New member from Tucson, AZ

Benjamin Nead

New Member
Hi everyone . . .

I got here after watching a few of Will Prowse's YouTube videos on batteries. I've been driving an EV - a 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (picture attached) - for 5 years now and I've been advocating for EV adoption - organizing public displays of the cars and renewable energy technology - for the past decade. My wife, son and I live in a rented house here in Tucson, Arizona. Alas, we don't have solar on our rooftop, but I hope to do that when we get back to home ownership.

In the meantime, I would like to build a portable system that can be transported in the back of the EV and set up relatively quickly . . . powerful enough to run a few 120V/15A kitchen appliances and, alternately, plug in the car's EVSE so I can charge up on sunshine. I've got some general ideas of what I want to do, but I'd like to check in with others here before I spend money. Building something like this is the big goal for 2021. My guess is that around $2500 to $3000 will get me something worth the time and effort.

What else? I work as a radio announcer for the University of Arizona's NPR affiliate. That pays the bills. My background also includes setting up and operating audio concert sound systems and live-to-2-track location audio recording. I also have a background in musical instrument repair, having built an electric guitar some 40 years ago (I'm currently in my early 60s.) Despite all this, I have a rather incomplete, long term learn-as-you-go education in regards to electronics and I'd like to fill in a few gaps there.

Thanks . . .

Benjamin Nead
Tucson, Arizona
 

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snoobler

Solar Honey Badger
Moderator
It would be best to define exactly what your loads are, how long you want to be able to run them and what loads you need to run concurrently.

You part of TEVA?

I suspect the primary issue will be transporting the number of panels needed to be effective. You'll almost certainly have to lose the rear seating for that to happen.

Brain droppings:

A 16kWh pack would take 16000Wh/6h = 2700W of solar panels charging all day - assuming good Tucson sun. Transporting that many solar panels is likely not possible in that vehicle.

You'll likely be swapping battery for battery when charging. A "small" LFP battery consisting of 2X 12V 280Ah in parallel or 1X 24V 280Ah would give you about 7.2kWh of energy, costs about $1000 and weighs about 140#.

SWAG:
$1000 in DIY battery
$500 on a 3000W PSW inverter
$1000? on as many panels as you can fit in your car
$400 on a quality charge controller
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
It would be best to define exactly what your loads are, how long you want to be able to run them and what loads you need to run concurrently.

You part of TEVA?

I suspect the primary issue will be transporting the number of panels needed to be effective. You'll almost certainly have to lose the rear seating for that to happen.

Brain droppings:

A 16kWh pack would take 16000Wh/6h = 2700W of solar panels charging all day - assuming good Tucson sun. Transporting that many solar panels is likely not possible in that vehicle.

You'll likely be swapping battery for battery when charging. A "small" LFP battery consisting of 2X 12V 280Ah in parallel or 1X 24V 280Ah would give you about 7.2kWh of energy, costs about $1000 and weighs about 140#.

SWAG:
$1000 in DIY battery
$500 on a 3000W PSW inverter
$1000? on as many panels as you can fit in your car
$400 on a quality charge controller
Hi snoobler . . .

I was TEVA's Secretary/Membership Director circa 2013-18. Not really associated with them any longer, but I still have friends there.

The highest current I anticipate drawing would be around 14A (1700W@120VAC,) from an induction hotplate and I would be doing that maybe for 10 minutes at a time, maybe once an hour and a few times a day. The other kitchen device I'd be using, an Instant Pot pressure cooker, basically stays under 10A for even the most demanding of cooking tasks and gets a lot done in 12 to 15 minute sessions. I'd be doing public cooking demos and providing small/free portions for taste testing, not attempting to run a short order/nonstop catering service for hours at a time.

The EV charging would not be a mission critical gotta-have-enough-to-get-home kinda thing that I'd be betting my life on. I also wouldn't be boiling water for pasta while attempting to charge up the car at the same time. The stock 120V EVSE set at 8A (960W) gives me about 4 mile for each hour it's hooked up, which is fine. I wouldn't be attempting to charge from a near zero battery this way (takes around 14 hours to do that) in order to attempt a 50 mile drive on the same day. But I'd like to be able to plug in for a few hours at a local Earth Day style event a few miles from home for a few hours, just to demonstrate to the uninitiated that such a thing is possible. The conversation starts from there as to how to size a PV system for a home solar carport.

