Solar panel or third battery?

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #1
Advice please! We find ourselves 'wild-camping' more and more each year, partly because of the high cost of many campsites, but more because of the increasing number of Aires being provided by councils and private land-owners.
Our maximum stay until this year has been three nights in any one spot, and with two good leisure batteries and a small solar panel (made up of three Maplins panels linked together.... don't ask me any technical questions!) we have always had enough power to run our Cello Traveller 12v TV, a couple of lights on and off and obviously the water pump.
Admittedly, the power panel gradually goes down from two greens to one, then to orange...but never to red!
Having said that, we're now on our first four-night stay, with one night to go....and the orange light is on.
I noticed the van next to us this week had a fairly substantial fold-out solar panel, (plus a constant stream of admirers) and it has me thinking about increasing our power bank.
As we're not blessed with constant Summer sunshine here, would it make more sense to buy a third leisure battery (a less expensive option) or go for a larger solar panel? (Max budget around 250 euro btw)
All suggestions/advice/comments appreciated, particularly from anyone who has made a similar choice, either way. Thanks in advance as always!


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #2
I’m no electrician but getting a third leisure battery would probably require the other 2 to be replaced at the same time.
Solar works even when there is not full sun.
If it was me I’d get the solar panel and not a third battery.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #3
I have three 90ah leisure batteries, quality ones. Also 200 watt of solar, I hardly ever get low on power, I never run out of power. I am going to add another 100watt solar.

The more solar the better, I always look at it like this; if you're getting 1amp from a single 100watt solar panel in December in Ireland you are getting 2amps with two and henceforth.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #4
I've recently added 2 x 80w to the original 100w panel. The leisure batts were replaced at the start of the summer as they've had 3 hard years and with the extra solar I haven't gone below 12.5v (offload) all summer so far. Should be set up ok for the winter.
Up to 5 of us in the van including kids with multiple devices needing to be charged.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #5
As said, adding an additional battery to existing ones is not a technically sensible option, in a battery bank ALL the batteries need to be exactly the same in age and type to ensure there is no difference in internal resistance between them.
IMHO adding solar is a better option, 100w panels are now down to about €120 and a quality charge controller which would handle 300w can be got for about €100

I have 2 X 100w panels, 2 X 95A deep cycle batteries and a quality charge controller and never have to worry about power.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #6
There's a 120 watt panel with controller on Amazon for around £145 delivered....('Eco-worthy' supplier's name)
Seems to have good reviews. I might consider this one.... unless anyone knows a better deal around? Thanks for all the info btw.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #7
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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #8
Ok, I can buy a solar panel without controller no problem, but what's special an MPPT controller, and how much would a reasonable one cost?
Would the benefits be sufficiently noticeable to justify the extra outlay?


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #9
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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #10
Quote by tony glenn

Ok, I can buy a solar panel without controller no problem, but what's special an MPPT controller, and how much would a reasonable one cost?
Would the benefits be sufficiently noticeable to justify the extra outlay?


MPPT makes a big difference. I can’t speak technically about it but it basically optimises the voltage from the panel to the battery to get maximum current into the battery. They are most effective in cold cloudy conditions- just when you need it most.

My own experience - even in late evening during early April when I would have had no charge before fitting MPPT, I had 1.5A going to the batteries. That won’t charge a flat battery but it balances out the draw from the TV and a couple of lights in my van.

I paid £121 for a 260W MPPT reg, including fitting & fuses. You want an easily accessible in-line fuse each side of the reg so that you can disconnect the panels from the reg if you’re working on or changing the batteries, or disconnect the batteries from the reg if working on that.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #11
I recently bumped into a guy I went to school with when we were out in the camper and he was enquiring did I have solar panels on my van. It turns out he supplies and sometimes fit them and is based in Crossmolina in Co. Mayo. he has a website https://mpe-online.ie/ and I am in no way affiliated to it. I will get a solar set up for my camper in the very near future when funds allow but like some people, I was confused as to what I needed and how I was going to get them delivered, so this has taken the work and cost out of it for me. plus its always good to support local businesses. We have found ourselves wild camping much more this year but like the op posted, our battery wasnt coping too well after 2 days of using tv fridge lights etc.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #12
Our van has one leisure battery and one factory supplied solar panel. 3 days is not a problem as long as we manage the tv. Usually a 2 hour movie each night. Battery is back to full voltage by lunchtime the next day. So with 2 batteries and a solar panel you will be elected. Can’t comment on the fancy controller but you can always add it later if you feel the need. More important is the state of your current batteries. The older they are the less they will perform.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 25.07.2019  ·  #13
On my MH is
1x 100w panel
1 mppt controller
2x 110ahr varta leisure batteries

We have got 2 weeks in Scotland at the start of the month didnt connect ehu and no a shortage of power,
The mppt controller makes a big difference in fairness,


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 26.07.2019  ·  #14
Quote by tony glenn

There's a 120 watt panel with controller on Amazon for around £145 delivered....('Eco-worthy' supplier's name)
Seems to have good reviews. I might consider this one.... unless anyone knows a better deal around? Thanks for all the info btw.


