What Is The Best Solar Panel & Charge Controller? Mono vs Poly & MPPT vs PWM * RV SOLAR BASICS EP 6

Welcome to the channel I'm not lost I'm RVIng my name is Thomas and today we are finally talking about solar well
solar panels and charge controllers that's right today we're gonna be
talking about solar panels and charge controllers and just like with the rest
of the series the video is gonna start easy and kind of get harder as it goes
along for those of you who are new to this series and new to the channel I
want to go ahead and mention that this is actually the sixth video in a 15 part
series so make sure you click the little drop down for the description below
because not only are all the other videos listed there and the playlist but
there's also articles that accompany these videos which provide a lot more
information so make sure you check out the links in the description below
enough about that let's get started now we're going to talk about and break down
the components later on but real quick for those of you who have no idea how
solar works I kind of want to give you a real quick easy basic understanding of
how like a basic solar system works in those real basic solar systems you're
gonna have three main components you're gonna have a solar panel you can have a
charge controller and you're gonna have a battery don't worry about the types
and stuff we'll talk about that later but you'll still have those three
components and those three components work pretty much like this the solar
panel collects the energy from the Sun and then sends out the power to the
charge controller the charge controller takes whatever voltage it receives from
that solar panel and turns it into the right voltage for the battery which of
course in turn charges that battery up and the battery stores that power that
you collect so a really basic simple way to think about it is the solar panel
collects the power the charge controller protects the battery from the solar
panel and then the battery stores the power that is collected that's kind of
like the most simple basic easy way to think about it alright now that you
understand that the solar panel is taking the power the charge controller
does some sort of magic and the batteries store that power that's
collected let's kind of break down each component more in depth now we'll talk
about charge controllers later on so let's go ahead and get started with
solar panels there are three different solar panels that you tend to see in the
RV world mono crystalline polycrystalline and flexible panels aka
thin film panels and you can tell them like apart by just how they look it's
pretty simple let's get started with the like the two glass panels and the most
common ones that you'll see the two most common solar panels that you tend to see
or sometimes refer to as glass panels and they're called glass panels as well
because of their construction there too we made you know like aluminum frame on
the outside with a tempered glass on top when you think of solar panels you're
probably thinking of a glass panel but well then glass panels there's two
different types there is mono crystalline referred to as a mono panel
and there's polycrystalline referred to as a poly panel so how do you tell the
difference between a mono and a poly panel well when it comes to mono panels
they tend to be a little bit darker in color they're either a dark blue or
they're black and the easiest way to tell a mono panel apart is really the
individual cells themselves they are rounded on the edges of the individual
cells sometimes they're even circles actually the older ones were circles so
when you think of mono think Mon oh and oh is round and so a mono panel has a
rounded edge that's a really easy way to think about it and a poly panel to
distinguish those they're a little bit lighter in color when compared to a mono
panel so they're not quite as dark but those cells are square instead of round
so that's an easy way to tell them apart and if you look at a poly panel
especially like when the Sun is hitting it right it has flakes in it so think of
like particle board held back there's flakes in the wood poly panels are the
same way when you're looking at them in the Sun from the right angle you'll see
the different flakes and kind of the different color tones and that is a sure
dead giveaway of a poly or a polycrystalline panel the third type of
panel that you tend to see in the RV world now they're not quite as common is
a thin film aka a flexible panel and those are really easy to tell apart well
because they're flexible they don't have that glass tempered look and there's no
aluminum frame actually there's no frame at all and because of that they can bend
or flex so therefore they refer to as a flexible panels I do want to mention
though that flexible panels can come in both poly and mono so just keep that in
mind okay now that you can tell them apart just by looking at them let's
cover some of the differences between the different types of panels so you can
kind of make the best decision on which type you ultimately want to purchase now
I do want to mention that keep in mind this is a basic series and there are
tons of different manufacturers out there and so lots of things can vary
between manufacturers not to mention they make different size solar panels
that produce different Watts different voltages etc etc so just keep in mind
this is a basic series and the information I'm about to provide is like
an overall information about the individual types
like before let's start with the most common pain else we're going to talk
about glass panels and let's compare mono versus poly what I want to do is
kind of start with some stuff that I personally don't think is very important
and it's not really worth considering and then I'm gonna wrap up with what I
personally think is more important for your solar system and what you should
choose so let's start with climate when it comes to mono panels they are known
to work better in warmer weather and poly panels are known to work better in
