The application of 12V technology to my situation

My van has a 100 AH battery in a lockable enclosure with a door to the side of the van. I have a 160 watt folding solar panel. I have not bought a new regulator but some rudimentary tests suggest that the solar panels, as they are, replace one nights power usage quite quickly.
I have arrangements to secure the panels to the van when in use but as things stand the battery enclosure has to be partly open to allow for the clamps of the solar panels to be attaches, so it is vulnerable to theft.
The logical solution is to have a plug fitted externally on the van but if I am to have an auto electrician do that for me I may as well have a DC to DC battery charger fitted at the same time and also some method of measuring charger input and battery output and state of charge of battery.
I have in mind a Ctek D250S . My questions are:
1. What alternatives are there to the Ctek that are in the same price range?
2. What type and brand of measuring device would be the most suitable to keep tabs on usage and supply.
Cost effectiveness is a fairly important factor. If is was 37 and setting up for a long future I would be looking to the top shelf for equipment that would maximise battery life and so fourth. But since my age is expressed by reversing those numbers it is quite possible that I will never need to buy another battery no matter how I treat the one I have. Just so you know where I am coming from.
And I am looking forward to a chance to use the new "Thank You" button.
Cheers,
Kevin
Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Isuzumu - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 15:43

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 15:43
Hi Kevin, first up have you an Anderson plug between the vehicle and caravan so you can charge whilst travelling? This is the best way to plug in external power supplies to the van, Anderson plug on solar panels etc.
Keeping an eye on usage with an amp meter can be expensive and a pain, I just use a volt meter, it will give you a pretty good idea of how the solar is charging and how the storage is when not being charged as well. A nice digital one can be placed any where in the van for as little as $10 on E.Bay, I have put one in the D.Max as I do not like the gauge that they have in any cars and it is good as it shows like 13.2 volts etc.

Cheers Bruce
D.Max and Jayco Outback

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 505187

Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 15:56

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 15:56
G'day Bruce. Because the van has a "smart" fridge the fittings on the car and van are 12 pin with a battery isolator in the Challenger. But I suppose I could fit a 12 pin plug to the wires from the solar panel and it should work OK. It's worth a try. Much cheaper than any alternative to date. And I already have a volt meter that I use but I was trying to be a bit more sophisticated.
I have booked my spot at Mt Moffatt. Just hope the weather lets us in.
Cheers,
Kevin
Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782119

Follow Up By: Ross M - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 16:00

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 16:00
G'day Kevin S
AS Isuzumu said,if you have a heavy wire system via Anderson plugs to charge the caravan battery from the vehicle, one that isolates when not running IE Redarc SB12, it will give you the bulk charge of the battery.
An additional Anderson plug piggy backed with the caravan end will allow Solar reg to to be connected at any time even if the cvan isn't unplugged.

Portable solar regs and those supplied with panels aren't usually the best,most efficient systems.
Which ever way you go it is more effective to have the regulator fiitted as close to the battery it is charging as possible. This gives the best use of the current flow created by the panel/s.

If you have both of these, the charge from the vehicle and the solar to top up to max, then you may not need a DC/DC unit. They are good but also should be fitted as close to the battery as possible for the same electrical reasons.

Any other questions? We all have our own fixed ideas. Isuzumu uses the voltmeter as do I, to monitor the system. High enough voltages at the battery indicates it is getting/being charged and there is really no point to monitoring the amps. They just have to be enough and once the volts are up the amp must have done the job.

Ross M
2
FollowupID: 782120

Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 16:01

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 16:01
I guess I could tap into the cables behind the plug on the van and wire an Anderson plug with a weather cover to keep gunk out.
Kevin
Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782121

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 19:17

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 19:17
Hi Kev,

It is important to have a regulator in the solar circuit as it will look after your battery as you may well overcharge it without a regulator. Depending on battery type this could lead to an explosion.

I have an anderson on the draw bar to accept power from the car and a couple of others which I can plug anything into to draw off 12 volts, such as a 12 volt drill, with the extension lead I made with anderson plugs each end.

Here is a simple diagram showing extra plugs as optional



If you gat a 12 volt solar regulatorLike this it shows the battery level as well as regulates the incoming current. It is a PWM unit and is good value for money and will do everything you need.

