Solar Panel question?

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Re: Solar Panel question?

Post: # 23254Post Amanda_P
September 1st, 2018, 9:36 pm

Resurrecting the thread (why not? not much else is happening) I have a flexible, plastic-encapsulated panel glued onto the roof of my Suntrekker. I suspect the 12S installation was not properly done, and the battery doesn't seem to charge much from the alternator, but the cable does get warm. I think the auto-electrician used very cheap, thin cable that won't supply the voltage all the way from the alternator to the back of the truck and not have significant voltage drop.

Anyway, I got fed up with constantly having to plug a cable in at home for a night before I went anywhere with the camper to charge the battery, and the batteries got fed up with it too: I was having to replace them every year. They can't take that kind of repeated deep cycling. And there's little more annoying than a battery that hasn't got the grunt to fire up the heater on a cold morning! So I put the solar panel on, with, as I recall, Sikaflex. I didn't think I needed to squeeze optimum performance in hot weather from the panel - after all, it's most needed in winter when I'm running lights all evening and the heater. So having it glued flat to the roof is fine, and I really didn't want to drill holes in the roof of the camper. The cable runs through a small notch cut in the side of the skylight frame, which is all plastered over with sealant, and then in through the same opening as the skylight itself. Then there's a voltage regulator on the wall inside the upper locker on the left-hand side, and from there, cables to the battery.

I haven't replaced the batter in around eight years now! The voltage regulator is 'dumb' - no lights, no digital displays, but I reckon it's doing the doing, as there's zero or negligible charge from the running truck engine, and everything electrical works just fine.

(I did accidentally drill a hole in the battery casing while fitting an inverter the other day. It's plastered up with hot glue and seems to be working okay, but it did lose a teacupful or so of electrolyte, so its days may be numbered. Hey ho. It doesn't owe me anything).

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Re: Solar Panel question?

Post: # 23259Post zildjian
September 2nd, 2018, 6:34 am

Eight years would indicate at least you've got your money back, I'm lucky if I get near half of that usually.

Offhand I can't remember the gauge of wire supplied with panels I bought back then, though I do recall it fiendishly difficult both getting them to curve upwards into base of controller, then actually fit in the domino connectors on underside!

Daresay PV technology has raced forward since then and installation both neater & simpler but as the set-up seems to work OK i'm not about to disturb it (or my wallet)

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