Took The Plunge - Solar Power For The Camper

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Took The Plunge - Solar Power For The Camper

Postby Derek Bullock » Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:05 pm

Well I have finally done it. Today I purchased a Projecta 12 volt 80 watt solar panels for the camper. All up a few dollars over a grand.

I'm ready for the road.

http://www.aussiecampovencook.com/camperelectrics.htm


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Postby AussieSunset » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:50 am

That is a nice set up you have there Derek. I still have a solar panel left from our traveling days so I'm hoping it still works for this years camping. I will have to put it out and check it.
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Postby Derek Bullock » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:39 am

Received a very interesting document from Waeco on an exercise they did regarding power usage of the CF range of fridges.

They say in regards mine which is the CF50, that at an ambient temperature of 32 celsius with the fridge set at 5 degrees it uses 0.86 ah and with the freezer set at -15 degrees it uses 2.6 ah.

Thats amazing. I am now sure that my solar setup that will put between 5 and 6 ah on a good sunny day back into the battery will be great.

If you are interested in the document from Waeco PM me your email address. It is a word document.


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Postby Derek Bullock » Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:12 pm

When I bought the solar unit the sparky from the shop talked to me about putting in a charging system similar to to a duel battery system. What he emphasized is that when I go somewhere at least I will arrive with the battery on the trailer fully charged. Not only that, a couple of days of heavy rain and dark cloud and the solar will be limited. I can then connect to the car and run it for a while.

Today I ordered the following kit from Derek Bester at Sidewinder http://www.sidewinder.com.au

Will I ever stop buying stuff for this camper. :***

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Last edited by Derek Bullock on Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Komodo » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:28 pm

Good work derek!

The Redarc is an excellent isolator! And their technical support is second to none!

if your interested you can get a redarc isolator called an SBi12D which has the ability to charge your car battery from the solar also once your trailer battery is charged. Speak to Derek Bester of sidewinder about it if your interested. (though probably not really required for your needs).

Also you can have a light come on on the dash when the isolator goes into charging mode. If your having the isolator installed by an auto elec then get him to use a relay so that the light only comes on when the isolator ISNT in charging mode.
My thoughts for doing this is that you only notice a light when it comes on (or stays on) you dont notice a light (on your dash) when it goes out.

If you want I can post up an image of the circuit for the pins on the relay. I also have set mine up so that i can push button to parrallel the batteries and stay parralleled until the ignition is turned off - again this is something that wouldnt be of any value to you as you wont be doing any winching, but might be of use to some of the other readers.
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Postby Derek Bullock » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:39 pm

I sent Derek an email and he tells me that it comes with all the instructions but would appreciate you posting a diagram. It all helps.


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Postby Komodo » Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:26 pm

Derek - hope you can hold off till monday I've got it on my PC at home and im down at inverloch over the weekend. I'll post it up monday
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Postby Derek Bullock » Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:38 pm

Komodo wrote:Derek - hope you can hold off till monday I've got it on my PC at home and im down at inverloch over the weekend. I'll post it up monday


Thats fine. He's posting it today so won't arrive here until Monday anyway.

THanks


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Postby Komodo » Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:28 pm

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Now I'll quickly run through how this opperates (sorry for the delay also - i had to redraw a relay diagram as my diagram was too complex for this application)

Firtly the reason is that you want a light to come on when the isolator is NOT working - but you dont want the light to stay on whilst the ignition is off (the isolator wont work with the ignition off)

So Pin 85 is our "signal" pin - when voltage is applied to this pin it flicks an internal switch

Pin 30 is our source pin - where our power for the relay is coming from - we only want it to work when the ignition is on so this is connected to the ignition positive

Pin 86 is our Earth pin - this completes the circuit for the power applied to pin 85

Pin 87 is the switched "ON" pin this pin has power flowing only when there IS power to pin 85 - in our application this is not wanted

Pin 87a is the switched "OFF" pin this pin has power flowing only when pin there is NO power to pin 85 (ie the redarc is not working) - This is the pin we want our "status indicator" LED (light) to be connected to as we only want to know when things are going wrong


How this works is that the Redarc is designed so that when the contacts close (ie the batteries parrallel for charging) then there is voltage supplied to the "override" wire coming from the Redarc - as such we need to join this wire to our pin 85 of our Relay.

