on 2 August 2012
This is not an easy review to wqrite. Not because this is a bad product, far from it, it is excellent, but it is a kit, and to get the best from it you need a little electrical knowledge, a bit of DiY skill, and a clear idea of what you want to do with it.
What is in the box? The box contains the solar panel itself, pre-wired with heavy duty cables (both conductor thickness and insulation - these are definitely suitable for outdoor use - complete with connectors and polarity markings. It also contains short extension cables with matching plugs for the panel at one end, and pre-stripped ends at the other. These cables are incorrectly polarity marked, as explained in the instructions contained in the document packing on the outside of the box. The polarity labels on the extension cables should be removed or swapped over. There are two other cables, both with pre-stripped bare ends for the battery connection. The power controller is contained in its own box with a comprehensive instruction manual. Finally there are four mounting brackets and a bag of nuts and bolts for mounting the panel. The kit and controller manual must be read and understood before use, and you may need to buy in line fuse holders as recommended in the manual.
The panel appears very well made and looks to be similar in construction to those used for domestic power generation. However, as supplied, this kit is not designed or suitable for direct connection to the mains grid.
The controller has three pairs of connections. The panel extension cables plug into one pair (observing the polarity), the battery to the centre pair, and the load to the final pair. A push button on the front allows selection of the battery type (Sealed, gel or flooded) and control of the load. LEDs indicate charge and battery condition. The operation of these is fully described in the controller manual.
As supplied, the kit is suitable for 12 volt systems. The controller will control 24 v systems, but you would need a second panel connected in series with the first. The controller will also deliver up to 10 Amps, but to get that charge rate or current capacity, you would need additional panels connected in parallel with the first. The panel delivers just over 2.5 amps at maximum output.
So, what about use? This is clearly designed for fixed installation. One example might be for an outhouse or shed. The solar panel would be fixed to the roof, feeding a stand-by battery through the controller, and a 12 volt light connected to the load. The battery would be kept charged by the panel.
Another application would be on a caravan or camper van with a separate leisure or ancilliary battery. Again, the panel would go on the roof to maintain charge in the leisure battery. A 12 to 240V inverter could be used to supply mains voltage.
In my case, I will be using it while camping, so it will be a portable installation. I have fitted crocodile clips to the battery leads so they will connect to the battery terminals (via a 5A fuse. The load connections go to a cigarette lighter type socket to give an independent 12V supply. The panel will sit on the roof of the car with a supporting frame to fit to roof bars. This is not an ideal set up, but during tests, it works well, and charges the car battery. In use I will use either an inverter or low voltage adaptors to provide light or charge other devices.
In common with all solar panel arrays, it is important that no part is shaded. This is because the array itself contains lots of cells connected in series and parallel, and shading one has a disproportionate effect on the array as a whole. This is NOT a defect!
Overall, this is an excellent product and is good value for money. However, to get the best from it, you need a clear idea of how you want to use it, and a little technical knowledge to enable you to get the best performance from it.
on 2 August 2012
I purchasd this kit to fit to a relations caravan which has no mains access,the instructions were easy so understand and the basic set up is straight forward i have set this up with a 120amp liesure battery and a 700 watt inverter which runs laptops etc.The instructions do cover setting up the regulator for different battery types and when i had it all set up it showed the battery to be fully charged.I checked the voltage and found it to be 17 volts from the pannel to the regulator and 14 volts from the regulator to the battery,i have also set up 12v sockets for phone chargers and added some LED lighting.
This set up has been in daily use for over 2 months now and its only required an additional charge once after a series of overcast and rainy days,i have added a 2nd battery since and the owner says all has been fine.Its free energy and has many applications the price was nice as well.
on 7 July 2012
Fitted this on the boat to top up the house batteries during the week which it has done flawlessly. Previously had to run the engines if not going out to put a charge in, which is expensive on fuel, noisy for those on neighbouring berths and not good for the motors.
Testing the amperage on fitting I found over 2 amps @ 13.5V +, going in when in direct sunlight so it will make short work of keeping your batteries charged.
The charger seems to regulate the charge going in seamlessly and has the facility to be set to your battery type eg flooded, gel ect. Unfortunately there is no instructions to tell you how to do this so you have to work it out for yourself (hold down the red button for a few seconds and you can change the setting).
No problems so far and should extend the life of my house batteries considerably.