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Thread: Solar charging

  1. #21
    Patrol Freak lorrieandjas's Avatar
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    I think Cuppa is on the money. Going to be an interesting debate this weekend, however something I have always kept in mind for camping power, solar, etc is that there are some things that are fact (physics), some things that are myth (or just plain incorrect) and some that come down to use, location and quality.

    For example:

    Fact - the laws of physics determine such things as watts, amps, volts, losses, etc and their calculation. These are inviolable and true.

    Myth - heaps of them out there and generally debunked by the above.

    Use - this is where it gets interesting. There is no one size fits all (some come close) setup as everyone has different needs. Things like location and season determine amount of sunlight hours if solar is a consideration. Size of fridges, beer consumption (ie how often a fridge is opened 'cause you don't open them for any other reason right?) and lighting setup, other accessories, amount of time used, etc all determine power requirements.

    I have found in the past, and I think threedogs advocates this as well, that putting together a list of your power consuming devices is the first step. Second step is working out how long you need to be self-sufficient for, third step is working out what type of camping/use you require. Ie - are you totally "off the grid" for weeks at a time, or do you need a fridge to run in the back of the car until you get to that powered campsite? Do you need a mix of both - in which case variable setups are a good option. Cost is another factor to consider as well.

    Sorry - haven't really added to the solution (as I think there are different horses for courses) but hopefully some food for thought on some of the considerations.

    For what it's worth Cuppa's post above is very, very useful and a very good rule of thumb in my opinion based on physics, use and experience.

    Jas
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  3. #22
    Patrol God threedogs's Avatar
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    Little bit off thread, but I always travel with an Esky/icebox for beer, Need fuel everyday, so might as well get ice at the same time. Engel,waceo or national luna no good.if I boil. but my esky along with my water supply will keep me safe and possibly back "on the road again" Too many ifs with Solar, might take it and it'll rain all weekend for nothing of well, thats camping eh. lol.
    Last edited by threedogs; 27th November 2012 at 12:59 PM.
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  4. #23
    Travelling Podologist Cuppa's Avatar
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    Not off thread at all TD. It's another solution to keeping things cold. If whatever solution someone adopts works for them it is the right solution. A lot to be said for the KISS principle. However I will say that a 'half hearted' solar installation based upon 'somebody said' rather than on the specific needs & usage of the individual is often a pain in the a*se as jas infers.

    Cuppa

    2006 4.2TDi ex-Telstra Remote area Camper. 425w roof mounted solar, 360Ah Aux batts, BCDC1240, Onboard hot & cold pressurised & filtered water, (25 litre hot water calorifier), ARB fridge, ARB freezer, Built in kitchen, 240v, 3 Genie exhaust + dynotune, 2 lift, Lovells GVM upgrade, ROH Blaktrak steel wheels, Bridgestone D697s, Redarc gauges/pillarpod, Hema HX-1, CB, dual rear view cameras, Onboard 30amp Victron mains charger, second glovebox, dual seat conversion, Tyredog TPMS, Boss PX7 onboard air with 9 litre tank, 350w inverter, Steel bullbar, Harrop Eaton diff lock (front), Warn winch, Snorkel, Dual spares , 160 litre water tank, 2010 Tvan Tanami. (incl another 70 litre water tank) with matching wheels/tyres (& 3rd spare)
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  6. #24
    Patrol Freak lorrieandjas's Avatar
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    Agree Cuppa and Threedogs. I use a Waeco 80L Coolbox and it keeps the cans cold and I've managed to keep it with ice for up to 3 days...... By that time need more beer anyway so good time to stock up on ice as well!

    Jas
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  7. #25
    Patrol God threedogs's Avatar
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    Sort of enhanced my ice box to make it a bit more efficient, those on the the weekend will see,
    Made another lid that hides 25mm of polystyrene. I just leave in sun all weekend no probs,
    Jas if you up your can per day ratio it'll throw your travel plans all out of whack, LOL
    Last edited by threedogs; 27th November 2012 at 04:17 PM.
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  8. #26
    Patrol Freak lorrieandjas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by threedogs View Post
    Jas if you up your can per day ratio it'll throw your travel plans all out of whack, LOL
    And it's a real pain when that happens! Easier just to stick to consistent drinking routine!
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    2013 Travelling Wilbury's Cape York Trip - bring it on!

    WARNING: Towballs used for recoveries can, and do kill people and damage property.

  9. #27
    SUCH IS LIFE Maxhead's Avatar
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    Great thread boys,,, One question though an I think MudRunner has answered this before but what is a good panel?

    Do we look at the efficiency percentage or do we look at the current output per Watt or something else? You can quickly work out proper current output by max voltage but how can you trust the figures on the web sites /ebay, etc?

