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Old 01-01-2010, 10:48 PM   #1
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Identify this Solar Panel?

Took a walk down the storage lot today and spotted this on a neighbor's AS. I'm assuming this is only good for topping batteries off and perhaps the occasional radio use, but I like the idea of something this clean (and presumably inexpensive). Plus the finish work is pretty clean. Any ideas on who's manufacturing this part? Mounted on top of the LP tank storage up front on a Bambi (75th Anniv.).
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:48 PM   #2
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Took a walk down the storage lot today and spotted this on a neighbor's AS. I'm assuming this is only good for topping batteries off and perhaps the occasional radio use, but I like the idea of something this clean (and presumably inexpensive). Plus the finish work is pretty clean. Any ideas on who's manufacturing this part? Mounted on top of the LP tank storage up front on a Bambi (75th Anv.).
Many companies make small "solar panels".

The one in your photo, is ok for keeping the battery topped off.

BUT, it's mounted in a very good place, jut begging to be stolen.

Andy
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Old 01-02-2010, 01:58 AM   #3
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Harbor Freight sell that size, 5 watts I believe, every couple of months, in their 'sale' sheets, for $40, other wise it's about $60...I've got several of them for other stuff to keep the batteries 'topped' off during storage - seems to work fine...
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:21 AM   #4
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A southern exposed, 5 watt panel is good for keeping a a single, already fully-charged, flooded-cell, lead-acid battery in the fully-charged condition. I'd recommend two 5 watt panels for two batteries, unless the batteries are AGM lead-acid, which have much lower self-discharge than flooded cell, then one 5 watt panel is probably sufficient for both.

It is possible these small panels could replenish a partially-discharged battery over time; however, the cost of doing so may be reduced battery capacity. The longer and deeper a lead-acid battery stays discharged, the worse it sulfates. In general, it's recommended to have sufficient solar capacity to recharge from 50% to 100% in one sunny day (i.e. quickly), if solar power is going to be the only recharge mechanism.

In general, a 5 watt, "12-volt" panel should be useable on a 75-100 amp-hour battery without a charge controller. Certainly, larger panels should use a controller, but in locations where clear day temperatures may drop well below freezing, panel output may exceed the rating, and a charge controller may be a good idea even with a small panel.

Hopefully, that mounting location is south of the trailer, so the amount of time it's shadowed is minimized. The only thing wrong I see is that it could stand a little cleaning, and the good thing about that location is that it's easy to get to! I'd recommend mounting it such that it would be secure against high winds, yet is easy to steal without damaging the trailer. I'm guessing the fiberglass top of the LP tank cover is much more expensive than the panel! Make sure there's a visible quick-disconnect as well.

Hope this helps,
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:39 AM   #5
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With the wire just laying on top of tank, I would guess owner didn't permanently install. This size would be too large to mount on roof without a careful look at structure attaching points. When we were looking for our mh I did see one owner had mounted a bracket on the roof with marine 5200 cement to which he mounted the collector eliminating any holes in the roof.
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RoadKingMoe View Post
A southern exposed, 5 watt panel is good for keeping a a single, already fully-charged, flooded-cell, lead-acid battery in the fully-charged condition. I'd recommend two 5 watt panels for two batteries, unless the batteries are AGM lead-acid, which have much lower self-discharge than flooded cell, then one 5 watt panel is probably sufficient for both.

It is possible these small panels could replenish a partially-discharged battery over time; however, the cost of doing so may be reduced battery capacity. The longer and deeper a lead-acid battery stays discharged, the worse it sulfates. In general, it's recommended to have sufficient solar capacity to recharge from 50% to 100% in one sunny day (i.e. quickly), if solar power is going to be the only recharge mechanism.

In general, a 5 watt, "12-volt" panel should be useable on a 75-100 amp-hour battery without a charge controller. Certainly, larger panels should use a controller, but in locations where clear day temperatures may drop well below freezing, panel output may exceed the rating, and a charge controller may be a good idea even with a small panel.

Hopefully, that mounting location is south of the trailer, so the amount of time it's shadowed is minimized. The only thing wrong I see is that it could stand a little cleaning, and the good thing about that location is that it's easy to get to! I'd recommend mounting it such that it would be secure against high winds, yet is easy to steal without damaging the trailer. I'm guessing the fiberglass top of the LP tank cover is much more expensive than the panel! Make sure there's a visible quick-disconnect as well.

Hope this helps,
Airstreams plastic top for the LPG tank covers, is in the $50.00 plus range, without any hardware.

Sort of a wash with a small solar panel.

Andy
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:57 AM   #7
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With the wire just laying on top of tank, I would guess owner didn't permanently install. This size would be too large to mount on roof without a careful look at structure attaching points. When we were looking for our mh I did see one owner had mounted a bracket on the roof with marine 5200 cement to which he mounted the collector eliminating any holes in the roof.
What is marine 5200 cement?

If you were to cement something to the roof, the cement is not going to bond with the metal, since there is a coat of paint, covering the metal, which until recent years, fails in about 5 years from time of new.

Andy



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Old 01-02-2010, 11:36 AM   #8
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Appreciate everyone's comments. Sort of disappointed to think solar panels are up for theft, but given the high cost I suppose it makes sense (in some weird way). Anyway, I've seen smaller solar panels plenty, I just liked this particular finish on the panel I shared. Hadn't seen anything that looked this finished to date. I have a Basecamp currently and had a thought of mounting a panel like this on a longer cord (deployed once parked) for topping off, but it doesn't sound like it's likely to provide much beyond keeping a battery that's not getting any "real" use from draining.
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