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Solar panel in the luggage rack
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lovedavdubs
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 9:48 am    Post subject: Solar panel in the luggage rack Reply with quote

anybody know the measurements of the westy luggage rack indentation off the top of your head? Mine is an 82 if that makes a difference. I'm planning on putting a solar panel up there.

Thanks
Dubs
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RichBenn
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know the exact dimensions, but I put one of those 15 watt anamorphic cells up there when I camp to help keep the second battery topped off. I just run the cable through a cracked open window to a charge controller behind the front seat. It fits in there real nice, although I frequently tilt it forward to get a bit more exposure.

When not in use, I just slide it between the upper cushions.

These cells are sold sometimes at auto parts stores, and places like Harbor Freight Tools.

I should note I have florescent and LED lights and don't have a monster stereo. (More efficient lights are way cheaper than a bigger solar system!) So this is a very workable and economical solution. If you have a subwoofered sound system and/or other energy swallowers, 15 watts won't be nearly enuf...
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lovedavdubs
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips. Wink

I'm actually considering this one.
http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50032-Solar-Battery..._as_img_2/

I've just got two little 6.25" subs in the back cabinet and the factory spec. speakers. No amp. as of now and that runs off the main battery.

As you said, I'm looking to keep my aux. battery topped off. I haven't made the jump to Leds yet, but its on my list. My aux battery runs a big old power inverter which I use to kick start my fridge for 15-20 minutes then I switch over to propane. I also run a Half Pint mini microwave off the inverter when it come time for popcorn and the wife's lean cuisine tv diners. Other than that it just powers dome lights conservatively.

I'd like to mount and hide this panel down in the luggage rack out of site. I'll put some sort of hinge and prop system on it so I can tilt it up to direct it towards the sun also. Problem is that my van is sleeping down in an underground garage away from mother nature and all those ignorant jack ass NYC drivers who love to bang into it with their cars and what have you. And the garage is five blocks from my apartment. Yea I guess I'm just being lazy Rolling Eyes I'll go and measure it tonight when I get home from work.
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markz2004
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is a picture somewhere in samba of the luggage rack with dimension. I seached, but the search was not strong with me today...
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Install your panel so it can be easily removed and positioned in the sun. Most of the time when I'm camping I try and park in the shade so it's nice to have a long cord on my panel so I can put it out in the sun. You can easily store it in the upper bunk too.

Be aware that you're only going to get about 1 amp from that panel in direct sun. Most of the time it will be less. That's not going to be enough to recharge your battery in a day. It will add some back but don't expect too much from it.

That 60 Watt kit for $320 is actually an awesome deal! That will provide about 4 amps which will put 20 amp hours back into your batteries in about 5 hours of good sun.
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lovedavdubs
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm Think

Guess I'll save my $ then. Shame, I was really in to the idea of having a system that could be compact and collapse into the luggage rack up there. the one for $320 looks huge. 54 x 12 x 42.2 inches and 60lbs Shocked

I'll work on cutting back the power I draw from the battery first. LEDs here I come.
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RichBenn
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's it exactly! Plenty of space. I have a couple of inches width extra, and a bunch more horizontally.

lovedavdubs wrote:
Thanks for the tips. Wink

I'm actually considering this one.
http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50032-Solar-Battery..._as_img_2/

I've just got two little 6.25" subs in the back cabinet and the factory spec. speakers. No amp. as of now and that runs off the main battery.

As you said, I'm looking to keep my aux. battery topped off. I haven't made the jump to Leds yet, but its on my list. My aux battery runs a big old power inverter which I use to kick start my fridge for 15-20 minutes then I switch over to propane. I also run a Half Pint mini microwave off the inverter when it come time for popcorn and the wife's lean cuisine tv diners. Other than that it just powers dome lights conservatively.

I'd like to mount and hide this panel down in the luggage rack out of site. I'll put some sort of hinge and prop system on it so I can tilt it up to direct it towards the sun also. Problem is that my van is sleeping down in an underground garage away from mother nature and all those ignorant jack ass NYC drivers who love to bang into it with their cars and what have you. And the garage is five blocks from my apartment. Yea I guess I'm just being lazy Rolling Eyes I'll go and measure it tonight when I get home from work.

