fiiting up a solar panel to van

Hello everyone, can anyone help me on HOW to wire a solar Panel to a deepcycle battery housed beneath our Dbl Bed. The panel comes with the normal battery clips but how do I remove them and make a permanent fixture to the battery, run the wires ouside via the floor(?) and onto a mounted Anderson Clip (?) Thanks this a great site just new here and have found wonderfu advice !!! johno
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Reply By: Member - John - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 10:22

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 10:22
Johno, may I suggest that if you don't know how to do what you seeking advice for, that you get an Auto Electrician to wire it up for you. You will get advice from this site, but if you muck it up, you can lose your caravan or your life. Extreme, yes, but possible.

Where abouts are you located, there may be a member nearby that can assist you with the installation or recommend an Auto Leccy..

Take care, John
John and Jan

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AnswerID: 482501

Reply By: rooster350 - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 10:55

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 10:55
Just how hard is it to run a reasonable size 2 wire cable from the battery to the front of the van to a Anderson plug and hook in the panel (and already connected regulator) is only 12v after all , and in all the years that I spent working with 12v the worst injury I received was a very mild shock. Yes just cut the battery clips off and put whatever plug on that suits you....battery connectors are about 20c each for the battery end , just make sure you keep the polarity right....I am certainly no rocket scientist but I found it easy enough to do...cheers
AnswerID: 482503

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 11:28

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 11:28
I presume you would have a hotwire running from your car alternator to charge the batteries whilst driving? if that is the case, all you need to do is chop the alligator clips off the solar panel cables and put an Anderson plug on just like the one you should have coming from the alternator>batteries. Done. So whilst driving, you have them charging and when camped, disconnect the car/alternator plug and plug in your solar panels instead. Like Rooster, I'm no genius with this stuff but that is pretty easy to do. If you don't have a "hotwire" running from alternator to van batteries, you ought to have one put in. Not really expensive.
FollowupID: 757761

Follow Up By: Dust-Devil - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:20

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:20
Ah! the old 'hot wire' from the Alternator to the charge the batteries trick.

Absolutely fascinating - now top of my 'to do' list.

Thks for that and as you said - 'you don't have to a genius with this stuff'

FollowupID: 757763

Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:40

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:40
Thanks Guys, Yes I agree,it can,t be that hard. My auto man wants $150 to do the job (includes $50 for a set of anderson plugs that are available on E Bay for $14 and are genuine). Thanks again johno
FollowupID: 757766

Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:43

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:43
We do have a deep cycle Batt that charges as u drive , so assume it has a hot wire. The problem with this method of charging your battery is that it will ONLY charge it to 80 % thus the need for a solar panel jhono
FollowupID: 757768

Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:57

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 12:57
Although not entirely true, even taking the 80% thing as gospel, (there's plaenty about that in the archives) you still have a good foundation to build upon. Your solar, if you have enough of it, and sun, can charge you up to 100%. Some like to fix their panels to the van roof, which is a handy way to store them and pretty secure but means you have to park in the sun and if shade creeps over, your charging is over. I have a longer lead from panels to the Anderson socket on the van (that also plugs into the hotwiree to the alternator) and am able to move the panels around with the sun. Not as convenient as you have to store them when not in use and you have to make sure they are theft proof or at least theft resistant. Neither is difficul though.
FollowupID: 757770

Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 13:09

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 13:09
Thanks Steve, Never thought about the problem with shade etc, I like the idea of being able to move the panel wherever u want for max sun Thanks
FollowupID: 757772

Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 13:07

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 13:07
G'day jonno
Does the panel have a regulator?
If it doesn't you will need one in the line from panel to the battery.
A cheapie regulator is not really a good thing to have because it doesn't give the best use of charge or prevent overcharging.

If the run of wiring is long you are best to use fairly heavy wire to prevent VD, yes voltage drop, in the system.
Despite people saying how easy it is some seem to be a bit crude and shortcut in the way they are suggesting you do it.

Get it wrong and connections not secure it can overheat and short circuit causing heat and burning.

Basically the flow is: panel - regulator - van battery.

Keep asking questions if you need to.

Ross M
AnswerID: 482513

Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 14:00

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 14:00
Thanks Ross, The Panel has a regulator and just trying to determine whether it has a multi stage charging system which apparently is the way to go. Can u advise? There is certainly a lot might to Solar and Batteries than first meets the eye !!! Some are saying MPPT regulators are best? What does that mean? Thanks again johno
FollowupID: 757775

Follow Up By: Battery Value Pty Ltd - Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 15:16

Sunday, Apr 08, 2012 at 15:16
Hi Johno,

you can use an alternator as a charging source for your house battery.

But solar is a smarter choice in that it provides ample voltage, which isn't always true for car alternators.
Having said this, any car alternator will put 'some' charge into your battery.
Remember, alternators were designed to keep an almost fully charged battery full - they're not suitable to bring a reasonably discharged 'deep cycle' battery back to 100% full charge.
And never charging a battery to 100% means reduced battery life.

So you're asking what are MPPT solar regulators:
these units basically convert voltage from the panel to charging amps.

Ordinary PWM solar regulators just provide a switching function between panel and battery: either the panel is connected (on) or disconnected (off), and the on/off happens rapidly, sometimes over hundred times per second.
This process isn't very efficient, because the solar panel cannot output maximum charging power when directly wired to the battery (even for short times).

MPPT solar regulators on average achieve a 20% higher charging power/current from the same panel compared to an ordinary PWM solar regulator.

Look for a multistage charging capable MPPT regulator, ideally with battery temperature sensor, and optimised charging algorithm. The latter enables the regulator to precisely charge the battery to 100%, regardless of any load drawing power during charging.
If that's not done precisely and correctly, the battery either gets over- or under-charged, shortening its life.

One word of caution: there are quite a few PWM solar regulators being marketed as MPPT by unscrupulous Australian and overseas sellers.

To see a good example of a well designed MPPT solar regulator, just follow the link next to our logo.

cheers, Peter
FollowupID: 757781

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