Solar panels

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Solar panels

Postby vitya-velik » Mon Oct 26, 2015 1:01 am

How many ah would i need in my batteries for 135 watts of power??

Is it a good idea to convert my battery power--> 12V. to 115 volt to make it more convenient to charge stuff?

Also can I use a converter to convert stsndar 115V from my house into 12V to use on my camper?
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Re: Solar panels

Postby troubleScottie » Mon Oct 26, 2015 5:48 am

In reverse order,

Yes a convert changes shore power/household voltage AC to DC for charging. Lots of variations on this. You want a smart charger -- minimum 3 stage charger. Again lots of variations to draw from. You need some sort of charging system to recharge the batteries even if you are only charging at home.

There are inverters which converts DC to AC. There are lots of discussion on them, how they work, issues with inefficiencies, etc. For many items it is inefficient to convert from DC to AC back to DC. A good example is a phone charger. A USB outlet ( roughly 5VDC) and cable is more efficient than AC charger.

There are lots of discussion on whether to have or not have AC, etc. Generally, most TD have DC for a large majority of the electrical components. Lights, water pumps, water heaters, refrigerators, radio, television, fan all can be found in a DC variant. They are generally smaller, more power efficient and easier to install. With the exception of LED lighting, generally they are more expensive than the AC equivalent. Certain items -- namely air conditioning more or less require AC/shore power/generators to be run. Most people put in AC for this and general addition of items while camping with power eg microwaves, coffee machines, etc

A lot depends on what you are wanting to use and how you want to camp eg boondocking, glamping, etc.

Your first question requires more information. AH is amp-hours. 135 watts is Amp times volts or roughly 12 volts times 12 amps. Your battery depends on how long and how much current is drawn for your various items. For example, running a 3 amp item for 2 hours need 6 AH. Using 12 amps per hour for 24 hours will consume 288 AH each day. You need detemine the amperage for all devices and estimate how long you will use them every day. Remember, you will not run most items all the time. Even something like a refrigerator will not use the same number of amps as listed as it is cooling only part of the time.

Your battery AH is the 20 hour AH rating divided by 2. One should not discharge the battery more than 50%. So a 100 AH battery will provide about 50 AH. For continuous 12 amp draw, you are looking at only a little over 4 hours of power before must recharge your battery.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Shadow Catcher » Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:47 pm

Conservation is the other half of the equation, LED lights not using anything with resistance heat, i.e. coffee maker... Most chargeable electronics can be powered with 12V, anything using a USB, laptop, Cell.
I have a 185W high voltage panel feeding through a Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT controller into a 150AH AGM batter, but we are powering among other things a WAECO 12V refrigerator.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby vitya-velik » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:43 pm

Shadow Catcher wrote:Conservation is the other half of the equation, LED lights not using anything with resistance heat, i.e. coffee maker... Most chargeable electronics can be powered with 12V, anything using a USB, laptop, Cell.
I have a 185W high voltage panel feeding through a Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT controller into a 150AH AGM batter, but we are powering among other things a WAECO 12V refrigerator.

How much was the solar panel battery and controller?
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Shadow Catcher » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:45 pm

The panel 66 cell high voltage bought about eight years ago (higher prices) meant for a grid tie system puts out 70V no load about $400, Morningstar SunSaver MPPT about $200, Lifeline 150 AH AGM $400.
The advantage of a high voltage panel is that you get usable current from sun up to sun down and in a shady camp site.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Gold5one » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:05 pm

I have purchased some panels on Ebay from a seller called Fred480v who lives in N Indiana. My last panel was 120W and it's a now harder to find, 18v one for a 12 volt battery- I bought it a year ago for $115-- I would never have dreamed they would drop to under $1.00 per watt. I see he still has these lower voltage panels-

http://www.ebay.com/sch/fred480v/m.html?_ipg=50&_sop=12&_rdc=1
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Prototear » Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:40 pm

I've been watching for moderate sized crystalline (poly or mono) for eventual use when I get my trailer built and I came upon this today. Home Depot has some Nature Power panels add the deal of the day today. http://m.homedepot.com/SpecialBuy/SpecialBuyOfTheDay so I thought I'd let others know.