I have an ecoworthy Mppt controller and it is working perfectly. More solar. Less battery.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 26.07.2019  ·  #15
@wanderingaimlessly




I see he has 300 W solar panels on the website....Good price too....Thanks for link :up:


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 26.07.2019  ·  #16
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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 26.07.2019  ·  #17
Quote by baguette

Quote by panda

@wanderingaimlessly




I see he has 300 W solar panels on the website....Good price too....Thanks for link :up:



3 X 100w is better than 1 X 300w here's why




Good demo....Thanks for the link :up:


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 27.07.2019  ·  #18
Still wonder and think a wind turbine would suit motorhomers better.

We need power most in the Winter and we live on windy land 🤔

I know one motorhome owner with one who says it is great but haven't seen him in a long time to ask further questions about noise etc.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 27.07.2019  ·  #19
Quote by Ally

Still wonder and think a wind turbine would suit motorhomers better.

We need power most in the Winter and we live on windy land 🤔

I know one motorhome owner with one who says it is great but haven't seen him in a long time to ask further questions about noise etc.


I think one similar to those used on boats which you put up when parked up would be an ideal method


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 27.07.2019  ·  #20
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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 27.07.2019  ·  #21
Ah it must be the grey skies up north. Here in the sunny south east the solar works year round 😇


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 27.07.2019  ·  #22
Quote by Daffysparks

Ah it must be the grey skies up north. Here in the sunny south east the solar works year round 😇


I'd this the type your talking about
Torre Solar Macabeo Vintage: 2014 Colour: Spanish White. :D


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 27.07.2019  ·  #23
I think the wind turbines are expensive but it would be great in winter alright


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #24
Getting back to my original thread...do I really need 100/120 watts? Would an 80 watt fold-out be sufficient for occasional use? We can go two/three days on the twin leisure batteries, no problem...so looking at the size and weight of most 100 watt panels has me wondering if they'd really be necessary in my case. There's a Docio 80 watt on Amazon, light and not too big. Would the lesser wattage be a real negative? (Is there a pun there somewhere?)


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #25
Personally if you have the space I would go with a bigger watt panel consider it as future proofing at the moment you are spending more and time wild camping with ehu but usually there will be water and black and grey waste available, so what happens if a 3 day stay becomes 4 or 7. There’s little difference in the initial price of the panels.
I have 2 x 130w I don’t have a telly just a laptops and other portable devices and I still plan when best to put them on charge.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #26
Yes, what you say makes sense. I guess I just need to find a compromise between size, weight and power. (A bit like marriage really 😂)


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #27
While 80 watts might be adequate in the height of the summer, what about autumn, winter etc. if in winter your solar is working at 10-15%, wouldn’t it be better to have that percentage of 200 watts than of 80 watts. For me I would go for panels fitted on the roof, as they will be giving you a charge early in the morning, before you erect the portable one, same in the evening same when you go in somewhere for lunch, etc etc. and you don’t need to worry about the weight, they are just there.


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #28
I had considered roof mounting, but a bit nervous about drilling holes in the roof! The battery compartment is at the rear, how would I best run the cables to the battery....inside from the panel or outside down the back of the van? Have you done it yourself? Any advice appreciated.....


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #29
Stick the panel brackets to the roof with sikaflex. No holes needed. One hole to let the cables through. You can buy a glanced cable cover for the roof that you stick, again with sikaflex to the roof and the cables go in through the waterproof gland. I would run the cables inside through a cabinet or press. I have done it with tv cables and no problems. The solar panels were on the van when I got it, and that’s the way they were done. They are fitted 5 years now. Never any issue with water getting in, or any other issue either


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Re: Solar panel or third battery?

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Posted: 28.07.2019  ·  #30
Drill a hole in the roof and run the cable straight down to the batteries, you put a roof gland on the roof to run the cable through and it's water tight no worries, if this is a first installation check does the solar power have to run through your charging system and not to the batteries directly


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Parallel vs Series - MPPT vs PWM

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Posted: 03.09.2019  ·  #31
This is a good practical view both explaining and showing with a meter.






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