With the rear seat folded down in the i-MiEV, I've got roughly 50 cubic feet of clean storage back there. I'm considering the 100W Renogy Eclipse Solar Suitcases, which fold down to roughly 2' X 2' X 3" each. These are more expensive that a straight 100W panel, but far easier to transport. I was thinking of 4 of these (400W/$1200) and, assuming I'd have 5 hours of decent Sun, that should keep an ~2kWh battery happy.

The 60Ah Fortune LiFePO4 cells look nice (it was Will's YouTube video on these that brought me here.) So, 8 of these for a nominal 24VDC system? I was thinking of a ZEVA BMS and either a Genasun or Victron charge controller (or multiple controllers?). My guess is that a 2000W pure sine wave inverter would be sufficient, as I'm basically attempting to replicate a single 120V/15A household outlet on site. But these are the sort of things I want to float in a forum like this before I buy first and regret later.

The only other thing to add for now is that I saw Will's video review of the EcoFlow Delta and I was surprised how well such a tiny thing like that did. It looks like it would almost do the job for me, but I feel like I'd be riding it on the bleeding edge all the time. I've got the room and money to go a bit bigger.

Ben in Tucson
 
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JoeHam

Photon Sorcerer
Two thoughts:

You will learn a lot more by building your own battery and system. Genasun and Victron make good stuff so good choices there IMHO. I was quite satisfied with my Fortune battery build detailed here:


Secondly, when you get around to building a solar carport panels will be much cheaper. Paying $3/ watt for the convenience of folding small panels is rough. Earlier this year I got 250 watt used panels for 14 cents per watt at SanTanSolar in PHX. Take a look at their website just for comparison.
 

snoobler

Solar Honey Badger
Moderator
60Ah cells typically have a 1C discharge limit, or 1440W. This is on the line for some of the devices you propose and definitely too low for EV charging. On that basis alone, you should go larger than 60Ah.

If you're considering sourcing those from US suppliers, you're going to pay more for 60-100Ah than you would for 280Ah from a forum-reputable China supplier. A 60Ah pack and a 280Ah pack will cost you almost exactly the same. The difference is 45 days for sea freight. There are also members on this board ordering them in bulk and offering them at only a small mark-up.

IMHO, I'd rather have a massive battery for $1000 instead of one less than1/4 the size for the same price. Having two 4 cell modules would keep the carry weight to about 70# each, which isn't too bad.

400W of solar isn't much. It would take all day to replenish a couple of hours of peak consumption, BUT a massive battery would offset that. You could recharge it over the course of a few days if needed.

2000W inverter should suffice for the proposed usage pattern.

A ZEVA BMS is overkill. there are much cheaper and effective BMSs. A 100A Overkillsolar for 8S is only about $100, and it's feature rich.
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
60Ah cells typically have a 1C discharge limit, or 1440W. This is on the line for some of the devices you propose and definitely too low for EV charging. On that basis alone, you should go larger than 60Ah.

If you're considering sourcing those from US suppliers, you're going to pay more for 60-100Ah than you would for 280Ah from a forum-reputable China supplier. A 60Ah pack and a 280Ah pack will cost you almost exactly the same. The difference is 45 days for sea freight. There are also members on this board ordering them in bulk and offering them at only a small mark-up.

IMHO, I'd rather have a massive battery for $1000 instead of one less than1/4 the size for the same price. Having two 4 cell modules would keep the carry weight to about 70# each, which isn't too bad.

400W of solar isn't much. It would take all day to replenish a couple of hours of peak consumption, BUT a massive battery would offset that. You could recharge it over the course of a few days if needed.

2000W inverter should suffice for the proposed usage pattern.

A ZEVA BMS is overkill. there are much cheaper and effective BMSs. A 100A Overkillsolar for 8S is only about $100, and it's feature rich.
OK, thanks for the insights. Who makes a good 280Ah cell? I would consider being part of a group buy for something like that. My only concern would be dealing with a warranty issue if I got a bummer cell.

Also, the whole EV charging thing off solar PV and a portable battery is a secondary priority for me. Bear in mind that I use that 8A 120V EVSE plugged into an outlet on my front porch for 99.9% of my charging.

