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OK, so I bought a little 20W solar panel off amazon to start tinkering and learning solar power. I have the panel itself, the little charge controller, and I plan to get a AA/AAA battery charger with a car adapter, and a 12V automotive socket. The instructions with this little panel were ... ah ... "sparse" to say the least.

My instinct tells me
Red goes to + always
Black goes to - always

Red panel wire to solar +
Black panel wire to solar -
Red cigarette socket wire to load +
Black cigarette socket wire to load -
Plug AA/AAA battery charger unit into cigarette socket
Put batteries in AA/AAA battery charger
Put panel into direct sunlight.

Am I going wrong?

Many thanks,
--K
 

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This is small but OK for charging some small batteries. Get some good ones compatible with your charger.
 

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the "d" from ban[d]
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OK, so I bought a little 20W solar panel off amazon to start tinkering and learning solar power. I have the panel itself, the little charge controller, and I plan to get a AA/AAA battery charger with a car adapter, and a 12V automotive socket. The instructions with this little panel were ... ah ... "sparse" to say the least.

My instinct tells me
Red goes to + always
Black goes to - always

Red panel wire to solar +
Black panel wire to solar -
Red cigarette socket wire to load +
Black cigarette socket wire to load -
Plug AA/AAA battery charger unit into cigarette socket
Put batteries in AA/AAA battery charger
Put panel into direct sunlight.

Am I going wrong?

Many thanks,
--K
"tinkering" is exactly what you will do as long as you try to do anything with solar.

Think of golf carts. Why aren't they equipped with solar roofs? Because they do not work. They are not worth the money. They are expensive to maintain.

Solar is modern alchemy.
 

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"tinkering" is exactly what you will do as long as you try to do anything with solar.

Think of golf carts. Why aren't they equipped with solar roofs? Because they do not work. They are not worth the money. They are expensive to maintain.

Solar is modern alchemy.
if i read the op correctly, the question was about wiring.
not for opinions about the efficacy of solar power.
 

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"tinkering" is exactly what you will do as long as you try to do anything with solar.

Think of golf carts. Why aren't they equipped with solar roofs? Because they do not work. They are not worth the money. They are expensive to maintain.

Solar is modern alchemy.
Since the OP had the question answered I'm going to ask this question which will derail the original intent of the thread. Mods.....delete if you wish.

What would be a good Off Grid power source if not solar in your opinion then? Oil, coal, and NG, are regional so unless everyone moves to an area of the country that has one of those and then pays to extract it or does it themselves.....what else is there?

Wind has good production, but also high maintenance at a high altitude from the ground.
 

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"tinkering" is exactly what you will do as long as you try to do anything with solar.

Think of golf carts. Why aren't they equipped with solar roofs? Because they do not work. They are not worth the money. They are expensive to maintain.

Solar is modern alchemy.
Solar works. Just don't make your setup too complicated. Know where to compromise. You have to use your head.

But the efficiency is not so high that they make sense to "carry themselves under their own power", that's why you don't see golf carts with solar roofs.

Running solar to a very modest battery bank for the recharging of mobile devices and running LED lights is pretty realistic. When you start wanting to run refrigerators and air conditioners and electric ovens and such, then you start talking REAL power drain, which comes with more concerns.

Which is why a survivalist setting up an off-grid setup will probably have to make the following compromises:

1) live without air conditioning
2) use wood for heat and cooking

But solar isn't voodoo. Don't let the fact that leftist eco-libs have embraced renewables spoil you on them. They work as well for conservatives.
 

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the "d" from ban[d]
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To answer most questions: A backup generator powered an internal combustable engine.

If you need backup power and it is cloudy or at night you have little to nothing. If you go long periods without needing the solar you might need to replace your battery system without ever needing it.

Solar is a fun science fair project. It is something to do so you can pretend it will be there if you need it. It is not a reliable source of power. Sure you can use it to charge your cell phones and laptops but it is not going to keep you on the air.
 

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To answer most questions: A backup generator powered an internal combustable engine.

If you need backup power and it is cloudy or at night you have little to nothing. If you go long periods without needing the solar you might need to replace your battery system without ever needing it.

