Solar Panel

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Solar Panel

Postby markopolo » Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:53 am

I'd like to put a solar panel on my current RV to charge the batteries. I had one on my Roadtrek. More info on that here:

http://classbforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=501

Some of our favorite camping spot don't have hookups. My rig has an Onan generator but it is noisy. I don't like running it.

So I've been looking into solar panels. They're still very expensive. :(

Earlier this year I bought a generator from eBay seller wonderfulidea

http://stores.ebay.ca/Wonderful-Gift-Ideas

Wellington was really good to me. The first generator arrived on a Monday with extensive shipping damage but he sent a replacement immediately and I got it on Friday of that same week.

I see he is selling solar panels now and he offers the following info on his Xtreme Gadget website http://www.xtremegadget.com

There are three types of Solar Cells on the market.

Amorphous or Dual Junction Solar Glass - Cheapest but only 7% energy efficiency and 5 years service life. It is big and heavy. If the seller didn't specify, it is the Amorphorus. It is black solid sheet in appearance. It is about half the price per watt compare to Mono-Crystalline. Most of the solar panels on Ebay are of this type.

Poly-Crystalline - 25 plus years service life under direct sunlight and 13% efficiency. It is blue color circular or semi-circular silicon wafer form in appearance.

Mono-Crystalline - 25 plus years service life and up to 20% efficiency. This is the same type use in solar car racing. This type of solar cells is now in worldwide shortage because only a few companies can manufacture this type solar cell. The raw material which is a special kind of silicon sand ore is also in great shortage. It is in black color circular or semi-circular silicon wafer form in appearance


From it's appearance the solar panel on my Roadtrek must have been Poly-Crystalline.

Looks like a 40 watt Mono-Crystalline panel will cost me a little over CDN$300.00 from eBay by the time I get it. I have to think this over. I'll have to figure out how and where to mount it and how to run the wires etc. I'd have to purchase a good controller.

The Morningstar controller http://www.morningstarcorp.com in my Roadtrek seemed to do a great job maximizing the output of the small (maybe 20 watt) solar panel I had.
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Postby julievojo » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:30 am

Let us know how it works out for you Marko. We'd love to be able to give this a try as well. It would be nice to be able to keep the laptop and cell phones charged up even if we're parked in the boondocks somewhere for a couple of days.
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Postby markopolo » Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:57 pm

I've still got a lot of research to do. :D

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Nice package here:

http://www.solarpanelstore.com_RV

A basic package including one Shell 75W solar panel and one Morningstar 10a SunSaver controller, 1 set of UniRac RV Feet, 20' 12-2 Tray cable, and 1 tray cable grip. This is a great 75W package for keeping your 12V RV or boat batteries charged. We can customize if you need a different length of wire or different style of rack.


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Some info here:

http://www.rpc.com.au/products/panels/p ... dules.html

What to expect from a Solar Panel
A single 83 watt solar panel should produce about 5 amps under sunny conditions. Each day of reasonable sunshine you should expect about 23.6 amp-hours from one such panel (based on solar radiation data for north coast NSW). You need to take into account the number of consecutive days when you may not see much sun, and allow for this by having a large enough solar array and battery bank to tide you over through such periods.


So, with a 40 watt panel I might get 10 amp-hours per "good" day. That might be OK for me because I can use LED lighting at night. See my post re: 50% LED lighting here:

http://classbforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=580

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An adjustable rack will allow you to increase efficiency by angling the panel to face the sun.

Image

A swivel base under such a rack would make it better :wink:

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A panel mounted on a crank up, rotating arm controlled from inside the RV would be great. My TV antenna cranks up and rotates and is controlled from inside my RV :idea: I wonder if anyone make something like that for a solar panel?

I saw one automated tracking solar panel mount complete kit at $4,500........... not in the budget :cry:
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Postby markopolo » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:40 am

I've been reading about Uni-Solar's products. It uses Amorphous Triple Junction silicon solar cells.

Image

Their "Peel & Stick" flexible panel is very interesting.

