solar panels: where to buy

freegander

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So I'm in the market for a cheap 100W solar panel to put aboard my van.

i've been looking at the Renogy kits, which are around $160 for 100W mono.

then i found this cheap 100W semi-bendable panel with a 10a charge controller for $120. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sunpower-100W-18V-Watt-Semi-Bendable-Cell-Solar-Panel-Battery-Solar-Controller/361905725227?_trksid=p2045573.c100506.m3226&_trkparms=aid=555014&algo=PL.DEFAULT&ao=1&asc=41451&meid=97a7b76a29364f868bea7759b33a739c&pid=100506&rk=1&rkt=1&&autorefresh=true

it comes from China, so i'm guessing it sucks. also, i'm not sure how useful a 10a charge controller would be (the renogy kit has a 30a). ALSOOO it says 18v. wtf.

but. i would really like a bendable panel due to the low profile making it more aerodynamic (and stealthy, i guess. but i don't understand everyone's obsession with stealth).

anyone who has experience with solar power have any suggestions?
 
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AnOldHope

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Hello Freegander, 18V panels can be paired fine with a 12 volt battery system. I think you're right that a 10 amp charge controller really limits you, if you're planning to expand the 30 amp is better. I've got 30 amp controllers on two of my arrays, each fed from 4x 100 amp renogy panels.

I think almost all of it is made in China these days. I think some or all of my system is.
 
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freegander

freegander

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hey thanks for the response! good to see you're still around.

does it require anything extra to use 18v with a 12v system?

so the only reason to have a higher rated charge controller is to wire in multiple panels/use it with larger panels? i don't think i'll expand anytime soon

do you have any experience with the flexible panels?
 

Coywolf

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Also, solar panels preform better when they have less heat. Therefore, do not bolt/tape flexible panels to your roof, they will absorb heat and not work as well. Make some kind of rack that lifts them off of your roof a bit to allow for airflow. Or just buy hard panels. Either way.

This is info i learned from the last Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
 
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AnOldHope

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hey thanks for the response! good to see you're still around.

does it require anything extra to use 18v with a 12v system?

so the only reason to have a higher rated charge controller is to wire in multiple panels/use it with larger panels? i don't think i'll expand anytime soon

do you have any experience with the flexible panels?
As long as there is a charge controller strong enough to handle your panels, 18V panels will feed fine to a 12V system. If you're not planning on adding to that array beyond the single 100 watt panel, a 10 amp charge controller will be fine.

Correct, a higher rated charge controller is needed when you want to run more panels through the same controller.

My 30 amp charge controllers handle the 4x 100 watt renogy panels fine. I could probably add one or two more panels to each array with the 30 amp charge controller.

I just picked up today a 540 watt (3 x 180 watt panels) array that feeds through a 40 amp controller.

I've never worked with a flexible panel. I think what was said by another poster above about air flow and heat is likely very true. I looked at the kit you linked too, unless the flexibility causes an issue, it seems to be a good value to me.

I also had to order a tool kit for MC4 connectors, since the industry apparently thought it was necessary to require the standardized connectors to require a special tool.

Praise the Sun, may it give you the power you need, and light a path to joy and growth for you.

I mostly use my power for Netflix...
 
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freegander

freegander

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Also, solar panels preform better when they have less heat. Therefore, do not bolt/tape flexible panels to your roof, they will absorb heat and not work as well. Make some kind of rack that lifts them off of your roof a bit to allow for airflow. Or just buy hard panels. Either way.

This is info i learned from the last Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
yeah, i've heard that. however, i've seen people with flex panels who don't seem to have many problems...

is the heat really that different? anything attached to the roof is going to get hot, i just wonder if adding some extra air space really does all that much
 
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AnOldHope

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anyone ever seen one of these?

View attachment 35961


i kinda like the look of it. doesn't automatically look like a solar panel. adds mystery. OoooooooOOOooOO.

i wonder if the black color adds more heat. :p

@AnOldHope, is this the tool you were speaking of?
That looks like the one.

I think the image above appears to use MC4 connectors.

You can do a lot with 100 watts.

