Help solar charging

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by samany, May 9, 2011.

  1. samany

    samany Read Only Funster

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    Iam thinking of getting a solar panel to keep leisure battery charged up whilst wild camping
    for the odd night. What would the minimum power be required? also am I right in thinking
    you can connect to battery terminals using croc clips.
    any comments/advice would be very welcome.thanks Samany
     
  2. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    Don't forget you should really have a charge controller/regulator too...

    You could use clips (are you planning to have a "free standing" panel...)

    As for size/wattage... bigger the better IMO

    JJ
     
  3. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    It all depends how much power you use and what your battery capacity is in the first place. We also have an Explorer Group van but different layout and slightly smaller than yours (I think from the photo).

    Since we replaced the tungsten filament bulbs in the eyeball spotlights and the G4 in the wash room with LEDs we use a fraction of the power for lighting. We don't use TV/Satellite off EHU very much but we have units with low power consumption. Apart from that we only use the water pump and recharge things like laptop and phone batteries.

    We've had a 50W free-standing solar panel for several years but managed several days between driving on a number of occasions before we had it (and in the days before LEDs). Last month we spent 12 days off hookup, spread over 3 locations, with the panel pushing in juice more or less all day every day.

    If you're wild camping you will most likely want a fixed panel, not a free-standing one, so probably 80W minimum. Before buying, though, work out roughly how much power you will actually use (and, thus, have to replace).
     
  4. samany

    samany Read Only Funster

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    Hi JJ , yes I 've seen a free standing one which is 4 watt about £20 ,any good? er what is aregulator?, and yes Iam totally clueless. thought I'd ask here before I went to Maplins to be bamboozled.
     
  5. samany

    samany Read Only Funster

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    Hi Graham, Ilike the led idea is it easy to change and where would I get them from.
    samany
     
  6. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    I am afraid to say that a 4 Watt solar panel is next to useless for providing electricity to use in a motorhome... All it might do is prevent your battery from "sulphating" if left standing for a long time (over winter).

    If fixed to the roof I guess an 85/90 watt one is the least you could do with for practical purposes... when buying a panel they will also sell you a charge controller which will stop the panel from overcharging your battery on sunny days (here'e hoping) and keeping the voltage from the panel(s) within the limits...

    JJ
     
  7. samany

    samany Read Only Funster

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    Thanks JJ, wishful thinking on my part[£20] i now know Iwill have to spend closer to £200,
    and I am a tad closer to understanding how things work, not exactly there yet but learning.
    many thanks, samany:thumb:
     
  8. dshague

    dshague Funster

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  9. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    We bought our LEDs from Aten Lighting. Just a matter of removing the existing bulb and plugging in the new one.

    It costs a bit but we thought it worth it for the power saving. There are bulbs available cheaper on eBay but I wasted money on ones that didn't fit so was quite happy to go to Aten.
     
  10. wivvy's dad

    wivvy's dad Read Only Funster

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    Go to Maplins, and look for the Briefcase 80 watt solar panel - £60 if I remember correctly - I have one and it is very good. Includes controller.

    :thumb::thumb:
     
  11. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    was that a typo, did you mean 8 watt ?

    80watt panel from maplin is £450

    see all herehttp://www.maplin.co.uk/search?criteria=solar+panel
     
  12. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    Most free standing panels come with the controllers etc. already fitted but one thing to watch out for is the method of attachment to the battery.

    Ours is a Carasolar from Solar Solutions - see Here. The cable is a decent length and in two parts which join with a standard S plug & socket (as can be seen in the photo). That means that the "free" part can be permanently connected to the battery - especially useful if getting to the battery would be fiddly.

    Some other panels have a similar arrangement but with a much less substantial plug & socket and shorter cable, making use less convenient.
     
  13. samany

    samany Read Only Funster

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    Hi Graham, me again I've looked at Aten problem for me is they list bulb no's G4, MR11 etc
    how do I know which bulbs I will need I rang Explorer they couldn't help, can you please?
    Ihave taken one of spot bulbs out just tells me 12v 15w.
    cheers ,Samany
     
  14. samany

    samany Read Only Funster

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    I'll have a look ,cheers
     
  15. wivvy's dad

    wivvy's dad Read Only Funster

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    Thsi is the one to which I was referring - http://www.maplin.co.uk/13w-solar-briefcase-99760

    Sorry - 80 watts is the output from the battery charging socket, which is different from the battery charging outlet - if you see what I mean.

    From the spec sheet: Solar panel output - 80 watt @ 17.5V
    Max DC output - 4A
    Output to solar charger for 12V batteries - 13W


    Hope this helps, and sorry if I've confused anyone - mostly myself actually...:Blush:
     
  16. wivvy's dad

    wivvy's dad Read Only Funster

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  17. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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  18. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    The bulbs we bought for the Eyeball spotlights (as in the attached photo) have a reference on the box of "LED HP MR11 4Smt Cool White 8-30VDC BA15S". The closest I can see on the Aten web site is Here. The difference seems to be that the bulbs we bought have 4 LEDs and the ones on the web site have 6 LEDs.

    The fitting in the washroom (and in the Luton) takes G4 bulbs like These at Argos. We bought a G4 with side fitting like This One. Can't remember how many LEDs it has in it. We only replaced the one in the washroom as we only use the Luton for storage.

    We also have two Crown fittings (similar to These) and a strip light which are all fluorescents. We didn't replace them as the whole fitting has to be replaced, we don't use them very often and the power usage is less than halogen/tungsten anyway.

    All LEDs come in warm white or cool white (and some in other colours) and which you choose is a matter of personal preference. Aten (and competitors) normally have stands at shows where you can see the difference so if you're going to a show you might liek to wait to buy there.
     

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