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Old 03-24-2009, 08:34 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by AirsDream View Post
Seems to me that if you want to be certain of being "self sufficient off grid," then a) you need to shed electric load insofar as possible ... go with LED lighting, avoid / minimize furnace use, minimize water pumping, etc.; b) be in a sunny place so your solar panels can work; and c) carry a small generator to deal with those cloudy days when solar panels don't have enough output to keep up with usage ... this likely is not necessary if you've got enough panel output, charge controller works well, etc. and you are in e.g. desert environment where it's sunny pretty much every day. But once your electricity budget is under control, then fresh water and waste tanks will become the limiting factors.
HERE is how you take care of fresh and waste water so you have no limiting factors.
Fresh and wast tanks go in TV
Fresh water tank has same pump that is in trailer it plug into power outlet in TV.I can then hook hose to my city water or fill my tank.
Waste tank goes into TV it is filled by use of macerator pump that is powered from trailer batteries. and dump like you trailer.
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:48 PM   #30
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This rule of thumb is a bit misleading and it could lead you to electrically damage your batteries and possibly even create a hazardous condition. The issue with the amorphous silicon panels is that in bright sun conditions they may output up to 18V, and it is this over-voltage which may damage less resilient battery types (such as AGMs) regardless of the output power.

The over-voltage causes corrosion of the positive plates within the batteries which depletes the plate material and may even cause the growth of dendrites between the positive and negative plates (causing an ...
Good point -- but it would have to be a huge amorphous panel and a tiny battery to get to this condition. I would not recommend AGMs or gel cells to anyone unless there was an unavoidable hazmat issue that prohibited the use of flooded cells. A charge controller is always preferable, but if you keep an eye on the voltage it is possible to do without. I have never seen more than about 15 volts across a pair of T-105s with an 80 watt panel.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:05 AM   #31
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joecolao (Joe)

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

This is what I was looking for and why I stated this post up again.

I assume the panels you installed 5 years ago on the 34 are still working ok? Also, I assume it was a Uni-solar?? I have a white enamel roof on mine. did you do any special prep to the surface before mounting the Uni-solar 68 watt panel?

Again I really appreciate your reply! 73's jd


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Hello JD,
I first installed the flex solar panels almost 10 years ago. My first installation was 2 68 watt modules on a 1977 Airstream. I then sold the trailer to my buddy Gary. He sold the trailer to someone in Vermont about 3 years ago.
Up until that point they functioned fine.
When I first installed them I rivited a piece of aluminum threshold that I bedded into some silicone sealant at the leading edge of the module to prevent wind from up lifting it.
Along the upper edge of the module I installed a continuous caulked bead. Along the lower edge I installed a broken caulked bead, I thought that maybe it was best to allow moisture that may have come between the Airstreams aluminum skin and the module to escape.

I have since installed (about 5 years ago) a 68 watt flexible module on my 1991 34' Airstream.
In this installation I did not use any caulking at all except for the bedding of the aluminum strip on the leading edge.

Last year I did a "non-scientific" pull test and found no decrease or defect in the adhesion between the module and the Airstream skin.

I hope this info helps you in your decision.
Joe
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:16 AM   #32
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Good point -- but it would have to be a huge amorphous panel and a tiny battery to get to this condition. I would not recommend AGMs or gel cells to anyone unless there was an unavoidable hazmat issue that prohibited the use of flooded cells. A charge controller is always preferable, but if you keep an eye on the voltage it is possible to do without. I have never seen more than about 15 volts across a pair of T-105s with an 80 watt panel.
I lost a Group 24 AGM which was connected to a 5W amorphous trickle charger panel from a week of Texas summer sun, due to overvoltage output. I stand by my previous statements.
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:11 PM   #33
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I lost a Group 24 AGM which was connected to a 5W amorphous trickle charger panel from a week of Texas summer sun, due to overvoltage output. I stand by my previous statements.
OK, that's a solid data point. A 24 isn't too big, but I wouldn't imagine that was possible, thanks for the info. There are good, inexpensive charge controllers available so I guess that would be a very important piece to add to the picture, especially for an AGM or gel battery.
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:59 PM   #34
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More on the Unisolar panels

So, we've determined that you definitely need a charge controller. I thought I would review the other things I "knew" about these amorphous solar panels. The 68 watt Unisolar panels are available online for $339 from Affordable Solar (about $5 per claimed watt). Their site also includes a lot of information on attaching the panels to roofing materials. These panels are 112" x 15.5" . Working out their specified numbers it looks like they convert about 5.8% of the sunlight to electricity. Big crystalline panels are around $4 a watt ($3 if you buy 20 at a time) and are 12 to 13% efficient.

The question for me is that, for the same money or a little more, is it really worthwhile to use up double the roof space for the same output?
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:21 PM   #35
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Additional things to consider:

appearance

durability

better low-sunlight power conversion

reduced airflow disturbance

the shape is probably more effective for placement on our Airstreams roofs. I could fit 2 on my Safari easily, and they would be rather unnoticeable.

I'm sure there are more..

Rich
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:27 PM   #36
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Old 03-26-2009, 11:16 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by VIKING View Post
Additional things to consider:

appearance

durability

better low-sunlight power conversion

reduced airflow disturbance

the shape is probably more effective for placement on our Airstreams roofs. I could fit 2 on my Safari easily, and they would be rather unnoticeable.

I'm sure there are more..

