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Author Topic: Solar Power for my trailer  (Read 32779 times)
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donpearsall
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« on: August 10, 2011, 12:27:02 AM »

All the times I have gone to a race, both Bonneville and El Mirage, I have wished that my trailer have some sort of battery power. It lacked lighting, AC and DC power, and I was not even sure if the breakaway battery worked. So in the last few weeks I have fixed all that.

Now the trailer has a deep cycle marine battery charged by 45 watt solar panels as well as the truck alternator, a 1000 watt DC-AC inverter for the coffee maker, and interior LED lights that really light up the inside. It was quite a wiring job. Along the way I also replaced the truck receptacle, the trailer connection cord, the breakaway switch and wired in a battery charger.

Here are some pics of my progress:



I started with the Harbor Freight 45 Watt 3 panel Solar Power kit. It comes with the panels, and a solar controller to provide battery charging. Even in the murky Seattle area weather, it still provides enough voltage to charge a battery. The Bonneville sun should turbocharge it!





Next I had to build a battery holder to hold my deep cycle battery. The battery that came with the trailer was just a little motorcycle battery that was just for the breakaway function. I am sure it did not work.





I mounted it on the tongue, but I have seen some that mount beneath the trailer floor. I wanted to use the original wiring, so this is where it went.


Next I mounted the 3 solar panels to the roof of the trailer. I was really nervous about drilling holes in the roof, but I made sure I siliconed all the holes I drilled. The panels are soft mounted and free floating with weather stripping providing cushioning for vibration and bumps.


Along the way, I decided to replace the trailer connector wires and add a new breakaway switch as well as a charger for the vehicle charging system. Now the battery gets charged by the solar panels and the truck when it is connected. The wiring took a little while to figure out since nothing I bought came with a wiring diagram. I also had to get a bigger battery box to hold the rats nest of wiring. I used 4 gauge jumper cables for getting the battery power to the inverter.



I mounted the solar controller and the 1000 watt inverter on the wall of the trailer under a shelf. The controller takes the power from the solar panels and maintains the battery. It also has an output plug for USB charging,  and 3 volt and  5 volt outlets.



Next I wired 4 LED RV lights to the ceiling. These LED lights put out a lot more than the incandescent lights and use much less wattage. I could leave these lights on for a week and not discharge the battery.



So that the project I have been working on. Now back to getting the bike ready for BUB.

Don









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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2011, 02:02:16 AM »

Nice, Don. Thanks for the write-up.  What voltage are those RV LED and where did you get them? Wish you were at SW, I would come by and test out that coffee maker!   grin
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2011, 02:40:03 AM »

The LED RV lights are 12 volt. I got them from an online trailer parts place. They are only about $15 each.
Don
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2011, 11:29:03 AM »

Very nice Don, I've been thinking about adding an "idle time" solar system to my house on wheels, and this was just the ideas and inspiration I needed. Thank you!!!   cheers
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2011, 12:00:20 PM »

Very nice, thank you!
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2011, 01:07:59 PM »

Very nice. If I could make one suggestion to really finish off your system would be to run at least two (and even better) four 6 volt deep cycle/golf cart batteries (2 in series=12 volts) will give you a lot more amp storage and will work better with solar systems.
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2011, 08:33:15 AM »

Observations at SpeedWeek:

The AM-FM radio in the pit trailer draws just a bit more than one (of the three) solar panels in the Harbor Freight kit.  Two panels made a tad more than enough -- the voltage in the system slowly increased during the day.  I never did hook up #3.

I run a deep-cycle battery with about 3.1 zillion amp-hour capacity (approx.).  At WoS I know we'll draw a heck of a lot more with the audio set-up all set up, but between all three panels and the little generator -- I'm not worried about running out of energy.

Final note:  I had the trailer parked facing east (sorta) and the angle panel-holders, while working fine, kinda slanted the wrong way (easy to notice, not easy to change).  Sure enough, the charge rate dropped as Mr. Sun wound his westward way during the day.  One night I didn't take the panels down, but instead just lay them flat on the roof (worried about windstorms I didn't want them all the way up and exposed overnight).  The next morning I did NOT put 'em back up on the angle -- and sure enough, they did better when just flat on the roof.  Lesson learned:  They really do want to be aimed at the sun (or at least not away from Sol).
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2011, 02:08:26 PM »

Harbor Freight 45 watt solar panel kit on sale on Labor Day for $179.99 ($70.00 off)

http://www.harborfreight.com/45-watt-solar-panel-kit-90599.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3511c&utm_source=0000

Mike
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2011, 02:25:27 PM »

There might be a further discount.  Remember me saying that Don had tipped me off to another 25% off for 4th of July?  I tried calling on that holiday -- and sure enough, there was a human at the other end, and sure enough, I did get the whole shooting match (so to speak) for about $135.  Give it a try.
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Jon E. Wennerberg
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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2011, 02:44:02 PM »

Happy Thanksgiving, boys and girls.  I'm resurrecting this old thread -- because I'm in the process of installing a solar-powered bunch of Christmas lights for the front deck bannister.  While I'm nearly complete -- there's one issue that maybe one of you can help figger out.

I've got it all set up -- panels on the uprights, wires run through to the inside walkway and hooked to the controller and from controller to big 12V battery, right?  But -- I now need to make 110VAC out of the 12V from the battery.  It's easy, you say -- with a store-bought inverter.  Since I'm running only LED lights - I only need about 10 watts.  But the inverter has a built-in cooling fan that takes way more than the little bit needed for the lights.  So - got a non-cooled inverter that'll make an amp or two of 110VAC?  Maybe it doesn't exist - in which case I'll try some surgery on the little inverter to see if I can disconnect the fan for this project.  It is in near-ambient temps (indoors, but unheated) so I know that the temp, in conjunction with the very low draw, won't heat the thing up.

