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Old 07-26-2020, 05:40 PM   #1
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Suitcase 200w recommendations?

Hi all, we are looking to purchase a solar suitcase with two panels no larger than 100 watt each for a total 200w. We camp mostly in shade or partial shade at high elevations, we can go a frugal 4-5 days of boondocking now and hoping to run the heater a bit in the early mornings by adding solar. Recommendations for model, make, and place to purchase? Are the Zamp systems worth the additional 50% cost? Your advice appreciated.
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Old 07-26-2020, 06:31 PM   #2
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If you just want to top off your battery(s) after running the heater I think you could get away with just 100w. I have a single 100w panel and it is more than enough to charge up the batteries up if I've run the heater or inverter to much. One thing that I have recently learned is that the MPPT controllers do make a significant difference and is worth spending a bit extra on the controller. Good luck.

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Old 07-26-2020, 07:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mfeeley View Post
If you just want to top off your battery(s) after running the heater I think you could get away with just 100w. I have a single 100w panel and it is more than enough to charge up the batteries up if I've run the heater or inverter to much. One thing that I have recently learned is that the MPPT controllers do make a significant difference and is worth spending a bit extra on the controller. Good luck.

m
I'm having trouble locating suitcase models that have the mppt controller. Renogy does not have it and Zamp fails to state. Not sure the Zamp are worth the Premium cost. I think a total 100 watts might do us but am unaware of panel output in partial shade.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:47 PM   #4
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Another option is two 100W regular panels a good controller and cable. Then use some 3/4" pvc to make a stand. Do not glue so they can be dismantled for travel. You generally pay a premium for the suitcase type packages.
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Old 07-26-2020, 08:14 PM   #5
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Buy 2 100W panels. Put a couple hinges between them. Add a couple aluminum legs. Mount an MPPT controller next to your batteries. Add a connector between the MPPT controller and the wire going to your panels.

No need for a kit.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:27 PM   #6
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I agree you don't need a kit and can build your own set up. I'd look on Amazon for your controller and panel, they seem to have good prices. Again, you may want to try 1 panel first, if that doesn't produce enough recharge for you then buy a second and hinge together as stated above. I didn't realize the true benefits of the MPPT control until recently and it produces power when my PWM would barely trickle at less than 1 amp. I bought a Victron with built in bluetooth...works nice.

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Old 07-26-2020, 11:53 PM   #7
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Iím just dipping my toes into the idea of adding solar so I still have a lot of research to do. That being said, it seems a few people are strong proponents of the MPPT controller. Would any of you like to elaborate why you think itís so good, what advantages it has over other controllers, and especially if youíve used OTHER controllers and found shortcomings with them that led you to upgrade?

Thanks, again, research is important but personal experience is especially helpful.

-Jeremy
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Old 07-27-2020, 12:54 AM   #8
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I found this youtube video on various controllers to be helpful...

https://youtu.be/kF_cVEYxj3E
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Old 07-27-2020, 01:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mr Towed View Post
Iím just dipping my toes into the idea of adding solar so I still have a lot of research to do. That being said, it seems a few people are strong proponents of the MPPT controller. Would any of you like to elaborate why you think itís so good, what advantages it has over other controllers, and especially if youíve used OTHER controllers and found shortcomings with them that led you to upgrade?

Thanks, again, research is important but personal experience is especially helpful.

-Jeremy
Lets say you have a 100W panel that is rated at 18V at max power. That means it outputs 5.55A. If that panel is connected to a PWM controller, the current output to the battery can be no higher than 5.55A. If the charge voltage is 13.8V, that means you are only using 76.59W of the available 100W. On the other hand, an MPPT controller can deliver the entire 100W minus a small conversion loss. A typical MPPT controller is 98% efficient.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:50 AM   #10
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Buy 2 100W panels. Put a couple hinges between them. Add a couple aluminum legs. Mount an MPPT controller next to your batteries. Add a connector between the MPPT controller and the wire going to your panels.

No need for a kit.
Yep.

And a factory Renogy 200W Eclipse suitcase is not the same as building one with two 100W Eclipse panels. Their 200W suitcase has the array wired internally such that the max voltage output is only 17.7V while wired in series, which can be an issue even working with an MPPT controller and LiFePO4 batteries since there typically has to be a 5V difference for the controller to operate.

Two individual 100W panels wire in series give a maximum output voltage of 35.4V (17.7V x 2).











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Old 07-27-2020, 08:45 AM   #11
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I bought the Renogy 200 watt kit.
Just to get my feet wet. Used it this weekend for the first time.
In full sun I was getting a good charge, in shade only a trickle charge.
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Old 07-27-2020, 09:12 AM   #12
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I bought the Renogy 200 watt kit.
Just to get my feet wet. Used it this weekend for the first time.
In full sun I was getting a good charge, in shade only a trickle charge.
Now add an extension cord so you can "reach some sun".

A cheap #10 awg extension cord from Harbor Freight maybe. Cut ends off and splice into the output cord of your panel kit.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:37 PM   #13
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Lets say you have a 100W panel that is rated at 18V at max power. That means it outputs 5.55A. If that panel is connected to a PWM controller, the current output to the battery can be no higher than 5.55A. If the charge voltage is 13.8V, that means you are only using 76.59W of the available 100W. On the other hand, an MPPT controller can deliver the entire 100W minus a small conversion loss. A typical MPPT controller is 98% efficient.
So are you stating that the mppt controller will deliver the entire 100w irrespective of the voltage?

My reading seems to indicate that the MPPT controller is much better for large systems but not so much for small systems especially those using Lead Acid Core batteries. Is this incorrect? thanks
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:04 PM   #14
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My Victron MPPT will deliver only what is needed as far as watts. When I first hooked it up I found it was only producing maybe 10 watts, thought I had a bad panel. After a bit of research and applying a load to the battery it jumped to 65 watts. I was able to run my ice maker for 5+ hours thru the inverter with a single 100 watt panel keeping the battery going. It would have gone longer but that was all the time I had to test it. I like to think of the MPPT as a smart controller that produces what's needed. From what I have read and been told on this forum the MPPT will produce a better result even in lower sun conditions too.

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Old 07-27-2020, 05:28 PM   #15
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So are you stating that the mppt controller will deliver the entire 100w irrespective of the voltage?

My reading seems to indicate that the MPPT controller is much better for large systems but not so much for small systems especially those using Lead Acid Core batteries. Is this incorrect? thanks
That is correct. It is a Dc to DC converter essentially.

An MPPT is good for all size systems. The people who say it needs to be bigger was based on how much more MPPT controllers USED to be and they just perpetuate incorrect info. You get increased efficiency at all PV array sizes.
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