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Old 06-06-2012, 01:48 AM   #1
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Solar Panels, anyone running one?

I was washing the rig today, and noticed the top (hardtop) gets ROASTY hot. I then noticed it is a giant flat surface. I thought to myself, why not stick a solar panel on the back half, under a roof rack, connect it to the car battery, and bam, independent power supply for those long expedition trips. Would allow you to run Rigid lights, small electronics, etc, to make that camping trip that much better. Just wondering if anyone has something like this on their rig.

Thinking of something like this....

http://www.amazon.com/Instapark%C2%A...961630&sr=8-12
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:36 AM   #2
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I think it's a kick-ass idea, except for the part where you put the panel on the roof and plug things into it. A few things to consider:
  • Solar panels lose efficiency rapidly as they warm up. The hotter they get, the less power they produce. It'd be better to mount your panel a foot or two above the hot roof. Or paint the roof white. Or take the panel camping with you and set it up on its own stand (since they also only produce max power when pointing directly at the sun).
  • You can't plug your cell phone, laptop, or camp lights into a solar panel. The output volts/watts vary wildly as the sun moves, shadows cross the panel, etc. These variances will wreak havoc on the connected device. Even at max output, there's generally not enough juice to charge an iPhone. You need to run them from one (or more) 6/12/24v batteries (depending on the panel chosen and output desired).
  • You can't (generally) plug your cell phone, laptop, or camp lights into a battery. You'll need a power inverter to provide a clean 12v or 120v.
  • You can't plug a battery directly into a solar panel. Well, you can, but you WILL eventually damage both the panel and/or battery. You need a charge controller to start/stop the charging cycle when the panel voltage drops and when the battery is full.
So a safe and efficient system goes: Panel to Controller to Battery to Inverter to Device.

If you want a complete kit to charge your phone, GPS, and run a couple small lights, look at Guide 10 Adventure Kit - Goal Zero | Portable Solar Power.

If you want a bigger kit to run a laptop or TV, look at Medium Solar Kits - Goal Zero or Large Solar Kits - Goal Zero.

All of these kits include the panel(s), charge controller, battery, power inverter, and various output plugs for your devices. And all can be found for FAR less on Amazon, etc.

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Old 06-06-2012, 02:45 AM   #3
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I just re-read your message and noticed the "plug it into the Jeep battery" part. In that case the Jeep becomes the battery and inverter, providing clean 12 and 120v outputs. The only other thing I'd add is a charge controller to prevent the panel from over- or de-charging (killing) the Jeep battery.

You can ignore everything else I wrote.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:25 AM   #4
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I like the solar bags or recharging stations.. it's a solar mat that you set you devices on as they charge. My problem is, if we are deep woods.. most of the time our cell doesn't pick up any signals..
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:31 AM   #5
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I wonder if I can get the 27.5 kWh system I just installed on my printing plant to fit on the roof of my JKU?

I can plug ANYTHING in that I may need while being "off the grid!"
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:12 AM   #6
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DROOOOOOOOOL!

Seriously, how many batteries are in there? I'm assuming it's a 24v system? Are you chaining 6v or 12v batteries?

Just add a couple turbines up top and I'll move in.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:15 AM   #7
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Another thought: Our friend on the eastern shore of Maryland has this old small metal wind mill in her front yard.. the wind is constantly turning it.. and I told her it don't take much to get this mill going with a generator.. Add some Solar panels.. and she would be off grid too..
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:18 AM   #8
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I've been using a solar panel for almost 6 years--60W, but

I useit for my trailer battery and supplemental power-

Mounting it on top your jeep would ruin the panel, they are very subject to vibrations and crack easely-

Better to use one of the small "tricle chargers", when the jeep is parked/stopped-



They are used on top of big RVs, but thats a little different than jeeps-

Good luck

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Old 06-06-2012, 04:46 PM   #9
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Some great info here. I was also worried about the constant vibrations. I guess a permanent mounting solution is out of the question, since I fear one pothole and game over. Jimbox, how do you transport yours around without cracking it? Too bad they don't have any flexible "plastic" ones.
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Fish View Post
DROOOOOOOOOL!

Seriously, how many batteries are in there? I'm assuming it's a 24v system? Are you chaining 6v or 12v batteries?

Just add a couple turbines up top and I'll move in.

No batteries here! Sorry!! No need for them. This is a commercial installation that I just recently installed on my office building. The reason that everything is pushed to the left (west) of the roof is due to the fact of the tall trees on the right (east) side of the photo.

