solar panels

Am buying cf-50 waeco fridge/freezer and would like to hook up to a solar panel
for off road camping. I think they use about 60w. what size panel would I need and what fitting do I need to install.
kevin 6
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 08:27

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 08:27
Hi Kevin,

There's a lot more to it than that! Suggest read Electricity for Camping for the details, but your minimum requirements will be for a suitable sized battery, a means of charging it from your vehicle, a suitably sized panel (at least 80 watts) and a solar controller, preferably an MPPT type.

Please have a read and get back to us,


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

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Follow Up By: kevin r6 - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 08:59

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 08:59
Thanks John and Val
Read electricity for camping but I will only be using solar for fridge/freezer maybe
two or three weeks a year and no value in spending big $$$ just like to give the battery a boost if can
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Reply By: Steven G1 - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 08:57

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 08:57
Hi Kevin r6,

We have an 40 litre engel and use a folding 2x80 watt panels and 100ah deep cycle battery. This works fine as long as you have time and sun to recharge battery. At present we are setting up the 4x4 with a auxiliary battery to be the main power source and intend using the solar panels as back up. We purchased our panels over the internet from solar energy shop and am very happy. (No affiliation)

Cheers Steve

AnswerID: 474541

Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 20:17

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 20:17
Hi Steve and Kevin,
I also have 2X80 (160) watt folding panel which I have hooked up to my CF 35 Waeco and charged our 150AH AGM at the same time on an average, (read very ordinary) day.

The waeco was not given a fair chance as it was empty so it had no real chance of giving a true test as they work better when full and down to temperature.

The summer here has been a very cool one with hardly any real summer as we normally know it. Further liability to a fair test.

However, I have been very pleased with the panels performance. I also purchased an MPPT regulator of 20 amps in and 20 amps out for around $120. Panel cost about $400 with a cheap reg which I did not use.

Everything from Ebay.

160 Watts is a good place to start as you will learn heaps as you go once you have it.

Hope this helps.
Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Reply By: Rockape - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 13:08

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 13:08

This will also help you.

Solar calculator

The download for the calculator is on this page. We are blessed with a lot of sun but my house solar panels produce anywhere between 13 kw's a day down to 2 kw's and averages about 10 kw's a day in summer depending on cloud and rain. So allow for the odd bad day or 3.

AnswerID: 474559

Reply By: Member - Bucky - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 16:04

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 16:04
Check this out

Click this link

Hoot this helps

Cheers Bucky
AnswerID: 474574

Reply By: rumpig - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 18:23

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 18:23
just to give you a rough idea... my vehicle has an 80ltr Engel Combi (half fridge half freezer) in it, i also have an 80 watt solar panel on the roofrack. due to size of my fridge it is power hungry, the solar panel on a good day basically puts back in what the fridge uses during the day, so that doesn't allow for what the fridge will use at night time, it runs at a loss power wise for a 24hr period.
ultimately i wanted a 120 watt panel, but then it would have overhung my roofrack, the 80 watt is the same width as my roofrack. i may add another 80 watt eventually, but then i can't use my roofrack for anything else but to hold the panels.
AnswerID: 474589

Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 20:06

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 20:06
Now you have seen how many accessories you need when you buy a Waeco perhaps a look at a 3 way is in order?

One 3 way and all you need after that is a 9 kg gas bottle for the off road camp sites. Good for a couple of weeks and it can be a fridge or a fridge/freezer.

Cannot understand this fascination with Waecos and Engels and the accumulation of solar panels and heavy duty batteries.

Bill B

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Follow Up By: Fatso - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 21:17

