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Author Topic: Marine batteries and solar recharge  (Read 470 times)

KysaSD

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Marine batteries and solar recharge
« on: November 06, 2013, 06:55:05 am »

Somebody talk to me about this.  I would like some sort of off the grid electrical system for my horse trailer sort of camper.  Mostly, I just need lights, and maybe a fan overnight.  Off the grid, I would never use the microwave or a heater.  And no, I don't want a generator.  That would be way overkill.  So....I know nothing nothing about these systems except the name.  Talk to me people!
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Kysa, South Dakota, 2 Mountain Horses, a Curly Foxtrotter, a TWH and a Mini, yes, I am crazy!

Walkin45

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 09:11:46 am »

Lots of older sundowners had solar panels on roof.  You can buy " banks" of solar chargers at campng stores. 
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Raylin

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2013, 08:01:47 am »

I am going to watch this thread so I can see the suggestions. I would like to have something also in our trailer. I did buy the little LED push lights to use, but something that we can use lights in the horse area would be nice, especially if Joe gets called out in the middle of the night.

Raylin
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SHNOOL

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2013, 08:38:52 am »

If we are ONLY talking a simple DC system (sounds like it) a Boat system would be VERY simple to implement.
Something like this:

http://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?path=-1|328|2290000|2290006&id=51111

What you do, is you run "supply" power (positive red) to the "top of the panel."
Then each device you want to "switch" you run a red wire only from IT to the spot on the panel.  Grounds you can just tie all together (or if it's a metal trailer you can just screw the grounds to the trailer, and run a ground from the battery to the trailer), this is known as a "common ground" configuration.  This is a VERY basic DC system, like a car.  No worries you can P-touch the panel switches with the right "Device Name" like "FAN" or "Lights" or whatever when you are done.

Oh, and if you want to put a simple charger onto the battery you can, and I'd strongly urge you to look at the ones for boats as well (they have better charge float control)...  They even make ones that have nice 120V outlets on them to wire directly into your panel/battery.

The above panel has a "light" on each switch, to let you know it's "ON."  This is handy to save power you'll know at a glance what is turned on.  I will tell you the downside is of course the switch itself uses some power.

A simple 5-10 watt solar panel you can plug right into the 12V battery will keep it "topped off" without much effort, go slightly bigger on solar charger if you use the lights/fan a lot. 

Some help with your system:
Get a "Deep Cycle" battery for your trailer for this system.  Deep cycle batteries allow you to discharge them fully without as much damage as a "cranking" battery.
USE LED lights where you can, they use a lot less power than incandescents, they'll cost more initially but they use in some cases 1/10th the power for the same light output.
FANS are a HUGE DRAIN on power.  This will be the ONE thing that will kill your battery quick.  We have the "fantastic fan" in our LQ, and I like that it has 9 speed settings, and a temperature controller... that way it ONLY has to be on when it's needed... it's an expensive fan for sure, but I assume this is for your own comfort so you can determine if it's worth the money or not.

hope this is enough "detail" to get you started.

For heater (if you should need it), consider the new tent approved Mr. Buddy heaters, they are Propane powered and certified for use "indoors."  The Engineer in me would say crack a window "just in case" but they seem to be well designed.

PS:  My Degree is in Electrical Engineering.
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KysaSD

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2013, 08:49:44 am »

Thank you, John, that is exactly the information I need.  In all honesty, the one item most likely plugged in would be an electric cooler/frig.  We currently have battery operated fans.  And leaving all the windows open for a breeze usually takes care of it.  I keep looking at the mr buddy heaters, but my best friend I camp with is so sensitive to petroleum fumes, she cannot even pump gas.  But it is a thought for when she is not along.  I have always primitive camped, and am mostly set up so my dressing room is a permanent hard sided tent.  I have battery operated lanterns, but was thinking to put in some led lighting.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 05:52:24 pm by KysaSD »
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Kysa, South Dakota, 2 Mountain Horses, a Curly Foxtrotter, a TWH and a Mini, yes, I am crazy!

trlridr

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2013, 05:22:19 pm »

:)Wow!  Very informative.  I need to save this info for use in case I do a reno to a trailer.  Thanks
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riding the sun

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2013, 08:19:01 pm »

From what I understand it is more like a trickle charge to refresh your batteries.  If you run your batteries down you will need lots of sun and time to recharge them.  If they just need to be topped off, you may do OK.  Get the largest solar collector than you can.

Judy
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Myaj

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2013, 01:50:51 pm »

I don't know a ton about the solar stuff (something I eventually plan to play with) but I can give you two ideas.. one, if you install lighting, pay extra and go with the LED stuff.. it uses a LOT less power and won't drain your batteries nearly as fast.  Another idea is I picked up a cooler that can either plug in to a wall outlet or a cig lighter.. so when I'm just running off my battery my wall outlets in the camper don't work but the cig lighter does, and I can still use it.  So a boat system like above would be good.  I also picked up a fan at Walmart that runs off D cell batteries OR plugs in, that sucker is nice and has multiple settings.  My friend has borrowed it to keep her dogs cool while we are riding.  Laptops and little flat screen TV's apparently don't pull much power either, which is nice for at night watching movies.

I've found I can go 3 days easily running lights and a fan at night and my battery doesn't die.. no idea how long it would really last, in reality though.  I've been told a single decent sized panel will trickle charge my battery well enough for what I use it for.
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HopeMissouri

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013, 12:29:09 pm »

There was a recent, very long discussion about this on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/565970220097130/
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FancyPants

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2013, 07:49:13 am »

Don't forget - when purchasing batteries, we don't need cranking power...that's why the deep-cycle marine batteries are "preferred".  And if you leave the battery in the trailer in the winter, try and keep it plugged in, or at least plug it in once or twice a week so the cold doesn't kill it completely.
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SHNOOL

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Re: Marine batteries and solar recharge
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2013, 07:59:23 pm »

When you talk HEAT/BRIGHT LIGHT/Refrigeration, you are talking HUGE draw power...

the 5 or 10 watt panels will not recharge you during the day... if you are using more than it can resupply.
A simple 24 quart cooler with a 12V DC refrigerator in it, will draw well over 100 watts/hr.

So I say to you.... the propane heaters, and propane refridgerators are preferred for LQ trailers because they are "energy efficient" compared to other options.  By this I mean you get my BTUs of energy in Propane versus more batteries or solar panels.

My suggestion if you insist on a 12V cooler, and/or a fan, is you'll likely need several 12x48" panels, run in series to provide enough power... and you'll need at least 4 batteries to get you through the night as well, and a significant charge controller. example of larger panels equal only to 60 watts... http://tinyurl.com/nxkhnr6

Again, I think you'd be better off with either going to propane refridge/heater, or going with a generator and some jerry cans, and just plan on making some trips to the propane refillery.

I'll submit that if you want to be TRULY off grid, you'll best be served with an AIR-X system, and make SURE you camp where there is wind.  Wind power is significantly easier to capture, and generates more power per pound than solar.
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