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Old 02-16-2014, 12:40 AM   #1
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Solar Purchase and Recommendations

Well I finally did it. I went out and bought two, 40W solar panels to be linked together for a total of 80W of recharging power for the trailer's battery. I couldn't pass up on the deal that was being offered on each unit so now I'm looking forward to trying them out the first time. Any recommendations anyone might have about using solar power when new to the whole thing? For anyone who owns solar panels, how do you enjoy the free source of power and how effective do you find it?
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Old 02-16-2014, 02:29 AM   #2
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Did you get the ones on sale at Canadian Tire? I used the 40w last year and purchased the 30 watt on sale this year. We don't watch television and didn't use the heater. I have all led lighting, but I still use the lights sparingly. So the solar panels work great for me. When I was in a spot which received lots of sunlight, my batteries would be nearly full every night. 5 days of fog and heavy tree cover was still ok. The one panel still put out power, more like a trickle charger. I never went below 80 percent of my battery storage. It also helps that I really conserve power and have 2 6 volt batteries.
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Old 02-16-2014, 07:04 AM   #3
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Welcome to Solar Powered Camping. When you get a chance fill us in with the type of Mfr of the Solar panels, type of Solar charge controller, types/sizes of batteries you are using. Are you planning a lot of dry-camping? Just using Solar to keep batteries charged? Are you going to mount the panels on your roof? Or make them portable? How much power are you accustomed to using (Amp hours) while camping? What do you envision being able to do with your system? If you plan on a lot of dry-camping, you will need to develop a dry-camping lifestyle. Have you converted your interior lights to ALL LED's yet?

It is a whole different LIFESTYLE..

Things to enjoy when dry-camping....
No noisy GENERATOR!!! (Unless your neighbor has one)
Sitting around watching TV running off your batteries!!
Reading /Playing cards/games, using laptops/tablets/phones
Knowing that you are doing your part in camping GREEN!!!
Lights on at night when other RV's can't with out their generators running after 9PM

Things that you need to be aware of... (why is this part of the list longer??)
You will need to keep a close eye on the state of your battery (do not let the batteries voltage drop below 12VDC, Batteries do not like that) Get a good battery monitor.
You will need to keep a close eye on the battery water levels (once a month normal, once a week dry-camping)
You will need to charge all your electronics during the day (using the POWER OF THE SUN)
You will need to turn off all unnecessary electrical items (lights - even LEDS. unplug phone charges when fully charged, laptops..)
Microwave is out of the question. The fan on your TT heating system will run down your battery(s) in 1/2 nights
Make sure that you use the proper gauge of wire when installing your system.
Make sure if you mount the panels on the roof that the TV antenna, AC, radio antenna do not cast a shadow on the panels.
Place your charge controller as close to your batteries as possible
Pick an inverter to match your battery power available.
Place your INVERTER as close to your batteries as possible
Fuse all your links with proper size fuses
A few more things you need to understand, how much will you be able to do with 80Watts of panels? Depending on the size/capacity of your batteries it may/may not be enough to charge your system and do what you envisioned?
A few things to understand, 80 Watt Solar panels will not give you 80 Watts all day. There are so many variables, location TT is parked, trees/shade, sun angle, clouds, dirt/dust on solar panel...
If you do not plan on expanding your system, you will need to look into a small generator (for dry camping).
Yes it even saves me electricity on my home electric bill, as I have not turned on the TT's internal battery controller (1 year now) that is run off shore power. I should calculate that out some time, probably not that much, but I do NOT have to pay the Utility company for it each month.

I am sure as you transition into going SOLAR, you will really enjoy it. Be forewarned, once you start this solar project, you just want to keep going.... I am in the process of adding another 250 Watt panel and 2 more batteries. We can then enhance our Solar lifestyle even more.
Ok, I will stop yakking... Sorry but there is a lot of planning and maintenance that goes with solar.
My TT solar link is below.
Enjoy your solar!!!!

