Power supply while camping

Hi All

I am looking to purchase a Engel 40l fridge/freezer, a 140Ah AGM Deep cycle battery, and 160w solar panel so we can be away from mains power for at least 7 days. I have absolutley no knowledge of how to set up something like this and would like some assistance if anyone can help. Firslty, will this be enough power if i am just using it for fridge and some lighting? Secondly, what else do i need to buy to set up the whole thing so the solar panel can charge the auxilliary battery. I do not want to use the starter battery in my car at all.

Thanks
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Reply By: Tone and Hev - Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 21:08

Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 21:08
Hi Glenn
Pretty sure you'll need a charging unit
Check out CTek products.their good gear
AnswerID: 494330

Reply By: Cravenhaven - Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 21:17

Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 21:17
If the solar panel is provided with a built-in regulator (most seem to these days) then just clip the output leads onto the battery (red to +ve, black to -ve) and point the panel at the sun. If the panel is not provided with a regulator then you'll have to buy that separately and wire the panel to the 'solar input' connectors and the battery to the battery connections on the regulator.

A 140AH battery would probably run the fridge for 3 days before recharging is required and the 160w panel would recharge it in about 10 hours of sun, so about 2 days. I think your proposed setup is more than adequate provided your lighting is not excessive.
cravenhaven

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Follow Up By: Glenn M4 - Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 21:47

Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 21:47
Thanks craven, so is the regulater the thing that will charge the battery or do i need one of those smart chargers or trickle chargers. There are way to many things out there and i am confused. How do i know when the battery is charging or what the current charge of the battery is? Do i need something in case the battery is overcharged or will that not happen. Also sorry one last one, is when not camping and have access to 240v mains power how do i charge the battery and what is needed to do this
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Follow Up By: Phil 23 - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 08:38

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 08:38
Just beware of some of the Supplied Regulators.

I've bought 2 120W folding sets, both had faulty regulators.

A friend bought the same & same deal. Dead Reg.

Worst thing is they both were overcharging, hence appearing to be doing basically what is required, but certainly a recipe for killing batterys in the very short term.

Cheers

Phil
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Follow Up By: Cravenhaven - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 08:46

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 08:46
If the panel has a regulator built-in then thats all you need, just connect the output of the regulator directly to the battery. The regulator prevents the battery from being overcharged by the panel (ie is equivalent to your 'trickle charger'). Most regulators will have some sort of indicator to let you know when they are charging, but that indicator is one of the key differentiators between the cheap and expensive regulators.
The battery becomes the central connection point for all of your battery related gear. eg connect the solar panel, mains charger, lights, fridge to the battery simultaneously and leave them all connected if you like. Whichever charger has a power source (eg sun or mains power) will charge the battery and the regulator in the other device will block any feedback, the lights and fridge will run as required. If you use good quality equipment then the battery will never be overcharged as they automatically limit their charge rate to the state of the battery (ie they REGULATE themselves).
BTW do not use one of those old style cheap mains trickle chargers, get one of the modern multistage chargers from the likes of redarc/ctek/projecta. Or get a combined unit like the redarc bcdc 1220 or 1240.
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Reply By: Glenn M4 - Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 22:07

Wednesday, Sep 05, 2012 at 22:07
Another one. If the solar panel is connected directly to the battery, then how is the fridge, lights etc also attached?
AnswerID: 494335

Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 06:55

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 06:55
Hi Glenn. I'm pretty sure if you bought some thing like this then you would be able to do pretty much what you intended. The regulator is built in so is only a cheap one but would be enough to get you started.
I have the same but have rewired it with heavier wiring and replaced the built in regulator with this
I did this as mine is charging a caravan battery so I can see what is happening with the battery including voltage and state of charge.
You just need to connect your fridge,etc direct to the battery, I would put it in a box with fuses and output connections if it was me though.
Just remember, the solar panels are quite heavy and need to be protected when transported so you need to have room for them. Cheers,Bob.
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Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 06:57

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 06:57
PS. The words,"this" are links.
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Follow Up By: Glenn M4 - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 19:39

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 19:39
Thanks everyone for your in depth info. I think i am learning a bit from you all and also browsing a bit more on the internet.

Toyocrusa, you mentioned putting the battery in a box with fuses and output connections. How do i do this and what fuses do i need and how do i put this all together.

Thanks
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Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 19:59

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 19:59
Have a look at the ABR Sidewinder website or I think he has an ad on here.
Also have a look here.
Bob
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Reply By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 16:24

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 16:24
There is an excellent article in this site, ready written to answer many of your questions.

http://www.exploroz.com/Vehicle/Electrics/Solar.aspx

Tim
AnswerID: 494362

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 20:52

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 20:52
Glenn,

A 140Ah battery is a very heavy bugger and would need to be permanently mounted in the one place in my opinion.

I have a 100Ah AGM battery in a Sidewinder Flyer battery box, but this stays in the rear of my vehicle full time. I run the fridge off this when it is mounted in the vehicle. This battery is charged by the vehicle alternator and the Flyer has a built-in isolator to protect the starting battery.

