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Solar power help

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by ohihunter2014, May 28, 2019.

  1. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    Hi guys,

    Sorry for yet another series of questions but you guys are awesome, so I figured I would ask.

    I am looking at making a solar power battery thing for camping and hunting trips. What I found through about an hour of google searches was I can hook a solar panel to a small battery and then use a power inverter and hook that to the battery and plug stuff in. I only need to charge cell phones when on extended trips and maybe a small fan at night or portable DVD player for the kid. I have no clue how the solar panel is supposed to be hooked to the battery or what size solar panel I would need to charge a small battery. Anyone have a clue on this?
     
  2. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    If your camping trips are less than 7 days just buy a totally integrated system from a manufacture like Noco or Goal Zero.

    The solar panel and hook up will have all the electronics to safely charge the lithium battery from the same manufacture, you decide what size panel and battery you will need ( figure out how many mAh you will need for the entire time to make your decision.) (miliAmpure hours)

    If you are only charging your smart phone, kindle, ipod, or LED lights for the weekend your needs are very small.

    If you want to run microwaves, toasters, compression fridges or hair dryers for weeks at a time you need > 75 lbs of camper coach battery, and > 36 sf of panel, a charge controller, ect.

    You may need both USB and 12V lighter socket charging adapters.

    A 12V tire inflater with integrated battery is a good spair power source that is double duty, my latest one even comes with 5V USB.

    I avoid using anything120V ac due to the first law of thermodynamics.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  3. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    I agree with buying a pre-made one to meet your specs. Will cost more but you have a clear spec and warranty on it.

    If you're driving an inverter in your vehicle may be the cheapest option.
     
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  4. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    For what you described in the OP, you don't need, and don't really want, an inverter. You should be able to cover those needs with 12v/5v DC. An inverter is just going to result in losses.

    I use a similar set-up for our camping trips. I originally used three VW 3w panels (the type used to keep the car batteries charged during shipping, for 9w total) to charge two 7AH sealed batteries. I have upgraded to a 40w foldup solar panel charging a 24AH sealed battery. Either way I use a small solar power controller, even though it was probably overkill with the smaller system. If you don't use a controller you might need to unplug the panel from the battery at night in order to avoid reverse loss. With either set-up I can keep phones/tablets charged and power some 12v lights. With the larger set-up I can add a 12v fan as well as power some low power (QRP) amateur radio equipment.
     
  5. redneck

    redneck Member

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    I have a deep cycle battery and 2400 watt inverter I added to my horse trailer. I used a large battery, can't remember the group size but the reserve capacity is around 80min IIRC. It will run the trailer lighting intermittently and a 20 inch box fan for 2 nights on medium speed. We just did a 5 day horse show and for just getting in and out of the trailer for tack and feed at night, it ran the lights all 5 days without needing charged.

    I have a 15 watt solar panel I got from harbor freight and use that to help it recover during the day. You definitely need to buy a charge controller if you use a stand alone solar panel. I tried to go without and then found out my panel was putting out 20+ volts in full daylight and it damaged my battery. The controller is a little box you put between the panel and the battery and it regulates the voltage. They aren't very expensive.

    I have mine wired through the trailer plug that hooks to the truck. The battery charges off the truck while I am driving and then the solar panel has a female plug I can hook the trailer too when we are parked. Hooking directly to the battery may be more efficient but this has worked so far.

    I don't know how you'd run a fan with it but they make some glove box sized car jumper packs that have USB ports for charging phones and what not as well. We gave a few of the 600 amp sized ones out for Christmas last year and they would fit in a large coat pocket and have enough juice to start a small car for about $50. That may be a better way to go for a tent camping trip unless you really need to run 120V appliances.
     
  6. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    My cordless air compressor/dead battery jumper/12 and 5 V charger has multiple 12V lighter sockets, any truck stop will have 12V fans with lighter socket plugs and long cords that are mounted to big spring clips for >$20 that use ~1.5 amp/ hour.
    Add a squeeze bottle set to mist, and you got yourself a portable swamp cooler to set up in the shade.

    It has more than enough juice to go for a week of low tec camping without recharge ( which can be done driving using 12V, or at home with 120V ac.

