Portable Solar panel Or second battery.

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Masman, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. Masman

    Masman Funster

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    Hiya.I am thinking of getting a portable solar panel for when we wild camp.At the moment we manage about four days on 12v with one battery depending on wheather conditions.Would I be better off havind a second battery fitted and if so would it more or less double the time I could spend without the need to charge on 240v.Also my hab battery is now 10years old,still holds its charge.If I went down the 2 battery route would I need to but two batteries. as I was told that just adding one battery would be the wrong thing to do.Also if I go down solar route.what size wattage would I need.Any help most appreciated:thumb:
     
  2. cmcardle75

    cmcardle75 Read Only Funster

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    Do you drive every day? If so, and especially if you have a good size alternator, consider getting a B2B charger. A 50A charger will refill a typical 110A battery in just over an hour of driving from 50%. The typical split charge relay found on most installations takes more like 12-24h and will only charge to about 80%.
     
  3. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    On our first night away to Scotland, the battery charger packed in. However, the solar panel I fitted did the job 100% for the next two weeks, without any problem, even though we were staying at locations for up to four nights. Not sure about winter, but it charged our single leisure battery well, in fact, the thing was fully charged before we got up in the morning. :thumb:
     
  4. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    For lengthening your time off grid, first and foremost .. increase battery capacity .. as much as you can physically cram in.. there is no substitute..

    After that, consider supplementing with a solar panel.. no matter how small (within reason) it will lengthen your stay.. the bigger the better , but not indefinitely unless the panels are supplying more or equal to what you are using..

    Think on it like this.. a water annology .. the tap is a solar panel .. the basin the battery..

    no point in running the tap indefinitely to store water if you only have a small basin to store it.. A big basin, even with a drip going in eventually fills.. unless you pull the plug.. or use more than the tap is supplying.

    Can't have too much battery storage if you want to stay off grid.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
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  5. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Yup I just added a fourth :BigGrin:
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Yorick

    Yorick Funster

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    This sounds a good idea. Tell me more ?

    When we are driving, only the vehicle battery gets charged. Would be great to get the leisure batterty (ies) charged as well :Smile:

    How much are they ?
     
  7. New Dawn

    New Dawn Funster

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    Hi. We have a 150watt solar panel fitted on roof. With 2 leisure batteries + the starter. This works really well. Power from solar panel constantly charging all 3 batteries. Can run fridge/freezer, TV. Without hook up for quite long periods. :thumb::thumb::thumb:
     
  8. knokinonabit

    knokinonabit Funster

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    I think your fridge /freezer will be running off mains hook up or gas, as the 12v side only works with the engine running.
    I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. :BigGrin:
     
  9. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    unless it's a 12v compressor fridge..... correct.
     
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  10. cmcardle75

    cmcardle75 Read Only Funster

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    Basically they are full blown smart chargers like you would plug into the mains, but instead of 230V, they run on the 12V of your engine side with circuitry to disconnect when the engine isn't running. They aren't cheap, but are ideal for wilding where you move every day rather than staying in one place and going on bike rides (you'd have a caravan if you wanted to do that!) You don't have to move that far to fully charge your battery.

    However, you need to get one of the size to match your alternator. Typically your alternator will be between about 60A and 120A. You'll want to leave at least 40A to run the lights/fans etc. I've only got a piddly little 60A alternator, so I stuck with a 20A charger. However, with a modern vehicle, you are quite likely to have 100A plus, so you could fit a 50A model quite comfortably.

    Prices are pretty expensive. About £200 for a 20A model, rising quite rapidly. However, for an avowed tourer, this might be all you need, saving money on a solar set up or additional batteries. I keep mine in storage and would occasionally like to go a few days without moving, so I'm glad I've got both.
     
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  11. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Only four? I have six plus two spare in another bank:Wink: If your thinking about one or the other battery every time

    Why worry about making more power whilst there, if you can arrive with sufficient for the stay?

    Beyond that, then start thinking about ensuring that the batteries are properly charged when you arrive and perhaps the ability to recharge your batteries whilst your there

    Eddie
     
  12. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  13. cmcardle75

    cmcardle75 Read Only Funster

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    However, some people might need to worry about weight. These batteries will be able 25kg each. Your 8 batteries might be about 200kg, which could be over half the available payload with some 3500kg vans. Just one battery with a solar panel and a B2B will, depending on the habits of the owner, often be enough to ensure continuous electrical power with no need for hook up ever, for under 40kg total mass, including cabling.
     
  14. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Yes buy a BIGGER HEAVIER van I did :thumb:
     
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  15. robnchris

    robnchris Funster

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    Fitting extra batteries is ok as long as you have the means to charge them up. as for going down the solar panel route, again that is ok but be aware that you will need to fit a solar panel with enough charging power to at least match your 12v usage.
     
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  16. SUGGY

    SUGGY Funster Life Member

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    I went with the 100 watt , portable (daylight ) solar panel idea on this van ....

    what a pain in the butt , :Sad:

    you are forever moving it about and trying to chain it to something
    also when you put it away it was always in the way :Doh:

    when we got to morocco i got a 140 watt daylight solar panel and mounted both units on the roof , sorted , :Cool:

    i have 2 x 110amp batteries and i put an extrabattery isolator switch in so i can link the liesure and the engine battery so all are kept fully charged ,

    at southport last week i was running the fridge of the liesure batteries / solar panels from 10 am to 7pm , the were showing over 12 amp in bright sun and 3.8 amp when over cast ,

    From new year to now i have only had mains power to the van about 6 times , when electric was forced on us ( ie included in the fees ) ,

    we have a 2kw inverter for the , Romoska , travel kettle , hair dryer , laptop n phone chargers , and Rice cooker ,

    go for good quality daylight solar panels not cheep ones that are only good in direct sunlight , :Eeek:

    Also you wont have to carry all the extra weight of extra batteries and save a lot of money buying / replacing batteries ,
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  17. mapa

    mapa Read Only Funster

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    This thread has caused me some head scratching. I've always been under the impression that when I drive my mh it automatically charges the leisure battery . but all this talk of b2b charges now has me worried. I've got a 2006 autocruise so my question is very simple.....is it?.......or is it not?......charging my leisure batteries whilst I am driving ?
     
  18. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Yes but only a low amp charge as the alternator reacts to the starter battery voltage, so if fully charged the output will be minimal.
     
  19. SUGGY

    SUGGY Funster Life Member

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    Yes it should charge your liesure batteries,

    The MH should have the system that charges the engine battery first up to 14.4 volt approx then charge up the liesure batteries ,

    i have a digital volt meter pluged into the dash board cigar lighter to read the engine battery voltage and another pluged into the liesure battery cigar lighter so i can see what voltage are in each batteries all the time ,

    Simple :BigGrin:
     
  20. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    14.4 volts is an alternator output voltage, this is not an indication of how many amps are being delivered. The amps will vary with the load on the battery or it's state of charge.

    A battery to battery tricks the alternator into working harder by pulling the engine battery voltage down. This enables the liesure battery to get a huge charge depending on the unit selected. Without a BtoB you might only get a few amps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
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