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Old 02-12-2012, 01:17 PM   #1
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solar chargers

Going dry camping to Colorado this coming summer. Has anyone used a solar charger for battery. Hoping to maintain battery so will have some power for evenings while not hooked to truck.

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Old 02-12-2012, 05:00 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

I don't have solar panels but I have looked into it. The first thing I would look at is lighting; if you haven't done so already, I would look into LEDs as they use a lot less power. There is a great thread here: LED 12 volt lighting: Long term results

The big thing is to look at how many amps you think you will need to replace each day. Once you have that number in mind, you can look at what you need for solar panels. Reading your post, I hope you were not thinking of one of the small 1.5 or 5 watt panels; as those are really meant to keep a battery that is being stored from draining. Also, when looking at larger panels, keep in mind that you cannot count on getting the advertized wattage all day. For example, a 75 watt panel will give you just over 5 amps of power- provided it is pointed right at the sun, and the sun is high in the sky. Realistically you should count on the advertized wattage 4 hours per day. You will still get some power during non-peak times; but not enough to depend on.

So with that 75 watt panel, you can count on it replacing 20 amps per day. I know my typical consumption is around 30 amps per day; which means the 75 watt panel should extend my 100 amp battery from about 2-3 days up to around a week. Of course if you can conserve power; even better. My two biggest draws are the furnace motor and the TV, so if you can cut back on those it will be a big help.

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Old 02-12-2012, 05:05 PM   #3
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Solar chargers vary greatly in size, from small trickle chargers - some of which barely keep up with the parasite loads (smoke detector, propane detector, fridge circuit board), to others capable of powering large inverters for running a variety of 120v appliances.

You need to give us a better idea of what it is that you want to do with the 12v, both during the day, and at night. Colorado mountains can get cool, no, make that down-right COLD at night, and if you need to run the furnace, the furnace fan and control board are among the biggest 12v power hogs on the average TT.

I did a "big" solar power system last year, well documented in the Modifications Forum, and I can try to answer any specific questions that you might have.

On Edit - Ken makes an EXCELLENT point about reducing load being as or more effective than generating battery recharge.
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Old 02-12-2012, 07:20 PM   #4
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not knowing what type or model of RV makes it difficult to make specific recommendations.

if you have a trailer, the best and cheapest way to extend 12v power is to go to a two battery setup.
changing to LEDs has been a recent mod for many that dry camp.

i have a two 12v setup on my HTT and i easily can go 3-4 days before having to recharge the batteries.
that's without heavy furnace usage, though.

since i camp mainly in wooded campgrounds, solar is not for me.
i carry a Honda 2000 for recharging and running 110v things.
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:05 AM   #5
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Thank you everyone. I am new to this and only am able to get out a few times a year right now. I have a 2009 work and play 26DB. I pull with a 2005 F350 turbo diesel longbed crew cab. I am trying to get set for a couple years away to retire and travel. Day time use is mainly maintaining unit alone. Evenings thinking mainly just lights for inside trailer use. My brothers have been going for years and do not have heat so don"t think I will need that. Thanks for helpful suggestions.
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Old 02-13-2012, 09:19 AM   #6
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Don't fall victim to thos 5-watt trickle chargers. That won't be enough. AT MINIMUM if you want a little good trickle charge got with one of these 15 watts or GREATER.

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Old 02-13-2012, 09:31 AM   #7
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should have done my homework first

Originally Posted by ken0042 View Post

I hope you were not thinking of one of the small 1.5 or 5 watt panels.
the above was also stated by RubenZ

yes I bought one of those 5w a while back
((weak)) to say the least
should have done my homework first
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Old 02-13-2012, 01:52 PM   #8
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I've found that the wattage rating are highly optimistic.
You can figure about 1/2 the rated wattage during good sun.
So a 15W panel will probably give about 7Watts (7/12=0.58amps) during good sun.


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