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Author Topic: You get what you pay for.......  (Read 3096 times)

Kathy & Bill

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You get what you pay for.......
« on: June 21, 2020, 09:31:48 AM »
Well... as the saying goes.. "You get what you pay for".

I bought 4 - 200 watt flexible panels from China.  The wattage each put out are.. 70, 60, 48 and 46 watts, for a grand total of 224 watts when wired in series.  For a supposed 800 watt array in full sun and no shading, 224 watts is pathetic in my thinking.  Maybe I'm missing something but it seems pretty meager to me.

From panel array to controller the wire is #8 awg with 30 amp inline fuse and disconnect switch.  From controller to batteries the wire is #6 awg with 50 amp breaker inline.

Any thoughts.. if I got something wrong or just cheap A** panels?
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Lou Schneider

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2020, 09:52:13 AM »
Looks pretty low to me and I don't see anything wrong with your setup..  Flexible panels aren't known for durability - they have just a spattering of active material on a flexible substrate instead of actual photovoltaic crystals.  How did you come up with the wattage produced by each panel?

The hot deal right now is in used crystalline panels.  A lot of panels that were installed on buildings to get the tax credits are now fully depreciated and being removed.  SanTan Solar in Gilbert, AZ and many other online dealers are selling used 250 watt rigid panels for $50 - $90 each.  These are nominally 24 volt panels and a parallel connected array will work well with your MPPT controller.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 10:23:08 AM by Lou Schneider »

HueyPilotVN

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2020, 10:04:36 AM »
They probably wrote the ad so that they can say that it is a 200 watt panel,(panels).  The inference is 200 apiece.

One problem is that if you are mounting them on the roof where space is limited then you may eliminate the possibility of putting a serious amount of solar on the roof.

This was about 800 watts on my old Stacker trailer, 5 X 160 watts.

In about the same space as that 224 watt array you could almost put 3 of the 160 watt panels for 480 watts.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 10:26:33 AM by HueyPilotVN »
Bill Waugh
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Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2020, 10:36:48 AM »
Looks pretty low to me and I don't see anything wrong with your setup..  Flexible panels aren't known for durability - they have just a spattering of active material on a flexible substrate instead of actual photovoltaic crystals.  How did you come up with the wattage produced by each panel?

I hooked them up individually to the controller and looked at their output through the Victron app.  I would have been happy with half the rated output, but a little over 25% of their supposed rating is not right.
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2020, 10:50:37 AM »
They probably wrote the ad so that they can say that it is a 200 watt panel,(panels).  The inference is 200 apiece.

One problem is that if you are mounting them on the roof where space is limited then you may eliminate the possibility of putting a serious amount of solar on the roof.

This was about 800 watts on my old Stacker trailer, 5 X 160 watts.

In about the same space as that 224 watt array you could almost put 3 of the 160 watt panels for 480 watts.

Yes.. I have seen that deceptive tactic in adds.  The ones I bought were indeed advertised as 200 watts each.  I will contact the Ebay seller and see what he has to say.  I'm not holding my breath for a resolution for this.
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Tom55555

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2020, 11:44:54 AM »
Try running the four panels in parallel. See attached.
2015 Winnebago 22R

Kevin Means

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2020, 12:21:32 PM »
FWIW Bill, I've spoken with thousands of people/customers over the past few years, and of those who had purchased the less expensive (i.e. cheap) Chinese flexible panels, literally none were happy with them. One guy told me his worked better as a doormat.

Those used panels Lou mentioned look like a darn good deal - if you've got room on the roof to mount them, or room to store them if you set them up outside.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, TST 507 TPMS, 960 watts of solar, SolaRVector tilt
Lakeside, California

Ex-Calif

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  • Dan from Dayton...
Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2020, 12:26:41 PM »
I see lots of shading on those panels. Particularly the top half. Are you sure you had full direct sun?

Sun angle and even minor shading will kill your collection. Are you running an moppt controller?

