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How to effictivley charge 12v batteries with a Generator

You’ve bought an iTechworld inverter generator with built-in 12-volt outlets. But how do you go about charging 12v batteries from your generator? Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Let’s get straight to point: Most inverter generators may have a 12-volt output on them, but when it comes to the crunch, they are not designed to fully charge your batteries directly. There are two main reasons why:

First, your generator’s DC outlet is limited to a current of about 8 amps maximum. So any battery will take a while to fully charge.

Secondly, the voltage of the DC output isn’t regulated – it varies according to the generator’s RPM. This is fine if the generator is running a low load, but not if it’s running a medium to high load. Also, the generator won’t cut back the charge when the battery is nearly full, so you can’t risk leaving it charging for too long.

The bottom line: Your DC output on your generator is best for emergency or short term charging, i.e. providing your car battery a trickle charge. Anything more is a potential risk to your batteries.

So what’s the solution?

The best way to charge your battery is to run the iTechworld 20 Amp 240-volt battery charger off the generator’s AC output. This will recharge the battery much faster and accurately. Putting in a hefty 20 Amps. Also, the iTechworld 20 Amp 240-volt battery chargers regulate themselves down, so as charge builds in the battery, the charger won’t be pushing the same amount of amps. It will also cut off when the battery is fully charged.

So as a backup or alternative to your solar set up to charge your camping/caravan/motorhome battery packs, iTechworld Generator Inventors are a great option when they are working with the iTechworld 20 Amp 240-volt battery charger, especially as you can also run your appliances on 240v straight from the generator also.

 

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Setting Up Your Portable Satellite Television System

This is a Step-By-Step Beginners Guide to setting up a portable satellite TV system for motor homers and caravaners.

 

Introduction

Setting up a portable satellite TV dish is simple and quick … if you know exactly how to do it and you have done it 10 times before. For those who have never been shown the basic principles or who have only undertaken the task a few times, it can be the most frustrating thing in the world. We regularly find people who are so annoyed with their new satellite TV system, that they are ready to toss the whole set-up into the sea. Imagine setting up a satellite a bit like the first time you tried to ride a push bike, its pretty hard to start with but becomes really easy with practice.

FIRST OF ALL – don’t despair! You are not the first person to find it hard (or near impossible) to set up your new system. This guide aims to help ease the pressure giving you the basic knowledge and tools to get the system operational.

 

 

Some technical stuff

 

  • The satellite that your TV signal comes from is called “Optus C1”. Optus C1 orbits the earth at 156 degrees, in a geo-stationary position 35,000 km’s above Paupa New Guinea (geo-stationary means that the satellite orbits the earth at the same speed as the earth rotates – it therefore seems to be stationary from our view-point).

 

  • When we move from place to place the satellites apparent position in the sky changes.

 

 

  • There are hundreds of other satellites up there with C1 – and three of these are annoyingly close to our Optus C1. Your satellite finder can tell you when your dish is pointing at a satellite – it cannot tell which satellite you are pointing at.

 

 

  • The ‘signal level’ reading on your decoder is of very little use – the ‘quality’ is the only useful indicator. Try pointing the dish at the ground – you will often get a high ‘signal level’ reading (but low or no quality and no picture of course).

 

 

  • The dish reflects the signal from the satellite into the ‘LNB’ – this is the part on the end of the dish arm where the coax cable attaches. LNB stands for Low-Noise-Block. The LNB’s function is to catch the signal reflected from the dish and translate it into a form that the decoder can understand.

 

 

  • The signal strength is not the same all over Australia – some areas are strong (particularly in capital cities) and other areas are very weak.

 

 

The first few times

Here a few important hints for setting up the dish for the first time…For the first few times that you set up your dish, plan to do it in daylight – it is much easier to follow instructions, find tools and read a satellite finder when it is not pitch black outside.

 

  • Don’t start under pressure! 5 minutes before the beginning of the grand final is not the time to start setting up the system. For the first few times allow lots of time.

 

 

  • If you can, get a helping hand. Your wife or husband watching the TV screen can save a lot of running around (do try not to take it out on them if things don’t go quite as planned).

 

 

  • Do it yourself. It can be very tempting to accept help from the person parked next door. You will never become better at something you let others do for you.

 

 

  • The dish is not pointing where you think it is. If your dish is of the off-set type (almost all are) the dish is pointing 5 to 15 degrees above where the arm is pointing.