cooler weather however nowadays the differences between mono and poly is
very slight and those percentages are so small that on an RV system even like a
Class A or a v well we're gonna have a bunch of power up there it's really not
gonna make that big of a difference and so in my opinion it's just not worth
worrying about you know it doesn't matter what climate you're gonna really
be in when it comes to you know cooler or warmer weather that's mainly gonna be
for like those large solar farms that you see and the climate that they're in
all the time because let's face it our V climate is changing all the time anyways
so don't really worry about too much about that secondly let's talk about low
light conditions in shading now this is a big one everyone says and I plug on
get some hate out there oh you should get these because of this and those
because of that so let's kind of talk about that again
they say that mono panels are better in low light conditions like diffused low
light and poly panels are better when they're shaded okay but again the
differences between the two are so small and especially on a small solar system
you're not talking about like a large giant system where these extremely small
percentages are gonna matter so I don't think you should worry about too much
and the reason I say that is simply because of this let's say that you want
to get a tan you want to get some Sun and you want to get your tan on are you
gonna go lay underneath a shade tree or you gonna go lay out in direct Sun oh
the answers is you're gonna go lay out in direct Sun and the solar panels are
the same way if you have a solar panel or you're gonna place a solar panel in
the shade well you're kind of just wasting your time so just don't do that
try to place it somewhere where it's gonna get the least amount of shade as
possible and again don't really worry about Mono versus poly when it comes to
low light or shading because it's just so minimal that it's not really that
effective compared to my next point point
three is efficiency and I think this is a very big point in my personal opinion
monocrystalline panels are more efficient per surface area when compared
to poly panels what that means is if you had two solar panels they are the exact
same dimensions all right the mono panel will produce more watts compared to the
poly panel that means that mono is going to make more power and more power over
time means while a lot more power bus collected so keep that in mind mono or
the most efficient panel when you know when compared to surface area and the
fourth thing I kind of want to talk about when it comes to mono versus poly
panel is cost okay because of the way that mono panels are made they're
slightly more efficient but they're also slightly more expensive to produce
therefore mono panels cost a little bit more money compared to poly panels the
majority of the time so in my opinion those are the two most things that you
want to compare is the efficiency and the cost and I say that because well you
have a limited roof space but before we get into that and some points on that
let's cover flexible panels real fast some of you may remember that on our
first RV we had flexible panels and I had seven of eight panels die so
personally I don't recommend flexible panels but let's still give you the
information about them anyways because they are an option so when it comes to
flexible panels versus glass panels flexible panels common but in both mono
and poly like I mentioned earlier and the greatest thing about them is that
they bend or flex so you can kind of use them on a slightly curved surface and
most importantly they are very light I wish that they are better than they are
because they are so much lighter on a typical 100 watt glass panel whether
it's mono or poly they're gonna be about 15 pounds when you compare that to the 5
pounds of a flexible panel that's you know one-third the weight so I wish the
technology was there but it just isn't they don't tend to last very long and
because they don't live as long they don't have a good warranty that comes
with them the majority of the time and that brings me to another point I want
to mention earlier when it comes to mono versus poly on poly panels they tend to
degrade a little bit faster which means that they don't live quite as long as
mono panels mono panels do live the longest and they degrade the slowest but
again they're slightly more expensive so just
keep all that stuff in mind about them and honestly if you're gonna have an RV
in a solar system when they degrade I'm talking about over like 25 years so just
keep that in mind as well if you're not gonna have the RV for 25 years you're
probably gonna have to worry about the degrading of your panels over time and
don't worry when they rate panels they do rate them over the time anyways and
they should still produce a certain percentage of that power like 25 years
later so don't worry about it too much mainly worried about that warranty
because normally the mono panels will have a really good warranty the poly
panels especially nowadays because they're you know really getting more and
more efficient nowadays and better they tend to have a really good warranty as
well but sometimes they're not as good as mono not always but sometimes
and then the flexible panels they tend to not have as good of warranty because
they just don't last as long so just keep all of those things in mind when
you're comparing so you get a glass panel or a flexible panel and should you
go with mono or poly that's enough about solar panels for now let's switch gears
and talk about charge controllers there are two different types of charge
controllers out there PWM and MPPT let's start with the cheapest option and that
is PWM also known as pulse width modulation since this is a basics series
let's keep it really simple because you probably don't care about the
differences the technology and what they do and how they read things you probably
don't care right you so want to know which one to buy so let's start with PWM
also known as pulse width modulation the PWM is the oldest technology or the
