Field Testing My Portable Solar Kit Off the Grid - #OffTheGrid

November 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Me and the Sprinter in the Rockies!Me and the Sprinter in the Rockies!Subscribe to my free Darkroom Newsletter and never miss another article or update.

Read exclusive articles, both technical and creative, and view fine art portfolios in the Darkroom Underground Magazine.

Explore my Training Materials that include video workshops, eBooks, and quick reference cards.

Learn more about my Fine Art Platinum and Platinum/Palladium Printmaking.
I decided to document the charge time of my battery today to help provide some insight into those that are considering a deep cycle AGM battery and solar panels for off the grid boondocking.  The test was conducted on a mostly sunny morning with full view of the sky (no obstructions).  Even the slightest amount of shade has huge impacts on the productivity of your system.  

While off the grid, I use electricity to run my Jobo to develop films in my Sprinter van, run a fan if I am hot, charge up my laptop, portable WiFi unit, and so on.  I have low power LED lights that I use for reading at night and I run a small refrigerator too.  

My battery was at about 75% capacity when I connected my 120W portable solar panel for charging.  I wanted a realistic test, so I turned on my pure sine wave A/C inverter and ran my TV while charging.  I have written another article about how to interpret your battery voltage that you also may want to review.

GoPower 120W Portable Solar PanelsI started at 8:35AM at 12.3 volts.  By 9:00AM the battery voltage was teetering between 12.5 and 12.6 and by 9:15 it was at 12.7.  Then at 9:32 the battery was at 12.8 and at 9:35, exactly one hour into the charge the battery was at 12.9 fully charged.

My portable solar panel is about 32″ x 40″ when fully extended and half that size when folded in the carrying case.  I absolutely love my solar panel and deep cycle battery.

Let’s break down the above testing data and make the information useful.  Here are some observations that I take away from the test:

  • It took exactly one hour to charge the battery under a light load from 75% to full capacity.
  • It only took 30 minutes to charge from 75% to about 90% and the remaining 30 minutes to get to 100% fully charged.
  • This type of information is very important when you are off the grid.  You should run your own tests to have a baseline of what to expect when you are out boondocking.

I look forward to your comments below.


Join my Free Newsletter and never miss an update again. 

Check Out My Latest Books, Video Workshops, and Quick Start Guides For Darkroom and Large Format Photographers. 


No comments posted.

B&H Logo 300x206B&H Logo 300x206

Media & News Updates



Popular Articles