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Old 05-15-2013, 11:31 AM   #1
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Solar panel, is it working?

Just picked up a 2004 Safari, and it came with a solar panel. I called the factory and found out it is not a factory installed unit.

When I got the trailer home I notice the solar panel light inside the trailer indicated that it was working. I plugged the trailer into 110v outlet and did not notice that the indicator light had gone out, but it did. I have left the trailer plugged in for about 2 weeks and decided to disconnect the 110v and see how long the battery would last.

I filled the fresh water and turned on the water heater, left the refrigerator on, but the solar panel indicator light did not come on. 30 hours later I went out to the trailer to check on it I found the lights were dim the refrigerator was warm and still no solar panel indicator light on.

Thank you in advance from a total newby.

So, What do you think? Should a battery last longer? and what are your thoughts on that solar panel.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:57 AM   #2
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I would get that fixed ASAP!
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:58 PM   #3
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what is the wattage of the solar panel?

did you leave the furnace on?

how old is the battery?

it would be good to have the battery(s) tested.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:11 PM   #4
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Most solar panels small enough to fit on the roof won't put out enough power to keep up with the appliances you left on (assuming you had them on electric and not on propane). Solar panels are basically full-time float chargers or trickle chargers, not a substitute for shore power or a generator.

Solar panels also only operate at full efficiency when they get direct sun. A solar panel flat-mounted on the trailer roof never gets direct sun, only sun at an angle, even at straight-up noon, so a 50-watt panel will never put out a full 50 watts. And of course any shade will detract from available power, too.

You don't say what wattage your solar panel is rated for; I just used 50 watts because that's what mine is rated for.

Funny thing about solar panels that I found out the hard way, the charge controller for a solar panel runs off the battery. When the battery gets too low, there's not enough power to run the charge controller, and the solar panel won't charge the battery after that.

The solar panel should be wired so that it bypasses the battery disconnect; when you shut off pwer to everything, the solar panel should still be able to charge the battery because that connection should always be hot. Since yours is an aftermarket installation, you may want to make sure it's wired that way. Though in the case you describe it wouldn't have made a difference.

With my solar panel, I use it to keep the house batteries charged up in between trips, but I don't rely on it to power my appliances. I plan my appliance useage as if the panel isn't there.
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richinny View Post
what is the wattage of the solar panel?

did you leave the furnace on?

how old is the battery?

it would be good to have the battery(s) tested.
I went up on a ladder and looked at the Solar panel and there is not any name or number on it, so I cant tell you any thing about it, except it is about 12" x 18". Yes I did leave the furnace on, the refrigerator, water heater were also on. Now I am not sure on the battery age. the seller of this 2004 Safari did not tell me and I did not ask, Ooops. I better go get them tested.
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Old 05-16-2013, 04:32 PM   #6
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It might be good to have (at least temporarily) an ammeter in line to check the load / current draw vs wattage provided by your panel(s).
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:41 PM   #7
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an ammeter would tell you about how much it could put out. as mentioned, it is unlikely that a panel that size would put out enough to do more than keep the batteries charged to replace only the electricity used by the propane detector and normal discharge of the batteries from just sitting idle.

there is some good reading here:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f382...est-87469.html

this us a good book from a good vender:
Books
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:25 PM   #8
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Well, I have found out that the solar panel works after all(I think), I just need to be in the trailer at the right time of day. If it does not get sunlight from right over head the indicator light does not work, hence no battery charge, and no indicator light.

In reality I don't know if it works since I have not given the battery a ammeter test yet. After a little more reading about what these panels will do(thanks richinny, and protagonist)I have no illusions that this panel will do much for me.

I have taken a look at my batteries and they are dated 9/2010, so I am not sure if they will last much longer or not. They are 24DCM. I also noticed that there is a positive and negative wire hooked up the the battery, but they look to be a #10 ga wire so I have to assuming that they are not for the solar panel. I would guess that they have not wired the solar panel to the battery directly then.
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