Solar Panels

Mar 14, 2005
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This topic has probably been raised before but I am only recent to the Forum. Is it possible to have the pros and cons of using these panels for battery recharging. Just been away for nearly 5 days and come dangerously close to the 'red' mark on the battery indicator. No-one else on site had panels, just generators and hope that there is a quiter form of recharging away from home.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Malc,

We have a 110Amp battery and went away for 7 days with no problems, we were being carfull with the electricity by turning out un-needed lights (quite tough with three kids) and using a black and white telly (uses less than a third of colour TVs). I think I could have easily lasted a couple of weeks like this.

A few months later, though, we went away for a long weekend and were a lot more free with the electricity. I was a lot more chilled out not having to follow the kids about turning things off, but we did get a red light on the last day.

A 110amp battery will last 110 hours when pulling 1 amp from it (Obviously) but it will last less than 55 hours when pulling 2 amps and this trend continues on a sliding scale.

The solar panel will keep a battery topped up, but it wont charge a pretty dischared battery. I like the idea of a solar panel, but my exeriments with powering the kids playhose with them shows that they're an expensive toy and not much more.

I do have a cracking idea though (even if I do say so my self). Plug an inverter into the car and plug the caravan into this. The 'vans charger will think you're hooked up and charge the battery from the towcar. The inverter will shut down when the tow cars battery starts to drop, so you will still be able to start the car.

A 300wat inverter cost about
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Pete, surely your idea sounds too good/easy to be true. After all, a car quite easily could double up as a generator if needed, and you HAVE to take the car when out with the van.

How practical is your idea? Have you tried it?

I have a generator, but try not to take it or use it if i can help it. I dont fancy 400 quid for a solar panel, especially as my generator cost a lot more. So how effective would this idea be. It sounds good to me.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Lenny, I've hooked the van up to the inverter a few times but not while away yet. My 'van is in storage without mains, so when I visit the 'van to potter around I hook it up to the car via an inverter so I can use power tools and hoover up, also to keep the battery topped up. I've not used it in anger while away yet but I think it would be a lesser hit on the car battery than when I'm working on the van. I've not tested the inverter cutting off before a low battery on the car yet. One thing to check though is that the fridge is not switched to 240 volts as this will take quite a lot of power.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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we have a 18watt solar panel and we can get about a week out of it but we only have the colour telly on a couple of hours a day we find ours very good we both have showers every day as well we always carry to battieres of 110 amp
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Malc, Solar panels may be sufficient to keep your battery trickle charged, but they are not a real alternative to a proper charge. I agree that generators are not ideal, for two reasons, firstly, they are hoplessly inefficient at converting petrol to usable electricity (I could go through the calculations but please accept that they are at best between only about 7% effiecent and usually much worse). and Secondly they are noisey and anti social in the context of caravanning.

Alternatives could be a wind generator, or whatis more reliable would be to carry a spare battery in the car, and charge it whilst you travel about during the day. Petes suggestion of an Inverter, has some merit, but it could compromise your ability to start the car (especially if it is a diesel). Use sites with electric hookups. and will all teh above it makes sence to be frugal with your power usage, turn off items when they are not being used. Happy caravanning.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I have a 55watt solar panel which I lift onto the roof when I arrive. I use a colour TV nd a 110ah battery. I have managed a 5 week summer holiday and regular winter weeks/10 days. With Solar, big is beautiful.
 

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