I am a noob when it comes to solar, so any advice/help would be appreciated. I just received the AC200 that I purchased on Indiegogo. Along with this purchase, I purchased 4 180 Watt solar panels from Bougerv. Today was my first day to test it out to see how things went. With the 4 solar panels, I would say that my average input watts was around 100. I put them out around 10:00 in the morning and checked the reading several times until around 5:00 in the afternoon. The highest input watts was around 200. Am I doing something wrong? Is there something wrong with the AC200 or is there something wrong with my solar panels? I just don’t get how 4 180 Watt Solar panels averages around 100 watts of input. Again, any advice/help would be greatly appreciated.
Would need a little more information from you to give you better advice. Such as how are the panels connected? Series, parrallel, combination? Panel orientation…flat on the ground, angled, pointed in the direction of the sun etc? What was the sunlight condition? Cloudy, full sun, you didn’t have them set up indoors getting sun through the glass right?
If you did not have the panels pointed directly at the sun with full clear sun, the power you receive will drop dramatically. Clouds going over will also have a big effect. I am assuming you are connecting in series so I would do the following: 1-Connect two in pairs and record the input. Then connect the other two in pairs and record the input. If one of the pairs is dramatically different from the other pairs you may have one bad panel. You can swap out panels until you determine which one is bad if at all. My guess at this time is that the sunlight you were receiving was not full sun and the panels were not aligned optimally. If the panels also received any shade even on one panel this will have a big effect on output as well.
Thank you for all that advice Scott. I connect the panels in a series and I had them pointing towards the sun. I did have one end of the panels sitting on a chair in an effort to angle the panels. It was somewhat a cloudy day, so I assumed that the power would go down, just not that much.
I like your idea on just using two of the panels at a time to see if one of my panels is bad. One of panels from Bougerv was kind of banged up, so that could be the bad panel.
One last question for you Scott, I got the AC200 for an emergency power source, so I wont be using it very often. What is your recommendation on how to store the AC200 for long periods of time without using it? For example, should I make sure it has a certain charge before putting it in storage? Should I make sure to get it out every couple of months or so and use the it and then charge it back up?
My advice would be to keep it stored at 100% state of charge so it is ready to be used when an emergency occurrs. Storing inside in regular room temperatures is also a good long term storage idea. I would turn it on every three months and maybe run it down to 75% or so and slow charge back to 100% before putting away again. You will find many opinions on this subject, but I’m pretty sure that fantastic newer cheaper technology will be here is 5 years or less that will make us trying to make these 2,000 cycle batteries last forever seem pointless.
Panels are VERY susceptible to shade. If even a hand sized shadow falls on one panel in a series, the voltage of the all cells are reduced to the voltage of the one shaded cell. In case of clouds, the “dimmest” cell voltage is the max voltage of all cells. This cuts the watts down drastically.
Also, the AC units require 35v minimum input. I bought 2 24v 210 watt panels for my AC200P and after testing I need to buy 2 more to fully charge with solar.
12v panels actually push about 19v (check you panels specs for VOC) and in series that is 38v just over the 35v minimum. In the heat of the sun voltage drops and panels can reach temps of 149 degrees Fahrenheit. This will drop your voltage and possibly stop charging your unit when voltage is low enough. Having only 38v on a 35v minimum means loss of charging is likely.
18v or 24v panels help.