Solar Panels

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Solar Panels

Post  Kon61gold on Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:52 pm

Ok here is the scenario

A old caravan with one battery at the stage is going to be used to go to the west. They need some advice on what solar panels to buy.

Thanks guys
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  HOBO'S Gold on Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:18 pm

Gday Jeff, Depends what you are going to be running on your battery, how many watts will your fridge use etc, I'd be buying a high wattage one depending on what you can afford, say at least 120w, you can charge your van batteries via your cars charger, via a regulator like a dual battery set up.

regards Johnny sunny
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Guest on Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:47 pm

Hi Jeff
first up how old is the van? Because "old" vans had 240 volt lights and everything else.If the fridge is a 3way(240-12-gas) while travelling the car should put enough in to run the fridge, make sure all wiring is heavy enough to handle the amps.
Secondly what size battery (amp-Hrs.) I would suggest a minimum 100-120amphr.
The thing is to add up all the wattage used in 24hrs e.g. lights, tv, battery chargers(dectectors, phones laptops)
and anything else electrical convert to amps add on a safety margin. That should tell you what size battery to buy .If you think that my suggestion on amphrs is good enough then I agree with hobo ifyou tink you need a bigger battery the you well may need more solar. Colin Rivers puts out an excellent book on solar for vans and is very easy to understand.
Regards Dave Cartwright

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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Jigalong on Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:12 pm

Jeff,

I have 4 x 130 Kyocera solar panels and 3 x 100 amp hour batteries. I run a compressor 190 litre Fridge/ freezer and usually just one neon light at a time, at night. I use no other gadgets like TVs and yet in two days of heavy rain / overcast (like I had in Tibooburra in August), I am looking at a very low battery capacity. I think one panel and one battery running a compressor fridge would prove to be inadequate. You would need to use a generator constantly, to supplement the panel.

Jig.



Last edited by Jigalong on Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:02 am

Old Van = 3 way fridge id say.
Pretty vague question almost like how asking how long is a piece of string Jeff.
bundy06 has summed it up old vans only had 1 internal light (combination of 240 and 12 V light fitting) and the 3 way fridge (dont use on 12 V unless conected to the car battery and the engine is running !!!!!)
A 100 amphr battery (AGM type) runs 2x40L engels (one a freezer) a 12 w flouro (about 6 hrs each night) and charges my detector battery every night as well running a small portable dvd player (sometimes).
Will last up to 2-3 days without charging (less in summer) without a panel, with a 120 w (really a 80w id say, ebay special Rolling Eyes ) i can go up to 5-6 days with full sunshine.
Guess small load small panel but would get a larger battery as a buffer for some cloudy days.
Regards
John

PS
Jig you have something wrong with your setup.




I have 4 x 130 Kyocera solar panels and 3 x 100 amp hour batteries. I run a compressor 120 litre Fridge/ freezer and usually just one neon light at a time, at night. I use no other gadgets like TVs and yet in two days of heavy rain / overcast (like I had in Tibooburra in August), I am looking at a very low battery capacity. I think one panel and one battery running a compressor fridge would prove to be inadequate. You would need to use a generator constantly, to supplement the panel.

520 watts solar !!!!!!!!!!! 300 amphrs and in 2 cloudy days your out of power !!!!!!!! i can run what you have and on a 100 amphr battery and get 2 days no wrys Shocked
This compressor fridge is it an engel/waeco or a ebay special??? the 120 L engel draws around 5-6 amps flouro around the 1-2 amp mark going on the 300 amp hr battery setup you should be able to survive at least a week or even longer !!!!! and if your solar is working and batteries ok indiffinatly without a geny.
Seriously have a look to see if your solar reg is working for staters then check the batteries (they sounded as if they are stuffed).
Regards

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Re: Solar Panels

Post  fcltd on Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:57 am

g,day jeff
i bought some cells , tabbing wire and bus wire from ebay and made some from old picture frames [ must have ally along edges of the frame ]
it is way cheaper per watt this way but very time consuming and a bit of a choir to do .
cost about $150 for 300 cells @1.8 watts each , frames have cost avg of $5 , some speaker wire i had laying around and a few tubes of silicon sealant
so far i have finished 5 panels giving about 270 watts on a not so good day [ i will test them on a good sunny day next time i am out there ]
this is 1 of the sellers on ebay ATM http://stores.ebay.com.au/Eco-IQ?_rdc=1 if any1 wants to try making their own there is heaps of vids on it on youtube .
cheers chuck waa .

