Northern Arizona Wind & Sun 140W solar kit

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by BajaPup, May 14, 2012.

  1. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    RV/Marine Kit With Kyocera 140 Watt Module
    http://www.solar-electric.com/rvkitwi140wa.html

    Does anyone have experience with this kit? Is it good gear at a fair price?

    I'm new to campers, but I take several camping trips a year. I don't like crowds, I don't want a generator, and I enjoy projects like this. My 2009 Coleman Yuma has a forced air furnace, which is the main power consumer. I take winter trips to Colorado, and my family apparently gets cold at night during summer trips to the mountains, so having enough power for the furnace blower is my main concern.

    I'll try taking the cheap road for a battery, at least at first. A local distribution hub usually has good deals on batteries with minor cosmetic damage from shipping, and that's a lot more affordable than some of the fancy AGM batteries.
     
  2. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,193
    Likes Received:
    386
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    The furnace itself is rated at 3A. Many people will suggest 2 Trojan T105 6V batteries in series. I was looking at the specs of these over the weekend and couldn't quite correlate the numbers to my Interstate deep cycle marine battery but this setup does appear to have substantially more than twice the capacity of two standard 12V batteries and should last much longer than than the standard battery. You get what you pay for. For your application I would think you will get five to eight days on just battery with no solar. A more modest 80watt panel to top things off for the day would likely keep you going indefinitely. This is all assuming you are just looking to keep the chill out of the camper at night, as opposed to keep it at 70F 24/7.
     
  3. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Thanks for helping me think this through.

    I'm looking to keep the Pup in the 50-60° F range, with the ambient temp around 30° F. That seems reasonable and warm enough to keep the whining to a minimum.

    I've reconsidered starting with a premium battery. Buying a good battery and 110V charger first might make more sense. If I did that, I'd get a better idea of my charging needs. Running a battery through a solar charge controller with LVD would protect the battery and still set me up for a solar panel, too.

    For now, I'm going to stick with the free battery deep cycle battery I have and order a good charger to get me by. I'll have time (and money) later in the year for the rest.
     
  4. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,193
    Likes Received:
    386
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    I only used about 20% of my battery in similar temps over three nights. Furnace was the smaller 2amp unit though. The next question would appear to be - what battery do you have? Without knowing the specs on that battery this is all just idle chatter.
     
  5. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    I have a free sump pump backup battery. It's the 7.5 Hour model:
    http://www.basementwatchdog.com/batteries.htm

    It was in service for 2-3 years and its charger died. The owner bought a new charger and battery (don't ask), and I ended up with the battery. It completely fills this battery box, so I'm guessing it's basically a Group 31 deep cycle battery:
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Snap-Top-Everstart-Marine-Battery-Box/16781380

    Specs are scarce on the battery. Here's all I could find:
    http://www.basementwatchdog.com/backup_pump.htm

    Q. Do you need a Basement Watchdog battery?
    A. You can use any deep cycle marine battery, as long as it is not maintenance-free. However, there are several advantages to using a Basement Watchdog battery. The Watchdog battery accommodates the system’s fluid sensor which will sound an alarm when the battery needs water…a very important feature, since a dry battery will not perform. In addition, Basement Watchdog batteries run longer per charge, and last years longer. A typical marine battery will last 2-4 years, while the Watchdog battery will last approximately 5-7 years. Basement Watchdog batteries are shipped dry (without acid) so they stay fresh on the shelf indefinitely, while wet batteries have a short shelf life.

    The Emergency battery is designed only for the Emergency sump pump system. It does not have enough energy to run the larger systems very long. The 7.5 hour battery can be used on all three systems. This bigger battery will run the Emergency system 12 hours continuously, since the system contains a smaller pump. It will run the two other systems for 7.5 hours continuously, intermittently for days.


    Sounds like a deep cycle battery to me. I only managed to get it to charge to 12.3V, so it may not be around for long.
     
  6. teejaywhy

    teejaywhy Active Member

    Messages:
    1,411
    Likes Received:
    17
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Some real world data

    We have been using a Trojan SCS225 G30(?) 130A/Hr battery. Pretty hefty as single 12v batteries go.

    Last summer we spent 4 nights at 9300 ft, overnight lows in the upper 30's. We use the water pump, a few hours of radio, lights very sparingly, and conservative furnace use (thermostat set to 48 overnight). On departure morning, the battery was still at 12.2V (60%).

    I'm also looking at the N. AZ Wind and Sun 140W kit along with going to the dual 6V bats to hopefully give us a self sustaining setup for longer trips and less conservation.

    140W sounds like overkill, but I plan to mount it on the roof, flat, so as not to hassle with pointing it toward the sun, obviously not the most efficient, but that should be countered by the larger size.

