Solar charging 40litre Engel fridge

Hi All, We have been on the road for 10 weeks currently in SA and have just encountered our first problem with our 40lt Engel fridge. It is permanately mounted in the back of our landcruiser running off a second battery which is charged through a red arc. I was just wondering if I was to buy a small solar panel foldable or not if that would be enough to charge the Engel only or the battery for the engel when camping for long periods as the battery went very flat and the engel warmed up. So I needed to borrow a charger which i think we might need to buy at our next stop. I am probably looking at a 15 or 25 amp Ctek as a back up. My other idea is to run a lead off our dual 120ah hour agm batteries in the caravan which are charaged off a 80w and 125w BP solar panels. We are about to go across the Nullabor and are getting a bit nervous. your response to this thread is greatly appreciated. Cheers all John
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Reply By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 14:56

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 14:56
Hi John
Do not under any circumstances connect the Engel direct to a solar panel
You will do serious damage to the inbuilt inverter
Solar must always be connected to a battery not used on its owni
This is a good option:
"My other idea is to run a lead off our dual 120ah hour agm batteries in the caravan which are charaged off a 80w and 125w BP solar panels. We are about to go across the Nullabor and are getting a bit nervous. your response to this thread is greatly appreciated. Cheers all John"

If the battery which has given up was regularly discharged below about 50% capacity [12.3 v it will have a very short life.
What size battery is it & @ what setting temp wais are you running the fridge??
Are yor van batts also being charged by alternator ??
AnswerID: 413285

Reply By: Baz&Pud (Tassie) - Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 15:22

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 15:22
Johny boy,
We used to recharge our second battery via a solar but found the solar panel was to small a voltage to maintain enough power in the battery.

We have a similar amount of watts in panels as you, and have since made up a lead with an anderson plug on one end and attached the other end to one of the batteries in the van, made up another lead of about 4 meters with an anderson plug on one end and on the other end a plug to match the fridge and have been stationary in the one spot for four or five days and had no trouble.
Hope this helps.
Enjoy the Nullarbor, we did.
Cheers
Baz
Go caravaning, life is so much shorter than death.

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AnswerID: 413287

Reply By: Rangiephil - Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 17:58

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 17:58
If you have a new Engel it should cut out at 11.5 or whatever.

if an old one like mine at 10 years, then it will just keep trying to run until the battery is completely flat. If you have an older Engel then you should fit a low voltage cutout. I have had a "Projecta " one in the line for 10 years with no problems.

You will need at least an 80watt panel, and comfotably a 120 watt to keep up with an Engel on hot days, hot nights.

It is also an idea to have a monitor to know your battery condition. I have a $30 JAYCAR one and it helps a lot in managing the batteries. You can always go for a drive if the battery is quite down or sometimes 1/2 hour idling will input enough to last the night.
AnswerID: 413296

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 18:15

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 18:15
John,

You haven't mentioned what capacity and type of second battery you are using.

An 80 Ah deep cycle battery should keep the Engel running for around two days before it requires recharging. This is assuming you are not using the Engel as a freezer.

I have been camped for four days and used a 40 watt solar panel to maintain a reasonable charge in the 75 Ah Thumper battery system I run the fridge (and lights) off. I would regard a 40 watt panel as a bare minimum.
I have added another 40 watt panel but the longest I have been in the one place is 5 days.
The 80 watt panel will maintain a near full battery indefinitely as it is capable of putting in a constant 5 amps or so during daylight hours and the fridge is drawing somewhere less than two.

When driving, an auxiliary battery should be able to receive a charge of 30 amps and recharge the battery in a few hours, even if running the fridge from it at the same time.

I also charge my auxiliary 100 Ah Remco and the 75 Ah Thumper from in-car charging kits whilst travelling.

Bill.

Bill


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AnswerID: 413298

Reply By: Mandrake's Solar Power- Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 20:34

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 20:34
Your 40 L Engel uses on average 24 - 36 Amps daily ...

That means Solar wise - 6 hours at 6 Amps to maintain your battery ..

A 100 watt foldable kit would do the job easily .. the 205 watts you have available will do it even better !! As said above a decent twinflex lead and a few Andersons and you're in business .. $60-80 as against a foldable kit at $400 ..

Cheers

Steve

AnswerID: 413318

Reply By: Von Helga - Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 21:04

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 21:04
Johny Boy

I assume you must have a power hungry van given the panels and batteries you have.
If you van set up has spare capacity from the 240 amphours ( by christ that a l ot, each to thier own), then a simple cable from the van to the car would be the go. I suggest that you would need to add up your power usage for the van and the power production from the existing panels and see what's left. Also get your car and van charging circuits checked along with the Aux batteries to confirm that all is good in that area.
At the risk of stating the obvious have the engel set at a temp that is correct for the contents not just running flat out because you can.
cheers
Trevor
AnswerID: 413323

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Sunday, Apr 18, 2010 at 08:49

Sunday, Apr 18, 2010 at 08:49
240 amp hrs of battery capacity a lot ? For battery longevity in real terms 240 = 120 amp hrs , plug a fridge such as an Engle 40/50 or Waeco of comparable size and you get 3 days without recharge ,240 a lot ?????
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FollowupID: 683462

Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 18, 2010 at 08:20

Sunday, Apr 18, 2010 at 08:20
John,
If you are not onto it thread 77788 might be worth watching.
AnswerID: 413360

Reply By: Von Helga - Sunday, Apr 18, 2010 at 09:03

Sunday, Apr 18, 2010 at 09:03
Johny Boy,
I appreciate Ally CT's comments however, no one would actually use a battery system without providing a means of keeping the batteries charged as you are using them.
Just draining them and recharging them when you are finished is not wise.
BTW do you have an AC charger for the Van batteries?
Cheers
Trevor
AnswerID: 413370

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