Portable Solar Panels.

Submitted: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:44
ThreadID: 34408 Views:13708 Replies:4 FollowUps:5
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I've noticed lately that a lot of camping/4WD stores sell portable solar apnels of varying sizes and wattage.

I'm intending to fit a battery setup in my caravan and am looking at a source for constant trickle re-charging via solar when stationary.

What would be the minimum wattage/output that I would require to provide a decent re-charge rate for 2 x 6 Volt in series (meaning I am getting 12 volts, in case I got the term wrong)?

The batteries would power a Waeco CF50 and lights, water pump and perhaps a TV/DVD via an invertor with a view to also power a 2nd compressor fridge in the van when we replaxce the 3 way Electrolux.

To keep cost down I was thinkking of using the type of solar panels for sale at BCF as an example.

Any suggestions or advice.
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Reply By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:41

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 12:41
We have a very similar load, fridge, lights, inverter running off 4 x 30 AH 12 V Gell Cells. To replace the amps we use a 40W BP Solarex to tide us over a long weekend with sunny conditions and a clear look at the sky for the panel.

Longer than four days in one spot, or a couple of cloudy days, we have to flash up the gennie for a charge. If the location is generator unfriendly we leave the Waeco at home and take the Chescold 3 way on gas and just use the batteries for lights and entertainment.

To be pure solar you are probably looking at a minimum of 120W of panels = not cheap.

I'm sure you will get a lot of responses and good advice, so just sit back and wait. :o)


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AnswerID: 175624

Follow Up By: Wizard1 - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 13:56

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 13:56
Thanks for the feedback. I'm intrigued why you use 4 x 30AH 12 Volt batteries?
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Follow Up By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 15:26

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 15:26
" why you use 4 x 30AH 12 Volt batteries?"

Because you can get them very cheap from the places that service gophers. Mine cost $25 (cash) each for load and cycle tested second hand gell cells. A mate got some from a place in Gawler for zip (but he always does that to me - he paid nothing for his solar panels as well!).

My batteries are made up in two boxes, each wired in parrallel to give 2 x 70AH banks that I can cart around. One box has a solarex controller that can be switched between either box using anderson plugs. The other has a trailer socket on the side so if I take my Jayco Camper out I can just plug it in and have 12V lighting without mucking about. Both have assorted 12V sockets: anderson, hella and ciggy so that anything I have can be plugged in.

To charge from the gennie I have a 3 stage charger, but plug straight into the gennie 12V for a bulk charge if the batteries are really low.


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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 18:04

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 18:04
Wizard1 ,,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, LIFTOFF [just could not resist] ,anyhow ,you will be better off getting panels from a solar specialist rather than BCF ,, the 12 volt shop ,solar panel express ect will not only give a better price but give the right advise on cable ect ect so the system runs right first time and not trial and error ,,add up how many amps you use in a 24hr period ,, double it for your planned upgrade and whatever figure you come up with add 10/20% ,, then divide said figure by 6 and that becomes how many amps you need to produce on an hourly basis from your solar panel / s ,,,only applies if you want to get serious about solar and go the whole hog...
AnswerID: 175673

Reply By: B. Ryan - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 21:42

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 21:42
could be simpler to get big battery and not worry about solar
put in aux. battery charge/ reg when not using van keep batteries on float charge in garage.

you need 2 x 80 watt panels, ($800 ea)
solar reg from $120
battery bank min. 160amphour ($300)
plus install

make sure its really worth it
AnswerID: 175743

Reply By: sandyngraham - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 09:46

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 09:46
Hello Wizard.

We purchased portable solar panels (2 x 60 watt Kyocera) from SolarPanel Xpress.... best investment we ever made in regard to off road camping. Powered 80ltr Waeco, lights, laptop (via inverter) hooked up to 2 x 75AH gell batteries on the camper trailer.... our longest stay in one spot was 2 weeks, never had to power up the lawnmower (2 stroke gen) or the V6 generator ever again. Big advantage is not having to carry additional fuel for gen.
Contact any of the experts mentioned in this forum to work out what your requirements would be, especially if you are considering another compressor fridge for the van.

AnswerID: 175841

Follow Up By: Wizard1 - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 10:44

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 10:44
How much were the 2 panels?

Do you hook the panels direct to the battery/s or via a regulator or charger?

FollowupID: 431902

Follow Up By: sandyngraham - Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 09:50

Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 09:50
All up, including freight to Katherine in the NT it was $1500, sounds a lot, is a lot, but to us it was worth every cent just so we could have the flexibility to stay where we wanted for however long we wanted.

The kit comprised 2 x 60 watt panels, 6 metres of cable with aligator clips for attaching to the battery (we are going to change that over to an Anderson plug connection) and sunsaver voltage regulator.

When we were travelling we towed a campter trailer, which we have sold, we have now gone for a van and had the Patrol decked out with a Black Widow drawer system with a fridge slide for the Waeco, and keeping the portable panels for when we camp (tent) in remote areas to power the fridge, lights, etc.

Hope this helps,

FollowupID: 432303

Follow Up By: Wizard1 - Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 11:15

Friday, Jun 02, 2006 at 11:15

Thanks for your feedback.

I ended up calling solarpanelxpress. Gave a synopsis of our power requirements, etc. They suggetsed I needed 2 x 85 watt panel kits (if we have a compressor fridge in the van as well as the waeco). Seems 2 x 60s wouldn'e be enough. At almost $1900 we will stick with the gene and charge while towing methods for the time being.

I can appreciate the problems with getting gear like that in the NT. I lived in Darwin for a couple of years. HAd to wait for the trips to the Big Smoke or pay postage/freight fees.


FollowupID: 432323

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