Assembling the Solar camping unit

by Administrator 27 July 2012

There are plenty of 'suitcase' type portable solar panel sets, you'll come across them when searching for 12 volt solar panels on Ebay. I wanted something like one of those, but not at the prices they charge.

First I bought some cheap hinges at the local DIY store, unfortunately they did not have stainless steel or aluminium ones, so I just went for zink coated hinges. After carefully drilling holes in the frame I attached the hinges, screwed them tight and the new 'Solar panel case' was working.

Now I needed some way of securing the case when closed, first I tried getting some small clasps like the ones you find on suitcases, but I could not find anything small enough. Then I had an idea, a while back I bought a bunch of Super strong rare earth magnets from DealExtreme. I glued three of them to each side behind the frame and after the glue had dried I stacked another 5 on top to strengthen the magnetic field. (see picture left) It worked perfectly, the case stayed shut, but was easily opened by pulling the two halves apart.

For safety I added 4 fuse holders, one each for the panels, one between the battery and charge controller and one for the cigarette lighter holder. Below you can see the wiring of the solar panels, both have a 2 amp fuse and the wiring terminates to a 'Deans' type plug, which is a small high current plug, I also bought these from DealExtreme.

After getting everything connected I set it up in the sun to see if it all worked correctly, in the picture below you can just see the charge controller below the solar panels (the battery is also down there)

After a few hours in the sun, the battery was fully charged :)

All I need now is a case to hold the battery, leads, charge controller etc. Next I'm going to test it with some gear.

* Please note, I am learning as I go along. If there are any incorrect facts above, please let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks

Part 1: Solar panels for camping (Introduction)
Part 2: Parts for a Solar camping setup
Part 3: Testing the panels and charge controller
Part 4: Assembling the Camping Solar system


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