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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amorphous Solar Cells are actually the least efficient. You can look up other types of panels and you'll see they put out almost twice as much power for the same size. For about $350 you can get an 80 watt panel that's smaller in size.
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, I just read the rest of your post. The inverter will draw alot. Kick starting the fridge is probably not the greatest idea, unless you are driving. It'll drain the battery fastl.....

I only use the LEDs for reading -- they aren't bright enough for cooking, so I use a florescent.

If you are sparse on the micro, you might be able to get by -- but 15 watts just "tops off", it doesn't do a full charge in a day. Try 75 watts to do that.

BTW, the anamorphic types are better for "partial sun", but they are bigger for the same wattage. They work pretty good for fixed, except for the size and weight. The others are smaller and lighter, but you need to keep them in full sun to get benefit. Therefore, an adjustable rack is even more important.
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r39o
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anybody found a decent panel that fits in the luggage rack?

I really do not wish to construct one as below:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=411354

I just want to buy one that fills the hole and not some tiny panel 15w panel that some suggest. The idea of some huge panel on the roof with a rack and drilling holes in the pop top is just not appealing for my application.
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Mike Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use this which fits in the luggage rack, held in place with small bungee chords.

http://www.van-cafe.com/home/van/page_1078_125/folding_solar_panel_12_watt.html

We have led lights, stereo, sink pump, and a small fan that we sometimes run all night and it keeps up with them.

We estimate is gets us about 50 watts of power per day. So count up your watts per hour - leds - nothing, fan - very little, radio - lots. So sometimes we just use our ipod with a small external speaker.

It keeps up with our minimal needs when we stay in a place for a few days.

Mike
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r39o
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Robinson wrote:
http://www.van-cafe.com/home/van/page_1078_125/folding_solar_panel_12_watt.html

That is a 12W panel which is even smaller than the 15W one I do not want.

The DIY panel in the above referenced thread is 60W.

I could be happy with 50W.

The search continues....
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Kombi Dad
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with the earlier post. Portable panels are the way to go as you can park in the shade. I ran some experiments and with the panels (120W folding) mounted flat on top of the van they were bout 50% efficient. In the end I opted to keep them portable. I did change the cable from the panels to a much heavier guage and doubled the length. Now I can park in the shade with the panels in the sun. If I am leaving the camp site I chain the panels to the vehicle as they may become too portable.

Ian
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John Sullivan
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out this one: Sunforce 60 Watt Solar Panel with 7 Amp Charge Controller, Model# 37015. It is sold many places. The dimensions are listed as 42 x 19 x 3 which looks like it would fit in the luggage rack. I have been thinking of trying this.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Sullivan wrote:
Check out this one: Sunforce 60 Watt Solar Panel with 7 Amp Charge Controller, Model# 37015. It is sold many places. The dimensions are listed as 42 x 19 x 3 which looks like it would fit in the luggage rack. I have been thinking of trying this.



dimensions of the luggage rack are approx 47" or 48" x 19" and the panel you mention measures approx 44.63" x 19.25" x 3" as explained here below, tight fit probably

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8..._-82260044


r39o, check out these links below, especialy the first one, I've been on a quest to find a panel for that space too, but I have not been consistent searching for it, sometimes I look at all the craigslist offers trying to find the panel that has the best dimensions to utilize all the space available up there

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4...mp;start=0

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4...mp;start=0

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4...p;start=20
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Phishman068
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 30 watt panel installed in the luggage rack. I LOVE it. It's out of the way, isn't obvious and apparent. Impractical to steel (well bolted in place!) and functional (Nearly a 2amp output at times!)
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phishman068 wrote:
I have a 30 watt panel installed in the luggage rack. I LOVE it. It's out of the way, isn't obvious and apparent. Impractical to steel (well bolted in place!) and functional (Nearly a 2amp output at times!)


Great!

