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Thread: Solar Chargers

  1. #1

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    Solar Chargers

    Does anyone have any knowledge of, or experience with charging light weight batteries such as the Earth-X or Oddessy batteries with a solar charger?

    I am primarily interested in maintaining these batteries while the aircraft is tied down after a flight where minimal power has been used for starting the aircraft.

  2. #2
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Odysseys work just fine. Have not tried it with the EarthX, yet. But I see no reason it shouldn't work. They were made with a circuit card built in that allows the use of standard battery chargers and the power from most solar panels is pretty smooth (not many spikes or dips).

    Web

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    With the Earth-X I can go at least a couple of months between flights with no noticeable drop in battery voltage.

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    Keep the solar panel sizing down to nhttp://www.backwoodssolar.com/morningstar-4-5-amp-controlo more then 10% of battery capacity charge rate: 100 amp battery, 10 amp charge, as an example. Get a good charge controller, MorningStar is a good brand, about 30 bucks for their smallest. Don't get PV panel made for charging smart phones etc., you want something with a 17 to 21 volt open circuit capacity to charge a 12 volt battery. For your described use, I'd get a 5 watt panel, multi or poly crystalline preferred over the amorphous type.

    This Idaho outfit is great to deal with: http://www.backwoodssolar.com/produc...panels?cat=102 This panel will outlast you, unlike the Harbor Freight type crap. The controller:http://www.backwoodssolar.com/mornin...-5-amp-control. Take those pertinent #'s of the controllers output, and ask EarthX, they will respond, another good company. I love my EarthX, over 2 years now, amazing lightness and great performance.

  5. #5

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    Simple 5w panels with no controllers work great on my Odysseys in my boats to run bilge pumps while I'm away. Never a dead battery and no overcharge problems. I'd use one on the plane if I needed to.

    Does your airplane have an alternator system? You shouldn't need a "maintainer" charger for an Odyssey battery. I have equipment that I leave unattended for 7-8 months at a time and the batteries are always good unless a ghost load (like Polaris EFI) wears them down.

    Costco had Goal Zero solar panels, solar lights, etc a few weeks back. Wife bought me one of their fold and go solar charging panels. I went back and bought a couple of their lights. They must use the EarthX type of battery because their melt-your-cornea spotlight weighs nothing. Very cool stuff.
    Last edited by stewartb; 07-23-2015 at 06:15 PM. Reason: Department of Redundancy Department
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  6. #6
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Stu, you might want to call Earth X after they get back from Kosh. Their booth was real busy all week

    Glenn

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    Thanks Glenn.

    I didn't know you read this site.

    I did called Earth X and they asked me to let them know if I found a good one. They didn't have a suggestion for me.

    No charging system and with Li-Ion batteries causing problems in the Jets and it being charged only on the ground while not attended, I want to be sure I don't have a fire.

    Stu

  8. #8
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    .... I have equipment that I leave unattended for 7-8 months at a time and the batteries are always good unless a ghost load (like Polaris EFI) wears them down.
    I used to have low battery problems when I didn't use my 185 for a while until I smartened up and pulled the clock fuse between flights. After that the Sears Roebuck battery would last and last and last.
    N1PA

  9. #9
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    I used to have low battery problems when I didn't use my 185 for a while until I smartened up and pulled the clock fuse between flights. After that the Sears Roebuck battery would last and last and last.
    Pete,

    Youre retired......don't pull the clock breaker, pull the clock.

    MTV

  10. #10
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Really old thread, but looking to use a solar charger.

    Two questions –
    If I put a panel inside can I leave it attached while using the battery? Charge/discharge/electronics issues?

    And, will the green skylight cut down the charging ability of the panel?

    Thanks,
    Pete


    Transmitted from my FlightPhone

  11. #11
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    One way of electrically connecting them would be to use a double throw master switch. Connect the lead from the master relay to the common (C) terminal. When the switch is 'on', this terminal will be connected to one terminal with a ground wire, turning on the master relay. When the switch is placed in the 'off' position, the common terminal is now connected to the opposite, unused terminal. If you connect the positive wire from your solar panel to this terminal and the ground wire to airframe ground, the panel will connect to the battery through the master switch, through the master relay, to the positive post of the battery. And it will only be connected to the battery any time the master switch is in the 'off' position.

    Be safe and install a fuse as close to the battery as possible, just in case....

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

  12. #12
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Web, I forgot to mention I have no starter or alternator
    I like your simple method through a double throw, but do I need to have the solar panel disconnected during battery use?

    Pb


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  13. #13
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    No. Just use a charge controller.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farmboy View Post
    Web, I forgot to mention I have no starter or alternator
    I like your simple method through a double throw, but do I need to have the solar panel disconnected during battery use?

    Pb


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    Eddie Foy
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God"

  14. #14
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    No, you don't need it disconnected during use.

