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Old 06-18-2012, 06:08 PM   #1
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Solar Panels

Would this be adequate to charge a battery while camping?

Thanks in advance for your advise
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:46 PM   #2
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Smoothy -

I took out 2 of the the 15 watt panels with me last weekend. It was mostly sunny both days. I had a group 24 84 amp hr deep cycle battery. I was alone and monitored my electric usage. I have changed all of my lights to LEDs.

Set it up the first day at 5 and was surprised it ran at nearly rated power until after 7 then kept going until after 815. Sunset at 840. Very impressive. Battery was full and i was using the radio plus water pump, lights as it got darker. Started the next morning just about full but the day got hot. So turned on the exhaust fan and had the radio running - battery maintained at 12.84 v all day. Used the radio all night plus kept on a light and only dropped my battery to 12.59 v by morning. Charged my phone, ipad and ipod at various times during the day and night too.

So I was impressed. Not sure it would work this well if I had 3 to 5 of the kids with me and all of the extra drain but it definitely helps. Key is LEDs and a watchful eye on how much electricity you use.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:04 PM   #3
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Maybe - You need to look at your usage and then decide if 45W is enough to replenish what you have used in a day.

Before the new tax there used to be larger panels for lower prices than the Harbor Freight ones - but I haven't look around in a while.

For good info on solar stuff check the Wind Sun forums


EDIT: PS: Don't forget to take cloudy days into account!
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:47 AM   #4
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Real world usage data, thanks!
Does it include everything you need to connect and charge the battery?
I do not have LEDS but have contemplated changing a few key lights. Also I do have 2 children so my usage would be greater. My thoughts were to use portable lanterns for lights and hoping I have electricity for the pump, fridge,iPhone and iPad ( don't these devices rock?)
Also I am not looking to go for days but an occasional weekend at our primitive state park sites.


Thanks for the link. As far as cost they emailed me a coupon for 159.00 which is what sparked my interest.
Wonder how they would perform with a cloudy day?
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:40 AM   #5
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Smoothy, if you reasonable about power usage, IE do not leave lights on when not needed, take out the second bulb in the two bulb fixtures. You can go 2-3 nights without recharging. This does not give you power for television, microwave or cooling. But you can run your stereo, refrigerator (Propane mode), minimal amount of heating.

On our first dry campout with our new X23B, not having a clue what the dealer put in for a battery, I just told the wife and kid, to be conservative and don’t leave the lights on, but I did not enforce it. It was a long weekend (Memorial Day weekend). It rained a lot and we were inside more than usual. My wife is a big reader and she had all the ceiling lights on for about 8-12 hours during the two days. We ran low on power after about 45 hours, not being very conservative. I hooked the truck to the TT and charged up the battery for an hour, which was enough juice to go about another 24 hours, after removing the second bulb from all the dual light fixtures, and reminding them about being a little more conservative.

I am adding LED lighting, so I should be able to extend this extend this out a few more days, or just have more lights on for the weekend.

The key is to turn off items when they are not needed, such as lights and heaters. Go out do a dry camp shakedown test, you will get an idea of what your rig can do.
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:34 AM   #6
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i have a battery charger in the camper so when the light die out all I need to do is recharge it

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Old 06-21-2012, 11:03 PM   #7
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It would keep them fully charged between trips and would aid you for sure but bear in mind in cloudy or indirect sunlight you will probably get no charge at all or next to none. I have 200W on my roof and if its cloudy I can muster from 0.8 to 2.6ish AMPS. It really depends on your power usage.
We have gone to extreme measures to ensure we have power as we dry camp 100% of the time. I have a large 32' trailer with 2 slides and the furnace alone can gobble up 40amps a night if we feel like staying toasty warm.
First we installed 200W of solar with charge's worth every penny we spent!
Next I installed a digital thermostat with full programmable features....I 100% control when my furnace comes on and off all day/night and at what temp it is to be set at.
LED lights were next...these things are also worth their weight in gold typically using about 1/10 the power of a standard bulb. (I had 29 to replace!)
I removed the power hungry 32" TV in favor of a 23" Direct Current LED 1080P TV/DVD combo. It was the largest DC unit I could find with build in DVD player. It uses next to nothing for power and can literally be left on all day if one desired.
I also have a 2000W generator 'just in case'
It does get used occasionally after 3-4 days to aid the solar. (which is dependant on direct sunlight of course so I may need it after 3 days or not at all if we have great sunny weather for a week as our solar can put 11AMPS in all day long...)
The generator and solar work seemlessly so nothing special is neccassy to fire it up.
Of cousre we've learned to conserve power quite well after campig for over 20 years which aids us quite a bit I imagine.
Only you can test your individual needs. Unfortunately all we can do is speculate....our set up works extremely well and we are never without power and rarely have to fire up the generator. I have two 6V deep cycle golf cart batteries which we are upgrading to 4 Trojan T105s...I imagine the generator will just collect dust as I'll have well over 400amp hours available everytime I pull up.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:45 AM   #8
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They are a great learning tool but that is really all they are.. using them I was able to get an extra few days out of my popup.. but that was all... 45 watts is not very much really...
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