    No personal experience but the Kyocera panels are supposed to be top quality.
     
  7. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Thanks for the real world data. That's the kind of use I'm considering. The Trojan SCS225 has the amp hour capacity and physical characteristics that'd be a good fit for my smaller Pup.
    http://www.trojanbattery.com/Products/SCS22512V.aspx

    If I bought something like it and a good 110V charger, I'd be on my way to solar charging.
     
  8. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,193
    Likes Received:
    386
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    That Trojan is still not a true deep cycle battery. I would still like to hear from an actual engineer what the physical differences are between a deep cycle/starting and a pure deep cycle battery are. I certainly beat the daylights out of my Interstate 4D, frequently running it into the ground, and it was still six or seven years before I noticed a drop and nine years before I had to retire it. That's not a true deep cycle battery either but it did the job.

    At 12.3 volts I'd say the battery is shot and not even worth mounting up.

    The watchdog battery is interesting as it seem to be saying it's a true deep cycle battery. But they aren't making it themselves so the question is who makes it and what are the real stats.

    As someone else pointed out to good effect on here - the marine batteries at Walmart are JCI batteries, easily available and cheap.

    Edit - just found this link that seems to have a lot of concrete data http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm
     
  9. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
  10. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,193
    Likes Received:
    386
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    I think I only paid $170 for my 4D but that was a long long time ago. I bought the 27B for the camper last fall in somewhat of a rush so for now that's what I got. But I figure that battery with a 60w to 80w solar is more than enough for us based on past experience.

    I had the 4D permanently mounted up under the body of my old Ford van. When camping we would run the 12V fridge off of it for a few days. For work I ran drills, saws, printers and test equipment off of it all day with no problem.
     
  11. kpthook

    kpthook New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    A FWIW, when looking at solar panels, you need to find the spec sheet, because while 140 watts sounds like a lot it is based on more or less on the Vimp times the Iimp. For the panel in question it is 17.7 volts times 7.91 amps rounded = 141 watts.

    In a 12 volt system the only number that matters is the Iimp. So in ideal full sunlight that 140 watt panel really (7.91 amps times 12 volts) is about 96 watts useable.

    Also as far as the battery is concerned everything is based on amp/hr. So you take out 8 amps per hour you need to put back that much. Whether you do 8 amps in 1 hour or 4 amps for 2 hours.

    As many have noted. determine how much you are using to see how much you are going to have to put back. And realistically it can't be 1:1 or you will shorten the life of your battery immensely.

    And if your are wondering why the panel is 17+ volts, because you need to overcome line loss and voltage regulation. So that 17 volt panel becomes about 13.5 volts at the load side of you regulator.
     
  12. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    kpthook, thanks for the advice. Are you running a solar setup? If so, what's it like?

    I need to visit the local battery distributor and see what sort of blems they have to choose from. With any luck, a poor 4D will have irreparable case scuffing. :)
     
  13. teejaywhy

    teejaywhy Active Member

    Messages:
    1,411
    Likes Received:
    17
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Maybe I don't understand, but why does putting back what you use (1:1 ?) shorten the life of the battery? I understand that the more you draw down a battery can affect the lifespan, but isn't that why the solar system works well? Use 8 amps, put back 8 amps. The battery remains fully charged.
     
  14. kpthook

    kpthook New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2010
    to BajaPup I ordered a 145 watt panel from DMSOLAR which has a Iimp of 7.75. I have everything wired and ready to go which includes a digital amp meter to see really how much current is being delivered. So hopefully by the end of next week I can see how it will work.

    That package from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun looks like a really nice package.

    to teejaywhy because battery charging is a voltage and current related process. You can't charge a 12v lead acid battery with 12 volts. You need somewhere around 13.5 to 14 volts to overcome the resistance of the battery itself. If you had a true current limiting charger you set for 1 amp per hour and say your battery was discharged exactly 4 amp hours. (4 amp load for 1 hour) and you placed the charger on a timer for 4 hours and charged at 1 amp per hour the battery would not be charged to 100%. Yes the math says its charged but in reality its not. You have to overcome the internal resistance (loss) of the battery.

    My point being if you only have a 40 or 50 watt panel which is really like 2 or 3 amps in perfect conditions all you are doing is providing a maintenance charge. Which I suppose if you never do more then then on 1 or 2 lights (LED's) per night for 1 or 2 hours then you "probably" could keep the battery at 100% and never have to connect to a regular charger or if you have a charger style converter in your PUP, never plug in.

    But if you start using TV's, furnace fans, water pumps, charging laptop's and cell phones, refrigerator fans, stereo's and what ever else day in and day out for any length of time with a panel that only delivers a couple amps per hour you better hope everyday is a long sunny day if you want the battery to stay at nearly 100% which is what will give you maximum life.
     