    How is your power distribution set up? If all battery power comes through a switch, set it up like I described above. Use a double throw switch and connect the battery lead to the common terminal. Connect your bus to one of the other terminals for normal use. Connect the panel positive to the opposite terminal. This will give you the normal operation with the power switch in the 'on' position and connect the panels to the battery, for recharge, when the power switch is 'off'.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

  15. #15
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Battery --> Battery Switch --> Master --> bus (2 switches). If I can find the right size panel I'll test it wired direct with a charge controller. The thought is for something to "help" during long day activities, without going to a larger/heavier battery. And, if someplace without power it can recharge on its own.

    Pb


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  16. #16
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Not sure how much 'help' it will be during operation. These panels put out a pretty small charge rate. Think of it as a top charger or battery maintainer. Try out what ever set up you have in mind. Just be sure to keep that fuse installed as close to the battery as possible.

    Web
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  17. #17
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmboy View Post
    Battery --> Battery Switch --> Master --> bus (2 switches). If I can find the right size panel I'll test it wired direct with a charge controller. The thought is for something to "help" during long day activities, without going to a larger/heavier battery. And, if someplace without power it can recharge on its own.

    Pb
    Did you ever consider a small wind driven generator? I have one in mind using the dynamo from a Kubota tractor. It is small similar to the B&C units.
    N1PA

  18. #18
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Funny you should mention that. I had originally but then dismissed it. But I just saw an original on a j4 and it reminded me, although they are pretty big.
    Be interested to see what you come up with.


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  19. #19
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    So far it is just an idea in my head. I do have a Kubota tractor with one of these and it is more than adequate in keeping the battery charged. And the current battery is at least 20 years old. My idea is to make a prop out of wood and bolt it to the flange on the pulley. Those two lugs provide plenty of materiel for some sort of attaching device for the plane.

    This is one. http://www.worthingtonagparts.com/Ku...WN-15531-64017
    This is the regulator. https://www.dbelectrical.com/product...FUhXDQodI8YClA I must admit that the wiring has me confused, even though I have the tractor manual. My thought is to perhaps use a B&C regulator in the airplane.
    There is lots of information on line about this Kubota system.
    N1PA

  20. #20

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    To "achieve full design cycle life" the Oddysey must be charged at a minimum of 40% of the AH of the batt. So a PC925 needs 10.8 amps unless charged periodically by something stronger. This information is apparently important enough to warrant being put at the top of page 1 of the manual. Mine is Feb 2013 As with any AGM 15.0000 is your absolute top voltage before the risk of venting.
    What's a go-around?

  21. #21
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Interesting about he Odyssey. Lead acids only want 10% of the AH, so that's quite different.

    I have a sealed lead acid, but Pete have you considered the Gennipod II from JMH?

    http://www.position-lights.com/index...generator.html
    https://www.facebook.com/JMH-Innovat...9832742393644/
    http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...od11-14298.php


    10842334_878053978904847_7533937437293797967_o.jpg

  22. #22
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    That looks interesting except for the speed limitation of 110 mph and only a 4 amp output. My Cub cruises at that speed with a VNE of 160 mph and my system draws as much as 5 amps. So in order to keep the battery charged I would need a higher output. Currently I just put the charger on it at the end of the day. This process has worked fine so far but it would be nice to be able to charge in flight.
    N1PA

  23. #23
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Yup, mine will probably be fine too, but exploring options.

    I cruise at 90 and a 4 amp charge would probably equal or be less than my total draw, so it's a consideration for me where as its a bolt-on. Be interesting if you could source a prop to fit yours. Maybe even a small outboard or trolling motor prop, which are typically plastic. Testing to get the right rpm may be the harder part to accomplish without building a wind tunnel. Might have to mount the unit and fly a dozen times measuring output in flight at cruise.

    pb

  24. #24
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    My plan is to build a laminated wood prop. It is the math calculations to figure the diameter and pitch at the different stations which I haven't got my head around yet. I worry about regulating the maximum output at higher speed to prevent causing electrical over loads. That is why I'm thinking the proven B&C regulator. I've also considered a test rig to mount on my truck to test on the highway.
    N1PA
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  25. #25
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Truck mount test would be ideal.

    Would you use just the B&C regulator, or regulator and controller?

  26. #26
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmboy View Post
    Yup, mine will probably be fine too, but exploring options.

    I cruise at 90 and a 4 amp charge would probably equal or be less than my total draw, so it's a consideration for me where as its a bolt-on. Be interesting if you could source a prop to fit yours. Maybe even a small outboard or trolling motor prop, which are typically plastic. Testing to get the right rpm may be the harder part to accomplish without building a wind tunnel. Might have to mount the unit and fly a dozen times measuring output in flight at cruise.

    pb
    If you throw the Ipad out you can go all month on one charge

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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  27. #27
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    This is what I'm thinking.
    http://www.bandc.aero/alternatorcont...homebuilt.aspx
    If you look at the wiring diagram there are only two wires which come from the alternator. One to the buss and the other to the regulator/controller in addition to grounding the case. There are two wires coming from the Kubota dynamo. I'm assuming that they serve the same purpose?

    Perhaps Wireweinie can verify or poke holes in the idea?
    N1PA

  28. #28
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    If you throw the Ipad out you can go all month on one charge

    Glenn
    ha! That's quite possible.