For more portability, I have a 75Ah Thumper which can also be charged by the alternator when travelling, then removed from the vehicle when I use my tent.

My 40 litre Engel fridge draws a maximum of 2.7 amps, but this is not continuous.
My 80 watt solar panel system puts out approximately 4 amps during full sunshine and I have never run out of power in the Thumper. I also run a couple of fluros, one a versalite fluro and the other a versalite LED light.

So an 80 watt + panel and a 75-100 Ah battery should suit your needs.

The most effective method of maintaining the best charging regime is by use of a dc-dc charger with solar panel input, such as the Ctek D250S Dual. This includes a smart charging system which will give the best input back into the batteries.
I have one installed in my camper, which has two 80Ah AGM batteries for a total of 160Ah, but for the Thumper, I just rely on the built-in regulator on my folding BP solar panel system.

Bill


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AnswerID: 494379

Follow Up By: Glenn M4 - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 21:25

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 21:25
Thanks Bill, i wasnt sure if i was going a bit over the top or not. Sounds as though your system works well. Do do you leave your fridge in the car on the 100Ah battery or do you take it out when camping to be connected to the Thumper?

Maybe i can just get the Flyer and put a 100AH battery in it. Is it easy enough to have this connected to the alternator whilst driving (and is this hard to do?) and then disconnect it from the alternator to remove the Flyer from the car to use solar panels to charge it away from the car at a campsite. I guess the fridge is too heavy to be putting in and out of the car so maybe i can just leave the Flyer in the car and connect solar panels whilst it is in the car with the fridge. What would you suggest, i have not done any thing like this before and appreciate your opinion.
Thanks
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 22:27

Thursday, Sep 06, 2012 at 22:27
Glenn,

I use a couple of different methods, depending on whether I take the camper trailer, or tent camping.

At times I leave the fridge in the vehicle, connected to the 100Ah battery in the Flyer.
When you buy the Flyer ($395) you receive all the necessary cable, connectors, fuses, etc. to connect in to the primary battery and the isolator inside the Flyer will protect the primary (starting) battery from being discharged.

I installed the cabling and terminated it in the rear cab with a 50 amp Anderson connector. Then I use a short "patch lead", a piece of twin cable with an Anderson connector each end to connect the Flyer to. The Flyer also has an Anderson connector on its input port, plus a second one for output to another circuit.
As my Flyer is installed at the back of a cargo drawer system, I find it to heavy and awkward to move and leave it where it is and simply connect the solar panel lead to it.

If you have a Whitworth Marine outlet in your area, you can compare the weight of the 80Ah vs the 100Ah Remco batteries to help you decide what may be "portable" and what is not. As my Flyer is mounted at the back of a cargo drawer system, I find it too awkward and heavy with the 100Ah battery in it to remove

When I use my camper trailer, a longer lead connects to the Flyer's output port and runs out the back tailgate to connect to the camper cable. The camper has a Ctek D250S dual dc-dc charger installed close to the battery bank to ensure a sound charging circuit when travelling.

Installation instructions come with the Flyer kit, or you can have an auto electrician install it for you.

Note: When buying the Flyer (if you decide to use one) be sure to add an accessory mounting bracket to secure the Flyer in your vehicle.

Bill


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Follow Up By: Glenn M4 - Friday, Sep 07, 2012 at 08:47

Friday, Sep 07, 2012 at 08:47
OK so let me see if i understand this now.
You have a Flyer in the back cab that is connected to the alternator using the cable supplied with the Flyer but have installed an Anderson clip so you can disconnect the Flyer when you need to. Then you have your fridge connected to the Flyer via the output port in the Flyer, and can also plug the solar panels into the Flyer to charge the battery in the Flyer when not driving.

From here when you have the camper you run another cable from the Flyer out to the camper cable (what is the camper cable?). Can i ask how the camper cabling is set up. Does this have its own battery as well and you connect the cable from the Flyer to the second battery or does it need to be connected to the Ctek first and then the Ctek gets connected to the battery.

Thanks
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Sep 07, 2012 at 14:02

Friday, Sep 07, 2012 at 14:02
The camper cable is a heavy duty twin core with an Anderson plug on one end which goes to a Ctek D250S dual dc-dc charger via a 25 amp fuse. to the output of the D250S two 80Ah AGM batteries are connected in parallel and also with a fuse to protect the circuit from a short circuit.
Another twin core cable circuit allows me to connect the solar panels to the solar input port on the charger.

The camper cable and batteries were standard with the camper trailer when I bought it. What I have done is to install the Ctek dc-dc charger into the circuit just before the batteries, with an appropriate sized fuse on both the input and output circuits.

The Flyer has two Anderson connectors mounted "back to back" on the rear face of the casing.
One is the input connector and has a dual battery isolator in its circuit to the internal battery.
The second "output" connector is fuse protected and is used to connect another heavy duty circuit, such as a camper, or caravan charging circuit to it.

The fridge connects to a 12 volt merit type socket on the front face.

Bill


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