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Author Topic: Portable folding solar charger  (Read 6988 times)
stubble
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« on: May 23, 2010, 07:20:35 PM »

In another thread I promised that I'd post a review of the folding solar charger I got on ebay. I haven't taken any detailed measurements yet, but I did let it charge my battery from about 85% to full today, and it did the job. Also, my little boy knocked it over when I wasn't watching and it didn't break, so durability is looking promising!

Here's a detailed write-up with pictures


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cheers, Sebastian
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2010, 09:05:50 PM »

That's a nice set-up. For a single battery, you wouldn't want anything bigger than that. If you find that your battery is topping up early, you may do well to consider an additional battery. There will always be those camp-outs that will be Sunny one day and overcast the next.

It will take a while to balance your your system just the way that you want it but I'd say that looks about right for your consumption.
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Wayne, Carolyn & Sccamp 14  grandkids  ...Southern California
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2010, 05:30:07 AM »

Nice write up, I hope it serves you well for years to come.
"Between simple conservation and the charger, we can now camp as long as we want to."   Smile
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Malena
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2010, 06:02:09 AM »

Thanks for the writeup and review!
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2010, 06:55:17 AM »

Very nice write up; great idea for the fused two-pole pigtail for your battery connection. That is something that I will add to our set-up. Thanks!

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stubble
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2010, 08:20:14 AM »

Very nice write up; great idea for the fused two-pole pigtail for your battery connection. That is something that I will add to our set-up. Thanks!

I started using these because Battery Tender chargers come with them, as well as a lot of motorcycle-related power components/adapters. They work well as nice compact, secure, polarized connectors on the bike for things like chargers, electric clothes, GPS, etc.

My only problem with them is that I can't find any that are made to be wired DIY (as in, not pre-molded to a wire). So anytime you're doing a project you're splicing wires with butt connectors and it's not pretty.  I usually do a cleaner job and shrink wrap, etc, but it's still not as good as directly wiring to a connector.

Also, in the case of a solar charger like mine, you're pretty much limited to 14AWG or 18AWG for the connections, as that's the wire that comes with the connectors. Fine for my solar setup, but I wouldn't want to push much more amperage through it than I am.
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cheers, Sebastian
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2010, 02:27:51 PM »

Very nice write up; great idea for the fused two-pole pigtail for your battery connection. That is something that I will add to our set-up. Thanks!

I started using these because Battery Tender chargers come with them, as well as a lot of motorcycle-related power components/adapters. They work well as nice compact, secure, polarized connectors on the bike for things like chargers, electric clothes, GPS, etc.

My only problem with them is that I can't find any that are made to be wired DIY (as in, not pre-molded to a wire). So anytime you're doing a project you're splicing wires with butt connectors and it's not pretty.  I usually do a cleaner job and shrink wrap, etc, but it's still not as good as directly wiring to a connector.

Also, in the case of a solar charger like mine, you're pretty much limited to 14AWG or 18AWG for the connections, as that's the wire that comes with the connectors. Fine for my solar setup, but I wouldn't want to push much more amperage through it than I am.
Pushing amperage from solar panels into a battery is not like the same amperage issues as running....say....a light bulb (or something) that draws a similar amount of amperage from a battery.

You need to reduce resistance as much as possible to avoid voltage drop from the solar panel to the battery. Wire size and connector size means a lot in these small systems. IMHO, that connector could offer enough resistance to cause a significant voltage drop on your system. You may want to experiment with a multimeter to see what the voltage is at the panel then the voltage after the connector near the battery. I find it helpful to use two separate meters that I can see at the same time as the voltage can change quite a bit in just a few seconds, while moving the meter from one spot to the other.

The difference isn't going to be "Earth shattering" and may mean little in over-all performance but most of us want to get all the "bang for our buck" that we can....especially when it is something as simple as a connector. You'd hate to think that you are not getting 100% performance out of your set-up.
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Wayne, Carolyn & Sccamp 14  grandkids  ...Southern California
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'98 Winnebago Adventurer 33
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EX PU- '04 Trailmanor 2720SL........ 