    But I did notice the Garmin radio doesn't really want to be under 12 vdc. It starts displaying "reduced TX power low voltage". Doesn't seem to affect it, but just looking for the cleanest solution. I could keep using the dewalt battery for the iPad and just use the main battery for the radio, or build a bigger box for a different battery.

    I'm sure I'll fly a bunch more before anything changes, so I'll get some time to see how it works as is. I started with a battery out of the box, so next time out it'll have been recharged and may have a bit more duration.

    pb

  29. #29
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    This is what I'm thinking.
    http://www.bandc.aero/alternatorcont...homebuilt.aspx
    If you look at the wiring diagram there are only two wires which come from the alternator. One to the buss and the other to the regulator/controller in addition to grounding the case. There are two wires coming from the Kubota dynamo. I'm assuming that they serve the same purpose?

    Perhaps Wireweinie can verify or poke holes in the idea?
    I'd be interested in his comments, as I think the controller provides additional features, but the straight up regulator may be enough for my setup.

    http://www.bandc.aero/regulator14vhomebuilt.aspx

  30. #30

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    A solar charge controller is there to control overvoltage from the panel. Solar panels usually produce higher than desired voltage so the panel will produce an adequate output during less than ideal sun exposure. In ideal exposure the panel would cook your batter at about 17v. If your device is limited to <14.5v you won't need a controller. More sophisticated controllers will convert excess voltage into increased amperage at a useful voltage to improve the array output.

  31. #31
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    I thought of the PMR1C-14 regulator first, but then noticed that it doesn't have any over voltage protection. Thus I figured that this totally experimental endeavor needs all the protection it can get so that I don't burn out some expensive instruments or in your case radio. While $75 is more attractive than $180, in this case $180 may be less.
    N1PA
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  32. #32
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Stewart, we probably should have split this thread off into "experimental wind generator". But as Pete says, probably should have over voltage protection no matter what direction one goes.

    pb

  33. #33

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    I inderstand what you're talking about. An old friend used a similar device on his no-electrics Luscombe until he opted for a small solar panel laid on the glare shield. An inexpensive solar charge controller should suit you well. It won't know what's making the power but will condition that power just the same. Size the controller to suit your wind generator's output.
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  34. #34
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    If you use that dynamo, you'll need to use the Kubota reg with it. From what I've been able to find, it's an AC generator that will need the output rectified and regulated in order to be usefull.

    Also, speed of the wind turbine should be of no concern (barring mechanical damage) as long as the voltage regulator is functional. It will limit voltage to the setting, no matter the speed of the turbine and current draw is limited to what is 'asked' for by the system with peak limit set by current sensor or by saturation of the windings.

    Web

    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    So far it is just an idea in my head. I do have a Kubota tractor with one of these and it is more than adequate in keeping the battery charged. And the current battery is at least 20 years old. My idea is to make a prop out of wood and bolt it to the flange on the pulley. Those two lugs provide plenty of materiel for some sort of attaching device for the plane.

    This is one. http://www.worthingtonagparts.com/Ku...WN-15531-64017
    This is the regulator. https://www.dbelectrical.com/product...FUhXDQodI8YClA I must admit that the wiring has me confused, even though I have the tractor manual. My thought is to perhaps use a B&C regulator in the airplane.
    There is lots of information on line about this Kubota system.
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.
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  35. #35
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Thanks Web,
    The Kubota regulator wiring will take some research as there are six wires involved. Two from the dynamo, the other four need investigating. I'll have to dig into the Kubota manual. Is it safe to assume that voltage spikes and/or over voltage would/should not be a problem?
    N1PA

  36. #36
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    If it is rectified and regulated it should be smooth enough to not cause problems. A cheap and easy way to smooth it out further is to run the power through a filter designed for car stereos.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

  37. #37
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    I found this picture. I'm assuming the connections are:
    Light circuit = not used unless to power an inop light. Or to ground the inop light?
    Battery +(positive) ignition = ?? Perhaps not used in this application?
    Battery +(positive) = Main Buss
    Battery -(negative) = aircraft ground
    2 Stator wires = dynamo connection
    Should an on/off switch be in one of the stator wires? Or which wire?
    N1PA

  38. #38
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Without seeing the mfg's diagram, I'd say:
    -Stator wires (2) to the dynamo
    -Battery Positive to main buss, through breaker
    -Battery Negative to airframe ground
    -Ignition to the 'field' breaker, in series with one half of master switch
    -Light, most likely grounds when system not charging

    Anyone have a picture from a Kubota maintenance manual for verification?

    Web
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  39. #39
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Web,
    This is the Kubota tractor which I have. The wiring diagram is on page 48.
    http://kubotabooks.com/AutoIndex/ind...9200%20Ops.pdf
    N1PA

  40. #40
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    This is what I see from that diagram

    -1.25Sb = dynamo stator
    -WR = Battery charge light, goes positive when charge system is inop.
    -1.25B = Ground
    -R = Ignition switch (on/off), 'field' for us.
    -1.25Sb = dynamo stator
    1.25W = Battery (+), main bus for us.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.
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