Confused About Solar

Hi, I have been researching which portable solar panel to purchase. It seems it is good practice to put the regulator as close to battery as possible.

I Have narrowed it down to 2 suppliers, Bit deals eBay or kick ass solar panels.

It seems if I buy the ebay panels, I will need to upgrade the regulator and wiring / add anderson plugs from the panel.

The kick ass panels allow the regulator to be placed near the panel or near the battery, the regulator also has a setting for different battery types.

I am leaning to the kick ass panels as with my limited knowledge, I shouldn't need to make any modifications.

Is this the case or should I buy cheap and modify.

Thanks

Alex
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 07:29

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 07:29
Alex,

Quite a few of us on the forum have purchased the Rich brand solar panels from Bit Deals.
They might be "cheap" but certainly perform.

I had a quick look at your other alternative of the Kick Ass panels and one thing that was not specified was an MPPT controller.
The Rich panels include an MPPT controller which are more efficient, so this may be worth further investigation by you.

Although the Rich panels are pre-wired and the controller is at the panel end, a meter on the far end will indicate how effective the panel is in producing current to charge your batteries.

I added an Anderson connector on the solar panel, bypassing the on-board controller, so I could hook it up to the Ctek D250S dc-dc charger in my camper. The Ctek has a solar input port and also employs MPPT technology to manage the battery charging routine.
As you cannot mix controllers (only one per circuit) I have the best of both options.
If I'm charging the auxiliary battery in the back of the tub, I use the original circuit managed by the panel's on-board MPPT controller.
If connecting to the Camper's dc-dc charger, I use the uncontrolled circuit and the Ctek's MPPT controller at the battery end ensures a good charging routine to the two 100Ah batteries in the Camper.




Bill


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Follow Up By: Member - Bigred13 - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 08:48

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 08:48
Hi Bill I am looking at doing exactly what you have done with your solar panels, if the MPPT is on the panel ,how do you bypass the MPPT ??? to use the C Tek .
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 09:05

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 09:05
Hi BigRed,

When you open the junction box on the back of the panel you can see where both sides terminate before entering the onboard controller.
This is the pickup point where you can add another circuit.
I added a short twin core cable terminating at an Anderson connector and siliconed it to the back of the panel, under the junction box.
I labelled this Unregulated Supply.
I have two 5 metre leads to give me a 10 metre maximum run to where I place the panels.
Bill


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Follow Up By: William 1 - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 11:38

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 11:38
Hi Bill

I note your comment that only 1 controller per circuit. I have been thinking about buying a solar panel to charge up my auxillary battery in the ute when I stay somewhere for a couple of days. Will the solar controller on the panel clash with the existing IBS (Intelligent Battery System)?. Hope its not a dumb question.
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 14:11

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 14:11
Hi William,

No problem with the IBS.
This is basically a dual battery controller which measures a threshold voltage before the auxiliary circuit is opened.

The solar panel being connected directly to a battery will use its onboard controller to manage the charging process and shouldn't care if another circuit is also connected to that battery, with or without an IBS device.
Bill


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Reply By: OBJ - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 08:43

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 08:43
Members John and Val have written a very detailed piece about Electricity for camping which is in the blogs section on this site and includes some good stuff on solar panels.

Electricity for camping

I have a panel from Bit Deals and find it works very well, although I also have the Redarc dc-dc charger and run the panel through the controller on that instead of the controller supplied.

Good luck.

OBJ
AnswerID: 545013

Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 09:04

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 09:04
Just to add to OBJ's info. With the Redarc BC-DC, it is the MPPT controller so you simply bypss the cheap controller many panels come with to run the panel 'Open Circuit' to the redarc. This allows the full electrical output of the panel to flow to the BC-DC to be dealt with accordingly.

Cheers Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Krooznalong - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 14:24

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 14:24
Mate - I bought a Bit Deals panel a while back. After reading about the reg working better near the battery I VERY carefully prized the MPPT reg off the back of the panel and rewired the unit. Can't say how much more efficient it is as I didn't do before and after testing. Very happy with the Bit Deals unit - price was great and delivery very prompt. Works well. May work better with a better quality reg but it works good enough for me as is.
AnswerID: 545022

Reply By: Glenn C5 - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 15:23

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 15:23
I bought a folding panel from Bit Deals and the controller was separate. Maybe this is only with the folding ones.
AnswerID: 545024

Reply By: Norbar - Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 19:34

Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 at 19:34
Thanks for the feedback, I will be plugging into the caravan 1 day then into the battery in the rear tub on the Amarok on the next so I don't want to fix the regulator.

The other question I have is whats the difference between cheaper regulator that comes with the bit deals solar panels and regulators that cost $100 - $300 dollar mark.

Alex
AnswerID: 545033

Follow Up By: bks - Friday, Jan 30, 2015 at 08:01

Friday, Jan 30, 2015 at 08:01
Just had a quick look on ebay plenty of good MPPT controllers for a $100 or less.

I bought one a couple of years ago and works perfectly
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Reply By: Coolie - Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 11:19

Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 11:19
G'day Alex, As you were kind enough to respond to my earlier post re solar, thought I'd let you know what I'm doing. After good long talk with auto electrician where we looked at both my van and car we determined my needs. We have very simple rig set up and only want to do a bit of free camping. He recommended that I use the Anderson on the van as is (it feeds to the battery) and put an Anderson plug on my axillary in the car. He supplies a guage monitor with led display showing amps, volts, watts, that I can attach using an Anderson plug to either the Ando plug on van or car. I have yet to decide on what brand solar panel but looking closely at Solar King (with MPPT regulator). For me KISS seems to be the way to go. oo roo
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