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  #1  
Old October 13th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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Robert Davis
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DIY Solar Panel building...

Have seen several videos regarding building your own solar panels.

Here's the simple scenario and goal:
We have a 12V fridge, that we want to power up while we are out riding trails.
In the past have lugged a deep cycle battery around and connected it while driving away from camp.
Then you come back and have to charge the deep cycle.
Yes it works, but want to spend the least amount of time fooling around with kit and not cut into socializing and trail ride time. Don't want to hard mount the fridge in the vehicle, just want to leave it behind.

Research tells me that it is not difficult to build your own solar panels and if you use the correct numbers of cells, you can say build the ideal panel that will put out say 5 amps @ 15 volts.
Then you can charge your deep cycle even while connected to the fridge and run 12V LED Christmas lights at night to light up camp, cook by, and so on.

It doesn't look hard to wire the solar cells together into a home built frame.
The videos show you all "the secrets", but fail to provide you with any sources for the solar cells or formula to calculate the size and voltage of the correct cells you need to buy.
The videos, then want you to buy a "build for dummies" set of booklets that cost somewhere around $100.

Anyone have experience with DIY solar technology to share?
Anyone know how to calculate which cells to buy and where to buy them?

I think this could be a solution to camping power needs.
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  #2  
Old October 13th, 2013, 10:42 AM
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My guess is that you would be better off buying one that is already made as China is dumping tons of money into producing solar and selling the finished product at a loss to corner the market.

If you want to do it just for fun I can ask my wife, she worked in solar as an engineer designing the film / back contacts and has several patents. Not sure she will be able to help since she is a chemical engineer but she has been around the electrical side of solar enough that she probably has some idea.

Post a few links to the videos / site and I will see what she says
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Old October 13th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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This is fairly popular on the Expedition Portal:
http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panel...duct_info.html
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Old October 13th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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You can buy the panels for less than it takes to build them. I have a stack of 10V 8x14 panels if you want a couple of them. I think they typically go for 20 bucks a piece. The real cost is the inverter. PM me if you are interested.
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Old October 13th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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I'm all for DIY but I doubt we can beat 0.78 USD per watt:

http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/surv...-price-survey/

Cheers
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Old October 13th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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I just waited for the Northern Tool coupon to come out in Ol Skool Rodz magazine & bought their 45 watt set, which included an inverter/convertor/whatever, for $120 & mounted the panels underneath my Front Runner roof rack. Works great.
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Old October 13th, 2013, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayz View Post
You can buy the panels for less than it takes to build them. I have a stack of 10V 8x14 panels if you want a couple of them. I think they typically go for 20 bucks a piece. The real cost is the inverter. PM me if you are interested.
I am looking for one or 2 panels that will output say 5 amps at 15 bolts.
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  #8  
Old October 13th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Unless you want to go with the really expensive types, it took 3 of the standard panels to make 45 watts (http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...6739_200576739) & that ends up being less than you need. The formula is amp = watt / volt At 45 watts & 12 volts, that's only 3.75 amps. And that's on a bright, sunny day & don't forget they lose efficiency over time. You're going to need more than 2 panels.
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  #9  
Old October 13th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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Robert, for my camp site in New Mexico I have three 120watt 12 volt Kyocera panels. I use a ARB fridge, lots of lights (LCD) two which are motion type, 32" LCD tv & dvd. and one battery Optima D31A yellow top for storage. I could do with more storage. these panels I bought second hand. The other major item you need is the charge controller the one I have is a Xantrex C35 that I picked of used for 40bucks.

The inverters I use are FREE. Just go to your local city refuse centre and get hold of some junk APC back up (UPS) The kind a that has a battery in it. People throw them out because the battery is dead, take it apart and wire up to a F Battery and you got good true sine wave 120 volt power. Not an ideal setup as I just don't know how must abuse these inverters can handle, I have used the same for about sixty days this year so far and keep one as a back up.

Look into getting a roll up panel if you intend to using it while on the trail. I will be working on a system that will fit on the roof rack one day for the rig I am building for retirement.

As for making panels, be ready for heart breaks, I helped a friend make some, one turned out to have a sick cell in the middle of the panel after 3 months use and one must have had a hole in the epoxy backing that let water in.

My home system is a 3kw grid tie, highest bill this summer was 95 bucks a month, using AC as it should. COLD

I also need to call you for one of your pre-filters
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  #10  
Old October 13th, 2013, 08:37 PM
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There are actually some awesome flat mat type panels that can be rooled up when not in use - I remember seeing them on the Aussie (of course) Camping trailers - they roll them out and bungie/clip them open when needed - the beaut part of this is they are not glass - ie breakage is not an issue - they are easy to store etc....look into them Robert.

I am trying to map out what I want to do similar battery/solar system for the trailer - as you know that is about all I am missing on it - so I can have LED lights and fridge...and TV and DVD
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  #11  
Old October 17th, 2013, 03:38 PM
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Harbor Frieght has a 45W solar panel kit on sale for $150 with an additional 20% coupon. Not a fan of HF, but maybe it's worth looking at.
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  #12  
Old October 17th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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Very pricey, but you can roll it up when you are not using it...

http://www.murrays.com/mm5/merchant....egory_Code=N-M
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