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Old 02-01-2017, 09:19 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 60
Solar Battery Trickle Charger & Rack

Where I store my RV I do not have power for battery trickle chargers. I was told by the people at Battery Tender that my two batteries would each need a 15W panel, but I wanted a rack to hold the panels in place and against the weather.

I borrowed designs from the internet and built the pictured rack.
-The average angle of the panels for Northern CA. (37⁰ Latitude) is 45⁰ in winter and 78⁰ in summer.
-Therefore, only the rear legs are used for winter and the front legs drop down, raising the front edge of the rack for summer.
-It is all aluminum with stainless hardware.
-The three vertical channels close to the panels are extruded aluminum with slots for bolts, making it easy to adjust the setup to get the angles correct. You could use solid tube as I did for the legs if you were careful with the dimensions and drilled the holes in the proper place.
-Cross braces, leg braces and horizontal pieces are 1” x ½” channel
-I used 1.5” square tube x .188 wall thickness for the legs to add weight and avoid the wind blowing it over.
-I enclose the rough plans I made for this, but advise you double check things if you use these. Sometimes “design changes” were needed and were not always properly documented.
-Cost of the panels was about $210 total from Amazon
-Aluminum was about $240
-Stainless Hardware about $60

Like most projects this grew in complexity and cost but, I hope this helps anyone else with similar needs.
I need some time to determine if the 15W panels will keep things charged, but I am hopeful and trust the Battery Tender products since I have two for other needs.
Attached Thumbnails
7925 Winter Close Side Face 20 Comp 1.jpg   7921 Winter Side Back 20 Comp 2.jpg   7920 Winter Back 20 Comp 3.jpg   7916  Summer Side w Panels 20 Comp 4.jpg   7909 Summer Side 20 Comp 5.jpg  

7912 Feet 20 Comp 6.jpg   Solar Panel Leg Support Post 8.jpg  
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Solar Panel Rack Plans 121616 Post 7.pdf (129.7 KB, 5 views)
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Old 02-01-2017, 09:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: las vegas
Posts: 261
Looks nice and I admire your design skills.
But....I think (just me) it's overkill.

You have over $500 invested in a way to keep your batteries charged up when a $50 buck 4 watt panel would do the same thing.......keep them topped off when starting out with a full charge.

Plus, unless there is a big mean dog close by, that system if prime theft bait.
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Old 02-02-2017, 06:12 AM   #3
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Location: Clearwater, FL area
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Nice Job!!!!

Can you give us a little more detail on the Panels (Mfr, Model, Voltage, SOLAR Charge Controller model...)

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Old 02-02-2017, 10:47 AM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 60
Panel Info

Thanks for the comments, here is info on the Solar panel from Amazon.
-I wondered if a lower wattage panel i.e. 4W would work, but Battery Tender told me I needed the 15W for each battery.
-I have secured the rack to the bumper of my rig so it would take a while to take everything away.
-I used "button head, secure torx" screws to fasten the panels to the rack so it would take some effort to get the panels.
Attached Thumbnails
Panel from Amazon.jpg  
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:51 AM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 60
I should have mentioned the controller is built into the panel so all you do is connect them with the quick connect plugs (installed previously), and they are working
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battery tender, rack, solar

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