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Why 100 watts are not equal to 100 watts?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Brian53713 View Post
    ...
    And not be argumentative but I have gotten 1800 watts out of 200 watts of panels ,One Day by moving the panels around manually....
    You mean you think you harvested 1,800 watt hours from 200 watts of panels in a day ? That's unbelievable, considering that would take 9 max (solar noon) production sun hours with panels held at 70F. Spill the beans, how did you do that?

    Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

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    • #17
      Ground mounted movable heavy contraption shown in my profile picture. Used to have two panels now 4. 2 Brand new 100 W Renogy panels. As an experiment left them facing North East for a.m. moved them numerous times during the day to run my small pool pump .2 DC fans. TV. Victron100/30MPPT.

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      • #18
        Was that measured or just taking the pumps rating. There are $10 wattmeters that are quite handy for this. Going back to laptops, I'm using mine right now with the wall wart powered directly from almost exactly 60V DC from the array. I can't advise anyone to do that, but higher array voltages are lovely. Go grid tie panels!

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        • #19
          Not sure if that last comment was directed at me, but the measurement of the wattage collected was off the Victron 100/30 Bluetooth dongle info storage

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Brian53713 View Post
            Ground mounted movable heavy contraption shown in my profile picture. Used to have two panels now 4. 2 Brand new 100 W Renogy panels. As an experiment left them facing North East for a.m. moved them numerous times during the day to run my small pool pump .2 DC fans. TV. Victron100/30MPPT.
            Wow. Do you move your array every day to track the sun or just on the days you run your pool pump?

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            • #21
              Like I tried to describe previous post, now that I have 400 watts I just can tip that ground on its leg back with some supports under it to go nearly flat and have other adjustment on the garage door track I used to build it raising it up and down seasonally before I tip it back with some treated lumber under the front of it. So no need to move it around anymore. It was Heavy ish, girlfriend could move it , but she's gone .replaced her with the smart camera, smart outlet to turn the pool pump off and on.

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              • #22
                Well this is how the story ended. Thanks for the input.

                I know ratings differ from real life, same for solar panels and even for lead acid batteries, but what I meant on the thread goes beyond ratings. In short you can't buy a 100W solar panel and use a 60W laptop, yes 40W are wasted even if you have full sunlight. The details are kind of tricky and related to the electronics, energy measurements and not so much to brands and lab conditions for the ratings, but now that I have full understanding I know how difficult it is to explain, that's why the videos I found on the web are long and still confusing people, it is confusing. Let's just say besides the tricky stuff, an inverter will steal just too much from your system. It's better to work with direct DC to DC converters, they are far more efficient.

                Here are the details of my recent setup, https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum...-other-details I'm getting exactly what I need (and more) from a cheap setup.

                Thanks for the input.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by hroldan View Post
                  In short you can't buy a 100W solar panel and use a 60W laptop, yes 40W are wasted even if you have full sunlight.
                  Glad it's working for you and thanks for the update, most folks never come back to tell us how it worked out.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by sdold View Post
                    Glad it's working for you and thanks for the update, most folks never come back to tell us how it worked out.
                    Thanks to everyone taking the time to explain with examples and numbers.

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                    • #25
                      This was interesting so I wanted to see where this was going wrong myself.

                      The devil is in the details.

                      Somebody out there was being bright. Aha! If the "nominal 12v panel" is based around your common 18-22v, then so are most laptop bricks! Should be an even swapout.

                      So lets look at *best case* for the panel's ability to push current and play with P/I*E (Watts / amps * voltage).

                      100w panel / 18v = 5.5A output best case. Ok looks good.

                      So they think "what about the brick?"

                      60w laptop / 18v power brick = 3.3amp current draw. Looks like plenty to spare!

                      BUT, instead of 18v power-brick output, they need to use the 12v battery itself as the source for doing the power calculation:

                      60w laptop / 12v = 5 amps drawn *at the battery*. We just might make it if the battery is fully charged to begin with!

                      But wait - there's more: Inverters aren't perfect, and we normally apply a 10% derating to them at the very least. So now, instead of 60 watts load we have

                      66w / 12v = 6 amps current draw. Uh oh - like firing up the LEM on Apollo 13, we got problems.

                      So yeah, not only is the panel not able to supply the necessary current to drive the inverter and 18v laptop power brick, there is nothing left to charge the battery either. Battery dies a slow death making up for the loss all the time.

                      Heh, and this is assuming perfect solar conditions and wiring. Add solar variables, and it just gets worse obviously.

                      The failing point is that the bloggers and whoever else don't know the basics of P/I*E, and most importantly, where you take that measurement / calculation from to even start your power budget.

                      Pretty simple, but fun to see how quickly it went wrong.

                      Last edited by PNjunction; 07-28-2019, 07:18 PM.

