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    Fold up Solar Panel

    I bought one a couple of weeks ago with a view to becoming self sufficient in my van. It delivers a 4 watt trickle charge to my leisure battery so given that my electrics are quite simple, in theory I should never run out, nor need to hook up to a mains supply.

    I'm really pleased that I did, as the van's main battery went flat, and having have it hooked up to the panel for a day, its put enough charge back in to start the van again. Its currently (excuse the pun) charging from about 5am to 9.30pm with increased daylight hours.

    It was £24.99 which I didn't think was too bad, as a mains battery charger can be £15 upwards, plus the electric.

    Has anyone else got one?

    #2
    Glad to hear you're pleased with your purchace - at the moment.

    I think that when you start using your battery in earnest, your views may change, because that rate of charge is barely sufficient to replace the natural vehicle losses from the battery - ie, radio memory, clock, etc.

    If people could indeed power their appliances from a £25 solar panel, then an EHU on a site would an unneccessary addition - sadly, this isn't the case for most people.

    Sorry if I sound a killjoy - but I think you'll find you will need to spend nearer £250 on solar panels to get a sufficient charge into the battery to replace what you are likely to be using - and even then it will depend to a greater extent on favourable weather/ sunshine to keep you in the green!!

    Mike

    Comment


      #3
      I was looking into these myself - however I have a caravan, so it would just be the leisure battery which runs 3 12v lights and nowt else. Bad reports lead me also to believe that it wasn't enough charge, but if the battery goes flat, it's not a problem for me. Now the fridge would be a prob without electric hookup, as I cant get it to work on gas, which is a shame.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Yamaha View Post
        Glad to hear you're pleased with your purchace - at the moment.

        I think that when you start using your battery in earnest, your views may change, because that rate of charge is barely sufficient to replace the natural vehicle losses from the battery - ie, radio memory, clock, etc.

        If people could indeed power their appliances from a £25 solar panel, then an EHU on a site would an unneccessary addition - sadly, this isn't the case for most people.

        Sorry if I sound a killjoy - but I think you'll find you will need to spend nearer £250 on solar panels to get a sufficient charge into the battery to replace what you are likely to be using - and even then it will depend to a greater extent on favourable weather/ sunshine to keep you in the green!!

        Mike
        Guess time will tell, but its got the van going again, and my electric use inside is minimal, just lights, so I'll just have to see how the summer goes.

        Comment


          #5
          Maybe it would be worth changing the internal lights to the LED type - they are available to replace most normally found bulb types - except, of course, flourescent tubes.

          Doing this would drastically reduce your battery consumption.

          Try doing a Goggle search - they aren't too dear. I replaced the ones in my Bongo - more light - a lot less consumption!!

          Some people say they find the light colour a bit "glarey", but unless you plan to read for hours on end, you should find it an improvement.

          Bonus is - they last years!!

          Mike

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            #6
            Can you get them for little spotlights, Yamaha? I wouldn't mind something a little brighter for a bedtime read!

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jayjay View Post
              Can you get them for little spotlights, Yamaha? I wouldn't mind something a little brighter for a bedtime read!
              Quite possibly. Have a trawl through this site :- http://www.ultraleds.co.uk/

              loads to choose from - almost too many - but persevere!!

              Mike

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Yamaha View Post
                Quite possibly. Have a trawl through this site :- http://www.ultraleds.co.uk/

                loads to choose from - almost too many - but persevere!!

                Mike
                Thanks Yamaha & Javajay. I'm still happy with my solar panel, but take on board your suggestions for lights. I only really run a small double strip light which came fitted in the van, so supect its the original 1985 fitting. Works great and give much better light than the two spots put together, and as i've not run out of juice so far, think my solar panel is coping with the lack of pressure.

                I'm going to experiment with invertors (500w) so I can run my laptop too for a while. The only other things I've used are my portable 12v shower and a 12v ceramic heater (which ain't too shiney). The panel seems to have topped up ok from their use, but its minimal draw on the battery I guess. I'll see how things go.... Thanks for your input. Alison

