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Author: Subject: Solar panels in a suitcase
msteve1014
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[*] posted on 2-10-2012 at 05:27 PM


I have 2, 85 watt panels bolted together with a hing so they make a kind of suitcase. Inside is the controller, legs, and wiring when we travel. Open it up and clip the wires to a pigtail on the camper and your done. 20 feet of #10 s.o. cord has always been plenty to set the panels in a good spot. I made this to power an ARB freezer, and the rest of the camper. The freezer is the big power draw. Fans and lights do not use much.
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larryC
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[*] posted on 2-10-2012 at 07:29 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Bob and Susan
actually vendors havent a clue what size is needed to move small voltage
the grids they supply are WAY wrong

the thickest stranded cable is what you want
to move small voltage

this is why 115v is used in houses
it can run along way on smaller wire

also when it gets hot outside the current will drop even farther

answer...BIG wire to the controler from solar panels and dont use plugs



115 volts certainly helps in making household current go farther, but the main reason it works so well is that it is alternating current, not direct current like a solar panel puts out. A little over 100 years ago Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were in competition to supply power to a large city. Edisons DC method would have cost more than 10 times as much as Teslas AC system, because DC does not go long distances very well and his method would require several power stations along line to get sufficient power to the city they were trying to supply. Luckily Tesla won out. Alternating current is much more efficient than DC for household use, and much safer also.
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Hook
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[*] posted on 2-12-2012 at 10:26 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by msteve1014
I have 2, 85 watt panels bolted together with a hing so they make a kind of suitcase. Inside is the controller, legs, and wiring when we travel. Open it up and clip the wires to a pigtail on the camper and your done. 20 feet of #10 s.o. cord has always been plenty to set the panels in a good spot. I made this to power an ARB freezer, and the rest of the camper. The freezer is the big power draw. Fans and lights do not use much.


This is my EXACT scenario. I would like to be able to keep my Danfoos style fridge going without having to fire up the genny and charge the house battery. I only have room for a single, grp 31 AGM battery.

How have you dealt with the issue of moderate to high winds?

This suitcase kit I was looking at had two legs and two base strips of metal that the legs attached to; forming a right triangle when including the outsides of the suitcase. I was thinking about placing sandbags on these base metal strips. In the movie/TV industry, they make sandbags that are completely sealed in HEAVY waterproof canvas with a handle on it. They weigh about 20lbs each and actually have a fold in the middle for easier storage. The fold is also intended to go over light stand legs.

I do appreciate all the advice from you off-the-grid, house dwellers, but for portability, some compromises will have to be made in wire size.

[Edited on 2-12-2012 by Hook]




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msteve1014
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[*] posted on 2-12-2012 at 10:37 AM


I have never had a problem with the wind, maybe just lucky. You could just lay them flat on the ground when you need to, if it's really blowing. Also, old denim pant legs make great sand bags. We fill them with lead shot for use on a shooting bench.
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 05:07 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by dabbs
Hey, Solar panels in a suitcase really sounds good. I want to see the model of the solar panels in suitcase. I think it will be a compact model. Please do share its price with some images. Thank you.


I still cant find em. I sent an email to Northern AZ Wind and Sun to see if they have heard anything but they have ignored it for five days now.

Can anybody recommend some other retailers that might know about these?




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Mula
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 05:55 AM


I just googled "suitcase solar panel kit" and came up with a bunch of options.

This is one:
http://wecaresolar.org/solutions/solar-suitcase/
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Mula
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 05:59 AM


Even better - just google "solar suitcase" and you get backpacks and all sorts of stuff - from eBay on. . . .
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bajamedic
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 07:52 AM


You might check www.costco.com and search solar. They have several portable solar systems. JH
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durrelllrobert
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 08:32 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by larryC

. I would guess the amperage of a 70 watt panel is around 6 amps at most, probably a little less, at 12v.
[Edited on 2-10-2012 by larryC]


yep, 7oW/12V = 5.8333 Amps




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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 11:46 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by Mula
I just googled "suitcase solar panel kit" and came up with a bunch of options.

This is one:
http://wecaresolar.org/solutions/solar-suitcase/


I have.

The problem is that all I've seen include ancillary devices intended for specific uses that I dont want. Things like lights and transmitters and cell phone chargers and stuff. And they include a sealed 12v battery. I dont want all those things.

I just want leads to hook up to my existing battery, a charge controller and have it housed in a nice, light aluminum suitcase.

Thank you for your time looking, Mula.

[Edited on 4-24-2012 by Hook]




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Mula
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 11:57 AM


A year and a half ago, we got a really nice little solar panel set with stand, lights at Harbor Freight. My husband put it up in his shop to keep batteries charged , etc.
It was small, 3 15 watt panels I think, compact.
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 12:03 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by msteve1014
I have 2, 85 watt panels bolted together with a hing so they make a kind of suitcase. Inside is the controller, legs, and wiring when we travel. Open it up and clip the wires to a pigtail on the camper and your done. 20 feet of #10 s.o. cord has always been plenty to set the panels in a good spot. I made this to power an ARB freezer, and the rest of the camper. The freezer is the big power draw. Fans and lights do not use much.


