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THE 4WDER’S GUIDE TO SOLAR – Part 1 of 4

December 20, 2017   |   By Liam Arthur THE 4WDER’S GUIDE TO SOLAR - Part 1 of 4 - image  on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

10 of the most common solar misconceptions busted by solar industry gurus!

 

THE 4WDER’S GUIDE TO SOLAR - Part 1 of 4 - image Capture-14 on https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/news

As the solar power industry explodes in Australia, just about everyone is adding solar to their 12v camping setup. And why wouldn’t you? You get the ability to keep your batteries topped up without having to run a generator or go for a drive, and that means the ability to stay in those epic campsites for longer.

But just as more solar options means more choice for 4WDers, so too does it mean the potential for more confusion. Across the following few articles we’ve found some 12v solar power experts to ask about the most common misconceptions and errors that people make when adding solar power to their setup.

Forgive us if you already know a few of these points, but it’s worth going over – and we guarantee you’ll pick something up along the way!

 

  1. WHAT’S NEEDED TO ADD SOLAR TO MY CAMPING SETUP?

Firstly, of course you will need a solar panel, but you also need a way to regulate the power it produces. Many panels will in full sunlight produce up to 20V of power, which is more than enough to boil batteries. That’s where you need a regulator, which drops power to between 13 and 14v – safe for the batteries. Some panels come with their own regulator, like the Adventure Kings 160W Solar Panel some other brands do not. Many DC/DC chargers like the CTEK D250SA have their own in-built solar regulator which negates the need for one installed on the panel.

 

  1. PWM v MPPT REGULATORS – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Most entry-level solar setups use a Pulse Width Modulation’ (PWM) regulator which is cheaper to produce than the more-complicated Multi-Point Power Tracking’ (MPPT) regulator. Both will work absolutely fine in the majority of cases.

PWM regulators lower the amount of voltage supplied to the battery as it nears its full capacity to prevent it from being over-charged. MPPT regulators convert excess voltage into amperage, meaning that batteries are charged quicker. In many cases, replacing a PWM regulator with an MPPT one will increase the charging power you get out of the panel.

Most regulators that are designed to charge a battery will need to be connected to a battery before they will output. If your regulator is designed to charge a battery, connect it up and measure the current flow into the battery to see if it is working correctly.

To be continued….