Camp power - Genie, or Solar?

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 18:18
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Hi all

Have just parted with my 34yr old McCulloch 0.8kva generator. Sad to see her go. McCulloch back in the day DID make good gear, maybe not now.

Just throwing something out there regarding camp power. I'm looking at buying a 1kva inverter generator (I use 1kva Honda's at work... unbeatable little unit, just cant fathom the price) as this would suit our needs well. When camping we really just need to run the fridge, maybe power up a laptop or I-pad to transfer photo's etc... 1kva would be fine. But a mate of mine thinks I'm quote 'stupid' for getting one and has insisted on a 3rd battery in the 105 Series and a decent solar panel for our trips. I'm open to the idea, but haven't had alot of exposure to solar stuff. On all our trips (and work trips) there has always been a generator and there's never been an issue or a worry. But perhaps in the future when we destine to some Nat Parks that are generator free, solar might be the go.

Those that have the solar option... are you simply using the panel/s during the day to keep charge of the 3rd battery (maybe there's no need for 3... maybe just charge the deep cycle no2?) and letting the fridge power through the night on the power it does have and then re-charge the next day? Is there any other technical set ups that might be worthwhile setting up?

Interested to hear your views. Also, for generators... if anyone has any experience with 1kva genies other then Honda/Yamaha would be keen to hear what your thoughts are. I'm tempted by these Kepor models but have been told to stay a mile away
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 18:27

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 18:27
Hi Theo
I am not quite sure on the pricing, but Engle have a good 1kva generator, it is made for them by Honda, but is green instead of the usual red.




Cheers



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Reply By: Member - snowy1959 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:04

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:04
Theo, I suggest a good 12 volt solar setup ;200 watts in 1 or 2 panels / removable for tracking the sun . And a small gennie for when you are on your own or winter ? Generators can annoy others ; & may be banned in certain areas in the future . It is a good feeling to be able to maintain your requirements with just the sun. Snowy 1959:
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Reply By: Paul E6 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:07

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:07
Can one run a freezer on solar?
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:34

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:34
You actually run a freezer off a battery......but solar will charge a battery running a freezer no problems...if it's sunny !!
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 23:25

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 23:25
You need at least 200AH of battery and at least 400W of solar which will just work ok for a freezer.

No problems on cold sunny days. But several overcast days, or cloudy hot days will be a problem.

Oh and make sure your panels have zero shade on them.
Tony
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 17:15

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 17:15
Paul yes you can run a freezer on solar but some more info will help a lot like what type of freezer small camping or large up right etc. How many amps or watts does it need so it can run also for how long weekend trips or long term etc the more info the better advice you'll get that will help with your particular set up.
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Reply By: Dean K3 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:25

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:25
If you ever tried having a generator going at night whilst grey nomads watch the tv for football and make tea whilst your sleeping with it jammed under your camper trailer by them.

Then you would understand that solar is preferred way of having the "primary recharge source"

having a generator along as its quiet one is best for the "back up" so when its socked in day with no sun or emergency power at home esp for the modern fridge/freezers.

As they hate being turned on then off and blow the electronics smarts for some reason.
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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:44

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:44
Camping is about peace and tranquillity, getting back to nature. Nothing ruins camping like the sound of a generator and a lot of camp areas are banning them.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 22:58

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 22:58
.

I should maybe advise that at camp, I sleep with a pair of side cutters under my pillow.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: IvanTheTerrible - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:29

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:29
A mate threw one generator into the Murray
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Follow Up By: Member - Blue M - Friday, Mar 16, 2018 at 16:08

Friday, Mar 16, 2018 at 16:08
Was it his own?, if not, what a hero he must have felt, and he is still alive to brag about it.
Wow, what a wonderful mate you have Ivan.





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Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 16:56

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 16:56
That's a good idea pollute the Murray and kill more native fish etc what a legend.
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 18:30

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 18:30
Just another mate, brother in law, cousin,inbred relation story. Probably heard a tale like this at the pub one night and been sitting on it ever since just dieing to use it on us unsuspecting folk !!!
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Reply By: Life Member - Duncan W (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:57

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 19:57
Unless you're towing the generator will take up valuable space and also you need to carry petrol for them which can stink and also takes up valuable space and weight.

With solar you can now get fold-up sheet type systems which are light weight and take up not much space.