Also flexible panels rarely give out full rating. HueyPilotVN has a setup that would be a lot more predictable/satisfactory.
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solarman

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2020, 06:16:09 PM »

I'm sorry you found out the hard way, a simple pm to me and I would have set you straight..
flexible panels are to be avoided at all costs.. great door mats useless as a panel.
you will have low output and a short life with these..
hopefully you did not pay more than 25 cents/watt..


KZ MXT20 480 W solar
ORV 24RKS 960 Watts solar
48V LFP, 2000W inverter/charger
Ram 2500 CTD

AStravelers

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2020, 04:59:16 PM »
I hooked them up individually to the controller and looked at their output through the Victron app.  I would have been happy with half the rated output, but a little over 25% of their supposed rating is not right.
What time of day did you take the readings?  Should be around noon sun time (no daylight savings time).

What part of the country were you in?  At the Mexican border or how far north. 

What was the condition of the sky?  Pollution and any haze reduces the output.

Does the Victron show you the voltage and current (and/or watts) at the input to the controller, or were you looking at the output of the controller? 

You have a MPPT controller which works best at higher voltage something like 35-50 volts.  You most likely only have 17-18 volts from individual panels (maybe a bit higher voltage since the panels are supposed to be 200 watts each).  Wiring in series will bring up your voltage to take advantage of the MPPT.
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2020 Chevy Colorado 4X4 Diesel
650 watts residential solar panels--400AH Lithium batteries

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Tom55555

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2020, 11:16:30 PM »
I'm curious what load you used to check the voltage and amperage for each PV. Did you compare the wattage of all four in series vs. individually / parallel? Before everyone tells me it doesn't matter I understand P=EI. Depending on the hardware used R may vary and if one PV opens in series your system won't charge. You're really better off going parallel from the PVs to the voltage regulator in my opinion.



2015 Winnebago 22R

Ex-Calif

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  • Dan from Dayton...
Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2020, 05:26:31 AM »
AStraveler and Tom55555 both could be right...

If you have a 12V battery set up, 12V panels and ~400W with an MPPT controller, parallel wiring is usually the way to go.

If you have a 24V or 12V battery system, >12V panels, >400W with MPPT controller, series or series parallel is the way to go. you must make sure that the MPPT controller is rated for at least the total combined voltage of the array. You can't hook up 48V solar to a controller rated for 24 or 36V for example.
"Marvin" - 1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3150 - P30 Chev 454
Various classic MGBs
Ex-liveaboard boater - Class A newbie in sponge mode

Kevin Means

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2020, 11:40:04 AM »
If you've got an MPPT controller and multiple 12 volt panels, or one or more residential panels, it's usually best to wire them in series. An MPPT controller can convert their combined voltages to amps, which can enable the system to start charging a little earlier in the day, and a little longer throughout the day. MPPT controllers convert the excess voltage of combined panels to amps, so the "extra" voltage isn't wasted. PWM controllers can't do that. The higher voltage also enables thinner gauge wire to be used.

The only real downside of wiring panels in series vs. parallel, is that if one panel gets shaded, it affects the other panels to. Newer panels aren't as affected by shading as older panels, but they're still affected.

Kev
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 11:41:42 AM by Kevin Means »
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, TST 507 TPMS, 960 watts of solar, SolaRVector tilt
Lakeside, California

Ex-Calif

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2020, 04:19:01 PM »
That's why the 400w rule of thumb is suggested. One panel shaded cuts your output by a bunch and 4 X 100W panels will usually be mounted "near" each other. An 800w array is less likely to get severely cut back from one panel being shaded as the square area is a ton more. But you also need a serious controller and at that point you are starting to consider series parallel wiring at 48V.

Another option if one expects to get shaded is to separate the panels and do 24V series parallel in pairs.

The only real downside of wiring panels in series vs. parallel, is that if one panel gets shaded, it affects the other panels to. Newer panels aren't as affected by shading as older panels, but they're still affected.

Kev
"Marvin" - 1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3150 - P30 Chev 454
Various classic MGBs
Ex-liveaboard boater - Class A newbie in sponge mode

Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2020, 04:35:24 PM »
Thank you all the replies, I'll need to get back to you on some of the questions asked.