And . . . is there any place here on the forum or elsewhere that you can point me towards that clearly explains the whole concept of "C"? This is one of those things that has always mystified me. For instance, what mathematical calculation did you use to come up with 1440W from 60Ah @ 3.2V? Speaking of Chinese vendors, I often see small foil pack LiPo cells sold by Hobby King and others with extraordinary "C" claims.
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
Two thoughts:

You will learn a lot more by building your own battery and system. Genasun and Victron make good stuff so good choices there IMHO. I was quite satisfied with my Fortune battery build detailed here:


Secondly, when you get around to building a solar carport panels will be much cheaper. Paying $3/ watt for the convenience of folding small panels is rough. Earlier this year I got 250 watt used panels for 14 cents per watt at SanTanSolar in PHX. Take a look at their website just for comparison.
Thanks, Joe . . .

Yeah, I know that I'm paying more for the storing convenience of a folding package. Staying with Renogy, for instance, their standard 100W Eclipse panel is about half that price. But any panel approaching 42" in length (typical of 100W units) isn't going to cut it for me, as I would have no way practical way to transport it. I'll check out what SanTan is offering. A stationary project, like a carport (distant future, compared to the portable system I'm currently contemplating) wouldn't require a folding feature.

I'll also check out your Fortune 60Ah build. I'm already being told by others here, though, that I should be thinking about cells with considerably larger capacity. But this is why I showed up here: to get a gamut of opinions.
 

snoobler

Solar Honey Badger
Moderator
OK, thanks for the insights. Who makes a good 280Ah cell? I would consider being part of a group buy for something like that. My only concern would be dealing with a warranty issue if I got a bummer cell.

Also, the whole EV charging thing off solar PV and a portable battery is a secondary priority for me. Bear in mind that I use that 8A 120V EVSE plugged into an outlet on my front porch for 99.9% of my charging.

And . . . is there any place here on the forum or elsewhere that you can point me towards that clearly explains the whole concept of "C"? This is one of those things that has always mystified me. For instance, what mathematical calculation did you use to come up with 1440W from 60Ah @ 3.2V? Speaking of Chinese vendors, I often see small foil pack LiPo cells sold by Hobby King and others with extraordinary "C" claims.

Link in @Steve_S signature to Amy for 280Ah cells. I just ordered 9. I ordered an extra just in case there's an issue. It was worth the extra $80. She and her organization have supplied many forum members with quality "Eve" brand cells regarded to be of high quality.

"C" rate is a multiple of its capacity.

A 100ah battery has a 1C rate of 100A. 0.5C would be 50A, etc.

I assumed you needed the full 15A for the EV charging. 8A would be covered with 60Ah cells.

1440W = 24V battery * 60A load (Power = Voltage * Current)

The LiPo cells you refer to are a different chemistry than what most people use for these systems, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP). LiPo and those variants have lower cycle reliability, a flammable electrolyte (they're the ones that catch fire), but they can often deliver ludicrous currents/extremely high C rates. RC applications often require very high power/current for short periods of time.
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
Link in @Steve_S signature to Amy for 280Ah cells. I just ordered 9. I ordered an extra just in case there's an issue. It was worth the extra $80. She and her organization have supplied many forum members with quality "Eve" brand cells regarded to be of high quality.

"C" rate is a multiple of its capacity.

A 100ah battery has a 1C rate of 100A. 0.5C would be 50A, etc.

I assumed you needed the full 15A for the EV charging. 8A would be covered with 60Ah cells.

1440W = 24V battery * 60A load (Power = Voltage * Current)

The LiPo cells you refer to are a different chemistry than what most people use for these systems, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP). LiPo and those variants have lower cycle reliability, a flammable electrolyte (they're the ones that catch fire), but they can often deliver ludicrous currents/extremely high C rates. RC applications often require very high power/current for short periods of time.
Ha! Ha! . . .

This is, indeed, a small world! I've talked with Steve_S (I think he's the same one) many time on the CleanTechnica blog. We have a very similar world view on renewable energy and EVs. Good to know about the Eve cells. I'll investigate. I also haven't written off the larger 100Ah Fortune cells, as that might be a good compromise in regards to performance vs. weight/size.