Solar is a fun science fair project. It is something to do so you can pretend it will be there if you need it. It is not a reliable source of power. Sure you can use it to charge your cell phones and laptops but it is not going to keep you on the air.
Generator would be good for short stints, but can't be relied on for continuous use over a long period of time. Of course there's the concern of storing hundreds of gallons of fuel for said generator that can be dangerous and takes up lots o space. Both the generator and fuel have their own maintenance issues also.

If we're talking intermittent use, for a few weeks....I'm with ya, but for a long haul......not seeing the feasibility is any better than the panels or wind.
 

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your basic setup looks ok, although you may consider adding an inline fuse.
Perhaps just as important, you may consider adding a storage battery to your setup.
Without any info on your charge controller, I cannot be sure of the output voltage of the controller. Without a battery load, the output voltage of the controller may exceed the rated input of your battery charger unit. Some low end units(charge controllers) have been known to output odd voltage when directly powering a load without a storage battery to "temper" the voltage.
Just a thought to doublecheck with a meter.
Fuses are always a good idea, especially if you do add a battery.
 

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the "d" from ban[d]
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Generator would be good for short stints, but can't be relied on for continuous use over a long period of time. Of course there's the concern of storing hundreds of gallons of fuel for said generator that can be dangerous and takes up lots o space. Both the generator and fuel have their own maintenance issues also.

If we're talking intermittent use, for a few weeks....I'm with ya, but for a long haul......not seeing the feasibility is any better than the panels or wind.
Given the correct circumstances solar might be of some use. If you have wind 24/7 then go for it. For example if you live in the UK, and east coast of US. (I know about those areas. I am sure there are others.)

I'll bet half of the people that put together solar system with batteries will not get them to work when they need them because of neglect.
 

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Wow, from powering a few double As to powering Los Angeles, what a leap
I have to agree, that 20 watt panel ain't gonna do it, you need at least 3

Now, back to reality
I think your setup will work fine, someone was right with not knowing the specifics of the charge controller, but your cig lighter adapter (pictured) has a fuse so somewhat mitigates the risk, do you have a model for it
I use a goalzero 7 watt for charging double a's no charge controller necessary. You can add a 12v battery to your setup so it can be charged when the AAs aren't there, then you could charge the smaller batteries from that at night
I have a similar setup that I'm using now to charge my power tool batteries, but I added a small 400 watt inverter on the 'load' terminals. Your amperage on that controller will determine/limit what you can do, my controller is 10 amp so I can't have anything that pulls more than 10 amp connected


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A 20 watt solar panel will put out just over 1 amp of power under the most ideal of conditions. With such a low output, I would just set aside the charge controller and charge whatever you are charging directly. Keep in mind that trickle chargers are usually in the 1-2 amp range, and charge controllers are not used in that application. You would be very unlikely to fry a battery on such a low output. Save the charge controller for when you increase your solar power input to 3+ amps of power. This will help to increase the efficiency of your small system.
 

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Tomorrow, I will be powering my ham radio via batteries charged using only solar power from 2 20 watt panels, in parallel, so my output from them combined is still below 3 amps. my controller is 10 amp, so I have to turn down my power in the radio or it will blow the fuse, the panels alone cannot put out enough amps to power the radio directly, except at very low power, so I have to use the battery, yes I 'could' go direct to battery with the radio, I just don't, I kind of like the protection in between, and I'm extending my operating time by charging while I can


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I'd still suggest going and grabbing at least a 12 volt 35ah battery so you solar can work during the day charging the big battery, then charge the smaller batteries after hours
Actually you can get a small 7ah battery which will still work for your purpose

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the "d" from ban[d]
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I'd still suggest going and grabbing at least a 12 volt 35ah battery so you solar can work during the day charging the big battery, then charge the smaller batteries after hours
Actually you can get a small 7ah battery which will still work for your purpose

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I agree charge into the largest deep cell battery with the most cold cranking amps possible. You do not want to challenge the storage battery on the discharge cycle. Most controllers must see a charge before they will permit charging. So it is important not to completely discharge the battery.

If you do you will likely have to connect the solar panel directly to the battery to give it some charge before hooking back up to your system.
 
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