Image

I wonder if I have 9 1/2 feet of space on my RV roof?
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Re: Solar Panel

Postby markopolo » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:02 am

Well, I picked up a used 40 watt Mono-Crystalline panel (4 or 5 years old) and a new Morningstar SunSaver 6 Charge Controller on eBay tonight. The sellers feedback indicated other purchasers are quite happy with theirs. I wanted a narrow panel so I can mount it away from the shadow of my roof-top air conditioner. The solar panel I got measures 38.38" x 17.13". Originally the panel had a 20-year, 80% power output warranty.
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Postby julievojo » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:06 pm

So, Marco....I'm totally ignorant electonically speaking...

Will that be enough to power a lap top and cell phone charger? How much power will that provide to your B?

JV
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Postby markopolo » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:20 pm

I'm no expert in this area, but here's how I'd calculate it:

Basically, you’ll be running from your house batteries. Van alternator, generator, solar panels – are used to charge your batteries.

Laptop - most probably use 100 watts or so. Unless you can get a 12v connection for powering the laptop you'll need an inverter. Inverters are maybe 90% efficient and some laptop power bricks get really warm when connected to Modified Sine Wave inverters. Heat is probably energy wasted in this case. So, conservatively, divide AC watts by 10 to get DC amps. 100/10 = 10 amp hrs. A Pure Sine Wave inverter would be better but it costs more.

(I get a little mixed up with amps, amp hours, amperes)

How many hours will you run it? How many days would this activity take place? I think you’ve mentioned that Chino will be working. (Chino has to take break once in a while!) 4 hours per day will take 40 amp hours from your battery. If you only have a single 100ah battery it'll be pretty much depleted. You're going to need more than one battery.

A cell phone won't use much.

Add lights, fan, pump, TV/DVD, C02 and propane detectors etc. to heavy laptop use, and you'll want to replace 50 to 60 ah per day. From info I've read, one 150 watt panel or two 80 watt panels should do it. Two 100 watt panels like what Cathy has on her Roadtrek should allow you to be independent of grid and generator power.

Link:
http://www.classbforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=717

High voltage panels with a MPPT controller (costly) can give you more amps for your batteries than what the solar panels are rated for. Maybe 25% more.

The panel I purchased has a max amp output of 2.4. I'm more North than you so I can only really hope for 7 amp hrs per day from my small panel with a PWM controller. Maybe 10 on a really good day. My project will cost $300 (maybe $350 tops).

$5 per watt + a controller + bits & pieces + two new batteries to replace one older battery + inverter = $1,300 DIY (shop for bargains) average quality/performance to $3,000 good quality/performance (maybe all installed for you).

Lots of online sellers have RV Solar kits for sale. Here's one from Mr. Solar:

http://www.mrsolar.com/page/MSOS/PROD/rv/MSC-200

Some have kits that come with inverters.

You could of course combine a smaller solar array with some generator use. With a Class B you'll probably have to drive to get fresh water and empty tanks maybe twice per week when dry camping. Driving will also help recharge your batteries.
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Postby markopolo » Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:48 am

There's a solar sizing calculator for RV's here:

http://www.carmanah.com Solar sizing

I think their figures are too high for the propane detector and fridge circuit board though. 4.8 amps per day for the Propane alarm and 9.6 amps per day for the Refrigerator circuit board (fridge on propane) can't be right. I hope they are not right anyway!

Using their calculator, with no laptop use, minimal incandescent light use, water pump and watching one DVD per night it shows I'll need 34 amps per day.

I plan on having three 95ah deep cycle batteries.
95 x 3 = 285 / 2 = 142ah's (50% discharge max)

34 (amps needed) - 7 (amps from my panel) = 27

142 / 27 = 5 days before I'm out of power.

That would be really stressing the batteries. One hour of generator runtime every other day (or every third day maybe) would probably keep everything and everybody happy.

It does confirm that I won't have to run the generator at all for a two day or three day long weekend.
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Postby markopolo » Sun Dec 16, 2007 1:01 am

Another calculator here:

http://www.where-rv-now.com/Notes/Solar/

It lets you enter your location latitude.
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Postby markopolo » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:18 am

After using all these calculators......... :rolleyes: I went ahead & bought a matching 40 watt panel. This project will probably go over $500 now :cry:

The 40 watt panels were $169.99 here:
http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZno1underground7

The seller lists them one at a time.
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Postby julievojo » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:05 pm

Thanks Marco, that's alot of great information. Hopefully we'll get around to doing it this summer.

Please let us know how your project turns out!
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