 

 

Stage one – Pre-Setup 1

  1. Use the charts or the table provided to determine the correct elevation and direction for your current location – write these down on a piece of paper. Please note that this is just your starting point with the ground mounted dishes and the elevation used to gain a signal can be 5 - 10 degrees higher than what is stated in the instructions.
  2. Select a location for your dish… A. Avoid trees and other obstacles – you need a clear view of the sky in the direction of the satellite. Remember, the signal arrives 5 – 15 degrees above where the dish arm is pointing (depending on your dish design). B. Make sure your cable will be long enough to reach the decoder.
  3. Make sure the stand is as plumb as it can be – the vertical support needs to be as close to vertical as it can be. Use a level if you have to.
  4. Peg the stand down. It is difficult to adjust a dish on a stand that is wobbling around. Most people drill holes in the legs of their stands and drive steel tent pegs through these holes to hold the stand firm.
  5. Place the dish as low to the ground as you can. A dish that sits high on the stand is more prone to being moved or even blown over by the wind; it is much easier to adjust a dish that is lower to the ground.
  6. Leave the decoder turned off while you connect the coax cable to the finder and the LNB. Make sure that you have the finder connected the correct way around – the connection marked ‘to LNB’ must be connected to the small cable leading to the LNB.

Stage Two

Finding the satellite

  1. Set the dish elevation according to the iTechworld instructions. Remember this can be 5 – 10 degrees out.
  2. Turn the VAST decoder on.
  3. Turn the volume on the TV up loud – the VAST 800 tuning channel has a distinctive music to let you know you have locked on.
  4. Check that the finder is working by turning the sensitivity adjustment up until the finder makes a noise (if there is no noise – check your connections and that the decoder is switched on).
  5. Stand behind the dish and keep the sat finder at eye level.
  6. Point the dish well away from the correct direction and adjust the finder until the needle is pointing half scale. We usually point it due North.
  7. Rotate the dish back close to the correct direction (use the compass provided).
  8. Slowly rotate the dish until you see and hear a change in the finder – the finder needle will rise.
  9. IMPORTANT – our aim is to get the needle to go “off the scale”.
  10. Once the needle goes off the scale it should be a Optus C1. Check the TV to see if channel 800 is there.
  11. If 800 is not on the screen, wind the needle back to 8 and adjust the dish position and elevation until the needle spikes again. Repeat this process until you have channel 800 on the TV screen.
  12. Channel 800 is on the screen HOORAY! Pat yourself on the back – you have done it!

 

Wrong Satellite

If after following all of the instructions above you find that you still have no pictures, the most likely cause is that you have found the wrong satellite!

From the diagram above you can see that there are four satellites grouped quite closely together … B3, C1, D1 and Pas8 (The actual elevation above the horizon is different for different locations throughout Australia). Optus C1 is the satellite that we need the dish to be pointing at. If you have found the wrong satellite, it is most likely that your dish is mistakenly pointing at Optus B3. Adjust the dish down a few degrees. Set the finder at half scale. Slowly rotate the dish to the right – the needle on the finder will again start to rise. Follow steps 8 to 18 above (in the finding the satellite section) until you are locked onto Optus C1.

 
 

LNB Skew

Aside from the elevation and direction, one other thing changes slightly as you move around the country. The third dish parameter that changes is called the skew or LNB rotation. You should only need to adjust this after moving 200 – 300 kilometers. Please note this is only a fine tune used after you have picked up the signal to gain a little extra quality.

  1. Make sure the dish is fully set up and you have the best alignment you can get. Be sure it is firmly locked in place.
  2. Have the decoder switched on and make sure you have a good picture.
  3. Using the remote control, find the signal level and quality bar graphs on the decoder.
  4. You are only interested in the quality graph.
  5. Note the value of the quality on the graph.
  6. Rotate the LNB a few degrees clockwise (be careful not to move the dish).
  7. Make sure you are well out of the way of the dish and again check the quality graph.
  8. If the quality is higher – you are going in the correct direction.
  9. If the quality is lower – you are going in the wrong direction. Rotate the LNB a few degrees counter-clockwise.
  10. Keep rotating the LNB (in very small amounts) until you cannot get the quality bar to go any higher – you now have the optimum skew setting.

