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 FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT

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Firebird

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Location : North West Hampshire
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Join date : 2013-04-12

PostSubject: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:39 pm

My very lovely neighbour has offered his Photonic Universe charging unit for our 3 week trip down to the south of France where i am hoping there will be lots of sun so that it actually works .  It's a 40W model with 2 big chunky crocodile clips which look as though they are made to attach nicely to the leisure battery under the R&R bed.  It comes with a really long cable which i am guessing just runs out through the window where the briefcase bit sits soaking up the rays.  Is it really that simple does anyone know?  At the moment my leisure battery seems to work ok and charges up enough to run the fridge for at least a day but as we plan to go off the beaten track quite frequently then i could do with a bit of a boost to keep the beers chilled.  I just don't want to go messing everything up with this high tech gadget.  Advice in really easy to understand terminology would be gratefully received.  Gulliver is a 2011 model if that makes any difference.  Thank you.
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Surfwagen Stan

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:11 am

Stan has a 40w 12v PV panel. In full sun I can get the green light on the battery conditioning panel. Depending on what you are running its no substitute for electric hook up and I think it only really delays the inevitable. Mainly because I read the fridge uses on average 40watts per hour. Its mainly used for topping up the leisure and engine battery on the drive.
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kiteman

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:11 am

Solar panel technology is still pretty rubbish at the moment, only a Panel the size of your roof would actually be of use, they're OK for trickle charging a battery to keep it topped up when nothing's being used but that's about all.

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dizzylizard

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:23 am

If you are off the beaten track with no electricity, and you want to keep your drinks cold, you could try the old methods.

When I was a kid, and fridges weren't around in most houses, we had something very similar to this, made out of plaster of paris. It worked by soaking it in water, and as the water evaporated, it cooled everything inside to quite a low temp.

http://thompsonminiglen.blogspot.co.uk/

We also had a sort of compressed cardboard cover in the shape of a milk bottle that you stood over the bottle, in a saucer of water to keep it wet, that worked the same way.

You can make an impromptu one when you are out in the sticks, by standing your bottles or cans in a shallow tray of water, and covering it with a towel, so that the towel soaks up the water. As the water evaporates, it keeps everything under the towel cool.

When we were out camping we also used to put bottles in socks, (probably better to use thick walking or thermal socks as they hold more water) dip  them in a river, and hang them in the sun, which worked. (also works if it is breezy with no sun)

Important thing to remember is to keep everything wet, and replenish the water as it evaporates.

Anyway, probably doesn't answer your original question, but thought it might give you some alternative ideas, Smile
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irishman

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:44 pm

Love it Dizzy, we go to Cornwall for three to four weeks in the summer and the site is VERY basic. I carefully remove a turf about 18 inches square dig d own about 12inches and pop the drinks in there, keep nice and cool, it's an old scouting trick.

We also turn the fridge right down low and keep a couple of freezer packs in it that we re freeze in the site freezer.
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eddy

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:18 am

If Gulliver has a compressor fridge and you have it on the A setting then I believe the 40 watt solar panel with decent light will make a considerable difference to the time u can run off grid. It will also depend upon the condition/age of your leisure battery. I have a15 watt panel and in a day of reasonable sunlight it certainly helps extend the running time of my compressor fridge via a very old knackered 85 ah leisure battery which needs changing.
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Firebird

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:07 pm

Thank you for all the helpful hints about the usefulness of this piece of kit and ultimately how to manage without high tech stuff. We had it out on Sunday and it really does work but quite agree that it is probably only putting off the inevitable. I think we have decided to take it with us - just out of curiosity.
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irishman

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:31 pm

After much deliberation I bought a photonic universe 40w solar panel for our summer trip to Cornwall. We have just returned from 24 nights away all off grid with only the solar panel to charge the battery and the verdict..... well worth the money!  
I fully charged the battery which is an 85mah and three years old, from the mains prior to leaving. When we arrived at the site which is beautiful, however, very basic the weather for the first two days was mainly grey with very little sunshine. The rest of the holiday was a mixed bag weather wise, some very sunny days, some mixed, and some wet.
I used a plug in digital voltmeter that I plug into one of the two 12v outlets I have on the leisure battery, the output never fell below 12.5v, and when sunny the reading would go as high as 13.8v. I only switch the fridge on low, but the panel maintained a good charge in the battery and as well as the fridge we were able to charge mobile phones and a portable DVD player. Normally on this trip after the first few days I have to run the engine for half an hour each day to maintain a decent charge. We only go out every four days or so for food and that's a short journey.
So all in all I am really please with my purchase and would highly recommend them, they are of course no substitute for an EHU, next project for the winter will be a wind turbine........
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Tallulah

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:03 pm

Sounds very good, I've been tempted for a while and did some investigating with flexi panels that could be fixed to the roof.

As the efficiency of the available panels increases - along with the price coming down - it's becoming a much more viable option with the benefits outweighing the setup cost.

Does your panel include a voltage regulator and do you mind me asking how much it was?

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TimV
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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:55 am

24 nights away in your BraziBay irish - that's good value!!

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Scooby

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:49 am

irishman wrote:
summer trip to Cornwall. We have just returned from 24 nights away

Sounds FAB - very envious - any pics

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irishman

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PostSubject: Re: FOLDING SOLAR CHARGING KIT   Mon Aug 17, 2015 3:38 pm

Has a voltage regulator with a programme to set what type of battery you have. Also has a timer if you want to leave it connected all the time. I hard wired mine in using the plug they supplied rather than use the crock clips, also found you needed to move it round every few hours to follow the sun to get the best charge.
It was £110, folds away into a nice briefcase.
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