    I have a 120W panel on my van and max I seem to get out of it is 5A. It bloody cost an arm and a leg just about so I might have been ripped. So price is not always the quality factor
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  10. #28
    Patrol Freak lorrieandjas's Avatar
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    One of the factors that is recommended to look at is definitely efficiency - not much good to have a 100W panel with 20% efficiency - also need to look at efficiency degradation over time. Some of the lesser quality panels degrade very quickly whilst others have a slower reduction in efficiency. Basically the most efficient panel you can get is the best. As an example a 100W panel at 70% efficiency puts out 70W. So W=VA so A=W/V or in this case Amps = 70/12 = 5.83Amps per hour. Now if you have an 80W panel at 90% efficiency you get Amps = 72/12 = 6Amps per hour.

    Jas
    Last edited by lorrieandjas; 27th November 2012 at 05:03 PM.
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    2012 Silver GU 8. Bullbar, Warn XD9000 winch, snorkel, towbar, roof bars and rack, awning, 33" Mickey Thompson ATZ 4ribs, 2" lift - Dobinsons coils and Koni shocks, more to come......

    2013 Travelling Wilbury's Cape York Trip - bring it on!

    WARNING: Towballs used for recoveries can, and do kill people and damage property.

  11. #29
    Travelling Podologist Cuppa's Avatar
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    Efficiency. I would be very happy to have panels with a 20% efficiency!

    What Jas is referring to is not what is most commonly referred to when manufacturers of panels talk about efficiency. Generally the efficiency of a panel refers to it's output in comparison to the amount of sunlight that falls onto it. ie. it's conversion efficiency. The best of the current standard is up around 18%. Just a few years ago 15% was considered pretty good. Thought I should clarify that as it's another area for confusion.

    That said, my view is that at the prices of solar panels today it's probably not worth getting too worried about it, although there have been some sellers flogging off panels on ebay stating they were such & such wattage, when in fact they were lower. The 'giveaway' was that they did not include the size of the panel in their ad. If you know the dimensions of the panel you can work out it's area & then compare to other 'known quantities'. If the area is less - steer clear. I, & a number of others I know, have purchase panels from Bit Deals (Bitoo) & OzPlaza on ebay & have been happy with the quality. The 125w Bit Deals panel (Rich Solar brand) i mounted on an angle on the cabin roof was putting out around 7.5 amps when I tested it on a hazy sunny day. Given my 70% expectation I was more than happy. (It is common for new panels to exceed there rated output when new). My OzPlaza folding panels work equally well. All are as good as the 125w Kyoceras I bought in 2006 at a cost of over $1100 each back then, posibly better (& at a fifth of the price). My two 60w Solarex panels, also bought in 2006 (both second hand) will start to give a little (only talking fractions of an amp) output earlier & later in the day than the Kyoceras. There are some issues with buying panels intended for home roof installation, which have different voltage outputs (some of which can be overcome using some MPPT regulators), but although cheaper are probably best avoided unless you know what you doing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_panel

    http://sroeco.com/solar/most-efficient-solar-panels

    http://www.ecogeek.org/solar-power/1329 Note the date on the last link. There have been many claims about increased efficiency in solar technology over the past few years, but as yet none have reached the market in an affordable package, many have not reached the market at all.

    Cuppa
    Last edited by Cuppa; 27th November 2012 at 05:02 PM.

    2006 4.2TDi ex-Telstra Remote area Camper. 425w roof mounted solar, 360Ah Aux batts, BCDC1240, Onboard hot & cold pressurised & filtered water, (25 litre hot water calorifier), ARB fridge, ARB freezer, Built in kitchen, 240v, 3 Genie exhaust + dynotune, 2 lift, Lovells GVM upgrade, ROH Blaktrak steel wheels, Bridgestone D697s, Redarc gauges/pillarpod, Hema HX-1, CB, dual rear view cameras, Onboard 30amp Victron mains charger, second glovebox, dual seat conversion, Tyredog TPMS, Boss PX7 onboard air with 9 litre tank, 350w inverter, Steel bullbar, Harrop Eaton diff lock (front), Warn winch, Snorkel, Dual spares , 160 litre water tank, 2010 Tvan Tanami. (incl another 70 litre water tank) with matching wheels/tyres (& 3rd spare)
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    lorrieandjas (27th November 2012)

  13. #30
    Patrol Freak lorrieandjas's Avatar
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    You're right Cuppa and thanks for clarifying so I didn't add more confusion!
    __________________________________________
    Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.......

    2012 Silver GU 8. Bullbar, Warn XD9000 winch, snorkel, towbar, roof bars and rack, awning, 33" Mickey Thompson ATZ 4ribs, 2" lift - Dobinsons coils and Koni shocks, more to come......

    2013 Travelling Wilbury's Cape York Trip - bring it on!

    WARNING: Towballs used for recoveries can, and do kill people and damage property.

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