120w From Sunstore - Self fit

Jan 31, 2013
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Yep that's the kit I bought off them in August, it really is straight forward fitting it just take your time
 

DBK

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I'm looking at improving our solar setup and note the controller that comes with the kit is PWM which depending on which website you look at is generally though not be not as good as MPPT. Here is some info: http://www.victronenergy.com/blog/2014/07/21/which-solar-charge-controller-pwm-or-mppt/
But, on another website a different company said they thought PWM was fine for installations up to 200W and above that MPPT was better. You pays you money I suppose but I will probably go with MPPT.
 

ukbill

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check out the ebay kits much cheaper
 
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Dave and Ginny
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Thanks for all the replies. It's all a bit of a minefield and you get what you pay for I guess. We have used our motorhome for three years now, no solar or LED lights and a single 130 ah leisure battery. We have never had any issues until in northern France this autumn when we were using a lot of aires, not a lot of daily travel and very occasional EHU. From rough calculations and a bit of guesswork, I think the 12o set up will eliminate further problems.
 
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Best thing you can do for wild camping. Dead easy to fit as well. I have fitted MPPT and PWM, cant tell the difference.
Dont worry about drilling hole in the roof, you can see the stars, just kidding, make it small and seal it properly.
Phil
 
Sep 23, 2013
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In response to the PWM vs MPPT controller question, a lot depends on when & where you want to tour.

If you only need power in the summer in the UK & either lay up the van in winter or head for Spain, then the difference between the performance of the two types of controller will not be all that great, especially for less than 200W of nominal panel output. The additional cost of an MPPT controller may not be justified unless you simply must extract every last bit of available power from your panel(s).

If you tour all year round in the UK or spend much time in Northern Europe or Scandinavia, you need to extract power in low temperatures, low sun angles & low light levels. In these circumstances panel output voltages can drop so low as to be near or even below battery voltage, at which point no useful charging will happen.

You can compensate for this by wiring pairs of panels in series rather than in parallel, thus doubling the available output voltage in any given light condition. The controller thus has to be capable of handling twice the maximum output voltage of your chosen panel. Good quality MPPT controllers such as from Victron Energy (see DBK's link above) are capable of doing this. Sadly, the new MPPT controller just introduced by Schaudt won't handle the maximum output voltage produced by a pair of parallel wired 80W panels, as it's only rated at 32V max input. Otherwise it would have been an ideal solution for the many continental vans fitted with the Schaudt Electrobloc series of 12V management systems.

As far as I know, Victron are the only controller manufacturer (apart from Schaudt themselves) to provide the recommended data link cable to stop an Electrobloc being confused by the additional charging source provided by solar panels.

There is a further advantage of series wired panels if the layout of the van dictates a long cable run from the panel to the controller. The voltage drop in the cable will be much reduced at the higher voltage.
 

DBK

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In the last paragraph of the link I posted there is another link to a more detailed paper where Fig 15 shows the relative performance of PWM/MPPT with respect to cell temperature which is interesting. Of course in winter there isn't much sun anyway but if you want to make the best of what little there is it looks like MPPT is the way to go.
 
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This is a very helpful thread as I am also looking at solar panels for charging battery and not sure what to choose.
Thank you to everyone for making useful comments.
 
Sep 23, 2013
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Sadly, the new MPPT controller just introduced by Schaudt won't handle the maximum output voltage produced by a pair of parallel wired 80W panels, as it's only rated at 32V max input.
That should have read 'a pair of series wired' of course. :doh:
 

JeanLuc

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Sadly, the new MPPT controller just introduced by Schaudt won't handle the maximum output voltage produced by a pair of parallel wired 80W panels, as it's only rated at 32V max input. Otherwise it would have been an ideal solution for the many continental vans fitted with the Schaudt Electrobloc series of 12V management systems.
I am not an expert so forgive me if this is incorrect, but surely 2 x 80 watt panels wired in parallel would not have an open circuit voltage in excess of 32V. I have the PWM Schaudt unit LR1218, rather than the newer MPPT LRM1218, but the installation instructions for mine say it can handle for example, 5 x 55W panels: i.e. 275 watts in total. This assumes an open circuit voltage of 22V per panel and a nominal current output of 3.2A per panel (5x3.2 = 16 amps which is within the 18 amp maximum of the LR1218.
Similarly, my 135 watt panel has an open circuit voltage of 22.1V at 1000 watts/sq.m.
Would not 2 x 80W panels wired in parallel still have an open circuit voltage of around 22V but a current delivery of around 2 x 4.5A = 9A in total; well within the capabilities of either the LR1218 or the LRM1218.
 

JeanLuc

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Sorry, was just writing my response above whilst you were posting your correction.
 
Sep 23, 2013
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As far as I know, Victron are the only controller manufacturer (apart from Schaudt themselves) to provide the recommended data link cable to stop an Electrobloc being confused by the additional charging source provided by solar panels.
Sorry - further error.
It's not Victron that do the datalink cable for the Electrobloc, it's Votronic. The good news is that the Votronic MPPT controllers also accept a 50V input, so are suitable for pairs of panels wired in series.

