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  #11  
Old 5th March 2014, 02:23 AM
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Poly: have a very low heat tolerance but have been around since day dot.

Mono: the most cost effective unit to operate and an efficient space saver

Framed: More cost effective than other models; able to be mounted or can be freestanding
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  #12  
Old 5th March 2014, 02:27 AM
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Then dont forget a decent 120AH deep cycle GEL Cell battery
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  #13  
Old 5th March 2014, 03:42 PM
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^ agree - don't go under 100 AH. I have 2 x 100 AH deep cycle AGMs.

Made a mistake - my panels are mono. (modified previous post)
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  #14  
Old 5th March 2014, 06:00 PM
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I use a 100amp AGM for the trolling motor in the boat and the camper will have 2 AGMs of at least 100amps. If, and it is a big if, I manage to get a new boat it will have an electric start motor so it will have 2 batteries...a 100amp AGM for the trolling motor and a deep cycle marine battery for the motor and fish finder. Possibly I could even look at a small third battery for the fish finder but will wait and see.
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  #15  
Old 5th March 2014, 09:03 PM
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Gidday Silver,

For the moment we have one 100 amp battery in the Shack. 120w portable solar panel which has a controller to control energy into the battery. The controller is great, it tells you when it is charging the battery, how many watts the solar panels are "absorbing" from the sun, and also when the battery is fully charged. The controller also prevents too much energy being put into your storage system, which means that you don't have to worry about overcharging (or... undercharging i.e. if you leave the solar panel plugged in when you are at home, it doesn't go flat). When driving along, the car has an Anderson plug to the trailer. The fridge in the Shack keeps cool when driving along.

When we pull up to camp, we unplug the Anderson plug from the car, and plug the solar panel in to the Anderson plug on the van. Our old Engel is very noisy... and probably not as efficient as some of the newer units. I read somewhere that unplugging your fridge at night conserves energy. The food is ok because night is cooler as well as nobody is lifting the lid to let the cold out. For the moment, this works pretty well for us, and generally the 120w keeps the fridge going from the sun and even cloudy days still puts charge in.

Like you Silver, we would like to have an electric motor eventually for the Love Boat... but I am very keen to see how long the battery in the Shack lasts with the current setup. The reason being that deep cycle batteries are quite expensive. Maybe somebody has an idea of the life expectancy of a deep cycle battery? I have heard that when you set more than one battery up in line to charge, they should be the same amps and type of battery, and also the same age... i.e. if you have an older battery and hook a new one up to it, it doesn't function as well (charge wise) as setting 2 new ones up together.

I also did my own experiment with our portable battery jump starter kit. It is not recommended to use one of these as an extra battery on your system, HOWEVER.... if your jump start pack is flat, you can hook up the clamps to the Shack battery, and the solar panels will re-charge it in line with the Shack battery. I was pretty excited to find out that it worked like this. If you were unfortunate to be somewhere for a few days with not enough sunlight to run your fridge from the solar panels, in an emergency you could use the battery pack as a temporary dual battery to access more hours of stored energy so your food doesn't go to waste.

We find the battery pack awesome just for charging all the I things.. it has a USB plug as well as 2 x 12 volt sockets.

Very very interesting stuff, and always learning in this life!

Best regards,
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Last edited by Scooby2; 6th March 2014 at 03:28 AM. Reason: Because I should have double checked what I wrote about!
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  #16  
Old 6th March 2014, 02:18 AM
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I hate it when stuff gets too bloody technical but I think you have a 'controller' not a regulator. I THINK a regulator just pumps the stuff in and doesn't stop and can in fact overcharge a battery but a controller is more like a battery charger and 'controls' what is happening. Anyway it doesn't matter but I gather it is not a good idea to have the bigger panels without a controller and there are two different ones with a MPPT one being the best as it is more efficient.
I think I have already said that a NRMA guy told me it is better to go big on solar panels rather than small. His idea was to always have the capacity to pump the amps in when you can as you never know what will happen. he also said what you have posted about the batteries...ie...same condition,size in a bank.
I will be doing much what you are. Charging from the car or panels or 240v when I can. The Ctek combination will do it all...automatically picks the sort of battery and where the charge is coming from and optimises the charge.
I am not sure if you would save any power by turning your fridge off overnight. Maybe..but it takes more energy to cool something down than maintain a set temperature.
I also think it is a good idea to have at least 2 batteries for power because if one stuff ups you can disconnect it and still run stuff of the other one.
Sort of like having 2 4.5kg gas bottles instead of 1 9kg one.
The battery case I use for the boat has 2 ciggie plugs in it and I might get a solar recharger that does AAA and AA batteries for torches/headlamps.
By the way.....as far as I am aware AGM batteries are the ONLY ones that should be used inside. You could check this but I think it is right.
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  #17  
Old 6th March 2014, 03:07 AM
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Silver you're right. It is a controller.. Will change the above! If we do have a need to charge up the heavy duty battery pack, we do it during the day, with the bed up and back door of the shack up. Effectively like charging something in the shed with the door hanging wide open.

