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Thread: Battery and Solar

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Default Battery and Solar

    I need help picking out my battery(ies) and solar.

    I can get Optimas through the company plan at a great price and like either the Yellowtop D27F(140 amp reserve) or Bluetop D31M (155 amp reserve).

    Will be powering a fridge (likely the ARB 50), LED lights, fantastic fan on occasion, maybe a small electric blanket for short bursts.

    One or two batteries?

    I'd also like to try and keep it/them topped with solar on longer stays. I like Martyn/Mario's flexible solar panel but a hard-mounted panel would be much easier. This 145 watt panel looks pretty good.

    Any suggestions?
    Safety fast,
    Bill

    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
    - Helen Keller
    Forks Over Knives

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Middle of Nowhere, Outer Skin of Space Ship Earth, 1 A.U. from Sol, Outskirts of Milky Way.
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    First price I see for that Zamp kit is 945 bucks. That's a lot considering that charge controller doesn't look like it has much of a brain.


    I'd forget the kit and piece it out instead.

    460 bucks for this panel:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/kyocerakc170gt.html


    But since that panel has a bit too high voltage under load (Vmp) to make a 12v battery happy, you'd need an "MPPT" type charge controller to step it down - which is great since MPPT is the best solar charge controller technology out right now. This little bad boy will run 250 bucks:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/mosumpsochco.html



    That's 710 bucks so far, and you still need a couple of fuses, some wire and mounting brackets. The fuses and wire are nothing special since you're only dealing with about 10a. Good mounting brackets are here for 20 bucks:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/unrvflmofefo.html


    So 730 plus a bit of wire and a couple of fuses. Call it 745 and you've saved 200 off the price of the Zamp kit - and gotten a top quality Kyocera solar panel, an excellent charge controller and an extra 40w of power.


    The only thing you don't have is the cheesy volt/amp meter that's on the Zamp controller. If you really need a meter, then you can get the optional remote meter for the charge controller for 100 bucks:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/mormredime.html

    Also, if there will be a temperature difference of more than 10 degrees F between the charge controller and the battery, then you should definitely get the remote temp sensor for the charge controller so it can track the battery's actual operating temp and adjust the charge rate for maximum efficiency (actually, the RTS is good stuff and highly recommended for all installations) :

    http://www.solar-electric.com/prosremtempr.html


    There's only one other thing you need. New high quality solar panels usually come with MC4 latching connectors on the wires. One male and one female. Cutting off those connectors will void the warranty. But the charge controller has screw terminals, not MC4 connectors... So the workaround is to buy a short MC4 extension cable and cut it in half. Then you can wire the the two cut ends to the screw terminals on the charge controller, and just plug the solar panel's wires right into the connectors:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/3fomc4excama.html

    And don't forget the stupid, bloody, never-to-be-suffciently-damned MC4 tool:

    http://www.solar-electric.com/ditoformc4co.html


    With everything, that's a truly top-notch solar setup and STILL cheaper than the Zamp kit.


    Do you have room for a large solar panel? The Zamp panel is 26.5" x 59". The Kyocera is 39" x 52.8". Either one is bloody big for an adventure trailer.
    Last edited by dwh; 02-15-2011 at 11:29 AM.
    ...
    ...
    Current: 76 E-250, bubble-top, self-contained|couple of old Yamaha enduros
    Previous wheelers: 41 Willys|78 FJ40|78 Bronco|84 Bronco|74 Ramcharger|78 Ramcharger|79 D150 PowerWagon|77 D100|79 D400 dually, converted to 4WD, utility bed, 10' Lance|75 Westy|69 Scout, RHD|bunch of others|bunch of bikes|couple of boats|couple of motorhomes|blah blah|so what|not my idea|just doin' what I'm told|wank wank|this space for rent|candy is dandy|but liquor is quicker

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Woodbine, GA
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    The only issue I have had with the blue top is the long trek with the ARB 50 plugged in. Cuts down the reserve when I use the inverter and don't get a full charge back. I have adapted and run the fridge off the vehicle during the trip. I also added a neopreme "coat" for the fridge, which will help. If you run an inverter, remember that it pulls power even if you are not running any AC stuff (mine has a switch that I turn off every morning).

    I was thinking about something solar as well but nothing firm in mind. I saw some folks this weekend in Ocala Forest that had small panels set out but I didn't think to ask about the set up. I assume they were topping off a battery.

    If you have room, two blue tops would give you a lot of reserve. I will be watching this thread to see what you come up with.
    Bill
    An armed society is a polite society...

