FIGJAM cooler/ solar panel / car battery setup

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FIGJAM cooler/ solar panel / car battery setup

Postby Aleksey » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:18 am

Hi all,

I was hoping you could help me verify that my plan is sound (or not). My electrical needs are modest: run FIGJAM style cooler and charge a cellphone, not necessarily at the same time, but preferably.

I was planning to:
- use car battery to power the cooler
- use cigaret lighter USB adapter to connect to the battery and charge cell phone.
- Use a solar panel to charge battery. I was thinking that a small 5W panel should be enough since 5W by itself should be enough to run the cooler (or almost) and I will be running it for less hours than the sun is going to be up anyway.

Then I ran into some questions:

1. Deep cycle vs car battery: can high crank amperage of car battery cause damage to the small computer fan and the pump? Since I'm arriving in a car I thought I'd just use it and not get deep cycle one this time around.

2. Will 5W be enough or should I get 7.5 or 10 just to be on the safe side?

3. Can I have everything connected to the battery at the same time? that is, cooler, cigarette lighter charger, and the solar panel charging it? My first guess is yes, but I thought I should double check.

4. I was looking around for a solar panel on amazon, and these things often lack sufficient description and possibly miscategorized. e.g. says you can charge cars, but there's no mention of charge controller... and number of other issues.

I was wondering if you've bought some yourself that has the charge controller, and various types of connectors, for car batteries, usb etc.

Do these look like they should do the trick? ... PDKIKX0DER ... ry+trickle ... olar+panel

5. Finally, if by any chance I cannot take the battery out of the rental car, if they sealed it or anything crazy like that. Can I do the same with motorcycle battery that I can bring? (It's probably 10AH at the most, so barely enough to last 4-5 hours if I'm lucky, then the solar panel charging it at the same time will become critical.)

Thank you in advance,

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Re: FIGJAM cooler/ solar panel / car battery setup

Postby Canoe » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:47 am

Most if not all of the info you're asking for is already covered in the main thread you posted in.

To emphasis: do not use a starting battery. They are not meant for this type of application. Using the car battery out of the rental car means you're at risk of getting charged for a new battery, once you find a way to get the car off the playa without a working starting battery. A boost may work, or you may need a tow.
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Re: FIGJAM cooler/ solar panel / car battery setup

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:10 am

It's not that critical, it's just a week with small loads. A car battery will work fine. I've used them for years in campers. I've got deep-cycles now just because I have somewhere else I can use them after BM so I could justify the purchase.
The high cranking amp capability will not damage your stuff, it only draws as many amps as it needs.
If I recall correctly FIGJAM reports running an FJ cooler all week on a deep cycle battery without charging it, if you use a regular car battery and solar charger my bet is you'll be OK.
If you're going to use your rental car's battery you could also get some wire and hook up to it without removing it.
The cheapest way to get it is to buy a few of those cheap white 12 foot extension cords and just cut the ends off. Your electric load is small enough.
You need to either start the car now and then (which will take care of more charging in short order than the tiny solar panel, or bring jumper cables in care you run it down too far. Or both.
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