Solar panels stands? Folding, ground based. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-21-2012, 01:49 PM   #1
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Solar panels stands? Folding, ground based.

OK, I think I'm settled on the panels for my roof, 6 small 20 watt panels for full time roof collection. But I'm sure I'll use that power pretty quick. I'm now thinking another few hundred watts will really help match my wants rather than basic needs.

These look like they'd fit nicely in between the rear "seats", which I call "the space under the bed." 20x40 roughly.

GS100 Solar Panel | Solar Panels

SO.... I'm going to need some sort of folding stand, similar to the one shown in the Solar Howto on the main page.

Anyone have ideas? Other than just showing up at the local hardware store and getting aluminum "L" stock and nuts and bolts and just start cutting and drilling?

I figure having something I can drive stakes into on each corner would help keep them up and not being blown all over the camp site.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:56 PM   #2
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Our 80watt pivots on a leg made from a tubular lawnmower handle bolted to the frame of the panel. Stakes are a good idea. I use a single lawn/walk lighting stake attached to the bottom of the U-shaped mower handle and two simple wire tent stakes thru holes in the bottom corners of the panel frame. The leg folds completely into the recess behind the panel; the panel slides into two Z-shaped ledgers under the bunk filler in the rear of our Burro. Extrusions from the hdwre mount up fast at 3-4 bucks the lineal foot so sometimes I go for the solution found in the trash. The Red Foxx approach. I have always been able to get offcuts of common aluminum extrusions at work but would feel sort of vulnerable to an ethical critique (fired!) if I tried to bootleg usable lengths for the project under consideration.

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Old 06-21-2012, 03:07 PM   #3
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I just made a simple 1 leg stand from PVC pipe.

I put a piece across the back of the panel attached to the metal sides by conduit clamps so that the piece can swivel easily in the clamps.Then I put a "T" in the middle of that swiveling piece with a center leg in the T.

I can use the panel on the ground with the bottom edge and the one center leg holding it up or I can stick the leg on a tripod I carry and aim it at the sun.

It is harder to try to describe than it was to make the stand,I will be using it this weekend and will try to get a pic.

Ed
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ed Harris View Post
I just made a simple 1 leg stand from PVC pipe.

I put a piece across the back of the panel attached to the metal sides by conduit clamps so that the piece can swivel easily in the clamps.Then I put a "T" in the middle of that swiveling piece with a center leg in the T.

I can use the panel on the ground with the bottom edge and the one center leg holding it up or I can stick the leg on a tripod I carry and aim it at the sun.

It is harder to try to describe than it was to make the stand,I will be using it this weekend and will try to get a pic.

Ed
Sounds simple and elegant.
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:37 PM   #5
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Our 80watt pivots on a leg made from a tubular lawnmower handle bolted to the frame of the panel. Stakes are a good idea. I use a single lawn/walk lighting stake attached to the bottom of the U-shaped mower handle and two simple wire tent stakes thru holes in the bottom corners of the panel frame. The leg folds completely into the recess behind the panel; the panel slides into two Z-shaped ledgers under the bunk filler in the rear of our Burro. Extrusions from the hdwre mount up fast at 3-4 bucks the lineal foot so sometimes I go for the solution found in the trash. The Red Foxx approach. I have always been able to get offcuts of common aluminum extrusions at work but would feel sort of vulnerable to an ethical critique (fired!) if I tried to bootleg usable lengths for the project under consideration.

jack

.
I think I've seen a pic of this on here somewhere? Or am I imagining that?
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:43 PM   #6
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Two things come to mind in reading your thread and links. The link mentions an adjustable support for winter use. In other words when the sun is not high in the sky as it is now. Are you a user in the winter or do you store your unit til spring and summer?
The other item is your battery capacity needs to be matched to your solar. Too many times one has too large a solar for a single battery or for the needs of the trailer. What are you needs and size of storage you will be using the solar for?
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:43 PM   #7
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Probably better discussed in a less specific thread.