About four years ago I was living on a really antiquated 4 x 15 watt panels array, a 7 amp charge controller feeding to a 15 amp hour battery and a dogshit 200 watt inverter kept my phone charged and let me watch a couple movies a day on my ancient mac book.
 
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freegander

freegander

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Yeah, there's a part of my brain that's like: "nooooo 100w is too small. get more. run a fridge and a blender and a luxury water heater"

that part of my brain needs to get the hell away from me and my wallet.

i really just want to make sure my phone stays charged and i can use my laptop from time to time.

and i'm trying to do it pretty cheaply in direct opposition to all the yuppy van/rv folks who spend a small fortune on solar to have a large fridge so they can buy more food to throw away at the end of the week.
 
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AnOldHope

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Yeah, there's a part of my brain that's like: "nooooo 100w is too small. get more. run a fridge and a blender and a luxury water heater"

that part of my brain needs to get the hell away from me and my wallet.

i really just want to make sure my phone stays charged and i can use my laptop from time to time.

and i'm trying to do it pretty cheaply in direct opposition to all the yuppy van/rv folks who spend a small fortune on solar to have a large fridge so they can buy more food to throw away at the end of the week.
Yeah, for the hot summer I'm going with one of the non-compressor fridges (draws relatively little power and no compressor spikes), little bit smaller than a dorm fridge. Pretty small, 1.7 cubic feet, no freezer, draws less than a 100 watts so I can keep it going 24/7 on one of my arrays (I'm going to see if that same array can also keep my router powered from the same battery). It can run on DC, too.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Avanti-1-7-cu-ft-Superconductor-Mini-Refrigerator-in-Stainless-Steel-with-AC-DC-Adapter-SHP1712SDCIS/203464659?keyword=dc+fridge
 
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freegander

freegander

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cooooooooooooooool.

literally.

i'll just be using a cooler and buying ice i guess. we'll see how that goes. i plan to do lots of diving, so i want to be able to store what we find for at least a few days.
 
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AnOldHope

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cooooooooooooooool.

literally.

i'll just be using a cooler and buying ice i guess. we'll see how that goes. i plan to do lots of diving, so i want to be able to store what we find for at least a few days.
Ice is reliable probably moreso than the fridge for food preservation, the fridge could fail for technical reasons, the ice isn't going to stop absorbing heat.

Unless you get some weird fucked up ice from a machine where the corpse of a powerful mystic was hidden by a serial killer working for the forces of darkness and the ice is possessed so it actually exudes heat when evil approaches, and until you solve the mystery, bring justice, and restore the Sacred Amulet of Kahlowremttri to its resting place underneath the Sphinx, you will have your food spoiled by demon ice.

But that's only really happened a couple of times.
 
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AnOldHope

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that's just the sort of adventure i'm looking for, really.
You will live to see a transformation of humanity unlike anything your ancestors could have imagined. You will even be part of it.

The concepts involved are such that the most hyperbolic myths of the ancients will seem as quaint.

You will experience a reality unlike anything you can envision, and you will be part of its creation.

I envy you greatly.
 
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AnOldHope

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would this work for a charge controller?



I apologize, your question exceeds my technical knowledge. I believe that is an LED display, but I don't know if it would perform the function of a charge controller.

This page appears to have some function diagramming for it:

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/0-28-in-three-red-digital-tube-Direct-manufacturers-quantity-is-with-preferential-treatment/1490394_32239376852.html

I do not believe it will regulate current from panels to batteries, but I could be entirely wrong.
 
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freegander

freegander

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if you click on the image, you'll get a link to the amazon page. it says: "5A constant current and voltage non-isolated buck module, compact design, small size and high conversion efficiency, up to 95%. "

i'm also pretty sure i see more components than a simple LED screen would require. could also be wrong tho.
 
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AnOldHope

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if you click on the image, you'll get a link to the amazon page. it says: "5A constant current and voltage non-isolated buck module, compact design, small size and high conversion efficiency, up to 95%. "

i'm also pretty sure i see more components than a simple LED screen would require. could also be wrong tho.
Okay, I think you're right then, and that seems like it would 100 watts.
 

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