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Thread: Simplify solar

  1. #1
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    Default Simplify solar

    To those on the forum who know infinitely more than I do about this subject; may I pose a question and get as close to a few yes/no answers as possible. I've read so many threads on this and frankly, as I think I understand things a bit, it becomes more confusing.

    My wife and I camp in a Jurgens Safari XCape towed by a Defender 90 or Freelander 2 and prefer camping away from electricity as much as possible. Camping anywhere in the country is fair game. Stock standard battery in the XCape and fitted with a Brad Harrison plug to keep it topped up from the car as we travel. Original National Luna 52l fridge freezer, ample for our needs. When we're camping away from power we would like to keep the fridge running and use the various (mostly) LED lights that are fitted - that's all.

    I want to go solar so my questions:
    1. Will 2x 80w panels, and whatever other gizmos are required, be sufficient to keep us going?
    2. Would it be better to go for say 2 x 90w panels to have a bit of a buffer? (I'm sticking with 80 or 90w panels for portability.)
    3. To connect the panels to my battery would I be able to just plug them into the Brad Harrison connection on the caravan? (I'd prefer not to have to modify the caravan.)
    4. Am I on the right track? Here you can break from yes/no answers.

    All input appreciated.

    Mike
    Land Rover Defender 90, 2014 Jurgens Xcape & my wife in a Freelander 2.
    Previously various Defenders, a Freelander 1 & an Afrispoor Mongoose
    BMW R1200GS for when 2 wheels are better.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Greeff View Post
    To those on the forum who know infinitely more than I do about this subject; may I pose a question and get as close to a few yes/no answers as possible. I've read so many threads on this and frankly, as I think I understand things a bit, it becomes more confusing.

    My wife and I camp in a Jurgens Safari XCape towed by a Defender 90 or Freelander 2 and prefer camping away from electricity as much as possible. Camping anywhere in the country is fair game. Stock standard battery in the XCape and fitted with a Brad Harrison plug to keep it topped up from the car as we travel. Original National Luna 52l fridge freezer, ample for our needs. When we're camping away from power we would like to keep the fridge running and use the various (mostly) LED lights that are fitted - that's all.

    I want to go solar so my questions:
    1. Will 2x 80w panels, and whatever other gizmos are required, be sufficient to keep us going? Yes.
    2. Would it be better to go for say 2 x 90w panels to have a bit of a buffer? (I'm sticking with 80 or 90w panels for portability.) Yes - optional.
    3. To connect the panels to my battery would I be able to just plug them into the Brad Harrison connection on the caravan? (I'd prefer not to have to modify the caravan.) No.
    4. Am I on the right track? Here you can break from yes/no answers. Almost.

    All input appreciated.

    Mike
    You need a solar charge controller in between the solar panels and the battery to regulate things. It ensures optimum charging and protects the battery from overcharging.
    Eggie.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Greeff View Post
    To those on the forum who know infinitely more than I do about this subject; may I pose a question and get as close to a few yes/no answers as possible. I've read so many threads on this and frankly, as I think I understand things a bit, it becomes more confusing.

    My wife and I camp in a Jurgens Safari XCape towed by a Defender 90 or Freelander 2 and prefer camping away from electricity as much as possible. Camping anywhere in the country is fair game. Stock standard battery in the XCape and fitted with a Brad Harrison plug to keep it topped up from the car as we travel. Original National Luna 52l fridge freezer, ample for our needs. When we're camping away from power we would like to keep the fridge running and use the various (mostly) LED lights that are fitted - that's all.

    I want to go solar so my questions:
    1. Will 2x 80w panels, and whatever other gizmos are required, be sufficient to keep us going?
    2. Would it be better to go for say 2 x 90w panels to have a bit of a buffer? (I'm sticking with 80 or 90w panels for portability.)
    3. To connect the panels to my battery would I be able to just plug them into the Brad Harrison connection on the caravan? (I'd prefer not to have to modify the caravan.)
    4. Am I on the right track? Here you can break from yes/no answers.

    All input appreciated.

