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Thread: Rc solar panels

  1. #1
    Pilot Hockeystud87's Avatar
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    Rc solar panels

    I was wondering if anyone was able to post some information on how to setup a rc plane with solar cells to increase flight times. I have seen Alex villas queen bee flight but couldn't find specifics.

    Questions at hand:

    1. How are the solar cells wired? Are they in parallel to create large amps or series for voltage.

    2. Do the solar cells actually charge the battery or are they just used as a supplementary power source so their is less draw from the battery?

    3. If they do charge the battery how is that done? Are they directly connect to the battery or is their a small circuit board needed between?

    4. If the battery is charged what voltage is need and amperage? Like for a 11.1 battery do I need higher voltage to charge or can I have input voltages of 5v?

    Thanks for any help that can be provided.
    sum ting wong
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    Sounds like a typical RcLab1 maiden flight to me -ssassen

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  2. #2
    Sky Pirate & FPV Outlaw SecretSpy711's Avatar
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    Q. How are the solar cells wired? Are they in parallel to create large amps or series for voltage.
    A: Combination of parallel and series to get what you need.

    Q. Do the solar cells actually charge the battery or are they just used as a supplementary power source so their is less draw from the battery? If they do charge the battery how is that done? Are they directly connect to the battery or is their a small circuit board needed between?
    A. This is what puts most people off of doing a project like this. You need to run it into a charger since lipo's are charged by constant current and then constant voltage near the end. You'll also need something to dump the excess power that the solar cells are generating when you're not using it.

    Q. If the battery is charged what voltage is need and amperage? Like for a 11.1 battery do I need higher voltage to charge or can I have input voltages of 5v?
    A. you need whatever your charger needs. My charger operates on 12v (there's a range) and can handle up to a 30 amp charge rate. It would draw slightly more than that because it is not 100% efficient. If you were aiming for say a 3 amp charge rate, the charger would probably try to draw 3.5 or 4 amps from it's source (the solar cells)
    Last edited by SecretSpy711; 2nd April 2014 at 04:56 PM.
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  3. #3
    Pilot Hockeystud87's Avatar
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    Great info secretspy.

    Follow up questions:

    If your using a charger that requires 12v does this mean your limited to 3 cell? What happens if using a 4s or 6s? I'm this will require higher voltage.

    Also what do you mean it requires a place to dump unused power. Can't you try to wire it into the motor?
    sum ting wong
    WI to low
    BANG DING OW -chatch

    Sounds like a typical RcLab1 maiden flight to me -ssassen

    Whatever. This forum sucks. -SENTRY

  4. #4
    Navigator cardboard_boks's Avatar
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    As far as I have read on these system the cells are only connected to the batts via the charger. The batteries are like a dam as the panels are the river that feeds them, you have to go through the dam before you go to the system (your electronics) downstream. The issue of dumping excess power comes when your batts are fully charged and your total current draw is less then the total power collected by the solar cells. Eg if you were gliding only using 2A or power via servos but the panels are making 3A you have to get rid of 1A as it has nowhere to be used up.

  5. #5
    Instructor Pilot Channel 1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hockeystud87 View Post
    I was wondering if anyone was able to post some information on how to setup a rc plane with solar cells to increase flight times.
    Unless you have access to some very thin film cells, you are going to find the additional power needed to overcome the weight of the cells, will exceed any power they can provide to the system.

    Wayne
    Everybody loves a bunny.

  6. #6
    Pilot Hockeystud87's Avatar
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    @ cardboard that was a great analogy. So the only issue that comes with the solar panels is over chagring the battery? If the batteries are gong to have a constant draw on them larger then the input amps I should be ok?

    @ Wayne I have purchased a set of panels that have already been used to enhance a aircraft.
    sum ting wong
    WI to low
    BANG DING OW -chatch

    Sounds like a typical RcLab1 maiden flight to me -ssassen

    Whatever. This forum sucks. -SENTRY

  7. #7
    Navigator cardboard_boks's Avatar
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    Thanx, was hopping to explain the powerflow in simple terms. I guess it comes down to what features the charger and/or solar controller you pick has, I imagine some have auto cut-off as well as a list of other things. I do know there is at least one maybe two other threads on the lab that go very deep into solar-RC tech.

  8. #8
    Pilot Hockeystud87's Avatar
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    I have seen some very small and light chargers out their. Any ideas on places to buy them and what voltages they can handle? I would like to accommodate a 4S battery.
    sum ting wong
    WI to low
    BANG DING OW -chatch

    Sounds like a typical RcLab1 maiden flight to me -ssassen

    Whatever. This forum sucks. -SENTRY

  9. #9
    Instructor Pilot Channel 1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hockeystud87 View Post
    Wayne I have purchased a set of panels that have already been used to enhance a aircraft.
    Might I ask who makes them, what do they weigh and what is their full sun wattage output rating?

    I would be really interested in seeing those numbers.

    Wayne
    Everybody loves a bunny.

  10. #10
    Pilot Byro's Avatar
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    Just a thought, if you had two current meters on the OSD. Could you set one up to show discharge from batteries and another to show charge to batteries? Then you would just keep an eye on these levels keeping the first one larger?

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