 

Packing the dish away

Before you pack the dish away take 1 minute to make a small pen mark on the elevation bracket at the current position. This will be your starting point next time you set up the dish (assuming you have not traveled thousands of kilometers). This mark will only be useful if you always have the stand sitting level. Both the dish and the arm are extremely delicate – any distortion in the dish or slight bend in the arm will make it very difficult or impossible to align the dish. Pack it carefully. Do not consider cutting or hinging the arm – it may still work in high signal areas, but it will not function in the lower signal areas.

Elevation to Optus C1 from all parts of Australia

 

 

Direction to Optus C1 from all parts of Australia.

 

There is a new Satellite Finder available, it pretty much does all the hard work for you. Its called the D4 "Marriage Saver" Satellite Finder. If you are looking for the quick and easy way to set up Satellite TV first time every time then you will want to read more about the Marriage Saver HERE

 

 

 

Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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How to calculate your solar power requirements

How much solar power do you need?

 

So you want to set your rig up for Solar but you are not sure what size of set up you need? This blog is designed to give you the tools to be able to work out exactly what are you are drawing from your rig's batteries and what type of Solar set up you need. Knowledge is key when setting up your rig for Solar so the more information you have on each and every one of those home comforts devices you plan to take away with you the better. If anyone has a question pop it in the comment section below. I will answer each and everyone.

 

 

How to work out Watts, Amps and Volts

It stands to reason that a larger Solar Panel will collect more energy in less time, but just how big does the solar panel need to be?

The power consumption of appliances is given in Watts. To calculate the energy you will use over time, just multiply the power consumption by the hours of use. For example:

10 watt device used over 3 hours equals 10 x 3 = 30 Watt

How to convert Amps to Watts

The energy in Watts is equal to the electric charge in Amps times the voltage in volts:

Watts = Amps × Volts

Example

If your device doesn’t have the Watts labelled on it, then it should at least have the input Volts i.e. 240V and the Amps AC it draws such as 240V – 1.5A. You can then use the equation Watts Volts x Amps so 240v x 1.5amps = 360 Watts.

How to convert Watts to Amps

The electric charge in Amps is equal to the energy in Watts divided by the voltage in volts (V):

Amps = Watts / Volts

Example

Find the electric charge in Amps when the energy consumption is 300 watts and the voltage is 240 volts.

300 Watts / 240 volts = 1.25 Amps

Check out the iTechworld inline Watt meter which does all these calculations for you HERE


Do I need a battery?

Solar panels are commonly used to charge a battery – not to charge a device directly. There are a couple of reasons for having batteries. Solar panels might not generate enough wattage to directly power an appliance, but they can build up a higher wattage via a battery. Secondly a battery can regulate the power going in to the appliance at a constant rate. When solar panels are charging a battery it is usually at a varying rate which could harm an appliance if not regulated.

Battery capacity is measured in Amp Hours (e.g. 100Ah). You need to convert this to Watt Hours by multiplying the Ah figure by the battery voltage (e.g. 12V) – see calculations above.

AH refers to amp hours. This rating is usually found on deep cycle batteries. If a battery is rated at 100 amp hours it should deliver 5 amps of power for 20 hours or 20 amps of power for 5 hours.

When choosing a deep cycle battery, keep in mind the equipment you will be powering and the time in which they will be running. Theoretically a 100Ah battery can deliver 5 amps over a 20 hour period (and so on). Taking into account the average small campsite - with a small 45W fridge running for 6 hours, 3 hours of 15W lighting and 20W of other electronic equipment - the minimum consumption to be expected is 335W. Take this wattage and divide it by the voltage, 12V, gives 28Ah. With the aim of leaving 50% in the battery brings the requirement to 56 Ah per day.

Check out the only the battery that iTechworld recommends with Solar Power HERE

What size solar panel do I need? 

Solar Panels power generation is commonly given in Watts e.g. 120 Watts. To calculate the energy it can supply the battery with, divide the Watts by the Voltage of the Solar Panel.

120 Watts / 18v = 6.6 Amps

Please note that Solar Panels are not 12v, I repeat Solar Panels are not 12v. Any one who works out the Amps of a solar panels using 12v as the voltage calculation does not understand solar or has been misinformed. All solar panel voltages should be marked in the item description of our website or on the unit itself.