See here for a suitable model. 114euro ex. works + Vat
This would accept either 2 x 80W or 2 x 100W
 

Snowbird

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ukbill

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all the fancy fitting for entry to the van are expensive i used round conduit(white plastic)with a round entry box made the hole just large enough for the cable then fited the box over the top with some sealant and its never leaked also i had to go from 1 side of the van to the other across the roof so again round conduit i will put some pics on asap like snowbird says if you get the parts bit by bit you can get what you want for your needs it took me around 2 hrs to fit mine which included a relay for the mains and a 2kw inverter
 
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Dave and Ginny
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This is a very helpful thread as I am also looking at solar panels for charging battery and not sure what to choose.
Thank you to everyone for making useful comments.
I'll second that Snowbird!

A little problem is that I can't be definitive about how the van may be used in the future! Our last trip probably had the longest period being off electric just pottering about Normandy using Aires. Next trip will be down to Spain in Jan/Feb using ACSI sites so EHU just about all of the time. Our demands on the battery are not that high, water pump, lights in the evening, the Truma for a blast of heat now and again. The TV and DVD quite possibly the greatest drain. I'm hoping the combination of a fairly decent array, plus replacing some high energy lights with LED's will go some way to improve things when we are off electric for a few days.

Thanks again for all the input!
 
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DP+JAY

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For the difference in cost between mppt & pwm regulators you could buy an extra panel which would be even better.
 
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For the difference in cost between mppt & pwm regulators you could buy an extra panel which would be even better.
Possibly - provided you have room for it on the roof & that you always have enough sunlight to raise each individual panel above battery voltage.

Someone somewhere may have done the research to look at the average hours of 'useful' sunlight hours in different latitudes & for different panel/controller configurations - or they may not have.

The 'right' answer will be different for different people & their different circumstances.
 

JeanLuc

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davidandginny,
You may already realise this, but as you have a Hymer, it will be fitted with a Schaudt Elektroblock (probably EBL99 or EBL100 looking at the van in your avatar). There are benefits to connecting the solar regulator to the EBL rather than direct to the leisure batteries. Firstly, the EBL and solar panel will work together; secondly, you will see the incoming solar charge on the van's display/control panel; thirdly, your starter battery will also be maintained by the solar panel - provided you use a twin battery regulator.
If it were me, I would use the Schaudt LR1218 (PWM) regulator since that is a twin battery model and is designed to work with the EBL; you could go for the more expensive new LRM1218 (MPPT regulator) but I'm not sure the extra is worthwhile with a single 120W panel. Other brands of regulator will work with the older EBL99/100 (I have seen the Sunsaver Duo used) but standard single battery models will not charge the starter battery as well as the leisure battery(ies). If you do not go down the LR1218 route which comes with all wiring harnesses, you will need to buy the wiring harness with Mate'n'Lok connectors separately. The regulator is plugged in to Block 6 on the face plate of the EBL99/100.
For more information, and to get supplies, try here - it's worth reading their pages on 'Schaudt Elektroblock' and 'Solar Power'. You will also see that they have a 'Stock List' page with items for sale.
A and N Caravan Services : Schaudt Electronics
 

ukbill

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the solar wire run inside the van IMG_0227 - Copy.JPG IMG_0228.JPG IMG_0229.JPG
 

ukbill

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sorry bit blurred
 
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Dave and Ginny
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davidandginny,
You may already realise this, but as you have a Hymer, it will be fitted with a Schaudt Elektroblock (probably EBL99 or EBL100 looking at the van in your avatar). There are benefits to connecting the solar regulator to the EBL rather than direct to the leisure batteries.
Well I do now JeanLuc!

Just been and had a look and I have the EBL99, and as you say Block 6 is marked up 'Solar Regler'. It would seem to be a nonsense not to wire it up through the Elektroblock and gain the additional benefits you mention. A bit worrying though, there is a fairly negative article on the on the link to A&N Caravan Services you sent me!

http://www.aandncaravanservices.co.uk/solar-panels.php
 
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They seem to be saying: we don't sell solar panels because of other people's crap installations. Unless they mean that they can't compete on price with people doing a poor job, that sounds an odd reason for not doing something.

I take their point that some dubious marketing by others have produced some unrealistic expectations & I agree that it's not a cheap option. Panel mounts & frames may not last 20 years, but nor do a lot of generators, or even motorhomes for that matter - certainly not in the same ownership (honourable exceptions excluded).

The reasons people choose solar panels over generators have usually little to do with the comparative costs. A&N don't sell generators either, but they are best mates with someone just down the road who does.

Don't read this post as being unduly critical of A&N. They have an excellent reputation for both expertise & customer service & if I needed my Electrobloc repairing, I wouldn't hesitate to send it to them.
 

JeanLuc

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I too think the A&N article refers to poor installations rather than solar panels generally.
I had mine fitted by a chap near Hexham who specialised in motorhome installations and knew a lot about the Schaudt system too. Unfortunately he seems not to be operating anymore (at least his website is no longer active).
He would only install Kyocera panels because although they are expensive, he had never had any problems with them, so that is what I had fitted in May 2011 - A Kyocera 135 watt unit fed into a LR1218 and then into the EBL99. It has worked very well and I would recommend the system to anyone. The Kyocera panel is fitted with bypass diodes 'that eliminate the risk of individual cells overheating (hot spot effect).' - quoted from the panel spec sheet. I have no idea whether these bypass diodes are routinely fitted to all makes of panel but I would check if I were you.
 
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