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Solar charger


rdickinson

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Four new cranking batteries in the Volvo, #1 and #4 close to dead and 2 and 3 still 800 amps. It was suggested a solar panel to keep them happy. The one showed me was 160 watts, 11 amps on a good day. The panel measured about 24' X 54".

 

I figured to mount it behind the cab close to the roofline and install it long edge on a hinge so it could be flipped up for use then dropped down against the back of the cab for transport.

 

Same idea as the back window in a pickup truck with cab high camper.

 

Ken figures he can motorise it, good idea as climbing up on the deck is a pain.

 

Roof mount on the truck is out and I don't want to try to fit it in the cab window.

 

Does this make sense?

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If it's only going to be useful when parked then, personally, I wouldn't go to the trouble and expense of mounting it so elaborately. In the end you'll only end up with a fixed flat panel anyway. I would mount a covered plug out the back of the cab and use it as a portable "plug'n'play" array. If you want to get fancy then I would use an adjustable tripod mount so angle, pivot, and possibly height could be easily adjustable.

 

That would also allow you more options with regard to panel size and capability.

 

If using it for extended storage, it shouldn't be difficult to fashion locking cleats for the tripod feet on the bed.

 

Add a plug line to your RV and it can double as an auxiliary portable array for the house.

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It would only be used when the truck was in storage as I have no access to power in that area.

 

We get storm force winds of over 40 knots and my truck stands head and shoulders above everything else so whatever is done needs to be able to stand those winds. These are the same winds that wrap awnings over the other side of forgetful RVers.

 

If it's up high it won't get stolen. The car sits on the deck....no room. 2017 pimped out ragtop sits there, Gen 1 ragtop is the daily driver for now.

 

If it's portable then it'll need to be stored, same with a tripod. Where??

 

As mentioned climbing up on the deck is a pain, particularly when the trailer is hooked up.

 

I don't know how many pieces of machinery or tools were purchased for the shop which were pushed off to a corner left unused because they weren't convenient to use or easily accessible.

 

Only need one panel to charge 4 truck batteries.

 

It's the same as a sat dish, portable was a PITA, storage, set up, weights for wind, replacing lnb when it blew over and broke compared to pushing 2 buttons and having it raise and aim itself anywhere in North America and be out of the way on the roof.

 

There is no drom box so that area is available.

 

Nothing will happen until this trip is over end of April so all cards are on the table.

 

Thanks for the input.

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If properly mounted it should hold up pretty well. You might consider an electric actuator arm to raise it. They are not all that expensive and could do the job. You do want a positive lock when it is down. Any vibration and/or bouncing against a stop is going to damage the panel, over time.

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We have either 2 75 watt panels, or a 135w, both in a portable configuration. Unistrut and strut brackets were used to build a frame that knocks down to fit in tight spots. The panels travel in the basement. I can see the advantage to a mounted panel, but haven't put the effort into that. We can't always park with the taillights looking South, but the panel can be moved.

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That Battery Tender panel would be a single battery maintainer, at best. Plus, it's crazy expensive. We're using a cheap MorningStar PWM, coupled with some recycled 24 v panels. I know MPPT is the way to go with these panels, but I don't have as much tied up in my battery maintainer as BatteryTender wants for their 15w unit.

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That Battery Tender panel would be a single battery maintainer, at best. Plus, it's crazy expensive.

 

X2! The controller itself can be had for around $25.. but is only rated for a 3amp max output. At .8amps of output (.5 is more realistic on a good day) of that 15 watt panel.. you're basically looking at about $8.30/watt and would be insufficient for a 4 battery bank.

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For those considering whether they need a battery maintainer of not, here's some more info for the cost analysis. Just this season we replaced the stock battery in the 2004 Jeep. This battery is on solar, unless being driven. It usually had a 10w panel on the dash, but in the winter it would get a 15w outside. This was due to snow build-up on the windows. The 15w was installed in a verticle mount bracket, so was close to proper angle for max yield. The car was treated the same, and is still running on it's tiny stock battery. The KW, also on solar if not traveling, I still rocking 2005 batteries. The inverter seldom gets turned off in the truck, as the sleeper fridge gets used semi-frequently.

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The panel I saw yesterday was 160 watt generating 11 amps on a good day. Cost for the panel alone was around 400$ Got 4 batteries at $200 a pce. John told me a charger would extend the life between 1 and 2 yrs.

 

I'll deal with this in May after the upcoming trip.

 

Mounting it behind the sleeper makes the most sense. Powered.

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A cheap Coleman solar controller for $35.00 will handle the load off your solar panel, and it does the maintenance 'watch' for you.

I'd keep something as a quick disconnect, so you could in emergency use it for the 5th - all you need is a little extra cable to jump between if or when needed.

