need advice on solar stuff

need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 4:11pm

I am building/redoing a pop up camper to tow behind on a trip to the east coast after the covid situation. My questions
I would like to install a spare battery mainly for led lights in the trailer, in case you have not read my trailer thread it is a beat up old coleman pop up I removed all the canvas and I plan on putting screen where the canvas was with exception to the slide outs. I will install a table reuse the benches, the stove , the sink and some cabinets. We will be using the trailer as a food wagon so to speak. Most of our coolers will be inside it when closed when open we will cook and eat and possibly watch a small tv /dvd player. I need knowledge as to how much of a solar panel would I need and any other items to make it work just for the camper battery. I will use the battery as I said for the LED lights and maybe the small TV/DVD player. There will be maybe (guess so far) 10 LED lights but some will be inside cabinets and used briefly to locate things.Oh and the water pump for the sink which will also be used as needed. Can I mount the panel on the roof of the camper? Thanks, Mark
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 4:36pm

solar is not as fast as some expect.

using the basic 3-way equations "volts x amps = watts" or "watts ÷ volts = amps" you can add up the total amps or watts required by your components, and get a good idea of how much solar would keep up under ideal conditions which is never really a real thing.

you want a battery with available amp-hours that at least doubles your intended use, without support. a basic AGM sealed lead acid battery is your affordable best bet. you'll likely want an inverter as well, again using the math to choose how big. watts are watts, so it's not difficult once you start to think in terms of the equation. if you incorporate a cheap charge controller into your trailer harness, you can keep your battery topped when towing.

flexible "marine grade" panels work great for trailer roofs.

that was a bit of a vague primer. if you want to start talking numbers I am happy to take it further.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 4:44pm

The reason I was thinking solar was because we will be driving from approximately 7 am to 6 pm daily for 5 days
meaning we will stop for the night at 6 ish and using the trailer for maybe two to three hours. go to bed at 9ish then get up cook breakfast make a few sandwiches then back on the road. we plan to have some sort of porta potty system with us only stop for gas otherwise. That's the plan so far.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 4:51pm

markmitch wrote:The reason I was thinking solar was because we will be driving from approximately 7 am to 6 pm daily for 5 days
meaning we will stop for the night at 6 ish and using the trailer for maybe two to three hours. go to bed at 9ish then get up cook breakfast make a few sandwiches then back on the road. we plan to have some sort of porta potty system with us only stop for gas otherwise. That's the plan so far.
well, heck, you may not even need solar, but only battery, charge controller, and (maybe) small inverter. add up the requirements by amps or wattage for us, and we can figure this out when we have numbers to work with. list the items here, in detail, and we can do the math together.

edit: not knowing your trailer, I'm wondering if you maybe already have a panel to work with? if so, can I see it, please?
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 5:21pm

but how would I charge it then?
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 5:27pm

markmitch wrote:but how would I charge it then?
in simplest form, a charge controller on a hot wire from the trailer harness, charge while driving. from what you explained about your needs, get a large enough battery and that should cover it.

this is more than you need, in my opinion, but it has all the protections built in, plus voltmeter...adjust the output to ~13v and 5-10amps, you're off to the races.
81lraIffTSL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/Converter-DROK-V ... 473&sr=8-6

but, like I said, it's possible your trailer already has something similar, albeit more primitive, built in.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 5:46pm

I will see what the trailer has , I know there is a large electrical cord going into a box in one wall but no clue what it does.The cord is 110.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 5:48pm

markmitch wrote:I will see what the trailer has , I know there is a large electrical cord going into a box in one wall but no clue what it does.The cord is 110.
yes! get me a model number and a pic with the panel off. let's see what you got. it's likely you have a 12v charging circuit or converter in there. if it's working, this just got way easy.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby tonydobbs » July 25th 2020, 5:54pm

markmitch wrote:but how would I charge it then?

I have something that might help you here. If you connect a DC to DC charger to your battery, the system will charge as you drive. The one I have sitting here is 20A, so it can charge smaller batteries up fairly quick. It's a very simple and straightforward solution.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 6:41pm

pictures of converter. I looked it up and it converts 120 to 12 vdc to run appliances. but there are no appliances in this rig.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby tonydobbs » July 25th 2020, 6:47pm

What I am talking about is this: https://www.renogy.com/12v-dc-to-dc-on- ... y-charger/
This will charge the battery directly while you drive and is easy to hook up. I have one if you're interested.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 6:51pm

that looks to be as simple a converter as there is. ok, now you determine if it's working. only way I can think of is to plug it in.

but first, get me inside if you can, and a pic will be helpful in case I can't find a schematic.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 6:56pm

inside ? I can get pictures of the wires coming out the back, How much for the item you have?
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 7:02pm

it's too old and I can't find that specific converter. at this point, you have to decide what your time is worth. both tonydobbs and I have given you great options if you want to wire from scratch.

edit, got the pic. 110v in and heavy 12v for battery, plus the fused 12v out for whatever the trailer originally had. if you can find the ends of the battery wires, switch the rocker to "converter," take the fuse out in case of dangling wires, plug in the 110, and check for voltage at the battery leads. if it's not actually charging the battery, IE a real simple converter, I'd forget it and wire from scratch.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby MechBob » July 25th 2020, 7:09pm

Sounds like a lot of overthinking the problem.Your silverado should already have a power wire run to the rear,in the towing harness,to provide 12v to the camper,for power and charging.And a spot in the under hood fuse box to add a maxi fuse for this purpose.All you need is to make sure your camper has a heavy enough wire to the battery,for power and ground.The newer chevy towing plugs are set up for this.The chevy will regulate the charge.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby augidog » July 25th 2020, 7:14pm

i love overthinking sh-...stuff. granted, it's easier & more fun to do this sort of overthinking hands-on, instead of typing long disjointed thoughts on the matter, and expecting everyone knew exactly what i meant :shrug:

MechBob wrote:Sounds like a lot of overthinking the problem.Your silverado should already have a power wire run to the rear,in the towing harness,to provide 12v to the camper,for power and charging.And a spot in the under hood fuse box to add a maxi fuse for this purpose.All you need is to make sure your camper has a heavy enough wire to the battery,for power and ground.The newer chevy towing plugs are set up for this.The chevy will regulate the charge.
agreed, and agreed. but there's no harm in an onboard controller, it's a versatile item to have. and of course if the converter works, the new lighting and such can come off the fuse, and the better still for retaining the land power option.

having nothing better to do, I myself would explore using the converter since it's there. otherwise it's gone as only dead weight. it may be the input from the tow vehicle is still intact, too, either at the converter or at the battery leads, making this pretty easy.
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Re: need advice on solar stuff

Postby markmitch [OP] » July 25th 2020, 9:49pm

The converter in the camper is for converting the 110 from a house outlet to be able to use for a camper fridge or whatever if I have a place to plug it in. Otherwise it would only be useable with 12 volt power. So I will leave it if it works.I have a 300 amp 12 volt to 110 converter in my garage I got at a yard sale . So I will have to rewire the trailer to some extent as it only has this type on it and it is pretty old : https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WD56L5T?ta ... comp_sosp1 And my truck has this style https://www.zoro.com/hopkins-towing-sol ... F0QAvD_BwE
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