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Author Topic: Anyone hooked up a portable solar battery charger?  (Read 1795 times)

lezmark

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Anyone hooked up a portable solar battery charger?
« on: February 28, 2008, 07:54:30 PM »
I dont want to add anything permanent on my roof. It seems there are some choices in some portable solar charging "units". My MH came with a small roof mounted charger and mounted in the dash is a "solar charger" light that illuminates during the day when it is charging. So, now my question. It seems to me that I should be able to tap into the wiring to that light with a solar panel I could put up in my window to help keep my batteries up when we are dry camping. I figure every little bit helps and maybe I can run my generator less to charge to up the batteries. Anyone tried anything like this or have any comments or suggestions?
2006 Newmar Scottsdale, 1994 Grand Cherokee toad (GR8 TOAD)

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Anyone hooked up a portable solar battery charger?
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2008, 10:25:19 AM »
I'm not sure about tapping in at the light - depends on how the indicator light is wired. But yes, you can certainly add an additional portable panel, even if you have to run a wire direct to the battery bank or to one of the larger 12v power wires in your system. Just about any 12v hot wire will deliver power back to the battery if the applied voltage is high enough.

But those little portable panels don't produce much output - 5-6 watts is typical and that is in max sunlight. That's less than 0.5 amps spread over however many batteries you have.

Here's a nice portable that rolls up for storage: Sunliner Portable Solar Panel
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

lezmark

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Re: Anyone hooked up a portable solar battery charger?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2008, 10:41:29 AM »
I have picked up a new foldable 13 watt off EBAY for just over $60 delivered. I figure thats a good start. Since we dry camp a lot, and we are not always in direct sun, portable is the way to go for us. I can move them to where the sun does shine. I know I cant expect a large of charging, but every little bit helps. I figure if I decide not to tap into a wire, I can just use a 12 volt outlet. Some of these portable "briefcase" models look to be pretty compact and easily set up - maybe a couple those of those might help me. Those put out 14 watts supposedly..
2006 Newmar Scottsdale, 1994 Grand Cherokee toad (GR8 TOAD)

Bob Buchanan

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Re: Anyone hooked up a portable solar battery charger?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2008, 12:59:28 PM »
So, now my question. It seems to me that I should be able to tap into the wiring to that light with a solar panel I could put up in my window to help keep my batteries up when we are dry camping.

You would want be careful of the size of the wire the existing solar uses. It's probably sized to the maximum amps from the existing panel.

I agree, and most that use solar would probably concur, that permanent roof panels can be a problem in terms of getting maximum energy from the sun. Those with roof mounts are restricted to parking in a certain direction, and even then must tilt the panels differently as the day wears on. The idea is to keep the panels as close to at right angle to the suns rays. At Quartzsite this year I saw several vendors selling mounts that "follow the sun" during the day, which is about the only solution I  have seen so far.

During my stay at the RV Forum QZ Rally in January, Wally the world class Solar Guy of the rally, helped me hook up my 2-80 watt panels to operate manually outside of my rig. His simple system uses a #12 to #14 50 ft. extension cord to connect the panels to the battery. My two 80W panels will give me a maximum of about 10A into the batteries. This way I can place the panels anywhere around the rig and at whatever angle I need. Wendy Coke's dad was there with a similar system that allowed him maximum energy from his two panels.
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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