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Showing posts from July, 2013

More Solar / Power

Given the cumbersome nature of my recently created 110 watt solar setup, I decided to augment it with a semi-permanent addition. Over the last year, little amorphous 7 watt solar panels have been at Princess Auto for less than $20. 
7 Watts at 12 volts admittedly is not much. Nevertheless, over numerous visits to the Princess, I ended up with three of these panels. I kind of had a plan, but never acted on it...until now... Three of these panels mounted quite discretely, stealthly even, in my Vanagon's luggage rack, and you can't even notice them unless you're either 7 feet tall, or standing at an above the van vantage point. I ran the wires through one of the drain holes in the corner of the luggage rack and sneaked them into the van, attaching them to a small charge controller. From there I have a setup comprised of several options: First, I have a plug going to the main starting battery for trickle charging/maintaining that. Next, there's a barrel post connector tha…

More Solar

I found some time to putter...yay! Along with my two Coleman 40 watt solar panels, I dug out two 15 watt Canadian Tire ones that had been lying dormant. One of them was never even removed from the box. I thought of buying more, but resisted the urge. Sometimes it's best to use what you have, especially since none of this is critical. Nevertheless, a total of 110 watts is better than nothing, so I decided to try and make a "system" of sorts. Basically, I constructed a crude "suitcase" affair from 1x3 strapping and old panel board. Into this, I fitted the two 15 watt panels. Then I added the two 40 watt panels on hinges so that the whole thing unfolds...    Notice in the picture above, the 15 watt panels are physically larger than the 40 watt ones. They are several years older than the new 40 watt "polycrystalline" ones. This seems to be working out ok, but the whole thing is a bit heavy. However, it folds up and packs away nicely. This is all part of …


I've been fooling with 12 volt power of late, and seeing how complicated or simple it might be to depend on it. For this, I chose a single task; the powering of my 12 volt cooler. I used a separate 110 amp hour Kirkland (Costco) Deep Cycle battery. The initial take-home message is that I need much more solar collection ability than I have. Combined, my two 40 watt Coleman solar Panels are simply inadequate. I'm not quite getting 5 amps of charge from them, and that's only in ideal conditions. Thankfully, the cooler is quite efficient. The unit draws a maximum of 46 watts, or about 4 amps. Also, it's only cycled on for less than half the time so I'd estimate about 2 amp hours consumption. Assuming one does not want to run their battery much below half-way, we're looking at the single battery easily powering the cooler for a 24 hour period, but not much more. Of course while driving, the battery can charge back up, but if you want to stay put for a few days, you…