We also have a Powertek:

http://www.allvolts.com.au/catalogue...CHARGERS-OTHER

which picks what method of charging you are using. The difference it makes turning the fridge off overnight is that with one deep cycle battery and the solar panel, the system (lighting and refrigeration) is self sustaining... and of course, we actually CAN sleep because it isn't rattling away right above our heads. If the fridge is on overnight, the battery goes flat in 2 days because there are not enough amp hours in one battery to run it overnight and put enough charge back in during the day for it to be self sustaining. Hope that made sense. It took some trial and error to arrive at the end result, which for the moment suits us. Ideally, 2 batteries in line would be best for the shack, plus another removable one for an electric boat motor.

I suppose I am really very conscious of how much weight we are constantly adding. Scooby2 is a great car, but she's not Hercules ;-) ... and we often have 5 people travelling as well as all the fallout 5 people make.

Best regards,
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Last edited by Scooby2; 6th March 2014 at 06:39 PM. Reason: because I read too much and remember the wrong names instead of checking the actual thing!
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  #18  
Old 6th March 2014, 05:20 PM
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Scoob...what Ctek are you using??
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  #19  
Old 6th March 2014, 06:53 PM
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Silver, I had a really bad day yesterday. Suffering the after effects of a pilates session that should have had 6 people in the class instead of just me. As a result, the Ctek I mentioned (is not what we have, I think what was recommended by our auto electrician) in the above information has been changed. Where it is positioned, you can't read what it actually is from the top of the unit because it is in a cupboard. I changed it & posted the link

The summary I did above of our system is the end result of about 6 months of trying to sort it out to work properly, so that maybe other people who are thinking of going solar (highly recommended when it is sorted out properly) don't make really costly mistakes. I learned the hard way and killed the first deep cycle battery in the first 12 months.... It may have been that the Shack came with a dodgy battery, OR it may have been that we didn't maintain its power levels often enough.

Basically now, even at home, we never use the 240 volt that the Shack is wired with. If I was setting up a system from scratch, I think I would just have everything 12Volt. Even if we go to a caravan park, we never use powered sites.

Interestingly, the actual solar panels themselves come with I think a 10 year warranty, but the controller's warranty is only for 12 months. If I knew what I now know, I would have made sure that the controller's warranty covered it for being outside. We haven't had any problems with it - where it is positioned under the solar panels is basically like it being under a roof anyway. Like I said before. Always learning.

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Last edited by Scooby2; 6th March 2014 at 06:58 PM.
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  #20  
Old 7th March 2014, 02:09 AM
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It's REALLY important to keep a battery fully charged and recharged ASAP after using. A standard deep cycle battery can discharge around 10% or more each month without use.
My boat battery cops a flogging...sometimes 6 or 8 hours on a fishing day. It's not even a well known AGM brand...it's a AMPTECH made by Supercharge and has turned out to be great value.
It goes on the charger as soon as I get home although now I use my 20w solar panel to charge it for free but use the Ctek every now and again to make sure it is up to scratch. The panel takes...I estimate about 5-6 days to get a full charge in...it can only do 1.2 amps/hr.
Even if I don't use the boat I connect it for a few hours to keep it topped up.
AGM batteries only discharge around 3% or less per month and I stress...they are the ONLY ones you should be using in any enclosed space as the others vent bad fumes.
I also think it would be good to invest in a QUALITY charger like a Ctek. I would not buy less than a 15amp one and if you use two batteries you might well need a 20amp one. Check the specs.
I got a M300 25amp one,brand new from shut down shop,on Gumtree, for $200.
DON"T buy grey imports!!
For example this could be a possibility..http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/fernt...ger/1038955092 (this is a charger as well as for other uses) but he bought it online and does not have a receipt...I won't buy it.
Here is a reputable store...http://www.ctekbatterychargers.com.au/contact-us.html
If possible get a bigger panel...use the 120w for the boat and a 200w or so for the shack..check out the link I posted earlier.You will need a bigger one if you go to 2 batteries if you want to pump the amps in.
My fridge uses about 25amps per day. I going to use portable panels as I think a roof top panel is a waste of time as you usually park in the shade if possible. I want to track the sun.
Also...I have read that you should not use 2 charging points. That is...if you are charging by the alternator, you should have the panels disconnected or charging via 240 , the same etc.
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