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Help designing solar roof for a van Answered

so i plan on collecting a crap load of those little solar yard lights, taking out the solar panels till i have enough to cover the roof of my van. But from there i dont know where to go and i dont have much experience with making electronics, it would be nice to have them charge a battery or something, not sure. ideas, comments or plans would be greatly appreciated. j


For the purpose you need, such as charging a battery, you'd have to map this out first. A normal car battery is 12v, and these are lead acid (gel cell), so I would suggest putting 4 panels together in series, and connecting as many of these 4 paneled "groups" together in PARALLEL, to give yourself a few amps. I'm guessing the top of your van would be able to fit about 160 of these guys (no clue) so that means [40(amperage rating of one solar cell)] if I remember correctly, those garden light ones are like 30 mAh, so 1200 mAh, or 1.2 amps. Using a few diodes to prevent backward flow, and an auto-shutoff circuit to prevent overcharging, and you could have a great mobile battery charger. Coupled with a 110 volt inverter and you've got a mobile A/C power supply that can power anything that plugs into an outlet (although the current maybe a bit low to power something like a desktop computer.) Whatever floats your boat, or in this case, your van. -Ken

You would want to design something to put your array of solar cells on so that you can aim it for optimal exposure to the sun. If your van is moving, you may need some sort of tracking device and mechanism to adjust the angle and direction of the panels. You might end up with a van that looks like a military electronic countermeasure/radar tracking/missile guidance vehicle.

im thinking just flat on the top will look best and i wont be loosing to much light that way


10 years ago

You may want to start by figuring out how much power you *need* in your van, and work backwards from there.

Also keep in mind that even though those little solar yard lights are very inexpensive, in the end it may be more cost-effective to buy a larger solar panel. And you'll definitely wind up with far less plastic waste, compared to all those solar light bits you're throwing out - unless you have some creative idea for those?

Hook them all up like normal batteries, now charge something, maybe use them to charge your Ipod or similar or your mobile, basically skip the need for an extra power socket, if you get enough juice from them they could run a laptop for you, charging a large battery pack that can also be switched to power from the van. or some other entertainment machine... If there's lots of juice use them to charge a big deep cycle marine battery, use that to power whatever, whenever, at 12V you have lots of options thanks to car powered stuff but you could run an inverter if necesssary.


10 years ago

This would get more views if posted in the forums, well, at least, where most people visit. ;-)