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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Scrubhen on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:50 pm


Hi Jeff
A old caravan with one battery at the stage is going to be used to go to the west. They need some advice on what solar panels to buy.

Fridge What sort??

Engel, generally draw 3.5 amps

Waco, around 6 amps.

Some refrigerators all ready fitted to an old van are the absorbent type, run on gas and have a 12 Volt element which is very inefficient and draw 12 amps so would require a good heavy electrical lead (preferably 6 mm) from Vehicles charging system.

Solar panels 80 watt folding will deliver 4 amps in good sunshine for about 6 hours at the maximum.
Divide the wattage of a solar panel by 12, but then allow 25% for electrical loss through cables and regulators etc

Some tend to forget that the fridge is drawing some current twenty four hours per day and that the solar panel can only be relied on for 6 hours at best.

Battery should be at least 100 amp hour and preferably deep cycle type

The above figures are a guide

Ron
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  bencld on Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:29 pm


Jeff,
check this post. http://golddetecting.4umer.net/general-discussion-f1/camping-power-system-t2541.htm I have 65 watt panel and it is too small. They will be put on the van roof and will be the boost/trickle charge panels. I will be buying at least 160w panels next. I have 2X 105 amp deep cycle batteries and I reckon I could do with another. The fridge is a 2 way, 240v and gas. The van has 240 volt and 12 v lights but I will be putting in led panels. I run TV/video and computers through an inverter.

Chris.
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Kon61gold on Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:35 pm

Thanks fellas

That give a person some knowledge to start with as a lot of us think solar but dont know alot about it.

Now just give the brain some more food.

As you said we have to add up the amps we use to determine our useage. Are some solar panels better than others?
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  HOBO'S Gold on Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:06 pm

MonoCrystalline solar panels are the best at this stage, but solar panels are getting cheeper and more efficient.

Regards Johnny sunny


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SOLAR

Post  whatsthetime on Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:13 pm

I would consider a gennie mate. By the time you get your solar set up in a good way. You'll be more out of pocket then with a good generator. Yamaha has got the 2400 on for $2180 at the moment and they are pretty quiet.
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  granite2 on Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:05 pm

assuming the caravan has a 3 way fridge why do you need another fridge? If its not a 3 way chuck it away and get one that is, it would be cheaper and less worry in the long run.

We have always run our fridge on gas and all other gear on a solar panel and batteries, even in our mobile home we did this. For over 10 years we used a 60watt free standing solar panel to charge two 24aH jump start batteries. Using this system we charged our 2 detector batteries, phone, computer, hand held UHF radio batteries and ran our lights. The light is a fluro light that draws only about 1 amp per hour but gives out the same amount of light as a 70watt incandesant globe that would pull nearly 5 amps.

A free standing panel can be more than 3 times more efficient than a rigid roof mounted panel of the same size. When detecting out from camp we would adjust the panel every time we returned to camp. When driving out to detect we'd take the panel and batteries and charge everything doing the same thing.

It is a simple, cheap, and easy to use system and it never let us down once. Not only that, it is a system that is portable. If you sell you van you still have your solar system and being able to take the batteries to where you want them is far better than having to take everything to the battery. Also, if you have only one battery in your vehicle and it should fail you can start and/or run your vehicle on the jump start.

Cheers Jim
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Kon61gold on Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:04 pm

Thanks Fellas

I have asked these questions on behalf of others, but we all benefit from them.

Personally I have a caravan with two 100 amp deep cycle batteries and it runs lights, water pump, and a 12v TV/DVD player. With my wife inside the van over the last weekend, it took 4 days to run the power down to 10.5 V when everything switched off. - the Fridge uses gas.

However I also have a portable 80 watt solar panel which I havent installed yet as I havent had the need but as I am retiring next year it will interesting to see what the effect will be on the batteries. I was tossing up about having it on the roof, but it looks like the consensus is to have it portable.

I also have a jump start battery for emergencies and it was interesting hearing how Jim used them. Certainly with a different set up they are most effective.

