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Solar Hardware Recommendations - Samba User Approved!
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rotaecho
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:38 pm    Post subject: Solar Hardware Recommendations - Samba User Approved! Reply with quote

Okay, I've read a ton of solar setup posts to help create my current setup.

I was thinking a bit ago, "Is there a topic for recommended hardware/panels for Samba members?"

There's a lot of information in a ton of posts, but nothing to a central post for "Samba Hardware Compatibility List for Solar" or something similar Wink

This is the beginning of describing your hardware and any measurements you feel can provide feedback to why it rocks, or just tells why it rocks!

Photos always helpful, I'll try and get some current photos of my setup too within the next few days.

So, what's my current solar rig?

1.6 N/A power-plant with an upgraded 90a alternator with a 14.85v variable voltage regulator cranking to my AGMs.

An Odyssey 1750 battery under each front seat 74Ah * 2 = 148Ah
http://www.odysseybatteries.com/batteries/pc1750.htm

Two Yandina combiners for each battery
http://www.yandina.com/c100InfoR3.htm

BlueSky SB3000i MPPT 30A Controller
http://www.blueskyenergyinc.com/products/details/solar-boost-3000i

NOTE: A few reasons for this charge controller

* Local Company in California; I support local shops!

* Features not in other MPPT controllers; the ability to turn off the display so no glaring light while you sleep.

That goes into a custom control-center based off the design that PDXWesty created.

I'm currently running a Bosch 270w foldable panel (3 panels) which I removed the onboard MPPT and have connections to my Flux Capacitor (solar control center). It came with a nice solid 25ft cable. In direct sun-light I've got 11amps cranking through them. On a shady day in Eldorado National Park in California around 5amps. I plan to get a 100-150w in the luggage rack eventually.

http://www.antenergy.com.au/index.php/products/12v...rging.html

I use a combinations of SAE roof type connectors and MC4

http://www.solarseller.com/low_voltage_dc_pumps__lvm__teel__accessories__plugs_and_extensions.htm

My fridge is the Isotherm ASU CR49.

http://www.indelwebastomarineusa.com/Products/Fridges_and_Freezers/us/html/8147.html

Some awesome accessories I think are a requirement.

I am VERY VERY VERY anti-inverter. Most the time you can find an 12v counter-part and save some energy. Some cables for your arsenal:

DC 1 Female to 4 Male Power Splitter Cable Y Adapter For CCTV (can be used for a LOT of other DC devices)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FGLSZZU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

TRIPP LITE U152-003-M 3-Feet USB to Type M Barrel 5V DC Power Cable Cord USB2TYPEM
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L1G079Q/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

DC Power Cord Type M Barrel 5V DC to cig-liter
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0016KXFXW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Spal Magsafe 60w Car Charger Adapter for Macbook Pro 13" 13-inch Notebook,with Extra Usb Slot to Charge Ipad,iphone GPS Etc Any Other Device with Standard USB Charging Cable
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009GK3F34/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

These items have rocked my solar world enough to endorse this post Wink
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rotaecho
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is my solar control center based loosely off of PDXWesty's setup.

Bosch 270w foldable panel (fridge trim coming soon)

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Dead Center

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Driver side with solar SAE uplink:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Passenger with 12V receptacle

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Some recent tests with my Isotherm ASU CR49 fridge as the only load.

October Day (3rd) with not as much light. The solar kept my fridge going (two Odyssey batteries) and in the morning I had 12.7V on the batteries left. I REALLY REALLY dig the ASU. It doesn't make the compressor run all night. Actually, after the plates froze, I never heard the compressor kick-in at all during the night.

My next test will be all my accessories (mood-lights, stereo) and run all night with the fridge we'll see how the battery holds up.

On a note, I found this the best place to mount the ASU control panel, as it doesn't reflect the light when you sleep at night with the bed.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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singler3360
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Watching with interest. Thanks for the posts.
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rotaecho
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:49 am    Post subject: Results in! Reply with quote

Okay here is my "festival" stress test load.

6:30pm sun already down not much hitting panels getting like 0.2 amp it's already dark almost.

I fired up my mood-lights, 50w X4 car stereo, and fridge.

