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Forum Index : Solar : Solar panel camper car project.

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CraziestOzzy

Senior Member

Joined: 11/07/2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
Posted: 12:16am 11 Aug 2019
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G'day fellow crazy people, been a long time between drinks and my last post here.
Thought I would post a helpful insight, on the simple idea of attaching solar panels to my 4x4 ute. Starting from a simple idea, to the final realisation and practical accomplishment of an idea.
My first time dabbling specifically with solar, so here I go...
After plenty of research on the internet, I am now a qualified brain surgeon. Thanks Mr Internet!
I purchased the goodies I thought I would need from my research, to kick start my project.
...will have to get back to this later today, missus calling me to do the washing.
Edited 2019-08-11 10:18 by CraziestOzzy
http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=25757

http://www.instructables.com/member/OzzyRoo/
 
SimpleSafeName

Regular Member

Joined: 28/07/2019
Location: United States
Posts: 66
Posted: 12:31am 11 Aug 2019
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Sounds like fun!. And as a side note, it appears the even the craziest Ozzy knows when it's best to listen to the missus. :)
 
brucedownunder2
Guru

Joined: 14/09/2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1319
Posted: 01:38am 11 Aug 2019
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Well, there ya go.. I'm not alone ,after all ?.

do the washing ,gee I hate that --I usually do it this way ---

sort out the plates: sort out the knives and forks; sort out the glasses and cups;

Have a smoke ;


Have a beer;

sort out the pots and pans; clean out the sink bowl and fill it with hot water;

Have a smoke;

Have another beer;


If I'm lucky ,she"ll come in and kick me out into the backshed .???

Thats the way I do it ??


tomorrow the doctor is fixing my sore face.

Bruce
Bushboy
 
SimpleSafeName

Regular Member

Joined: 28/07/2019
Location: United States
Posts: 66
Posted: 01:47am 11 Aug 2019
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Sounds about right. :)

I have roommates that have lived with me for 16 years. They take care of the house and yard and in return they live here for free. Which works out great for me since I travel all over the place for work and I don't have to worry about picking up the mail and keeping the critters fed.

So the upshot of all of this is that I have a dishwasher, her name is Susana. As well as a lawnmower, his name is Raul. :)
 
CraziestOzzy

Senior Member

Joined: 11/07/2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
Posted: 06:39am 11 Aug 2019
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...good one guys, funny stuff.
Now that the garden has had its facelift...

To get the ball rolling on my project, I knuckled down on paper, what I needed to get.
I have brought the bare essentials, which happens to be the most expensive.
Good idea to get the expensive stuff first.
Leaving enough money to pay for nuts, bolts and a few beers

Grabbed everything I needed off ChinaBay.
Lotsa research there, just finding fair dinkum electronic stuff that would work and wasn't a knock-off Chinese copy of a Chinese working product, proved enlightening.

I measured the canopy of my ute and had a rough idea how wide and long, my solar panels had to be.
I also had a rough idea, that a 1000w was an ideal figure for the amount of juice I wanted to produce.
Basic stuff, but a good way to start.

I also wanted 12v DC panels, cheaper to get stuff that runs on 12v and a lot more variety that runs on 12v.
I had from the outset, an idea of avoiding a 240v AC inverter...yet to see if it's possible.
I was very aware, of the issue of using 12v and the super fat and expensive cables I might need later down the track, as amperage production icreases.

So armed with the total dimensional area I had to work with, the total power output I wanted and voltage output, I got looking.
Make a long story short, I sourced four 12v DC panels.
Actual testing produces 200w per panel (advertised at 250w), fairly happy with at least 800w on my car roof with panels tested under a Winter sun.




Have four of these mono panels, to somehow fit on my ute's canopy.
Edited 2019-08-11 17:33 by CraziestOzzy
http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=25757

http://www.instructables.com/member/OzzyRoo/
 
CraziestOzzy

Senior Member

Joined: 11/07/2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
Posted: 08:28am 11 Aug 2019
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Having decided on and brought the panels, there was a choice of using PWM or MPPT to get power from the panels, safely into the batteries.
MPPT in my view, did a better job...and a few U-Tube vids "educated" me in their efficiency and relative low loss.
Crikies, these MPPT's are expensive.
ChinaBay and free postage helps me again.

Rather than get one large and super expensive MPPT controller,
capable of handling a lot of amperage (60 amps with no safety margin) being fed by four solar panels
and super fat expensive wires...decided on getting one MPPT for each panel.
Now that was even more expensive!

Each panel was rated around 15amps and so I doubled the current rating to 30amps required for an MPPT controller.
Like to have a safety margin as a buffer against overly fudged product specifications and some leg room for the controller not to get overworked.

Likely not as efficient using four MPPT's versus the one MPPT...but reckon loss will be a minimum and will be unnoticed by me.

My reasoning in getting four MPPT's, I don't like relying on one device to do a critical job.
Don't like spending a lot of money either, on one device that could fail.
If that one device stuffs up, I am stuffed too with no back-up for when I am out the Black Stump.

Another reason for getting four MPPT's...
I can get away with using two panels connected in parallel to one MPPT.
I dont think these panels are capable of spitting out anymore than 10amps.
I will have to check panels again in Summer, for when Sun is directly over head.
So thats 20a combined into a 30a MPPT.