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 21:17
Horses for courses Bill.
I am a Trailblazer man myself & tend to think most other compressor fridges are inferior to them. I have seen a couple that I would buy if I had to replace the Trailblazer as well. If I do change from the Trailblazer I certainly won't be changing to one of those skinny non insulated power hungry jobs, that's for sure. They might be OK down south where it is cooler or if you've got an unlimited power supply.
I struggle to see how a non compressor 3 way would work for someone like me who tours. I sometimes park up for the day to do tours or long walks or push bike rides. I can't see how you would power a 3 way in a locked up car in the sun for 6 or 8 hours. If you take a reef trip up here in Cairns in summer you will be gone for up to 10 hours & today your car would have hit 60 plus degrees. You can't leave your 3 way on the battery for that long & you certainly can't run it on gas in a locked up car. It probably wouldn't work with that ambient temperature anyway would it?
I can understand how a static bush camper would benefit from a 3 way.
With my Trailblazer we turn the thermostat setting to our desired setting when we turn it on to go away. We usually do not touch that again until we turn it off when we get home. A weekend, a week, a month or 2 months, it doesn't matter. We don't unplug it. We don't adjust it. We just treat it like your every day household fridge.
I put a 240 v pack on the Trailblazer 6 years after I bought it. On our last 2 month trip I did not connect it to 240 v. I did charge the battery with a charger once in Alice Springs after the car had sat for 3 days. The fridge was still running fine when I decided to charge the battery. I did it because I thought it must have been getting low.
At the moment I am purchasing a solar panel & regulator to assist with power supply. The reason is that I don't want to put a charger in my car. If I don't take the charger I don't take the extension as well. Our next trip starting as soon as the solar goes on this month it is for 3 months.
On this next trip we hope to ride our bikes every second day. This will mean locking the car up & going off for at least 3 or 4 hours at a time. How would you do that with a 3 way.
I reckon I will spend just over $400 on solar power. I have spent, probably around $1000 to set up my 12 volt dual battery system on the hilux already. This includes the under tray battery box, battery, switching gear, power points, wiring & labour. I think the fridge was about $1100 16 years ago.
So that's how we roll. I doubt a 3 way fridge would suit us with the way we get around & the ease of use we seek.
I have seen people touring with 3 way fridges in their cars. But I doubt they have the flexibility to do what we do because of security issues with their fridges.
Possibly if my set up wasn't waterproof & dust proof & I was willing to keep playing around with fittings & making sure I was parked on a flat surface a 3 way might work for me. But that is not the case.
Something else about trailblazers. They work at up to a 15 degree angle. So that means when you are parked in a gutter for the day they keep working. No need for sticks under the corners to level her up.
My sister & her husband spent several seasons fencing on stations along the Qld/Nt border. Their only refrigeration was an 80 litre Trailblazer running of a battery & a pair of folding solar panels. In the remote locations they were in she swore by solar. No gas bottles to cart hundreds of kilometres each way when you went to town to get supplies each month.
So that's my rant.
Sorry if I upset anyone by criticising their appliances.
It's horses for courses.
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 21:47

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 21:47
You are right. Horses for courses. A setup to suit a particular set of circumstances and money well spent.

For the general tourer and occasional bush camper, the 3 way does it all.
They will need a double battery setup on the vehicle as well as the gas bottle.

I went round the island over the last 2 years with a 40 litre 3 way - did the odd 3 day bush camp but only left it hooked up on the 12v for a few hours. Second battery handled it no problem but I did have to have it nearly level in the truck. Thats not hard to do if you look around the streets.

Bill B

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Reply By: Rod - Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012 at 10:39

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012 at 10:39
As a rule of thumb, I'd recommend a minimum of 100W of solar for that setup if you want to be stationary for more than 3 days.

You could get away with less solar if your vehicle has a dual battery system and you do small trips every few days.
AnswerID: 474653

Follow Up By: Fatso - Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012 at 14:08

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012 at 14:08
I hope you are right Rob.
I have just purchased a 125 watt solar panel & intend to mount that flat on the roof of my vehicle.
We went for the fixed panel for a couple of reasons. Firstly we have the room, so that is not an obstacle. Secondly & mainly, it is a security issue. The panel will be out working all day whether we are there or not. It won't be theft proof. Nothing is. But it is far more secure than portable panels which I would not put out unless I could keep an eye on them.
I estimate my consumption should be around 25 amps/day.
I don't know much about solar but am about to start learning. I have been told a 125 watt panel mounted flat in good conditions will keep up with my demands. If not I have plenty of room to mount more solar panels.
At the moment, with the dual batteries & a trailblazer, we have a very low maintenance trouble free system. I am just hoping the solar makes that even easier to manage.
I'm looking forward to finding out. Or maybe I'm looking forward to going away.
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