Solar Charger Recommendations?


Wayne Hixson
 

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount, focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne


David Holko
 

I would try the Honda EU brand, very quite and very reliable. Seriously,
solar won't get it in just on days time and what if it cloudy ? The
generator is very quite in the day time and will top the battery up in
very little time.

Dave

On 6/25/2012 1:37 PM, Wayne wrote:

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount,
focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery.
I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure
about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar
charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne


Christopher Erickson
 

A couple of cheap 80 watt solar panels and a Sunsaver MPPT solar charge
controller from Morningstar.

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/sunsavermppt

Make sure to install fuses or breakers on the controller's outputs and
panel's outputs.

The MPPT type charge controller will get you an additional 5 to 15% charging
a day.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com

-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...] On Behalf Of
Wayne
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 7:38 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: [ap-gto] Solar Charger Recommendations?

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount,
focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I
expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5.
Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me
through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne



------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links



-----
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2012.0.2180 / Virus Database: 2437/5091 - Release Date: 06/24/12


observe_m13
 

What you require is to figure out what your actual energy consumption is. Knowing Watts = Amps * Volts

1) The SBIG camera (Peltier coolers swill power), what is its rating in Watts? It will likely be using a significant portion of that (80-90%) constantly depending on temperature. If it is running off an AC inverter inverter add at another 20%.
2) laptop (they swill power too but can be adjusted somewhat to use less by turning off the screen and running in a low power cpu mode. Do not confuse this with the overall Windows style machine settings of low power mode as that may also turn off hard disks, USB ports and other items which may require constant power to keep the imaging and tracking software working properly. You will have to manually configure a usable low power mode and then measure the consumption. Problem with laptops is that they can run off the internal battery for a while and then when it is empty it wants to be plugged in. This really costs power as it not only has to run the entire laptop, it has to run the charging circuitry to recharge the battery. Oh, if it too is running off the 110VAC inverter add another 20% as well.
3) Mach1GTO - it all depends on how much you are slewing. It can use from a negligible amount of less than a Watt to around 15 Watts if you are slewing constantly.
4) Focuser - barely noticeable power use once it has run through its focus routines.

This is really a SWAG since I have no idea about your actual equipment, but I'd expect you will be pulling down a minimum of 60Watts (5Amps * 12VDC nominal) and are actually going to be using even more.

Once you have a firm grasp of the total energy required you will have an idea of what capacity of battery you will be able to use and how much energy you have to put back into the battery. While you can run at a deficit for a period of time, overall you will likely have to put back about 75% of the energy used daily and small inexpensive solar arrays won't do at all. Even moderate sized moderate priced ones of 2 to 3 or so square feet only put out about 20 Watts maximum (~1.2A @ ~16VDC) in intense direct sunlight. The only way around this is several solar arrays as described (and don't forget the proper battery charging circuitry), several more batteries to cover the expected energy required, or a source of reliable AC power.

Anyway, this is all just guesswork until you come up with some firm numbers for actual consumption.

--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@...> wrote:

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount, focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne


jwrenonv
 

If you purchase the SunSaver MPPT 15 controller, you can purchase the less expensive 24 volt 230 watt panels. These go for about $1.10/watt. The controller will allow a 12, 24 or 36 volt panel setup with a 12 volt battery.

I use 3 80 watt panels in series to feed the SunSaver 15 MPPT controller. I have a band of two 6 volt 220 amp-hour batteries. Solar can be very effective and quiet. I live in Nevada and benefit from more solar exposure than some eastern US locations.


Wayne Hixson
 

Thanks! Any recommendations on panels? I find a variety of 80 watt panels from about $200 up to $400-500.

--- In ap-gto@..., "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@...> wrote:

A couple of cheap 80 watt solar panels and a Sunsaver MPPT solar charge
controller from Morningstar.

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/sunsavermppt

Make sure to install fuses or breakers on the controller's outputs and
panel's outputs.

The MPPT type charge controller will get you an additional 5 to 15% charging
a day.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com



-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...] On Behalf Of
Wayne
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 7:38 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: [ap-gto] Solar Charger Recommendations?

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount,
focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I
expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5.
Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me
through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne



------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links



-----
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2012.0.2180 / Virus Database: 2437/5091 - Release Date: 06/24/12


Wayne Hixson
 

I run the camera off DC and the laptop off an inverter. Another option is a battery dedicated to the laptop, which is a power hog. I've thought about a portable generator, which is more versatile, but also is not always permitted at the star parties depending on how dry the area is and Forest Service rules.

