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Old 06-19-2011, 10:11 AM   #1
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VW Solar Charging panel

Searching this thread I only found one reference of the VW Solar Chargers, so... I just purchased a VW Solar Charger on eBay today. When it gets here I will post how well it will keep my battery charged. My thinking is before camping season gets here, I want to make sure I can keep some juice flowing without a generator. So for my test I will unplug from shore power and see how long it lasts. Currently the Argosy has one battery but have room for a second but I am not sure if I will add a second battery.

The specs on the charger: 3.2w, 18.8v, 170mA. Intended placement of charger is either the vista view window or possibly on top of the Argosy.

Any thoughts?
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Old 06-19-2011, 10:39 AM   #2
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These solar panels are minimal trickle chargers. They can maintain a fully charged battery, but they will take a very very long time to charge a discharged battery - so long that the battery may become sulphated before it gets charged.

As a minimum, it takes around 15W of panel to effectively charge a lead acid battery over several days without it getting sulphated. If you have two or more batteries, you need to multiply the wattage.

Since you can buy 50W panels for around $150 or so, and can get around 250W of panels for around $550 - just add a charge controller and you're set
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Old 06-19-2011, 10:46 AM   #3
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Hey Dave,
I have found that 15 watts is plenty for two group29 lead acid batteries for storage maintenance, even in northern wintertime. After 3 or 4 cloudy days, battery will be at 93 - 95%. about 2 days of sunshine and they are back at 100%. I leave my disconnect switch in the on position so I don't lose the programming on the radio, thermostat, etc.

There is about 150 - 200mA of draw while at rest like this.
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:42 PM   #4
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So with running a few lamps at night and maybe the radio at night the little 18 watt charger should do Okay right? Sounds like I will stay with one battery. I just didn't want to take a generator to charge the battery.
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Old 06-19-2011, 09:26 PM   #5
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So with running a few lamps at night and maybe the radio at night the little 18 watt charger should do Okay right? Sounds like I will stay with one battery. I just didn't want to take a generator to charge the battery.
Um, maybe, if you use LED lighting.....BUT....other things use 12 V. Water pump, fridge, etc. I find that my 15 Watt is only good for battery MAINTENANCE. My only purpose is to prevent having to lug my batteries home except during winter shutdown. I believe you'll find 18 Watts woefully inadequate for dynamic use.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:14 AM   #6
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My fridge is gas only but I will consider buying a larger panel for the Argosy. I full time but usually with power hookups but for this one trip its boondocking for 9 days. So I am rethinking water and power.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:03 AM   #7
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I'm wondering if/how the VW solar charging panel worked for you?

How did you hook it up: through the attached cigarette plug or directly to the batteries?

Did you put it inside or outside the rig?
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
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Expense vs. benefit...I am still on the fence on this issue
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:35 AM   #9
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I plugged it in the cigarette lighter suction cupped the panel in the window. It was a total waste of time. Ended up just using a small genset that the group had set up for charging batteries.
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motozen View Post
I'm wondering if/how the VW solar charging panel worked for you?

How did you hook it up: through the attached cigarette plug or directly to the batteries?

Did you put it inside or outside the rig?
I put mine outside and connected it directly to my 2 batteries. It seems to work fine for maintenance only.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:50 AM   #11
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I put mine outside and connected it directly to my 2 batteries. It seems to work fine for maintenance only.
Thanks, I'll give it a try.
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Old 06-22-2012, 09:51 PM   #12
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If your interested in a good site to tell the scale of a solar system you need then check out System Sizing Estimator tool for designing solar energy systems. It is an interactive tutorial that shows how to size a solar system properly. The biggest problem with solar systems I have found is the batteries. They indicate that a 12v 105 APH is best. They are prohibitively heavy. About 80+lb. and require several. I wanted to run a 19" TV for 4 hours, 200W of Lights for 4 hours and it indicated I needed 4 batteries. Thats an extra 320 lb. + the 17 lb. each for the two 80W panels. Thats a lot of weight.

Has any one else found a better solution for batteries?
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Old 06-22-2012, 09:59 PM   #13
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One aspect that is a HUGE plus is that Costco is selling Monocrystalline 100W panels for $189. Seems solar is really coming down in price.
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