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by bluenote47 View Post
                  I'm going to experiment with invertors (500w) so I can run my laptop too for a while. The only other things I've used are my portable 12v shower and a 12v ceramic heater (which ain't too shiney). The panel seems to have topped up ok from their use, but its minimal draw on the battery I guess. I'll see how things go.... Thanks for your input. Alison
                  I think I might have posted this before Alison. If I have please excuse me.
                  If you use anything which converts voltage (like an invertor or transformer)you will never get out as much power as it takes in (thermal losses etc.). If you raise the voltage with an invertor to 240Volts AC, then couple in a laptop which is going to transform the voltage back to around 9 Volts DC you will lose additional power in the conversion. Most laptops will operate from a 12 Volt lead directly from your battery and use far less power in the process. Only use an invertor if it is essential to obtain mains voltage to run a mains unit and so conserve your battery.
                  That 4 Watt solar panel you have will charge at 1/3rd of an Amp (12Volts x 1/3Amps = 4Watts. A 15W strip light will need over one and a quarter amps (efficiency again). Your 12Volt shower will probably need about 6Amps.
                  Taking your shower: It will take 18 times as long as you use the shower for, to recharge the battery to its pre-shower state! Or to look at it another way the shower will use electricity 18 times as fast as the solar panel can replace it. Even in a perfect world, in which a re-charging a battery does not belong!
                  The battery you thought had recharged had probably recovered (as batteries do somewhat) from being allowed enough standing time for the electrolyte to re-circulate and restore some voltage/power.
                  Sorry to be a "wet blanket". Your solar panel is not a waste of time though. I have one. I leave it connected at all times my van is stood out of use and I know my battery is always "ready to go" without checking the charge.
                  Jim.
                  Keeping people waiting is stealing a part of their lives.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Hi Jim

                    Your explanation sounds very expert but I am afraid it lost me a bit of the way down. But you may be able to advise me too.

                    For reasons we won't go into, we bought a Power Pack 200 from Halfords, it fits under the seat. We charge this at home for 24 hours and then it keeps us going for about 5 days for shaving, phone charging and television (TV for about 1 hour a day) leaving the leisure battery for lights and pump etc. We have been doing this every other week when we camp for 5 days without hook up or loos etc and no problems apart from missing the last few minutes of 'Coast' this week!!!

                    We were thinking of getting a portable solar panel to charge up the power pack so we would never be whithout battery backup. Do you think this would work rather than investing in an 800 watt solar panel on roof which would certainly charge up the leisure battery but very expensive?.

                    Driving takes care of the engine battery.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'm no EXPERT in a lot of particular fields and one of these is the (domestic) electrical systems of motorhomes.
                      I rather took it for granted that motorhomes would have a "split charge" system as commonly used with towed caravans. While driving the system charges both batteries with prority for the vehicle battery. Hence if you move on fairly frequently (as you seem to indicate) your leisure battery would contain sufficient charge to last indefinitely. I think Ant would be best to answer that.
                      My Romini battery is charged by the car when towing and has never gone flat, though I rarely spend more than a week in one place. I must add though that though I carry a small telly. I am usually too involved in being "away" to watch more than a weather forcast or news. Add to that that, except for one fluorescent which I seldom use my main battery drain is for LED lights and the water pump. I cannot emphasise enough the battery saving that LEDs represent. A 21W equivalent LED lamp uses about one hundredth of the power of a bulb lamp. Many people insist they are too stark, but softer ones are now available. Look at [email protected] or browse your local caravan shop.
                      I do have EHU facilities, but I never use them.
                      It matters not what you charge with a solar panel, you could have a dozen batteries, but you can only take out what you put in. For that you need a very expensive solar panel.
                      Jim.
                      Last edited by Twolitre; 04-09-2010, 11:43.
                      Keeping people waiting is stealing a part of their lives.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I was considering one of these as well. Only my lights run on the leisure battery, I purposley fitted a lever whale pump/tap for water as I don't have a 12s socket for charging on the car. As the battery only feeds the lights, I've had several trips out now and it's still nearly full!

                        I have however just bought a 'smart charger' to charge the battery when away for longer trips, and it will charge by plugging into the EHU (when I've worked out how to actually fit it! LOL!) so good with EHU but useless without!

                        I also need to find out how to attach permanently to the battery, so I only have to plug it in. I thought the ring connectors would work, but they are so small - how do you attach them permanently to your battery and then connect the leads over them???? I don't like using the peg/clip=on things, and it would defeat the whole point of the exercise, which is just to plug it in for a top-up every now and then.

                        Here's what I bought:
                        http://www.amazon.co.uk/RING-RSC4-Sm...=1AN29GEXA2J3W
                        at a very good price!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Not a good idea to connect a charger direct to the battery because there will always be a little back-leakage through the charger.
                          If you have a 12volt socket, the best way is to put a matching plug on the battery charging wires from the charger. Then you can plug the charger into the 12volt socket and the mains plug into the 240volt 3 pin socket. The 12volt plug must be connected with the wires the right way round obviously. Cigarette lighter sockets are good, I have one fitted for just that purpse.
                          That is the way I find convenient anyway.
                          Jim.
                          Last edited by Twolitre; 05-09-2010, 12:19.
                          Keeping people waiting is stealing a part of their lives.

                          Comment

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