I think your explanation of "C" is sinking in, as I already understand the concept of Volts X Amps = Watts. Having spent a fair amount of time in the model airplane world (note the vintage bals glider I'm holding in my avatar,) I know about the hotter lithium battery chemistries. Most of my experience in that world centered around vintage Free Flight, although lithium batteries were starting to make inroads there as I was fading away to other interests.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Hey there Benjamin, yep, same Steve ;) Glad to see ya join up and get yourself into new & interesting adventures with Solar Power. Lot of good folks, great info and tips, tricks and known good suppliers to deal with. Sorry to be a pooper but you said the "reno.." word, don't your chucking money away... that's as simple as I can put it. There is good hardware at reasonable prices that will do what you need and keep doing it without fuss.

There are many ways to skin the cat, so learning, making a plan and sorting it all out before buying a single thing is the smart move. Take your time, don't impulse buy, there are always great deals and there is no such thing as a dumb question, except for the one not asked.
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
Hey there Benjamin, yep, same Steve ;) Glad to see ya join up and get yourself into new & interesting adventures with Solar Power. Lot of good folks, great info and tips, tricks and known good suppliers to deal with. Sorry to be a pooper but you said the "reno.." word, don't your chucking money away... that's as simple as I can put it. There is good hardware at reasonable prices that will do what you need and keep doing it without fuss.

There are many ways to skin the cat, so learning, making a plan and sorting it all out before buying a single thing is the smart move. Take your time, don't impulse buy, there are always great deals and there is no such thing as a dumb question, except for the one not asked.
Hey Steve_S . . .

Good to see you here.

OK . . . much hate for Renogy. Noted. But who makes good small panels then? Remember that I'm not making a stationary system for a cabin, but a portable one that fits in the back on my car and can be assembled relatively quickly on site. Any panel that's much larger than 2' X 2' (nominally 50W) simply isn't going to cut it for me. The folding 100W suitcases are basically 2 of these 50W panels hinged together, which is a marvelous format for me. But you pay extra for that. So, I'm willing to at least look at single 50W units. The 3.5' to 4' long 100W panels are simply too big. Period. They won't fit in my car. I also don't want to mess around with plastic coated flexible panels.

As far as batteries are concerned, same thing. I came here after looking at a YouTube video that Will Prowse (I assume he owns this forum?) reviewing the Fortune 60Ah and 100Ah cells. They look ideal for my application You, apparently, are very much into the Eve 280ah units. I'd like to know more about them. But if I build an 8 cell pack with something that large, will I even be able to lift it in and out of the car?

I'm not afraid to ask the "dumb" questions, but I don't want to descend in to brand loyalty tribalism and buy stuff that I know really won't work for my application, even if the purchase price is cheaper.

Thanks . . .

Ben
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Reno.. has earned its rep, not hate, just anger that they keep duping people with slick adverts and overpriced stuff.
Yes, this is Will Prowse's forum.
There are flexible panels ($$ and not great performance). There are foldable (accordion style) panels setups on the market, they have better specs but dunno much about them. The problem is that all the "collapsable / foldable" panels are aimed at the retail market which pushes price up to cookoo.

The 280's are great cells for the buck but at 5kg a piece, they get heavy quickly. Plus it takes a lot to charge cells that size (gosh many don't equate that). There are really good deals to be had for cells in & around 100AH from several companies, a budget of course affects selection options. TBH, The Fortune 100's with welded studs & assembly blocks are good for your kind of application. NOTE they have a higher C-Rate capacity so that' a bit more $. You supply the threaded rods that go through them which locks the cells together (bonus for mobile applications)

One source, there are likely others at better pricing.

As for me being into the 280's. Well I am off-0grid, rural & remote and now have 45kWh of power storage to cover by butt in mid January's poor sun days. Can't fault me for that...

There is a company / group in Montreal that are shall we say iMiev Fanatics (even worse than our Tesla Apostles on you know where), they have various solutions and ideas too... IF you are interested, the site is french but translates pretty well. Not sure if anything there would peak your interest but maybe. I still can' get over the good $ they have for Tesla Battery Packs. (considering they are Canadian).
Kilowattpack.ca Recharges Portatives
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
Reno.. has earned its rep, not hate, just anger that they keep duping people with slick adverts and overpriced stuff.
Yes, this is Will Prowse's forum.
There are flexible panels ($$ and not great performance). There are foldable (accordion style) panels setups on the market, they have better specs but dunno much about them. The problem is that all the "collapsable / foldable" panels are aimed at the retail market which pushes price up to cookoo.

The 280's are great cells for the buck but at 5kg a piece, they get heavy quickly. Plus it takes a lot to charge cells that size (gosh many don't equate that). There are really good deals to be had for cells in & around 100AH from several companies, a budget of course affects selection options. TBH, The Fortune 100's with welded studs & assembly blocks are good for your kind of application. NOTE they have a higher C-Rate capacity so that' a bit more $. You supply the threaded rods that go through them which locks the cells together (bonus for mobile applications)

One source, there are likely others at better pricing.

As for me being into the 280's. Well I am off-0grid, rural & remote and now have 45kWh of power storage to cover by butt in mid January's poor sun days. Can't fault me for that...

There is a company / group in Montreal that are shall we say iMiev Fanatics (even worse than our Tesla Apostles on you know where), they have various solutions and ideas too... IF you are interested, the site is french but translates pretty well. Not sure if anything there would peak your interest but maybe. I still can' get over the good $ they have for Tesla Battery Packs. (considering they are Canadian).
Kilowattpack.ca Recharges Portatives
OK, Steve. Thanks . . .

The 100W Renogy Eclispe solar suitcase really does seem to be the best panel setup for what I'm doing. It's all about the portability and storage, especially when I'm moving a bunch of them around in the vehicle.

Also, I see no reason why any pair of electrically identical 50W panels with their own MC4 interfaces that are held together with a hinge would perform any better/worse than if it was simply 2 separate panels without a hinge. It's a sealed aluminum/glass system with the nice newer-generation Sunpower cells. Overpriced because of the folding hardware and the padded carry bag? Sure. But amortize it out 20 or so years and the price difference is insignificant.

Yeah, I like the the looks of the 100Ah Fortune cells. The rod-through coupling and oversized lugs are a plus and they look to be high quality overall. An 8S configuration for 25.8V gives me a 2580Wh pack. I think I'm going to take the other Steve's advice and step up to a 3000W inverter and check out the Overkill Solar BMS.

I remember that French Canadian i-MiEV site you showed me earlier. It would be nice to have the CHAdeMO V2X gear shown there, but I'm now committed to spending about the same amount of money on the above described solar system.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
I see many products that are aimed at the retail "Plug & Play" market space, like Goal Zero for example and the prices charged just cause me to shake my head... Good Lord some pricing is NUTZ to put it simply. And people pay it ! which is even more surprising really... goes to prove that the "Market Bares Pricing" model is alive & well in "some" markets. You have the advantage that your in no emergency and can shop around while doing the good Diligent Research, you are doing. There does seem to be many iMiev Groups & Clubs all around (quite the following which is cool) and without a doubt there are fellow iMiev owners doing exactly what you want to do, I guess the trick it to find them, their solutions and to find out how well it's worked out for them. Those folks in Montreal and very keen and creative / inventive too.

Nothin worse than someone showing up saying, Ohhh I bought this, that & the other, thing now how do I put it together to give then XXX power.

There is a member here (RV'er) who made a really spiffy portable fold up/out kind of solar array with 4 panels but used the regular 60-Cell panels which would slip into the RV . It's just that 3' wide x 5' high doesn;t slip into a car easily, let alone 3 or 5 with brackets and what not.

IF you can wait on buying panels till after XMas to early spring, there will be new products including Thin Film Portable panels which have some promising specs.

You may be interested in this product review of top 10 foldables. (note the warranty info too)
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
I see many products that are aimed at the retail "Plug & Play" market space, like Goal Zero for example and the prices charged just cause me to shake my head... Good Lord some pricing is NUTZ to put it simply. And people pay it ! which is even more surprising really... goes to prove that the "Market Bares Pricing" model is alive & well in "some" markets. You have the advantage that your in no emergency and can shop around while doing the good Diligent Research, you are doing. There does seem to be many iMiev Groups & Clubs all around (quite the following which is cool) and without a doubt there are fellow iMiev owners doing exactly what you want to do, I guess the trick it to find them, their solutions and to find out how well it's worked out for them. Those folks in Montreal and very keen and creative / inventive too.

Nothin worse than someone showing up saying, Ohhh I bought this, that & the other, thing now how do I put it together to give then XXX power.

