Biting the bullet. Got a free hour? | MotorhomeFun | The Motorhome Support and Social Network

Biting the bullet. Got a free hour?

Mar 14, 2020
43
20
Isle of Man
Funster No
69,394
MH
Autotrail Cheyenne
Exp
Since 2015
Morning all.
Need to get the solar sorted sooner rather than later. Have about £400 to spend all in. That has ruled out having a pro install it really. Should be able to do it myself a although running the cables may be the biggest challenge.

Have been doing a fair bit of research and feel that although mono is best a poly may be more cost effective. Would like a victron smart controller (mppt) with Bluetooth as I like to be able to look at battery condition and my old bus doesn't give that sort of detailed info.

A kit seems to give everything in one hit although obviously not cheaper than sourcing everything individually. The ease of sourcing all the bits appeals.

If you've got an hour to go online could you give me your opinion on these? It would be much appreciated.
https://www.sunstore.co.uk/product/175w-12v-mppt-solar-battery-charger-vehicle-kit/

Can't seem to insert any more URLs but one kit is from
Photonic universe
another from

TIA
Cush
 
Sep 3, 2012
2,880
6,049
Cheshire
Funster No
22,759
MH
C Class Elddis 175
Exp
5+ years
Just check out the size of the panels plus the brackets to make sure you have enough space on your roof. All 3 kits have different dimensions. Some include brackets, some don't. You make have to make up your own kit depending on space, and how you intend to fasten the panels to your roof. On my van it came with 1 x100w panel, I added another 100w panel and I have space for a 3rd, but could not have fitted just one large panel.
Just map out your roof on paper and play around with the spaces, panel sizes you can obtain. (y)
 
Feb 9, 2008
6,513
9,688
Corby, Northants
Funster No
1,455
MH
Coach Built
Exp
Since 2007
I appreciate cost is everything but would advise you to get a quality kit, especially the panel itself as its going to be stuck on your roof for a long time. Consider your needs going forward the more solar you can get up the better. photonicuniverse produce some very good panels and kits.

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OP
C
Mar 14, 2020
43
20
Isle of Man
Funster No
69,394
MH
Autotrail Cheyenne
Exp
Since 2015
Thanks for the replies. Space not an issue really. A couple of little vents in the vacinity of where I’d like to put it / then. Appreciate all the gubbins takes up space too.
The quality of the panels does concern me but I find it hard to know what’s a quality make and what’s not.

appreciate you all taking time.
C
 
Dec 2, 2019
409
985
Amersham
Funster No
67,145
MH
van conversion
Exp
I'm a newbie
You could get a JA solar 320w single 60 cell panel. On eBay is around £140. It’s a grid tie far superior to the small panels. Or a nice panasonic HIT 320-330w. This is a hibrid that works well in dull weather. Add a victron 100/30 to it and you have a quality durable system, and still close to your budget. If I would be in the market for solar on the van, my choices would be: first Panasonic, Followed by: LG, JA, Trina, Jinko, and anything else that comes in 60 cells or 120 cells half cut. I would never bother with the 36, 54cells panels at all.

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Apr 27, 2016
1,947
1,696
Manchester
Funster No
42,762
MH
A class Hymer
Exp
Since the 80s
Would like a victron smart controller (mppt) with Bluetooth as I like to be able to look at battery condition and my old bus doesn't give that sort of detailed info.
This controller is top-notch, but no solar controller will give you full information about the battery in a motorhome, with all the different supplies going in and out. It only tells you the energy going in from the solar, and possibly the voltage too. Still, a lot better than nothing.

You can get a 'SmartSense' module that sticks on the battery and sends an accurate reading of voltage and temperature by Bluetooth to the SmartSolar MPPT. It allows the controller to charge the battery more accurately, cancelling out any voltage drops etc. Not essential but a nice extra.
 
OP
C
Mar 14, 2020
43
20
Isle of Man
Funster No
69,394
MH
Autotrail Cheyenne
Exp
Since 2015
Much food for thought. Really appreciate all of the knowledge that has been shared. Think I'll take the time to build a kit. Can't be that hard, can it ? 🙄🤯
 
Jan 28, 2008
6,807
8,490
walthamstow east london
Funster No
1,353
MH
renault burstner delphin
Exp
7 years campers before that
i dont think there is such a thing as a superior panel they are all built the same its the controlers that vary in quality
as to the debate between poly and mono the only difference is the physical size of the panel a 100watt panel of either will deliver a hundred watts at optimal conditions ive alway bought the cheapest ebay panels and never had one fail in 15 years semiflexibles are a different story i wouldn't have one unless it was free

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OP
C
Mar 14, 2020
43
20
Isle of Man
Funster No
69,394
MH
Autotrail Cheyenne
Exp
Since 2015
So, am I right in thinking that the more expensive, more efficient panels squeeze the wattage out of a smaller surface area or are there other advantages too? Sorry if it's a stupid question

Cush
 
Apr 27, 2016
1,947
1,696
Manchester
Funster No
42,762
MH
A class Hymer
Exp
Since the 80s
So, am I right in thinking that the more expensive, more efficient panels squeeze the wattage out of a smaller surface area or are there other advantages too? Sorry if it's a stupid question
That about sums it up. Sometimes every inch of space is important, sometimes it's a panel or two on a vast roof space There's other (non-electrical) considerations like size of the roof, what else is on the roof, what panels will fit, shadows from satellite dish or TV aerial, etc...
 
Dec 2, 2019
409
985
Amersham
Funster No
67,145
MH
van conversion
Exp
I'm a newbie
The manufacturing process has changed quite a bit. The big boys that produce everything in the house, including the cells, have full control over the entire process, resulting in a better quality module. They flash the cells and sort them by grades. Before panel assembly. Then flash the modules. Any panel under a set value, trows the hole lot onto a de rating Lot. Cells that are a lower grade are sold on to smaller enterprises. These are used on smaller panels, usually on leisure markets where accreditation’s are not necessary. Others are making it on good panels. There is definitely a huge difference. I have handled thousands of the on roofs in the last 10-12 years, and I can tell you we had our fair share of swaps. Before the anti damping law, solarworld set a very high standard, but slowly been taken out by Chinese manufacturers. That law has helped the competition for quality and performance. Once the antidamping ended, there was a influx of low grade on the market again. But, the big names are good. Locked in the never ending race for a better, more performing module. I have two 295w panasonic on the van. Look at solar harvest Attached, during electric cooking. I have LG and Trina on the house as well outperforming the nameplate for few years. I have monitored few properties we installed over the years and for sure are differences in harvest. A lot is down to quality hardware, and panel is main link.

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