Food for thought and thanks

Jeff
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  davsgold on Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:50 pm

Jefgold wrote: it took 4 days to run the power down to 10.5 V when everything switched off. Jeff

Running your battries down like that too often will lead to a much shortened life for the batteries. They say not to go below 50% discharge to often. I think a solar panel or 2 may help a bit in this reguard.

cheers dave
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Guest on Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:08 am

hi jefgold,
if you are near a LEADING EDGE electronics store, that had solar panels & accessories advertised in there catolog from 4 or 5 days ago, to me, they looked to be a good price & plenty of range to choose from, hope this helps.

jack

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satellite dish

Post  newbie on Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:16 pm

anyone tried using a dish out bush. i love camping but still miss watching telly.

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Re: Solar Panels

Post  davsgold on Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:25 am

newbie wrote:anyone tried using a dish out bush. i love camping but still miss watching telly.

Yep just point it at the Optus C1 satellite, you can get free to air TV (still need a card), or pay TV if you have a subscription.
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Billsymo on Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:33 pm

Jefgold wrote:Ok here is the scenario

A old caravan with one battery at the stage is going to be used to go to the west. They need some advice on what solar panels to buy.

Thanks guys
It all depends on what the power requirements are, but several things are a must.
USE ONLY DEEP CYCLE GEL, OR SLA (SEALED LEAD ACID BATTERIES0 ALSO DEEP CYCLE.
Make sure that you use a very good quality regulator to stop batteries over charging, and also to turn power off when batteries reach a critically low stage, and when the battery goes flat do not try to use it again until it is substantially charged again Nothing kills a battery quicker than letting the charge fall below 10.9 volts too often.
the reason for using SLA or Gel batteries is that they are safer, the reason for using deep cycle batteries is because they have heavier plates and. If you don' t use a good regulater to switch off when fully charged, and you use a normal car battery, it will create hydogen gas to a dangerous level , which can explode if near an ignition source.
Some caravans have batteries under the beds, if using a normal car battery and a cheap regulator, don't smoke in bed.
I have a 3 way fridge and run it on gas when camping, I use only the new type LED lights which use very little power and draw less from the battery. I run a 12 volt/240 volt TV either direct from the regulated 12 volt or through an inverter.
I have only one 80 watt panel, and one 120 A/H SLA battery, and a 600 watt inverter. This usually gives me as much power as I need for a couple of nights with just lights and tv usage when camping. I carry an 800 watt generator to use when the regulator switches the power off when battery is low. Another consideration to take, is weight.
Although it is not polliced, if batteries are placed in a position where it causes the tow ball weight to be too heavy, it can be an offence.
Jaycar recently had a special on 2 panels and a regulater with wiring saddles for somewhere in the $900.00 Range, I do not know how good the regulator is , but that is cheap, providing you have the ability to fit it yourself.
My setup cost me very little, because I purchased it when I was in business and I fitted it mysellf.
The Idea of a solar set-up is good if it is used in the correct manner and not trying to malke it work too hard, If your battery continually goes flat through over-use, expect them to not last very long. Shocked
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Guest on Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:58 am


Gday


I have found with previous camper trailers that had fridges it was always better to run them on gas when stationary and 12v from the car when on the move, if you are using any of the older style fridges (not a waeco or engel etc) they will usually have a high current draw so unless you have lots of panels and a bank of batteries then its too hard to try and keep up with the current requirements without using a generator to keep the battery charged.

If you run your fridge in this way then your batteries and solar system will only have to cater for your lighting requirements, before I was able to afford solar panels I had a battery mounted on the camper trailer that I would fully charge before I went away and it carried enough charge to give me a short period of lighting every night for nearly two weeks.

When I did end up with a panel for it I found it better to have the panel set up with a long lead so that I could get the camper trailer into a shady spot then whack the panel out in full sunlight to keep the battery charged, initially I didnt have a regulator and used to just monitor the battery level until it was topped up a bit and disconnect it, this is not an ideal way to do it as if you forget you will end up cooking the battery.

With a regulator attached to the back of the panel you would be able to just leave it go all day and not worry about it, the panel I had was only a small 15watt one that came from one of those small 12v pond pump set ups, at a later date I discovered another one the same at a garage sale so I wired them together and hinged it to make a fold out 30 watt solar panel, attached a 4-5 amp regulator, works a treat and I still have it and use it on my current camper trailer in the same way.

The deep cycle batteries available now are much better, I used calcium type batteries that seem to have a reasonable life span, but they do take longer to fully charge, if you wanted to just have a really simple set up for basic lighting then you can even use a standard car battery, they charge quickly as they are made for the constant charge and discharge that goes on in a car electrical system, but beware as Billsymo said batteries produce hydrogen when charging so always have it mounted outside of the van with good ventilation and you wont have any issues.