If you are on the road just about every day then a third battery is ideal. i have a 3rd battery in the back of my troopy and run a freezer and a separate fridge with no problems at all.
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 20:30

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 20:30
It would seem that your primary query is about 'ensuring reliable power supply'. If so, then both solar and a generator are indicated, because when its overcast the solar can't help. With expensive batteries exposed to permanent damage from low charge, the gennie might be the only saviour. But then, you have to hope that you can run a gennie where you are (regulations may prohibit that.....consideration for other campers is of course a factor too).
In poor weather, having to move camp to a 'generator allowed' area can't be ruled out if you have a number of expensive deep cycle batteries on the edge).
I have two fixed solar panels on the van and one portable panel to catch the sun early and late. I have a choice of a Yam 1k or Honda 2k genny to take on trips....depends on where I'm going (the larger, heavier Honda usually stays home.....that was bought for the power outages here in SA ! :-).
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Reply By: Member - Graham N (SA) - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 20:53

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 20:53
I think you will find solar is the way of the present and future.
I'm probably bias as I have installed extra solar panels of 160 watts on my T-van, thanks to the help of a member on here, giving me 210watts of solar power that should run my 80 ltr Engel, it probably only requires about 120 w to keep the batteries topped up.
Today I upgraded the solar controller so I can add a 120 w solar blanket I have brought as either a charger for the vehicle batteries or a back up should any thing happen to the T-van solar. The new blanket was about $500 from Korr Lighting. I'm sure you would get change out of $1000 to set up a system that would keep your fridge running indefinitely, no worries about whether you have enough fuel or the problems of carting the fuel.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:35

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:35
Theo,

I currently run a 200w panel on our canopy together with 2 of 120Ah batteries, that power a few led lights, an 80L upright Engel and a 40L Engel as a freezer. Have bought another panel, 170w, to keep batteries charged.

Also run a V8 generator, in case the batteries need a quick charge. I'd like to take a Honda too, but don't have the room, & it adds too much weight in rough terrain.

Bob

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Follow Up By: Theo D - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:41

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:41
V8 generator LOL. Love it!

Out of interest what make/type of batteries do you use? And roughly how much do you think you're entire set up cost ya back?

Cheers in advance
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 22:27

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 22:27
In the canopy I've been using for desert trips, Theo, I bought 2 deep cycle units from RTM. Sorry, don't recall name at the mo. About $215 ea. on special. Have a Redarc DC-DC 1225D, about $350-400. 200w panel & 170w panel from Bit Deals(eBay) for $215 & $139, free postage. :-)

Made my own battery cradles out of 25 & 12mm RHS, with some angle iron & plywood. Tried to use, in most areas, 6 & 8BnS cable plus lugs, Anderson & Merit plugs etc. Maybe another $150-200?



This how I mounted the panel, the new panel will go on the cab, on roof rails. Not totally efficient but good enough most times, when driving almost every day.

Bob



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Follow Up By: 2517. - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 14:13

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 14:13
Hi Bob like the spring loaded catch where do you buy them?,thanks John.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 18:52

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 18:52
Check out the Ovesco website, John. Think their prices are okay, and the service is excellent!

Probably get same catches from Dunn & Watson too.

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Follow Up By: 2517. - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 19:24

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 19:24
Thanks for that Bob.
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Reply By: Theo D - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:35

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 21:35
Thanks all

Those that have 3 batteries... is the third battery linked up somehow? Or is it stand alone e.g. lithium/ultra deep cycle/gel and purely requires solar charge when camping? And if so how do you keep it charged when not camping - do you use trickle charge and just 'float' the battery when not in use? I currently do this with my boat batteries when not in use... just put them on a slow charge every fortnight or so when not in use to keep them alive. I note Kings do a 120W blanket for a reasonable price. Would a constant 120W charge during the day keep the battery in reasonable knick? I also note someone has mentioned that a lack of charge can damage expensive batteries. Is this seriously detrimental?

The bonus about a 1kva or 2kva is I guess some kind of backup power source for around the house eg. Cyclone season. A 1kva would easily run the Engel with food (mainly bulk beer), a 2kva would certainly keep other things ticking along too. A solar setup for camping would be just that... for camping.

