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

November 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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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.



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-Tim Layton

Tim Layton | Darkroom Photographer
Darkroom - Large Format - Traditional Photography
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