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Old 29-07-2012, 11:38   #166
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"starting each day out in the bulk phase. That doesn't make sense since "
Most solar regulators are set to start a new bulk phase every day. Normally this makes sense, but not when the batteries are fully charged from other means, or there is no draw on the batteries.
The better solar regulators can be adjusted so this is not issue. This control over the regulator performance is invaluable, especially when the boat is left say over winter. Unfortunatly many people ignore these important basic features when selecting a regulator.

Having a regulator that is fully adjustable is often much more important for battery health than if the the regulator is MPPT or not.
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Old 29-07-2012, 17:28   #167
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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.. our Morningstar MPPT controller was starting each day out in the bulk phase. That doesn't make sense since we have battery charger on continuously...
Pete, I think this will always happen, because the MPPT isn't (can't) talk to the shore charger to know what state it's in. If your shore power charger is a good 3-stage charger then it will usually be sitting on "Float" at 13.3v or so. So then the MPPT wakes up, sees this (low) voltage, & goes through its Bulk & Acceptance phases before going back to Float itself.

We don't plug in often, but when we do our (Blue Sky) MPPT does the same thing. But since the batteries are full, the Bulk & Acceptance phases don't last very long so we don't worry about it.

In fact, our (Heart Interface) charger sometimes seems to come off float & go through a quick Bulk & Acceptance phase itself every day or 2. Not sure why but it's so fast that I don't think enough extra amp-hours are going into the batteries to hurt them much.
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Old 30-07-2012, 00:31   #168
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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We don't plug in often, but when we do our (Blue Sky) MPPT does the same thing. But since the batteries are full, the Bulk & Acceptance phases don't last very long so we don't worry about it.
.
The acctance phase is timed ( usually about 1.5 hours). This will be the same if the batteries are on shore power and 100% charged, or not. So the fully charged battery will be held at the acceptance voltage ( usually around 14.4 v for 1.5 hours)
More sophisticated controllers look at battery return amps and will stop the acceptance phase after only a couple of mins, but I don't think Blue Sky has any models that will do this.
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Old 30-07-2012, 01:57   #169
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Noelex, we've had a Blue Sky (actually RV Power Products, which was the parent company) 50-amp MPPT solar controller since 2001, & the Acceptance phase is certainly not timed. It looks at the current required to maintain the selected (adjustable) Acceptance voltage, & when that current comes down to a preset (adjustable) value, only then does the controller revert to Float mode. But when the controller wakes up, it looks at the battery voltage & assumes that it's in Bulk phase unless the voltage is at or above the set-point voltage.

Some very old Heart battery chargers used to use a timing algorithm for their Acceptance phase, & I've seen an old "smart" alternator regulator that also used a timing algorithm, but I don't think too many MPPT charge controllers use just a simple timing algorithm. Admittedly, I know nothing about the Morningstar.
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Old 31-07-2012, 16:13   #170
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

I make the best system sets , I have been to every production faility I could find in china and if they were any good I audited the facility
call me for questions
www.botcwindsolar.com
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Old 31-07-2012, 16:22   #171
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

shore power plus solar panel power equals overcharging batteries which stink. when i am at dock i choose--solar OR dock for charging batteries.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:41   #172
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Today I called Morningstar about the overcharging issue when running both solar and battery charger. Steve gave, what I believe, is the perfect solution. Turns out the Morningstar Tristar 45 has a custom program option. Just change DIP switches for custom program and run the PC program called MSVIEW to set the absorption time for 1 minute. This means that each morning the controller will only dwell on absorption 1 minute before entering the Float stage. When we leave dock simply switch the DIP switches back and it reverts to the fixed (preprogrammed) mode with longer absorption phase. BTW, the custom setup wizard has hundreds of variables that can be set, but I just changed the one.
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Old 20-08-2012, 12:15   #173
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