But since your asking...

Now i have one flooded grp 24 80ah. But I got the sunsaver DUO so i could use two batteries on different parts of the trailer. I hope to fit two 120ish ah grp 31 AGMs eventually. One in the tongue, the other under the left rear seat.
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:47 PM   #8
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Oh, and i haven't had the trailer long enough to develop yearly storage trends. Last winter i full timed on ac power the whole time. This next winter it may be in storage, but i hope to use it on weekends here and there. Who knows i may full time again?!
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Two things come to mind in reading your thread and links. The link mentions an adjustable support for winter use. In other words when the sun is not high in the sky as it is now. Are you a user in the winter or do you store your unit til spring and summer?
The other item is your battery capacity needs to be matched to your solar. Too many times one has too large a solar for a single battery or for the needs of the trailer. What are you needs and size of storage you will be using the solar for?
Amen! If you can't store it no point to having mega panels. It's all about storing and replacing amp hours you will use daily. Or having enough reserve that you will run out of water first.

At 120 watts your already at the high end of what I hear most people say they have or plan to install. I may have heard of folks who winter camp with a furnace drawing electric describe higher wattage PV installations.
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Old 06-21-2012, 06:35 PM   #10
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I have a laptop that destroys my current battery in nothing flat. I'd like to use and charge that during the day. I have a feeling ill use use whatever power i can make. And where im going i may not have the best skies for collecting. Plus the 120 watts on the roof may not be well positioned many times. We'll see. If i end up selling a panel at a loss on craigslist, so be it, but i'd rather have too much on my road trip.

If i did have 250ish amp hours of battery I was under the impression 120 watts of panel would be pretty modest? Perhaps I'm confused.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dylanear View Post
I have a laptop that destroys my current battery in nothing flat. I'd like to use and charge that during the day. I have a feeling ill use use whatever power i can make. And where im going i may not have the best skies for collecting. Plus the 120 watts on the roof may not be well positioned many times. We'll see. If i end up selling a panel at a loss on craigslist, so be it, but i'd rather have too much on my road trip.

If i did have 250ish amp hours of battery I was under the impression 120 watts of panel would be pretty modest? Perhaps I'm confused.
For the amount of money you're going to spending on GM batteries and solar panels, plus all the charge controllers you can buy two laptop computers with long life low drain batteries.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:55 PM   #12
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I just bought that exact panel for my 13' Scamp. I'm very happy with everything so far. I purchased their foot brackets and tilt bars also - liked the idea of the ease of adjustment they had and figured I'd try them by themselves or mount them to some support strips as needed for my free standing intended purpose.

The panel should fit great underneath the folded down table during travel. I also purchased 50' of 8 gauge 2 pair wiring from them for umbilicals. Plan to chop that in half and crimp on MC4 connectors. This is a bit more like frozen romex than I thought; probably should have sacrificed a bit of charge performance for ease of storage and coiling and gone with the 10 gauge in hind sight.

Solar controller and the 7 pin bargman receptacle are going into a pelican box. Not sure about ventilation there, may have to leave the lid open a bit on the pelican when in use.

I'm sure there are cheaper solutions, but I really valued the build quality and flexibility of the am solar pieces and have been happy so far. Might some day decide to roof mount it, but starting out with the free standing plan.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:42 PM   #13
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estimate of Energy from Solar Panels

People always confuse Energy and Power. Power is the flow rate of energy. So a 120 W panel can in ideal conditions generate 120 Watts of power for as long as it is in the sun. So at approx. 12 V, that is 10 Amps of current since Voltage x Current = Power. Therefore under ideal conditions that 120 W panel can generate about 10 Amp Hours of energy.