  15. wileetoyote

    wileetoyote http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?topic=13105.0

    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    Available amperage comes down to the amount of surface plate area between the different battery types assuming the same size housing (group size). Here's a good description I copied off of batterystuff.com

    "Basically there are two types of lead acid batteries (along with 3 sub categories); The two main types are Starting (cranking), and Deep Cycle (marine/golf cart). The starting battery (SLI starting lights ignition) is designed to deliver quick bursts of energy (such as starting engines) and therefore has a greater plate count. The plates are thinner and have somewhat different material composition. The deep cycle battery has less instant energy, but greater long-term energy delivery. Deep cycle batteries have thicker plates and can survive a number of discharge cycles. Starting batteries should not be used for deep cycle applications because the thinner plates are more prone to warping and pitting when discharged. The so-called Dual Purpose Battery is a compromise between the two types of batteries, though it is better to be more specific if possible."

    fwiw - after the recent AZ Rally, my brand new dual GC-2 interstate battery setup drained ~40% from 12.69v to 12.35v after two frigid nights (high 20's/low 30's I believe) and running my furnace set digitally at 47f (they cycled quite a bit). Each of the two mornings, we did dishes running our WP and had several incandescent lights running for no more than an hour or so each night. To recharge the batteries, I pulled out my two small 15w solar panels and charted my voltages over time...

    10:50am 12.35v
    12:10pm 12.49v
    6pm 12.50v
    8:30pm (dark) 12.44v

    I checked again at the end of the next day and it was fully charged again (12.69v) so essentially it took about 1 day @30W to recharge ~20%... keep in mind these were sunny, cloudless AZ days.

    State of Charge Specific Gravity Voltage
    System: 12V 6V
    100% 1.265 12.7 6.3
    75% 1.225 12.4 6.2
    50% 1.190 12.2 6.1
    25% 1.155 12.0 6.0
    Discharged 1.120 11.9 6.0

    So I've come to two conclusions... 1) I need to get LED's before my next long trip and 2) being uber frugal with my power, 30W of solar on bright sunny days would be BARELY enough to keep the batteries topped off but realistically, 45-60W would be a better setup to keep camping indefinitely... a 7 day trip with no shore power should be okay I think. 80-145 watt's and I probably could use an electric coffee pot, play the radio all day, watch movies on a laptop, etc...

    WET
     
  16. Xolthrax

    Xolthrax Franconia, Pa.

    Messages:
    4,649
    Likes Received:
    12
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Franconia, Pa. Butter capital of the East
    I have had my eye on this kit for a while. Occasionally, it goes down to $149.
     
  17. LjohnSaw

    LjohnSaw So many fish, so little time...

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    50
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Location:
    Northern California
    I bought that one and mounted it in a tri-fold wooden case for transport. The case is not all that heavy but loaded it is 62 pounds! Those panels are really heavy. The controller that came with it is crap. It is a charge till full, shut off and wait until down to a certain point before switching back on. I bought a replacement import charger (about $30) that is a 4 stage (sort of) and does a pulsed charging that is supposed to be anti-sulfating. It is also supposed to do "levelizing" of the batteries (per some reviews and extensive testing). I'll be testing it soon on my setup to see if it performs any better than the kit controller. HF was running the coupons for about a month out here marking it down to $149.
     
  18. teejaywhy

    teejaywhy Active Member

    Messages:
    1,411
    Likes Received:
    17
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Understood. One of the reasons for going with the larger panel. Also our use would be for weekends mostly, with one or two week-long trips per year. The battery will get properly charged upon our return. Not like we will be full-timing.
     
  19. Xolthrax

    Xolthrax Franconia, Pa.

    Messages:
    4,649
    Likes Received:
    12
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Franconia, Pa. Butter capital of the East
    You know, if the Harbor Freight charge controller is garbage, the OP's system is starting to look a lot more attractive.
     
  20. BajaPup

    BajaPup New Member

    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    I've made plenty of Harbor Freight purchases, and there are bargains to be had, but I call it the Good Enough store. I don't make my living with tools anymore, so a clumsy, non-articulated, $10 cutoff tool is good enough for me, but if I did much metal work, I'm sure it'd fail to please. The same quality issues may hold for their solar gear.

    Other than expected battery replacements, I want a system that'll be maintenance free for many years, with no thought given to the operation beyond looking at a meter occasionally and yelling at people to turn the darn lights off when they aren't using them. I'm willing to spend a little more money to get that reliability, and it seems this 140W kit will fit the bill. My only real concern is if I'd get enough use from it to justify the cost. A big battery with a large gauge charge line from my TV might be Good Enough, too.

    I'm still sorting out other projects so solar may have to wait a bit, but for my use, I'm pretty much sold on it over a generator.
     

Share This Page