solar panel checking and fitting

Discussion in 'Wild Camping' started by Laikavirgin, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Hi every one,

    My first post on here, so be nice.

    I was given a solar panel last year, on the assumption it wasn't working, but it has no info on the back, label was unreadable in any way, so not sure of its output, I set it up in the kitchen with two low voltage 50watt halogen lights shining on it from about
    4'.0" above to see if I could get any life out of it,

    I thought I'd check it out yesterday, so I set my meter at 20v dc, and I get a reading of between 18.80v to 19.35v,(they become minus figures if I reverse the leads) don't know if that helps any (that surprised me, as I wasn't expecting to get anything at all :Eek!: )the overall panel size is 21" x 26" it has 20 (four rows of five) individual sensors/cells? with the letters STP on each cell.

    What I'd like to know is, what is the output in amps and watts, as electrickery is not my strong point,:Blush: I only knew what to set the meter at because someone told me. :Blush:

    I also need to know where I can get some not screwing mounts from, and anything else I might need as I have only the panel so far, I know I need to go through the roof once, although I might go through the garage roof, not sure where it will go best til I offer it up.

    Thanks:thumb: Kev.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  2. iceni

    iceni Read Only Funster

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    Hi Kev
    It seems to be working then.
    The reason you get 18v is cos theres no load on it. When its connected to something like a battery it will give 12-14v

    Dont let the 2 wires touch whilst charging else youi will blow it.

    It seems to be ablout 75 - 100 watts so will be Ok for normal leisure useage. there should be a label somewhere . Look at where the balbe enters. You may have to remove a panel

    You will need a charge controller. if you connect it to the batteries direct it will ruin them as it wont stop charging the batteries when they are full and so you will boil them to death. The charge controller shuts the panel off when the batteries are full.

    keep the panel out of the light and under cover till you want it to stop the risk of fire.

    You can get an adhesive rather like sikaflex to stick it to the roof. You will need 4 bits of ali angle to bolt to the panel and stick to the roof. You can also get a through the roof waterproof grommet. Your MH spares suppler should have all you need. You should allow a 1-2in gap under the panel to allow cooling

    Phill
     
  3. Douglas

    Douglas Read Only Funster

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    The only comment I would add is regards the fixing, Consider fitting some kind of roof rack and attaching the panel to that, it much easer if you want to make changes in the future.

    Doug...
     
  4. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for that Phill,

    Just put some tape around one wire for now, didn't realise that I needed to til now.

    That seems a lot for such a small panel, I thought about 20-30 watts max, so how is it worked out, for future reference?

    I've stripped it down to every component and there is no info at all the label tell me nothing, it was so bad I threw it away, it looked like it had been rubbed away.

    Thanks Kev
     
  5. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Doug,

    I like the idea of using angle brackets better, If I make/buy a roof rack of some kind it will need to be fitted, and it seems like an unnecessary complication, I'm sure I saw an add somewhere for some stickable plastic corner supports for panels somewhere, maybe on the other motorhome site, but I can't find it, wish I'd bookmarked it, but didn't have a panel then.

    Cheers Kev
     
  6. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Since you have a Laika (part of HYMER Group) does it have a Schaudt Elektroblock charger (EBL)? If so, you might consider getting the Schaudt Solar Charge Controller that plugs straight into the EBL. Then the system will be entirely integrated rather than wiring the solar controller directly to the batteries, in which case the EBL would not know what was going on regarding sunshine power.

    If you are a member of the 'Darkside' there is a very good post on the subject of fitting solar panels to a Hymer B644 via a Schaudt EBL by a member called Davesport. As well as a detailed account, there are several pictures of the work in progress.

    Here is a link to the Schaudt website showing the <solar regulator>.

    Hope this helps.

    Philip
    (by the way I don't have a panel and have never fitted one - just curious so have researched it a bit!)
     
