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Old 12-23-2015, 12:24 PM   #21
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Hi Pat, Happy Holidays to ALL!

Starts at 221 in the Our Solar Panel Blew Off.

Our solar panel blew off!!

And here is the panel kit, very happy with the kit and performance.

Amazon.com : Renogy 200W Mono Starter Kit, 2 Piece 100W Solar Panels Plus 20' Adapter Kit : Patio, Lawn & Garden
Thanks Klem . Did you go with MPPT or PWM . You can buy either way . What is the difference ? Pat
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:35 PM   #22
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Thanks Klem . Did you go with MPPT or PWM . You can buy either way . What is the difference ? Pat
I almost picked the MPPT but you must give it a 24 volt solar array (2 panels in series) . IF I add a 3rd panel somewhere on the trailer or portable on the ground it would be PWM for sure. So I am sticking with PWM.

Also I have seen regulators blow from the burst of light on the panel from lightning. We placed a separate regulator on each panel in high lightning areas so it might pop 1 regulator and you still may have others to keep the system 'up'. Continuing that line of thinking an inexpensive 'consumer quality' MPPT might be more susceptible to failure.

That system has sealed plugs for the panel wiring so IF I lose a panel for any reason it's simple to unscrew, unplug, swap, and it's fixed. The flatter the panel mount the more susceptible to hail damage!

I like to keep my installation simple and rugged.
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Old 12-23-2015, 04:24 PM   #23
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I almost picked the MPPT but you must give it a 24 volt solar array (2 panels in series) .
I don't understand that, and nothing in the linked Amazon ad or the Renogy web page suggests that to me. MPPT controllers - including this one from Renogy - are perfectly capable of connecting a panel and battery of the same nominal voltage. That one from Renogy recognizes which panel voltage is connected (nominally 12V, or nominally 24V) to start its optimization logic.

Of course, this does not have much to do with inlet connectors... unless someone is considering a higher voltage panel (such as 24V nominal) and wants to ensure that the connectors are suitable.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:52 PM   #24
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... MPPT or PWM . You can buy either way . What is the difference ? Pat
One perspective: You can pair a PWM (GoPower) controller with a 300 Watt, 36 volt, 72 cell house/commercial size panel but you are throwing away power. And you can pair a MMPT controller (of decent quality) with an 150 Watt "Escape-size" 36 cell, 18 volt panel, but you are throwing away money. For best power & $$ efficiency use PWM with our trailer size panels.

A more complicated look... MMPT can do miraculous things. Note that both panels, the 300 watt and the 150 watt produce the same current - roughly 10 amps - regardless of the voltage. A PWM controller will adjust the voltage to 14.4 but can only feed 10 amps to the battery, or basically the input current. It adjusts the voltage by essentially turning off the circuit for a period of time - which forces the panel to produce 0 amps. A waste of power.

A MMPT controller can take the input from a big panel and cut the 36 volts in half or better, while at the same time can double the amperage out, to 20+ amps. So none of the 300 watts is lost. A perfect combination if you are starting with a 300 watt panel, or any panel with 70+ cells. But a 300 watt panel is too big for me to haul around. Lifting my 150 watt "portable" panel out of the truck is hard enough. MMPT uses a "buck DC-DC voltage converter" at its heart. (Google "buck converter" to read the gory details).

FYI - the total current produced by a single panel is determined by the cross-section area of an individual cell. And the total voltage is determined by the number of cells. (I don't believe any panels in our size range have a series/parallel design.)

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Old 12-23-2015, 06:14 PM   #25
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I am not sure what you just said, Alan, but I read that MMPT is of no use for smaller trailers. I am supposing that is due to the smaller amps --- or maybe whatever you just said. I wanted MMPT because I knew they were more efficient but Escape would not put in a different controller. I later read that the MMPT would be no benefit on our trailers.
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Old 12-23-2015, 06:37 PM   #26
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I don't understand that, and nothing in the linked Amazon ad or the Renogy web page suggests that to me. MPPT controllers - including this one from Renogy - are perfectly capable of connecting a panel and battery of the same nominal voltage. That one from Renogy recognizes which panel voltage is connected (nominally 12V, or nominally 24V) to start its optimization logic.

