camper solar panels

Hi everyone,

I'm looking at solar panels on ebay (see the link below).
Can anybody out there advise as to whether this is a good deal?

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW-125W-Solar-Panel-Monocrystalline-Module-12V-Camping-Battery-Power-Caravan-/281394020313?hash=item418463ffd9

Thanks in advance.

avidcamper
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 17:31

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 17:31
Cannot advise on the deal, it's been too long since I was doing my own shopping.

It looks like it has no regulator, which means you will have to factor in the cost of one. Technically this is a good option as the reg can and should be mounted as close as possible to the battery with long leads if required from the reg to the panel.

Just be aware of the extra cost.

Cheers

FrankP

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Follow Up By: avidcamper - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 17:38

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 17:38
Thankyou Frank - we already have two folding 60w panels - they have failed - no longer produce any current (volts, yes, but no current which equals no charge to the batteries).

During the troubleshooting phase, we ended up having a new (unnecessary, as it turns out) replacement regulator installed, as well as new camper batteries (was time for that to happen) ....... so, quite a few dollars later, we now need to replace our solar panels & have no idea what to look for & where best to buy. The price varies so much too!

Hopefully we won't spend any more than we have to- it has been a costly exercise so far!
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Follow Up By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 20:41

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 20:41
Hi Guys,
It looks from the photos that it has a PWM controller.
From my research it seems that MPPT controllers are the better option, you will need to factor in the possible extra cost to go with a MPPT.

here is a article I was reading.

http://www.enerdrive.com.au/mppt-vs-pwm-solar-controllers/

William
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 17:48

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 17:48
I recently bought a 200w panel from Bit Deals for about $203, avid. Considering the size of this panel, delivery was quite prompt.
If you only need a panel of that size, then I doubt if you could do better, price wise. I found their service very good. Bit Deals would be rated very high by many on this site.
Bob
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Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 21:44

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 21:44
I bought a 160 W folding panel from Bitdeals last year.
The panels themselves seem to be good quality but the wiring has caused trouble by being insecurely connected. The crimping has been insufficient causing a number of joins to part.
A friend bought an Australian assembled Kick Ass 150 trifold set which has performed faultlessly.
If I had my time over again I would pay the extra for Aust assembled.
No connection or relationship with either party.
Ross
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Follow Up By: Top End Az - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 21:53

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 21:53
I also bought one off these guys but with a stand. It seems ok but a gust of wind blew them over whilst testing it in the back yard and the folding legs broke off. Not sure how that happened but thems the breaks.
I continue to use it however on my roofrack bolted down with no issues. Again, I would probably go Aussie assembled next time but their service and delivery were great.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 22:48

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 22:48
Hi Ross

I have 2 Kick Ass panels, and they work unreal. I have the 200w twin fold and a 150w trifold, and never have a power issue.

Yes they are dearer than the real cheap crap out there, but as they say, you only get what you pay for. Top quality regulator, extra heavy cable, quality bag and one very important thing that you will not get from many other suppliers.......they are Aussies up in the Sunshine Coast, with their service second to none, and you can get to speak to them in person , and not just an email that is never replied to or someone from overseas.

Another vote for a truely top quality produced panel system.




Cheers



Stephen

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Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 21:57

Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 21:57
Hi top end Az,
Yes the legs are flimsy unlike the Kick Ass ones
Ross
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Reply By: avidcamper - Friday, May 27, 2016 at 12:03

Friday, May 27, 2016 at 12:03
Thankyou to all who have been replying to my question regarding buying solar panels. I think I need to give a little more information before making an informed decision on this.
Our system worked perfectly for the 5 years we have owned our camper trailer (Goldstream Crown). We have a two way Waeco 110 litre 50W fridge - according to specs it's rated current is 5.9 amps. Basically we hardly ever use the trailer lighting preferring instead to use torches or other forms of lighting (solar, rechargeable lanterns, etc.). So the draw on the batteries is pretty much just the fridge.
Our trailer was purchased second hand. It came with two 60W fold out solar panels which connected to an anderson plug located outside the camper which connects to a solar regulator inside. The solar panels plus the vehicle have kept the dual batteries charged successfully until very recently.
The troubleshooting process has resulted in our batteries being replaced with two 'ultimate extreme' 12V 60ah batteries as well as a replacement solar controller model MP3129 (no brand name) .... all supplied by Battery World.
Our solar panels are producing up to 19V but no amps - thus no charge delivered to the batteries - they have somehow failed.
They are roof mounted on the camper - we intend to mount the new ones in the same fashion.
Having already spent several hundred dollars replacing both batteries as well as the solar controller (now being unsure whether these items needed replacing) price is a consideration - but we don't want to make a mistake & purchase solar panels that won't deliver the charge we need .... thus our request for help. So far your replies have been very helpful, and the link to solar power also has helped, but we are still trying to figure out whether to stick with 120W (which seemed to work previously), or go for more power? Also a trusted supplier who can answer some of these questions, preferably over the phone? So far we have been unable to get proper advice from anyone selling solar panels!!
Thankyou all once again .... hoping we can fix our broken power soon :(

avidcamper
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, May 27, 2016 at 13:13

Friday, May 27, 2016 at 13:13
I have an MP3129, but mine is branded Powertech, a house brand used by Jaycar.

I have had a couple of these in different applications. They are not top of the line, but are nevertheless quite a good PWM solar controller.

Despite an opinion to the contrary offered earlier in this topic, I think the panel you asked about only has a junction box on the back, not a regulator. If it does have a regulator, I suspect the MP3129 will be better and you could and should bypass the one on the panel and wire direct to the MP31219 via that anderson on the camper.

If it is just a junction box, then obviously just cable it to the Anderson.

The MP3129 is programmable to suit your batteries. Find out the optimum absorption and float voltages for your batteries from the supplier or manufacturer and program them into the regulator. If you don't have the instruction book I can supply one (scanned) or find a link. Just ask.

If 120 watts worked for you before, there is no reason why 125 won't work for you now.

The only thing I can't vouch for is the quality of the panels. Others here may be able to help you out in that regard better than I can.

Cheers

FrankP

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