  7. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    With the panal in full sunlight and connected to a load, say a headlight bulb measure the volage across the teminals, don't include a battery as that will already have a voltage. Note the voltage. Now disconnect to positive lead and with the meter set to amps (and leads in the correct holes) connect between the positive lead and the positive terminal if the bulb. Take a note of the reading. so now you have volts and amps. Watts are current (amps) x the volts. the current reading will vary at different times of the day so take the reading at midday GMT (when the sun is at its highest point with the pannel turned towards the sun. Mid summer you will get the max reading and cold overcast winter day the min reading (amps) count amps as the ampunt flowing along the wire. My panel is 55W and should give 4 amps, but in the winter only a few milliamps, sufficient to replace natural losses in the battery. So if you want to wildcamp in the winter you will not get much help from the panel, in fact not much use from october onwards. You will need to double your battery capacity to make full us of it. 2 x 120 amp/hr batteries would do.
    A charge controller is needed and must be have sufficient capacity for the power you are generation at the max output, yet have minimun power consumption in the unit itself. Gluing to the roof not recomended as they have been known to fly off. Best bet is to bolt to a roof rack then they can easilly be removed should you need to move them to another van or replace them. If you decide not to use it I'd be happy to buy it from you. (pm me with price.)
     
  8. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    hi,
    got to agree with you.
    i would have said about 40watt going by the size...
    mines a 120w and is about 48" X 24".

    it will definately need a charge controller or it will cook your battery in no-time.

    i have a basic 10amp controller which does the job.....£16 from ebay.
     
  9. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Jean luke,

    I know the man you speak of, devilishly handsome I seem to recall, I shall look up the post in the place with no name.

    Thanks Wildman,

    If I could understand what you just said I'd not need to have done the OP, I sort of get the jist of it, but the setting for my multimeter escape me as does it's instruction leaflet.

    Could you be a bit more descriptive as to the actual position of the dial to do the measurements.

    I have a AlphaTek TEK255 meter, 3 probe holes at the base, left = 10ADC center = COM right = VΏA I put the Black lead into the COM, and the Red lead into the VΏA with the dial at 20V_... (10-o-clockish) to measure the current/volts.


    10ADC Com VΏmA
    O O
    Excalmation mark spark
    10amp max MAX 600V=
    unfused 200MA max

    ABOVE IS THE TEXT BELOW AND BETWEEN THE PROBE HOLES

    So what would I need to do, to do what you suggest,

    Going clockwise from 12-o-clock I have

    off =red
    600 V~ =black
    200 V~ =black

    2m A_... =green
    20m A_... =green
    200m A_... =green
    10A A_... =green

    hFE Black

    Degrees C =green (it has a temp probe, so I know how crap our Smev oven is)

    Continuity beep =red

    All the following are on Omega scale Ώ
    2k Ώ =green (has a litle sybol under it, looks like an arrow, diode perhaps) not sure.
    20k Ώ =green
    200k Ώ =green
    2m Ώ =green

    200m V_... =black
    2 V_... =black
    20 V_... =black
    200 V_... =black
    600 V_... =black

    The colours are the circle around the dial where the colours change at each function.


    If you think the above was easy to do, it wasn't:cry::cry:

    I hope that you can understand it, coz I aint doing it again

    if the above makes no sense go to

    Alphatek TEK255 Pocket size DMM with temperature Buy Online OR Call

    and click the enlargement, wish I'd thought of that sooner:Blush::Blush::Blush:
     
  10. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi if you simply measure the voltage of a single bulb, all that will tell is the power the bulb is taking, not the max output of the panel.

    To measure the max output you need to take several readings as explained here: http: Measuring the Power of A Solar Panel - Solar

    An easier way is to simply measure it, and that will give you an near enough approx. max output, based on your measurements its around 40watts. As papa has already said.

    Olley
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  11. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    hi whilst I could keep trying to explain I feel that if you are unable to understand how to use the multimeter from the instruction leaflet that I could well be wasting my time. I suggest you attend one of the shows and one of the funsters will be able to show you, I will be at the Carmarthen show in April and glad to help if you don't have it sorted by then. Electrics are best left if you do not understand them as you could do a lot of damage to your nice van if you get it wrong. Just as a matter of interest I looked at the charge rate of my 50W panel today at midday, it was charging at 1/2 an amp. New thread started for those who would care to add their details.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  12. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    Which part of "I don't understand multimeters" am I not getting across :Smile::Smile::Smile:

    If someone can speak in words of one silly bubble, I'll have ago, but I'm not even going to attempt to measure anything without some sort tuition first, as I don't want to damage it.

