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Posted: 5/19/2021 7:23:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/19/2021 7:27:00 PM EDT by Southsideshooter]
Looking at getting into solar panels and battery chargers for charging, AA, AAA, 18650, cell phones, tablets.

What would you folks recommend for somebody getting into solar, battery charging and charging small electronics?

Would a NITECORE i4 battery Charger be compatible with hooking up to a solar panel for charging batteries?

Thanks in advance!
Link Posted: 5/19/2021 7:44:43 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/19/2021 7:45:47 PM EDT by alphabavo]
I would look at a Bluetti or Goal Zero type setup, they’re expensive but ready to go and can serve more purposes than just battery charging. If you’re handy, you can make your own for roughly 1/3-1/2 the price, that’s what I’m currently doing.
Link Posted: 5/19/2021 8:17:40 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By alphabavo:
I would look at a Bluetti or Goal Zero type setup, they’re expensive but ready to go and can serve more purposes than just battery charging. If you’re handy, you can make your own for roughly 1/3-1/2 the price, that’s what I’m currently doing.
View Quote

I just picked a couple solar books up on solar on Amazon to learn more about it.


Thanks
Link Posted: 5/19/2021 8:30:05 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/19/2021 9:21:54 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
View Quote

I've seen some of the young gentleman's videos and that is one of the books I bought off of Amazon.


Thanks
Link Posted: 5/20/2021 1:59:52 PM EDT
I have a layered approach. I have a 14w foldable solar panel that will charge via usb an anker 15,000mah battery pack. Never charge batteries/phones directly from panels as clouds can drop watts too low frequently. Charge the battery bank and then charge devices/batteries(AA,AAA,18650) from the battery bank. Will also let you charge devices at night.

For a slightly larger system I have a 300w rockpals solar generator. I bought a rockpals 100w folding solar panel to charge along with using the wall/car adapters. This will charge usb devices, 12v devices, and also has a 300w inverter to charge/run slightly larger devices.

The smaller system is very man portable and can be used in a bag. If your out for any amount of time this should go with you. I have bought a couple of ham radio hts that are usb charging specific just for this system. The larger system is still portable via a car very easily. Provides enough to run most things a decent amount of time with good weather. You will not run large appliances with this or heat anything.

The goal is to get a bluetti or larger system that is capable of running larger/more devices at once. This will require a larger amount of wattage from panels. This system will not be easily portable, possible but nowhere near as easy at the other two systems I have. Now that we are buying a permanent residence I will mostly likely skip the bluetti and invest in a battle born battery bank and larger panel system.

I hope this helps
Link Posted: 5/20/2021 5:52:18 PM EDT
I'm interested in that new Jackery 1500 with 4 panel combo.  I think it would pull my 2 freezers through power outages if I can get decent sun.

Still doing some figuring.  I'm not too got at all this stuff.

Doc
Link Posted: 5/28/2021 11:38:48 PM EDT
I actually have two three systems. Two are in current use and the other is almost complete. My son is a type 1 diabetic and my interest started out with a 12 volt compressor fridge to keep insulin cool if we lost power...it kind of grew from there.

I use only LiFeP04 lithium batteries and Victron controllers. I get my wiring stuff from Powerwerx, batteries from either Bioenno or Renogy, panels are Renogy but others are fine. Victron controllers allow me to monitor through my phone Bluetooth and set custom charging parameters for each battery.  

System #1 is mounted on my shop. Two Renogy 100watt panels running through a Victron solar controller charging a 40 ah lifep04 battery in a pelican box. I added 2 x high speed USB outlets,  2 x Anderson Power pole connectors and a switch. This is portable and can handle 3 days of no solar input using a Dometic portable fridge. We also use it to charge up our cell phone battery banks and I have a USB powered charger for my rechargeable AA and AAA batteries.

System #2 is mounted in my sons 1998 Jeep Cherokee. 100 Renogy panel, Victron MPPT controller, 20 ah lifep04 battery and a small Dometic fridge. This he keeps his food for work and swim practice. Works fine 9 months out of the year here in So Cal, but do not get enough winter sun to keep up with the fridge. He also has a quick charge USB port to keep his cell phone battery bank charged up.

System # 3 I am putting together right now. It is based in a 5x8 cargo trailer I am converting to a camping rig (mostly tents, but room enough for a Queen size mattress in case of bad weather)  Added benefit is having power if we have to get up and go. We have 200 watts of solar on top with room for 200 more if I decide I need it in the future. Victron 75/15, Renogy 100 AH LiFep04 smart battery and when I am done will have a Morningstar SureSine 300 watt inverter, some Quick charge USB outlets and some Anderson Powerpole connectors (45 AMP)

If anyone has questions about parting together a small system please let me know. I have never owned or used a commercial power box so my knowledge on those is very limited.

Sons Jeep:                                                  


New project:
Link Posted: 5/29/2021 10:15:20 AM EDT
We have a 120w GoPower suitcase. Works great. In the right conditions it can keep our camper batteries totally topped off. Winter we have to supplement with a genny. We charge whatever needs charging from the batteries. We have a 12v nitecore charger for the stuff that doesn't charge off USB.
Link Posted: 5/30/2021 11:11:19 AM EDT
A few of the things I know,

Only consider charge controllers which allow customizable/programmable charge settings or voltage set points. My latest charge controller is a Victron Smart MPPT 100/50. It allows specified voltages, and the 'smart' version of this controller has Blue Tooth allowing you to use your phone to program and monitor. I'm not a person who likes to be tied to my phone, but it is useful. I've installed about 4 of these on customers sail boats.

I've ordered some 100 Watt Renogy panels from Home Depot and had them delivered to the local store. They arrived intact and undamaged.

