Portable Solar Hookup Question

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Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby VermonTear » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:20 am

I'm at the early stages of thinking/investigating about adding a portable solar panel to our 4x8 teardrop when we're out for a longer camping trip in an area with no electric hookups. We have a 12 v battery, an inverter, LED lights and don't use much juice except to grind coffee and charge phones. But on dark cool nights it would be nice to plug in the tablet or computer and watch a movie and not worry about draining the battery. I've looked at some 130 watt folding portable panels (Humless).
We do have the ability to charge the battery while driving via the leads from the battery in the car, through the tail-light/stop-light connector. I'm wondering if I can't just run leads from the solar panel controler to a connector that would connect with those same two leads in the tail-light/stop-light connector on the teardrop that connect to the battery. Wouldn't that work and save me having another pigtail hanging out of the battery to connect to?
Ken

My first build 12/2011: viewtopic.php?p=890137#890137
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby tony.latham » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:54 am

VermonTear wrote:I'm at the early stages of thinking/investigating about adding a portable solar panel to our 4x8 teardrop when we're out for a longer camping trip in an area with no electric hookups. We have a 12 v battery, an inverter, LED lights and don't use much juice except to grind coffee and charge phones. But on dark cool nights it would be nice to plug in the tablet or computer and watch a movie and not worry about draining the battery. I've looked at some 130 watt folding portable panels (Humless).
We do have the ability to charge the battery while driving via the leads from the battery in the car, through the tail-light/stop-light connector. I'm wondering if I can't just run leads from the solar panel controler to a connector that would connect with those same two leads in the tail-light/stop-light connector on the teardrop that connect to the battery. Wouldn't that work and save me having another pigtail hanging out of the battery to connect to?


I installed a marine plug-in on my tongue box where my battery is parked... but as I think of this idea, I don't know why it wouldn't work to use your trailer plug.

:thinking: :thumbsup:

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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby Dano-Mich » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:59 am

I made a portable water resistant box to house my solar controller with a 7-way plug on the outside. I simply plug my trailer's 7-way into this box and connect the leads to my 100W portable solar panel. Worked well last summer to keep my battery topped off.

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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby Socal Tom » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:18 pm

That solution is kind of cool, but when it comes to charging the battery, the shorter the leads between the charge controller and the battery the better your charging will be. If you battery is on the tongue, then that system is probably fine ( given that you use a 10g or better wire). If the battery is in the galley, then you will be losing some amps pushing the power all the way back there. That being said, the panel manufacturers make " suitcase" solar setups that put the charge controller on the panels, and provide 10ft leads to connect to the battery. So it can't be too bad.
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby VermonTear » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:28 pm

Thanks for the affirmation on my thinking. Looks like I'll give that approach a try. Appreciate your insights, y'all!!

Ken
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby GuitarPhotog » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:20 pm

My 80W solar panel is connected to the trailer with 25 ft of AWG10 "boat cable." The charge controller is right next to the 60AH battery in the trailer. The cable connects to the trailer with standard MC4 connectors. The trailer end just hangs out on a pigtail that runs through the floor of the trailer. No waterproof connector needed.

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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby bc toys » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:16 am

what kind of batteries are you using if it is a marine battery from that parts store most likely the amp hours are only about 50amh you might want to look into getting a gel battery with higher amh you can get them at costco and places like that that would help with you longer running time
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby rkanz » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:39 pm

I run a 35 ah agm battery for LED lights, Maxxair fan, USB charge ports, and Bluetooth speakers. I have a 50 watt Grape panel and controller. I use 25' of low voltage landscape wire connecting the panel to a ZAMP connector on the side. This provides more than enough storage capacity. Battery never gets close to 12 volts.
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby friz » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:55 am

I have a 50watt panel with the controller on the back. This is my solution.ImageImage

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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby bc toys » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:46 am

are you using this just to keep your batteries charged up not trying to run a DC cooler or inverter off this system
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby friz » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:33 pm

bc toys wrote:are you using this just to keep your batteries charged up not trying to run a DC cooler or inverter off this system

Keeps my 100ah battery topped off. Runs fan, lights, 12v outlets, and USB ports.
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby Socal Tom » Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:32 pm

friz wrote:
bc toys wrote:are you using this just to keep your batteries charged up not trying to run a DC cooler or inverter off this system

Keeps my 100ah battery topped off. Runs fan, lights, 12v outlets, and USB ports.


I was pleasantly surprised how well a 50W panel did at keeping my battery topped off, even with a 12V fridge. With my 87Ah battery, I could theoretically go a typical camping weekend ( friday nite to Sunday early afternoon) and be right about 50% power when I left. With a 50 watt panel running on Sat, it stays above 70%. I added a 2nd panel and now it stays above 85%, but I could ( theoretically) go forever ( as long as there is sun). With 50W I get below 50% around tuesday night.
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby jondbar628 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:32 pm

Solar :thumbsup:
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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby GuitarPhotog » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:52 pm

bc toys wrote:what kind of batteries are you using if it is a marine battery from that parts store most likely the amp hours are only about 50amh you might want to look into getting a gel battery with higher amh you can get them at costco and places like that that would help with you longer running time


If you are commenting about my 60 AH battery, it is an Interstate Deep Cycle AGM (adsorbed glass mat) battery. Gel cells are not widely available in high AH varieties and are not as flexible as AGM.

As for longevity and running time, I used an identical battery in my TD for 6 years without it ever getting low (<12V) or giving me any problems until I accidently left the fan on 24/7 for a month without charging the battery. That "discharge down to flat" killed the battery, it would not take or hold a charge.

I'm perfectly happy with my setup of the Interstate 60 AH battery, Progressive Dynamics PD4045 converter/charger, Morningstar PWM charge controller, and Renology 80W solar panel. I camped without hookups several times this summer and never got below 80% on the battery.l

YMMV

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Re: Portable Solar Hookup Question

Postby John61CT » Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:17 am

I'm amazed 50W and under 100AH is enough for a fridge.

Longterm boondocking up north I bet not when cloudy weather sets in.

The best battery value by far is Duracell (actually Deka/East Penn) FLA deep cycle golf cart batteries, 2x6V, less than $180 per 200+AH pair from BatteriesPlus or Sam's Club

Yes heavy, but take care of them can last 6-8 years.
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