Flexible Solar Panels

Link
Image Could Not Be Found
We are currently researching our options and came across this. Has any body had any experience with this product. We have 4 6v batteries on our camper and are thinking about solar instead of using the genny. A Q for the ones in the know. We don't have a ctek or similar is one of them required to charge on 240 and solar ? We had a ctek on our van and were very happy with it. The camper is off road and will be used for that so a robust unit and installation would be required. The batteries are on the draw bar in a big square box with an Andersen plug and three 12v plugs on the rear of the trailer. Ideas and photos would be appreciated of what others have done. I suppose Id better note what we will be running, probably need an inverter for a laptop & fan. 40l Engle
couple 12v fluoro lights and 12v shower. Kids charge their games. 12v tv. I think that's it for now!!!
Sharon
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: V8 Troopie - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 22:06

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 22:06
I have a 32W flexible solar panel, had it for about 8 years and its exclusively used on my sailboat on salt water.
No problems whatsoever so far, still works well.
You can roll it up (about 300mm diameter), walk on it (smooth soles only).
Mine is a 12V panel, You did not say how your 4x6V batteries are connected.
AnswerID: 416606

Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 22:24

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 22:24
All I know is there is a Andersen plug to charge from the car. The cables are thicker than on the van we had. The leads go straight from the batteries to the 12v sockets at the rear of the trailer. I was hoping to take a photo of what's there before it was tucked away in the shed. The strong man is away working I cant pull it out to take a decent photo. I got a bit excited when I saw this product. I thought we could either drape it over the camper roof when set up out of sight or on the roof rack on the car if its parked long enough. I cant get my head around what volts/watts are required for our use. I'm a bit reluctant to go to the local solar mobs in town in case they try to sell us what we do not need. We are not at all experienced in this yet.
0
FollowupID: 686732

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 22:29

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 22:29
Sharon,
Why are you looking at flexible panels ??

The 40Lt Engle up there in the heat, the inverter and various other things you nominate will probably use ~2ah so that is what you need to replace.

You need to replace more current than one or two flexible panels can supply, however you will get enough power from one large quality Monocrystalline panel, which can be on an extension lead or attached to the roof.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 416609

Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 23:04

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 23:04
Hi Mainey, That's the sort of info we need. I have not mm you yet with photos as mentioned above. We have a builder type boat rack with out the boat it came with the camper so may be able to utilise that. I don't like the idea of one of those solid panels that fold up and place on the ground for a 5 finger bandit to walk away with. Ones that mount permanently on the car is not an option either. I thought maybe the flexible one sounded like a good idea. But it probably isn't if we need a couple of. The big fellah will be back from the desert next week then we can get photos posted. The camper is a Trackabout Safari if that helps the steal battery box is mounted between the tool box and stone deflector.
Sharon
0
FollowupID: 686737

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 23:14

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 23:14
Sharon, the beauty of flexable is they won't be stolen as often as Monocrystalline panels because they are not as 'desired'

If the '5 finger bandit' wants it he will take what he can if it's easy enough.

Where would you put the panel when your camping ??

Maîneÿ . . .
0
FollowupID: 686738

Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 00:13

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 00:13
Image Could Not Be Found
This sort of set up might not be strong enough for roads like the Gibb, the mesh over the panel would restrict sunlight a bit i would think it was one Idea we thought of but then when the camper is set up the panel is restricted to one position only. I thought draping the flexible ones over the roof would be hidden enough as its pretty tall when set up. Our battery box is in the same pos as the one in the picture. Starting to think that a fold up one with a big chain should not be ruled out looks like they come with the wiring required. Do they come big enough to keep the batteries topped up.
0
FollowupID: 686742

Reply By: Member - Graham (WA) - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 03:03

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 03:03
Knowing the capacity of the battery bank, the rate of charging you can achieve from whatever source, and knowing your (estimated) power consumption are pretty important bits to have an awareness of - plus knowing how long you will only be charging via solar - i.e. how many days you expect ot or want to be static camping before driving off and charging the battery bank from the vehicle. Also, the available budget is really important.
I would suggest that you probably need to have capability to charge at 5 or more Amps per hour via solar. Remember that you use power at night when you can't charge via solar and also when you are charging from panels you are still using power so you need to pump in more than you use to make up for the previous night use and the daytime power use.
fridge / laptop / invertor / shower / lights - possibly at a guess ??? 4 to 5 amps per hour when bits are running around the same time (fridge would be 1A to 2A); so would consider at very least 80W of solar panel(s) - with controller (MPPT ones are a little better than the older PWN technology) - but would encourage you to look at 100W, or 120W, or even 150W of panels. Without knowing your power usage per day it is difficult to narrow it down but....as indicated you probably need 80W at a bare bones minimum.
If it was me, I would get the biggest bang for the available $$ dollars - buy the most W of panels that you can afford and allow for increase in panels later on when more $$ become available.
Storage is always a big consideration - and this could determine whether you go for a flexible one; or folding briefcase style multiple panels.
Link below shows 80W (produces 5.2A) and 125W (produces 7.8A) flexible panels that fold up quite neatly but are on the costly side - and include controller. Must also remember that you don't always produce the max or rated Amps.
Site Link
There are now some relatively 'cheap' solar panels out there along with the 'name' brand ones (which you will pay more for). Link is for a mob who do some fairly cheap ones.
Site Link
Also there is Steve at Mandrake's Solar who has a member in ExplorOz Site Link
who also has some good prices - I've purchased from Steve.
http://www.solarsteve1950.com/panels.html