I have a couple Battleborn batteries I need to actually use and power up my ham equipment. I once powered my HF rig for a couple years with a single 53 Watt panel and a group 27 deep cycle battery and a poorest quality charge controller.

Only buy good charge controllers.
Link Posted: 5/30/2021 2:22:48 PM EDT
I went with two 30w Soplay monos hinged together, a Morningstar SS-10L PWM controller, a BigSky 28w USB folder, a couple of Chrome 22Ah SLA/AGM mother batteries and a whole slew of 12v/5v NiMH/lion chargers.

I’m golden.

Chris
Link Posted: 6/3/2021 9:13:45 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By fastswift:
My son is a type 1 diabetic and my interest started out with a 12 volt compressor fridge to keep insulin cool if we lost power...it kind of grew from there.
View Quote

@fastswift

My son is also a type 1 diabetic and I'm on the same path for the same reason. I have a Goal Zero 400 and a Jackery 400 that get rotated. They both charge via a Goal Zero briefcase panel (200 wats IIRC). In the event of a power loss they run a small cooler that fits all of his insulin. We've used the cooler on road trips too.

The Texas grid fail over the winter and current ransomeware cyberattacks have me thinking about going bigger. The winter storm robbed me of power charging capability with the storm, so I need something that gets me beyond a couple of days without a charge.
Link Posted: 6/3/2021 9:18:31 AM EDT
The 3.3kwh setup I built last month has been a great learning experience. I’m jumping in deeper with another order for 7.2kwh worth of additional batteries. I’m about ready to pick up a few solar panels as well.

Pretty soon, my generators will be almost unnecessary.
Link Posted: 6/8/2021 7:35:15 AM EDT
Very interesting replies and comments here.  Makes me want to go buy better panels and controllers for better results.

Where is everyone buying these panels and controllers?


I have two very simple systems.

1) One unknown small panel with an unknown controller keeping a Deep Cycle battery topped off.

2) Cheap shit Harbor Freight 45w panels with Harbor Freight controller for a second larger deep cycle battery.

Link Posted: 6/8/2021 8:34:40 AM EDT
@MarkMustang

Welcome to the parents of Type 1 Diabetes club! Sounds like you have a workable solution to keeping the insulin nice and cool. I actually had a 12 volt fridge prior to diagnosis so I just built on that. My son was 17 and a high school swimmer when diagnosed so it just made sense to rig up his jeep so he could pack up heathy food and an extra insulin EpiPen.

@bill3rail

Craigslist is where I have found my panels. It is surprising how many people buy and never use some pretty nice stuff. I just search Renogy. I got lucky with advice. I belong to a Ham radio group "RACES" team and got some good advice prior to buying or setting up anything.
As for my Victron controllers I get them online/new.
Link Posted: 6/8/2021 4:59:54 PM EDT
Thank you guys for all the suggestions and input it really helps me.

The best thing for starting out for me will be to buy a couple panels and a couple batteries and a controller and just play around with them.


Thanks
Link Posted: 6/14/2021 11:41:20 AM EDT
I am an electrician with controls/PLC experience. I have built several large homemade 24V battery banks for inverter use. Now all my batteries are toast. So I would like to get a budget solar setup. Mostly to charge devices, run a deep freezer or a deep freezer with controller to use as fridge, some led lights, etc. I would like to have a silent power source for a long term outage, to give generators a break.

So how to start?
Link Posted: 6/14/2021 12:19:05 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By zoe17:
I am an electrician with controls/PLC experience. I have built several large homemade 24V battery banks for inverter use. Now all my batteries are toast. So I would like to get a budget solar setup. Mostly to charge devices, run a deep freezer or a deep freezer with controller to use as fridge, some led lights, etc. I would like to have a silent power source for a long term outage, to give generators a break.

So how to start?
View Quote


What you need/asking about is beyond the scope of this thread. Running a deep fridge will require a large battery bank/solar feed and a matching invertor.

There are a couple of links posted above - https://diysolarforum.com/ - or I would use the calculator at https://www.solar-electric.com/ to get an idea of what would be needed.

Link Posted: 6/14/2021 1:44:08 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By bill3rail:
Very interesting replies and comments here.  Makes me want to go buy better panels and controllers for better results.

Where is everyone buying these panels and controllers?


I have two very simple systems.

1) One unknown small panel with an unknown controller keeping a Deep Cycle battery topped off.

2) Cheap shit Harbor Freight 45w panels with Harbor Freight controller for a second larger deep cycle battery.

View Quote


Ehhh, decent mono-crystalline panels should be easy enough to find on EBay, where I got my Soplays and I probably could have shopped some more for cheaper panels, 9 years back.

As it was explained to me back then, MPPT controllers are vastly more efficient than my PWM style, but MPPT controllers, by virtue of having a micro-processor on board, drain a bit more power and so they might not be the best choice in smaller systems like my 60w jobbie.

Also, it’s prudent to buy a couple of smaller AGM/SLA mother batteries to charge up during the day and then bring them into the home and charge all of your stuff at night.  Mother batteries are synonymous to USB 5v power banks, but are obviously 12vdc, so you might want to do both systems, to cover your bases?

Chris
Link Posted: 6/28/2021 10:07:17 AM EDT
Link Posted: 6/28/2021 2:54:37 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/28/2021 2:55:55 PM EDT by JAD762]
I just have a small system that I use when I go to summer camp with my son's troop.  It consists of an 80w folding panel, a charge controller, a deep cycle RV battery, and a 1000w inverter.

Its pretty handy when you're just powering small stuff like a fan or light or charging electronics.  I've found that I'm using it a lot for my ham radio adventures too.  Kind of makes me want to go deeper into solar, but that can be a deep, expensive rabbit hole so I haven't gone much farther with it.







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