If you wanted to go the extra you could go for an MPPT unit of This type.

The regulator coulb be fitted inside the lockable battery box if needed provided the battery is an AGM, or perhaps a GEL battery. Definitely not if it is a flooded cell (car battery).

I am mindful of your last words re time left to travel but I think these suggestions are valid under the circumstances. The regulators are important.

Both of these regulators give multiple read outs of batter voltage, solar panel output and also have a power used meter included in the display.

They are also dead easy to hook up so some expense can be spared there.

A good set of reasonably heavy cabls run to an anderson plug at the back of the car is essential also. This is just advice, what you do is your business so please don't feel pressured.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 505203

Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 20:03

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 20:03
Never fear Bruce. I am my own man and will do what I think best. But I appreciate your input. And there is a regulator on the solar panels. It's just that it in not of the type that most users of this forum seem to favour.
Cheers,
Kevin
Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782145

Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 20:45

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 20:45
Thanks for the reply Kevin

The regulator fitted to the panel would more than likely be a PWM, Peak Wave Modulation.

It would merely have a couple of LEDs for a display to indicate what it is doing. It would be adequate for your needs.

The best is an MPPT, Maximum Power Point Tracking as they maximise the panels output for any given weather, eg cloudy, part cloud or full sun, shade etc..

Cheers, Bruce.

At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782148

Follow Up By: Ross M - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 20:57

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 20:57
Bruce C for Kevin
I think that is Pulse Width Modulation, as it switches the energy from the panel to the battery, on and off to get the required charge.
It looks like a square wave as it switches ON then OFF then ON etc with the ON and Off times varied to suit the required charge level.

LED lamp dimmers do similar.

0
FollowupID: 782151

Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 21:17

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 21:17
You are correct Ross, having a seniors moment here.

Your description would be correct as the LEDs flicker when charging as I recall.

Cheers, Bruce
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782153

Reply By: Sapper D - Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 21:46

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 at 21:46
G,Day Kev
I'm in the process of doing a exercise as you.----I've got a pair of folding solar panels, and want to charge up the battery in the van. Like you, I've got a 12 pin plug on the van to the car, and that services the "smart" fridge as you call it whilst travelling.---After talking to my autolec, we're just going to fit a Anderson plug at the end of the solar panel cable like most people do,and make up a Anderson to 12 pin adaptor and plug straight into the van as if it was connected to the car.---The van already has a controller, as your's probably has, -if it hasn't, the panels have a controller on them,---so no problem there.
Good luck.......Sapper D
AnswerID: 505217

Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 09:33

Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 09:33
Thanks Sapper D. It seems like a good idea to fit an Anderson plug to the cables from the panels and then make up an adaptor. I'll try that and see how I go. Can't see why it won't work.
Cheers,
Kevin
Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782175

Reply By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 17:49

Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 17:49
Well, nothing is ever as simple as it seems! I removed the cheek plate from the 12 pin plug to find that terminal 9 that should carry the battery wire is empty. So how does charge get to the battery? The answer from the dealer is via the fridge wire. The techo there said that, as it is a fairly long journey to the battery, my best approach is to drill a hole in the bottom of the battery compartment and run a lead to an Anderson plug on the A frame. It all looks feasible.
If there is another installment to the story I will let you know.
Cheers,
Kevin

Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 505250

Follow Up By: Rockape - Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 18:44

Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 18:44
Kevin,
If you drill the battery box you can use these that are available at any electrical wholesaler.

If you wish to fix an anderson plug to the A frame I never drill it.

Here is a way of doing it without drilling. This photo is of a much heavier addition to my Coromal but the end result is the same.

RA. I am a visual learner
0
FollowupID: 782198

Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 20:50

Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 20:50
That is interesting Rock Ape. I intended to look for some kind of grommet but the poly gland looks to be a good solution. And like you I don't like drilling metal of I can avoid it. I used a similar method to fit a jerry can holder to the back of my earlier Coromal. But for the Anderson plug I am thinking of attaching it under the floor timber immediately behind the front cross member.
Cheers,
Kevin
Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2019 Mitsubishi Cross

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 782207

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)