I have 200W of panels (4 x 50W BP panels) which can produce in actuality around 10.5A to 11.A on good solar charging days - and I have way more power usage that you would have - and the solar panel setup still does not quite keep up with my power usage so the genset comes out every so often. I link my panels with some wire strop and padlock to a relatively immovable object - i.e. a-frame.
Hope the above helps a little bit.

Graham
AnswerID: 416617

Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 08:24

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 08:24
"capability to charge at 5 or more Amps per hour "

There is no such unit as amps per hour - you're getting confused with litres per hour - and you will only confuse people more if you use the wrong units.

$1200 is a ridiculous price to pay for 80 watt panel plus MPPT Regulator.
0
FollowupID: 687076

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, May 17, 2010 at 09:46

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 09:46
Mike,
Please yourself get a life, don’t be pedantic, you may not like the terminology as it’s used?
BUT.....
I bet not too many 'normal' people will see it your way, because it does appear as grammatically correct.
It gets the message across in a way normal people can understand it

I read the “5 Amps per hour” just as it’s meant, as 5ah


* * * * * * *

Mike,
why not answer the question that’s been put directly to you, on many occasions?

You have said you recently bought a solar panel and it is ‘useless’

So in YOUR case why not advise other people what brand and type of solar panel you consider to be 'useless'

Now that will be good and also very important RELEVANT information, as then people will not be getting caught, like you have been, by buying an elcrappo solar panel.
I’m sure their money is as important to them, as your pride is to you.

Maîneÿ . . .
0
FollowupID: 687082

Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 09:58

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 09:58
The regulars here are well aware that you don't believe there's any difference between "pedantic" and "wrong".
0
FollowupID: 687084

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:57

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:57
Mike,

why not answer the question that’s been put directly to you, on many occasions?

You have said you recently bought a solar panel and it is ‘useless’


So in YOUR case why not advise other people what brand and type of solar panel you consider to be 'useless'


Now that will be good and also very important RELEVANT information, as then people will not be getting caught, like you have been, by buying an elcrappo solar panel.

I’m sure their money is as important to them, as your pride is to you.

Maîneÿ . . .
0
FollowupID: 687097

Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:59

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:59
"why not answer the question that’s been put directly to you"

- Because the regulars on this forum have accepted that it's a waste of time trying to educate you on the basics of electricity.
0
FollowupID: 687098

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, May 17, 2010 at 19:44

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 19:44
Mike,
Your still avoiding a direct question, and now it makes me wonder why ?
What is it you are really attempting to hide ?

The question is:
why won't you advise people what brand and type of solar panel you bought and consider to be 'useless' ?

That is important information, as people will then not get caught as you have buying elcrappo solar panels.

I’m sure their money is just as important to them, as your pride is to you?

This question is absolutely nothing at all to do with 'trying to educate me on the basics of electricity' it's only about you advising people the brand of solar panel you have bought that you say is as good as useless.


Watch this space, I'm about to order and install 2 new solar panels for the GF, I can tell you before I even receive them, they will not be 'useless' but possibly as or more efficient than my own system, but that's the difference, I’ve hands on *practical experience* with solar systems :)

Maîneÿ . . .
0
FollowupID: 687150

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 07:20

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 07:20
Hi Sharon,

I have bi-fold panels (80 watts in total capacity) that I just prop on the ground.
It is secured by a multi-strand stainless cable which also passes through the portable battery box and fridge, then secured to the camper chassis by a padlock.
This will deter the "opportunist thief" at the least.
The advantage of this arrangement is that you can easily follow the sun as it tracks across the sky. You can't always place your camper in the best position to get the most sunlight.

Bill.
Bill


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 416624

Reply By: Robin Miller - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 08:10

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 08:10
We choose a more efficent option for flexible solar panels , because those type have a low output per unit area.

THis is to use a normal panel which comes without the frame work and is just the cells on an aluminium plate ,covered with plastic membrane, this gives it enough flexibility so that it can be glued to roof of car etc and becomes almost invisible.

E.G. If you look at another current post 78368 , the car has a 60w panel on roof above drivers window , but you can't see it.

Advertized on ebay and built to size - think my 60w was around $300.

Robin Miller

Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 416627

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 08:42

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 08:42
Sharon,

As already suggested, you need to get an idea of the amount of electricity you need to meet your daily requirements. Suggest have a look at our blog Electricity for Camping where this, and lots of other stuff, is discussed.

From what you've said, I think you may be consuming 50 or more amphours per day. To replace that with solar panels will call for 150 to 200 watts of solar capacity (and of course, reliable sunlight!) It may be possible to trim your requirements down a bit - try to avoid an inverter by running everything (including the laptop) off 12V.

If my guess of 150 -200 watts of solar capacity is about right, you'll need over one square metre of conventional panels, or a much bigger area of flexible panels since they are far less efficient. A big advantage of the conventional panels too is the ability to set them up facing directly at the sun.

Hope that helps

Cheers

John



J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 416633

Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 11:06

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 11:06
Thanks John,
I was reading up on your blog last night.
We have never used and inverter. That was for the laptop, I didn't realise it could be used off 12v so we can delete that. The 12v tv isn't something we take everywhere of course we still have it from the caravan. The lights only while cooking and eating and sorting the kids out, the fridge will be the only thing on all the time when parked up for a couple of days. We do a lot of mixed travelling. Over night stops where the Andersen plug dose the job and weekly camps in the bush where the genny usually gets used. I hate the humming noise and smell of fuel around. My other pet hate is extension cords all over the place it looks ugly and is dangerous.
We have two battery chargers one a light weight Projecta and a heavy Arlec unit with a amp metre in it. It also has a 6 & 12v switch. That is fine for home charging before we leave but what do people have when they say "staying at a caravan park to charge batteries". Our van had a ctek, what do you use in a camper trailer and where are they installed, It will be me monotoring the charging, I want it as simple as I can get.
0
FollowupID: 686774

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 15:23

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 15:23
Old Girl,

The fridge, as you will have seen in the blog, is the big energy consumer. It uses about 2/3 or our total consumption. Ours is a Waeko, similar size to yours, so your demand will be similar to ours. We don't economise on lights- compared to the fridge they are not big consumers.

I agree with your views on noisey smelly generators, and high voltage plus cords to trip over is certainly something to avoid too.

Chargers - Batteries aren't cheap and a good charger will take better care of them than a cheap/nasty one. A good charger will offer 4 (or more) stage charging. Your projecta charger will probably do this, the Arlec probably not. Depending on the size of your batteries and how far they are discharged, you probably need a charger capable of delivering at least 10 amps to bring the batteries up to full charge overnight. With a good charger installed close to the batteries and capable of delivering at least 10 amps, all you should need to do is plug it into power after you've set up in a caravan park and unplug before you leave - easy. With a simply charger (probably including the Arlec) you will need to be able to monitor the battery voltage to stop it overcharging - depends on too many things to discuss here. There are reputable suppliers who contribute to this forum who will be better able to guide you than I can.

HTH

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 686798

Reply By: Mandrake's Solar Power- Friday, May 14, 2010 at 09:15

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 09:15
My biassed suggestion -

2 X 80 watt solar kit with MPPT reg - anchored to the C/T as suggested above by a bike cable lock ( better than nothing . )

"My profile " will be of assistance .

Cheers

Steve
AnswerID: 416638

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Friday, May 14, 2010 at 09:53

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 09:53
Sharon,
some relevant information re the "power" supplied in good conditions.

Largest "flexible" panel; 143cm x 42cm, 32 Watts = 1.9 Amps = ~3.1 Amp per sq mt

Sharp ND-L3EJE panel; 149cm x 67cm, 123 Watt = 7.2 Amp = ~7.2 Amp per sq mt

As for the opportunist thief, it would be much easier to roll up a flexible panel than it is to carry away a 14 Kilo solid 1.5 mt long panel :)

For comparison purposes, my fridge draws 2.8ah, yours is possibly even less than half of that, the lights I use are about the same as yours, the inverter, if PSW and an efficient model, yes it will ‘loose’ a few % as it powers the laptop and FAN etc, not enough to worry about and IMO is not worth the worry people give it, I often wonder if they just use a low priced elcrappo one if they even have one anyway?

The FAN can’t be powered by anything other than an inverter, because it’s a 240v fan.

I use ~200 Watts of solar power and have never had my battery system showing <12v (50% discharged) so that is the absolute maximum you will need.

The really big thing you need to remember is *BATTERY BANK CAPACITY*

Having 4 x 6v batteries is ok if the batteries are large capacity DC batteries, this is the important part I don’t believe you’ve mentioned, I believe your batteries are wired in series giving 12v and the ah will then be double what’s stated on a battery.
Eg, 4 x 100ah 6v batteries is 200 Amp Hour.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 416643

Reply By: wicket - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 10:11

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 10:11
old girl

here's a panel that very versatile, it's a concertina type

http://www.eco-camper.com/component/virtuemart/category/42/flexible-solar-panels.html
AnswerID: 416644

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Friday, May 14, 2010 at 18:52

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 18:52
This is the battery storage system used by Old Girl (QLD)


Image Could Not Be Found

No, I didn't sell it, suppy it or install it but I believe credit must be given when due and this storage sytem is good

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 416695

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (14)