CAMPING - POWER & LIGHTING
Projecta has four folding solar panel kits that come complete with canvas carry bags, five-metre cables with battery clamps, inbuilt charge regulators and set-up pegs.
Projecta’s folding solar panel kits use multiples of 20-watt monocrystalline panels, mounted on fibreglass backing sheets and sewn into a long canvas bag that allows the panels to be folded on top of each other when not being used.
The canvas bag also contains a pocket to house the charging lead and clamps, the ground pegs and the solar charge regulator. The 180-watt model also comes with a folding brace bar that makes it easy to move and align this seven-panel assembly.
There are 80-watt, 120-watt and 180-watt models available.
For added stability and durability, the early models’ aluminium legs have been replaced by steel ones. Other benefits include a new heavy duty metal handle and double latch set-up, which ensures the unit remains secure when removed from its durable canvas carry bag.
Each kit has an inbuilt three-stage solar control unit, improving charging and battery maintenance. The controller assists in maintaining the battery in peak condition and protects against solar discharge.
The 180W kit features seven scratch-resistant monocrystalline solar panels that are claimed to deliver 11A peak current. It also features solar controller with multi-stage charge and multi-chemistry technology, that allows the user to set the charging profile to suit the battery chemistry type (Gel, AGM, Wet and Calcium).
The Amp display allows the user to position the panel at the optimum angle to the sun to ensure peak power generation, while the Amp Hour reading provides accurate tracking of how much solar power has been generated that day.
The kit folds neatly into a 38cm x 56cm canvas bag and weighs only 8kg.
We chose the mid-priced SPM120K 120W model for initial evaluation and it’s the model in the below video..
The test unit measured 500mm x 370mm x 70mm when we unpacked it and after several repacks it measured the same, provided some care was taken when coiling the charging lead. It weighed just under 7kg.
We handled it roughly and sueezed it into a tight packing space, but caused no damage. We deliberately ran over one corner of it with our 4WD and it survived unscathed.
Unpacking and setting up took around three minutes and repacking took about the same time.
The kit included three, L-shaped plated steel pegs that fitted into sewn pockets at the back of the unfolded bag and were easy to push into the ground, to locate the six linked panels at the desired angle to the sun.
The supplied battery clamps were large enough to connect to typical heavy duty battery posts. Projecta rates the panel suitable to charge batteries up to 200 A/H and 1200 cold-cranking amp capacity.
We checked the Projecta regulator’s displayed output in amperes, using a clamp multimeter and recorded the current flow in direct sunlight, full shade and dappled light.
The SPM120K has a peak current rating of 6.86 amps and we measured current flow at 6.44 amps in full sunlight and with the panels tilted at right angles to the sun’s rays. Lying flat on the ground in the mid-morning autumn sun the flow measured 3.75 amps.
In dappled light, with about 50-percent of the panel area covered by cloud, the measured current was 2.6 amps. In full shade the current was only 0.74 amps.
While we were checking out the solar kit in mixed sunlight conditions it put 0.2 volts into a donor battery that had fallen to 12.2V overnight, running a fridge. Projecta claims a minimum seven-hour charge time for a dead flat battery.
Our conclusion is that the Projecta SPM120K Folding Solar Panel kit is an excellent full-to-part-sun charging unit, packaged in a compact bag that should fit easily into any 4WD. We’ve bought the test unit and it goes with us everywhere!
Since this video test one of the OTA Team has bought a 180W model and loves it. We checked it out on a battery that showed 12.6 volts of charge and it whacked in 10 amps for a few minutes and then tapered off to around five amps. Charge voltage was showing 14.4 volts.
Check out the 120W model: