Renogy established itself because the go-to provider for small scale DIY photo voltaic techniques years in the past and has helped many householders, RV builders, and off-grid fanatics construct photo voltaic techniques utilizing their high quality, time-tested parts.
The corporate has its personal line of photo voltaic panels, photo voltaic cost controllers, batteries, switches, fuses, inverters, simple to DC chargers, and nearly the whole lot in between. When Renogy reached out to us about assessment a few of its parts as a system, we gladly dove into the main points to piece collectively a system of our personal design.
We determined to place collectively a system with 2 of Renogy’s 100 amp-hour iron phosphate batteries, powered by a couple of Renogy 100 watt, 12 volt photo voltaic panels, a 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter / AC charger, with one in every of Renogy’s 50 amp DC chargers to maintain the whole lot taking part in properly and charged up. It’s a system that would simply energy an off-grid dwelling, a totally electrical van life system, or perhaps a full dimension RV. The fantastic thing about Renogy’s parts is that they assist you to, with minimal fuss, scale the system up or down relying in your want. We designed this method to fulfill the wants of a variety of purposes.
Need to cost your batteries from a excessive output alternator? No downside. Need to add extra photo voltaic to the system? Positive! Need to quadruple the battery storage capability? Yeah, they will do this. Have to preserve your own home battery and starter battery separate? That’s inbuilt.
As with every component-based system, we needed to map out the system, together with the smallest particulars like fuses, wire gauge, switches, energy flows, and charging inputs. We discovered tons of assets on-line, and particularly on YouTube, the place a variety of specialists within the area stroll you thru a system construct for almost any utility you can think about. This one from the YouTube channel Metropolis Prepping was particularly useful and established the muse for our system design.
From that start line, we drew up a system design for our particular construct and created a element checklist. Renogy despatched over the large constructing blocks from its catalog and we ordered the remainder of the parts from Amazon and our native ironmongery shop, Lowes.
Methods like this are sometimes put in right into a automobile or dwelling, however that might make it onerous to see how the parts are related collectively into a whole system. To work round that, we opted to put in the entire parts in a “system on a pallet” format to make it simpler to indicate how all of them play collectively.
The core of Renogy’s power techniques are its batteries. Renogy despatched us two of its 100 amp-hour, Bluetooth-connected, self-heating iron phosphate batteries. These are a number of the hottest batteries utilized in van-lifer energy techniques within the US and world wide. Lithium batteries have rapidly taken over from older AGM and lead acid batteries on account of their longevity and excessive energy density.
These two batteries retailer the ability generated from the photo voltaic panels and the automobile’s onboard energy system, pushing it again out by means of the inverter and DC circuits when the time comes to make use of the ability. In our system-on-a-pallet configuration, the batteries will stay in a nook of the pallet, however they might sometimes be stashed away behind a trunk, underneath a seat, or within the backside of a cupboard.
Renogy’s batteries function ethernet hyperlink connections and an uplink to permit a number of parts to speak to one another. These particular batteries even have Bluetooth baked-in, enabling them to speak on to one in every of Renogy’s head models wirelessly. It provides an necessary layer of perception into the system with out the necessity to add shunts or aftermarket energy circulation displays to the system.
For our system, we opted to energy it with a couple of of Renogy’s 100 watt polycrystalline photo voltaic panels. I had really bought two of those earlier than we even labored with Renogy to put in on the roof of my Tesla and was keen to place the brand new panels to the take a look at. The flexibility to scale the system up from 100 watts to 660 watts of photo voltaic at 50 amps of energy gives numerous flexibility when designing and putting in a system. This opens up a variety of potentialities whether or not you’re constructing a automobile tenting setup, an RV energy system, and even an off-grid tiny dwelling.
Photo voltaic panels are attractive, and ideally we might like to energy not solely our automobile tenting setup, however to truly use photo voltaic to recharge the automobile when street tripping. With a system of this dimension and in a automobile camper the dimensions of our Tesla Mannequin Y, it’s actually not sensible with out dedicating and unreasonable quantity of floor space to the photo voltaic system.
We’re not planning to go that loopy with this construct, however we’ll attempt to pack two, three, or 4 photo voltaic panels onto the roof within the remaining design. Renogy offered a 50 amp DC-to-DC charger for the system which might sometimes be wired up on to a combustion automobile’s alternator, in addition to offering a DC enter from the photo voltaic panels to the batteries. In our set up, it serves as a photo voltaic cost controller.
With all of the parts in hand, we started assembling the parts in the perfect format on the pallet. We put all of the fuses, disconnects, distribution blocks, and connections the place we thought they need to be and began wiring it up. To deal with the ability of the first parts, the wiring was essentially very thick. This elevated the price and made the meeting a bit tougher.
Particular instruments are required to chop thick wire and to crimp the terminals on every finish. We discovered it greatest to put out the parts the place they might most likely find yourself, however to not fasten them down till they have been wired up. This allowed me to effective tune the place of every element because the stiff wiring was added, and made for a a lot simpler set up.
It took a couple of afternoons of labor, however earlier than too lengthy, it was time to get the system out into the solar to energy it on for the primary time.
All that energy doesn’t do any good until you’ve gotten a manner to make use of it. Renogy’s 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter has turn into one of many foundational parts for a lot of a DIY construct and we have been excited to strive one out for ourselves. Automotive inverters flip energy from the DC saved in batteries or from an alternator to AC, which is utilized by most family home equipment.
The inverter is what permits energy to be pulled out of the system, and sometimes gives a typical AC out. On this case, Renogy’s 2,000 watt inverter gives uncooked AC stubs so that you can wire your system from. As a result of it’s the public dealing with a part of the system, the inverter sometimes lives close to the purpose of energy consumption.
Keep tuned for half 2 of this assessment to see energy being produced by the system being put to make use of as we dive deep into Renogy’s connectivity and energy administration options.
DIY System or Transportable Energy Station?
Evaluating a component-based DIY battery techniques like this to an all-in-one transportable energy station is the apparent resolution, so let’s dig into how the 2 evaluate. A component-based system is healthier fitted to everlasting installations and full-time cell residing the place the parts may be put in out of the way in which and left to do their job. The modular nature provides extra flexibility when it comes to scaling up or down battery capability, customizing parts, and tailoring the answer to the particular wants of the applying.
Transportable energy stations, then again, supply portability and an all-in-one resolution that’s merely simpler to make use of for a wider vary of purposes proper out of the gate. As a result of they’re all-in-one options, they aren’t going to be as nicely fitted to a everlasting set up and never as customizable as a component-based resolution like this one from Renogy.
The flexibility to tailor the answer to your wants is useful in van-life kind conditions the place the day by day energy consumption varies closely from individual to individual. The flexibility so as to add or take away battery capability, add AC and DC circuits as wanted, and construct the right built-in options units these builds aside.
Having stated that, the flexibility to buy and set up a complete battery, inverter, AC charger, and photo voltaic cost controller with a single buy within the type of a conveyable energy station is certainly simpler for people who find themselves much less technically inclined. Both manner, it’s nice to have the choice to customized construct and design a system completely tailor-made to your wants with particular person parts like those provided by Renogy.
Disclaimer: Renogy offered the writer with the parts
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