Don






That should be first on your list
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:37 AM   #4
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Wow...so much to consider and thank you for all the input. Clearly there is a lot more to this than I had imagined. Canadian Tire had their 40W Coleman solar panels on sale and they were regularly priced at $249, on sale for $99. So I bought two to link together. All I want to be able to do is keep the battery charged up...no need to charge cell phones, use a computer or TV or anything like that (to be honest, I didn't know you could use any of those electronics strictly by using solar power)...just be able to keep the battery charged up so lights can be used at night and it keeps anything in the trailer that relies on battery power to be useable.

I know some people go big into this kind of thing but I just wanted the convenience of the portable panels to be able to keep me going without having to fire up our generator.
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:51 AM   #5
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I hope you got a charge controller with your panels.. it is a must.
I have been camping in the desert of Southern California since Oct 30 2013 not had to run the generator once since I got here (except to exercise it)
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:36 AM   #6
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I have to complement you, as you knew what you wanted to accomplish before purchasing a solar kit. I have talked to so many RVer's that did not know that solar power needed to be planned out before they purchased kits, and thy ended up with a setup that did not let them accomplish what they wanted to. So many thought that a single small solar panel would take care of their needs.

Is this the package you got? (picture below)

You could hook up both panels to one charge controller as the controller is a 7 amp charge controller and the each panel is only 2.3 amps each. BUT, I would use both charge controllers, because if one panel gets shaded the output will be drastically reduced for the panels wired together as the output of both panels is the max of the least producing panel (same like batteries tied together). So if you wire each panel to its own controller, if one panel is shaded and the other is not, at least one panel will give you more power. Just remember, mount the controllers as close to the batteries as possible, to avoid voltage drop from the wire. It will be a close call for FULLY charging 2 batteries, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Good Luck,

Don


(wire the output of each charge controller to the + terminal of the battery)
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1500 Watt Ramsond PSI, 2 Trojan T145 Batteries (260Ah)
2 - AirSight Wireless IP Cameras (used as rear view cameras)
EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:38 AM   #7
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Sorry, Here is the picture that did not get added to my post.
Don
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2013 Jayco Eagle 284BHS
250Watt Grape Solar Panel, MorningStar MPPT 60 Charge Controller
1500 Watt Ramsond PSI, 2 Trojan T145 Batteries (260Ah)
2 - AirSight Wireless IP Cameras (used as rear view cameras)
EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
MagicJack Internet Phone
2012 Ford F150XLT, EcoBoost w/3.73
157" Wheel base, HD Towing Package

Our Solar Album https://www.jaycoowners.com/album.php?albumid=329
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:57 AM   #8
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So if I wanted just to use a solar charger to keep the battery at a full charge during summer storage what would be recommended?
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:33 PM   #9
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Yes Mustang, that is exactly the panels that I got. Two of those which can be hooked together for more charge power. They both came with 7 amp charge controllers. At the moment I only have the one 12V battery on my trailer but had thought of buying another one. Then I heard about the benefits of two 6V batteries so I'm not sure what I'll go with now. Not sure of the 6V battery costs though.
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Old 02-16-2014, 04:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robo59097 View Post
So if I wanted just to use a solar charger to keep the battery at a full charge during summer storage what would be recommended?
As with any deep cycle battery you should use a 3/4 stage battery charge controller or solar charge controller, even in storage. This will maintain a 13.2 Volt float charge on the battery. There are many solar charging kits online, but I would research the ones that have a controller with a FLOAT stage. A 18Watt panel which produces about 1.5 Amps and should keep 1 battery charged, but I would go with a 40 watt panel, to compensate for those cloudy, rainy days. The controller is the main item here. Is your storage area a secure area? If not solar is probably not a good idea.

Don
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2013 Jayco Eagle 284BHS
250Watt Grape Solar Panel, MorningStar MPPT 60 Charge Controller
1500 Watt Ramsond PSI, 2 Trojan T145 Batteries (260Ah)
2 - AirSight Wireless IP Cameras (used as rear view cameras)
EnGenius WI-FI extender, D-Link wireless (n) modem
MagicJack Internet Phone
2012 Ford F150XLT, EcoBoost w/3.73
157" Wheel base, HD Towing Package

Our Solar Album https://www.jaycoowners.com/album.php?albumid=329
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