    Mike
    1. Don't know.
    2. Yes.
    3. No
    4. Yes. Bigger is better so go for the larger panels. A solar charge controller is required between the panels and battery. If your XCape already have a power panel find out if it has solar input build-in, if yes bargain, if no go to someone with appropriate knowledge to help you.
    Neil

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Thank you guys.
    Land Rover Defender 90, 2014 Jurgens Xcape & my wife in a Freelander 2.
    Previously various Defenders, a Freelander 1 & an Afrispoor Mongoose
    BMW R1200GS for when 2 wheels are better.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    1) Yes - use with a WRND dual charger. This is a MPPT pv-regulator and a dc-2-dc charger. Brilliant equipment at an affordable price - http://www.4x4direct.co.za/dc-to-dc-...olar-mppt.html

    2) Yes - recoomended IF you rather want to go with a PV-regulator only, and not dc-2-dc charger, such as - http://www.4x4direct.co.za/regulator...l-display.html


    3) NO ... see 1 and 2 above


    4) close enough


    We have done MANY trips with 2x80W panels for a fridge and lights. It WORKS

    "2" is okay ... but "1" is certainly the better approach

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Thanks Chris, appreciate that.
    Land Rover Defender 90, 2014 Jurgens Xcape & my wife in a Freelander 2.
    Previously various Defenders, a Freelander 1 & an Afrispoor Mongoose
    BMW R1200GS for when 2 wheels are better.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Hi Mike, I use 2x90w solar panels and a CTek D250S as a regulator for the solar/
    Bought the
    CTek D250S from Loftus and Martin at Loftus installed it. Took 30 minutes.
    The panels I bought from Plan my Power in Windsor.
    I camp where there is no power most of the times.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by mur2 View Post
    Hi Mike, I use 2x90w solar panels and a CTek D250S as a regulator for the solar/
    Bought the
    CTek D250S from Loftus and Martin at Loftus installed it. Took 30 minutes.
    The panels I bought from Plan my Power in Windsor.
    I camp where there is no power most of the times.
    Mur I am a BIG fan of the Ctek 250 S !! I have used it on a couple of projects, and all my own trips.


    But the current pricing is just insane !!!

    For a fraction of the price look at the WRND unit ...

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisF View Post
    Mur I am a BIG fan of the Ctek 250 S !! I have used it on a couple of projects, and all my own trips.


    But the current pricing is just insane !!!

    For a fraction of the price look at the WRND unit ...
    Or one could go for this

    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...t=#post3659375

    that looks like the new Rolls Royce on the block.

    Remember that 3/1 is also a fraction.
    Cheers

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    I have a 90l National Luna and a 120Watt solar panel with built controller. We camped for 4 days at West Coast with no problems. Used the Brad Harris (connection to car) to plug it in

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Thank you for all the input everyone.

    That CTek does look good but pricey.

    I've decided on 2x90 panels and I'm going to work through Plan My Power in Windsor - Geoff Vickenstaff seems to know what he's doing and with my limited understanding I need that comfort.
    Land Rover Defender 90, 2014 Jurgens Xcape & my wife in a Freelander 2.
    Previously various Defenders, a Freelander 1 & an Afrispoor Mongoose
    BMW R1200GS for when 2 wheels are better.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    I went from 1 x 60W panel to 2 x 64W panels (flexible panels mounted rigidly, supposedly equivalent to standard 80W) to 2 x 80W. Each scenario was calculated with theoretically with an effective 5 hours of usable daylight, current usage etc. the power pack was 2 x 105AHr deep cycle batteries.

    Theory and practice disagreed each time. High temperatures reduced solar panel efficiency, increased fridge running times, and the Deltec 105AHr lead acid deep cycle batteries had their limitations.

    This was keeping 1 x 40l Engel fridge and 1 x Engel freezer. The only extra load was a small LED camp light, and occasional ham radio use. I used a Ctek charger for DC/DC charging as well as for solar charging.

    From this, if staying stationary or longer than 3 days, 2 x 80W panels and 2 x 105 deep cycle batteries is not always enough. We ended up doing more game drives, and on one occasion, idling our engines for 2 hours (no neighbours within 5-10km).

    2 x 80W in my opinion is not enough for ll situations. 2 x 90W not much better. For extended overcast or hot weather thi will be marginal.

    Because I have plenty of roof space, and because solar panels have become quite affordable, I went to the other extreme, fitting as much as I could.