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                      • #26
                        PNJunction, true. The topic is quite complex due to the terms used all around the web.

                        Example: I was looking for a 12V solar panel and a 12V solar charge controller. I was wrong. I know the basics of battery charging and it's clear to me to charge a 12V battery we need at least (minimal) 13V. Cases will vary but in short: whenever we want to charge a battery we need a higher voltage, -always-. Some chargers have boosters or some sort of joule thief that allow using a lower input voltage to charge a larger batter, just like the garden light we have using a tiny 12V battery using a tiny 3V solar panel.

                        But let's continue with the example, I knew about those basics, yet in terms of solar products I was looking for a 12v thing to hook up another 12v thing, etc.

                        This is where things get interesting, I got my panel rated at some 18V something and 22V something, it was some ultra cheap product on sale, not a fully planed acquisition. So I thought "damn, my 12v solar charger will not work". But later due to research I found most panels for 12v work are rated 18 to 21. Didn't make sense to me. Then I found the panels have some interesting ratings, like open, closed, etc, meaning they produce whatever voltage without a load, and that's a maximum voltage we can't count on for daily use or battery charge. It's the beginning of the confusion.

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                        • #27
                          No sweat - we all went through this at one point or another.

                          It actually takes TWO volts or more difference to produce current in enough quantity to actually charge. So that simply means to get a battery up to 14.4v and HOLD it there (can change depending upon your battery spec), you need at least 16.4v to get anything really flowing up to that point. In reality, that's a tad low, so most nominal 12v panels have the ability to produce their rated output at 18v.

                          Historical note: in the 70's, some panels were purposely set low to say 15 to 16v in an attempt to "self regulate". They failed miserably. Nice idea, but too simple for reality.

                          Neeedless to say, batteries don't like to be charged to that high of a voltage - hence the need for the controller.

                          Speaking of which, a common mistake you've seen are those who buy a controller, attach it to their panels, and try to make a voltage measurement on the controller output without attaching a battery. Seeing nothing, they proclaim it is bad and go through endless returns.

                          Although less of a problem today, some will attach the system backwards and not get any output or poor performance. Attach battery FIRST, and then the panel. Do it backwards, and most controllers will think you have a zero-volt battery and refuse to charge to prevent a safety issue, or go into a failsafe "float only" mode, or just have their controller brains confused. Battery first - then panel.

                          I'll say this - to avoid a lot of confusion or speculation, just know (P/I*E). That's it - you'll be 90% ahead of the game. Grab a decent voltmeter, and possibly a small "clamp on" ampmeter that can do DC, and you'll be able to prove to yourself what's going on.

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                          • #28
                            That's useful information.

                            New batteries can give X ratings without a load and yes numbers will go down a bit under a load. Older batteries with different internal resistance will give X nice ratings without a load but will go down quite noticeable under a load. It's almost the same with solar panels, they are rated X but it's not a real number. This is way different from what many members discussed here about lab conditions, we are talking about something different. Yes lab conditions are different but that's not the main topic I was referring to.

                            The previous situation induces error when people don't know about it and buy solar panels, because those ratings don't work as battery ratings (even if we connect a battery) that's why at the end of the day 100W are not equal to 100W when we consider those ratings.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by hroldan View Post
                              ...... that's why at the end of the day 100W are not equal to 100W when we consider those ratings.
                              First 100W always is 100W. It's a scientific fact. You can take a 100w panel and repeat the very same test at the same illumination intensity and temperature and get the same 100w

                              Now when the salesman opens his mouth, get prepared to be lied to, because it's happening.

                              If you have a mis-match between your loading and power your panel can produce, you get a failed system

                              PV panels do not behave the same as batteries. Batteries are a voltage source. PV panels are a current source. Two very different things. Unfortunately, you need a electrical engineering background to understand the difference of why they are different..
                              reading - https://electronics.stackexchange.co...voltage-source or search " difference between Voltage source and current source"

                              In real life, a panel rated at 100w will, in well aimed rooftop conditions, seldom produce more than 80% of nameplate..

                              Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                              || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
                              || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                              solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                              gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by hroldan View Post
                                The previous situation induces error when people don't know about it and buy solar panels, because those ratings don't work as battery ratings (even if we connect a battery) that's why at the end of the day 100W are not equal to 100W when we consider those ratings.
                                That's right - and as Mike has shown, *real world* applications usually de-rate the nameplate ratings for a variety of reasons.

                                This is also a common stumbling block for beginners - relying solely on paper / textbook calculations without taking the real-world experience of solar projects into account. There are many such arguments all over the place in other forums aplenty from "armchair engineers" who have no real-world experience, but will defend to the death their paperwork calculations. But yes, sometimes it is so over the top wrong, that this works - it's when it gets in the ballpark that experience comes into play and will save you time and energy.

                                Fortunately Mike and many here are not armchair-engineers!

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