My nieces husband passed away unexpectedly last Thursday.  He was 31, strong as an ox and into fitness.  He was at a fitness camp in California when this happened.  To make it even worse, they are expecting their first baby in November.

Anyway.... I'll answer some of the questions later this week.

Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Ex-Calif

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2020, 04:52:02 PM »
How sad - I am so sorry for your loss...
"Marvin" - 1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3150 - P30 Chev 454
Various classic MGBs
Ex-liveaboard boater - Class A newbie in sponge mode

Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2020, 05:40:01 PM »
I see lots of shading on those panels. Particularly the top half. Are you sure you had full direct sun?

Sun angle and even minor shading will kill your collection. Are you running an moppt controller?

Also flexible panels rarely give out full rating. HueyPilotVN has a setup that would be a lot more predictable/satisfactory.


The picture does look like it was shaded but it wasn't.  The time of day was 12:00/1:00 and clear sky.  I am running an MPPT controler, Victron Smart 100/50
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2020, 05:48:55 PM »
What time of day did you take the readings?  Should be around noon sun time (no daylight savings time).

What part of the country were you in?  At the Mexican border or how far north. 

What was the condition of the sky?  Pollution and any haze reduces the output.

Does the Victron show you the voltage and current (and/or watts) at the input to the controller, or were you looking at the output of the controller? 

You have a MPPT controller which works best at higher voltage something like 35-50 volts.  You most likely only have 17-18 volts from individual panels (maybe a bit higher voltage since the panels are supposed to be 200 watts each).  Wiring in series will bring up your voltage to take advantage of the MPPT.

Time of day was 12:00/1:00, Clear skies and no haze.  We live in WNY, Buffalo area.  The Victron does show input and that's where my numbers came from.  I had all four panels in series and the best I could get out of them was around 270 watts total.  If I remember correctly the voltage was around 67.
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2020, 05:56:09 PM »
I'm curious what load you used to check the voltage and amperage for each PV. Did you compare the wattage of all four in series vs. individually / parallel? Before everyone tells me it doesn't matter I understand P=EI. Depending on the hardware used R may vary and if one PV opens in series your system won't charge. You're really better off going parallel from the PVs to the voltage regulator in my opinion.

I guess the only load I had was charging the batteries.  I have a 600 amp/hr LiPo bank and it was around 85%.  I wired them several ways to get the numbers; 4 in series, 2 series-2 parallel and then each one by themselves.
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

Kevin Means

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2020, 11:32:57 PM »
Shading, and the angle at which sunlight hits solar panels are are significant factors. I know several people who have the Victron controller, and they seem to do a good job of monitoring and displaying battery/charge status. Your wire gauge looks good, and I'm assuming there are no bad connections anywhere. So if your panels aren't shaded, and they're within 10 degrees of the sun, I think they're just not putting out what they're rated at putting out. Not surprising considering the type and source of the panels. Sorry

FWIW, we just finished installing six 170 watt Zamp panels on a Newmar Mountain Aire, and the system was putting out 1070 watts at about 3:00 PM, with all the panels tilted toward the sun - two slightly shaded by trees.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, TST 507 TPMS, 960 watts of solar, SolaRVector tilt
Lakeside, California

AStravelers

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2020, 07:40:41 AM »
Shading, and the angle at which sunlight hits solar panels are are significant factors. I know several people who have the Victron controller, and they seem to do a good job of monitoring and displaying battery/charge status. Your wire gauge looks good, and I'm assuming there are no bad connections anywhere. So if your panels aren't shaded, and they're within 10 degrees of the sun, I think they're just not putting out what they're rated at putting out. Not surprising considering the type and source of the panels. Sorry

FWIW, we just finished installing six 170 watt Zamp panels on a Newmar Mountain Aire, and the system was putting out 1070 watts at about 3:00 PM, with all the panels tilted toward the sun - two slightly shaded by trees.

Kev
Was this a typo:  It appears you got 1070 watts from 6 panels which are rated at 170 each for a total of 1020watts? 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2020 Chevy Colorado 4X4 Diesel
650 watts residential solar panels--400AH Lithium batteries

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Kevin Means

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2020, 11:42:58 AM »
Hmmmm... good question Al. The owner read the numbers off his Victron. I think it keeps a record of such data. I'll double check with him and let you know.

