Are solar panels all the same?

TheBlurb

Active Member
Mar 28, 2019
230
My local Canadian Tire has a NOMA brand 100w solar panel with stand and charge controller on sale for $180 Cdn. Much cheaper than the $350 bluetti 120w panel I was considering (to go with bluetti ac50s power station).

Buying these Bluetti or Jackery combos let’s you know exactly what you’re in for, ie how long the panel takes to charge the unit. With these standalone Noma or Coleman panels, I have no idea on their performance, particularly when paired with one of these lithium power stations.

So are all these panels relatively the same, or is this a get what you pay for thing?
 

msferry

New Member
Jun 8, 2021
9
Solar panels are not all the same but they are close enough that cost, size and weight should be the driving factors. If you are charging a lithium battery make sure the charge controller is compatible with a lithium battery because the charge profile differs from a lead acid. My jackery has a built in charge controller and all I needed was a adapter cable to hook up my renogy panel. You might want to check if your system is similar
 
Last edited:

SteveP

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
May 21, 2015
2,423
Yes, 100 watts = 100 watts. The 20 watt difference will make only make about 1 amp difference, max, to your charge current. The primary benefit of the same branded panels is that you can be reasonably sure that the polarity and the connector are correct for your device and you don't need to buy adaptors. However, that makes them less suitable for other purposes, such as charging your house battery. The other branded panels may come with an integrated charge controller, which would need to be bypassed to use with your device.
 

Dnodoz

Member
Apr 15, 2020
74
The efficiency of some of the cheaper panels isn’t as good. Do you really get 100 watts as stated. Some will get closer than others to rated wattage in similar sun conditions.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
May 21, 2015
2,423
If this is the kit you're looking at the controller is not integrated but is available for use. You would need an adaptor to convert the SAE two prong connector on the panel wiring to the proper input plug for your device. I would advise testing the polarity of the panel output before hooking it up.
 

TSQ

Active Member
Mar 28, 2021
171
Niagara Region, ON
Hang on.

See the spec page for your AC50S:
User_Manual-AC50S.png

Your AC50S already has an MPPT charge controller that accepts 12-40VDC inputer up to 120W.

MPPT charge controllers require input voltage to be at least 1V higher than the charge controller.

If you use another charge controller in series prior to the built in charge controller it will regulate the charge voltage to ~14.4V max. Then the built in charge controller will only give you ~13.4V max. So your battery will not charge fully (plus the efficiency will suck).

Can you use that CanTire panel? Possibly. But you will want to make sure that the panel voltage is in the correct range (ideally at least 16V and at most 36V), and NOT use the included charge controller (just rely on the integrated Bluetti one). But of course CanTire doesn't publish the panel info so you would have to go look at the store and hope it is on the packaging (not likely) or open one up and see if it is somewhere on the actual panel (likely, but not not guaranteed). From the picture looks to be a single 4x9 = 36 cell panel (which is typical) and so it should probably work?

Also note that panel is not folding so will be fairly large to store.

As an alternative consider something like: https://ca.renogy.com/renogy-100w-12v-mono-foldable-solar-suitcase-wo-controller/ Operating voltage of ~20.5V, max voltage of ~24.5V. Specs say 2x ~2.5A so this is two 50W panels in parallel and will do better in partially shaded conditions than a single 100W panel.

Or something like: https://ca.renogy.com/renogy-100-watt-12-volt-monocrystalline-solar-panel-slim-design/-dp58-152108/ if you have the space to store it and don't mind making a stand.

Note that the CanTire panel has SAE connectors and the Renogy panels use MC4 connectors so those would require an adapter to the Bluetti input (8mm IIRC). These are cheaply available online - just double check the polarity on the 8mm (or whatever) plug.

The advantage to the Bluetti panel is that it has the correct plug on it. But you definitely pay a premium for the plug.
 

TheBlurb

Active Member
Mar 28, 2019
230
If this is the kit you're looking at the controller is not integrated but is available for use. You would need an adaptor to convert the SAE two prong connector on the panel wiring to the proper input plug for your device. I would advise testing the polarity of the panel output before hooking it up.
Thats the one.
 

TheBlurb

Active Member
Mar 28, 2019
230
Hang on.

See the spec page for your AC50S:
View attachment 82981

Your AC50S already has an MPPT charge controller that accepts 12-40VDC inputer up to 120W.

MPPT charge controllers require input voltage to be at least 1V higher than the charge controller.

If you use another charge controller in series prior to the built in charge controller it will regulate the charge voltage to ~14.4V max. Then the built in charge controller will only give you ~13.4V max. So your battery will not charge fully (plus the efficiency will suck).

