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  #21  
Old 12-10-2013, 09:11 PM
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this is great info, thanks Dave & Brian in particular for jumping in here. Keith I suspect you don't mind the hijack here, as this is directly relevant to your project, yes?

So say you were presented with one of the new, low cost, turn-key solar charging solutions for RV's. Something like this one, a 200w deal: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Complete-Kit...-/261297690217

It comes with a pair of solar panels, cheapo charge controller, some plug & play wiring, and some brackets. Presume that you wouldn't ever be using this to try to breathe live back into an over-taxed battery, but instead it's just used for camping trips... where an AGM-type battery measuring 12.4 volts when running the fridge gets a little positive drip from this panel.. end goal being at the end of the hot day, it doesn't go much below 12.1, and if it can start tomorrow at 12.4 even better. Best case is your truck could camp indefinitely with hot sun and cold beer, worst case is you can last another day or two, compared to no solar.

How much better would you think results from using a "better" charge controller would be compared to the cheap one? Not asking you to quantify it, just gut feel- worth another $100?
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  #22  
Old 12-11-2013, 05:54 AM
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I'm no fan of cheap chargers on any level but I acknowledge in your hypothetical that a decent 3-step charger (I'd maybe go with a known brand, like Battery Tender or something) would make financial sense compared to a more expensive MPPT controller. If you already have a good charger at home then something inexpensive is probably fine used sparingly. Battery life is cumulative of every half charge, over charge and what-not.

I have an Iota DLS-45 with the IQ-4 option that I use to periodically condition my batteries. Lately I've been letting the AGM that I use with the panel float on it but I will run a conditioning cycle on the other batteries, especially the Optima, a few times a year.

http://www.iotaengineering.com/dls45.htm

Couldn't tell you about the panels in your eBay link. Since they wouldn't be out in the weather I'd be less concerned about their quality. With constant exposure to wind and snow and sun good panels will last longer. Less expensive panels typically use plate glass instead of tempered, which you recognize the safety issues there. They are also more likely to begin clouding over if the glass is cheap. OTOH being banged around in the back of a truck will probably break even good panels and replacing them will hurt more. I'd probably go with the cheaper panels myself, too. Build some sort of hinged case to protect them a little.
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  #23  
Old 12-11-2013, 08:12 AM
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Goal Zero will be at the Costco Road Show at the Aurora Costco Dec 13-22. Probably be able to pick up some Boulder 30 panels for cheap.
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Old 12-11-2013, 08:27 AM
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Do you have one of those Brian? Goal Zero seems nice but on the high side for what you get.
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Old 12-11-2013, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
Do you have one of those Brian? Goal Zero seems nice but on the high side for what you get.
Agreed that it seems high...

I went with a Renogy 100w panel for the top of the 60 and have been very happy.

100w for 150 bucks free shipping. It fits under my Gamiviti rack so I can still use the rack.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/100W-Watts-1...00900335483%26
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  #26  
Old 12-11-2013, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
Do you have one of those Brian? Goal Zero seems nice but on the high side for what you get.
No, but I'm planning on hitting the road show to see if I can score some Goal Zero panels at Costco prices.
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