Kev

(Note: I just texted the owner. His RV is in getting its annual service right now. He's supposed to get it back next Wednesday, at which time he said he'd double check the data log and let me know. I'll be sure to update you. (I'm very interested too)
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 12:03:54 PM by Kevin Means »
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, TST 507 TPMS, 960 watts of solar, SolaRVector tilt
Lakeside, California

Kathy & Bill

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2020, 12:24:51 PM »
Anybody have any info about Amerisolar?  I see both good and bad reviews.  Was looking at;  http://www.solardesigntool.com/components/module-panel-solar/Amerisolar/6065/AS-6M-375W/specification-data-sheet.html;jsessionid=732C9F020643EA9C589BFD087E6CA4E7

If I relocate the TV antenna I can get two of them on the roof with no shading issues.  Thoughts.....
Bill & Kathy
Western NY
2019 Coachman Apex 265RBSS
2012 Silverado 1500, 5.3L

AStravelers

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2020, 04:45:45 PM »
Anybody have any info about Amerisolar?  I see both good and bad reviews.  Was looking at;  http://www.solardesigntool.com/components/module-panel-solar/Amerisolar/6065/AS-6M-375W/specification-data-sheet.html;jsessionid=732C9F020643EA9C589BFD087E6CA4E7

If I relocate the TV antenna I can get two of them on the roof with no shading issues.  Thoughts.....
Here is a link to a reputable seller of solar panels and all the components for a RV for you to compare prices, etc.
https://www.solar-electric.com/residential/solar-panels.html?product_list_order=watts&product_list_dir=desc

I'm not saying the place you are looking at is not reputable, just that I know this place is. 

When you are buying these large residential panels shipping is by motor freight, not UPS, FedEx. 

One way to save quite a bit on shipping is to have the panels shipped with hold at the freight instead of delivery to a residence.  In my case it was savings of about 1/3 of the total shipping costs versus coming to the house.  You have to have a utility trailer or large vehicle to pick up the panels. 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2020 Chevy Colorado 4X4 Diesel
650 watts residential solar panels--400AH Lithium batteries

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

solarman

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2020, 09:48:51 PM »
Anybody have any info about Amerisolar?  I see both good and bad reviews.  Was looking at;  http://www.solardesigntool.com/components/module-panel-solar/Amerisolar/6065/AS-6M-375W/specification-data-sheet.html;jsessionid=732C9F020643EA9C589BFD087E6CA4E7

If I relocate the TV antenna I can get two of them on the roof with no shading issues.  Thoughts.....

Amerisolar, like many of these so called "american" companies use commodity quality cells some china sourced, some from JinkoSolar ( one of the largest manufacturers.) performance is quite good and lifespan is at least better than 10 years to 80%

like anything, if you want the best then expect to pay for it.. ( $2/watt) for DIY the biggest issue I see is freight shipping..
for a few panels you get stung with ridiculous charges, for me I might order a palette of 40 or more Trina units and the shipping is small
in comparison per panel.

You will have no issue with these or other like branded units.  the only issue is see here is the mppt controller.. if I read correctly, you have a victron 100/50.. the panel in question has a VOC of 48 Volts, so two in series will be 96 Volts and is too close to 100 for comfort.. on a cold morning in you will have higher voltage and a broken controller.. I normally design with a 1.25 margin, so that 96 is now close to 120 Volts..
a safer margin.. you will have to parallel them to be safe..
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 09:53:49 PM by solarman »
KZ MXT20 480 W solar
ORV 24RKS 960 Watts solar
48V LFP, 2000W inverter/charger
Ram 2500 CTD

AStravelers

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #25 on: July 05, 2020, 05:41:58 PM »
Amerisolar, like many of these so called "american" companies use commodity quality cells some china sourced, some from JinkoSolar ( one of the largest manufacturers.) performance is quite good and lifespan is at least better than 10 years to 80%

like anything, if you want the best then expect to pay for it.. ( $2/watt) for DIY the biggest issue I see is freight shipping..
for a few panels you get stung with ridiculous charges, for me I might order a palette of 40 or more Trina units and the shipping is small
in comparison per panel.