Stereo - Kenwood 50w x4

Lights - 2 x TaoTronics® TT-SL007 Waterproof RGB LED Strip Light Kit (16.4 feet, 300 LEDs, 5050 SMD, 44-key Remote Controller from amazon

Fridge - Isotherm CR49 with ASU tech

Sink/faucet - occasionally used

Consumption?

By morning when the sun creeped up and I woke up to turn off the mood-lights, I was at 12.3v to 12.4v flipping back and forth so boarder line 50% charge.

I think worse-case scenarios going to 30%-45% now and then would still be okay with the batteries.

I am VERY happy with this solar design and consumption.

So, what's my word of advice after reading all the solar posts on the Samba?

First, even though a LOT of brilliant and great ideas exist, take it with a grain of salt and review it logically not by "that's too hard to do" mentality.

* Be realistic with your solar needs. Do you need the TV, blender, power-tools, etc? Likely not, you're not living in the city you're boon-docking. If you *do* need those things, research DC options instead of an inverter. This goes with the next bullet:

* Try to avoid an inverter it only does you harm

* If someone says putting batteries under the seats isn't enough bang for your buck; look at this post and my other Odyssey under the seats post. It's all FUD if you do your research. All my cabinets are used for storing camping goods which I prefer than a battery taking up usable space Smile

* There's the logic of if going a good controller you don't need as good panels or the flip side. The reality with solar is this:

Quality equipment means quality experience and better over-all solar numbers. It's like everything else in life. That usually equates to mo' money! So, be patient, save and get what you want. Buy a GOOD MPPT controller and GOOD panels.

Have fun Samba folk!
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DAV!D
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How often your fridge will kick on, really has a lot to do with a ambient temperature of where your van is. If it's cool at night, then it's not going to kick on very much, but if it's hot outside it's going to run more. It's hard to judge how efficient a fridge is until you spend a few days in 90+ degree weather.

The inside of your van isn't like a home that is temperature controlled, so the outside weather has a lot of effect on how much it runs.

As far as solar set ups, I'm not sure why so many people here like those fold out units. It's much cheaper to buy 2x 100w panels or even a single 140w and mount them on the roof. You always have a charge this way and don't have to worry about someone walking off with it if you go somewhere. Not to mention the space they take up inside the van and worrying about breaking it, if it slides around or gets dropped or the hassles involved with lugging it around.

Everything else looks good, but I just don't see the reasoning behind so many that buy these overpriced folding units. Mount the panels on the roof and you are hassle free and end up with more money in your pocket.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 120w foldable panel wasn't overpriced at all (cheaper than my previous Kyocera panel). Also, the main reason for the foldable panel is many times while camping for 2-3 days I would have a campsite that would be shaded all day long (who wants to camp under the sun most of the day?). The foldable panel is so easy to carry around and deploy some distance from the van where the sun is hitting. This is what I've been doing this weekend camping in the Lake Tahoe area. Try to move a heavy 120w from your van's roof a bunch of times. It gets old very quick. I did it and I'm not going back to that again. My foldable panel comes with a casing and fits perfectly like a thin pancake right over the engine lid, no hassle whatsoever. And so far no one has tried to steal it, that is not what people usually try to do while camping. Worried? Add a bicycle cable lock, I carry one but I have not felt the need to use it yet.
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rotaecho
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I've had the fridge on the last two days here in LA which were pretty hot days overall during the day. The compressor was on the whole time with the ASU which is normal when hooked up to solar. Nice and cold. When at night or cooler temps it doesn't run the compressor since the internal plates are frozen providing the fridge it's cool state. In addition to not sucking your battery by running the compressor as much. Like I said last two nights I didn't hear it start the compressor once.

As for the foldable panels, as mentioned at the top of this thread, I plan to get a luggage solar setup too, BUT

You won't see a 150w+ luggage rack setup. Least I haven't read of anyone getting that much. That being said, you either need to:

a.) put one on the top of the Westy itself

b.) get a foldable panel

That's the ONLY way you'll get 200w+ on Solar. No way you'll get 200w on a luggage rack.

