Foldup solar panels

We have been looking at the fold up solar charging panels lately. Just wondering what everybodys views are of they work & does anyone have any recommendations.
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 14:09

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 14:09
Yes they do work and most come with their own solar controller.
They usually come with a cigar type connection however most take these off and use an anderson plug.
WE use a tri-fold 120 Watt panel and find that it keeps the auxilary battery in the tug charged plus the van battery when required.
I am in the habit of setting this panel up the moment I stop if I am going to stay for more than just overnight hooking it up to the tug to supply power for the engel and keeping the Aux. Batt fully charged until dusk.
When stopping for a reasonable length of time EG. 1 week I have the panel on the tug until perhaps 2 pm then on the van until dusk or to when the battery is charged.
When the weather is cooler say around 25 deg C I find that the Tug is charged before lunch then to the van and it also is charged well before dark.

We run the Engel on 12v and the van fridge on gas.
Van power is used to run LED lights, Tv, pooter, and charge phones etc, plus the usual van bits pumps and what not.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Follow Up By: Member -Dodger - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 16:33

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 16:33
Another reason for portable panels is that you can park the van or camper in the shade and the panels in the sun.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 15:52

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 15:52
Having a portable panel is good and many of them unfortunately have the regulator at the panel end for convenience I presume.

When the reg is at the panels, the reg is reading the, "resisted to flow voltage", in the wires, and the resistance of those wires to the battery gets worse and worse when longer and longer.

However, if you want to maximize the charge from your panels then having the regulator removed from the panels and situated as close as possible to the battery it is charging, is a more efficient way of operating.
The higher voltage of the panels has more ability of get the current flow to the regulator and then the regulated and sensed wires to the battery are short and more effective. ie. more amp hours delivered to battery for the same amount of sunlight energy.

While they do work as supplied they don't give the best return of energy to the battery, after all that is what you are trying to achieve.

As mentioned, the use of good connectors like anderson plugs will also help eliminate resistance created in connections. Ciggy connections are just play things really, and often lose integrity of contact and get hot and burn out and then there is no charge to battery at all. This usually happens when you are relying on it the most.


Ross M

AnswerID: 502612

Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 21:20

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 at 21:20
G'day gertie,

I've had a 100 watt fold up type I bought for $350 about two years ago.

Keeps my fridge running for days in my Landcruiser.

Folds up to about to about 900 x 600 mm and about 80 mm thick. Comes with a bag that holds it all together. It's a great thing to travel with if you have the room.

AnswerID: 502645

Reply By: Member - Sonshine - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 11:26

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 11:26
I took a set of 120W foldups on our last 5 month trip which included a fair bit of bush camping. I have chosen to keep the regulator on the panel end so I can plug it into either the van or the tug via Andersons.

The supplied regulators are usually cheap and crappy. After mine failed, I replaced with a unit that Jaycar sells PV Charge Controller MP-3722which is far more robust and has an LCD display of all the charging status - current and voltage - useful.

I also replaced the crappy wiring supplied with 8 B&S to minimise voltage drop over the run. I get bugger-all drop at 5 Amps.

We have a heavy demand for 12v Power, Large fridge in the car which I run at -15Deg as a freezer, and I also run a CPAP machine all night as I suffer sleep apnea.

I run both a battery in the Van, and a dual battery in the Tug. 6B&S cabling through tug and van.

Message me for any other details :)

Happy 12V camper
Cheers, Gaz
AnswerID: 502679

Follow Up By: Member - Sonshine - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 16:00

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 16:00
BTW - do you get a prize for being thread 100,000 on the Forum? :)
FollowupID: 779203

Reply By: Kyle H - Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 12:39

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 at 12:39
Agree with the above replies, generally the cheaper panels you buy the cheaper they are made. Wires need to be upgraded to optimise panels efficiency, cheaper regulators fail at the most inconvenient time as mine did at Bramwell Junction.
Yes it is better to have the regulator near the battery but it is also very convenient to be able to plug the panel into the Vans Anderson Plug rather than making a lot of wiring changes to relocate the regulator.
It is also more convenient to mount your panel permanently on the roof of your van rather than lug a portable unit around which also has its pros and cons.
I have 240 watts permanently on the roof of the van and a folding 120 watts which I lug around and use for the third battery in the cruiser that powers the more important things, my Evakool.
AnswerID: 502685

Reply By: Member - gertie - Sunday, Jan 20, 2013 at 21:24

Sunday, Jan 20, 2013 at 21:24
Thanks appreciate your help
AnswerID: 503039

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