Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First night in camper this season

At first I wanted to give this post a title "First night in camper this summer", but ten I realized we still have spring in Poland -- the summer will start in next week. The weather shows also we don't have summer yet.

On the last (long) weekend we planned to spend a night in the camper, on my piece of land. The idea was to go there on the friday afternoon and stay there till sunday evening. On thursday I finished connecting solar panels and gel batteries (I'll write it in detail in a couple of days, at the moment you can only check the photos in the gallery) to have more electricity.

The weather on friday was nice. It rained a bit in the evening, just for a couple of minutes, and the sunset was almost cloud-free.

From Volkswagen Transporter T3

We didn't have any specific plans for that evening, so after we ate supper (shown on the photo), we went to sleep.

The night was chilly, but we were prepared. As we expected a temperature drop to 12°C (54°F), we prepared warm clothes for night.

At 4 AM it started to rain. It didn't stop until 11 AM. After we woke up we decided to take all the stuff back and leave -- we did so soon after eating breakfast.

It wasn't the best time to start the season. But hey, every other weekend from now on has to be better, right?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Preparing solar panels

As I mentioned here already, I plan to power all my camping electric needs with solar power. That's why I bought two 40 W solar panels with solar charge controller in february. Since we plan to spend three days living in camper during this weekend (starting on friday), I need to put everything together. Even if it all will be only temporary.

On monday I bought two gel batteries, 38 Ah capacity each. They look just like ordinary car batteries, only the connectors are different. Even the weight is similar -- those weigh 13 kg (29 lbs) each.

From Volkswagen Transporter T3
Today I spent about an hour soldering the cables together. The most important task was to solder the cable to the second solar battery (the first is already in the camper). I am not good at soldering, you can easily tell after a look at the photo below.

A bit about the cables I used here. The solar charge controller's manual recommends using a cable that has area of cross section of 4 mm2 (AWG 12), but I only had 2x0,75 mm2 cable for loudspeakers. So I used two pairs of this cable, removed the isolation from the ends and twisted the wires together. When I buy the proper cable, I'll connect it to the small parts of the cables I soldered now.

To the end of the cable from the solar panel I soldered a male connector used in RC toys and airsoft replicas. The connector is supposed to withstand the current of even 30 A, a lot more than I plan to put through it. 30 A with 12 V voltage is over 3 kW, and my solar panels give only 90 W (2x40 W and a small 10 W panel).

The female connector I soldered to the cable from the solar charge controller. I bought this cable yesterday, not the one I would like to have, but I had simply no choice. When I buy the proper cable, I'll simply replace it.

The same cable will be used to connect the charge controller to the batteries. I connected two pairs of wires to the controller as the batteries will be connected paralelly.

I left two things to do tomorrow in the camper:
  • solder the connectors to the cables attached to the solar panel I have in camper,
  • find a place for the batteries,
  • connect the controller with the batteries.
I wonder if the soldering iron will work with the 12/230 V AC/DC converter I have in the camper and the battery that's used there now.