But where's that no fan inverter?
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Jon E. Wennerberg
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2011, 03:58:57 PM »

Nothing at Radio Shack, ditto at Harbor Freight.  Fan-ectomy surgery on a cheap one looks like a good option.
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2011, 04:25:12 PM »

Fan-ectomy complete! cheers





And - it works!! grin grin

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Jon E. Wennerberg
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DouglasSchmidt
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2013, 08:52:02 AM »

All the times I have gone to a race, both Bonneville and El Mirage, I have wished that my trailer have some sort of battery power. It lacked lighting, AC and DC power, and I was not even sure if the breakaway battery worked. So in the last few weeks I have fixed all that.

Now the trailer has a deep cycle marine battery charged by 45 watt solar panels as well as the truck alternator, a 1000 watt DC-AC inverter for the coffee maker, and interior LED lights that really light up the inside. It was quite a wiring job. Along the way I also replaced the truck receptacle, the trailer connection cord, the breakaway switch and wired in a battery charger.

Here are some pics of my progress:



I started with the Harbor Freight 45 Watt 3 panel Solar Power kit. It comes with the panels, and a solar controller to provide battery charging. Even in the murky Seattle area weather, it still provides enough voltage to charge a battery. The Bonneville sun should turbocharge it!





Next I had to build a battery holder to hold my deep cycle battery. The battery that came with the trailer was just a little motorcycle battery that was just for the breakaway function. I am sure it did not work.





I mounted it on the tongue, but I have seen some that mount beneath the trailer floor. I wanted to use the original wiring, so this is where it went.


Next I mounted the 3 solar panels to the roof of the trailer. I was really nervous about drilling holes in the roof, but I made sure I siliconed all the holes I drilled. The panels are soft mounted and free floating with weather stripping providing cushioning for vibration and bumps.


Along the way, I decided to replace the trailer connector wires and add a new breakaway switch as well as a charger for the vehicle charging system. Now the battery gets charged by the solar panels and the truck when it is connected. The wiring took a little while to figure out since nothing I bought came with a wiring diagram. I also had to get a bigger battery box to hold the rats nest of wiring. I used 4 gauge jumper cables for getting the battery power to the inverter.



I mounted the solar controller and the 1000 watt inverter on the wall of the trailer under a shelf. The controller takes the power from the solar panels and maintains the battery. It also has an output plug for USB charging,  and 3 volt and  5 volt outlets.



Next I wired 4 LED RV lights to the ceiling. These LED lights put out a lot more than the incandescent lights and use much less wattage. I could leave these lights on for a week and not discharge the battery.



So that the project I have been working on. Now back to getting the bike ready for BUB.

Don









it seems like very effective project.. Can you provide brief review on this..If it works I will love to have similar solar system
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DouglasSchmidt
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2013, 12:25:23 PM »

All the times I have gone to a race, both Bonneville and El Mirage, I have wished that my trailer have some sort of battery power. It lacked lighting, AC and DC power, and I was not even sure if the breakaway battery worked. So in the last few weeks I have fixed all that.

Now the trailer has a deep cycle marine battery charged by 45 watt solar panels as well as the truck alternator, a 1000 watt DC-AC inverter for the coffee maker, and interior led lights that really light up the inside. It was quite a wiring job. Along the way I also replaced the truck receptacle, the trailer connection cord, the breakaway switch and wired in a battery charger.

Here are some pics of my progress:



I started with the Harbor Freight 45 Watt 3 panel Solar Power kit. It comes with the panels, and a solar controller to provide battery charging. Even in the murky Seattle area weather, it still provides enough voltage to charge a battery. The Bonneville sun should turbocharge it!





Next I had to build a battery holder to hold my deep cycle battery. The battery that came with the trailer was just a little motorcycle battery that was just for the breakaway function. I am sure it did not work.





I mounted it on the tongue, but I have seen some that mount beneath the trailer floor. I wanted to use the original wiring, so this is where it went.


Next I mounted the 3 solar panels to the roof of the trailer. I was really nervous about drilling holes in the roof, but I made sure I siliconed all the holes I drilled. The panels are soft mounted and free floating with weather stripping providing cushioning for vibration and bumps.


Along the way, I decided to replace the trailer connector wires and add a new breakaway switch as well as a charger for the vehicle charging system. Now the battery gets charged by the solar panels and the truck when it is connected. The wiring took a little while to figure out since nothing I bought came with a wiring diagram. I also had to get a bigger battery box to hold the rats nest of wiring. I used 4 gauge jumper cables for getting the battery power to the inverter.



I mounted the solar controller and the 1000 watt inverter on the wall of the trailer under a shelf. The controller takes the power from the solar panels and maintains the battery. It also has an output plug for USB charging,  and 3 volt and  5 volt outlets.



Next I wired 4 LED RV lights to the ceiling. These LED lights put out a lot more than the incandescent lights and use much less wattage. I could leave these lights on for a week and not discharge the battery.



So that the project I have been working on. Now back to getting the bike ready for BUB.

Don









it seems like very effective project.. Can you provide brief review on this..If it works I will love to have similar solar system

Still waiting for reply
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donpearsall
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2013, 03:37:29 PM »

Hi Douglas, the solar system still works great. All the components still work and the battery is kept charged up. I check it every week or so and the battery is always at 12.5v and the charging system is at 13-14 volts depending on the sun. My DC > AC convertor works fine too. By far the best thing is that the interior of the trailer has a lot of lighting. So I can go out there at night, flip the switch, and it is like daylight.

I recommend this project for anyone who has a big trailer.

Don

 
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