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Thread: Anyone do a successful solar panel install (5W+)? Thin strip across windsheild?

  1. #1
    FLAC
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    Anyone do a successful solar panel install (5W+)? Thin strip across windsheild?

    I have a video surveillance system in my car that draws about 4-5W when running. I usually leave it running during the day for 8-15hrs when I am at school/work. I have an isolated deep cycle battery in the back that runs this system, and I usually drive for about 1 hr a day which is enough to keep the system charged up.

    However, due to my new downtown job, I will be parking at a local park n ride and then taking the bus to work, so each day I might only drive the car for about 20 mins. Not enough to keep the system charged up. Im looking to offset some of this power consumed maybe via solar panels but I would need atleast 5W. Im thinking perhaps a thin strip across the top of the windshield. Most cheap solar cells Ive come across arent very efficient, so I was wondering if you guys know of some higher efficiency stuff that could realistically generate 5W or more using just a thin strip across the windsheild. Some of the 5W panels Ive seen are huge and expensive. Unfortunately my rear has 5% limo tint so I cant install panels in the rear windows.

  2. #2
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    i havent seen anything, but have been pondering a camera system in my car for a while-- this being the biggest thing to overcome, so i am also interested to see what can be done.

    here is what i came up with:

    either, 4 of these across the top of the windshield(claimed 1.5 watt output, per unit but no specs)
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=44768

    or this 5 watt unit, maybe just keep it on the dash?
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=41144


    also, what about a second battery with a isolator?

  3. #3
    Raw Wave
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    Keep in mind that a 5W panel often means 5W max with sun perpendicular to it (and vertical - ie, less atmosphere & refraction) without glass or dirt or cloud.....

    The usually method is a second battery that connects to the main battery when charging (that's just a $5-$10 relay powered from the charge light circuit else a voltage sensing circuit) and usually a low voltage cutout to protect the 2nd battery (~$20).)


    PS - The problem with small panels is their price.
    Normal prices were $10 per Watt but now often $5/W.
    One "minimum" rule I sometimes use is panel size = 4x demand - eg, 20W for a 5W load. But that's based on 50% daylight & 50% of required solar energy (which is max 1kW per square meter (bit more than a sq-yd).
    FYI - efficiency with the sun 3-degrees off normal (off perpendicular) can be down by 5%; 5-degrees can be down by 20%. (Hence why trackers are so profitable.)

    But any solar augmentation will extend the reserve time - though a 2nd battery may be cheaper....

  4. #4
    FLAC
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    I already have a 2nd battery with isolator. The problem is that I dont drive for long enough every day to keep it charged if Im going to run the surveillance system for 8-15 hrs a day, that's why I was hoping for a solar supplement.

  5. #5
    Newbie
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    Get a Larger/more efficient/second Altenator

  6. #6
    Raw Wave
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    A 2nd or bigger alternator will not have any effect unless the existing alternator is supplying the power or the volts.

  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate
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    I saw that some of these say "17v while charging". Is it not going to potentially damage electronic components?

  8. #8
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wywywywy View Post
    I saw that some of these say "17v while charging". Is it not going to potentially damage electronic components?
    No, usually stuff that is made specifically for the car has a range of 12V-18V. Especially on Cameras. As for the Car PC, the PSU can usually except 11V-24V.
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  9. #9
    FLAC
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    Over voltage isnt a problem so I would be comfortable with piecing together my own solar array. My camera/DVR is regulated, and that is the only thing that will be on while the car is off.

    A bigger alternator isnt an option because the limitation is not the alternator, but the fact that no modern lead acid battery today can charge itself up quickly enough in a short 15 min drive.

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate meryan00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundman98 View Post
    i havent seen anything, but have been pondering a camera system in my car for a while-- this being the biggest thing to overcome, so i am also interested to see what can be done.

    here is what i came up with:

    either, 4 of these across the top of the windshield(claimed 1.5 watt output, per unit but no specs)
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=44768
    I use a unit alot like this one in my car because I have a constant draw of about 2 watts in my setup, but the panel normally puts out just about 1-1.1 watts in normal sunlight sitting in my back window.

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