Solar battery chargers

Site Linkwe are on the road full time .. I have been thinking of buying a solar panel battery charger for the van only a portable one .. Can anyone tell me the pros and cons , prices etc etc
Ron
Ron MACKENZIE

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Reply By: Member - Phantom (WA) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 14:06

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 14:06
Hi Ron,
I also have spent some time this morning searching threads where there is a huge amount of info.
I was interested in getting a battery pack but have now shifted to a solar panel. I would like a fold up version for storage and travelling.
Is there any benefit in "bigger is better" 80 watt vs 120watt?
What brands are better? Which to avoid?

I hope we both get our answers.

Steve
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:33

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:33
Steve, remember that a solar panel is the charging device, then the battery is needed to store what you generate. Knowing the size of the requirement is first, then the storage can be tailored, then your charging capacity is easy. Your car can charge of course before you get there, or every day you move. You often see people run threir car engine to charge short term.

Bigger is better but remember that a solar panel pays for itself after two years of full time use. If you only use it 8 weeks a year, it will take you ages.
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Reply By: Member - Ron M (NSW) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 15:51

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 15:51
G'day Steve ..
Yes mate I now carry 2 x 1900 amp battery packs
They are great for the car and appliances . But useless running a caravan.. I seen a bloke in a free campsite running everything on his solar panel back up system in a troopy , but never got to talk to him ... now awaiting forum feedback .. happy trails mate..
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Follow Up By: Zebra400 - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 07:30

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 07:30
They must be huge batteries at 1900 amp
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Follow Up By: Member - Ron M (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 21:04

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 21:04
Zebra400 .
Why is it that when you make a post , there is always some smart arse that disbelieves because they have not seen one ... Zebra go to any 4x4 shop or super cheap autos and you will find bigger battery packs bigger then 1900 amps .. You gotta get out a bit more often mate
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 22:35

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 22:35
Ron, how many amp hours in the batteries? I reckon that would be what Zebra would be thinking of. I am not sure why your smart comment in response. 1900 CCA, Cold Cranking Amps would be close to 200 amp hours. That is a heavy weight battery pack if it is what you are claiming, two starting batteries in some cars, and are you saying you have two of those?

Are you saying you have two battery packs of 1900 amp hours? I think Zebra's question is reasonable.. I have 350 amp hours of batteries to haul around which are heavy enough.
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Follow Up By: Member - Ron M (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:02

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:02
John..
Here we go again , All I said is I have 2 x 1900 amps battery packs , I use them to run my 2 large engle fridges when bush camping also the 12volt Tv and a few other things .. Doing this I can get 2 to 3 days out of the packs before they need charging by electricity .. I seen a man charge his by solar panel.. NOW BELIEVE IT OR NOT .. I just stated to Zebra that I have these packs 1900 amps.. John we are on the road full time living in our caravan and a doing the grey nomad thing for over 2 years .. Believe me we are not just trial and error on the holidays..
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:25

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:25
Ron, the problem is that the "claimed" 1900 amp battery packs are not easy to follow as to what the batteries are. On reading one another "claimed" 1200 amp jump starter pack, they really would equate to about 38 amp hours each, I expect. and you have two. Best that people understand what batteries you are trying to charge to start with. Without what you tell people of the actual specs, they can't advise you. The "1200 amp" packs actually have a "huge" 24 amp hours and a claimed 650 CCA

You can use them to run your fridge but they won't take much to charge anyway for the 38 amps actual amp hours. My two 80 amp solar panels together would fill them in no time.

Whatever you are doing it is best you actually provide the specs. I have one similar myself and know it is really a small battery. I have 10 close to those equivalent for my fridge, but then mine aren't expected to go to flat to provide the best performance over the longer term.
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Follow Up By: Zebra400 - Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 08:03

Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 08:03
Ron

I see you got a bit excited with my comments. The big problem I have about batteries is all the misinformation that gets put out about each product. I accept that i did not fully understand what a 1900 amp battery does. On reading up on it, I still cannot see what power it gives to the user. The best info comes from people using the product. This then tells us just how many hours of use they get, so your info is very helpful.

My our 4WDing experience, we have received so much misinformation over the years. For example a 120 Amp hour battery doesn't give you 120 hours!! In real use, we have been told that only half of that amount is really usable. After that the battery is getting to flat for most of our 4WD appliances. We were also told that the higher the draw on the battery, the more power you use - by this I mean you use more than the amp hours quoted. The amp hour tests are based on drawing a consistent low draw - this is usless when using HF radios for example which draw high power in a short time.

The other interesting misinformation we received, is that gel batteries are better than lead acid batteries. We tried a Gel battery, which cost a lot more, but didn't get any more than our normal 2 years out of our deep cycle battery. When it was time to replace it, Battery World told us that a Gel battery will struggle to charge fully when mounted in the engine bay of turbo driven vehicle. we were advised the heat from the turbo affected the battery charging and that a lead acid would work better.

So getting back to your original query, my guess is that your 1900amp batteries probably work well with low power usage items but drain too quickly where higher draws are required.



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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 08:30

Sunday, Mar 29, 2009 at 08:30
400Stripes, we will probably never discover what power the batteries are. You are very right about the effective drawdown. My Karavan system has a protection against drawing to 55% of the total of 350 amp hours - 45% available. The batteries need constant recharging, and not discharging or their lives will be short.

Solar is just part of my recharge options, but unless you know what your capacity is, you are best using a sophisticated charger. One that will go to a low rate when you get charged up. You are right there when you say that you will never recharge properly under the bonnet.

I was amazed when I went to look at a jump starter how small the battery was, and how hard to discover the size. If you look at the Waeco battery system, they are huge in comparison.
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Reply By: Member - dieseltojo K (VIC) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 15:48

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 15:48
Hi Ron M
Every thing depends on what you want to power and even the type of battery you want to charge ,this site has a lot of answers in the articles section.
http://caravanandmotorhomebooks.com/
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Follow Up By: Member - Ron M (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:13

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 23:13
dieseltojo K .
Thanks very much for that mate .. That was very informative now I know what to do .. I wish there were more people like you on oz explorer..
Happy trails mate
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Reply By: RV Powerstream P/L - Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 18:20

Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 18:20
Ron If you can use a drill and a pop riverter you can make a fold up panel if that is what you want.
make sure you get a panel with a good frame as a lot of cheaper panels cut down the frame size to cut costs .

Check out solaronline for panel prices and if you need any help contact me on info@powerstream.com.au
Ian
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