    09 JK (Red Rock)
    Jumping Jack Pop Up trailer

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Kentucky
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    Here's what I use. The solar panel is mounted on the roof rack and I use wing nuts so I can take it down quickly at camp and point it directly at the sun. Otherwise it stays flat on top continuously charging. I chose a group 27 size battery instead of a 31 because a 31 won't fit in the Minnkota.

    1. 50 watt / 3.00 amp 26" x 26 Kyocera KC-50 NorthernArizonaSolar $270
    2. S-RV1 RV roof mount z strips backwoodssolar $36
    3. O-MC4 15' 10/2 sun resist cable backwoodssolar $30
    4. Morningstar Sunguard charge controller backwoodssolar $33 solar-electric.com $31
    5. 10/2 wire with lugs hard connected to battery homemade
    6. optima yellow group 27 12-1/16x6-13/16x8-7/8 53lbs. amazon $201
    7. Minnkota Power Center amazon $61


    I use my 7 pin trailer coupler wiring to charge the battery from alternator. When my engine is running, the battery is getting charged by the alternator. When I turn off the engine, the solar panel immediately starts charging.

    I don't think you can get by with just solar charging and the loads you mentioned. You need to have your battery connected to the engine's alternator and you need to be driving it around every day.

    Here's what I use to connect to my trailer wiring harness:

    1. 7pin coupler male head etrailer.com PK12706 $5
    2. 7 way molded trailer wire with male end and 3' wire etrailer.com H20042 $15
    3. battery lugs connect to alternate battery terminals $1 delcity


    My trailer wiring harness is switched with the ignition. That's important that your trailer wiring harness be completely cut off when the engine is off, otherwise you'll still have a connection between your starting battery and your extra battery and you could drain both. Not good.

    I chose the 26x26 Kyocera because I wanted those dimensions but there are other units that are more rectangular and have similar output.

    I use the Minnkota because sometimes I put the battery on the hitch cargo rack, sometimes it sits in the middle of camp, and sometimes it rides in the back of my rig. I like that flexibility. You could always mount the extra battery in the engine compartment and skip the Minnkota and the trailer wiring hookup.

    My style of travel is to stay put in one spot for a day or two and then drive 4 or 5 hours to the next spot. This setup works well for that. I have similar needs as you mentioned. Engel fridge, some LED 12v Christmas lights, an LED lantern, and occasional laptop charging If you plan to stay in one camp for long periods, then you may end up needing two batteries or more panels, but you should only start with one battery. You can always add another if needed. Batteries are very heavy. Try to get by with one battery first so you don't take away from your max payload. My max payload in the Jeep is 1,000 lbs, so two batteries would be 10% of that!!! I have to get by with one battery.

    Only other thing I can think to add is that I use a digital voltmeter from Radio Shack to check the status periodically. I don't have any stock numbers for it but it's just a cheap voltmeter you can pick up anywhere. No need to buy a fancy "battery monitor".

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwh View Post
    That is a very good price for that much power....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Hog Waller, GA
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    Wow; great info and surely over my head with some of that...

    I'm having Little Guy build me a trailer; this video shows similar units that they build now. They use Zamp for their builds; that was what led me to that kit.

    I'll ask Chris if he can deal with the other components.


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze2gG9lnGik&feature=player_embedded"]YouTube - Exclusive Teardrop Trailers for Safecastle - HD[/ame]
    Safety fast,
    Bill

    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
    - Helen Keller
    Forks Over Knives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    United States of America
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    much less expensive MPPT controller
    http://cgi.ebay.com/MPPT-Solar-CHARG...item4cf5345f73

    I have one for my 65 watt foldable panel. They sell other voltage and amp versions

    http://cgi.ebay.com/MPPT-15A-12-24V-...item3a629f3bca
    Jim
    4x4 Tourist


    Trip reports are on my Blog: "Sun To The North"

    Two Favorite Expo Quotes: "A bad day on the trail is better than a good day in the city" & "Bad days make for GREAT stories!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    180
    somewhat related input (but perhaps a slight bit of a thread re-route - apologeze). But perhaps others are in the same (related) boat

    I installed a DEKA gel electrolyte battery for similar uses (not an AGM style, just gel electrolyte).

    It insists on recharging with a max of only 14.1 V (at 68 F). My alternator (internal regulator) is at 14.5 V idle and 14.7 V @ 2000 rpm.

    What's the fix to get it down to 14.1 max?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    W. Colorado
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    18

    Default Life's A Series Of Tradeoffs...