    It even has a inverter and 120V ac plug in, but as mentioned before is not an efficient way to go.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  7. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    If you can do everything at 12V and 5V instead of 120V, that will help a lot. Phones and personal portable electronics are usually 12V or 5V. You don't want to go from a 12VDC battery to a 120VAC inverter only to go back to a 12VDC power supply (wall wart) into your device.

    I suggest that solar panels are not worth it. To produce any meaningful amount of current in anything but the most ideal conditions (not likely to be found during hunting season) they take too much space and are not very portable. For a big RV with a well-engineered power system, fine, but for portable operations out of a car, jeep or pickup truck they're not worth it. Just bring enough battery to last. I have had outstanding results with the lithium-ion battery packs like the ones from Talentcell. For $30 you can get one with 12V and 5V outputs. It's about the size of a paperback book. It's 12000mAH at 5V. A smartphone, using current model iPhone for example, has a 2716mAH battery at 3.7V In other words, you'd be adding about six times more battery life for $30. Need more? buy another brick or buy a bigger brick.

    Let's say you get a Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus solar panel for $60. You still need a battery for it to store the energy it's converting from sunlight. If you just use the phone's battery, it will be run down quickly again and if there's no sun when it dies because of the weather or night, the solar panels are useless. Even if you can charge your device on the panels during the day (though more likely you'll want to be using your device rather than leaving it attached to panels), you still can't extend run times without more battery capacity. So you buy more battery capacity anyway. Battery capacity is going to cost about the same as the lithium-ion bricks I already mentioned because it's the same thing. But why add solar charging expense if you won't run off them indefinitely? Just use the money to buy more battery capacity that you will bring already charged.

    Now if we're talking about >100W, at some level of amp-hour demand, the batteries will be too big, too heavy, and too expensive and you'll be better off with a liquid-fuel (probably gasoline) powered generator. I can see why some would prefer a fairly large (36 sq' or bigger) panel setup and big Trojan battery bank, because it's quiet, but I don't get the impression that's what's being sought here, and I think for the demand, you can just buy more battery capacity and skip solar.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  8. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    What is the total current draw, voltage of devices and intended hours of use?

    Taking 12VDC and turning it into 120VAC then back to 12 or 5VDC is counter productive if you are not trying to conserve.

    You always will have a loss even if inverters were perfect and didn’t rely on fans to keep them from burning up.
     
  9. redneck

    redneck Member

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    That would be a better way to go. I needed the inverter cause my girlfriend wanted to bring a dang espresso machine...After one season she discovered cold brewed coffee in a jug and likes it better, but I still have a 2400 watt inverter and a big honkin battery to run my fan with :rofl:
     
  10. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    Having used solar on a 30' travel trailer for years I'm with labnoti on this. Solar panels are only really efficient at midday unless you can keep them turned directly facing the sun through out the day. I would just pick what sized power pack I needed and then double the size just in case. They aren't that expensive anymore.
     
  11. westy39

    westy39 Member

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    I will have to go with the goal zero, it is a costly choice but, I have found goal zero plug and play features to be excellent. I am still using an escape 150 I purchased about 4 or 5 years ago. Goal Zero customer service is second to none. I will admit that I have purchased several goal zero products and the have been very few problems. The reality of soalr is that people are lazy and if yyou make it easy for them they will use it, I’m not saying the op is lazy I am saying I truely embrace the ease with which I use the goal zeroproducts. Check out the goal zero site, there is a lot of information to glean.
    x
     
  12. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Seems like it depends on how much DIY and adaptation you want...., and what you can carry.

    You can get a ready-to-go package as mentioned from Goal Zero. Here's one such package, but you can probably find others, and even this one you might find for less money... https://www.sportsmansguide.com/pro...ad-20-solar-panel-and-110v-inverter?a=1757548

    As was mentioned, though, you'd do better to have gadgets that run off a 12V system, instead of trying to adapt residential grid items to the car. That way you might need only a couple solar panels to keep up the charge in the car battery while you use the car power system, and that battery that you're already driving to the camping site. https://www.sportsmansguide.com/pro...-100-watt-polycrystalline-solar-kit?a=2207336

    Then the idea is what sort of 12v items do you want, how many power taps you have in your car? Figuring how much power these things are going to suck out of your battery vs. how much your panel or panels can replace over X amount of time....Here's a link to a 12v appliance and gadget supplier https://www.my12voltstore.com/12_volt_Appliances_s/81.htm.

