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Solar Power - A Guide

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No in addition to the 5m cables I ordered a 3m one, that I plan to cut in two to go through the glands into the battery box below the mains input and next to the mover isolator, leaving a couple of "tails" loose. This will allow me to put the panel where it needs to go, I will then run the 5m cables into the battery box and connect to the panel there. That way I do not need to drill the floor or roof. I need to decide if I am going to make a rudimentary stand for the panel, or maybe some suction cups to roof mount it whilst onsite? I will probably go for making/buying a simple stand(any one seen any at a reasonable price?)

 

You make no mention of where the controller is being installed? As said above the solar is sending approx 20 volts (open circuit)to the battery along a 5 meter long cable. This is why I said 2. 5 mm If the controller is close to the battery (1 meter?) then only 2. 5 mm needed here.

 

If the controller is one of those fitted to the back of the solar then voltage drop is inevitable if the cable is very long before battery connection.

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I have a Steca PR1515 controller that is going to go under bed next to mover controller, directly behind battery box. so essentially 5/6m of 4mm cable from solar panel to controller to minimise voltage drop, this should allow for a larger or additional panel at a later date. Then around 1m or so of 2. 5mm cable via inline fuse to battery terminals from controller. I would have liked to have mounted the controller somewhere else, where the nerd in me can monitor it, but I cannot think of anywhere suitable, perhaps I should mount it vertically so that it is visible from the wet locker door?

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Mine was put on the floor behind the battery box inside the bed box until it was moved up the wall under the bed box.

 

The battery input from the solar controller connection uses the mover feed cables which are also in the bed box but on the correct side of the mover switch isolator.

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Mine was put on the floor behind the battery box inside the bed box until it was moved up the wall under the bed box.

 

The battery input from the solar controller connection uses the mover feed cables which are also in the bed box but on the correct side of the mover switch isolator.

 

I have considered using the mover terminals, will need to take a closer look once I have all the bits and pieces. Shame van manufacturers can't decide on a standard solar connection, it would be more use than ext BBQ point!

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At last a nice weekend/day. I have wired everything up, I have spliced into the main 12v cable and put a fuse between there and the controller. I drilled two small holes through the battery box, just above the mover isolation switch, and have run cables from the controller. That way I can connect the solar panel up, and tuck the connector in the battery box using the mains lead cutout.

 

At the moment the panel is producing 3amps, so I am happy with that.

 

Tomorrow I will screw the controller into place and tidy up the wiring, I will take some pictures if people are interested.

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Hi, i currently use two 13w briefcase panels, previously in my last two caravans the power generated was sufficient even in the midst of winter to keep the battery topped up. However our latest caravan has windows with a light tint which has significantly affected the amount power output from the panels (always used inside as not waterproof). Tracker fitted to all three caravans so drain on battery should have been the same. I now want to fit a roof panel to keep the battery topped up instead. I don't intend going off EHU so will only be used when in storage (up to 3 months max. including winter). I understand that mono panels are better but wonder what sort of size panel i should go for, roof space not an issue.

Many thanks

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Hi,

 

I fitted out my old Acapulco camper van with two 80w rigid panels panels using a home made aluminium frame so that they could be tilted towards the sun to maximise the solar effect. This gave us plenty of autonomy all year round and I was able to fit two 110 a/h batteries without chewing up all the available payload.

 

I now want to replicate the system on my caravan. With the much more restricted payload on the caravan rigid panels at 8 kgs a piece are just too heavy. So I've bought 2 80w semi-flexible panels instead these weigh 2-2. 5 kgs each, stick directly to the roof reducing windage and can even be walked on with soft shoes.

 

Although they might be slightly less efficient than the rigid panels they only put 5kgs on the roof instead of 16kgs, I wasn't so much concerned about the dead weight on the roof as the increased moment of inertia of having that weight on the roof and towards the rear of the 'van.

 

Once fitted I'll connect them to the battery via a MPPT solar controller which will help squeeze every possible amp out of the panels.

 

The next challenge is how to maximise the battery set-up, with 110 ah batteries weighing in at 30-35 kgs I can only afford to carry one in the 'van (already fitted for the mover) I need to be able to carry another in the car and connect it in when on site.

 

I'll post again when I've cracked the battery storage problem.

 

Grahame.

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Once the panels are fitted the need for a second battery diminishes I think. I have not had a problem with power available so far and that includes occasional use of a small microwave

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We are now on our 4th night away with just one 80watt panel and a 110ah battery, as I have man flu and tonsilitus I have unfortunately had nothing to do apart form laying down with tv on, even although there has hardly been any sunshine out battery has been fully charged by 11am the following mornings.

 

We are going to fit another 60 watt panel when we get back home although it seems that this will only come in usefull in the winter months.

 

in the last 4 days the solar panel has put 72ah back into battery.

 

Also we have gone with standard framed panels at 8kg for the 80 watt and 7KG for the 60 watt, I am not unduly worried about having 15KG on the roof.

 

we are also very pleased that we have already in four days saved £16 by not having to use £4 a day in petrol for the generator.

Edited by mikedeb

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Hi All,

 

I have 80 watt panal on my caravan roof, which I fixed on about five years ago.

 

Thinking about adding a 100 watt flexi panal onto the roof.

 

Do I wire it up to the existing regulator?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Tim

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Hi All,

 

I have 80 watt panal on my caravan roof, which I fixed on about five years ago.

 

Thinking about adding a 100 watt flexi panal onto the roof.

 

Do I wire it up to the existing regulator?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Tim

Hi,

 

You MAY be able to, but you would need to make sure your current regulator could take the power, would need to realistically be a minimum of a 20 amp regulator to deal with 180watts of solar power

Edited by mikedeb

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Hi,

 

You MAY be able to, but you would need to make sure your current regulator could take the power, would need to realistically be a minimum of a 20 amp regulator to deal with 180watts of solar power

 

Hi Mikedeb,

 

Thanks for reply.