Now since the conditions are never ideal because of shade, panel angle relative to the sun, bad weather, maximum power point tracking error, etc. The question is how much energy does a typical panel actually give you on average per day. The rule of thumb I have gotten from numerous sites is the total Energy stored per day will be amount of energy the panel could generate under ideal conditions in 1 hour. Therefore for you 120 W panel should be able to generate 10 Amp Hours on average. If you park in the sun and tilt the solar panels towards the sun you should be able to do 2 or 3 times that. That seems really conservative. If you use the NREL calculator you end up with 1.7 Whr per 1 W panel per day in Janurary (In Colorado) and almost 4.6 Whr. per 1 W panel per day.

I have a 30 W panel and use my laptop all the time. I also have LED lights. I've tracked my power usage at 3-5 Amp Hours per day. No issues with running the battery down.

Hope that helps
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
For the amount of money you're going to spending on GM batteries and solar panels, plus all the charge controllers you can buy two laptop computers with long life low drain batteries.
The laptop was selected to do what I want it to do. I don't want two low power laptops. I have a tablet and a "lapdock" laptopish device for my phone for low power computing. I want the i7 CPU and nVidia graphics.

Just trust me. I have a bazillion gadgets/devices/things that need charging/run on electrons.

I WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH JUICE. Ever. I know I'll be making due, I just want to do as good as I can given my limitations.

I know I'll be limited by the batteries I can fit and safely tow. I just want to make sure I have more than enough panel. I can leave a half dozen other items charging during the day to help soak up any access from the panels. If I just plain end up with WAY too much panel I'll see the excess. There's pretty good market for used but still current panels.
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:45 PM   #15
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I just bought that exact panel for my 13' Scamp. I'm very happy with everything so far. I purchased their foot brackets and tilt bars also - liked the idea of the ease of adjustment they had and figured I'd try them by themselves or mount them to some support strips as needed for my free standing intended purpose.

The panel should fit great underneath the folded down table during travel. I also purchased 50' of 8 gauge 2 pair wiring from them for umbilicals. Plan to chop that in half and crimp on MC4 connectors. This is a bit more like frozen romex than I thought; probably should have sacrificed a bit of charge performance for ease of storage and coiling and gone with the 10 gauge in hind sight.

Solar controller and the 7 pin bargman receptacle are going into a pelican box. Not sure about ventilation there, may have to leave the lid open a bit on the pelican when in use.

I'm sure there are cheaper solutions, but I really valued the build quality and flexibility of the am solar pieces and have been happy so far. Might some day decide to roof mount it, but starting out with the free standing plan.
I called AM and they told me they had nothing but roof mount solutions for those panels, thus me starting this thread (which is now, somehow more about my solar choices and power requirements.)

What exactly do you mean by foot brackets and tilt bars? Is that what you get with the "kit" rather than the bare panel?

"I purchased their foot brackets and tilt bars also - liked the idea of the ease of adjustment they had and figured I'd try them by themselves or mount them to some support strips as needed for my free standing intended purpose."
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:54 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by KevinScamps View Post
People always confuse Energy and Power. Power is the flow rate of energy. So a 120 W panel can in ideal conditions generate 120 Watts of power for as long as it is in the sun. So at approx. 12 V, that is 10 Amps of current since Voltage x Current = Power. Therefore under ideal conditions that 120 W panel can generate about 10 Amp Hours of energy.

Now since the conditions are never ideal because of shade, panel angle relative to the sun, bad weather, maximum power point tracking error, etc. The question is how much energy does a typical panel actually give you on average per day. The rule of thumb I have gotten from numerous sites is the total Energy stored per day will be amount of energy the panel could generate under ideal conditions in 1 hour. Therefore for you 120 W panel should be able to generate 10 Amp Hours on average. If you park in the sun and tilt the solar panels towards the sun you should be able to do 2 or 3 times that. That seems really conservative. If you use the NREL calculator you end up with 1.7 Whr per 1 W panel per day in Janurary (In Colorado) and almost 4.6 Whr. per 1 W panel per day.

I have a 30 W panel and use my laptop all the time. I also have LED lights. I've tracked my power usage at 3-5 Amp Hours per day. No issues with running the battery down.