    I keep up on all things Alt Energy/Solar, and this one is a lil tough. The adjustable Controllers out there, used in Big Rig RVs or Home Solar installs, work off of Solar Panels. Somewhat pricy, but they're rugged.

    I used a 400 Watt Inverter from Amazon while SUV Boondocking around Lake Powell AZ/UT. Good Reviews, and it held up fine. It could supply 115 VAC on the cheap to power Line Voltage, adjustable Charge Controllers. Not your ideal; but one answer...

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Cobra-400-Watt-12-Volt-120-Volt-Inverter/dp/B001RNOHBC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297867797&sr=8-1"]Cobra 400 Watt Inverter[/ame]


    Some Geek has created what you need; I'm not aware of it, unfortunately. The difficulty is in controlling a 2nd, lower voltage while current varies as the Battery charges.

    I've pretty much settled on Dekas for my used lil TT just acquired that I intend to mod technically for Boondocking. I'll likely spring for 2 ~ +6 VDC Deka Golf Cart Batteries series-connected to net 'lots' of AH capacity [~250 AH]. I'm also looking at AGMs, due to being able to slam >10% of the recommended AH capacity into them while charging [the 'usual' guideline Battery charge rate]. Golf Cart Batteries tolerate deep discharges >50% of capacity. They tolerate abuse, needing only occasional care & feeding to net very long service lives.

    If all considerations permit, a 2nd Alternator mod'ded to output only the voltage you need might be easier to pull off technically than trying to 'adjust down' and maintain the lower voltage req'd. Another thought is that a second mod'ded Regulator working off 1 Alternator might be added, and used through a 2nd Battery Switch setup. Alternator outputs 'spike' when switching is done while running, so one has to be careful about charging 2nd Batteries. A ~$100- 'box' from RV Shops prevents that problem.

    Some App Engineer at Deka might have a ready solution for you. Look around at Alt. Energy/Solar Sites; there's some really creative Geeks out there solving these problems.

    A pal also tweaking a used 15' TT bought a Cig Lighter-based Voltage Monitor for ~$12- I saw at Wally World. The readout is 13.8; i.e., to tenths-of-a-Volt. He had it checked against calibrated Voltmeters where he works, and it was accurate to within 0.1 Volt. My style would be to bag the Cig Plug and panel mount it.

    I got a 'free', unused, quiet 3kW Kipor [clean] Sine Wave output Genny with this Trailer, so I put on hold my 'Plan A' for PV Panels, or to build this little Genny:

    Lawn Mower Engine Genny Project
    Last edited by Engineer Guy; 02-16-2011 at 02:22 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Location
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejeep View Post
    somewhat related input (but perhaps a slight bit of a thread re-route - apologeze). But perhaps others are in the same (related) boat

    I installed a DEKA gel electrolyte battery for similar uses (not an AGM style, just gel electrolyte).

    It insists on recharging with a max of only 14.1 V (at 68 F). My alternator (internal regulator) is at 14.5 V idle and 14.7 V @ 2000 rpm.

    Yup. That's a common problem...people buy gel thinking it'll rock (and it does), and then it gets constantly overcharged and ends up with a short life...and they have the impression that gel is no good, or else the brand is no good.



    What's the fix to get it down to 14.1 max?
    Adjustable voltage regulator. Not a big deal to swap if your rig has an external voltage regulator. Not easy if the alternator has an internal voltage regulator.

    You can probably find an adjustable external regulator for pretty cheap.

    OR

    You can get something like this - a proper multi-stage charger with dip switch settings for battery type (voltage set points):

    This one for older non-ecu vehicles:

    http://sterling-power-usa.com/proreg...regulator.aspx


    This one (EXPENSIVE!) for newer ecu vehicles:

    http://sterling-power-usa.com/12volt...rycharger.aspx


    Or, dump the gel and go with AGM...
    ...
    ...
    Current: 76 E-250, bubble-top, self-contained|couple of old Yamaha enduros
    Previous wheelers: 41 Willys|78 FJ40|78 Bronco|84 Bronco|74 Ramcharger|78 Ramcharger|79 D150 PowerWagon|77 D100|79 D400 dually, converted to 4WD, utility bed, 10' Lance|75 Westy|69 Scout, RHD|bunch of others|bunch of bikes|couple of boats|couple of motorhomes|blah blah|so what|not my idea|just doin' what I'm told|wank wank|this space for rent|candy is dandy|but liquor is quicker

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