 

If thats the case I would then have to change my regulator.

 

To save having to drill another hole, could I just connect the wires from the new solar panal to the existing solar panal?

 

Thanks Again,

 

Tim

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Hi Mikedeb,

 

Thanks for reply.

 

If thats the case I would then have to change my regulator.

 

To save having to drill another hole, could I just connect the wires from the new solar panal to the existing solar panal?

 

Thanks Again,

 

Tim

You need to match the voltage output of both panels if you are connecting them together. Try and buy an identical panel if you can

 

If your panels are 12 volt and your controller and batteries are 12 volt, then you would need to wire your panels in parallel- you would connect all the positive connections together and separately connect all the negatives together.

 

You can use a

MC4 parallel connector (-) PV-AZB4 for easy of install

Edited by Mr Green

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You need to match the voltage output of both panels if you are connecting them together. Try and buy an identical panel if you can

 

If your panels are 12 volt and your controller and batteries are 12 volt, then you would need to wire your panels in parallel- you would connect all the positive connections together and separately connect all the negatives together.

 

You can use a

MC4 parallel connector (-) PV-AZB4 for easy of install

 

Thanks for reply.

 

The panal I already have is 80 watts, I was thinking of getting a flexi 100 watt one, so in that case I need to get an 80 watt one?

 

Thanks Again,

 

Tim

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Its the voltage that should be the same you can mix different wattages OK. Just select your new panel to have the same voltage output range the amps will just add to your existing set-up.

 

Read this.

 

http://www. oynot. com/solar-panels. html

Edited by edshaz

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Hi Mikedeb,

 

Thanks for reply.

 

If thats the case I would then have to change my regulator.

 

To save having to drill another hole, could I just connect the wires from the new solar panal to the existing solar panal?

 

Thanks Again,

 

Tim

Hi Tim

 

Yes certainly connect both panels together on roof, you can either use the special mc4 branch connectors, or do as I intend doing and just splice the new panel into the old panel, and use adhesive lined heatshrink to ensure a water resistant insulation, just be sure to parellel connect Ie +to+ and -to-.

 

You would still need to change your regulator though to one that would be capable of about 20amps.

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Its the voltage that should be the same you can mix different wattages OK. Just select your new panel to have the same voltage output range the amps will just add to your existing set-up.

 

Read this.

 

http://www. oynot. com/solar-panels. html

Just don't mix polycrystalline and monocrstyline etc, it needs to be the same type of panel so the flexible one may not be suitable

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Hi All

 

Many thanks for replies.

 

One more question, which might sound a bit silly, but;

 

On a very sunny day my 80 watt panel will kick out 4amps.

 

So, going on that, say a 100 watt panel might give 5 amps.

 

So why do I need a regulator that can take 20 amps, where a 10 amp one would be ok.

 

Thanks Again

 

Tim

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Hi the reason for my saying a 20amp regulator is to prevent running on the maximum threshold of a 10 amp regulator.

 

My 80 watt panel under perfect conditions actually outputs 5. 2 amps (As measured weekend just gone), and most 100watt panel can produce around 5. 85,

 

I personally would rather have an over rated regulator/controller rather than having the possibility of overloading a 10amp one.

 

Just my personal opinion

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Hi the reason for my saying a 20amp regulator is to prevent running on the maximum threshold of a 10 amp regulator.

 

My 80 watt panel under perfect conditions actually outputs 5. 2 amps (As measured weekend just gone), and most 100watt panel can produce around 5. 85,

 

I personally would rather have an over rated regulator/controller rather than having the possibility of overloading a 10amp one.

 

Just my personal opinion

 

I agree its better to use a 20 amp with those two panels. Its a bit like having a car that can do 120mph but never going over 70 on a motorway, that's better than having a car that's maximum is 70 mph and running it flat out on the motorway.

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I agree its better to use a 20 amp with those two panels. Its a bit like having a car that can do 120mph but never going over 70 on a motorway, that's better than having a car that's maximum is 70 mph and running it flat out on the motorway.

 

Thanks for replies.

 

Thats a shame, as I was hopeing I would be still,be able to use my Steca 10amp regulator, instead of getting another one.

 

Could someone send me a link for a suitible regulator, also a 100 watt semi flexible panal. The panels all seem to be around the £200 mark please.

 

Thanks Again

 

Tim

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I'm new to this site so please excuse me if I haven't come in at the right point.

Re solar panels, I've bought a 60w kit off ebay (bless 'em) but the instructions are not that clear.

On the charger there are 3 sets of connections, solar panel, battery and load. As I intend to fix the panel permanently to the roof of the van I will be wiring it in to the battery, using 2 of the three sets of connections. The last set of connections are 'load', what do I need to wire in here? I assume the battery will be the centre point for all power coming in and going out so I'm not sure if they are needed. Also, with the panel wired in permanently will you damage anything if there is no battery in the circuit?

Any advice will be welcome

Cheers

Peter

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The 3 sets of connection are usually Panel. Battery and load with a +ve and -ve for each. The load connection is not used in the system you are going to fit so just leave them empty. The load connections on some controllers can be timed and may be switched off on low voltage neither of which you need. The controller will limit the voltage to a safe level without a battery but its not a good idea to do that just in case it fails and puts a high voltage on your caravan system.

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The load connection confuses many.

 

It is a output supply from the controller that is turned OFF by the controller if the battery voltage drops below a set voltage.

 

This is good protection for the battery. ;) We all tend to connect direct from the battery so this facility is not used.

 

I use it to supply a cigar lighter in the van as it can be switched off if not in use.

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