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EX- TV - 2006 Chevy Silverado 1500 (ext cab) 157" WB.
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2010, 04:39:22 AM »

If you want to increase the wire size these will give you a cleaner look for the install.
 http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=263-110
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stubble
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2010, 09:59:02 AM »

If you want to increase the wire size these will give you a cleaner look for the install.
 http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=263-110

Hey, thanks for your comment. I had looked at those connectors, and even found one for 12AWG wire, but wasn't sure how big the connector was and assumed it was too big. But your message prompted me to look around more, and searching for 'Anderson connector' led me to more sizes and also some connectors I had forgotten about from my R/C days called PowerPoles.

This page details many different sizes of these. from Anderson. I think I'll pick up some of the modular 30A powerpole-style connectors and maybe a pair of the smallest one-piece 50A Anderson connector to experiment. I've got quite a few cables/adapters for my various 12v gadgets that could benefit, in addition to optimizing the solar setup as wavery noted.



« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 10:00:21 AM by stubble » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2010, 05:15:29 AM »

stubble, you have a nice website. Well done!
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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2010, 07:26:44 AM »

Thanks Don! Love your username. :)
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wavery
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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2010, 12:24:24 PM »

Here is something else that you may want to consider........ Instead of disconnecting the cable at the battery each time, you may consider wiring the 12G cable direct to the battery and make a cable storage bag that you could put in between your propane tanks. This would eliminate a connector and give you a place to store the cable.

You might want to add a 30A in-line fuse to the positive side or connect to your existing breaker that I see already on your battery................just a thought.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2010, 01:07:15 PM by wavery » Logged

Wayne, Carolyn & Sccamp 14  grandkids  ...Southern California
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160W Solar Panels, Dual 6V Batteries

EX PU- '04 Trailmanor 2720SL........ 

3X PU '02 Coleman Tacoma

EX- TV - 2006 Chevy Silverado 1500 (ext cab) 157" WB.
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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2010, 03:19:14 PM »

Thanks Wayne. I have a 10A fuse on the existing pigtail. Yesterday I ordered some of those low-loss 30A powerpole connectors above and a pair of the bigger 50A connectors. I will redo my solar connections with the powerpoles when they get here. I'll be happier with the cleaner look, and it surely won't hurt on the resistance front.

I ordered the bigger connector mostly just to see it, but I plan to install it on my main battery disconnect. Although the camper came with a disconnect, wired "after" the emergency brake switch, their connector is of marginal quality.
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wavery
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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2010, 06:16:21 PM »

Thanks Wayne. I have a 10A fuse on the existing pigtail. Yesterday I ordered some of those low-loss 30A powerpole connectors above and a pair of the bigger 50A connectors. I will redo my solar connections with the powerpoles when they get here. I'll be happier with the cleaner look, and it surely won't hurt on the resistance front.

I ordered the bigger connector mostly just to see it, but I plan to install it on my main battery disconnect. Although the camper came with a disconnect, wired "after" the emergency brake switch, their connector is of marginal quality.
I'll be happy to get your report on those connectors. I'm not at all happy with the Solar Connectors that come with the solar panels. I guess they are supposed to be the ultimate connectors for solar systems but they are a PITA to disconnect.
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Wayne, Carolyn & Sccamp 14  grandkids  ...Southern California
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'98 Winnebago Adventurer 33
160W Solar Panels, Dual 6V Batteries

EX PU- '04 Trailmanor 2720SL........ 

3X PU '02 Coleman Tacoma

EX- TV - 2006 Chevy Silverado 1500 (ext cab) 157" WB.
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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2010, 09:29:19 PM »

I actually work for a connector company offering similar products to these.

because of the certainty of high current loads, and that you may not have access to the fancy tools from the manufacturer to crimp this...

I would recommend you solder all your crimps when done. like sweating water pipe.
 this will help seal the terminal from internal corrosion and help carry the electrical load without generating heat.
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