DM Solar has two 145 watt panels for $240 total, about half the price of Kyocera per watt. They also sell through Amazon.com, but the price is $320, although I did notice in the review section someone was complaining about their delivery straight from the manufacturer. 15 year warranty on power, three years on workmanship. Most reviewers (19) felt the panels were well made, and in the specs they are salt spray tested, whatever that means. The connectors are MC4 not a junction box, as is usual now on panels over 100 Watts. Still researching this topic but this does seem to be the best "value" I can find thus far. I haven't been able to find a downside to using the non-MPPT Morningstar Tristar 45 as a charge controller for these panels, as it is $170 as opposed to $300 more for the MPPT version. It seems it would be more cost effective to spend the $300 on another 2 panels vs the MPPT unless you are real estate limited for installation. Add a temperature sensor for another $30 and for $500 you have a good basic starter system. The controller can handle much higher wattage so you can add more panels in the future. These panels seem to be a good fit for a bimini top installation as I plan to do. There is a compatible Morningstar battery monitor for just over $100, with a remote panel version also that can be used to see what is going on in your system or you can download PC software to get the info off the controller directly. From what I read, doing this would be a lot easier and accurate than going through the formulas using AH consumption figures that are probably inaccurate in the first place (the listed amps on charts for appliances etc are usually exaggerated.) Some people recommend getting a Trimetric 2020 battery monitor to see what is going on with your usage before you spend a dime on solar.
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Old 20-08-2012, 14:14   #174
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Update on DM Solar, I called them directly to ask a wiring question. They picked up the phone immediately (a real person not one of those line 1 if you want so and so, line 2 if...) and took a message. The technical guy called back within an hour. I asked him about the Amazon situation and he said that Amazon does all their inventory, it is actually faster to go through them and with shipping it costs the same. Also, he noted they are selling fast and their next shipment in a few weeks will include bundled cables which are costly for the same price (not sure how long.)
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Old 20-08-2012, 15:09   #175
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

AltE has Solarworld 220W panels for $234 each!

Solar Panels at Affordable Prices
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Old 20-08-2012, 18:59   #176
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Azul, I smell a rat. DMSolar's corporate address of 12337 NW 53rd Street, Coral Springs, FL, 33076 appears from Google Maps to be a home in a residentail neighborhood. And the DM Solar web pages contain a number of grammar errors that very strongly suggest a non-native-Ynglish speaker has written them. Someone who is fairly fluent--but very definitely not a native.

All of which makes me wonder if their "made in USA" really means they are imported cells or panels, adding on the wires or frames, and then technically "making" the finished product in the USA.

That doesn't mean the products are good or bad, but it does bear considering since EVERY US solar panel maker has complained about how it is damn impossible to make a profit against subsidized overseas competition, let along compete with it.

Salt-spray tests can simply means "we sprayed salt water on it" or they can be done to milspec certifications, in which case you can look up the milspec numbers on the web and find out exactly what the test is and what it means. SOME milspec ratings actually mean "we did this and the object being tested sat there like a rock without being destroyed" while others can mean "the object didn't explode". You can never assume a milspec test means anything, without reading the spec.
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Old 20-08-2012, 20:20   #177
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

I purchased 4 panels from amazon when they were $140 each Delivered.
The panels I received were 1st quality and I am quite happy with them.
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Old 20-08-2012, 20:31   #178
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

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AltE has Solarworld 220W panels for $234 each!

Solar Panels at Affordable Prices
I looked over the AltE website after MaineSailor recommended it, like most sites they aren't particularly geared toward marine, their only "package system" (they had six or eight for RV's) was over $5000.

Don, re the Solarworld panels: check out delivery. The only delivery option for me was by truck for $297 for one panel, maybe they are used to non DIY. At Amazon for the DM Solar two panels and a controller delivered in two days: $57. DM Solar advertises the panels at $240 for two but with $100 delivery charge also.
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Old 20-08-2012, 22:29   #179
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Any panel under $2 a watt is going to be an Asian panel. Mostly from China. They play the "Maybe made in USA" game by having a distributor in the US somewhere. I bought "Grape" panels. 100 watts for $190 Monocrystaline). From Taiwan. Sure...all these panels look good...but time will tell. If I get 7 years out of them, I'll be happy.
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Old 21-08-2012, 07:14   #180
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re: Best Solar Panels For The Buck

Don, another point about the Solarworld panels from AltE: "Allow several weeks for delivery." Like many others I'm hardly ever in one spot for two weeks at a time lately, so fast and reliable delivery is important to me. I've never had a problem with Amazon, other than worrying they will take over the world someday.

Another slight potential problem with the DM Solar panels is the packaging they use is pretty skimpy, but for $1.10 per watt I'm not surprised by this. The panels can fairly easily slide out of the packaging, but no one reported the panels were damaged.

HelloSailor, the guy I talked to on the phone from DM Solar did sound Oriental, but I am not xenophobic. Several others on this forum have been happy with these panels, SailorChic recommends them. As Celestial Sailor implied, these are so cheap that I am more than willing to accept the risk that they may not last as long as a panel costing two or three times as much. By then we may have solar sails!
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