Check out the iTechworld Solar Panel range HERE

Inverters

The power inverter converts your storage battery power into the 240 volts AC that runs your appliances. Unless you only run 12 volt DC appliances you will need a power inverter to supply your AC.

There are 2 types of Inverters

Pure sine wave and Modified sine wave.

The Pure Sine Wave matches the power to that of which you get from your Electricity Supplier, its clean and you can run any appliances safely even sensitive equipment.

The Modified sine wave used to be considered a dirty power but some aren't as bad as they used to be, you can use this inverter type for  things that don't have sensitive electronics for example fridges, cookers, pumps, You may have to be careful with some appliances such as laptops and TVs so check first.

Check out the iTechworld range of inverters HERE

Charge Controllers/Regulators

All Solar Panels 30 watts and above need a Solar Charge Controller/Regulator. A Charge Controller/Regulator is necessary to protect the batteries from over charging and supply them with the proper amount of energy to promote long battery life. If the charge isn’t regulated it can have a damaging effect on the battery being charged.

Check out the iTechworld range of Charge Controllers/Regulators HERE

 Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

 

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Easy 12v Solar installation

How to install 12v Solar Panels

 

Even if you're on a budget, it is still possible to fit a solar panel system to your caravan or Rv.

 

 

MYSTERY SURROUNDS SOLAR installation and it’s easy to see why. It would appear as though you need a physics degree and a masters in automotive electronics to adequately fit a solar system to your rig. You don’t want a photovoltaic cell to cross pollinate with a UNC anodized hex-head fixing, with the resultant loss of fluid dripping all over your neighbours cat now do you?

That is nonsense, of course, but the point is that a bit of common sense, patience and background reading on power requirements when free camping is all you need. Put away that electrical engineering course application – you won’t need it!

The basic parts you will need are several metres of insulated copper wire (we’ve used 4mm here), self-tapping screws, silicon, brackets for the panel and the key parts of the solar system – an iTechworld 100 Watt Hard Frame Solar Panel, an iTechworld 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator and an iTechworld 100Ah deep-cycle battery.

The accessories that you run off the battery are not dealt with here – this is all about harnessing free power from the sun.

Don’t be tempted to get a lower wattage panel to save money – sure, you can get an excellent 20W panel, a battery and regulator for less than $300. But that marvelous setup would only power your pocket LED torch for half an hour’s reading in your camp swag every night.

Instead, we’re assuming you are not in a swag under the stars but in a caravan with lights, television and 12V points for the likes of recharging a phone. To make a solar conversion worth the effort, you will need a minimum of a 100W Hard Frame Solar panel, 100Ah battery, Mounting brackets and a decent regulator – this is the best setup for those on a budget. ITechworld can provide this full package for under $600!!

As with all caravan DIY and maintenance projects, if you are not completely confident with the job at hand, please consult a specialist.



STEP BY STEP

1 Fit the iTechworld Mounting Brackets to your solar panel for installation on your caravan’s roof. You can use and adhesive to put the brackets onto the solar panel or screw into them with tech screws.

2 Position panel on roof with brackets attached, permitting adequate ventilation under the panel.

3 Prep roof with wax and grease remover prior to applying your silicon adhesive.

4 Preliminarily position the panel so you know where to clean. Try to position it clear of existing joins as the panel must come off to fix leaks in the join if they should occur.

5 Apply a bead of silicon to help secure the brackets with the panel attached to the roof.

6 Gently rest the brackets with the panel attached on the bead of silicon.

7 Use tech screws to help secure the panel if required.

8 Drill a hole and feed the wiring from the panel to the spot you’ve chosen as the new home for the regulator. If your van hasn’t been pre wired for solar, it will probably be necessary to drill a hole or holes, this can be sealed using the iTechworld Solar Entry gland. This will give you a waterproof point on the roof for the wiring.

9 Cut excess wire to suit. Mount regulator in desired spot.

10 Connect the wires from the regulator to the battery, making sure the positive and negatives correspond. Leave the regulator for 5 minutes this gives the regulator a chance to detect the battery voltage. Now connect the solar panel to regulator making sure the positive and negatives correspond.


11 Check the solar panel charging voltage and condition of the battery on the regulator. The job is done! Grab a beer. Brag at how good you are to your wife. Post some photos of your amazing job on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram. Invite the neighbours round to show off your new skills.