I got 2 40-watt monocrystalline panels in aluminum frames for $80 each with free shipping. I also got their controller for $25 that wasn't on sale.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Squareback » Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:10 pm

Using 2) 100 watt Renogy panels I got off Amazon. Did a little research and they are very highly rated. :)
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Esteban » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:56 pm

I bought a Grape Solar 160 watt panel that will be mounted on the roof of my teardrop. It was purchased from Amazon.com for $229.99. Home Depot sells it online (not in stores) too.

The solar panel will be mounted to the roof with Instapark Drill-free Solar Panel Mounts which get permanently glued to the roof and add a little bit of an aerodynamic look. They are drill free so there is much less opportunity for roof leaks than there would be with standard aluminum L shaped solar panel mounts that are screwed into the roof. They also help keep the solar panel from "wandering off."

My teardrop will be 64" wide on the outside to accommodate the 58" x 26" solar panel and the solar panel mounts on the roof. That width also provides room inside the cabin for a queen sized mattress.

One of my motivations to have a relatively high wattage solar panel is to provide sufficient battery power so I can use an ac/dc fridge freezer like the TruckFridge TF41 or an ARB 37 Fridge Freezer. Won't need to buy ice every couple of days. No soggy food. Cold adult beverages. Ice cream. Off-the-grid boondocking.
Last edited by Esteban on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby lrrowe » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:07 pm

Esteban wrote:I bought a Grape Solar 160 watt panel that will be mounted on the roof of my teardrop. It was purchased from Amazon.com for $229.99. Home Depot sells it online (not in stores) too. The solar panel will be mounted to the roof with Instapark Drill-free Solar Panel Mounts which get permanently glued to the roof and add a little bit of an aerodynamic look.

My teardrop will be 64" wide on the outside to accommodate the 58" x 26" solar panel and the solar panel mounts on the roof. That width also provides room inside the cabin for a queen sized mattress.

One of my motivations to have a relatively high wattage solar panel is to provide sufficient battery power so I can use an ac/dc fridge freezer like the TruckFridge TF41 or an ARB 37 Fridge Freezer. Won't need to buy ice every couple of days. No soggy food. Cold adult beverages. Ive cream. Off-the-grid boondocking.


:thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Did you see my post where I noticed that they say they have new models coming this summer?
http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=65086

I know this is an expensive consideration, but because of these possibly better units this summer, I might consider getting a very small dorm refrig to hold me over til then or to get the smallest Truckfridge model now and also consider the larger TF51 (new model) this summer to go along with it. My logic is that this small model can be a portable that I use with the CT or with my TV when I travel w/o the trailer attached. Heck money is no object, right. Well not really and this may only be a dream.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Esteban » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:16 pm

lrrowe wrote:
Esteban wrote:I bought a Grape Solar 160 watt panel that will be mounted on the roof of my teardrop. It was purchased from Amazon.com for $229.99. Home Depot sells it online (not in stores) too. The solar panel will be mounted to the roof with Instapark Drill-free Solar Panel Mounts which get permanently glued to the roof and add a little bit of an aerodynamic look.

My teardrop will be 64" wide on the outside to accommodate the 58" x 26" solar panel and the solar panel mounts on the roof. That width also provides room inside the cabin for a queen sized mattress.

One of my motivations to have a relatively high wattage solar panel is to provide sufficient battery power so I can use an ac/dc fridge freezer like the TruckFridge TF41 or an ARB 37 Fridge Freezer. Won't need to buy ice every couple of days. No soggy food. Cold adult beverages. Ive cream. Off-the-grid boondocking.


:thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Did you see my post where I noticed that they say they have new models coming this summer?
http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=65086

I know this is an expensive consideration, but because of these possibly better units this summer, I might consider getting a very small dorm refrig to hold me over til then or to get the smallest Truckfridge model now and also consider the larger TF51 (new model) this summer to go along with it. My logic is that this small model can be a portable that I use with the CT or with my TV when I travel w/o the trailer attached. Heck money is no object, right. Well not really and this may only be a dream.