Hope that helps
OK, let me try to verify. You say, "Therefore for you 120 W panel should be able to generate 10 Amp Hours on average. If you park in the sun and tilt the solar panels towards the sun you should be able to do 2 or 3 times that."

And I hope to have 220-250 amp hours, I'd need 6 or 7 120watt panels to max out those batteries under ideal circumstance? 2 or 3 times as many under minimal circumstance? Sounds like even the small panels I have and two of the GS100s wouldn't even be too much for my grp 24 80 amp hour I have now?

I'm heading to the foggy, rainy, deep dark forrests of BC. I'm pretty sure too much panel is not going to be HUGE problem. And if I buy $550 worth of panels and end up putting them on here or Craigslist for $400? I've got no problem with that.

NOW.... Can we talk about folding ground mounting options for a pair of 20x40"ish panels?
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:09 PM   #17
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I bought the rocker foot mount set and the 15.5" tilt bar set:

35mm Rocker Foot Mount Set | for Solar Panels
Tilt Bar Set - 15.5" | for Solar Panels

I did not buy them as a kit with the wire harness because the harness was roof mount oriented and I don't intend to do that. I just talked about wire with them and came up with that umbilical approach.

The rocker feet and tilt bars mount pretty slick to the panel and those easy to adjust knobs I liked. Can always convert to roof mount if desired.

I plan to just set the panel down with these feet directly. If that proves unstable, I can come up with a 1x3 wood strip or something that the feet could be attached to for additional stability.

Not the cheapest approach for sure, but I'm happy with them so far. Saturday will be the test run.

The MC4 connectors were easier to crimp on then I anticipated (though really better designed for 10-14 gauge wire vs. the 8 gauge I was trying to stuff into them - still worked so far - time will tell for durability).

I considered powerpole connectors for the umbilical also, but the MC4s were actually cheaper and much more weather resistant with the o-rings.

I have a TriMetric 2025RV and did a power budget usage based on real measurements so that's why I wanted an 80+ watt panel.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanear View Post
I called AM and they told me they had nothing but roof mount solutions for those panels, thus me starting this thread (which is now, somehow more about my solar choices and power requirements.)

What exactly do you mean by foot brackets and tilt bars? Is that what you get with the "kit" rather than the bare panel?

"I purchased their foot brackets and tilt bars also - liked the idea of the ease of adjustment they had and figured I'd try them by themselves or mount them to some support strips as needed for my free standing intended purpose."
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Old 06-22-2012, 06:22 PM   #18
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OK,I found one bad shot of the Panel and stand I was talking about but I think you can get the idea from the pic?

The Solar is in the background in the Sun not the shadow speaker on a similar tripod.

The back leg is slid over a Tripod stand in the pic and you can see the wood cross bar and the PVC cross piece with the T for the leg clearly.
The PVC Cross bar is attached with 2 Conduit Clamps 1 on each side which allows it to pivot the leg to and from the panel.

If not on the tripod the leg is the rear leg and the angle is easily adjusted too.

I have a digital meter that I use to "Aim" the panel and it is easy to use the meter to peak the voltage when it is in the best orientation that it can be.

I even leave the meter hanging there with Velcro and it is connected as well as the feed is connected all the time if wanted.

Make sense?

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Old 06-22-2012, 06:39 PM   #19
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I've pictured attaching a solar panel the adjustable part of the small home TV satelite dishes and using that on a similar tripod. Your rotation and tilt are built in.
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:35 PM   #20
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I've pictured attaching a solar panel the adjustable part of the small home TV satelite dishes and using that on a similar tripod. Your rotation and tilt are built in.
I have several Speaker and Lighting tripods already and they are strong and made to be moved around and knock down easily too.
Also they can go up higher than I want and hold a lot of weight.
The added feature of the way mine is done is being able to just pull it off the Tripod and set it on the ground and it has the angle adjustment needed to help it gather Sun efficiently.

I really like it because it is as simple as it can be.
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