This is some of the solar equipment that I recommend for this project and others. All of the components below can be used with any solar powered system provided the output from all of your solar panels does not exceed the capacity of the charge controller.
PWM (pulse width modulation) and MPPT (maximum power point tracking) charge controllers take the voltage output from solar panels and convert them to a more suitable voltage to charge the battery.
PWM charge controllers are an older style. MPPT charge controllers are newer and more efficient.
The main difference between MPPT and PWM charge controllers is that MPPT charge controllers allow the PV array output voltage to be higher than that of the battery bank without losing power.
The MPPT ability is essential for larger PV systems, as it allows for greater flexibility in system design and performance. An MPPT, or maximum power point tracker is an electronic device that optimizes the match between the solar array (PV panels), and the battery bank. To put it simply, they convert a higher voltage DC output from solar panels down to the lower voltage needed to charge batteries.
Flexible Solar Panels
I recommend flexible solar panels for portable systems because they are easily stowed away in an RV. In fact, they can be stored beneath the mattress.
If your are putting together a permanently mounted solar system then you will want to use the rigid framed solar panels. Flexible solar panels are better suited for portable or semi-portables applications.
Most solar panels are only 15-18% efficient but there are some panels that are up to 24% efficient. The Sunpower solar panels are actually 110 Watts and produce 6.4 amps.
For those of you that are looking for a turn key solution, Aspect Solar makes a dual axis tracker. It does not have produce a lot of power and it is a bit pricey but it is portable.
LiFePO4 Storage Battery
This 200 AH LiFePO4 battery is the perfect solution for RV owners that are looking to use solar for off-grid camping. The physical dimensions and weight alone allow it to fit in the same space as their existing lead-acid battery. This one battery, with twice the storage of a typical 100 AH lead-acid, is about 30 pounds lighter.
Two of these batteries in parallel will provide 400 AH of storage and can be discharged down to 20% of capacity. They can also be charged faster and at a higher current.
If you are serious about solar and require enough storage to last a few days than look no further.
- 200AH / Size:20.5″*10.6″*8.7″/60lbs
- 100 amp continuous output,300 amp surge output
- 3 years warranty
- 70-80% lighter than equivalent Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries
- 5 times longer life (2000 charge cycles vs. 400 on SLA)
- 75% higher effective capacity than SLA batteries
- Includes Battery Management System (BMS) protection circuit.
- 3000-5000 cycles – Acceptable Charging voltages 14.4 to 14.6 volts
- Battery is perfect for deep-cycle applications including electric vehicles, solar/wind energy system, UPS battery backup, telecommunication systems, medical equipment, and more.