With the advent of led lights, low current draw fleuro lights and now the smd lights it has become easier to set up very economical lighting, if you are only going bush for a few days or a week then you will have enough power for basic needs, and I found that the fridge and gas stove would run for around 10 to 12 days on a full 9kg bottle of gas, of course this will vary so a spare bottle or a smaller back up one is the go.

Just as a matter of interest I have heard of people scoring used solar panels from recyclers so if you want to get on to some cheap panels find out who does that sort of thing in your area and you might get on to something, all I do to test a solar panel output is I have an amps gauge with two wires and alligator clips to connect to the terminals of the panel when in full sun and see what the output is, if it looks undamaged and there are no obvious breakages then it usually safe to buy.

cheers

stayyerAU




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CHEAP CARAVAN BATTERIES.......

Post  ucdailoi on Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:07 pm

The most important thing here is not the words CHEAP CARAVAN but rather the word battery.
I have been a motorhome person for about 10 years and onboard power for running fridges etc is something that can be improved considerable with some planning and preparation.
The most important device to hit the market is a DC to DC charger and is now available from a few different manufacturers.
One being....http://www.ranox.com.au/
2nd view....http://www.kampers.com.au/sale.php?p=Smart_Start_DC_Charger&gclid=CPukkK3KvqYCFQPxbwodzGx6HA
This device, keeping it simple, allows the spare or house battery to be better or fully charged from your cars alternator. The device simply boosts the voltage coming from the alternator and then uses smart technology to properly charge your spare/house battery.
I personally think that, on balance, it may be more important than a solar panel. That is because solar panels have several limitations whereas this device has none.
Just a matter of starting your vehicle and charging your battery.
There are many other issues such as battery capacity/type of fridge/the number of people using the fridge and lighting needs.
Solar Panel prices have dropped considerably and buy according to what you can afford, don't forget that shading os panels severely reduces their ability.

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Spare or House Battery Charging

Post  ucdailoi on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:01 am

Just found another excellent device to enable proper deep cycle battery charging from an alternator

http://powerstream.com.au/ab12v080a-charger-p-222.html?osCsid=ea2e09835f4aca17b64a74ebde294abd

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Watts and Amps

Post  Rwork on Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:43 pm

I see a few posts mentioning different wattage panels,the important thing is not how many watts you have but how many amps it produces. A chinese panel is often 22volts,if you have one of these in 120W
you are charging around 5.4 amps on a 13.8v battery. A bp solar panel 120w at 17v will charge around 7 amps.Some of the Ebay panels listed are charging 40v,apart from trying to regulate them the actual amps out is small. If you use the 22v chinese units a reg is needed that will handle the high voltage.A lot of 12volt regs will shut down above 18v.I found one on Ebay that handles 30 amps and the high voltage for around $140. I have 9 panels of different sizes on my small van and find it works well.
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  ucdailoi on Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:47 pm

The conversion of Watts to Amps is governed by the equation Amps = Watts/Volts

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solar panels

Post  tirp56 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:43 pm

could anyone pls tell me where i can purchase colin rivers book on caravan solar panels thanks al

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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Cams 4500 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:47 pm

To help you search it is Collyn Rivers. I'll have a look for you.
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Re: Solar Panels

Post  Cams 4500 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:49 pm

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solar panels

Post  ttrash on Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:22 pm

Old Collyn is certainly a guru

80 + yrs old & going strong

the last post has the correct info caravan&motorhomebooks

use to live in Broome , i believe he is now on NSW south coast

he has many books

Anthony
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re solar panel

Post  Greenwell2 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:37 pm

Howdy,
I was going to set up a 12v system for my shack up in the tassie highlands and contacted a dealer about this. I ended up with a 24v system as it is more efficient. One obvious thing that I hadnt realised in all this is that heating and cooling take a lot of power. The voltage difference between your inverter and your batteries should be as little as practical. I of course was converting to 240v so a 24v system was more efficient than the 12. 48 would be better than 24 and so on. Being no sparkie before I started investigating this all I knew about electrics was that you needed + and - and if you had a bad earth the bloody trailer lights didnt work. I ended up compromising on cost and the system I have wont run a fridge but does run the pump lights and occasional use of power tools vacuums etc.
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