I had to go with this option because electric in our little slice of paradise is about $0.225 per kWh. Can you say RIP OFF???

Anyway, I've got a buddy that I'm trying to catch up with. He has a dual battery setup with a solar panel on the roof of his '94 Rover. It is FANTASTIC!! Smarth switch and all...lets him never worry about another dead battery.

As soon as I get that information, I'll post it with pics. For now, just stare at my roof!

Thanks!!
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFRs2000NYC View Post
Too bad they don't have any flexible "plastic" ones.
They've been around for quite a while, how applicable to this application I couldn't tell you.

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Old 06-06-2012, 05:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acepm View Post
No batteries here! Sorry!! No need for them. This is a commercial installation that I just recently installed on my office building. The reason that everything is pushed to the left (west) of the roof is due to the fact of the tall trees on the right (east) side of the photo.

I had to go with this option because electric in our little slice of paradise is about $0.225 per kWh. Can you say RIP OFF???

Anyway, I've got a buddy that I'm trying to catch up with. He has a dual battery setup with a solar panel on the roof of his '94 Rover. It is FANTASTIC!! Smarth switch and all...lets him never worry about another dead battery.

As soon as I get that information, I'll post it with pics. For now, just stare at my roof!

Thanks!!
This is what I am looking for. I am not looking to power a campsite with solar batteries. I'd like to be able to run my stereo, rigid dually d2s for lighting, etc etc etc, and in the morning, be assured that my battery will not be flat after charging. I figured with a deep cycle battery, and a decent solar charger, I would never have to worry about a drained battery.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:50 PM   #13
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I carry mine (60w)-2'x4' aluminum frame, in a cushioned vinyl case and being a mobile unit I can moveit several times during the day too get 100%sun exposure--

Anything less than 100% exposure, from 10 am to 2 pm, anything else and the solar panel is semi worthless/w it's battery charging controller--

Mine provides 23 VDC and the controller drops it 13.8vdc for 12v battery charging-

Adventure Trailer sells a mobile unit that looks great--expensive though and they all are expensive !!

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Old 08-25-2016, 01:25 AM   #14
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6-ish years later...

I've either got to add at least two more batteries to my '07 JKUX to accommodate... projects, go solar, or some combination of both (most likely outcome). Living in Colorado, sun is plentiful and air is thin. I see 50W rights on Amazon for ~$100 and twice for a little less than twice.

I swear by soft tops, though wouldn't be opposed to building some sort of rack or cage for rigid mounting, but it seems seem-flexible panels are easily had.

Has anybody gone down this route?
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Old 08-25-2016, 06:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFRs2000NYC View Post
I was washing the rig today, and noticed the top (hardtop) gets ROASTY hot. I then noticed it is a giant flat surface. I thought to myself, why not stick a solar panel on the back half, under a roof rack, connect it to the car battery, and bam, independent power supply for those long expedition trips. Would allow you to run Rigid lights, small electronics, etc, to make that camping trip that much better. Just wondering if anyone has something like this on their rig.

Thinking of something like this....

http://www.amazon.com/Instapark%C2%A...961630&sr=8-12
Doesn't your Jeep's charging system keep up on it's own?
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Old 08-25-2016, 09:53 AM   #16
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I have this arriving today: RENOGYģ Foldable Solar Suitcase Kit 100W Mono Without Charge Controller

Also off of eBay: Victron Blue Solar MPPT 100/30 30 Amp Solar Charge Controller Regulator

I did a lot of research on this. Originally was going to go with one of the flexible ones, looked into a new hardtop and use a laminate/glue/paste to put on top of the hardtop but decided against it for a few reasons, (1) cost (of hardtop), (2) flexible panels are more fragile than the sturdier glass counterparts, (3) heat issues mentioned previously, (4) needing to park in the sun as opposed to the shade, (5) limiting a roof rack, shade is the enemy of solar panels.

The MPPT charge controller I got was overkill, BUT it offers me the flexibility to be able to reprogram it when/if I upgrade my deep cycle to Lithium which has different charging voltage parameters.

If you are adventurous enough and want 2x the capacity these panels are a good choice to build off of - I really like their form factor for the amount of Watts they provide. I decided to just run with the 100w RENOGY for now as I am just starting off and didn't want to get too deep but I don't think it would be that difficult to add a hinge and jury-rig a respectable case to store your panels. I would recommend storing your charge controller with your deep cycle battery as opposed to keeping it near your panels to keep it out of the elements (rain).

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