    Cheers Kev.
     
  13. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    Nice site and explanation, however for all practical purposes one wants to know the output of a particular panel in a particular location, providing the load is large enough you can get an instantaneous reading for that day/time of year/amount of sunlight.
    In my case a theoretical max of 4.1 amps would make me think I could get more power than I would in reality, as I said elsewhere only 500mA today in full sunlight middle of winter it was only 50mA thats a long way from being useful amount of power for wilding in winter,
     
  14. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    Reading you loud and clear Kev leave it until a show as I suggested to you earlier when someone can sort it for you.
    :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  15. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    going by your dimensions id say its very much like this one....

    Rated Power: 40 Watts
    Rated Voltage: 17 Volts ( for 12Volt charging applications ) 17v when not connected to anything.
    Rated Current: 2.36 Amps (in full, strong sunlight, if you're lucky)
    Size: 51x64cm = 21" x 26"
     
  16. sinbad1

    sinbad1 Deleted User

    the basics of multimeter's [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaSnKN7HYSc&feature=related"]click here[/ame]

    there are lots of others for you to look at
    Regards
     
  17. Laikavirgin

    Laikavirgin Read Only Funster

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    I'd like to thank Pappajohn and Sinbad1, :thumb:

    For their practical approach to trying to help me get to grips with my problem and pointing me in the right direction, I did find another web site which might help me to grasp the functions of my multimeter, which is very similar to mine.

    The web address is below, to help others who may not be as conversant as some at the secrets of testing electrical components.

    Click >> using a multimeter :Eeek:

    Wildman, :Sad:

    It must be nice to sit in such a lofty position and be able to laugh at others who don't have the knowledge you have, I gave you the opportunity to teach me a little of what you know, but you preferred to take the p1$$, :Sad: well thanks for that, I hope it made you feel better, If I can't help someone on a forum, then I try to point them in the right direction, which you did initially, then for some reason you seemed to find it below you to simply look at the web page I left, and tell me which probe to put where, and which position on the dial to set up and where to measure, was it really asking too much from you, if so, then you have my humble apologies for taxing you too much, as for visiting shows, why would I want to do that, I have a motorhome, I don't need another, I don't need to pay to walk around endless displays, looking at things I neither need or want, thanks but no thanks.

    If I have forgotten to thank anyone, then I apologise, :thumb: I do appreciate help when it is given, and I always try to give back to forums, that is the way to continue to have help when we need it. :Wink:

    If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life. :Wink:
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2009
  18. gazznsam

    gazznsam Read Only Funster

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    just a little add on, you can do no dammage to a solar panel by letting the output leads touch each other, a solar panel can only produce it's max power and no more, so it wont burst into flames like a battery or charger would,

    infact cheap solar regulators do just that, short the output out when the battery is full to stop it charging the battery.
    When i bought my panels, they came with clips connecting the output terminals together, so as not to present a shock hazard to the installer before the wires were connected up.

    so you can get the power output of a solar panel by connecting the multimeter set up to read amps between the 2 leads, i.e. red to red, black to black (obviousely if the panel is likely to be over 10 amps output you'll pop the fuse in the meter, unless you have a 20 amp meter, which aint common on DIY grade meters)

    dont fart about with halogen lights or whatnot to get readings, take it outside and point it at the sun, you'll get a lot more power,
     
  19. BuzzLand

    BuzzLand Deleted User

    Hmm the trouble with attaching to your roof rack is you now have lost the capability to store cargo on the roof-rack itself.
    You're also advertising the fact you've got solar panels to the local 'Itinerants' as the roof rack will typically be raised high enough to be seen from ground level.

    You could weld a set of angle iron to the roof, that might work. If the bodywork is aluminium it could be tricky though...
     

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