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Old 12-16-2014, 02:18 PM   #161
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Call me lost but would it not make sense to tilt the first toward the morning sun, the middle horizontal towards high noon, and the third one opposite the first one, toward the afternoon sun in order to catch 180 degrees of light? If all 3 are at the same angle some direct rays are being missed, are they not?
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Old 12-16-2014, 02:27 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Call me lost but would it not make sense to tilt the first toward the morning sun, the middle horizontal towards high noon, and the third one opposite the first one, toward the afternoon sun in order to catch 180 degrees of light? If all 3 are at the same angle some direct rays are being missed, are they not?
That's kind of what I was getting at but I suppose without a swivel, high noon would be the last best angle (for the mounting method described in this set up). I can only guess that at this latitude, at this time of year 3 panels facing the same direction will fill the battery bank sufficiently.
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Old 12-16-2014, 03:35 PM   #163
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Call me lost but would it not make sense to tilt the first toward the morning sun, the middle horizontal towards high noon, and the third one opposite the first one, toward the afternoon sun in order to catch 180 degrees of light? If all 3 are at the same angle some direct rays are being missed, are they not?
It does sound logical - but - and its a big but - the early morning and late afternoon sun loose a lot of energy, leaving mid-day sun to be the big producer. Therefor, best to have all three panels pointed south at an optimum angle.

The next step, although rarely done even on the ground - much less a trailer, is to track both the angle and azimuth at the same time. You could do it manually with a ground mounted panel on a tripod but you would also miss out on all the fun that was supposed to come with camping.

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Old 12-16-2014, 04:00 PM   #164
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The next step, although rarely done even on the ground - much less a trailer, is to track both the angle and azimuth at the same time. You could do it manually with a ground mounted panel on a tripod but you would also miss out on all the fun that was supposed to come with camping.--
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maybe you could incorporate it into the camping fun.
Noon: aim the panels; have some food, take a nap; aim the panels. Repeat.
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Old 12-16-2014, 04:57 PM   #165
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Suggestion for your next project: motor-driven equatorial mount.
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Old 12-16-2014, 05:13 PM   #166
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Suggestion for your next project: motor-driven equatorial mount.
Using this:
Starry Night Pro Version 7
you can track the sun during daylight,
then run your telescope at night.
How cool is that. The only thing it can't do is find fish.
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Old 12-16-2014, 06:02 PM   #167
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I

The next step, although rarely done even on the ground - much less a trailer, is to track both the angle and azimuth at the same time.
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You will see it sooner than you think. I'm in the process of fabricating a panel mount that adjusts both ways. I've always had that type of adjustment on my sailboat mounted panels. There is a gain but it's incremental. I'm doing it because I like optimizing the output but in truth, simply adding another panel would get me more.

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Old 12-16-2014, 07:20 PM   #168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Call me lost but would it not make sense to tilt the first toward the morning sun, the middle horizontal towards high noon, and the third one opposite the first one, toward the afternoon sun in order to catch 180 degrees of light? If all 3 are at the same angle some direct rays are being missed, are they not?
This would make sense if it were important to have a steady flow of power through the day; however, batteries exist to fix the misalignment of power sources to power consumption, so I agree with Alan:
Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
... the early morning and late afternoon sun loose a lot of energy, leaving mid-day sun to be the big producer. Therefor, best to have all three panels pointed south at an optimum angle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
The next step, although rarely done even on the ground - much less a trailer, is to track both the angle and azimuth at the same time. You could do it manually with a ground mounted panel on a tripod but you would also miss out on all the fun that was supposed to come with camping.
The elevation (tilt up/down) only needs to go through one cycle a year, so on an RV just setting it when setting up camp and leaving it for the duration makes sense.
The azimuth (pivot left/right) should actually be on an axis which is tilted to match the season (the equatorial mount that Parker mentioned), but whether the pivot axis is vertical or tilted, its cycle is once per day... I wouldn't try to do that manually, and I'm not suggesting a motorized mount for an RV rooftop, so aiming it due south seems sensible (to the extent that your mount can aim in azimuth). If you manually set azimuth for morning at breakfast, got busy doing something fun, and missed the rest of the day's manual adjustments, most of the day's potential energy gathering would be lost.
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Old 12-16-2014, 07:55 PM   #169
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I could probably get another 20% to 30% out of the panels by moving the position around constantly if I made that my goal but just tilting them upward and getting a very good average angle during the day has at least tripled the output I had from when they were mounted flat. Additionally, I probably wouldn't gain any benefit at all because my batteries are fully charged in a very short period of time and the MorningStar Solar Comtroller starts throttling back (PWD) the charge level significantly before noon.

However, remember that we are in Winter when tilting the panels upward provides the highest return. Spring and fall will also benefit the tilted angle needed then but they are going to stay down flat all summer where 6 degrees of angle is all that is called for. The days are long and the sun is almost directly overhead. This is also the period of time when I suspect that my new refer will draw the most power...perfect timing!

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Old 12-16-2014, 11:24 PM   #170
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...If you manually set azimuth for morning at breakfast, got busy doing something fun, and missed the rest of the day's manual adjustments, most of the day's potential energy gathering would be lost.
For those so inclined, check out this dual-axis solar tracking system.
Maine Solar Trackers, New Hampshire AllSun Solar Panel Tracking Systems
My wild guess is 2-4 thousand USD, just for the mount.

Personally, I'm going camping with an extra ground-level panel, to be used in the fall through spring, and just lean it up against a chair on the sunny side of my campsite.
Then I'm going fishing. That's a better way to recover lost energy...


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