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Old 06-10-2012, 12:38 PM   #21
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Yes, when the disconnect switch is off, it means the unit is in storage and all connections in the trailer, except for solar is off. The solar will continue to keep you battery charged, even under a cover in the winter.
I too recently ordered a 19' Escape and did not want the extra weight and space with dual 6's in the storage box. I opted for a single group 29 battery with 130 a/h capacity which gives me
52 a/h useable. With all led's/12v tv and the Atwood 1.8 low draw furnace, I doubt I would use more than 26/per day. Thus I'm good for 2 days, BUT, with solar recharging/replacing the battery use
with approximately 40 a/h per day, I'll never run out. So no you do not need the dual 6's, what you need is a battery storage adequate to cover your daily use and such use can be replaced with 6 hours of solar charging the next day. I've seen some people have so much storage that their use is replenished in 2-3 hours, somewhat overkill, IMHO. It is best to operate at most efficient scenario with use being replenished the next day, saves weight, money and resources.
Plus, if you ever realize you need more reserve, you can always add another battery later.
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:48 PM   #22
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett
I think what stevy was getting at was that if you have solar, do you really need the storage capacity (and weight) of dual 6V, because it is supposedly kept topped up all the time. For most situations, I would think that the dual 6V are not needed if you have good solar charging. Even on an extremely cold night, using the furnace a lot, and the lights a lot, you would not run down a fully charged 12V. If you could charge it back up during the day, I don't really see a need to add the weight of dual 6V.
Batteries are similar to body muscles, they need to be exercised. Keeping a set topped off without usage/drainage is not good for maintaining the storage capacity. The battery needs to be drained down occasionally to 60% and then charged back to 100%. If it only drops down 10% and then recharged the lifespan is shortened. The controller is designed to stop charging at somewhere 95%. You converter is supposed to run a bulk charge avery 24 hours to keep sulphur off your battery plates which happens if the battery is not exercised occasionally. Thus it is suggested you plug in over the winter to use this function of the converter.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:26 PM   #23
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

My husband has been boondocking for a month and a half now (minus the few days at the Escape rally!) and fishing the lakes in the Kamloops region. Because of the high altitude, it's been very cold at night, even a bit of snow. He's has to run the furnace all night on most nights. We have the solar panel and 2 6V batteries on our 17B. We ordered our trailer this way specifically because he was going to be the main user and would be fishing or hunting in areas with no services. He also rigged some switching system so he can use the solar panel to recharge his marine battery. The trailer batteries have been run down but have fully recharged thanks to the solar panel. We almost bought a generator before he left but since this was going to be the maiden trip in the trailer, decided to see how everything functioned before making such a purchase. Certainly at this point, it appears the trailer is pretty self sufficient as outfitted and depending on how and where you use your trailer, it may even be overkill for some. Since my husband is a pretty typical guy (in other words, "Why would I pay to camp?") and not likely to stay in RV (serviced) sites, the solar panel option is a necessity.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:05 PM   #24
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Mac
Are most of the solar panel users mounting their panels on the roof or do most of you have the panels mobile to follow the sun more directly?
Do those using the roof top mount ever worry about objects falling on the roof and cracking the panels?
J Mac
Our solar panel is mounted to the roof with the 3M VHB tape. We didn't want to bother with another set up & put away item. We didn't want to worry about theft when away during the day hiking, mtn biking, kayaking, etc). Also with our little kiddos, we didn't want another thing laying around for them to mess with. For us, the simplicity & convenience of the permanent roof mount was worth the trade-off of having a non-mounted panel to track the sun throughout the day. For those who prefer maximum flexibility, they can always go with a combination system comprised of both a roof mounted panel and a second non-mounted panel which can be used to track the sun.

As for worrying about panel breakage, they are extremely durable. Ours has been through at least a dozen hail storms already with no damage. It's also handled a decent sized branch that fell on it during a storm.
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:23 PM   #25
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Thanks everyone. Im going with the roof-top installation..
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:14 PM   #26
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

How, exactly, is one to "excersise" batteries? I know they are supposed to be cycled but how is this done when they won't be used for an extended period of time? I have thought of putting something like a tail light bulb on the set and let the voltage drop to around 11.4 volts and then recharge. Problem is, I would likely forget to take the bulb off and the battery would drop way below the low voltage limit. Not good for the battery. How do others take care of this problem?

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Old 06-17-2012, 08:47 AM   #27
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

you exercise batteries by using them and letting then discharge down to 11.9 volts or 60%. Then you have the converter do it's thing and recharge the batteries back up to 100%. This is a cycle that should be done maybe once/twice a month. If you leave it plugged in 24/7 then the battery will not go thru one of these cycles. It's good to unplug and use the battery for awhile to exercise it.
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:32 PM   #28
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Re: Purpose Of Solar Panels

Lead acid batteries do not have a memory like other types of rechargeable. Once a battery reaches discharge of more than 80%, some damage will begin to occur, and should never be taken below 60% capacity. They do benefit from being used (exercised) though, as a battery really should never sit long, either fully charged, or partially discharged. Something that really is tough when overwintered like may RV's are.

In almost all applications they are used, they are kept at a full floating voltage, like battery banks and vehicles. They do benefit from a equalizing charge of 14.4V for a short while which basically brings all the cells to an equal voltage, as regular charging stops at a set level and there may be a slight difference in voltage between cells. Not certain about the charging in the Escapes, but many chargers that maintain voltage levels are at 13.2V, and a few at 13.6 though at this level there is more bubbling of the acid and loss of water in the cells.

I imagine if you were to Google 'lead acid battery maintenance' you would get lots of info.
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