I also add my current wiring set up in the cruiser is only 4 or 5mm wire courtesy of anderson plug to 60L engel. I understand that should I run this off my dual battery as present, even with solar charge is pretty ineffective due to the small wite. Correct?
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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 08:39

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 08:39
I run 3 x 120 fullrivers in my camper. All connected via heavy duty cable and fuses. Run 2 x 40 litre engels, lights, bluetooth speaker and tablet. I also use about 350watt of solar. Always go for good heavy wiring. In my opinion I compare power to a slab of beer.

Your better off looking at it than looking for it!!
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Reply By: Steve - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 23:52

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018 at 23:52
Give me a Genie any day. Once, when he popped up and said, “yes master? Your wish is my comman”, I requested a slab of cold ones, a couple of gourmet pies and a cute little supermodel, right in the middle of the desert. Beats solar, hands down”
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Follow Up By: RMD - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 12:18

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 12:18
I know, you asked for all the sand to turn to beer but the 4WD then sank.
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 17:49

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 17:49
Theo
Generators are /
The cockroaches of the camping world .
You will make far more friends with solar
Just my two bobs worth .
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 19:35

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 19:35
Just as intrusive as the "Pratt" with the thumping V8 Deisel with a 3 inch straight through exhaust who needs to "exercise" their batteries for 1/2 an hour every hour because their solar can't keep up with keeping their piss cold and stereo blaring!

OR

The "Pratt" who chases the sun all day with their panels planted right in the middle of the access way with kids getting screamed at for tripping over the extension cord or hitting their panels with a ball!

There are always two sides to an argument! Live and let live I say - if you dont like it move on. If people are that intolerant of others, perhaps they best find somewhere to camp on their own!

And before you get your knickers in a knot - I use solar only and have designed my system to cope with my needs without interfering with others.

Cheers

Anthony
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Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:05

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:05
Anthony

You don't need to justify your power usage to me . You seem to have plenty of things to annoy you already .

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:10

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:10
Wow is that all you've got!

You need to develop a little more tolerance towards others mate!

Cheers

Anthony
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Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:38

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:38
Anthony . You may need to take your own advise .
And that will be all I have got , goodnight .

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 21:13

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 21:13
Camped for a week on the Bulloo River near Toompine last year, 5 days in a row solid overcast. Let my steak thaw and stubbies get hot and stay mates with Mark or start the Genny. Your guess !!

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Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 21:42

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 21:42
Greg .
Do whatever you want , you don't need my approval .
If you want to annoy your mates , go for it there are many more like you who have no problems annoying other campers .

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 21:52

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 21:52
The point is have an acre of solar. All the batteries you can carry. If there is no sun there’s no sun.
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Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:05

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:05
Greg .

A generator in the hands of a thoughtful camper is handy for sure . My camping needs don't and never will require one .
A generator in the hands of a knucklehead can cause problems for others .
So I will asume that you fit into the first category .

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:09

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:09
I do know where you are coming from Mark. There is a difference between needing to use a genny because it’s been overcast and those who use one to power a coffee machine or something.

I think used responsibility there is nothing wrong with a genny.

But there’s people around who can’t back out of their drive way without one and have to show the whole camp ground their new toy.

I must agree they do cause division but think about it. If you have been camped a week in the bush with no solar everyone is in the same boat. There is more than one running.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:11

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:11
We must have replied at the same time. I do agree with what you have said. ??
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Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:22

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:22
Greg .

Sounds like we agree .

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:16

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 20:16
Hi Again Theo

As you can see, there are many people that literally hate the thought of using a generator.

I should have also stated that I also carry 2 quality tri fold 150 w solar panels that keep my camper and car fully charged when we are bush camping, and it has worked perfectly for over 4 days when we were off the grid and remote camping in on spot, with moving and starting the car at all during that time, with one very big exception....

Solar is great as long as the sun is shining, but if you are caught out when it is wet and 100% cloud cover, then solar is not with the effort to get it out.

Both items compliment each other and if one does not work, you have the other to fall back on.

Cheers


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Reply By: Theo D - Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:09

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 22:09
https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/products/solar/adventure-kings-120w-portable-solar-blanket.html

I'm not overally impressed with Kings gear, but what about one (or, how about 2) of these tethered up to a second battery during the day? Should keep it topped up and possibly, if you used x 2 of these - even add a little charge?
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 14:15

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 14:15
Hi Theo D,

As you may have gathered, lots of people do not like Generators going near them when camping, I am also one of those. Having said that, I have contemplated purchasing a genie myself, and have looked seriously at the Honda EU22i. A solid 2.0 kva continuous rating, large enough for an Aircon, Coffee machine, or Microwave. I have so far resisted.