Do you have pics or can tell us how you ran wires to inside the van? I was thinking drilling a hole straight down into headliner space and down to solar controller
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The mount was simple to make and would be simple enough for any solar panel. I simply went to the local hardware store and bought some 1''x1/8'' (ish) steel flat stock. I cut two long strips that run front to back in the car over the luggage rack tie downs. In my case my panel takes up half the luggage rack and is on the drivers side, so one bar runs between the drivers most tie downs and one runs between the middle tied downs. Then, I took U bolts and drilled through the bars over the tie downs. Small U bolts are impossible to find, so I used the bolts out of Cable Crimps.
The Ubolts go through the tie downs and secure with nuts on the top.
This forms the basis for the mount.

Atop that lies the panel. The panel is mounted by drilling holes through the aluminum rails and into some small Right Angle pieces I purchased at the local hardware store. These are then sat atop the two bars now mounted in the luggage rack, marked, and drilled.
The beauty of it all is that all the bolts and nuts sit underneath the panel. So, with a simple hand tool (Pliers, vice grips, or proper wrench) the nuts which would otherwise be easily removed for steeling are all hidden under the panel. The only things showing are a few allen head button head stainless bolts that run through the panel's aluminum rails. Good luck getting those off without the proper allen wrench (Good thieves would come prepared though).

The wires then run down through one of the drains in the westy luggage rack. I then drilled a hole at the back of the luggage rack (from inside the popped top) and placed a proper wire grommet and ran the wires into the poptop. From there, they can be routed as you wish.

It's not alot of input, but it is some. When studying hydrology the simple equation stated is "Input Minus Output= Change In Storage".
Until this point I had only output to my power system. If I camped for over a day id be using power and not putting any back in. Having a new input changes the equation dramatically.

While camping for 3 days at Gathering of the Vibes last summer, I noticed that charging things at night, using lights and stereo at night, and running a small fan at night (IT WAS HOTT!) would run my battery down from the "Green" light on the westy kitchen panel to the "Yellow" one each night.
Then all day i'd be out away from my bus. Each evening i'd return to find it again "Green".
That's all I need.
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r39o
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Sullivan wrote:
Check out this one: Sunforce 60 Watt Solar Panel with 7 Amp Charge Controller, Model# 37015. It is sold many places. The dimensions are listed as 42 x 19 x 3 which looks like it would fit in the luggage rack. I have been thinking of trying this.

I looked and looked for measurements and finally did it myself.

19 x 45 is as big as you can fit and not be flat on the bottom. This is for my 1990 and the earlier ones may be different. Early being those with out factory cleats.

The shape is a sort of trapezoid. In the middle you can go 20 inches and it is actually wider at the rear than the front. But, I wanted a simple rectangle.

Home Depot has a piece of glass for $10 that is 18 x 36 and I can not find small enough cells to give a good workable voltage using common sized cells you can buy easily.

Look close at the Home Depot kit. It has 4 panels. That will not fly....."
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r39o
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:
dimensions of the luggage rack are approx 47" or 48" x 19"

Sort of. That is at the top and not the bottom, I guess. Plus, as above, it has a bow in the front of 1 inch. The front of the rack opening is
narrower than the back. I can see from my measurement, as above, a 19 x 45 fitting easily.

So at the front it is 45 inches wide and 19 inches deep.
In the middle it is 20 inches deep.
At the rear is about 47 inches wide.

So 19 x 45 is the biggest rectangular panel that would fit easy.

madspaniard wrote:
r39o, check out these links below, especially the first one,
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4...mp;start=0

I can locally get the below, but need to find a controller that can deal with the high voltage. Plus it is slightly too wide just like the panel in the above thread. I still need to think about what to do and still be flush with the top of the rack.

Maximum Power(W) 50
Optimum Power Voltage(Vmp) 45
Optimum Operatige Current(Imp) 1.1
Open Circuit Voltage(Voc) 60
Short Circuit Current(Isc) 3.05
Solar Cell: 125*125 Mono
Brand Name of Solar Cells ----Cell
Size of Module(mm) 835*540*35MM = 21.5 x 33

madspaniard wrote:
I've been on a quest to find a panel for that space too.

I have seen some 20 and 30 watt panels that are an easy fit. That is half the power I would like.

I have also considered the flexible long mat type of cell setup. NOT FOLDING PORTABLE. The ones that you can roll into a cylinder. These lay flat on the roof and do not stick up much at all. The compromise is output, of course. I do not want anything sticking up in the air much. So I am still looking and thinking......
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