Solar charger

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Solar charger

Postby Lin » Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:20 pm

Hi,

I'm new here and thought I'd jump right in with a question for the experts.

I would love to have some sort of a solar panel to charge some of our gadgets when we're camping. But I am hopelessly ignorant when it comes to how electricity works!

The most important thing that I'd want to charge is our walkie talkies. They come with a charging pod with a detachable power lead that says "input: 240V, output: 9V". Would I be able to plug this into a solar panel that allows me to select a 9V output???

I also saw that some solar panels let you select the output, but others don't seem to? Isn't there a danger that some of your gadgets will get fried that way?

Alternatively, I could go for a solar panel with a battery charger as our walkie talkies take AAA batteries too. Unfortunately, this model does not have a car charger lead.

Other gadgets that I'd like to charge are my phone, which comes with a car charger and some of these panels have the car charger plug built into them. That should work no probs, right?

Our Nintendo is the same.

And in the future I could buy other rechargeable 12V gadgets if I could easily charge them with the solar panel.

Help?!

Lin
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Re: Solar charger

Postby GypsyLady » Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:08 pm

Solar only charges a battery Lin, as in a deep cycle battery which then runs/charges your 12 volt items.

I am sorry I do not know of anyone in Canberra who can advise you on solar. Maybe you can ask at your local camping store or if you like to email my friend Jamie at Dynamic Solar Solutions he may be able to assist you. Here is his website and you can see the FAQs there too which might help you. Jamie is one of the good guys and is always more than willing to help people with info.

http://www.dynamicsolarsolutions.com.au/

Solar is no where near as simple as people think and it is quite expensive to set up.

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Re: Solar charger

Postby Lin » Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:24 pm

Solar is no where near as simple as people think and it is quite expensive to set up


I really don't need something powerful. I did consider a solar set-up to power a fridge once, but it's way too expensive, bulky and heavy.

What I originally wanted was a solar AA/AAA battery charger. There are some on the market now, but I could not find one in Oz that does AAA. Except for this one maybe: http://www.todae.com.au/Products/solarp ... olarpanel/ (I can get it cheaper from the US incl. postage).

I was just wondering if I would be able to plug my walkie talkie charger cradle into it directly as it just charges the batteries too.

Thanks for giving me the contact. I might email him to ask him silly questions. :)

Lin
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Re: Solar charger

Postby GypsyLady » Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:36 pm

Had a look at the website you supplied Lin and can't say I am aware of anything like that here in Au.

Have a look at Jamie's website and the FAQs and then email him with your questions, that's the best shot I think. If it is out there Jamie will know about it.

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Re: Solar charger

Postby Mandrake » Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:17 pm

Lin ,
In this months RACV magazine is the thing you probably are looking for -
Its called - Powermonkey Explorer - $170.00 it is a small twin solar panel
connected to a small battery - various attachments to suit phones , etc..
http://www.neco.com.au/product.asp?pID=1088&cID=165&c=21610

Might be worth it for you ??

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Re: Solar charger

Postby Lin » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:13 pm

I saw that Power Monkey but it's so tiny. The foldable solar panels have a much larger surface and I think they'd be more efficient. I could not find any reviews on the 6.5W one, but the 12W ones get excellent reviews. It's mentioned that it will charge batteries even when it's cloudy. I don't think something like the Powermonkey would work if it's not in full sun only.

I think I finally got my head round the whole fluctuating voltage thing: it shouldn't matter if it's just charging batteries?
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Re: Solar charger

Postby Beagle » Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:11 pm

You use a solar panel to charge a battery, You then use an inverter to charge the appliance. To be able to add any significant amount of charge to a battery you will need to begin with a panel of at least 20 watts. I have a panel of this size and it does add a bit of power to the battery and allows me to stay in the bush for 4 days. All reports I have read suggests a panel of 80 watts is preferred. It obviously depends on how much power you consume in a day. In my case I run a fridge and very little else as I use gas lighting.
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Re: Solar charger

Postby Lin » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:46 am

I'm sure I won't need anywhere near that kind of power to charge a few AAA batteries and my phone. :)
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Re: Solar charger

Postby cokebottle » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:55 pm

Lin wrote:I'm sure I won't need anywhere near that kind of power to charge a few AAA batteries and my phone. :)


I saw in Kmart that they have a portable solar panel setup for $119, might be worth a look, I did not notice what the wattage was...