Steve, thanks again for your input. Us camper guys got to stick together. So, 20 feet of cable gets you around pretty good, huh?

I think I'll probably just construct one as you did. Have the wife sew up a case with some dampening material sewn in between the layers. I assume yours have aluminum framing around the panel and that's what you ran your hinge bolts into?

So, is the charge controller best kept near the panels or could I mount it inside my camper? Maybe inside my battery box? Sealed AGM batt in there, so no corrosive gases.




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msteve1014
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 05:27 PM


I have connections on the front and back for the winch or camper, so my setup is very flexible. I can charge just the camper, just the truck, or both. Having the controller on the panels makes things flexible, you can hook it up to any battery you may want to charge.

My panels are old and have a 2 inch frame on each for the hinges to mount to, and to hold everything inside while traveling.
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willyAirstream
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[*] posted on 4-24-2012 at 05:38 PM


Here are some interesting links. The utube link may give you ideas on building your own.

I'm looking for something similar.

http://mysolarbackupdepot.com/uncategorized/a-solar-suitcase...

http://www.siliconsolar.com/solopower-portable-500w.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwrDDMFxwjg&sns=em

http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/64/Extreme-350-Adventure-Kit/...




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[*] posted on 6-15-2014 at 03:19 PM


I'm a little late to the chat.

I have two "suit case" solar panel setups. I use them to keep the battery charged when I run my Engel fridge. The fridge pulls about 2A when it's running.

First up is my Zamp Solar 40W Portable Solar panel. Folded it measures about 18" square. It comes with a controller, a length of wire with battery clamps, and a nice padded carry case. They also make them up to 200W. Since I bought mine they have upgraded the legs and controller.

Second is the setup I built. It's made from a pair of 10W panels hinged together (20W total). It measures about 18" x 8" x 2.5" when folded. I have a controller for it, but I found it charged better without. I just plug it into a 12V outlet in the dash. This was my go-to setup on my last trip. It was very small and easy to setup and worked fine as long as I had sun.




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durrelllrobert
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[*] posted on 6-15-2014 at 04:01 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by larryC


I would guess the amperage of a 70 watt panel is around 6 amps at most, probably a little less, at 12v.


[Edited on 2-10-2012 by larryC]

Yep, 70W divided by 12V = 5.7 amps
As far as the voltage drop goes remember that the battery itself will lose about 1% per day just setting there and the voltage drop for 30ft of 12AWG wire will be 4.65%




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[*] posted on 6-15-2014 at 04:59 PM


Hook, Both Zamp and Go Power both have the folding "suitcase" solar kits you are talking about. They make them for keeping your RV batteries charged up. About 6 years ago I bought a pop-up camper and wanted something to help keep my batteries up when camping. All they had were the kits to hardwire to your camper. If you go camping, where do you want to put your rig? In the shade right. So I took a solar panel and hooked it up to a charge controller in my camper and left a pig tail outside. When I parked, I could plug in the panel and move it around during the day to keep my batteries up. Thought I was pretty smart. I just bought a new travel trailer and wanted to do the same thing and now these companies have the kits to do it, all made up. Maybe a little pricey, but just unfold em, plug em in and move em around. Wish I had had the foresight to start making kits back then. Live and learn -----if you're lucky. :coolup:



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[*] posted on 6-15-2014 at 08:24 PM


Love good solar discussions.......

I opted for a permanent mount system on the top of my camper. What swayed me more than anything is that it's not a theft risk, when I am away from the camper. And I am away from the camper a lot when I boondock. Jeeping, biking, hiking, fishing. I wouldnt feel comfortable leaving a few hundred dollars of solar equipment on the ground in the "perfect" solar location.

I went with a 140w Kyocera and a Morningstar PWM controller that can feed two battery banks at once. So, I have a return line feeding my truck starter batteries to keep them topped off as well. The controller allows you to send 90% of the current to the house battery and 10% to the truck batteries.

As it turned out, my DC needs are not that great, now that I switched over to LEDs. I dont invert to run the microwave since my builtin genny is a button push away. It's really to stay ahead of the curve with the compressor fridge running (2amps@12v). We are off grid probably 95% of our summers.
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[*] posted on 6-16-2014 at 10:28 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by Diver
If you connect a cable as I mentioned above with a short chord with plug ends, you can always insert an additional chord if you need to move the panel further. You might loose some power but it's better than having the panel sitting in the shade. Our 80 watt panel on it's 35' chord still has plenty of power to charge our 2 batteries from 1/3 to full any mostly sunny day.



Great idea with the extendable cord :light:
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[*] posted on 6-16-2014 at 11:49 AM


Like the small footprint



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