    If you're glamping, so you need the espresso machine, TV, induction stove, and an oven, that's one thing but if you're backpacking then you probably should be keeping only very basic electronics up and running. So there is the Estream generator https://rubishops.com/product/estre...AjbzhErBwmSX90z34OJwos1z-VnW97_hoC7AgQAvD_BwE or the Water Lilly https://rubishops.com/product/water...AP06WYUo4N1JFsxAYr2x_oDEnpof3I3hoCC4wQAvD_BwE and there are simple phone rechargers too....https://rubishops.com/product/soul-solar-scroll-portable-solar-charger/ which are pricey but perhaps easier to lug than a large rectangle of a solar panel ??

    As for the kid and the DVD player...geesh I thought the idea was to get the kid away from the DVD/Ipod and texting on the cell phone....

    LD
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
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  13. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    AMEN! :thumbup:
     
  14. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    I agree with the phone/DVD player but there is no way your getting this kid to put that stuff away.
     
  15. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Then why bother to go camping? Invest in enough tech stuff to fill a trailer to haul along and you may as well stay at the Marriott. Kinda what makes it camping.....camping is to get back to basics and nature. Just last weekend down at the cabin........beautiful star filled night sittn' around the campfire with the spring peepers and Barred Owls in the background singin'. Field full of fireflies making it and the woods look mystical. Half those folks sittin' around the campfire never heard or saw any of it 'cause their noses were stuck to their phone for fear they might miss something on Facebook. Sheesh.
     
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  16. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    That's easier said than done. Its no secret that the device/app makers/marketers design their products to be addictive, much the same way that cigarettes are. Try telling a 2 pack a day smoker to come camping, but leave their smokes at home.
     
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  17. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    I agree 100%. I don't stay stuck in the phone for the most part. The kid has never really had a man in his life to do stuff with. He doesn't play catch, yard work, etc. Its video games and phone. She is a single mother and works 50hrs a week, so as long as the kid keeps his strait A's she kind of lets him do his thing. We figured the first trip or two let him watch his movies and then slowly take it away. I prefer sitting in my chair listening to the woods come alive after the sun goes down and enjoying the fire and then sleeping.
     
  18. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    We require juveniles to forego the electronics at our historic encampments all the time, for the full 1.75 days of camping. Here's the standard reaction,
    ANGRY Kids.jpg

    But they get over it fast enough and actually have fun. Unlike nicotine dependency, where you actually need nicotine, the dopamine they get from the electronic games is also available when they participate in other fun activities....so it's easily said; easily done.

    LD
     
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  19. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    I'm not disagreeing with your assessment, but I'm assuming that your historic encampment was an organized event with a schedule of activities planned by a committee. All OHH has to do is plan 2 days of non-stop activities for the boy, and they'll both be happy.

    When I smoked I quit for 2 days at least 50 times. Our society is creating a generation that is addicted to devices. Is it better than cigarette smoking? At least it doesn't smell.
     
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  20. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    No it's not an addiction. Just like being a drunk, gambler, shop-lifter, ad inf., the powers that be classify it as a disease and a public health problem. :confused:
     
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  21. scotjute

    scotjute Member

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    I camp in a 400 sf shed while working/fishing/etc in north Louisiana for up to a week at a time for last 30 yrs. No AC power. Use a 36 AH battery coupled with a 50 watt solar panel. I'm powering a fan - 12 hrs, dvd player - 2 hrs, and one cell phone recharge per day. Have used 18 Amp Hour battery with 30 watt panel and results were ok, but on cloudy/rainy days can run low on power. In north Louisiana, sunshine can be a limited quantity even in July. Use "Fantastic Vent" fan - model "Endless Breeze", may be best 12 volt fan available. Have inverter but have never used it. You can always recharge your battery from car/truck if solar cannot keep it up. I am in remote area and never-ever use my vehicle battery without motor running as a dead battery in backwoods leaves you stuck.
     
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