older technology and they're typically the cheaper option as well but it
doesn't mean they're a terrible option because they're actually a pretty good
option especially on smaller systems by smaller systems I mean 400 watts are
less okay so if you're going with a small solar system and you want to save
some money a PWM charge controller is a great way to go the real downfall to
them is because of the older technology they are limited to the battery voltage
what I mean by that is if you have a 12 volt battery system or battery bank
like most RVs do then you'll be limited to buying 12 volt solar panels and
you're only going to be able to wire them in parallel because that's all the
PWM charge controller can handle and because of that they're better on
smaller systems otherwise you might end up spending more money on larger wires
and at that case you might have probably
just went with an MPPT in the first place so that brings me to the second
option in PPT MPPT stands for maximum power point tracking and again y'all
probably don't care about the specifics about how it works or anything just know
that MPP tees are the newest technology they're the more expensive technology
and they're more efficient that can actually be between 10 and 30% more
efficient compared to a pwm system and they're more efficient because the MPP
tees are able to take extra voltage out of the panel's and turn those into more
amps for the batteries so I like it because basically you have more panel
options for your roof and because they're more efficient you should be
able to collect more power over time with an MPPT when compared to a PWM now
for the moment that you've all been waiting for what components should you
go with PWM or MPPT or mono or poly and before I go into it I do want to mention
that this next section is definitely going to be a little bit of opinionated
and really comes from my experience of installing a few systems and helping
design a few systems as well so just keep those in mind but first let's get
started with charge controllers if you're going with a smaller solar system
then a PWM charge controller is just fine especially if it's only like one or
two panels in my opinion I personally prefer MPPT and yes they are more
expensive but they're more efficient and you can have a lot more panel options
which i think is personally just a great idea because you might find the perfect
panel that fits your roof but it's not 12 volts that you're limited to with a
PWM and plus you can wire things in different ways you can wire them in
series you can wire them in series parallel where the PWM you're very
limited to wiring them in parallel only plus the MPPT can handle higher voltages
and remember higher voltages means that you can use smaller aka cheaper solar
wires I mean have you ever wondered why your house runs off 110 volts but all
the you know power lines are really high voltages well that's because they can
use smaller wires and up the voltage to send the power to your house and the
same thing applies to the RV world so that's why personally I like the MPPT
you just have more panel options for your roof you're not so limited plus if
you need to like you know re configure things or rewire things later
on on your roof for some reason you can do that with an MPPT where you just
might not be able to with a PWM I almost forgot to mention it doesn't matter if
you're gonna go with a PWM or MPPT charge controller you'll want to plan
your whole system first right you'll do an energy audit later on in the series
but essentially you want to plan it so that way you know how many watts of
solar you'll need on your roof and that in turn will tell you how many amps or
what size charge controller you need because charge controllers are rated in
amps and one little tip I want to give you is if you can afford it in my
opinion go ahead and step up to the next size charge controller so let's say you
do the energy audit you're gonna need a 30 amp charge controller you might want
to go ahead and think about putting a 50 amp charge controller in there just
because you'll be buying the wires for the 50 minutes from the beginning you'll
have the 50 amps because that way if you have space to add more panels later on
which happens very very frequently even happen with us you won't be able to add
them on the 30 amp because you're already at your max so maybe think about
stepping up to the next size charge controller because once you're buying
one stepping up to the next size isn't typically that big of a price you know
difference whereas if you buy the smaller one and then realize later on
you want to add panels you're gonna have to buy bigger wires run those wires sell
the charge controller that's too small buy the new wires and the bigger charge
controller and it's just going to be more of a headache so just kind of you
maybe plan that into your system if you have space to add more panels maybe step
up to the next size charge controller and then of course if you're filling up
your roof let's say that you're putting a solar panel everywhere you can on the
roof of your RV then you can't add more panels then you don't need to step up as
an exercise charge controller because well you have no other way to put more
panels up there so I just want to kind of mention that keep that in mind now
let's go ahead and switch gears and talk about solar panels when it comes to
solar panels I personally would never recommend anyone buy a flexible solar
panel as I mentioned earlier we had flexible solar panels on our first RV
solar system on a travel trailer and we had seven out of eight panels died
within one year and they all had a one-year warranty so there I just could
not recommend them plus there's lots of other channels and lots of a
documentation out there where they just don't last very long yes some people
might get five and ten years out of them but most people were having failures
within the first year and definitely within the first five years some get two
years out of them some get three but you don't see them lasting