 

As for solid mounting - definitely make sure it is a solid mount - panels don't like to twist at all. Everything I have is portable since we use it on the camper, and in emergency power outages it has been used for our house as well.

 

put up pictures with whatever you decide to do, you're a pioneer! : )

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It would only be used when the truck was in storage as I have no access to power in that area.

 

We get storm force winds of over 40 knots and my truck stands head and shoulders above everything else so whatever is done needs to be able to stand those winds. These are the same winds that wrap awnings over the other side of forgetful RVers.

Wind? Truck stands head and shoulders above everything else? Sounds like a great opportunity for a small wind turbine something like this one (random example only). Works night and day, snow doesn't cover it up like a solar panel. Blades just above the truck cab, telescoping pole - could even be electrically elevated. Blades unbolt easily for storage. When we go down to the Chesapeake Bay just about every boat moored where we launch has one gently churning out battery charging power.

 

Or......if you are determined to go solar why not a flexible panel? One like this one could go on the truck roof - Velcro or permanent mount, no frame, very thin, follows contour of truck roof.

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Attached and powered is the way to go for me. Back of the sleeper is unused space, hinged and powered if possible. Not into climbing on the deck, it's not that easy to clamber up. A tripod mount requires tying down. If it's easy to tie down then it is easy to steal. Then there is storage. I had a tripod mount sat dish and it was a PITA to store and set up.

 

Wind? If it's that windy, I probably don't want to be there. Not sure if something attached to the roof will stay there. Truck travelling 65 mph into a 25mph headwind going thru the Plains in April/May could cause the panel to blow off like roof mount AC shrouds.

Aluminum tubing or angle material; plus a hinge of some sort are easy to make up. The power actuator is the challenge. There has to be something out there that will work for this application.

 

As mentioned earlier, I'll see what the Tampa show has to offer.

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That's the idea, maybe only one is needed but 1 arm on either end of the panel to prevent twisting. I know it can be done.

 

When retracted have the array fold down to a rubber pad perhaps and shut off like an rv slideout with a potentiometer. Which stops with pressure and increase in amp draw.

 

Ken at Sound Solutions here in Victoria works on expensive yachts amongst other things and says each year he has to teach the owners how to use some of the electronics 'cus they forgot since last season.

 

Thanks.

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In case anyone is interested, I have a MorningStar ProStar 12/24V...PWM charge controller (handles up to 30 amps) for sale.

I installed it in my Volvo last year and has done a great job of keeping the batteries right up to par...I replaced the
Starting batteries 2 seasons ago with the Cat 175-4370 Deep cycle/starting batteries, (mainly on the advice of the
Tweaker) and have been thoroughly impressed with them as they also give excellent service if you use the truck inverter
with the engine off...I fed the batteries with 2 - 120 watt panels (total of approx 11 amps...When I sit the truck, at any given
time in daylight they sit at 14.8 absorb and 13.7 float....checked the SP Gravity the other day (2-1/2 year old) and all cells
read 1.280 and slightly higher! You can't expect much better than that...and the big plus is I have never been plugged into
an elect socket to do it...It doesn't matter where my Volvo is parked, I'm always charging!

Ok, so the reason I'm selling the controller is that I just added 1.3 KW to my existing 1.65KW on my 5th wheel so I added another
Midnite solar classic 150 charge controller to the trailer..I had one Midnite classic 150 (96 amps) and a Midnite Kid (30 amps) and
this is not sufficient to handle 3KW coming down from the roof, so I took out the "KID" and installed it in the Volvo...

The MorningStar is in Mint shape and is more than capable of charging a set of starting and house batteries...As usual we are

in sw arizona (yuma area) again this winter in case any one is closeby...controller sells for 179.00 new (check out NAWS website)
I'll take 90 bucks cash and call it a day...email or pm me if interested...I will be visiting quartzite as usual to take in some of the festivities if someone is there, let me know the date in January.

post-14823-0-97706400-1482691826_thumb.jpg

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I'm not fussy on that truck...Actually they seemed to be located in Wellton Az where we are...Hmm, might just go and take
a look, for shits and giggles...210 hp and a 6 speed manual..I'm thinking fuel mileage can't be that great especially
climbing big grades! There's no substitute for lots of HP and good gears...my eaton 13 road ranger is pretty sweet.
I will say though, that is a fairly attractive price for a Hauler and 5th wheel combo, depending on condition!

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I use a 50 watt kit from renolgy to maintan 3 batterys for last 3 years, I have bought several kit since as low as 86.00 and as high as 125.00. That included a50 watt panel, 10 amp controller, mounts, 20 ft mc4 cables and 20 ft wire to batterys. I have also bought 50 watt panels (only) from hurricane solar for 65.00 each (made in Italy ) they are good panels also.

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