There is a member here (RV'er) who made a really spiffy portable fold up/out kind of solar array with 4 panels but used the regular 60-Cell panels which would slip into the RV . It's just that 3' wide x 5' high doesn;t slip into a car easily, let alone 3 or 5 with brackets and what not.

IF you can wait on buying panels till after XMas to early spring, there will be new products including Thin Film Portable panels which have some promising specs.

You may be interested in this product review of top 10 foldables. (note the warranty info too)
The pre-built all-in-one stuff is expensive, but it serves a purpose. My introduction to owning solar was through Voltaic, who makes quality stuff for the backpacking and travel-light-around-the-world crowd . . .

https://voltaicsystems.com/

I've got a few of their 17W panels and batteries. No regrets. But you soon realize that scaling up within their system quickly becomes economically futile.

Goal Zero bridges the gap between backpack solar and the sort of things that will easily fit in the back of the car. But the prices for the larger stuff in their line are going to make you ask if it's better to do it yourself. And they've now got competition that's hitting slightly lower price points, more power and with more advanced features (Bluetti, EcoFlow, etc.)

The appeal of this pre-built stuff is that you don't have to own a soldering iron or a multimeter (much less know how to use them) and you've got at least some clean power that you can take with you. It's all warrantied and user friendly. I thinks the trend for having these products available is a good thing. Just that many more people are doing what would have only been previously possible with a messy, noisy, polluting gasoline generator. And, to look at this another way, imagine if the only way you could get a gasoline generator was building it from scratch on your own, with parts left over from old lawn mowers.

When Tesla starts making their new 4680 cells in mass quantities in a few years (remember that the ones for their Powerwalls and the $25K cars are going to be basically LiFePO4,) this will have big implications. The pre-manufactured "solar generator" market will get them first and quickly leave behind the 18650 cells they currently use. It will only be a matter of time before raw cells become easy to obtain for hobbyists and someone will make an appropriate BMS for portable applications, like you see on forums like this.

Yes, I am going to purchase the panels last. The Renogy folders I want are in scarce supply right now, heading into Christmas. And, yeah, there might be something a little better in early 2021 (the Consumer Electronics Show, which will certainly be a virtual event this January, is when/where new and revised stuff like that comes out.)

The 100Ah Fortune cells are also back-ordered right now, but should be available again by the end of the year. Or, I might get the inverter before anything else. This is the brute I've got on my list right now . . .

https://www.aimscorp.net/3000-Watt-Pure-Sine-Inverter-Charger-24-Volt.html

Price on the street is typically about $100 less that what's shown on the manufacturer's site. I like that it's got a way to bring in AC, if needed, and the ability to charge the battery.

------------------------------------------------

EDIT: I checked that article you linked regarding the folding panels and, yes, they take off a point on the Renogy for a thin warranty. So, I checked to see what that was all about . . .

https://www.renogy.com/template/files/Manuals/Warranty.pdf

Where it's thin is on the workmanship aspect, and one has to assume that this includes things like the hinge assemblies, the fold-away stands and the canvas carry bag. My guess is that some are going beat up the manufacturer on things like scratches in the anodizing or a crack in the glass (even if the new owner was ham-fisted in transporting or storing it.) They give you just one year on that.

But RNG-KIT-STCSLW-100MB-NC (that's the formal model number) is guaranteed in performance at 95% for 5 years, 90% for 10 years and 80% for 25 years. That's pretty good and pretty much industry standard for any conventional panel. The others folding panels being reviewed there all seem to be plastic covered and very light weight. I'm sticking with glass and aluminum framework.
 
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Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Aims is "Value VAR" made by Sigineer or Yiyen and available for less if you drop the branding. They are "OK" not the most efficient and limited charging tech within (not the best for lithium but they do sorta support it.) I could sell you my 24/3000 Yiyen APC Combi Inverter/Charger , link to it: Yiyen APC 3000 but it's my backup which out here is a must to have for everything. Note how similar they are to AIMS ? wink wink, nudge nudge.

Do yourself favour, browse this site: https://www.fuelzero.com/Default.asp Everything there can be DIY Replicated (they got some good deals though) and look at their panel offerings and what is coming... soon. 4x 100W for $450 semi-flex... Hmmmm
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
Aims is "Value VAR" made by Sigineer or Yiyen and available for less if you drop the branding. They are "OK" not the most efficient and limited charging tech within (not the best for lithium but they do sorta support it.) I could sell you my 24/3000 Yiyen APC Combi Inverter/Charger , link to it: Yiyen APC 3000 but it's my backup which out here is a must to have for everything. Note how similar they are to AIMS ? wink wink, nudge nudge.