Of course, this does not have much to do with inlet connectors... unless someone is considering a higher voltage panel (such as 24V nominal) and wants to ensure that the connectors are suitable.
He asked my opinion in regards to "our" trailers with solar panel installations. I simply answered that based on my experience working with solar since 1977. To get the benefit of a MPPT you need a much larger system and higher input voltages, otherwise you are wasting your money.

When you have a couple hundred watts of panel mounted flat on the top of trailer it doesn't make sense to me to spend a lot of time and money trying to squeeze milliwatts of power. I've seen solar systems fail in every way imaginable and if we can repair our solar systems cheaply and quickly on the road that's my goal.

The comment about connectors was simply an FYI that I like the style and location for future service and testing.

PS. What you read on Amazon is marketing. Spend a little more and get the newest/best technology ..... all adding to the life cost of what you purchase. Not to mention it can't be fixed, you need to replace the entire unit $$$$.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:38 PM   #27
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Klem, you impress me as a field/experience guy which is more the way I always approach things. Manuals and tech specs are fine for guidance, but nothing replaces "does it work like you wanted when you go out in the field and need it?"
I remember a fella a number of years back, fashioned himself an engineer, built an elaborate solar setup for a trip to Yellowstone in the shoulder season. He went all by the book and specs, but he didn't do one thing, never field tested it prior to his trip. Needless to say it was way under what was needed, trip didn't go well, and had to come home and redo it with what he learned actually using it.
One area I've seen more people overspend and overthink over the years is solar. I put 25' 12 ga cables on my 30 watt briefcase panels 9 years ago. ($170 total outlay) Did I have loss, absolutely, but at Quartzsite every year, my battery's were back to full charge within 1.5 hrs of all the $1000+ systems.
I think the external plug to add portable panels is not a bad idea, but I'm hoping the panel ETI put on will be sufficient for our usage. I'm looking at modding the tilt system from one of the 3rd party vendors that will allow more out of the rooftop panel when needed and not have to carry portable panels again. First field test for us with ETI system will be Quartzsite in Feb.
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Old 12-23-2015, 09:03 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Klem View Post
To get the benefit of a MPPT you need a much larger system and higher input voltages, otherwise you are wasting your money.

When you have a couple hundred watts of panel mounted flat on the top of trailer it doesn't make sense to me to spend a lot of time and money trying to squeeze milliwatts of power. I've seen solar systems fail in every way imaginable and if we can repair our solar systems cheaply and quickly on the road that's my goal.
Okay, so not "you must give it a 24 volt solar array (2 panels in series)", but "it's not worthwhile unless you give it a big 24 volt solar array (2 panels in series)". That makes sense to me. Thanks Klem.
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Old 12-23-2015, 09:26 PM   #29
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Here's what we're using with our portable solar panels:

3 Wire ConnectProŽ Charging/Trolling | Marinco

We're using the 12VBR socket and the 12VBP plug. I had to drill a hole for the socket which I put into the area below the front driver's side dinette seat. From there it's easier to connect directly to the charge controller which then connects to the battery. I really had a hard time convincing myself to drill that hole but it was Mr. Bennett who told me to "suck it up and just drill the damn thing" (remember, Jim? ). All went well and we're very pleased with the setup. The plug goes into the socket and then it takes a 1/4 turn to lock it in place. The third wire isn't required but the three-wire plug/socket arrangement was exactly what we were looking for.

Doug
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Old 12-24-2015, 08:38 AM   #30
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Doug that looks like the same one I'm looking at -branded as MinnKota. I'm glad to hear you like it.
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