Solar regulators

I know this has been covered in earlier threads, but can someone please advise: I have 100 W folding panels with a 'low end' PWM regulator supplied. Should I consider upgrading the regulator to a 'better' PWM, or similar priced MPPT, or is there real value in buying say Blue Sky or MorningStar for prices comparable to the panel. (Paid $450 for panels inc regulator an delivery)

ie whats the difference between a PWM for $15 and one for $150?
whats the difference between a MPPT for $80 and one for $400?

(System is for a camper trailer, running a 40l fridge/freezer and occasional lights etc, 85Ah deep cycle wet cell battery)

Look forward to you collective opinions .............
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Reply By: Battery Value Pty Ltd - Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010 at 18:14

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010 at 18:14

the main difference is the way the batteries are being charged.

The el cheapos are single stage (outputting around 13.8V) meaning they take longer to bring your batteries up to full charge.
The result is that your battery will be operating in a partially discharged state for long periods which will shorten their life.
I recommend to top off the charge with a quality mains charger whenever the opportunity arises.

One snazzy way of achieving this while travelling is to use your quality mains powered charger, powered by a cheapish ($80?) 300W modified sine wave inverter which is wired up to your alternator/starter battery.
Remember you only want to top off the charge wich requires no more than 10 to 20 Ah which can be easily accommodated by the starter battery.
Use a charger which can be selected to only draw 50% of its rated current, so that the little inverter won't get overwhelmed.
You can read more about this method here:
half power mode

For any questions, just post them here or use the notification form on the address provided and we'll sort you out.

Best regards, Peter
AnswerID: 411205

Reply By: Mandrake's Solar Power- Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010 at 21:44

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010 at 21:44
My first question is - Is there something wrong with the way your current setup works ? Does it charge your batteries to full capacity ?
If the answer to those 2 questions is yes - then why waste money upgrading ?

If the answer is no then you need a controller a good 3 stage PWM or MPPT with 3 stage PWM and fit it as close to your battery as possible - Bypass the reg on the panel and connect the panel to the new controller .. That should solve most charging problems whilst at camp - .



AnswerID: 411234

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010 at 21:52

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010 at 21:52
just what Steve has said

Maîneÿ . . .
FollowupID: 681329

Follow Up By: Travellers - Thursday, Apr 01, 2010 at 20:45

Thursday, Apr 01, 2010 at 20:45
Thanks for the feedback guys.

Existing set-up is new, not field tested - first use will be on an 8 week trip so want to 'get it right' so that the fridge stays cold.......
FollowupID: 681418

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