Do yourself favour, browse this site: https://www.fuelzero.com/Default.asp Everything there can be DIY Replicated (they got some good deals though) and look at their panel offerings and what is coming... soon. 4x 100W for $450 semi-flex... Hmmmm
OK . . .

I don't know what "value VAR" means but, generally, I get what you're trying to tell me. Everything is made in China now and, once you find one brand on, say, Amazon, you'll find 5 or 10 of something else with different branding on more obscure web sites, typically cheaper. Depending on who you buy from - direct from China or through a small America distributor - you can get a great deal or a sort-of-a-great-deal.

You're obviously very comfortable going the direct China route. I'm not. I have to have a far clearer path for warranty and/or return and I typically get that more often though a US-based business than I do by dealing overseas. Even if you do end up getting the genuine article for a great price overseas, you often get brutalized on the shipping costs or, depending on country, VAT fees . . . especially on big/heavy/expensive items.

That said, I'm open to suggestions on inverters. The AIMS was the one I happened to land on first with the preferred specs (3000W/24V/pure sine wave.) You linked to the Yiyen APC3000 on their Chinese corporate site. But if I can't find it shipping from a US-based store front, I'm not interested. Likewise, I found Sigineer's Chinese site. But I couldn't find anyone offering it in the US. Sorry . . . no.

Now, the Fuel Zero site - a "mom & pop" business based out of New Jersey, as far as I can tell - looks good. They seem to have their own rebranded variation on the Sigineer/Yiyen/AIMS thing for only around $475 . . .

https://www.fuelzero.com/3000-9000w...requency-Inverter-p/fz-ep3000-lv-48v-3000.htm

Is that one any good? It also has a built-in battery charger. Is that something I should try to avoid on any inverter? Isn't LiFePO4 CVCC? It's basically the same as charging a lead acid battery, but at a different voltage and with some sort of predetermined cutoff. What is AIMS "sorta" doing with their charging algorithm that the others get right?

As far as the folding panels, I do appreciate you throwing out all those suggestions. But I'm immediately not considering ANYTHING that's plastic coated or sewn into a canvas carry bag. It ABSOLUTELY HAS TO BE metal framed and topped with glass. Period. Also, I don't want mystery meat PV film technology. I only want the genuine article: real monocrystalline cells. I'll look at individual 50W monocrystalline panels, as long as they're aluminum-framed and topped with glass . . . and I can get them shipped from somewhere in North America.
 
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snoobler

Solar Honey Badger
Moderator
VAR = Value Added Reseller - basically an authorized seller that supports the product as their own (value added). They may also add features to the "base" model produced for other VARs.

That inverter is probably fine. The nice thing about it is it's low frequency like the AIMS with wicked surge capability, but it suffers from the peak efficiency issue (88%).

Don't get hung up on mono panels. "mono" is latin for "charge more for nothin." Mono panels perform negligibly better than poly these days and don't come anywhere near justifying a price premium.
 

Benjamin Nead

New Member
VAR = Value Added Reseller - basically an authorized seller that supports the product as their own (value added). They may also add features to the "base" model produced for other VARs.

That inverter is probably fine. The nice thing about it is it's low frequency like the AIMS with wicked surge capability, but it suffers from the peak efficiency issue (88%).

Don't get hung up on mono panels. "mono" is latin for "charge more for nothin." Mono panels perform negligibly better than poly these days and don't come anywhere near justifying a price premium.
7 or 8 years ago, all small panels in the 15 to 80W range seemed to be polycrystalline. Kyocera was a highly regarded Japanese brand I used to see often back then. Perhaps marketing hype got in the way, but I simply don't see small poly panels any longer. The brands who make in that size range now are Renogy, HQST, Grape and a lot of other Chinese concerns (too many to even try to make a list.) It's all monocrystalline these days . . . and the price has come down everywhere, since so much more is being manufactured overall (economies of scale.)

The main point I was trying to make about panels is that I want to avoid the plastic flex or semi-flex stuff, fabric carry-bags as part of the actual structure and any panel technology that's film-based. I'm going "car" portable, not "backpack" portable.
 
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