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Old 07-05-2011, 10:34 AM
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Default Solar charging for camping

I had the ability to get a sunforce 1.8 watt battery maintainer for free. I figured I'd see how it worked with the camper and if not just keep it on the dash for one of the cruisers I don't drive that often.

I tried it for the first time camping this weekend and it turned out awesome for what it is. I camped in the same spot and same duration as last year for the 4th. It was arguably colder due to the massive piles of snow still in the campground and at that altitude. Last year the 3rd night I had to put the jumper cable on in the middle of the night for the heater fan to run and have heat.

This year I changed the usable interior lights to leds and told my wife to use any lights and plug in anything she wanted. I brought an extra deka 31 just in case. I ran the heat as usual, maybe even too high as my wife complained it was too hot one night. That doesn't happen very often. I didn't have to change out the battery and when I got home took a reading and had 11.8v. I might consider moving to a 5 or 15w but for my needs it doesn't look like i need to carry an extra battery or have a generator.

http://www.sunforceproducts.com/prod...?PRODUCT_ID=65

Nice to see you Marco. Sorry we couldn't chat longer.
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Last edited by wesintl; 07-05-2011 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:10 AM
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That's pretty cool. I have a solar battery maintainer that came with my 2004 VW Jetta. I wonder what kind of output it provides.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:22 AM
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So my only question is... where do I get one for free?

Thats cool Wes, how big is it? Is it rigid?
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:47 PM
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My Lance pickup camper has like about 14 watt solar charger and I enjoy not having to start the generator. Well worth the money spent in an option.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rezarf View Post
So my only question is... where do I get one for free?

Thats cool Wes, how big is it? Is it rigid?
You gotta work at my company for 5 years and you can get a $30 item. It was either that or some small binoculars or other junk. It's a nice gesture though from a company

anyway. it's a 1.8w with built in overcharge/discharge protector. It's a little smaller length wise than a keyboard, hard abs plastic.

I might upgrade to the 5w or 15w since those are like $50 and $100-120. which is not much IMHO. These 2 are weatherproof which mine is not. The maintainer is meant to sit on a car dashboard and keep the battery from dying in the airport parking lot.

I was just super impressed and thought I would need to spend $400+ on a real solar panel for 4 days of camping. It's really the fan on the heater that sucks up the most juice. I didn't want to have to deal with 2 batteries or a generator even though i want a 1000w quiet generator. I'd chat with Tim and Farnham periodically about their battery consumption and ways to charge the battery and reduce consumption and figured others with popups/trailers might find it useful.

That's good to know mike.. I might just go with the 15w and be done.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:45 PM
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Well you motivated me to get one to prevent my fridge from draining my battery over these hot weekend we have been having. I generally don't move my truck on weekends unless I go on a trip. It took a while to find one on a shelf here in Durango. But I got one. We will see how it works. Found it at O'Reilly Auto parts for anyone looking. $30 They also had the next larger one for $70?

Side note, the Hensley Battery store had a 23watt / 2amp unit on the self for $200 that looked pretty nice. The panel was probably about 14"x24" for anyone looking for something bigger. Ideal for a camper but too big for my dash
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:18 PM
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glad I found this post I just got rid of my popup , that didnot have a frig or heater, and bought a 18 foot hybred trail lite bantam 1999. it has a solor panel on top to charge the battery but iam unsure of the wattage because the sticker is on the bottom of the panel 1/2 inch above the roof[ need to get a mirror and try to read it]. I know i need to get a new battery , does not stay charged. any one reconmend a battery, i think it should be a deep cycle right? also in my new to me trailer i have a microwave,a/c fridge and a heater, should the battery power the heater i think it is 13500 btu and if it does, for how long before it drains the battery. any feed back would be cool, i dont know much about electricty and wattage but learning bit by bit. also thinking about a generator 3500-4000 watts to run the a/c and microwave when dry camping if needed. thanks LARS
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:28 AM
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I'd go with a Marine deep cycle type either a Sears DieHard Platinum or a Deka From Hensley battery.

As far as how many to power all that I'll wait for someone else to chime in.

Depending on how powerful the existing solar panel is make sure you have a charge controller between the battery/s and panel.
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:23 AM
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thanks corbet , ill get a deep cycle battery or two for sure. I would think there would be a charge limiter between the panel and the battery the controler has 3 lights 2 red 1 green. green says it is charging 1 red says low and the other red iam not sure letters are hard to read.
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:31 AM
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My popup came with an interstate group 27 marine deep cycle. It Seems like a good battery so far. I'm a fan of deka's too.
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