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Old 08-07-2011, 03:55 PM   #1
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Solar Panel and Battery recommendations?

I am new to the site and purchased a 2005 Ford SMB RB 6.0 diesel with Voyager Top 4 months ago. Propane water heater and 2- burner stove. Have TV/DVD, norco fridge,water pump and 7 cabin lights, occasion cell phone charge and laptop charge. I currently can't plug into shore power at my home since the rig is parked into a parking garage and notice that I the house battery runs quickly down 2-3 days. I drive 2-3 hours/day when off and about and charged up the batteries. I use the rig 4-6/month for 2-3 days adventures depending on work schedule. I live in the Washington state and the sun is not as strong as some of other peoples locations. I would like to to charge the batteries more and provide better health to the batteries by Solar. I currently have a honda generator and don't use it only if I was going to be totally dead with power. I have looked at adding Koycera 135W with blue sky MPPT 25amp E2000 with battery temp sensor probe. I also will like to replace all the internal cabin lights to LED.

What would be your first recommendations?
-Add another battery?
-use the generator?
-Get the solar?

-What about seperators I don't even know if I have one and if its good one or not?
-switches to turn off the solar panel?
-recommendations on volt/amp/watts meters?

My main goals are:
1- better battery health not just burst charge.
2- To balance use of electricity with some charge not to completely match it.
3- Ease of use, not having to pull the generator out and leaving it going for hours

Thanks in advance,

Josh
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:29 PM   #2
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Re: Solar Panel and Battery recommendations?

How do you define 'Battery runs down'? Is it a voltage level? Or when the refrig will not start? Or?

Is your refrig running fulltime? Or what is dragging down your house battery when parked?

I'm not sure the solar will help much if you park in a parking garage.

Our van has similar electrical equipment to yours except we have two group 27 house batteries. Without solar our batteries would last about 3 with the refrig running and some use of the other features. When parked, with the refrig off, the batteries stayed up for as long as the van was parked - 2-3 months sometimes.

After we added a Kyocera 135W panel we have never had the batteries go down, even when camped in mostly shaded spots. The solar will help greatly if you have open skies above you.

I have used both a simple solar controller (on/off) and a BlueSky (MPPT) and found very little difference in battery voltage, only in my wallet. The 135W panel is enough that the extra 20-25% charge from the BlueSky isn't really needed.

We have two Group 27's instead of a single 4D battery because the smaller batteries are easier to manage (I can lift one by myself), easier to fit into the van and easier to find when I needed to replace them. If you can add a 2nd battery (best to have both new at the same time) it will extend the useable battery power.

Mike
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:25 PM   #3
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Re: Solar Panel and Battery recommendations?

Yeah solar panels won't work in a garage. You need to find some shore power. The van should have come with a 15A adapter, you really need to keep the extra battery charged otherwise it will eventually be useless.
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:00 PM   #4
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Re: Solar Panel and Battery recommendations?

What I mean by "battery runs down" is that the transition from green to green yellow, yellow and then yellow red has seemed to get faster over these 1st few months of use. One overnight with only fridge on level 1 overnight sometimes shows the triplite to be on yellow/red already when I get, were it use to take 2 nights of use, when I first bought it.

11.5 volts with fridge on triplite showing yellow/red. 12.0 volts with fridge off triplite showing green/yellow. I have a 2.7cf Norco.

Some specifics:
I have the triplite 2000W inverter, AGM battery, sure power battery seperator, inteli-power 9100 computer controller. I didn't take the battery housing apart so don't know other specifics of the battery. 2 batteries for the diesel engine.

I wish I could plug into shore power more frequently to keep good stage 2 charging but can only do this maybe a couple days a month, since my currently living situation. Which I haven't done the last few months since I didn't know how important until I started researching about my battery problems.

I know that solar panels want help in the garage but would think when the SMB is bathing in the sun at the hiking/climbing, camp, safeway etc that it would get some 8-9 hours of charge durning the summer while out and about. I thought this might help the health of my battery? and possibly make up some of the watts used.

Thanks again,

Josh
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:01 AM   #5
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Re: Solar Panel and Battery recommendations?

Chances are, that when you are hiking all day, you drove there. And the batteries are charged from driving. At that point the solar won't hurt, but it won't do much good.

A better solution might be to start with a good battery, fully charged (it sounds like you may have damaged your house battery) and disconnect all loads from the battery while in storage. This probably means disconnecting fuses and turning off everything.

Mike
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:02 AM   #6
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Re: Solar Panel and Battery recommendations?

I'd say that the solar won't hurt, because it sounds like you might not drive enough to totally top off your batteries causing a downward spiral in capacity.
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