#1

Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sat Feb 11, 2023 12:18 pm
by Digby (deleted)
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Hoping to go ff grid this year and we were considering getting a solar panel for our 2016 Triton 420GT.
I note that there are some posts already on the subject but with advances in solar technology I don't want to overlook any new devices.
I presume most people go for a freestanding unit (briefcase style) but what power do you consider as adequate ?
We have a small Avitex TV but I'm not sure of its power requirements (I'm checking that).
Fridge can be switched to gas, so that really only leaves lighting, water pumps and phone charging ... unless I've forgotten something.

So; recommendations and advice would be appreciated.


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#2

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sat Feb 11, 2023 2:55 pm
by Simboc2004 | 603 Posts

Go look at the Photonic Universe website. They are British based and really informative and helpful (I was pointed their way by someone else on this forum). On their home page, go to "Solar Applications" on the yellow bar near the top of the page and it leads to a very useful page "Caravans and Motorhomes". I have bought a 10W panel and controller plus leads and an Anderson connector from them and I am installing it tomorrow! I am only looking to keep my battery charged during storage times (I have a tracker, which slowly drains the battery). A 5W panel will keep up to an 80AH battery topped up, whilst a 10W panel will do larger batteries. I have bought a fixed panel (rather than a briefcase type) and attached it to a pole welded to a basic wheel lock - further details to be published when I have it all installed. Because I have a cover over the 'van I didn't want the panel in a window, or on the van itself - it also needs to be up high to "see" the sun over a large next door twin axle "normal" caravan. Here's hoping it will work well...


Poppy, our 2005 Eriba 430GT, leading our Volvo V70 astray...
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#3

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sat Feb 11, 2023 8:02 pm
by Inspecta_Gadget | 199 Posts

Hi,
We used a 50w free-standing panel for years to meet out battery needs over a week. We then tried a 100w rooftop panel, but found that for spring and autumn, the 50w was better overall if you can keep it facing the sun.
@simboc2004; I fear that a 10w panel will only just keep the battery maintained when not in use - I was hoping that it was a typo and you meant 100w.

In my experience, even 100w will only extend the battery life (certainly in the uk) so that it doesn’t fully discharge so quickly. Certainly it should last for around a week with a 110AH battery.

The other important part of the equation is to use an MPPT charge regulator rather than the cheaper PWM controllers commonly sold - this will increase the charging efficiency by up to 30-40%. Expect to pay £70+ for an MPPT version.

The good news is that costs of solar panels is much lower now than when I first kitted up; typically less than £1 per watt if you shop around. 🙂

Oh, and make sure to use heavy- gauge cable throughout to reduce volt-drop (affects efficiency). 2.5mm cable recommended.👍



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Last edited Sat Feb 11, 2023 8:04 pm | Scroll up

#4

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 8:58 am
by Digby (deleted)
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Some great advice there - thanks everyone
Will go and look up the Photonics universe this morning.

The advice about the MPPT charger is especially interest - I have no idea what it does differently but I will research it fully
Thanks again
👍


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#5

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 9:10 am
by eribaMotters | 5.236 Posts

The experts are starting to get on board, but as an observer there is one thing I would like to add. If you go the adhesive mounted roof route, then I recall seeing one picture I was impressed with. The feed from the panel went through the pop-top to a ceiling rose type fitting. From here a curly and hence expandable kettle type cable fed down into the consumer unit area. This looked very neat as it worked well with the roof elevation and the cable cross section would appear to be up to the job as it could feed a normal kettle.

Colin


Forum Moderator. aka Oscar - Audi A3 1.5 petrol _ ex 430, 552, camplet trailer tent, 310, now a nice white 2017 430.
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#6

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 9:47 am
by Digby (deleted)
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Yes, that certainly makes sense.
I will contact Photonic about the efficiency of roof mounted vs free standing but I do like the idea of having a permanent 'plumbed in' solution.


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#7

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 9:48 am
by Pepé Le Pew | 2.720 Posts

Quote: eribaMotters wrote in post #5
If you go the adhesive mounted roof route, then I recall seeing one picture I was impressed with. The feed from the panel went through the pop-top to a ceiling rose type fitting. From here a curly and hence expandable kettle type cable fed down into the consumer unit area. This looked very neat as it worked well with the roof elevation and the cable cross section would appear to be up to the job as it could feed a normal kettle.

It's this here. A bang up job and no mistake.

panel installation.png - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)

Basicingredients.jpg - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)Markingoutwithtape.jpg - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)Chargecontroller.jpg - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)WiringtoBattery.jpg - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)Flexiblefeedwire.jpg - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)


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#8

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 9:51 am
by Digby (deleted)
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That appears to be a good install - any idea of wattage and sizes.
There seems to be quite a few boxes of electronics ... yet to discover what they all do 👀


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#9

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 10:12 am
by Pepé Le Pew | 2.720 Posts

Quote: Digby wrote in post #8
That appears to be a good install - any idea of wattage and sizes.
There seems to be quite a few boxes of electronics ... yet to discover what they all do 👀
Just the charge controller, rooftop cable gland and a couple of junction boxes.

