FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Anything electric, AC or DC

Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby MtnDon » Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:26 pm

Short and quick.

The main difference between chargers like those Samlex and cheap chargers is that the Samlex type are a true multiple stage charger. When connected to a depleted battery the electronic controls will place the charger in "bulk" charge. That is a charge where the amperage is held constant, or near so. The voltage slowly rises as the charge builds. When the voltage reaches the "absorb" charge set point the charger changes to a constant voltage charge. (Absorb voltage for a typical lead acid FLA battery = about 14.4. This can vary from make to make. Best to check) Absorb charge is usually a timed charge; 2 hours, 4 hours, etc., at a lower amperage rate. What is needed also can vary between makes and types. The final stage is "float", which is supposed to be just enough to maintain the charge without causing excessive water loss.

Advantages of a good multi stage charger include; faster charge than with a cheapy. Saves gas when using a generator. Batteries have a longer life.

A good one includes a remote temperature sensor so if the battery gets hot the charger will slow down the amps.

A cheaper, non multi stage charger can get the battery recharged but will take longer. Reason for that is they do not have a constant current bulk charge. The amps into the battery decline as the charge builds. That is because of increasing battery resistance. If you are plugged into the power grid long enough the battery should reach full charge.

As with many things there are reasons to have better chargers with the multi stages. There is a 4th stage, equalize, that is used from time to time with FLA batteries. Never with an AGM unless the manufacturer lists some special cases and you follow their directions explicitly.

Short, quick and not a complete course....
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Hartse25 » Mon May 02, 2016 5:29 pm

I have a couple of questions. I am putting solar into/on my Shasta compact. I will have a couple of ikea led lights, hacked to be made 12 volt, a 12v fan, and a plug for charging my cell phone. All of these are pretty low amp draws. Do I need a fuse block, a terminal block, or can I just wire clips on each these and clip them all to my battery along with the clips from my charge controller? Does anyone have a brand that they like? Or a link to one? I've looked on Amazon and it is all so overwhelming.

Lastly, has anyone been successful with hacking the ikea lights? I've seen a couple of videos on the interwebs and it looks pretty easy. I found some on clearance for pretty cheap and am excited to try it out.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby MtnDon » Mon May 02, 2016 6:30 pm

You should always use fuses or breakers to protect the wires in anything you build, AC or DC, unless you don't mind risking the potential of melting, burning insulation.

Not sure what you mean by using clips.
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby Graniterich » Mon May 02, 2016 10:49 pm

Look on eBay, Amazon for LED strips, five bucks for fifteen feet! Must solder though
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby lrrowe » Tue May 03, 2016 11:19 am

Graniterich wrote:Look on eBay, Amazon for LED strips, five bucks for fifteen feet! Must solder though


And I can add that it should not be a big deal to solder the strips. I speak from the experience I had two days ago of needing to repair a separated wire from a LED strip by soldering it back. Not a problem.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby dales133 » Tue May 03, 2016 12:12 pm

Theres a fair few of those strip lights now that you just cut to length and they have solder free connections for solder challenged people like myself.
Theres also aluminum extrusion and plastic defusers you can get to put the striplights inside for a more professional apearance.
Alot of lights arnt that hard to convert to led 12v though,i converted the stainless exterior lights on mine.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby plectrudis » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:09 pm

Awesome thread!! Thanks so much, Bruce, for the super-helpful breakdown, and to everyone else for the additional tips.

To summarize, if I want a solar system, a recommended, solidly functioning system would include (prices are rough estimates based on amazon):

    A minimum 65w solar panel--preferably over 100w, since prices have come down since 2006 ~ $150

    A PMW control panel for managing inflow/outflow for battery/panel/charger ~ $70

    A charger/maintainer ~ $86

    A deep cycle battery, preferably AGM, assuming I can find AGM-compatible components at a price I like ~ $240 (zoiks!)

    Total= $546

Am I missing anything? We generally camp for less than 1 week, so I'm assuming 1 battery will suffice--we don't need 2?

If I want to trim some dough off of this total, I'm guessing the best item to target is the battery? Opt for a regular marine battery instead of a deep cycle?

Thanks!
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby mrredrocker » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:37 pm

Looking to equip my teardrop (Little Guy Silver Shadow) with solar for going back on the road this summer. SolarBlvd was one of the more recently mentioned online vendors, was curious if there's a preferred one now in 2017?

When I searched SolarBlvd for Sunguard PWM looks like they only have one result:
https://www.solarblvd.com/products/morn ... ontroller/

First hit on Amazon for same search is:
https://www.amazon.com/MorningStar-ProS ... B0070OS4JS

I have simple needs (LED lights, Fantastic-fan, recharge phone/ipod, so I think the original guidelines from the OP are all I'll need. 80-100W panel would likely suffice. Curious though about the controller. What is the significance of the listed amps (4.5amp, for example, on the SolarBlvd example above). What are the general specs I should look for for a 80-100W solar panel?

Seeing as it's 10+ years since this thread was started, should I just opt for a panel that has a built in controller? Any recommendations appreciated!
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby bdosborn » Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:32 pm

I have a panel with the controller built in and it quit working about the 3rd time I used it. :thumbdown: I still like the Morningstar Sunsaver PWM controllers:

Amazon Linky

10A is about right for a 100W-120W panel. I like to take the panel short circuit rating and add 25% for cold weather and extra bright days to size the controller.

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby greygoos » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:06 pm

Building a tear for my nephew. It is a 4 X 8. His electrical needs are as follows ; 2 LED reading lights for about 1 hour a night, 2 computer fans for 8 hours a night, charge a cell phone 1 time a day. Can anyone point me to a solar kit that would satisfy this requirement. I thank you in advance for any help.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby bdosborn » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:45 am

2009 6.5'X11' TTT - Boxcar
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby greygoos » Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:32 pm

bdosborn wrote:I'd use this panel:
https://www.solarblvd.com/products/solar-cynergy-60-watt-12-volt-solar-panel/
And this controller:
https://www.amazon.com/SunSaver-Charge-Controller-12V-6A/dp/B002MQL6L2/ref=sr_1_2?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1493485388&sr=1-2&keywords=sunsaver

Bruce

Thank you very much for you help. I have read many of your posts in the past and every detail of your build. I appreciate you taking the time to point me in the right direction.
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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby bdosborn » Sat Apr 29, 2017 1:25 pm

No problem! :thumbsup:

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Re: FAQ:Solar Panel without the Technical Stuff

Postby EnduroFit » Thu May 04, 2017 6:42 am

bdosborn wrote:I'd use this panel:
https://www.solarblvd.com/products/solar-cynergy-60-watt-12-volt-solar-panel/
And this controller:
https://www.amazon.com/SunSaver-Charge-Controller-12V-6A/dp/B002MQL6L2/ref=sr_1_2?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1493485388&sr=1-2&keywords=sunsaver

Bruce



So from greygoos' post, with the above mentioned purchases, what else would be needed? Deep cycle battery, usb receptacles, etc?? My brain hurts from reading all the wiring plans, diagrams, seeing all the pics. I'm new and have a trailer that I'd lke to wire up with almost exactly what greygoos has mentioned. Thanks so much. I may one day build my own, but I like the freedom to just head out whenever I want now.

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