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Old 02-18-2014, 02:39 PM   #1
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solar question

I see there are dozens of aftermarket solar battery charges available. I assume they have to be connected directly to the battery. Has anyone had any experience with any of them? If I ordered a 12v outlet on the trailer's exterior, couldn't I use that to plug in on of these RV chargers? Would that work?

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Old 02-18-2014, 02:48 PM   #2
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Harris - there is a lot of discussion on portable chargers here Portable Solar and Monitor Location

(Maybe more than you'll want! LOL)
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:56 PM   #3
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In addition, if you get the front tool box, the battery is located there for easy solar hook up.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:40 PM   #4
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One minor point with portable solar. If you plan to install a battery monitor such as a TM2025, you need to connect the portable controller to the input side of the monitor. Connecting it directly to the battery will work, but since the charge current won't be going through the monitor, your amp hour figures will be incorrect.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:00 PM   #5
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I know I just don't get it but...
The Coleman 40W portable solar panel I have has a controller. Says it has overcharge protection, and at only 40W that's not likely anyway. So, I just planned to connect it to the battery terminals and forget it. Later I'll just use my voltmeter to see if I got any charge.
If I have to, I'll fire up the Honda EU1000i. I'm hoping I can reduce generator use.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellentob View Post
I see there are dozens of aftermarket solar battery charges available. I assume they have to be connected directly to the battery. Has anyone had any experience with any of them? If I ordered a 12v outlet on the trailer's exterior, couldn't I use that to plug in on of these RV chargers? Would that work?

Thanks,

Harris
Harris
As far as I can tell, you'd need to figure out the voltage drop from the array to the battery. You'll also have to check the fuse.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I know I just don't get it but...
The Coleman 40W portable solar panel I have has a controller. Says it has overcharge protection, and at only 40W that's not likely anyway. So, I just planned to connect it to the battery terminals and forget it. Later I'll just use my voltmeter to see if I got any charge.
If I have to, I'll fire up the Honda EU1000i. I'm hoping I can reduce generator use.
SHOCKING You mentioned using a a generator ... Sorry had to since there are some strong feelings for and against usage of one. :}


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Old 02-18-2014, 09:35 PM   #8
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One who is against sleeps in the same bed as me. And I was only running it 45 min to an hour in the morning to top up my battery.
So, I shall give this solar a chance. But, I'm bringing the genset.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:23 AM   #9
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It looks like the 12v battery on the 19 is mounted on the tongue behind the propane tanks. That would make clipping a solar charger directly to the battery a snap. It looks like recharging during the day will extend the time off grid as well as keeping the charge up when in storage. ETI will install an exterior 12v outlet near the front and use a heavier gauge wire for $100. I guess that would be neater than alligator clips but would it work as well for recharging?
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:44 AM   #10
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I'd skip the outlet and hook directly to the battery, anytime you can eliminate wire length with 12v and solar you are better off, don't forget your controller though.
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:22 PM   #11
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I'd skip the outlet and hook directly to the battery, anytime you can eliminate wire length with 12v and solar you are better off, don't forget your controller though.
Jim,
That's true, but installing the receptacle within 12" of the battery would not cause measurable voltage drop if using properly sized wire. You would not only gain convenience by not having to remove the battery cover, but safety from sparking when connecting the panel/panels. Often the panels are set out in the sun when making the connection, so live voltage on the line. I would not use a cigarette lighter receptacle for the connector, as there are better choices available.
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:56 PM   #12
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I think someone posted a marine style fitting with 2 prongs.
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:18 PM   #13
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I agree with Russ - using the standard 12V outlet would require a male connector on the panel side - easy to short prior to connecting.

Two connectors I'd consider:
Neutrik speakON Connectors. While designed for audio speakers, they are rated at 30 amps, 2 or 4 pole, available as cable & chassis mount, and inexpensive (under $5.00 each). While the chassis mount is sealed front to back, it is not waterproof. I've used these, and they hold up well.

While I haven't used them, Amazon lists this waterproof connector - 4 pole & rated at 15 amps.

Either of these would carry the necessary current, and provide short circuit protection for the panel.
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:25 PM   #14
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Connecting Solar to Battery on Escape 19

Here are several methods of connecting a portable solar panel to the battery on an Escape 19. Both are quite inexpensive, the method using the vehicle side Bargman connector is detailed in a file called Solar Made Easy here on the forum. This would result in a bit longer run between the solar charger and the battery.

Because of the desire to shorten the cable run between the solar charger and battery I have installed a different connector. It is a Powerwerx 15 Amp Connector. The photo is the solar side of the connector, hanging off the battery box is 6 inches of 10 gauge wire with another identical connector. The connector is very unobtrusive, it is high enough it will not get dipped in water and keyed for the proper polarity on the connection.