The van has 2 x 105 amp batteries, with 2 x 150 watt solar panels on the roof. This has kept the batteries charged up even when stationary for 5 days in 40+ degree heat. The van has a 190 Lt. compressor fridge/freezer.

In the car, I run 1 x 70 amp & 1 x 60 amp coupled together to run a 60 Ltr Engel as a fridge, & a 35 Ltr Waeco as a freezer. I have 2 x 120 Watt folding solar panels that I use to keep these batteries charged up, again, even when stationary for 5 days in 40+ degree heat. Obviously, the number of times you open the fridge or freezer during the day will make a difference in the load on the batteries. Also, as others have noted, you a reliant on having sun to charge the batteries. So far we have not had any issues, and we mostly free camp in the bush with no other facilities.

The only time we had any problems was on Fraser Island at Central Station. It was so shady that we did not have enough sun to charge the batteries in the car for the Engel. Had to run the car for an hour in the morning & late afternoon to keep the batteries charged.

Macca.
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Reply By: Batt's - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 17:08

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 17:08
Theo I may have overlooked it but has any one asked what you are running off your battery eg fridge/freezer and what size it or they are, lights etc so they can get a better idea of what power requirements will best suit.

Also what length of time would basically describe most of your trips say just weekends occasionally or a week or two at a time or traveling full time the extra info will take a lot of guise work out of it for you and those trying to help so you might end up with a set up that works well for you.
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Follow Up By: Theo D - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:45

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:45
Hey mate. I dont take too much powered stuff camping. 1 x 60L engel (only as fridge), 8 x Korr LED camplights and 2 x Outdoor connection fans is all I really take. Occasionally will need to charge phones or Ipads etc for photos or music.

Most of our camping is minimum 2 x nights, max of 5. Boys trips we will go aslong as we can before the bosses drag us home. But Im really just looking at options for the above fridge and lights etc.

My current battery setup is 1 x cranking battery, dual battery is 100ah Yuasa brand new.

Have as of last night started looking at Projecta solar mats. They look to be a good mod range option. Projecta is good gear. An 80w blanket would suffice I believe. Any thoughts?
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 08:21

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 08:21
Hi Theo, I think an 80 watt solar blanket will struggle to keep your aux. battery fully charged running a 60 Ltr Engel. You would be better off with at least 100 watt, but preferably 120 watt. There are some excellent tables online that advise what size solar you need for different load ratings. Suggest you “google” it.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 08:30

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 08:30
Macca's on the money, Theo, according to this chart.




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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 08:39

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 08:39
Theo, here is another calculation that even mentions about what you have. Scroll down until you come to the 80w solar panel and what it is capable of.

Redarc FAQ's
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Follow Up By: Theo D - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 11:00

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 11:00
Thanks guys. Thats surprising that the 80W is just that little bit light on. But, bigger is better as they say. May have to look at the bigger 120W or 180W mats from Projecta.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 12:13

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 12:13
Theo, I bought a Rydge Ryder 150w solar blanket awhile back as I wanted a light weight panel that didn't take up much room. Not being that cashed up I decided against the more expensive units, that or I am a cheap skate.

I did research first as many say their blankets had failed, whether it was from mistreatment or quality I don't know. The panel got pretty good reviews, hence me buying it, I paid $499 but then received $129 credit form super cheap, that allowed me to purchase some bits and consumables I needed.

I had heard the supplied solar controller wasn't that great with overheating issues and failures. Apparently if it fails under warranty super cheap just give you a new one of a different brand. Not wanting a failure I bought a victron mppt 75/15 as there is nothing that spoils your away time in the scrub, it is hot beer and no tucker.

I also made a light weight aluminium frame that knocks down easily and I store in a tent bag so I can track the sun and keep the vehicle in the shade if possible.

Here is a clip on them from youtube.

150w review
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 at 01:34

Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 at 01:34
Some good info there Theo from people who have an idea on what you will need which will help you with you set up. I never initially replied back because I have a different fridge and use a fixed panel but I new there would be others that will offer good advice.
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