After some research and looking at reviews everwhere on the WWW,
I decided on getting four Epever Tracer MPPT controllers.
Be aware there are Chinese fakes and copies of Chinese products...do some research and look at reviews left on the WWW.



Do your homework on a China made product and ensure you get the most recent uptodate product.
http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=25757

http://www.instructables.com/member/OzzyRoo/
 
Solar Mike
Guru

Joined: 08/02/2015
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 499
Posted: 12:10pm 11 Aug 2019
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We are using one of those Tracer mppt EPEVER controllers (60A version) for use as a battery charger on our temporary 24V lead carbon bank. Was hurriedly put together after our Honda DC generator was stolen.

We have 6 x 230vac to 12vdc @30amp switch mode power supplies wired in series to give 72v at 30a and this feeds into the controller PV input. This lot is run from the standby generator for battery charging.

The controller current limits max charge to 60 amps, so doesn't attempt to max out the power supplies, been running like this for months, no problems at all.

Cheers
Mike
 
CraziestOzzy

Senior Member

Joined: 11/07/2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
Posted: 02:08am 12 Aug 2019
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  Solar Mike said  ...
The controller current limits max charge to 60 amps, so doesn't attempt to max out the power supplies, been running like this for months, no problems at all.


That's good info, thanks for that.
These MPPT's from Epever were the cheapest on offer.
Had to be careful and ensure they were genuine!
http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=25757

http://www.instructables.com/member/OzzyRoo/
 
Boppa
Guru

Joined: 08/11/2016
Location: Australia
Posts: 759
Posted: 03:39pm 15 Aug 2019
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I had two 270w panels on the old exploder, and I was surprised that flat mounting them didn't lose as much as I thought I would (originally they were designed to be easily tilted, in practice, it turned out that the gain wasn't worth the bother- and in overcast the flat mount actually works better anyway)

They easily made 35A into 12v in summer, kept the fridge running, let me boil the kettle or run the microwave even (got a ridiculously oversized 8kw 12v inverter- I originally went for a 3600w, but it failed and the importer didn't have any more, so gave me this one as a replacement- I ended up getting it for about $200 under what it was worth, because I wanted a replacement lol)

These days they just live in the back of the Hilux, as I simply don't trust the fiberglass canopy to take the strain, the steel roof on the exploder had visible deformation around the front support posts from windblast from semi's adnd until I get me welder out of the storage shed (typically- it's almost right at the back...) I cant weld up a frame for them



 
CraziestOzzy

Senior Member

Joined: 11/07/2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
Posted: 07:32pm 15 Aug 2019
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Thats one hell of an inverter lol
Cool reading your issue with windblast.
Seen horror stories of people losing panels on their roof from it.
That's my next hurdle...wind drag and vibration.
If I wanted to get picky (which I am)
also need to have a solid frame without flex.

Micro fractures in the solar cells,
induced by flex and vibration is what I want to avoid
if I am to have these panels for some years.
Thinking of big rubber grommets at the mounting bolts on the roof
that will hold the frame, will reduce vibration.
A wind shield at the front and wind break on both sides of frame.

So far I have acquired high tensile bolts and mounted them
to a reinforced area on the metal canopy...next step is to decide on a frame.
http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=25757

http://www.instructables.com/member/OzzyRoo/
 
CraziestOzzy

Senior Member

Joined: 11/07/2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 135
Posted: 07:41am 07 Sep 2019
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Getting there with the main base supporting frame.
Took awhile as I figured the best way to do it with parts freely available.
Six "L" brackets, holding 32mm x 2400mm lengths of galvanised steel tube
that is normally used for mesh fencing.
Three brackets either side of roof, for mounting security and strength.
Pictures show how it is all done.
Not seen are the 40mm reinforcing plate washers,
inside the cabin underneath each "L" bracket.
Keeping it simple and cheap, allowing for a weld free
and a strong construction with room for future mods to frame.
I used high tensile stainless steel bolts/nuts,
with an additional nut to each bolt acting as a lock nut rather than use a spring washer.

Next step is to add the front and back steel tube to the frame,
held at the joins by typical fence pole clamps.









Edited 2019-09-07 17:44 by CraziestOzzy
http://cr4.globalspec.com/member?u=25757

http://www.instructables.com/member/OzzyRoo/
 
Boppa
Guru

Joined: 08/11/2016
Location: Australia
Posts: 759
Posted: 08:40am 07 Sep 2019
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I didn't have many issues, it was just two pieces of angle running from front to back and bolted to the panels, at the front 'posts' above the front seats was hinged and bolted to the two roofracks (they had a thumb screw system of attaching to to the roof rails so easily unscrewed and tilted) but in practice, there was so little gained that I rarely actually tilted them after he first few months...

One mod I did after that photo was taken was added a 'skirt' from the front of the panel at 45deg down to the roof so that windblast couldn't get under the panels and lift them
Didn't have any rubber mounts or anything, did over 100000km with them on over about 4 years with lots of offroad from gravel tracks (corrugations) to LOTS of beach driving (you can see the etching above the windscreen from sand) I likes me beach fishing LOL
The panels are actually tougher than many give them credit for
 


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