--- In ap-gto@..., "observe_m13" <JunkMailGoesHere@...> wrote:

What you require is to figure out what your actual energy consumption is. Knowing Watts = Amps * Volts

1) The SBIG camera (Peltier coolers swill power), what is its rating in Watts? It will likely be using a significant portion of that (80-90%) constantly depending on temperature. If it is running off an AC inverter inverter add at another 20%.
2) laptop (they swill power too but can be adjusted somewhat to use less by turning off the screen and running in a low power cpu mode. Do not confuse this with the overall Windows style machine settings of low power mode as that may also turn off hard disks, USB ports and other items which may require constant power to keep the imaging and tracking software working properly. You will have to manually configure a usable low power mode and then measure the consumption. Problem with laptops is that they can run off the internal battery for a while and then when it is empty it wants to be plugged in. This really costs power as it not only has to run the entire laptop, it has to run the charging circuitry to recharge the battery. Oh, if it too is running off the 110VAC inverter add another 20% as well.
3) Mach1GTO - it all depends on how much you are slewing. It can use from a negligible amount of less than a Watt to around 15 Watts if you are slewing constantly.
4) Focuser - barely noticeable power use once it has run through its focus routines.

This is really a SWAG since I have no idea about your actual equipment, but I'd expect you will be pulling down a minimum of 60Watts (5Amps * 12VDC nominal) and are actually going to be using even more.

Once you have a firm grasp of the total energy required you will have an idea of what capacity of battery you will be able to use and how much energy you have to put back into the battery. While you can run at a deficit for a period of time, overall you will likely have to put back about 75% of the energy used daily and small inexpensive solar arrays won't do at all. Even moderate sized moderate priced ones of 2 to 3 or so square feet only put out about 20 Watts maximum (~1.2A @ ~16VDC) in intense direct sunlight. The only way around this is several solar arrays as described (and don't forget the proper battery charging circuitry), several more batteries to cover the expected energy required, or a source of reliable AC power.

Anyway, this is all just guesswork until you come up with some firm numbers for actual consumption.




--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@> wrote:

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount, focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne


observe_m13
 

Those 80W panels weigh 50 plus pounds or so with frames and are not really meant for mobile use. They are also quite large at about 6 square feet give or take. As to price, you generally get what you pay for and high quality new ones single quantity with frames are $400-500. If you buy a larger quantity such as 10 or so, I have found new ones, without frames, for around $275-300 each.

Flexible panels are far more useful for portable applications but are significantly less efficient, less output, and more expensive overall.

The smaller older panels I was describing in my first response are relatively inexpensive, and while somewhat fragile as well, can be quite easily protected and handled.

It still comes down to the amount of power you are using as a basis for the rest of the equipment required.

--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@...> wrote:

Thanks! Any recommendations on panels? I find a variety of 80 watt panels from about $200 up to $400-500.


--- In ap-gto@..., "Christopher Erickson" <christopher.k.erickson@> wrote:

A couple of cheap 80 watt solar panels and a Sunsaver MPPT solar charge
controller from Morningstar.

http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/sunsavermppt

Make sure to install fuses or breakers on the controller's outputs and
panel's outputs.

The MPPT type charge controller will get you an additional 5 to 15% charging
a day.

Christopher Erickson
Consulting Engineer
Summit Kinetics
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com



-----Original Message-----
From: ap-gto@... [mailto:ap-gto@...] On Behalf Of
Wayne
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 7:38 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: [ap-gto] Solar Charger Recommendations?

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount,
focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I
expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5.
Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me
through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne



------------------------------------

To UNSUBSCRIBE, or for general information on the ap-gto list
see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gtoYahoo! Groups Links



-----
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2012.0.2180 / Virus Database: 2437/5091 - Release Date: 06/24/12


dannysperry
 

Hi Wayne,

On eBay, I bought two 60w panels that were hinged together for 120w. They're the better monocrystalline type and had the adapter boxes and cables already installed, ready to be set up in series or parallel. I then just bought a $20 solar charger and it's been working out great. All told, I spent a little over $300 for the setup.

