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Old 06-14-2010, 03:31 PM   #1
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Solar Panels and battery charging

I have the 4D lifeline AGM battery as my "House Battery" in my 2005 SMB. I'd like to get a little back up, and have seen a portable solar panel that claims it will boost the charge in the battery simply by plugging into the cigarette lighter. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I don't want to hook something up that ends up frying the complicated electronic bits or rendering my battery useless. When I bought The Van new, I didn't get the optional gizmos that would have allowed me to use a solar panel.

thanks..

Tom
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:46 PM   #2
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

I'd think that anything plugging into the cigarette lighter would be useless against a 4D! But I haven't seen them so don't know their ratings. You probably need something along the lines of a 135W panel or two - those solid, 2 feet by 5 feet panels on the roof.

You're not doomed to a lack of a good solar system just because you didn't spec one up front. Adding solar is pretty easy. If you're coming to the meet and greet on the 19th, I'd be happy to chat to you about it and show you how I wired my own. Otherwise, you just need a panel and a solar controller, and some wires to connect them There are plenty of folks here who can help you choose (I'd be happy to make suggestions, if you're interested).

Cheers,
Mike.
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:51 PM   #3
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

do you know of any local installers or RV places you would recommend? Is it really that easy as a do it yourself project? I will be at the meet and greet and am interested in it as well for my 2006. Talked to Bill Wilson at length about his solar install (much appreciated). Did you buy local or offline for your parts.

I am a little intimidated on the wiring part of it even though I have wired my entire house electrical. I do not know what I need or where things are supposed to go etc.

See you this weekend.
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:58 PM   #4
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

Mike, thanks for the quick reply, I won't be at the meet and greet on the 19th, (we'll be camping in the SMB in Eastern Wa). I would certainly appreciate any tips on hooking up a solar panel and any associated controller. I'm a little cautious when it comes to automotive electronics so I could use all the tips I could get.

Tom
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:03 PM   #5
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfisher
I have the 4D lifeline AGM battery as my "House Battery" in my 2005 SMB. I'd like to get a little back up, and have seen a portable solar panel that claims it will boost the charge in the battery simply by plugging into the cigarette lighter. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I don't want to hook something up that ends up frying the complicated electronic bits or rendering my battery useless. When I bought The Van new, I didn't get the optional gizmos that would have allowed me to use a solar panel.

thanks..

Tom
I use a setup like this to keep the house battery topped off while the van is in storage. I'll check and post details later, but I think I've got a 10v or 12v foldable solar panel that plugs into the cig lighter. This setup works very well for keeping them charged during storage, but the charge rate is VERY slow. Probably too slow to be helpful on a camping trip.
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:38 PM   #6
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

I installed a 135 watt panel and a controller myself. Easy as pie, well close anyway. The hardest part is coming up a good way to mount the panel and run the wiring. I did the whole thing for under $800.
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:03 PM   #7
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
I installed a 135 watt panel and a controller myself. Easy as pie, well close anyway. The hardest part is coming up a good way to mount the panel and run the wiring. I did the whole thing for under $800.
not to hijack this thread but this is good info;

Where did you source your panels and what controllers etc. I am thinking a single 135 panel will do the trick on a manual PH. Also where did you get the directions on running wiring and installing everything correctly.
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:26 PM   #8
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

check these folks out, http://www.backwoodssolar.com/ there customer service is excelent. They schooled me on the instalation and sizing of my solar system and were very patient and never tried to sell me more than I needed. Lots of good info on there website also.
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:29 PM   #9
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfisher
I would certainly appreciate any tips on hooking up a solar panel and any associated controller. I'm a little cautious when it comes to automotive electronics so I could use all the tips I could get.
I'll write something up and post it, so that others can add to it too. It's really quite simple - not much more than connecting some wires The trickiest part is probably running the wires from the roof of the van into the inside - but that's been done and posted here before.

Might take me a few days to get it done - just back from 3 weeks camping in the van.

Cheers,
Mike.
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:43 AM   #10
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Re: Solar Panels and battery charging

I bought all my stuff from

http://www.affordable-solar.com/

TWICE, once in early 2009 for my VW Westy
and again in August for my SMB

Great folks

Helped with enginerring/load/design

They also have brackets to do a fixed mount as well
as permanant mount

Ships all from one company

They even took back a box of parts i found
after the build out that i did not use

I would use them again

bw

I agree, simple to hook up
Use the LARGEST wire reccomended from the panel to controler
and controler to battery

I used:
Kyocera panels
Blue sky controler
Sure Power Isolator

I also wired a "momentary" switch to hook up "starter" battery and "house" battery to start my rig in the event i run down starter battery. This is a built in feature in the Sure Power Isolator

ps

the isolator hooks to rig alternator
tells it to first fill up Starter battery
then when full, charge the House batterys
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