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Old 01-28-2016, 12:41 PM   #1
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Portable solar panel table

Just launching an idea to the web to see what happens. Has anybody thought about taking a rigid 50 or 100 w solar panel and using it to make a portable table. It seems like it could be pretty awesome.Most panels have strong aluminum frames and a robust glass top. If you built the legs right, they could fold up flat when not in use and maybe could even be designed to allow you to tilt the panel.
My solar panels are glued to the roof of my Airstream, but I am worried about how to maintain my batteries when I am parked in a shady spot. I was thinking about buying a separate panel that could go anywhere, but don't have much extra storage space for something that big. If it could double dip as a small table, it might be useful enough to make the cut. I am not sure how I'd connect the panel to the controller. Are there any waterproof DC plugs that could mount on the exterior skin near the power center so I could run an MC4 cable out to the panel location in the sun?
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Old 01-28-2016, 01:56 PM   #2
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I've observed many RV'ers with portable solar panels. This arrangement offers the advantage of positioning the panels best to catch the rays especially if you are in shade. So this is not a new concept.

I've never seen one used as a real table, however. Obviously it's ability to absorb solar energy when used in such a manner would be basically negated.

The principal disadvantages of the portable solar panels as far as I can tell is storage while underway and possibly theft while unattended.
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by AnnArborBob View Post
I've observed many RV'ers with portable solar panels. This arrangement offers the advantage of positioning the panels best to catch the rays especially if you are in shade. So this is not a new concept.

I've never seen one used as a real table, however. Obviously it's ability to absorb solar energy when used in such a manner would be basically negated.

The principal disadvantages of the portable solar panels as far as I can tell is storage while underway and possibly theft while unattended.
I agree that it wouldn't get power when you were eating, but we usually don't spend much time using the table in the middle of the day. We mostly hang around at the table at breakfast and dinner so I don't think you'd lose too much power that way.
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:22 AM   #4
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I have an eighty wall portable solar panel. I have a 50' extension chord to move it around to catch the sun. It has an attached leg stand for the proper angle, and I cable and lock it to a tree. It really does work. The controller is not the most efficient, but the whole thing resides in the battery box. I look for shady spots for a campsite. It stores in a box in the Suburban while travelling.

I just installed a 1 1/2 am battery minder to keep the batteries charged during indoor storage. It cuts off automatically when fully charged.
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Old 01-29-2016, 12:19 PM   #5
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I used PVC pipe to make a stand that holds the panels at a 45 to get the most sunlight. I have a 30" cord running to the controller. It all comes apart to a nice small size. It has worked well for shady spots.
Remember the impossible only takes a little longer.
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Old 01-29-2016, 12:49 PM   #6
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I would not use the bare panel as a table. Maybe with a thin piece of veneer over the top, that could double as storage protection.

The best idea I've seen for big panels used as portables was a two wheel golf cart to move it around and track the sun.
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Old 01-29-2016, 01:43 PM   #7
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I would not use the bare panel as a table. Maybe with a thin piece of veneer over the top, that could double as storage protection.
That has potential, especially if the veneer cover is attached with a piano hinge, and has a reflective underside, so that you could prop it open and use the reflector to aim more sunlight at the panel for those days when the amount of sunlight is less than optimal.
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Old 01-29-2016, 03:39 PM   #8
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That has potential, especially if the veneer cover is attached with a piano hinge, and has a reflective underside, so that you could prop it open and use the reflector to aim more sunlight at the panel for those days when the amount of sunlight is less than optimal.
^^ I like that idea. I use garden mirrors to throw more light on my vegetables. Similar idea.

OP, the Grape Solar panels we just bought would not be robust enough in and of themselves to be used as a table, but if you were to fashion a frame and legs out of a material such as 80/20, and pair that with a protective top, you might be onto something. Available 80/20 components include hinges, so the legs could be made to fold up. If interested, you can see what one kind of 80/20 solar panel frame looks like here:

http://www.interstateblog.blogspot.c...on-part-2.html
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