If you're like me and you image from twilight to twilight, the 80AH battery will probably barely make it through 1 night (especially in the colder and longer winter nights). The camera and laptop will be the biggest power consumers. If you're very conservative with laptop usage (turn down the LCD brightness, turn off bluetooth and wi-fi, etc.) and you don't need to aggressivley cool the camera, you might be able to make it.

As far as solar panels vs. a generator, I greatly prefer the solar panels. No gas to carry around, it's absolutely silent, everything I need fits in an artist's portfolio bag, and if it's cloudy, I'm not imaging anyway.

Best,
Danny

--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@...> wrote:

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount, focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne


 

Get rid of the inverter and go with a DC to DC converter, this will save a bit of energy.
Floyd

--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@...> wrote:

I run the camera off DC and the laptop off an inverter. Another option is a battery dedicated to the laptop, which is a power hog. I've thought about a portable generator, which is more versatile, but also is not always permitted at the star parties depending on how dry the area is and Forest Service rules.

--- In ap-gto@..., "observe_m13" <JunkMailGoesHere@> wrote:

What you require is to figure out what your actual energy consumption is. Knowing Watts = Amps * Volts

1) The SBIG camera (Peltier coolers swill power), what is its rating in Watts? It will likely be using a significant portion of that (80-90%) constantly depending on temperature. If it is running off an AC inverter inverter add at another 20%.
2) laptop (they swill power too but can be adjusted somewhat to use less by turning off the screen and running in a low power cpu mode. Do not confuse this with the overall Windows style machine settings of low power mode as that may also turn off hard disks, USB ports and other items which may require constant power to keep the imaging and tracking software working properly. You will have to manually configure a usable low power mode and then measure the consumption. Problem with laptops is that they can run off the internal battery for a while and then when it is empty it wants to be plugged in. This really costs power as it not only has to run the entire laptop, it has to run the charging circuitry to recharge the battery. Oh, if it too is running off the 110VAC inverter add another 20% as well.
3) Mach1GTO - it all depends on how much you are slewing. It can use from a negligible amount of less than a Watt to around 15 Watts if you are slewing constantly.
4) Focuser - barely noticeable power use once it has run through its focus routines.

This is really a SWAG since I have no idea about your actual equipment, but I'd expect you will be pulling down a minimum of 60Watts (5Amps * 12VDC nominal) and are actually going to be using even more.

Once you have a firm grasp of the total energy required you will have an idea of what capacity of battery you will be able to use and how much energy you have to put back into the battery. While you can run at a deficit for a period of time, overall you will likely have to put back about 75% of the energy used daily and small inexpensive solar arrays won't do at all. Even moderate sized moderate priced ones of 2 to 3 or so square feet only put out about 20 Watts maximum (~1.2A @ ~16VDC) in intense direct sunlight. The only way around this is several solar arrays as described (and don't forget the proper battery charging circuitry), several more batteries to cover the expected energy required, or a source of reliable AC power.

Anyway, this is all just guesswork until you come up with some firm numbers for actual consumption.




--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@> wrote:

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount, focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne


Wayne Hixson
 

Thanks, lots of good suggestions.

Wayne

--- In ap-gto@..., "dannysperry" <danny@...> wrote:

Hi Wayne,

On eBay, I bought two 60w panels that were hinged together for 120w. They're the better monocrystalline type and had the adapter boxes and cables already installed, ready to be set up in series or parallel. I then just bought a $20 solar charger and it's been working out great. All told, I spent a little over $300 for the setup.

If you're like me and you image from twilight to twilight, the 80AH battery will probably barely make it through 1 night (especially in the colder and longer winter nights). The camera and laptop will be the biggest power consumers. If you're very conservative with laptop usage (turn down the LCD brightness, turn off bluetooth and wi-fi, etc.) and you don't need to aggressivley cool the camera, you might be able to make it.

As far as solar panels vs. a generator, I greatly prefer the solar panels. No gas to carry around, it's absolutely silent, everything I need fits in an artist's portfolio bag, and if it's cloudy, I'm not imaging anyway.

Best,
Danny



--- In ap-gto@..., "Wayne" <wayneh9026@> wrote:

I will be at a couple 5-night-long star parties running Mach1 mount, focuser, SBIG camera and laptop from about an 80 amp-hour AGM battery. I expect I can get at least 2-3 nights from the battery but not sure about 5. Any recommendations from the gallery on a reasonable solar charger to get me through the week?

Thanks!

Wayne