I have not found much difference between the two methods, however I do not have the sophistication to measure charges that a device such as the Trimetric TM-2025 will bring.

For a discussion of other solar postings I refer you to this thread regarding Bogart Engineering Products
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN0234.jpg (324.7 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg Powerwerx 15 Amp.JPG (78.2 KB, 12 views)
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:46 PM   #15
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I used the same Anderson Powerpole connector that Paul used. They are sold by Powerwerx.com, and available in different current ratings. Unlike most connectors the Powerpoles can be plugged in under load without the arcing doing any harm to the conductive surface. The arc happens out at the tip of the plug, dissipates, and then the conductors drag upon one another until seated. I think they will provide many years of service for our usage. They can be panel mounted with optional clips, and the conductor pins can be specified to fit your desired wire gauge. They are not weatherproof, but will probably stay clean enough with frequent use to not cause problems with resistance. Maybe dielectric grease would prevent corrosion?
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Link:http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=C....powerwerx.com
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:35 PM   #16
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I agree with Russ - using the standard 12V outlet would require a male connector on the panel side - easy to short prior to connecting.

Two connectors I'd consider:
Neutrik speakON Connectors. While designed for audio speakers, they are rated at 30 amps, 2 or 4 pole, available as cable & chassis mount, and inexpensive (under $5.00 each). While the chassis mount is sealed front to back, it is not waterproof. I've used these, and they hold up well.

While I haven't used them, Amazon lists this waterproof connector - 4 pole & rated at 15 amps.

Either of these would carry the necessary current, and provide short circuit protection for the panel.
Jon--

What is the problem using a standard 12v cigarette type connector to plug in the solar panel and controller in order to recharge the battery. All these other connectors just seem to make the whole DIY process more difficult for the layman.
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:25 AM   #17
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What Jon was explaining was that the cigarette lighter plug has exposed conductors protruding from the body of the plug. If you happened to touch the plug to any metal it could short out the panel's output. Those plugs were intended for plugging in accessories that draw current, not produce it.
It does sometimes take more effort to do a project correctly, but the outcome is more satisfying.
If you opt for simple alligator clip to battery, you would want a plug at the panel end so it could be left un-plugged until all battery connections were completed and then plug in the panel end. The panel wire should also have a fuse in line. When disconnecting the system you would un-plug the panel end first and then the battery. That would avoid sparking which could blow the battery up in your face. You would use color coded alligator clips to help with proper polarity.
If you spent the time up front to set up the Power pole connectors you would just plug it in with no worries of sparking or polarity.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:42 AM   #18
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I'd skip the outlet and hook directly to the battery, anytime you can eliminate wire length with 12v and solar you are better off...
While direct is good, I'll add one more reason not to use battery clips: they don't make reliable contact. Any permanently installed wiring leading to any reasonable plug-in connection will likely be better.

The connector options already shown are great. Although I think they are lousy connectors, there is also the series of inline connectors with "bullet" contacts: they are used in a 4-pin version for trailers without brakes, and are very common in a 2-pin version for inexpensive solar panel kits (such as the Sunforce 15W kit). If the panel came in a kit and already has this style of wiring, it probably has a "pigtail" of a two-pin connector on one end and bare wire ends (or clips that can be cut off) on the other, just waiting to have simple ring terminals crimped on and bolted to the battery terminals. Definitely a step below the other setups described, but really easy DIY.

The classic "lighter socket" is definitely not good, because it's a bad connector (high resistance, doesn't stay engaged well) and the readily available hardware would put the male on the panel output, which has the problem already described. The only reason I can think of to use this connector at all is to plug in stuff that already has this style of plug, and that doesn't apply in the solar panel output situation.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:53 AM   #19
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If I were doing this mod, I think that I would use a plug and connector that is something like these aviation style plugs.
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Old 02-23-2014, 03:13 PM   #20
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At the panel end of the wire solar manufacturers seem to be standardizing on the MC4 connectors. My Renogy panels have about 4' of pigtail at the panels. The MC4 is weatherproof and locks when pushed together. To release you use a custom tool to depress the finger locks. A drawback to the MC4 other than having to use a tool to release is that the pins can only accommodate 10 gauge wire max. If your controller is panel mounted 10 gauge can rob too much voltage on long runs. I was going to rewire the panel so I could have 8 gauge all the way, but found out the panel manufacturers void warranties if the MC4 is removed. So I installed MC4's on my 8 gauge cables by using a short piece of 10 gauge going into the plug body. I then attached a release tool to the end of my extension cable with a short leash for handy access. You also can release the MC4 with your fingers in a pinch (pun intended) if you have no access to a tool. The kits that provide a panel mounted controllers probably omit the MC4, but that may vary by manufacturer. You could use the MC4 at the trailer end, but the 10 gauge limit may not be good unless your controller was trailer mounted.
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