much longer than that and it kind of stinks because they're expensive so you
want them to last longer and they kind of are perfect for the RV world when you
think about it I mean they're light they're a third of the weight of glass
panels plus are flexible that means you can put them on curved roofs and there's
a lot of curved roofs in the RV world so I wish the technology was there it's
just not quite there yet and so personally I would never recommend
anybody buy a flexible aka a thin-film solar panel I just wouldn't do it you
know glass panels are proven they've been out for a longer and they're
cheaper so why spend more money to have something that doesn't last as long so
with flexible panels being out of the equation which glass panels should you
get a mono panel or a poly panel well in my opinion the most you know important
two factors are roof space that you have available for your specific RV and cost
and I say that because you'll need to get up there you need to measure your
roof and you know solar panels come in lots of different dimensions so measure
your roof to see what kind of sizes and what dimensions you can fit on your roof
and sometimes that specific dimension that you want that fits your RV roof the
best might be a poly panel or it might be a mono panel so I personally would
not limit yourself to saying okay I'm only gonna look at mono panels or I'm
only going to look at poly panels because if you find you know poly panels
even though they're less efficient but you can fit more of them on your roof
well more you know panels on your roof means more watts that means more power
right Plus cost poly panels are cheaper so if you only have so much budget and
let's say you can afford 400 watts of mono panels and they fit on your roof
perfectly fine but you have the budget to get 500 watts of poly panels well
guess what 500 watts is better than 400 watts any day of the week so it doesn't
really matter the differences between mono and poly the efficiency is pretty
small and so in my personal opinion the available roof space on your specific RV
is kind of number one because that gives you the dimensions and you're not
limited to what choice you go with and then it's price okay and what you can
personally afford if you can afford more of mono or more of poly then just go
with that because the ultimate goal is to have the most watts that you can on
your roof right and a little tip that I want to give you that a lot of people
don't think of is residential panels if you go with the
MPPT charge controller and that means that you're not limited to like only one
voltage and so residential panels may be an option and sometimes you can get some
great deals on residential panels locally so just keep that in mind okay
you don't have to buy your solar panels over the Internet you don't have to use
our links or anything like that okay now if you want some recommendations for
some charge controllers or some solar panels or let's say you don't know how
to read the back of the solar panel you know like the specifications on the back
you have no idea what those things mean well don't worry it's covered on the
article that is accompanied with this so check out the description I talked about
it earlier and click that link so you can figure out how to read the solar
panel and you'll know what those different you know descriptions on the
back mean and what you need to kind of know about them I know that we covered a
lot of information in this video so let me give you a recap number one do an
energy audit and figure out how many watts that you'll need on the roof of
your RV number two get up on the roof of the RV and take measurements you need to
know those dimensions of space you have available for panels and don't forget to
take those roof obstacles into consideration you don't wanna put a
panel right up next to like an air conditioner if it's gonna shade that
panel the entire time it's up there okay and once you got those dimensions that
should give you an idea of what panels are gonna be best for your specific RV
so you can get those Watts up there right so once you've got the panel's
bought that's number two number three is charge controller you already know what
panels that you have buy the charge controller that is best for the system
that you are planning and don't forget if you do have room for more panels on
the roof maybe think about stepping up to the next size charge controller so
that you can easily add more panels later on if you choose to or say let's
say you want to put like a small system up there now and add those panels later
on is you have the funding that's a way to do that as well all right number four
and that's gonna be use our affiliate links alright okay so you don't have to
use our affiliate links but in all seriousness if you did find this
information useful you know it was free to you and you can't find the objects or
the you know components that you're gonna buy cheaper somewhere else then we
would love it if you would use our affiliate links it's kind of like a
thank-you to us because it won't cost you anything extra but we'll get up a
small portion of the cell so just keep that in mind if it works out for you if
not hey finally cheaper somewhere else don't worry about it go buy the
components there and save yourself the money and the last thing I want to
for those of you who were lost earlier I was talking about Series in parallel and
you have no idea what I'm talking about don't worry next week's video we talking
about wires fuses how to wire things in series how to wire in parallel we're me
covering all that stuff in next week's video and for the few of you who want
like recommendations on panels on charge controllers you want more information
about you know solar systems and stuff like that or you just want to see what
system we have because the install videos are out yet
don't forget our website I'm not lost I'm are being calm I mentioned it before
and there's several links in the description below so be sure to check
those out and we'll see you next time you

You May Also Like