    You can never have too much solar power or too many batteries
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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    I have two NL fridges (80L at -15 and 50L at -5), numerous CFLs being used throughout the campsite, two 80W solar panels with a cheap non MPPT 10A solar charge converter (cant remember but I think it was about R200) and a 102Ah deep cycle battery. I regularly camp without power for up to three weeks and never need to top up except if it is an overcast day. I do move the panels to face the sun through the day though (7-10, 10-2, 2-6). In this way I get just over 9A charge current throughout the day (Keep in mind its non MPPT so no voltage conversion etc). This easily doubles up on the available charge. Going for an MPPT converter will probably improve the results even further but they are more expensive.

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by KKDJC View Post
    I have two NL fridges (80L at -15 and 50L at -5), numerous CFLs being used throughout the campsite, two 80W solar panels with a cheap non MPPT 10A solar charge converter (cant remember but I think it was about R200) and a 102Ah deep cycle battery. I regularly camp without power for up to three weeks and never need to top up except if it is an overcast day. I do move the panels to face the sun through the day though (7-10, 10-2, 2-6). In this way I get just over 9A charge current throughout the day (Keep in mind its non MPPT so no voltage conversion etc). This easily doubles up on the available charge. Going for an MPPT converter will probably improve the results even further but they are more expensive.
    Rigid solar panels dropped below R10/Watt yet? Who's selling the best value for money rigid solar panels in Gauteng? I'm looking for 2 X 80W panels

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Bard View Post
    Rigid solar panels dropped below R10/Watt yet? Who's selling the best value for money rigid solar panels in Gauteng? I'm looking for 2 X 80W panels
    They go as low as R6 if you are prepared to buy big lots.

    For your requirements you can expect to pay from R9/Watt to R15/Watt.
    Check with folks such as 4x4Direct or Bushpower.
    Eggie.

    What this country needs more and more, are more unemployed politicians.
    - apology to Edward Langley.

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    Red face Re: Simplify solar

    So a total noob question.

    So you have a entire gadget system, and at the end of this set up is a cable with a brad harrison plug (or possibly some other plug/crocodile clips?) If they are crocodile clips do you just connect them to the battery ?

    If brad harrison, where do you plug the harrison into ?

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Slowones View Post
    So a total noob question.

    So you have a entire gadget system, and at the end of this set up is a cable with a brad harrison plug (or possibly some other plug/crocodile clips?) If they are crocodile clips do you just connect them to the battery ?

    If brad harrison, where do you plug the harrison into ?
    The ideal system has different "output plugs" -

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    This system has :
    - YELLOW BH as an input plug from his solar panel
    - 3x grey BH output plugs.
    - we put a BH plug on his fridge cable, and also on his compressor cable.
    - he also has "Hella plugs" for smaller items

    so the items that use power need the same plugs as your system - so make sure to have a nice assortment of plugs in your system to make sure you are adaptable to whatever devise and plug you encounter on your trips.

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  29. #18
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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Bard View Post
    Rigid solar panels dropped below R10/Watt yet? Who's selling the best value for money rigid solar panels in Gauteng? I'm looking for 2 X 80W panels
    As Eggie said - buying on large scale you could get better prices.

    For one or two panels at a time R10/W still seems to be the norm - http://www.4x4direct.co.za/788-fixed-solar-panels

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    Default Re: Simplify solar

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Greeff View Post
    Thank you for all the input everyone.

    That CTek does look good but pricey.

    I've decided on 2x90 panels and I'm going to work through Plan My Power in Windsor - Geoff Vickenstaff seems to know what he's doing and with my limited understanding I need that comfort.
    I have dealt with Geoff before and can recommend his service and knowledge. (Advice given and 1 000 W Inverter purchased a couple of years back - works hard - no problems at all so far)
    Maybe also consider Bushpower for solar. - Bought my 90 W panel and controller from them in 2011 - no problem whatsoever so far.
    Both of these are good knowledgeable suppliers in my opinion.

    I find the single 90 W panel quite adequate with alternator charging via dual charge solenoid. Running NL Weekender, CPAP machine at night, LED lighting and charging phones, camera etc.
    Been up to 9 days without problems providing a couple of hours driving around daily (game or scenic drives) and provided there is good sunshine, otherwise 4 - 5 days. Storage is two 100 AH batteries linked.
    Answering the call of the wild is just so much beter than answering the telephone.
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