Rich
Dear Rich,
There is also the temperatrue tolarance advantage. As glazed solar modules become heated they lose much of thier effeiciency even when elevated from the structure they are mounted on. The power factors stated on the rating plaque of a module is usually at 70 degrees F.

Amorph. are much more tolorant of heat.

I am not suggesting to anyone that amorph are superior to other modules. I have a blend of both and they compliment one another very well.

Modules should be chosen by the end user to better improve and achieve whatever it is that they are looking for.
Joe
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Old 03-27-2009, 12:34 AM   #38
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Thanks Joe.
I remember reading about that also.

I concur, amorph panels are not a perfect solution. Just another tool in the arsenal.

For those who are interested in this area of solar, I suggest doing some reading on the couple who is responsible for it, along with MANY other amazing developments in the areas of cd's and dvd's, batteries, hydrogen storage. The list goes on and on. I encourage you to follow the link below, and learn about one of the greatest inventor-developer couples of the century, Stanley and Iris Ovshinky.

The Founders of ECD Ovonics — Stanford R. Ovshinsky and Iris M. Ovshinsky founded Energy Conversion Devices (ECD Ovonics) in 1960 to use science and technology, based on Stan's discoveries, to solve serious societal problems in the fields of en


Enjoy, Rich
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:18 AM   #39
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Misleading voltage ratings from pv module specifications

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Originally Posted by dljosephson View Post
OK, that's a solid data point. A 24 isn't too big, but I wouldn't imagine that was possible, thanks for the info. There are good, inexpensive charge controllers available so I guess that would be a very important piece to add to the picture, especially for an AGM or gel battery.

Dear camping buddies,
It is important to properly interprete the voltages listed on the back of the modules. Most cyrstal modules are 21vdc and the amorphs about 18vdc. If you look carefully the manufacturer has ocv after the rated vdc.
Oc stands for OPEN CIRCUIT VOLTS.
When you place a battery in line with the PV module it has much greater mass and and will "drag" the voltage down to a useble level.
At 14.4 volts a battery will "off gas" or "boil" - absorbed glass mat or "agm" batteries has a slightly lower internal resistance and will charge a little faster. They also have a better soc life, whereas flooded batteries self discharge.
I don't know what happened to your 24 series battery but from my experience it is highly unlikely that a 5 watt module could have damaged it. The amps from a 5 watt module is about .3 amps.
In the hot summer sun a cyrstal module would generate significantly less power since the pv ratings are at 70f.

I hope that I am not confusing the issue more.
Joe
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:19 PM   #40
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Unisolar install two years old

I put a 68w Unisolar unit on my Argy 20 two years ago. I have a controller, the MPP type from Blue Sky Energy which increases the amperage. I did not caulk or protect the front edge or do anything but just clean the surface (painted) well and stick it down. I got it all except the (two Optima) batteries from Infinigi. They were very helpful, and the best prices i was able to find at that time.

As Joe mentioned early in this string, getting the backing off was difficult, I did it when it was cold. Not that bad, but awkward on top of the ladder in the wind with 10 feet of it rolled up in your arms. I certainly recommend an assistant. It is installed high along the road side. I ran the wires down along side the tank vent pipe. I have two big Optima batteries. I know these are less efficient, but the don't gas into the trailer, and they don't need to be filled, as one of them is very difficult to reach. Similar to the Unisolar, they may not be as efficient at peak, but in cloudy or partially shaded conditions they continue to produce power when the solid type may not, at least these are my understanding, and seem to be accurate from what I am seeing.

I have had no sign of the panel pulling up, it seems to be stuck for life so far. The only interesting thing I have noticed is the trailer roof under the panel wrinkles just a bit in the hot sun on very hot days due to the expansion of the panel.

I will post a photo soon of what it looks like.
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:04 PM   #41
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Quote:
"I lost a Group 24 AGM which was connected to a 5W amorphous trickle charger panel from a week of Texas summer sun"
Sealed AGM batteries hate heat, period, end of story. After several days of heating where they can't cool off overnight a slippery slope appears in their chemistry.

Example: the 10-year warranty telecommunications batteries I have are guaranteed to out gas, blow the pressure relief valve, void the warranty, have non-healing voids occur between the plates and eventually dry out the slim excess water content designed into their semi-gelled electrolyte ... IF ANY CURRENT AT ALL is applied when battery temperature exceeds 100°F.

Okay, so that means... Keeping those batteries cool is vital since even using a temperature compensated charge controller will feed current to my powbattery 118AH AGMS even when the battery core is above 100°F.

And all bets are off if you have a battery locker with AGMs exposed to all-day tropical sunshine (I am in Minnesota, Missouri seems tropical about now) so they are nice and toasty warm for several days and then plug in to shore power to run A/C and the converter throws full charge voltage & current at it...

Most R/V style AGMs have excess electrolyte and other 'hybrid' chemistry tricks involved so they aren't nearly as delicate at the telecomm batteries I mentioned, point is just remember to consider the battery core temperatures wherever they are installed. Opening the covers a crack overnight to allow cooling air, putting battery locker on shady side or blocking direct sun on the hatch, blah blah blah...
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:27 PM   #42
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I don't often camp for more than four days without hydro so it isn't that interesting to me(I can't justify the cost) but I noticed the other day that I could buy a wind turbine with an 800 watt output for about $800.00 Canadian. That is really cheap compared to the same output in solar panels.
Just a thought.
Al
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