You will have no issue with these or other like branded units.  the only issue is see here is the mppt controller.. if I read correctly, you have a victron 100/50.. the panel in question has a VOC of 48 Volts, so two in series will be 96 Volts and is too close to 100 for comfort.. on a cold morning in you will have higher voltage and a broken controller.. I normally design with a 1.25 margin, so that 96 is now close to 120 Volts..
a safer margin.. you will have to parallel them to be safe..
Is there some reason to suggest that they wire the 2 panels in series instead of parallel?

It seems that with a Vmp of 39 volts that is high enough voltage to not need really large wire size for the run down to the controller and therefore little need for almost 80 volts to be able to use small wire size. 

Another advantage of wiring in parallel is that if there is a little shade on the front or rear panel you won't loose almost all the output of both panels.  In series just a little shade on one panel kills most all the output of both panels.
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2020 Chevy Colorado 4X4 Diesel
650 watts residential solar panels--400AH Lithium batteries

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

solarman

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #26 on: July 05, 2020, 08:46:09 PM »
Is there some reason to suggest that they wire the 2 panels in series instead of parallel?

It seems that with a Vmp of 39 volts that is high enough voltage to not need really large wire size for the run down to the controller and therefore little need for almost 80 volts to be able to use small wire size. 

Another advantage of wiring in parallel is that if there is a little shade on the front or rear panel you won't loose almost all the output of both panels.  In series just a little shade on one panel kills most all the output of both panels.

for the very reason I stated, the 100 V controller is not capable of accepting the panels VOC voltage. If the OP had a 150 V controller then there would be reason.
KZ MXT20 480 W solar
ORV 24RKS 960 Watts solar
48V LFP, 2000W inverter/charger
Ram 2500 CTD

AStravelers

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2020, 02:50:00 PM »
for the very reason I stated, the 100 V controller is not capable of accepting the panels VOC voltage. If the OP had a 150 V controller then there would be reason.
I wrote my reply because you seemed to be saying they should wire them in series which would produce the 98V.  Wiring them in parallel then the Voc would only be 48V which is one half of the voltage rating of the controller.

Quote
You will have no issue with these or other like branded units.  the only issue is see here is the mppt controller.. if I read correctly, you have a victron 100/50.. the panel in question has a VOC of 48 Volts, so two in series will be 96 Volts and is too close to 100 for comfort.. on a cold morning in you will have higher voltage and a broken controller.. I normally design with a 1.25 margin, so that 96 is now close to 120 Volts..
a safer margin.. you will have to parallel them to be safe..

I see now that I missed the very last part of your statement where you mention, kind of in passing, that they should wire them is parallel.  My bad.  Sorry.
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
2020 Chevy Colorado 4X4 Diesel
650 watts residential solar panels--400AH Lithium batteries

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Kevin Means

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2020, 11:49:52 PM »
Hi Al. Here’s  a screenshot from the Victron controller in the RV we just installed the six 170 watt panels. It shows the peak panel output from 6 and 7 days ago, and shows a peak output of 1054 watts. He said he’s seen 1070 watts, and he thinks even higher, but he doesn’t have the data anymore.

Of course, the panels were tilted toward the sun when these readings were taken, but I think they’re pretty impressive numbers, especially considering that the max rated output is 1020 watts. He said the new Zamp panels have some optical feature that makes them more efficient, but I haven’t looked into that.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ
RVI Brake 2, TST 507 TPMS, 960 watts of solar, SolaRVector tilt
Lakeside, California

Heli_av8tor

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Re: You get what you pay for.......
« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2020, 01:44:28 PM »
I would wonder if the shunt and Victron is properly calibrated.

Or, perhaps it's those new SolaRVector II lifts?

Tom
Tom & Theresa
2004 Pace Arrow 37C, Workhorse W22, 8.1 Vortec
2014 Honda CR-V Toad, Roadmaster -5 Base and tow bar
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