It's all pretty straightforward and much less complicated than it looks.

There's one other picture I forgot to put in.

Panelsinstalled.jpg - Bild entfernt (keine Rechte)



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#10

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Sun Feb 12, 2023 10:18 am
by Pepé Le Pew | 2.720 Posts

Quote: Digby wrote in post #8
That appears to be a good install - any idea of wattage and sizes.
The wattages are in the text in the first image and you can figure out the sizes relative to the size of the roof. It's a Triton.

This installation was done thirteen years ago and solar panel specifications might have moved on a bit since then.

.



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#11

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Mon Feb 13, 2023 1:21 pm
by Simboc2004 | 603 Posts

@simboc2004; I fear that a 10w panel will only just keep the battery maintained when not in use - I was hoping that it was a typo and you meant 100w.

Thanks for your concern @Inspecta_Gadget - No, I do mean 10W - my installation is ONLY for battery maintenance whilst in storage and, perhaps, occasional interior lights usage (as it's quite dark inside with the cover over) - it also isn't really sensibly portable. It was purely designed to get over the slow battery discharge that my unit gets in storage (one battery-out overnight charge needed already since putting it away and currently halfway to another).

Although, if site fees continue going up and up, I may consider a 100W+ roof mounted option as well for trips away! I will factor that in to my Solar Controller installation, as I am well impressed with the pop top and curly cable installation from @Pepé Le Pew...


Poppy, our 2005 Eriba 430GT, leading our Volvo V70 astray...


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Last edited Mon Feb 13, 2023 1:27 pm | Scroll up

#12

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Mon Feb 13, 2023 5:45 pm
by Pepé Le Pew | 2.720 Posts

Quote: Simboc2004 wrote in post #11
as I am well impressed with the pop top and curly cable installation from @Pepé Le Pew...
Just in case there's any confusion, this wasn't my work.

It's cribbed from elsewhere (obvs), but it's such a neat job I thought it was worth pilfering.

If I was going to do a panel installation I'd do it just like that.

I suppose you could make the argument that a portable panel which could be moved around to optimise its exposure might be better, but putting it up, adjusting it and putting it away when you didn't need it seems like a lot of faffage, not to mention having to have a trailing cable.

And it's right out there in full view if someone decided it was better in their possession than yours.

Unless you were weirdly tall or in the habit of carrying a stepladder around you wouldn't even know that panels on the roof were there.

Drilling holes and sticking stuff to the roof is a commitment, for sure, but if it's done properly I can't see how it would deter someone else from buying it when you upgraded to a T@B later, as most of us inevit@bly do...

And as other peeps have said, plug-in electricity is starting to get more and more expensive.


.



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Last edited Mon Feb 13, 2023 5:46 pm | Scroll up

#13

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Mon Feb 13, 2023 11:11 pm
by GT runner | 291 Posts

I like the idea of off grid electric. To that end I bought a small Jackery 240 watt unit from Amazon. I also bought the Jackery 100 watt folding solar panel. It’s all really well made and worked brilliantly for us. We spent 2 weeks off grid. I used the on board gas to run the fridge and 2 burner hob inside our Troll 530. I then plugged the normal 240v EHU cable into the Jackery unit 13amp outlet. I then kept the Jackery charged up using the solar panel. This would typically produce 60 - 80 watts when facing the sun and easily kept the Jackery fully charged. I know I could get the solar panel to connect to the on board electric unit in the wardrobe (there is a input on the blue panel for a “solar panel”) BUT i would need to buy a good quality solar controller (£70 ish) and then pay an electrical engineer to wire it all in. This would also need an Anderson (or similar) connector on the outside on the van to make it a “plug and play” set up for the solar panel. So more cost there. My logic was to buy the Jackery for probably about the same money as installing everything needed to connect the solar panel to the on board leisure battery. So I now have a neat very well made portable power unit that appears to provide unlimited power for the Eriba’s lighting, water pumps and TV. The Jackery unit also came in handy recently when we had a power cut at home. I simply plugged the WiFi router into it which = a happy family as everyone was able to continue using phones and iPads. Happy Days, Robbie


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#14

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Tue Feb 14, 2023 8:27 am
by Digby (deleted)
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T@B
What's that ??🤔


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#15

RE: Going Solar ?

in Anything Eriba-related Tue Feb 14, 2023 11:41 pm
by GT runner | 291 Posts

I’m curious. Do you think a T@B is an “upgrade” ????


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