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Old 04-30-2012, 07:13 PM   #1
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Solar Trickle Charger for Hardside Battery

Hello All- GREAT site, and it has truly helped us in our decision, and the process of purchasing our new A122BH and we LOVE IT!!!!

We took delivery last Saturday and immediately headed to the hills outside of San Diego for a trial run before our 5-day Yosemite trip next week. Everything worked great, except my grossly underestimating of the lasting power of the battery.

What wasn't so pleasant was the constant mind-numbing alarm sound when the battery died- that lasted pretty much all night until the battery fully drained.

Lesson well-learned! My question is: has anyone used a solar trickle charger for their battery? I've seen a couple on line that are fairly inexpensive, and may help recharge the battery during the day while we are not using any power from the 12volt. We'll be dry-camping, and I'd like to avoid the use of a generator or running my car for extended periods. There's enough racket in Yosemite campsites without adding to it!

Thanks!
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:27 PM   #2
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I don't think a solar charger will help you if you can't make it throught the night.
what if you have an overcast day I don't think with a sunny day you'll get a complete charge even.
Gennie is most likely your best bet and adding a second battery.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:55 AM   #3
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Ya- I'm sure you are right. Certainly learned a lot on how to manage battery life this week!

I have invested in a Goal Zero solar battery (can also charge from the wall). It takes a 220v plug in and hope to use it to keep the battery topped off. Just need enough to run the furnace for a bit to take chill off at night.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:58 AM   #4
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It's a 110v plug, 30 amp. Don't connect 220 unless u want to dry everything.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justbryguy View Post
Ya- I'm sure you are right. Certainly learned a lot on how to manage battery life this week!

I have invested in a Goal Zero solar battery (can also charge from the wall). It takes a 220v plug in and hope to use it to keep the battery topped off. Just need enough to run the furnace for a bit to take chill off at night.
Which one are you talking about?
I don't think they take or deliver 220VAC.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:49 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the help- I'm certainly a novice in all this, and struggling to understand the electrical terminology...

This is the solar generator I was referring to
Extreme Adventure Kit - Boulder 30 Solar Panel | Visit Goal Zero
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:10 PM   #7
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Solar ...

I have converted my Aframe to Solar .. for trips and campsites that dont provide power for our trailer. Currently I'm running dual group 31 deep cycle batteries, a 80 watt dedicated panel to use/recharge the batteries for the trailer, and 30 watt panel to recharge a portable inverter/battery package.
Depending how long your trips are your 30 watt panel can keep up to the demand, however you will definately have to cut back on power usage. Being that we only get about 5 hrs. of usable sun for solar sake, and a 30 watt panel only pumps out about 2.5 amps ( 30/12=2.5), during a good sunny day, you will only get 12.5 amps into your battery from this solar charger.
Measuring the draws from your battery is key. Leaving your cieling fan on low, all day will easily use up 12.5 amps.
Now im not sure about the battery system that came with the solar panel but the key thing here is how fast you can get a charge back into the battery(ies) and at what rate.
A few years back we did use the 30 watt panel, but put in on a dual battery system (though smaller) to the one we have now on our new camper. Having enough amps in storage, allowed us to camp for a longer, but both batteries were twins (exact duplicates, in both size, amp hrs, and stuff) which caused them both to discharge at the same rate when hooked up together. I fear the system you are looking at will cause your Solar panel battery to become a slave to the RV battery, causing it to run down faster, and then feed off of whatever power is left.

hope this helps ... d-mo
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:41 PM   #8
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Thanks! That was VERY useful and easy to understand...as well as inspiring in my quest to avoid using a conventional generator.

After only one night of running practically everything (have to see where the limits are, I guess...), we've pretty much figured that the only thing we should really need to "turn on" would be the furnace for about 30 minutes in the morning and/or evening to take the chill off, or the fan for a brief period during the day if we are trying to take a nap in a stuffy trailer (doubt we'll need that...weather should be in the low 70's, and the windows should be enough to cool things off if needed). We have a small portable Solar battery (from the same company) for lighting and recharging the phones and I-pads, so I don't see us needing to even use the trailer lights really.

again- thanks for all the help! I'm definitely learning that power is a big opportunity in dry camping!
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:48 PM   #9
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All is good.
If you poke around the internet you will find the draws of certain appliances in your trailer. Largest draw will be your furnace fan, then the next step will be your water pump, then the lights and then the fan.
As we all never use the water pump that much .. its pretty well a non-issue. A couple of minutes here, a couple minutes there, will not really hurt anything.
If during a longer trip, if you were to use your furnace a number times, this could become an issue. Perhaps you could invest in a catalitic (propane) heater? This will save alot of draw on your battery.
As for the fan .. it perhaps has the smallest draw .. about 1amp per hour on low. It maybe 1.5 or so .. but you get my drift. This can be used for cooling at longer stretches when you are napping in the trailer. Try opening only the smallest slider window over the bed you will be amazed at the cooling capability of this little window in conjunction with your fan at the peak of the trailer.
As solar prices decrease, most of up here in Canada, anyways ... are going that way. To outfit a trailer our size with enough energy product to recharge is half the price of either a honda or yamawhoo genset. Once you start inverting the 12 volt to 120, it gets way more expensive/complicated as 120 usually is either heat entertainment based .. so I have stuck to the easy stuff, recharge 12volt for only 12 volt devices.
hope this helps ... d-mo
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:36 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Justbryguy View Post
Hello All- GREAT site, and it has truly helped us in our decision, and the process of purchasing our new A122BH and we LOVE IT!!!!

We took delivery last Saturday and immediately headed to the hills outside of San Diego for a trial run before our 5-day Yosemite trip next week. Everything worked great, except my grossly underestimating of the lasting power of the battery.

What wasn't so pleasant was the constant mind-numbing alarm sound when the battery died- that lasted pretty much all night until the battery fully drained.

Lesson well-learned! My question is: has anyone used a solar trickle charger for their battery? I've seen a couple on line that are fairly inexpensive, and may help recharge the battery during the day while we are not using any power from the 12volt. We'll be dry-camping, and I'd like to avoid the use of a generator or running my car for extended periods. There's enough racket in Yosemite campsites without adding to it!

Thanks!
For free camping you are going to have to use LED lighting not incandesent globes. You won't be able to run heater. Water pump fine. If you combine that with 120 watt folding solar panels that feed charge to your battery via a regulator you can survive for a couple of weeks without shore power I would think in sunny day conditions. Less time if overcast of course. You need minimum of 100 Amp hour deep cycle battery in the campervan but larger capacity battery even better or better still a second 100 amp hour deep cycle battery joined up with your other battery. A gel battery better than standard wet cell deep cycle too for many reasons. They cost a lot more. That is my opinion and what I am striving to get as a set up for myself.
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