 

If you have decided to get the new high efficiency 100 Watt iTechworld Semi Flexible Solar Panel with American Solar Cells instead of the hard frame Solar Panels then the installation becomes a lot more specific to each situation. No brackets are needed for this installation. A lot of people glue our 100 Watt Semi Flexible panels directly to the roof however iTechworld have done research and found that if the panel has air flow underneath it will operate more efficiently.

 

 

 

 

 

View the Info graph on Semi Flexible Solar Panels HERE

Learn how American Solar Cells are changing the game in Australia HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

 

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iTechworld Fact sheet: Pure sine wave VS modified sine wave

Alternating current
So, you’re looking to purchase an inverter to run an AC-powered device off a battery or other DC source. Will you need a pure-sine-wave inverter (PSW), or will a cheaper modified-sine-wave inverter (MSW) do the job?
 
To answer that question, let’s begin by looking at what AC is. For starters, it’s short for alternating current. In other words, it denotes a current that repeatedly changes direction. This goes for the output of both pure- and modified-sine-wave inverters. Both are AC. What sets the two apart, is how the current changes direction and how long it stays level. Have a look at the pictures below.




As you can see, the pure sine wave features a smooth, flowing rhythm. It’s similar to what you’d think of as a “wave”. Consequently, it’s also called a “true” sine wave. This is more or less what you get in your power point at home, and it is what most household appliances are designed to run on.
 
In contrast to this, the modified sine wave features prolonged highs and lows as well as plateaus at zero voltage, giving it a rather squarish look. Not surprising, then, that it’s also called a “square” sine wave.

 
Some appliances are compatible with a modified sine wave; others are not. As a general rule, the more complex the appliance, the likelier it is that it requires a pure sine wave. But to be absolutely sure, you should always go by what the manufacturer says. To give you a better idea of how the different waveforms affect different appliances, let’s have a look at the two waveforms in greater detail, though.
 
Modified-sine-wave inverters
MSW inverters utilise filters to round the corners of a square wave; hence the word “modified”. As previously mentioned, however, the shape of the wave remains quite square.
 
Because of the plateauing peak outputs, appliances running on a modified sine wave will have to deal with more power for a longer time, and this equals additional heat. For this reason, many appliances that are designed to run on grid power will overheat if run on a modified sine wave.


 
Nevertheless, MSW inverters do have their place. Since they don’t require as many components as pure-sine-wave inverters, they are relatively cheap. And they typically use DC power more efficiently than PSW inverters, meaning that your battery will last longer. So, if you plan to run only normal light bulbs and induction or shunt motors, for instance, an MSW inverter will be the right choice for you. However, as previously mentioned, take heed: if you are unsure of whether your appliance will run on MSW, make sure of it before you plug it in.
 
Pure-sine-wave inverters
Manufacturing a PSW inverter is a lot more involved than making an MSW inverter, and this translates into a higher price. But what you get for the additional cost is peace of mind. Appliances are getting increasingly complex; these days, even seemingly simple devices feature advanced microprocessors, and, oftentimes, MSW will not agree with these microprocessors. A PSW is the only safe choice.
 
For example, many devices rely on a PSW to time their operation by counting how often the wave passes through zero voltage. This works well on the smooth grid AC. But when such devices are run off an MSW inverter, their microprocessors are tricked by the MSW’s plateaus at zero voltage, which results in miscalculations of time, leading to poor performance and shorter product lifespan.


 
A PSW inverter, on the other hand, gives you an output that is close to identical to that of household power, which makes it perfect for any appliance that you’d normally plug into the wall. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that even normal household appliances may produce abnormal loads for short periods of time. Motors and fridges, for example, may require a significantly higher wattage during 5-15 seconds at start-up. Quality PSW inverters deal with this by having a 40%-100% surge capacity. So, when shopping for inverters, always read the specifications and make an informed choice.
 
In short

  • Modified-sine-wave inverters are relatively simple and cheap products that generally will use battery power more efficiently than pure-sine-wave inverters.
     
  • Only basic products such as normal lights bulbs and induction or shunt motors can safely be run on a modified sine wave.
     
  • Pure-sine-wave inverters require many components and therefore come at a higher cost. They produce current that is close to identical to that of grid AC, making them perfect for running sensitive electronics.
     
  • If in doubt as to whether your appliances can run on a modified sine wave, always check with the manufacturer.

 

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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