You are correct though it's the most ideal place to keep a constant charge to the batteries. It's on the list Smile

Great input everyone! Thanks!
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rotaecho
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should also mention, the fridge is SUPER insulated.

In the back wall, the sides, top, and bottom of the fridge is insulated with at least 2 layers of:

http://www.lobucrod.com/index.html

I believe this helps keep the temp down and the heat off the fridge a great deal too. Plenty of air flow also on the top/bottom of fridge with the side fan as well.

YMMV
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:
My 120w foldable panel wasn't overpriced at all (cheaper than my previous Kyocera panel). Also, the main reason for the foldable panel is many times while camping for 2-3 days I would have a campsite that would be shaded all day long (who wants to camp under the sun most of the day?). The foldable panel is so easy to carry around and deploy some distance from the van where the sun is hitting. This is what I've been doing this weekend camping in the Lake Tahoe area. Try to move a heavy 120w from your van's roof a bunch of times. It gets old very quick. I did it and I'm not going back to that again. My foldable panel comes with a casing and fits perfectly like a thin pancake right over the engine lid, no hassle whatsoever. And so far no one has tried to steal it, that is not what people usually try to do while camping. Worried? Add a bicycle cable lock, I carry one but I have not felt the need to use it yet.


Solar panels still charge in the shade just not at max output. Think of it as a overcast day. They don't need direct sunlight, but of course it helps.

The difference is roof top mounted panels will always be charging vs fold out only charge when you unfold them, but you can still park in the shade. My system will easily run 3 days with little to no charging.

Granted for just week end trips any solar is likely overkill, because you could likely get by on 2 batteries that get charged by the alternator or at home prior to leaving with a 110 battery charger. However that's a different story. Laughing

I just wanted to mention shade alone is not a reason to avoid roof top mounts unless you plan to spend days on end in the shade and don't have much battery reserves.
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rotaecho
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David,

Very valid statement regarding shad and solar input power.

I feel the same, you don't get "as much", but you "do" get something Smile My panel can crank out 11amps, but I've had moments so far where I get 1amp in shade. It's all free energy to me being 1amp or 11amps Very Happy

The biggest appeal to the luggage rack option to me is a constant battery tenderer, and active charge wherever you are. It's one of those "out of sight out of mind" benefits that just make you happy.

I've really liked the low-profile flexible solar panels and using velcro to secure it. Tons of luggage rack options available Smile

DAV!D wrote:
madspaniard wrote:
My 120w foldable panel wasn't overpriced at all (cheaper than my previous Kyocera panel). Also, the main reason for the foldable panel is many times while camping for 2-3 days I would have a campsite that would be shaded all day long (who wants to camp under the sun most of the day?). The foldable panel is so easy to carry around and deploy some distance from the van where the sun is hitting. This is what I've been doing this weekend camping in the Lake Tahoe area. Try to move a heavy 120w from your van's roof a bunch of times. It gets old very quick. I did it and I'm not going back to that again. My foldable panel comes with a casing and fits perfectly like a thin pancake right over the engine lid, no hassle whatsoever. And so far no one has tried to steal it, that is not what people usually try to do while camping. Worried? Add a bicycle cable lock, I carry one but I have not felt the need to use it yet.


Solar panels still charge in the shade just not at max output. Think of it as a overcast day. They don't need direct sunlight, but of course it helps.

The difference is roof top mounted panels will always be charging vs fold out only charge when you unfold them, but you can still park in the shade. My system will easily run 3 days with little to no charging.

Granted for just week end trips any solar is likely overkill, because you could likely get by on 2 batteries that get charged by the alternator or at home prior to leaving with a 110 battery charger. However that's a different story. Laughing

I just wanted to mention shade alone is not a reason to avoid roof top mounts unless you plan to spend days on end in the shade and don't have much battery reserves.

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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lets get real. Shade and solar don't mix well at all. With most panels even a small amount of shade covering only a small part of the panel will reduce the amps from the panel to almost nothing.

As you say with your panels, in shade you lose more than 90% of the power and that is supposed to somehow be OK? If you needed anything like full power to begin with how can almost nothing still be enough?

Mark

rotaecho wrote:
David,

Very valid statement regarding shad and solar input power.

