12v solar panels for camping - advice

hi brains trust
we are heading off on a bit of a road trip soon, i have an engel and 3 few batteries - previously have just run the cruiser every day to keep everything charged but was thinking of getting some solar panels for a bit of additional help
BCF, jaycar , ARB etc all will sell you what they can - i have found a shed load on ebay which seem to have similar specs - folding mat would be great for storage but would go with a panel it = more juice
Question then is can anyone advise on the folding mat types off ebay, BCF panels or any other observations - not looking to spend a heap so not looking for the elon musk solution :-) just interested to hear others experience
cheers


Josh's picture

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Date Joined: 14/09/10

I bought a cheap fold one,

Mon, 2021-05-17 21:22

I bought a cheap fold one, 300w apparently.

It was chea, but a waste of money. 

I would buy an enerdrive dcdc and put a house panel into it, if that setup fits your rig

pelagicyachts's picture

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Date Joined: 23/02/11

thanks mate - just looking

Mon, 2021-05-17 22:50

thanks mate - just looking for something to layout infront of camper whilst we are out for the day - will check out the enerdrive....

cheers

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Date Joined: 01/02/10

 From what I've read the fold

Tue, 2021-05-18 05:50

 From what I've read the fold up blanket type are quite inefficient. 
The rigid suitcase type are worth a look. I have a 200w renogy unit that plugs in for a bit extra charge or want to chase the sun. Comes as a unit with solar regulator. 

Renogy gear is a good compromise between decent quality and reasonable price. 

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scotto's picture

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Panels

Tue, 2021-05-18 06:00

I did a big trip a few years ago, and bought 2 panels off eBay, a 200w and 120w, both foldingbtype. I also have 2 x 100A/h lead acid deal cycle batteries. 

the 200w panel and 1 battery ran a 60L Engel as a freezer, and the 120w panel and the other battery ran a 32L Engel on fridge. Both panels and batteries ran a treat. Between them I could swap a few things around, ie: let the fridge battery run on its own, and use both panels to boost charge the freezer battery, etc. I would also turn the freezer off at night sometimes if everything was rock solid frozen inside. 
 

I also took a small 1kva generator as a backup, and maybe once every week or 2 run everything off that, and completely boost-charge both batteries. 
 

you're welcome to borrow the solar panels if you want PY. I can't see myself using them for at least 18 months. 

pelagicyachts's picture

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mate thanks for the offer -

Tue, 2021-05-18 11:03

mate thanks for the offer - and insight - will buy one as can then transfer it to the boat - cheers

pelagicyachts's picture

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Date Joined: 23/02/11

mate thanks for the offer -

Tue, 2021-05-18 11:03

mate thanks for the offer - and insight - will buy one as can then transfer it to the boat - cheers

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 I use a Hard Korr 160 watt

Tue, 2021-05-18 06:53

 I use a Hard Korr 160 watt fold out one that works a treat folds up to the size of a breif case and stores easily, takes up way less room than rigid fold out types. I won't go back to that style of panel.

Swompa's picture

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 Just back from 35 days away

Tue, 2021-05-18 10:19

 Just back from 35 days away and I wish I had a DCDC charger. WE got to destinations in the evening so no more solar, ran the fridge overnight and drove the next day. My batteries only copped charge when we stopped for a few days which had us living in torch light. 

If you are going to be stationed somewhere for a few days, a couple of 180W solar panels will do the job.

I have an XTM one and it does the job but previously had no name ones that also did the job. The only shitty one I ever had was a flexible panel from Ebay that seemed to be home made and it didnt last. 

I had flexible panels on dads boat last well over 10 years so they do work, if you get a good one.

pelagicyachts's picture

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thanks for all the responses,

Tue, 2021-05-18 11:05

thanks for all the responses, much appreciated, DC chargers is a great idea, we will be parked up at elquestro with power so will def chuck one in !- on the solar it looks like a hard foldout panel is the go
thanks guys

Swompa's picture

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 No worries. you're welcome

Tue, 2021-05-18 13:52

 No worries. you're welcome to borrow my panels to save you buying if you wish :-)

NORUN NOFUN's picture

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Bought a couple of foldies

Tue, 2021-05-18 12:19

Bought a couple of foldies off ebay, 300w & 200w for 60 & 40ltr engel, similar to the setup your saying plus all the other elec stuff. 300w is an overkill as the controller never reached that, I saw maybe 130w at best. For cheap ebay panels they worked fine, just replaced some of the hinge components and beefed up a bit, still going strong 3 yrs later and alot of km's travelled.

Folding mats are intended for conditions of no full sun, if one the panels gets covered it still pumps out good wattage, flat panels dont, cover a small area and very little output.

I have thought about buying the largest mat even though the output is not great, when room is at a premium, 2 panels is alot of space, now that I think about it, a spare mat panel would be ideal.

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Claimed output vs actual output

Tue, 2021-05-18 19:37

 I've been reading lots of posts about solar panels on various forums and it is clear that the claimed output of many (especially cheap eBay) panels is way lower than the actual output.  I am not saying it is in your case, but it could be why you haven't seen more than 130w out of what was sold as a 300w panel.  

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Claimed output vs actual output

Tue, 2021-05-18 19:38

 I've been reading lots of posts about solar panels on various forums and it is clear that the claimed output of many (especially cheap eBay) panels is way lower than the actual output.  I am not saying it is in your case, but it could be why you haven't seen more than 130w out of what was sold as a 300w panel.  

Mike17's picture

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No need to spend too much

Tue, 2021-05-18 13:30

 Mate 

We run two sets of rigin fold up panels one 120w and one 150w the 120w was $75 on Gumtree and the 150w was bought from Aldi. They both work fine and we have no issues running a 90lt and 55lt fridges and charging up lights etc. 

They feed into one 120kwh and one 150kwh battery and run everything easily and indefinately. 

 

No need to spent too much mate we didnt. 

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jighead's picture

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Geez

Tue, 2021-05-18 13:45

 They sound like some sweet batteries.

Mike17's picture

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HaHa

Tue, 2021-05-18 14:15

 should read Ah

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NORUN NOFUN's picture

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I'm no expert Makai and could

Fri, 2021-05-21 08:53

I'm no expert Makai and could may well be completely wrong as it's been ages since I looked into the basics of solar panels, I have checked the panel wattage output before the controller and they are not too far off max output, it's the controller that lowers the amps/watts to the battery/s at a controlled rate.
When I was quite naive to it all I just assumed the max output of the panel is what would be pumped into the batteries and voila the batteries are all charged up pretty quick with a big ass panel, then I learnt that it just does not work that way lol. Technology is changing by the year and what I have now is totally outdated but now that I know its limits it works awesome for me. The biggest lesson I learnt was to not drain the batteries down too far.