There ya go!

Any questions feel free to ask - I'll try to answer as best I can. If not an Auto Elec should be able to do this very simply!
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Postby Derek Bullock » Mon Sep 24, 2007 6:23 pm

Interesting comment

While camping last week I connected my fridge to the Waeco Battery pack, remember this is a 36 ah glass mat battery, at lunchtime on Thursday and took it off at 9.00 on Sunday when I was packing up to come home. Thats nearly 72 hours straight and it was still going strong. The fridge was set at 2 degrees for the whole time.

Just shows how little power they do draw.

Cheers


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Postby mr_grumble » Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:00 am

Ok, regading the Redarc Batt isolator. I think I'm missing something here.

If I have a battery located in the camper which is connected via an Anderson plug to the vehicles main battery and am in the habit (of which I am) of disconnecting the tow vehicle from the camper when set-up. What purpose would the Redarc Batt isolator have in this case ?

Is it common practice for people to leave the tow vehicle attached whilst camping ? Depending on the vehicle I think it could make access to the rear of most 4wd rather difficult :?
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Postby Derek Bullock » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:12 am

Derek wrote:When I bought the solar unit the sparky from the shop talked to me about putting in a charging system similar to to a duel battery system. What he emphasized is that when I go somewhere at least I will arrive with the battery on the trailer fully charged. Not only that, a couple of days of heavy rain and dark cloud and the solar will be limited. I can then connect to the car and run it for a while.


I think that explains why I am doing it.


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Postby mr_grumble » Wed Sep 26, 2007 1:27 pm

If you intend on leaving the tow vehicle attached (electrically) to the camper, then I can understand why a batt isolator would be of use.
My query was that if I were in the habit of removing the connection to the starting batteries whilst situated, would there be any aditional advantage to having a batt isolator installed ?
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Postby Derek Bullock » Wed Sep 26, 2007 1:50 pm

mr_grumble wrote:If you intend on leaving the tow vehicle attached (electrically) to the camper, then I can understand why a batt isolator would be of use.
My query was that if I were in the habit of removing the connection to the starting batteries whilst situated, would there be any aditional advantage to having a batt isolator installed ?


For me it's the added safety feature of the car battery being fully charged prior to charging the trailer battery. Is there a real need for it? I guess there isn't however if I am "out the back of burke" somewhere I want my car to start.

Now that you have raised it I am interested in others replies.


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Postby Komodo » Wed Sep 26, 2007 3:41 pm

The isolator controls the charge distribution (rather crudely - but it does it) so your main battery will be "fully" charged before your auxillary starts to get charged. Take for example this senario:
You pack up camp hook the trailer up with a battery thats been flattened right down - its 120Ah, your car battery is 45Ah -and you've started driving - but then pull over within 5 minutes cause you want to have a look at something. Your alternator hasnt even had enough time to fully charge your main battery - let alone start thinking about charging a 120Ah deep cycle battery - but the batteries are parralleled and have just equalised voltage (possibly as low as 9-10 volts) you come back to your car 10 minutes later - the car doesnt start because the voltage is too low to opperate the starter solinoid let alone have enough current to turn the starter motor which requires a heap of current to produce the torque req'd to start the vehicle.

The reason being is that if you connect the trailer to the car then start the car - you may have dropped the voltage to low to start the vehicle because the batteries will try to equalise the voltage difference.

The other thing an isolator does is it prevents to high of an inrush of current. IE is the trailer battery is dead flat and you connect it after the car is running (so you dont have the above mentioned equalisation issue) you could spike your cars electrical system, you could damage your main "start" battery by putting an excessive high current draw with no limitation. You could also damage your campers battery by allowing it to take charge quicker than it should (a problem especially with AGM and spiral cell batteries).

Realistically you probably don't "need" an isolator - but personally for what $120 i think its pretty good insurance. Theres also that slight possiblity that you MAY one day forget to disconnect the trailer from the car because you dont need anything from the back of the car...

Also many people will have a "start" battery and an "auxillary" battery in the car as well as a battery in the camper - they might even use an anderson plug to anderson plug extension lead to keep the auxilary and the trailer battery parralleled to give them a greater reserve capacity
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