I feel the same, you don't get "as much", but you "do" get something Smile My panel can crank out 11amps, but I've had moments so far where I get 1amp in shade. It's all free energy to me being 1amp or 11amps Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark,

Okay, let's get real and expand.

When you have nothing, and you add something what do you have? I'll answer, it's something of quantitive value. You have something. Be it a 0.1amp or 1amp trickle, it's power either way you look at it which in my mind is better than nothing. But maybe you like most prefer to live in two extremes with no gray i.e: It's everything (sun to the extreme) or nothing (no use of panel).

I also stated at the top when in Eldorado National Park which was mostly shade I was getting 5a. I don't consider that "nothing" while charging my batteries either.

It's all relative, but getting "something" is better than getting "nothing".

It really boils how much is the juice worth the squeeze, for me 1amp is enough since it's still more than I had before which was nothing.

But again, like I said maybe I'm the minority here.

crazyvwvanman wrote:
Lets get real. Shade and solar don't mix well at all. With most panels even a small amount of shade covering only a small part of the panel will reduce the amps from the panel to almost nothing.

As you say with your panels, in shade you lose more than 90% of the power and that is supposed to somehow be OK? If you needed anything like full power to begin with how can almost nothing still be enough?

Mark

rotaecho wrote:
David,

Very valid statement regarding shad and solar input power.

I feel the same, you don't get "as much", but you "do" get something Smile My panel can crank out 11amps, but I've had moments so far where I get 1amp in shade. It's all free energy to me being 1amp or 11amps Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is getting a bit silly. It is not about getting "something" back, it is about getting back the amps you need for another night. I had a 135w Kyocera panel, in full shade I would put barely anything back into the battery, maybe enough to cover the fridge needs for 15 minutes. Sorry but that "something" was not what I needed.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:
This is getting a bit silly. It is not about getting "something" back, it is about getting back the amps you need for another night. I had a 135w Kyocera panel, in full shade I would put barely anything back into the battery, maybe enough to cover the fridge needs for 15 minutes. Sorry but that "something" was not what I needed.


That's not the point I was getting at by saying you can still camp in the shade. The point is, deep cycles are meant to be drained and recharged over and over. They are not like a cranking battery that needs to be at 100% all the time.

With 2 quality deep cycles you can easily run an efficient fridge for 3 days of no charging before you get near the 50% charge range. Meaning assuming you have a full charge or are well above 50%, there is no reason to worry about not parking in the shade just because you have roof mount solar.

I live in my van everyday. I have 200w of solar an I run a 12v fridge that cycles on and off 24/7. I charge my laptop quite often, I charge my tablet when I need to and my cell phone everyday. I also run my LED lighting every night as well as power a LED HD TV with amplified antenna. Added to this I also keep a dust buster fully charged to keep my van clean and randomly charge some 18v battery packs from a cordless drill that powers a little lantern that I sometimes use outside.

All this is operated from 200w of solar and 2 type 31 batteries and I used most of these things daily. Even with all this stuff I really do not worry if I want to park in the shade or not. If it's hot out, I park in the shade.

What I'm getting at is the battery reserve is what is important and as long as you have 2 decent batteries you are going to have enough reserve to not be worried about parking in the shade or not.

Usually my battery bank is back to 100% by 10 or 11 am on a sunny day. Meaning it's not going to kill me to have a few no sun days. Hence the myth that you can't park in the shade is not true. Cool
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Park (camp) in the shade for long enough and unless you have the batteries of a Boeing or a Tesla you will eventually need solar power again. It is all relative isn't it? I made my point about a foldable panel, if you can't see that then I don't know what else to say.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to get back on topic of solar hw recommendations, in a thread, based on various installs and their relative usefulness. How 'bout it?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another good thing to have is a rechargeable battery charger. I use this one:

EBL® E906 Universal LCD Smart Quick Battery Charger & Discharger for AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, Ni-MH, Ni-CD Rechargeable Batteries

There are various designs on Amazon, but you want the AC/DC available model. As you can ditch the AC wall adaptor, and use those cables I posted at the very top to go direct to the battery charger.

Then you can use all those AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, Ni-MH, Ni-CD accessories Very Happy
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