View Full Version : Solar Charger

01-27-2013, 5:08 AM
I was going to post this in Off Topic..but I figure many of you in this sub-forum will have the answers I seek.
I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction for a solar charger for my 5th-wheel toyhauler. I have 2-12v batteries hooked up. Can't go with 6v deep cycle because they won't fit in the battery compartment. Our last trip to the desert the batteries didn't seem to keep up. We don't run a bunch of things in the trailer..no TV..kids know we go to the desert to camp..not watch TV. Most of it was just surface draw from the batteries..water pump.. lights at night..heater a few times..they just didn't seem to hold charge very well. They are only about 2 yrs old too. I was thinking maybe something from Harbor Freight that I can just set the solar panel out behind the trailer and keep clamped on the batteries. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance!!

Dark Sky Solutions
01-27-2013, 5:31 AM
Yeah I would suggest Harbor Freight system. They are on sale now for $140. It includes the solar panels, charge controller and other stuff needed.

I would also suggest getting 2 marine grade batteries for your system. This will give youh more amp hours to use the batteries. There are some pretty expensive ones but you can also go with Optima sealed marine batteries.

Just my .02 though.

Sent from my IPad so... Ease off the spelling

01-27-2013, 5:53 AM
I would go with the optima marine batteries. My trailer has 2 of them (all that would fit) for goign on 3 years now. I don't use the harbor freight system for charging. The only negative I have heard about it is that it needs a lot of direct sunlight so I went with a different system for my set-up but if you mainly go camping in teh desert it should be fine for you.

01-27-2013, 6:13 AM
There are more and more solutions poping up...
Google is your friend for the most current.

01-27-2013, 6:29 AM
What kind of lighting do you have in the trailer ?. If they are not florescent or LED they will be power hungry and 2, 24 sized batteries will not be enough storage to last the weekend.

Chances are your batteries are getting old and need to be replaced. Most RV batteries sit too much and don't get properly charged and lose storage capacity. We have no problem getting thru the weekend on just 2 batteries and we do watch movies in the evening.

If you do decide to go solar get at least 50 watts of charging power.

01-27-2013, 6:50 AM
Do not get the harbor freight solar charging equipment. They are a real lower quality and an old style that does not charge that batteries to their full capacity.
Go here.
And read their solar education section. Well worth it, and worth a little extra money for a decent controller

01-27-2013, 10:47 AM
This works for my toy hauler I have in storage been using it for the last two years without a problem. Keeps both batteries charged. As long as you don't go any higher in the charging voltage, you don't need a charge controller. I have my mounted to my stairs with the mount (see link). You should still run your gen. with a load on it about once every other month to keep it in good shape. I hope this helps you out...good luck!

Here are the links-
Solar Panel-http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001KQ5XBO/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00


01-27-2013, 7:22 PM
Thank you all for your input!! I will definitely be looking into the various options you have all mentioned. President's weekend is just around the corner so I need to get something set up and running before we head out for that trip. I'm tired of running my generator multiple times to keep the batteries charged up. Thanks again!!

02-16-2013, 8:30 PM
Slightly off topic from the OP, but I'm interested in a smalll portable solar charger. Anyone have any experience with one here that could share some insight? I want to use it to keep my radio, cell phone, ipod, 2-way, small electronics etc juiced up when I'm camping or just in case. I am considering this one http://www.amazon.com/Goal-Zero-19010-Guide-Adventure/dp/B005XVBIL6/ref=sr_1_9?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1361078392&sr=1-9&keywords=solar+panel but having no experience with them I'd like some advice before purchasing. Thanks


02-17-2013, 10:30 AM
I have one better than Goal Zero and maybe cheaper. It's called INSTAPAK you can find it on Amazon. It's got 3 panels and folds up. But it's 10 watt instead of the 7 watt that Goal Zero offers.

I just used it today, it's awesome. I have charge my iPad mini 25% in one hour (4 hours for full charge) and if you use an iPad you are aware how long they take to charge (but the battery lasts a very long time)

A+++ for the Instapak solar charger. Buy an external rechargeable battery and you can store a ton of power when you have sun and use the power when you don't. Get at LEAST a 7,000 level battery pack, or 10,000. Those little 2,000 ones are not going to carry alot of juice.

02-17-2013, 8:45 PM
Start here: http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm All about 12v batteries and RVs. KevinB is on the right track - swap those incandescent lights for LEDs (check out superbrightleds.com for ideas).

Two 12v batteries should more than keep up with the load you're describing unless you're bleeding power somewhere. It's possible you injured the batteries at some point in the past by drawing them too low, thus limiting their future capacity.

I had a friend with a popup who didn't keep his battery topped off when stored and left the driveway with a battery set far less than the 12.6v highlighed in the first link above, only to have his batteries die during their trip. He also didn't have a DVM to check his consumption throughout the trip.

I have a popup with a pair of golf cart batteries and also carry a single 15w harbor freight panel to help keep them topped off during the day. One panel is far more portable than their 3-panel set and is enough to keep us from running too low during extended trips.

Good luck!