Can you use that CanTire panel? Possibly. But you will want to make sure that the panel voltage is in the correct range (ideally at least 16V and at most 36V), and NOT use the included charge controller (just rely on the integrated Bluetti one). But of course CanTire doesn't publish the panel info so you would have to go look at the store and hope it is on the packaging (not likely) or open one up and see if it is somewhere on the actual panel (likely, but not not guaranteed). From the picture looks to be a single 4x9 = 36 cell panel (which is typical) and so it should probably work?

Also note that panel is not folding so will be fairly large to store.

As an alternative consider something like: https://ca.renogy.com/renogy-100w-12v-mono-foldable-solar-suitcase-wo-controller/ Operating voltage of ~20.5V, max voltage of ~24.5V. Specs say 2x ~2.5A so this is two 50W panels in parallel and will do better in partially shaded conditions than a single 100W panel.

Or something like: https://ca.renogy.com/renogy-100-watt-12-volt-monocrystalline-solar-panel-slim-design/-dp58-152108/ if you have the space to store it and don't mind making a stand.

Note that the CanTire panel has SAE connectors and the Renogy panels use MC4 connectors so those would require an adapter to the Bluetti input (8mm IIRC). These are cheaply available online - just double check the polarity on the 8mm (or whatever) plug.

The advantage to the Bluetti panel is that it has the correct plug on it. But you definitely pay a premium for the plug.
Wow that renogy one is just $120 Cdn shipped. Why on earth is bluetti charging $350? Jackery is no better, it’s 100w panel is $300+ Cdn.
 

TSQ

Active Member
Mar 28, 2021
171
Niagara Region, ON
Wow that renogy one is just $120 Cdn shipped. Why on earth is bluetti charging $350? Jackery is no better, it’s 100w panel is $300+ Cdn.
Keep in mind the Renogy ones I linked don't have charge controllers. Not an issue to charge your Bluetti because it has one built in, but you would need a charge controller if you also wanted to charge a 12v trailer battery (or whatever else). You can always buy a charge controller later if you find that you want one.

As a sidenote, all panels are generally the same - the performance differences will be due to different charge controllers (but again irrelevant to you since the Bluetti has its own built in charge controller).

Bluetti charges more because it is convenient and guaranteed to work.

I have two Renogy 100W panels on my trailer:
IMG_20220423_173037321_HDR.jpg
They work well. About 75W each today (Sunny, oriented flat, Southern Ontario).
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
May 21, 2015
2,423
The Bluetti AC50S includes "1×MC4 Cable (MC4 Connector to DC 7909 male)" You may need an extension cable, IIRC The cables on the Renogy panels are only about 4 ft long.
 
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Eric Webber

Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Jul 7, 2018
718
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Yes, 100 watts = 100 watts. The 20 watt difference will make only make about 1 amp difference, max, to your charge current. The primary benefit of the same branded panels is that you can be reasonably sure that the polarity and the connector are correct for your device and you don't need to buy adaptors. However, that makes them less suitable for other purposes, such as charging your house battery. The other branded panels may come with an integrated charge controller, which would need to be bypassed to use with your device.
I agree with that, but keep in mind that (depending on serial vs parallel) if you are mixing different panels, it will always need to match something. In parallel, they match voltage, so if one panel gets there at 20v (12v nominal) at up to 5amps, and the other gets there at 17v at about 5.8amps, you will be limited to 17v on both, so your capacity is a hair less than "full"

Not enough to matter though - I would go for dimensions, weight, and price long before caring about matching specs to three decimal places
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,663
I have a eco-worthy 120W suitcacase
I use it for my I buture power station and charging my battery....Seems to work well.
 

Patrick w

Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
445
I might be the only one using Global Solar(now p3) panels. They are I think a tad less efficient than monocrytaline in direct sun, but works significantly better in partial shade and none optimal lighting conditions. but my panels weigh less than ,3 lbs each for 62w. They seem to be considerably more expensive now (I'm seeing prices 500-900) which is.. crazy.
I wish I got it for this guy's price...
 

Coreym95

Member
Jun 6, 2020
31


technical specs aren't my thing but heres mine. Keeps my batteries topped off indefinitely so its good enough. Clipped off the alligator clips and replaced with SAE.

I have a pretty similar setup, but the Harbor Freight 100W suitcase style panel. I pair that with a Victron MPPT controller with built in bluetooth and it works like a champ. It spends the majority of the day in "float" mode and my battery is at, or close to, 100% by sundown on a sunny day.

If anyone is looking at some of those soft sided panels, make sure to do your research. I've seen a lot of those start to fall apart after a couple seasons of use, especially if you are using it in warmer climates.
 

Patrick w

Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
445
Depending on the make and model, yes those soft sided are basically some grade of nylon that your intentionally sticking under the hottest brighestet sunlight you can!
 




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