#8150  by johnaye
 Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:37 am
Thanks again guys for your responses and i am pleased others are learning and enjoying the thread.. No matter what we know or do i think we never stop learning!!! Especially things that interest us.

Mark, i am interested in your replies as we do tend to move around every 2-3 days chasing the elusive fish . I think you either have a really good battery or i had a dud one from the start (if that is possible) . Hopefully my new one will perform like yours.It is certainly getting a heap of tlc..

I have taken plenty on board from all the responses and will now try and digest the info and get things underway very shortly.. Will let you know what i decide...

If anyone else has more suggestions or info feel free to respond. It all helps

 #8158  by Ross
 Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:00 pm
Roamnz wrote:Were you able to find enough flat space on your roof to put the new panels on or have you put the new panels on the sloping part of the roof?
Like the sound of that much solar, with that much power you will be able to hook up to the national grid in summer and sell power back to Contact Energy!! cheers Grant
Yeah, it was a bit of a squeeze. We discusssed using the sloping part of the luton but agreed that that would dictate which way we parked. If we parked the right way it'd be great - wrong way and it'd be useless. and there wasn't room for a big size one between the existing two on the back at either side. And we have a vent/skylight midships and another smaller one on the flat just rear of the luton slope. So it was 3 85W ones. One went between the existing two at the rear, and still allows a bit of space to tiptoe through. One is on the right side and over our rangehood vent. It clears it Ok and the darn thing used to allow rain in a bit, so now it has a very expensive cover :-) And the other one fitted across the front in the middle and still on the flat and a reasonable distance from the satellite dish. It has just about filled up the available space on the flat. Wyn called it the "power station" the other day.
Yeah, we wonder what we'll do with the spare power in summer in Central. I've thought of sharing it with other motorhomes or maybe getting Christmas lights :-) So far we just switch the fridge over to 12V if we're doing OK by the afternoon and save on gas. Not today though, it's heavily overcast here in Whangarei at 4pm, and we're only making 2.3 amps - although it peaked at 27 amps in the middle of the day - the best number I've seen yet :D
 #8159  by Roamnz
 Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:12 pm
Hi Ross thanks for the reply. It confirms what I have thought for a while, that to live like we do, off 240v power most of the time and having a number of toys on board that all need power to function, we need to increase our solar supply. At times it does not seem to be the right thing to do when we are camping in pristine conditions enjoying the peace and quiet and then let rip with noise from a 2kva generator. Ok they are not that noisy but we would rather be having to use it as an emergency rather than as a matter of course as we seem to doing lately. I have booked the motorhome to have a solar/battery upgrade, later this week so hoping we can fit enough panels on our roof as well. cheers Grant
 #8166  by kathyn
 Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:51 pm
Hi John, not sure if this is relevant to your situation but thought I'd say something in view of your comments about the fridge. About 7 years ago we had an ex Maui rental van (no solar) with a 12 volt fridge (that was supposed to be very very energy efficient) and we were always running the battery down, even with travelling frequently. We could not get through 48 hours and we had no toys. Even when parked with the fridge going we were losing battery power. After going to various auto electricians and buying a new deep cell battery we went to Bills electrical shop in Tauranga and he whipped some gizmo out of the system. Apparently the rental companies put in some gizmo that stops the batteries dropping below 50% but it draws power constantly off the battery.
If your van is ex rental you may want to ask the technos on here what this gizmo might be to see if it is in your van.
Kathy N
 #8170  by johnaye
 Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:00 am
Thanks for your reply Kathy

Interesting comments. Hopefully they will inspire the techos to comment re the gizmo. I have not heard of it so it will be interesting. I know it is detrimental to the battery life to go below 50% and i always endevour not to but i am interested in drawoff from the battery that is not necessary.

One thing you didnt say if it rectified your problem or how you overcame the problem of running out of power

Thanks again John
 #8171  by Ross
 Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:19 am
One thing I've seen somewhere with regard to deep cycle batteries is that they are happiest getting fully recharged at least every 5th day. I'd have thought having at least one solar panel would be good for battery health and life, especially for those not on the road all the time. I guess if you can plug it into power at home (if you have a home) then that's different. But we parked our first camper out in the street and it was good knowing that the batteries were getting topped up through the week.
As people have said, it all depends on your needs. We have too many 240V appliances and need to survive in winter in situations where running a generator is not an option even if we wanted to.
 #8175  by RaymonD
 Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:14 pm
Ross wrote:We recently added some Suntech 85W panels to our existing ones - I'll tell you in 20 years time how they lasted :)
We got them from AA Solar, as in http://www.aasolar.co.nz. He gets them in by the container load, and prices vary as the dollar fluctuates etc. I see they are monocrystalline. He currently lists "on special" the 85W panels at $699 and the 140W panels at $1099 - which is keen pricing :D The panels work well and I am very pleased with the output.
Ross, I have just ordered two 85W Solartech panels from AASolar, these are re-badged Suntech but the price is ---- $594 for one or $586.50 for two or more.

This has to be the best deal I have so far seen, $6.90 a watt. :D :D
I would suggest to anyone contemplating buying solar panels that now is the time to do it before the dollar crashes etc etc

For info on Suntech panels - http://www.suntech-power.com/index.php? ... 55&lang=en

 #8205  by kathyn
 Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:27 pm
Re the 'Gizmo" removal - yes it made all the difference. The battery no longer lost power when sitting parked. We also wondered if the 12v fridge was drawing off more power than the 2.5amps it was rated at. After a couple of years of no motorhoming we are now in a 5th wheeler with solar and gas fridge.
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