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post #31 of 40 Old 04-04-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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Originally Posted by travlin-easy View Post
The controller I use is this one. https://www.westmarine.com/buy/natur...91?recordNum=6

It has worked flawlessly for 6 years.

Gary
That is an amazing price from a reputable retailer. Congrats on the dig. PWM controllers are really pretty simple devices. Yet it is easy to spend $120 for a larger controller from a big name.

I would like to think that West Marine would strive to carry items with a certain amount of corrosion resistance.
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post #32 of 40 Old 04-04-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

You may need a drink first. Here is a government run site that is easy to use:
PVWatts Calculator

That site will tell you what you should expect from panels at various locations and tilt...from month to month. I am somewhat surprised at reports of strong production from boat panels that lay flat.

Tinned cables are nice of course. For those who have not mastered heat shrink tubing, you need to get on that for your marine connections. You can shrink the tubing with a cigarette lighter if you have a little finesses.

Tinned copper lugs are supposed to be more corrosion resistant than copper lugs. Funny that they cost less.
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post #33 of 40 Old 04-04-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

Someone is trying to get the solar pros to discuss the economics of "marine grade" panels here: Are marine solar panels worth the extra money? ? northernarizona-windandsun

Seems a bit salty...
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post #34 of 40 Old 04-04-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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That is an amazing price from a reputable retailer. Congrats on the dig. PWM controllers are really pretty simple devices. Yet it is easy to spend $120 for a larger controller from a big name.

I would like to think that West Marine would strive to carry items with a certain amount of corrosion resistance.

That controller is a simple on/off or shunting controller not PWM. It simply turns off at 14.2V and back on again at 13V..

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post #35 of 40 Old 04-05-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

Maine sail, you appear be quite knowledgeable about marine electrics installations. Would you suggest a pwm controller from a reputable American company or one of the Chinese mppt controllers that are known to be using true mppt technology like the tracer ones shown here

MPPT Solar Charge Controller Tracer 1210A 2210A 3210A 4210A or APP mobile WIFI | eBay.

People on youtube who have taken them apart say they are true mppt controllers but obviously being a cheap ($100 ish) Chinese product, I worry it may have been constructed so shoddily that it is dangerous. Does the more efficient technology outweigh the concerns about quality control or should I just go with an entry level pwm controller from Morningstar. I have just mounted my panels and I am looking to wire them up soon.
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post #36 of 40 Old 04-05-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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That controller is a simple on/off or shunting controller not PWM. It simply turns off at 14.2V and back on again at 13V..
So it has one mode......bulk. No absorb or float mode to maintain a satisfactory charge. I should think that would shorten battery longevity and explain the incredibly low price.

Might still be fine for occasional usage. Not for the liveaboard.

Last edited by ColoGuy; 04-05-2017 at 09:42 AM.
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post #37 of 40 Old 04-05-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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Maine sail, you appear be quite knowledgeable about marine electrics installations. Would you suggest a pwm controller from a reputable American company or one of the Chinese mppt controllers that are known to be using true mppt technology like the tracer ones shown here

MPPT Solar Charge Controller Tracer 1210A 2210A 3210A 4210A or APP mobile WIFI | eBay.

People on youtube who have taken them apart say they are true mppt controllers but obviously being a cheap ($100 ish) Chinese product, I worry it may have been constructed so shoddily that it is dangerous. Does the more efficient technology outweigh the concerns about quality control or should I just go with an entry level pwm controller from Morningstar. I have just mounted my panels and I am looking to wire them up soon.
I belong to a solar board full of solar pros. There are many Chinese controllers that are not MPPT yet are hyped as MPPT. My impression is that prices that seem too good to be true are indeed that.

Your link shows a 40 amp MPPT to costs $142. That seems possible. The 1.9 kg weight is a small concern though. That is a little over 4 pounds. Likely explained by a plastic or otherwise lightweight housing.

Too early to tell what the longevity will be. If it works when received, consumers usually give it positive feedback.

Few people can test electronics. So we are left to going with reputation. For a little more you could get a Victron or a Renogy.

Last edited by ColoGuy; 04-05-2017 at 11:36 AM.
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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I belong to a solar board full of solar pros. There are many Chinese controllers that are not MPPT yet are hyped as MPPT. My impression is that prices that seem too good to be true are indeed that.

Your link shows a 40 amp MPPT to costs $142. That seems possible. The 1.9 kg weight is a small concern though. That is a little over 4 pounds. Likely explained by a plastic or otherwise lightweight housing.

Too early to tell what the longevity will be. If it works when received, consumers usually give it positive feedback.

Few people can test electronics. So we are left to going with reputation. For a little more you could get a Victron or a Renogy.....older name brands.
Renogy is an 'older brand?' How long have you been following the solar panels market?

The oldest record of this company I have come across of is from 2013.

BTW I have nothing against the company, I have a 120W Renogy panel and am very happy with it.

Last edited by MastUndSchotbruch; 04-05-2017 at 12:45 PM.
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post #39 of 40 Old 04-05-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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Renogy is an 'older brand?' How long have you been following the solar panels market?

The oldest record of this company I have across of is from 2013.

BTW I have nothing against the company, I have a 120W Renogy panel and am very happy with it.
Thanks for the update. Renogy has certainly made a big splash in short time. I have yet to see complaints other than their provision for securing incoming and outgoing electrical cable is not great.....on the 40mppt that I use. I made up for it by using some 6awg forklift connector lugs. There seems to be a solution for most things. Their Amazon/Ebay feedback ratings were pretty good when I last looked.

I have been studying solar for three years. Started using it in 2010 with very simple 12 volt systems. Almost any handy person can do a simple 12 volt system.
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post #40 of 40 Old 04-06-2017
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Re: Any advice on Solar panels or MPPT?

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Originally Posted by ColoGuy View Post
So it has one mode......bulk. No absorb or float mode to maintain a satisfactory charge. I should think that would shorten battery longevity and explain the incredibly low price.

Might still be fine for occasional usage. Not for the liveaboard.
Actually, I used it for 6 months as a live aboard in the Florida Keys, my house bank is 4 T-105s and everything worked just fine during that entire time, including having the refrigerator/freezer running 24/7. The refrigerator/freezer draws 4 amps, so once every couple days I would fire up the engine, and the 50-amp alternator would be used to top off he batteries while I motored out of the harbor and went offshore and went snorkeling or fishing for supper. And, while I could tilt the panel a bit to get a better angle on the sun, I rarely needed to do so.

As for the controller being nothing more than a simple on/off controller, those types of controllers have been around since the 1920s, mostly used on antique cars as a relay type voltage regulator. I'm an old guy and have cleaned the contacts on those regulators many, many times.

Hope this helps,

Gary
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