The trouble with nicads in walkie talkies etc is the charger usually only gives long slow charge (16hrs) & unless you are in the Arctic circle & getting 24 hrs of daylight you won't get a full charge

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Re: Solar charger

Postby Lin » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:10 pm

"The trouble with nicads in walkie talkies etc is the charger usually only gives long slow charge (16hrs) & unless you are in the Arctic circle & getting 24 hrs of daylight you won't get a full charge"

When I use the 240 Volt cable to charge my walkie talkie cradle it takes 14 hours to fully charge them. We do get about 16 hours of daylight here in the middle of summer, but obviously the sun's strength would fluctuate. I did not think it would matter if you interrupted the charging of the batteries though? I cannot see any reason why I could not do it over 2 days? Not very effective, but may be enough for our needs.

On the other hand, my solar panel claims to be able to charge AAA batteries in 2-4 hrs I think. I've always heard that slow charging is more efficient and better for the batteries' lifespan, but I could just keep some cheap batteries for this purpose. I recently bought 24 from Hong Kong for a very low price.

I did also buy a 150W 12-240V inverter to plug into the cigarette ligher. I can also plug that into the solar panel. Then I can use my normal battery charger and/or the walkie talkie cradle. Not sure how long it would take to charge on a 6.5W panel though! But if it works at all, at least it solves the issue of the panel not storing energy. Plus of course I'll also top it up while we're driving.

I hope I'll receive the 6.5W panel I bought this week and I'll try it out and let you know how I go.
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Re: Solar charger

Postby Komodo » Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:45 pm

Honestly for AAA batteries - go buy a heap. They are cheap as chips in 10 packs from bunnings or kmart.

A solar setup will cost you more than its worth to charge your batteries and cheap ones simply wont work.

I know none of us want to be wasteful but seriously AAA batteries?
My UHF walkie talkies (uniden) last for days on end and in the car I have a 12V unit.
Earlier this year I spent two weeks in tassie I replaced the batteries in the UHFs before we left and took a spare pack of 4 AAA's - the spares are still in their pack and the handheld was still working when I had to go to site this morning...
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Re: Solar charger

Postby kruiza09 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:16 am

solar is a tricky subject as most people here agree

I am a scout leader and have set the troop up for solar and replaced gas lighting (for the most part) but is was expensive the panel alone is $1400 but we are working now.
PM if you want to discuss more info

also we use jump start packs as the battery they do a good job and are more portable for our purpose.

see our gear at www.campstuff.com.au
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Re: Solar charger

Postby Komodo » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:10 am

I think the portable jump packs are pretty good. but most are only about 18aH

Personally I prefer a panel with PWM regulator with a deep cycle battery.

Saying that if you just using if for lighting (im assuming your using 13watt ccfls?) then the porable jump packs will be fine.
What size and brand is your panel and how shade tollerent is it?
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Re: Solar charger

Postby Derek Bullock » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:50 am

Here is my set-up. It's an 80 watt solar panel that has a built in solar controller that protects from overcharging and solar discharge. Tested on a good hot sunny day and it produces between 5 and 6 amps of power. I attach it to an 80 amp hour battery and have never run out of power. The solar unit cost around $1200 but if you want power then I reckon this is about the minimum you should get.

The best trip I have done as far as testing goes was a nine day trip when my grandson was a baby. Weather was hot and humid with about a third of that time cloudy. I ran a Waeco CF50 fridge at minus temperatures to keep meat frozen as well as a 12 volt fan to keep my Grandson cool during the day and night when he was sleeping (was only a baby at the time). Also used to keep a couple of mobiles charged. We had good power all the time.

Here are the two panels.
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Rear of the unit showing the buitl in solar controller.
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The battery pack.
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Re: Solar charger

Postby scottyboy » Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:58 pm

Hey Derek - where did you get the solar panel?

Thanks
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