Yes I saw your post about newer, better, TruckFridges becoming available. I can get by for awhile, before I buy an ac/dc chest type fridge/freezer, with a Yeti ice chest I bought years ago. If money were no object (yeah in my dreams) I'd get the ARB 37 which will fit in a slide our drawer under the counter in my galley.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby Adirondackersouth » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:03 am

Solar Panels and Fridge question:

I have noticed that a lot of teardrops sold commercially (T@B's) for example, seem to come with 12V/110V fridges. It has been my limited experience with a 12V fridge that I used to carry in my truck, that they don't do well in the heat (80+) which is strange because isn't that when you want your things to stay cold? Maybe it is just me but my fridge was a waste of money. Give me ice every time please. 32F with a slurry of water is better than keeping my food coolish with a very expensive non-efficient fridge inches from the baking sun. This is not rocket science here? Insulation insulation insulation

I am not a yearly camper let me say that. Spring - late Fall are my times of the year I camp. Mostly because I teach school and those are the times I can get out. I have camped in the late Winter a few times but that was either in an unheated Scout cabin in the mountains or tent. Cold manageable and fun. COLD being the operative word there. I was also in CAP back in high school and went through SAR training for the mountains of New York State. Again fun...

In the past 8 years I have been solo tent camping for 4-6 weeks traveling around in the heat of the summer and using for my cooling needs a 1970 Coleman Big Red ice chest. I know there are better ones out there. I bought one and returned it due to poor craftsmanship. I have spent in a 5 week trip a chunk of change to keep my food cold. 40 lbs of ice in a stocked chest maybe 3 days. 4 dollars or so every three days for 5 weeks = roughly 150.00 in ICE. Crazy.

Has anyone found a better alternative?

I stayed at a house two summers ago on an island in downeast Maine. They were entirely solar/wind. They had a fridge that looked like it was strait out of the Flintstones with high insulation both in the freezer and refrigerator compartment. I did not catch the brand but they said it worked great. Astonishment still fills my mind when I heard how few watts it took to run. Is there anything equivalent in the "wee dinker" realm? This fridge was a behemoth!

So this brings me to the Solar panel fridge question:

This really works?

Solar for lights, ipad, phone, but for a coffee maker? Really? I am astonished. Flame, boil, perk, brew, drink. Pennies on the dollar in fuel.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby MtnDon » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:35 am

There are DC fridges like Koolatron and many others that use the peltier effect to keep cool and there are DC fridges like ARB, Truckfridge and others that use actual compressors known as Danfoss compressors. World of difference between the two types. Peltier don't work well when the surroundings get hot. We have had ice cream in SE UT on hot summers days. Of course that was with an ARB set to run as a freezer.
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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Solar Panels - Victron MPPT Charge Controller

Postby Esteban » Tue Jul 26, 2016 4:22 pm

:thumbsup: I'll probably buy a Victron BlueSolar 75/15 MPPT Charge Controller - 15 Amps / 75 Volts for my teardrop's solar power controller. Amazon's price ($98.00 on 7/26/2016) seems pretty good. If if you do an internet search for the best price it can be purchased for about $10 less. From what I've read a mppt controller will harvest 10-30% more power from a solar panel than a lower cost pwm controller will. The price premium for a high quality mppt controller like the Victron seems very worthwhile.

:thinking: :thumbsup: I'm now leaning toward purchasing a Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer - 46 Liters which is $651.10 on 7/26/2016. A smaller capacity ARB37 fridge/freezer which I had wanted costs $801.99 from Amazon today (7/26/2016). The CFX-50US will easily fit in a slide out drawer under the galley counter top. A Truckfridge or ARB with a similar (~46 liters) capacity are too tall to fit.

:) :thumbsup: Being able to power an ac/dc fridge/freezer is the most compelling reason for me to install a solar panel on the roof of my teardrop trailer. Roof space is limited which is the strongest reason I choose to buy a mppt controller to maximize the solar power harvest to recharge the teardrop's battery. I'll be freed from the need for shore power every few days and be able to camp or boondock in comfort (maybe even a little luxury) much longer.

:thinking: A Vmaxtanks Vmaxslr125 AGM Deep Cycle 12v 125ah SLA rechargeable Battery seems like a high quality/lower cost 125AH battery to use. A similar 100AH battery would probably be good enough and lower the cost a little. vmaxtanks.com/Campers-and-Rvs has them in many sizes.
Last edited by Esteban on Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Solar panels

Postby GuitarPhotog » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:14 pm

I use an 80 w Renology panel to recharge my 60 AH battery. The solar panel is movable because I don't like having to park my brown aluminum trailer in the sun.

I have gone 5 days without plugging in, and believe I can go longer, but haven't had the opportunity.

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