Solar Panel Information and Help

Discussion in 'Top Tips & Tricks' started by Gloombusters, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. Gloombusters

    Gloombusters Funster

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    Whilst sitting here in the driving rain at El Berro, I thought it might be a good opportunity to pick a few Funsters brains.
    We are spending more time these days being more adventurous and seeking out Aires in more remote areas and so far it's been very successful and we hope to continue.
    Before we set off on our travels we had the Gaslow system installed which to date has been great (and cheap to fill). So that was the gas problem out of the way and no more empty Calor bottles to deal with! We can just about survive for three/four days on the leisure battery before the wonderful (not) Elddis blown air heater packs up because it detects low 12v to the fan. The pump begins to die and the tele goes off. UGH! It's not fair on other campers to run the engine up either. So after all this I think we need a solar panel to assist. I'm sure there's a lot of Funsters with vast experience and knowledge of Solar panels ie what to avoid,what ones are best etc. I'm basically looking for a fixed roof panel that will assist the 12v system for 4/5 days of good reliability and quality that will do the job. I'd rather spend a few extra bob than buy a cheapo! It will be the first job I'll have done when I return th the UK. Any advice really appreciated. HAPPY TRAVELS.
     
  2. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    There isn't a huge difference between panels but controllers vary. The best are MPPT types. I fitted a Victron one which are well reviewed. Finding a reliable installer might be your main challenge if not fitting yourself.
     
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  3. andy63

    andy63 Funster

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    Hi.. try and work out what your approx usage is per day in amp hours... When you know that I'm sure someone will be able to advise on what solar capacity would be capable of replacing your daily usage... will depend on whether you are in UK or sunny climbs... everyone's usage is different and that's the hard part..
    Doing what you are doing now will shorten the life of your batteries..It's better to keep them charged up or charged as soon as possible after use..
    Andy
     
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  4. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    My original panel was 100W and this was fine until we got a compressor cool box so I have recently fitted a second one 100W panel but it hasn't been used in anger yet.

    There was a time when 80W was considered enough but now 120W might be considered the minimum and some have considerably more especially if they have a large inverter for running things like microwaves. How much you need really is a piece of string question but if you want to use the vehicle in winter when light levels are low then the more the better!
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
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  5. Armytwowheels

    Armytwowheels Funster Life Member

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    Good morning @Gloombusters .

    If you want to mosey on down to the Camperstop near Totana for a coffee and Solar Panel chat you would be welcome. Colin fitted ours and has a good understanding of what you will need based on usual usage etc.

    We are off out shopping today but will be here for at least another week.
     
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  6. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    As a rule of thumb, for most people, if they can survive say three days off electric with a single 12 volt battery without a solar panel, a decent solar set up 100 watts with a good quality MPPT regulator will sort them out

    Again the rule of thumb I try to use is that the applies, on average, for the 2nd half of Spring, the Summer, and the 1st half of the Autumn, in a use and expect replenished scenario

    The 2nd half of Autumn, the Winter and the 1st half of Spring, it is more maintenance to the engine and leisure battery, rather than use and replinish

    Obviously if your abroad, you need to adapt this to suit the weather lol

    Bear in mind though at the NEC show in February, a argumentative chap was the talk of the trade as he was going round telling anyone selling solar that he was self sufficient 365 in the UK with a 50 watt panel and a compressor fridge, which simply isn't possible o_O

    Solar is good, but it is not that good(y)
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
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  7. Robert Clark

    Robert Clark Funster Life Member

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    Hi Eddie
    Can you quantify what an 'average' user may consume in a day, and if this is via an inverter, or just on 12v
    Would this include for example, hair dryers and coffee pod machines?

    Thanks
    Robert
     
  8. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    lol Average would be a bog standard medium sized motorhome with one 110Ah battery, being used by a couple who think that they are being "adventurous" going to a three day rally without hook up lol

    I wouldn't class you or yours as "average" Robert (y)
     
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  9. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Think he was looking for Numbers Eddie not an opinion:LOL:
    G
     
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  10. Robert Clark

    Robert Clark Funster Life Member

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    Eddie was involved in providing the onboard power plant for Mrs C's hair salon
     
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  11. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Throw 100W on top and give it a go, you know by now what happens on low volts, in other words you don't die instantly.

    Under £200 if you DIY. It's all documented on here in great detail.
     
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  12. andy63

    andy63 Funster

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    It is a hard one to quantify...
    My van is small self build but it has diesel heating and hot water..
    A small 65l compressor fridge.. telly which gets little use ,and then there's the need to charge phones tablets etc on up to 2 amp usb sockets.. All lighting is led but each one comes in at around 200 /300 ma... It all adds up..It's not unusual for me to be 35amp hours in deficit in a day.. my battery bank is 2x 110 ah batteries and if I don't charge them I'm lasting 2 to 3 days . That's why I carry a Genny. ..:) no inverter with my set up... Just not practical..
    I only have room for a 100w panel and it's just not enough to keep me self sufficient.. It will run the fridge in the summer if it's good that's it..
    Andy.
     
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  13. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    the problem with mppt controllers is the cost a good mppt will gain you 30 percent more power, a second panel will gain 100 percent last time i looked the panel cost less than the mppt so unless your short of space a second panel is more bang per buck
    in the op's case a second battery would probably cure the problems but a second battery and some solar panels definitely will especially in summer
     
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  14. Kool Kroozer

    Kool Kroozer Funster

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    You can save yourself a tidy penny if fitting yourself, i recently fitted x2 140w panels and x2 125ah leisure batteries all for less than £400, inc cable, cleaner, sikaflex, controller... saved myself a packet, and at least you get some satisfaction out of it by doing it yourself - its not the main reason why i fitted mine to be completley honest, the main reason is i have seen workshop jobs and i know i can do a better job myself, all the cables are tied down and in the right places - thats another story though.
     
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  15. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Totally agree, when I was putting a solar panel on our new PVC last May the cost difference between a standard and an MPPT controller was ridiculous - to get a standard one was £62, an MPPT one was more than double the cost at nearly £140!

    We tend to charge up mobiles/sat nav, laptop etc during the day, watch TV for an hour on a night, and use lights on an evening. We have gas heating/hot water and a standard 3-way fridge which again we power with the gas.

    Our previous PVC had a 75w standard type panel on that was a good few years old (plus 2 leisure batteries) and never had any issues with low battery power. On our new van I fitted a 60w semi-flexible panel (got it really cheap from a show!) to go with the 2 leisure batteries (part of the deal) and we are seeing how we go with this set-up but so far we've not had any issues with batteries being low despite always using aires or 'wilding' and having 6 week holidays. If we start to get short of power the first thing I would do is fit another panel to give me 100% more power ... or more if I decided to fit a bigger one!
     
  16. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Quality 200watt mppt £75 or less £10 more for 300watt
    Easy to say bang another panel on but you have to consider both space and weight.
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/130549038710?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

    If you can bang another on then there's another 25% for that too
     
  17. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    22.5 amps achieved
    image.jpeg
     
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  18. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Agree Andy but for with my fitted Schaudt electroblock, it has to be either an LR1218 or and LRM1218 controller ... especially to ensure that some of the input goes to keep the engine battery charged up too.

    Andy, with my Schaudt set-up what would you have done? If I was starting from scratch except for the 60w panel, how would you install it to get the best out of it? This isn't mischief making, it's a genuine question in case I need/want to add to it in the future. I have a fair bit of roof space left so fitting another panel isn't a problem.
     
  19. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Is yours one of the electroblocs that MUST use a schaudt regulator? not all do.
     
  20. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Unfortunately yes ... :(

    It's an EBL99k
     
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