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Old 05-11-2017, 08:12 PM   #1
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Default Fun w/ Harbor Freight coupons

I bought a small solar panel to trickle charge some of my stored old Cadillacs.

cheap with coupon ( it has no controller so you have to monitor it)

and a free voltmeter.

I'm going to take the panel when boondocking for a slight top up, and have hardwired the meter to the coach battery.




Mike
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:53 PM   #2
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Proof of concept good- went back with a 25% coupon and got the larger 13w folding panel for about $55.

We are headed to the beach next week so I'll see if we get a bang for buck.

Mike
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Old 05-12-2017, 12:15 AM   #3
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Mike; that's cool. I've wondered about that & considered it for motos &our R.Trek, but always careful about H.F. stuff. Cheap & worth that - sometimes. .. will be interested in your review.
Ric.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:00 AM   #4
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alot of the HF stuff is definitely "one-use" ha.

at 12 volts this should provide a peak of 1 amp, that alone will equal the draw of the added fans on my fridge-

with the meter in place I can keep an eye on things from my hammock

Mike
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:34 PM   #5
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where i am as of today- we do not use the shower in the van- there is a storage space for the shower pan in the head- the solar panel will store there.

my wiring now uses a coaxial connector as a quick connect for the panel...this can also use the battery to power my portable xm radio or a small guitar amp- which has an aux in for ipod.

so I can be under the awning listening or playing and have some sun power too.

the voltmeter is wired in and there is a fuse at the battery, just is case a wire rubs on the road.

Mike
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:25 PM   #6
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results are in...

I used my small panels at Padre Island and AZ's mt Lemmon over the last week and with our usual meager use of electricity we appear to verge on no limits off grid.
we went 5 days

the panels were kicked around a few times a day to stay pointed at the sun and even when the sun was 30 minutes from setting it was making power. and an overcast day made some power

the temps were high- mid-80's which drops efficiency but I measured about 600mA of power produced much of the time ( rating should have been closer to 1000 mA- 1 amp under optimal conditions.

the cost/benefit is great


a couple of neighbors use cpaps and are running a genny all night every night..which gets trouble in many campgrounds and want to use a solar & battery system.
for that they would need a larger system.

I did meet 1 camper who kicks his 60w panels around to follow the sun and with 2 deep cycle batteries has no problems powering a cpap


our own power requirements are light, we have nothing on an inverter- it is all 12 volt native- the samsung tv and audio amp, the led lighting and the 300 mA fan kits ( 3) I have on the fridge...
essentially the panel cancels out the draw of the fridge fans.

having the meter wired in sure is handy!


I can see possibly getting a higher rated system...

mike
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Old 05-29-2017, 02:54 PM   #7
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Mike, thnx for update. So, do you have any pics of panels. Where, how did you set them up outside. And where did you carry them inside your van?
Glad they worked for you. Power is good, more power is better!
Ric.
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Old 05-29-2017, 03:02 PM   #8
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panel here:

https://www.harborfreight.com/13-wat...ger-68750.html
less with coupon

( BTW I made a math mistake earlier- the 13w panel should provide .600 mA)

we store in the head in a slot made for the shower pan- (which we do not use)- it would also fit in an armoire if you have one ( our is converted to a pantry with shelves and sliding basket) or under a sofa maybe

I just set up on the ground outside the van- I have a plug wired to the coach battery- make the connection and adjust the panel every few hours to follow the sun- the panel has adjustable tilt built in

mike
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Old 05-30-2017, 01:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkguitar View Post
results are in...

I used my small panels at Padre Island and AZ's mt Lemmon over the last week and with our usual meager use of electricity we appear to verge on no limits off grid.
we went 5 days ............................................
Years ago, I had a 20 watt panel on top of a Roadtrek and came to a similar conclusion as mkguitar. Power was never an issue. If you have an electrically efficient rig like mk's then a even small panel can be very beneficial.
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Old 05-30-2017, 02:17 PM   #10
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As Marko says, you can easily get by on very little power, as lots of campers have done in b's for years, and as mk's van does. B's mostly had one 100ah battery, small shore chargers, and only 50 amps from the alternators, and they go along fine even with incandescent lights and tube CRT TVs. 100 watts of solar let them be offgrid forever in most places.

Now it has all scaled up a bunch with the addition of compressor frigs, lots of device charging, and desires for inverter run things like microwaves, induction cooktops, AC, hairdryers, etc. Throw in the desire to get rid of gas generators and all that puts a lot of pressure on the 12v system. Now even 200ah of batteries is starting to be considered small, and 500 watts of solar is often considered too small to be a factor. Shore chargers of 100 amps can take hours to recoup the daily use, and engine charging is becoming the primary charging method, requiring more driving or idling time.

The times certainly have changed.
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