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  1. #1

    no sun, how do you manage

    How do others manage their power requirements.
    I spent a week at Carnarvon Gorge, great spot but our camping spot was in shade most of the day, trees in the morning, clouds in the afternoon, so the solar panel never got a workout.

    I had a 120 amp hour deep cycle agm battery and running a 60 litre evakool fridge freezer, initially we needed to keep some food frozen which put a strain on the battery which pretty well drained it after two and half days without solar input and a stationary vehicle. We did a 3hr return run into Rolleston (ran into some bikies from the the Tweed, absolute gentlemen, ended up taking some supplies back for them) and I ran a cable direct to the battery, the multimeter said it was pumping in around 17 amps and 13 volts, took the entire 3 hrs to get the battery up somewhere near its capacity. Not sure this was good for the battery.

    After that we were running the fridge at 4C and t b e battery managed this ok for the next 3 days. What other options are there if solar isn't reliable and the vehicle is not moving.

  2. #2

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Its down to either more battery power, more solar, a genny or running your car like you did. The bettery won't mind 13v or 17amps, most charger run at over 14v depending on the battery.

    Maybe try vacuum sealing your food so you don't need to keep it frozen and run your fridge so hard.

    Cheers Nomad

  3. #3

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Nomad, I know my charger pumps 10 amps, the volts dont worry me but the high amperage was a concern as I thought it might be a bit high. Used the same system at Fraser to keep pillies frozen but sun was plentiful. This trip we indulged a little with ice on hand for drinks and icecream, only meant for the first few days, didnt anticipate the lack of sun. I will certainly look at more battery back up in future.

  4. #4

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Just bad luck with the conditions.
    No sun for three days will cruel most peoples camp setups for batteries. (unless you can run a generator, and very few camp grounds allow that these days).

  5. #5

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Thanks guys, I thought I was missing something. I will probably go back there as there were a few trails I didnt get to do, but I do know which camp sites get sun all day and will try for those.

  6. #6

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    I drive past the Carnarvon turn off on my way to Blackall a bit but have never had a chance to stop and camp there.........must make the time one day.

    Like Feral said 3 days without any sun will do most battery banks over.

    Generally the more power you have the more electrical crap you tend to take......so you need more solar etc etc......vicious cycle.

    Running your car for half an hour a couple of times a day is the cheapest solution you have available. As mentioned the battery won't mind bulk amp replacement, just give it a nice slow trickle charge when you get home.

    What kind of vehicle are you running when camping?

  7. #7

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Quote Originally Posted by NomadNoosa View Post
    I drive past the Carnarvon turn off on my way to Blackall a bit but have never had a chance to stop and camp there.........must make the time one day.

    Like Feral said 3 days without any sun will do most battery banks over.

    Generally the more power you have the more electrical crap you tend to take......so you need more solar etc etc......vicious cycle.

    Running your car for half an hour a couple of times a day is the cheapest solution you have available. As mentioned the battery won't mind bulk amp replacement, just give it a nice slow trickle charge when you get home.

    What kind of vehicle are you running when camping?
    Nomad, I have a Colarado 7, if you want to camp the site in the Gorge is only available during the school holidays at Easter, June and Sept, max of 5 nights, you can stay at Takaraka outside these times although im unaware of the costd etc. Well worth the effort, saw platypi,echidnas etc if you want more info PM me.

  8. #8

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Thanks Dignity. I will do that.

    The good thing about your Colarado is that I don't think it has a variable voltage alternator........they were released in models generally after 2013 and make charging batteries a bit of a pain........your car will charge your batteries all day long so you don't need go buying anything you don't necessarily need. The heavier cable you can use for this the better.

    Cheers Nomad

  9. #9

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    I probably need to really work out how my vehicle is setup power wise as i had ans anderson plug installed in the rear and it is always powered, i ran a cable direct from there to the battery for the run and had one of those in line meters you can buy that that tell you what charge is going through, Volts, Amps and Watts. It read between 17 amps and up to 20 amps at times but never got above 13 Volts. The 120 amp battery had dropped to 11.2 V one night due to someone not closing the freezer lid properly so 3 hrs maybe wasnt quite enough to fully charge it although it read 12.7v after the run.

  10. #10

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    I have two batteries. One for the fridge, one on charge. I always have the fridge in the shade, then place the second battery out under the solar panels.

    If you are in a caravan park, take a charger (buy a good 20amp one) and if you get no sun then ask the park if you can charge a battery somewhere. I have never been knocked back and normally just charge them in the camp kitchen.


  11. #11

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Sounds good, probably do something like that next time with the second battery although getting enough sun was the initial issue, but with 2 batteries i could have moved it all onto a friends campsite further down where he had reasonable sun. No power at this campsite so the second option wasnt available.

  12. #12

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Why not install it under the bonnet or in the back of the Colorado. Then it will charge as you drive automatically or you can have it hooked up to the solar. All you would need to add is an isolator to save your starter battery from going flat. 11.2volts is almost completely flat. If you checked your battery after 3 hours driving and it was showing 12.7v then I think you were reading the surface charge, you need to leave it sit for half an hour or so to let the surface charge dissipate to get the true voltage of the battery

    This is a table I use to keep tabs on things with my batteries, its not perfect but a pretty good indicator



    Cheers.

  13. #13

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Quote Originally Posted by Dignity View Post
    Sounds good, probably do something like that next time with the second battery although getting enough sun was the initial issue, but with 2 batteries i could have moved it all onto a friends campsite further down where he had reasonable sun. No power at this campsite so the second option wasnt available.
    Its also worth noting that the regulators and cables that come with most of those solar panels are a joke. You need a decent regulator that is basically next to your battery. Most have the solar regulator on the back of the solar panels and the cable to the battery that is WAY undersized. Starting to think its about time I did a youtube vid on this problem.


  14. #14

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Nomad, there's no room under the bonnet for a second battery, there was a space but only for a small one and it is now taken up with a secondary fuel filter.
    The 12.7v was about 15 mins after i got back so was reasonably happy with it, I like your table.

    TheRealAndy, I agree with you about the cables, I usually upgrade all mine but hadnt got around to the solar panels. Any reason for the regulator being closer to the battery instead of on the solar panel.

  15. #15

    Re: no sun, how do you manage

    Quote Originally Posted by Dignity View Post
    Nomad, there's no room under the bonnet for a second battery, there was a space but only for a small one and it is now taken up with a secondary fuel filter.
    The 12.7v was about 15 mins after i got back so was reasonably happy with it, I like your table.

    TheRealAndy, I agree with you about the cables, I usually upgrade all mine but hadnt got around to the solar panels. Any reason for the regulator being closer to the battery instead of on the solar panel.
    Yes, the panel voltage is higher (circa 18V) and you can afford to lose some power in cabling. Batteries on the other hand like are less forgiving. If you want a full charge, you need the regulator close to the battery or you need some seriously large cable to reduce voltage drop.


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