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Old 05-24-2019, 09:22 AM   #1
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Default Solar panels

Anyone have suggestions on type and wattage of solar panels to use as a trickle charger for the battery? There are a couple of (35 watt each) panels that I could probably get for cheap but not sure if they'd be adequate. Sorry, I'm a newbie.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:32 AM   #2
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you want at least 100 watts. about 7 amps. 35 watts is only 2.3 amps. Not enough to charge a battery.
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:23 PM   #3
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We use a 120 W portable panel – it provides all the juice we need while we are camping. But we are "minimal" users of electricity, so you'd have to take that into account.
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:50 AM   #4
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Well - my two cents - you've asked if a 35-watt solar panel could be used as a trickle charger. I'll go with yes! Meaning - you are in a near zero draw, not using any power, the camper is in storage and you just want to prevent the battery from dying. BUT - if you expect to take the trickle charger setup camping with you, use your batteries at night (lights, pump, heater fan, etc.) then have the solar trickle charger fully charge your battery during the day so you can use it the following night; I don't think it will work. You will need a larger system (panel(s) and solar charge controller.)
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Old 06-01-2019, 01:00 PM   #5
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Renogy Suitcase solar setup, 100 w. great unit.
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Old 06-02-2019, 05:17 PM   #6
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I bought a 100watt panel and controller on eBay installed on roof above storage compartment ran wires inside closet above storage keeps battery fully charged can go out and run slides etc no problems avg. volts 18+
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Old 06-02-2019, 07:45 PM   #7
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I suggest before you purchase any solar system you need to decide how many amp-hours of 12V power you use in a day and for how many days do you need to be autonomous (i.e., without any AC for charging). Add up the current (in Amps) times the number of hours in each day that the load is active. If your camping style expects to run 110 VAC appliances you will need an inverter and perhaps be powering induction cooktops, microwave ovens, Instant Pots, etc. Inverters are never 100% efficient and often efficiency is closer to 80-85% and even less on light loads. The larger the amp-hour draw the more battery storage you will need and the greater the wattage from solar panels to recharge the batteries. Never expect the panel to provide the rated power as the real-world conditions are far from the optimal test conditions. Everyone is different. If you like boondocking without any electric hookups then solar may be your best answer. If on the other hand you rarely camp without hookups then perhaps a generator or just charging from your TV is a better and cheaper solution.
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Old 06-02-2019, 08:01 PM   #8
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Well if the person just wants to be able to charge there batteries all they need is the panel and controller
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Old 06-03-2019, 05:55 AM   #9
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A trickle charger is good if the trailer is in storage and not much eles. If you plan on using the trailer to boondock then you're in another category. Then as mentioned you need to find out how much power you need. Some people need at least 1200 watts of solar with another 1200 amp hours of batteries. If that is the case you're into it for about 20 grand. On the other hand if you just plan on using a few lights and watch the occasional TV and operate the fans and not camp in winter then you're fine with a 300 watt system like mine.

I added #6 cable to the solar panels and a simple PWM charge controller (Prostar 30) and 4 Lifeline batteries. System is set on flooded to equalize the batteries. I can camp endlessly in the summer off grid. In fact I haven't plugged my system into AC power for the last 2 years. Even through the -20 winter it charged fine. Just clear the snow off the panels. But in summer even in shade and heavy cloud it will charge. I may not be able to get it up to 100% after 4 solid days of rain, but it will stay around 80%. I usually use the fans when boondocking and the occasional TV, but the stereo system is on for about 6 hours. All the main lights in the trailer are led. Every appliance is on propane. I use a battery monitor to see what the usage is and modify my usage based on that.

A system like mine is simple (3 panels at $250 each, 4 batteries at $300 each, charge controller $150, battery monitor $150 and then fuses and breakers and wires etc add another $400). For some they can do with even less.

Good luck
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Old 06-03-2019, 06:15 AM   #10
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Wow that’s a big chunk of change I don’t have near that invested. One panel controller about 200.00 keeps batteries charged simple installation
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