trigger the alarm. More info than you needed I'm sure.
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:14 PM   #26
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Carols has the addition of a comparitor circuit to compare the reading to a preset value, probably about 12.2 volts, and then trigger the alarm. More info than you needed I'm sure.
Yup more than I need but I have to admit as we age it is nice to have little reminders to do something - such as plug in the solar panel before the battery is damaged.
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:29 PM   #27
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Yup more than I need but I have to admit as we age it is nice to have little reminders to do something - such as plug in the solar panel before the battery is damaged.
Actually I ment my explanation is more than is needed. The gadget is useful I'm sure.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:40 PM   #28
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Hi Carol,
Where did you get your waterproof box? I'd like to use my solar panel the same way as you have and can't seem to locate a suitable box. Thanks for your help.
I put my Sunsaver solar controller in the same battery box as the battery. Keeps it dry, and it is (obviously) very close to the battery for short wires. The controller is sealed so no worries about battery fumes or explosions (the operator's manual says it is rated for hazardous locations), always charging the battery in daylight, and completely maintenance free. My wires from the solar panel (which is mounted on the trailer roof), run down the outside of the trailer, so no holes through the roof. The complete system remains outside the trailer. I monitor the battery voltage with a DC volt meter mounted on the wall inside the trailer above the kitchen stove. Super easy.

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