I installed a 200 watt solar panel in my home in May 2016. Since then I have been researching solar panels. I think I am becoming a solar energy enthusiast to say the least. This a Renogy Solar Panel Review. I believe that solar energy is the way to go when it comes to being energy efficient. After installing my first Solar Panel and reading a few solar panel reviews, there are a few things that I look for. I believe anyone who is interested in buying a solar panel and is not a solar panel “expert” will benefit from this review of the Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel. In this article I also have a review of the Renogy 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel Starter Kit.
Table of Content
- Renogy Solar Panel Review – 100 Watts Monocrystalline
- How Much Power
- What will it do? How long will it take to charge my battery
- Installation – Do I have all I need?
- Applications – What can it be used for?
- How tough are they?
- Weight and Dimensions
- Customer Service at Renogy
- Customer Ratings
- My Suggestions
- Other neat things you may want to know
- Renogy Solar Panel Review – 100 Watt Monocrystalline Starter Kit
Renogy Solar Panel Review -100 watts
This company does not only produce a 100 watt panels. They also produce a 200 watt solar panel and some other variations. They also offer multiples of the 100 watt panels with the kit to connect them in series.
If you are new to the solar panel market and this is your first solar panel, then you may want to consider the Starter Kit. At the end of this review, I have included a Review of the Starter Kit with a detailed explanation of all components in the starter kit.
How much Power?
The 100 Watt rating on the solar panel refers to the peak power that the panels can out put when placed under direct sunlight. It is the ideal case. In reality you will not get this peak power all through the day. If you have direct sunlight for 5 hours, then the solar panels will ideally output 500 Wh of power.
This means you can use the solar panels to ideally supply 500 Watt hour of power to your battery or to any direct current load that may be connected to the panels. In my own case I bought my solar panels to charge my 200Ah battery. It is more realistic to assume that the panels will only supply 80% of the max power rating even when you have an almost ideal situation. If however there is some shade, some cloud or your placement does not allow for adequate sunlight to your panels the amount of power outputted will be affected.
Full 100 Watts
From my research I discovered the the 100 Watt Renogy Solar Panels is known for its high efficiency. Several satisfied customers claim that they have been able to measure between 98 and 120 Watts output!. You will need a solar charge controller that measures power outputs to get the reading from your panels or learn how to do it with a digital multi-meter. Here is a good tutorial on How to measure the power output of your solar panels. These Solar Charger Tutorials are quite helpful for anyone who is new to the solar energy world!
Here is a video that will show you how to test the outputs of your solar panel.
What can it do? How long will it take to charge my battery?
The 100 watt Monocrystalline Renogy solar panel like most is shipped ready to charge a 12 volt battery. If you have a 24 or 48 volt battery array, then you will need to buy 2 solar panels for a 24v battery array and 4 panels for a 48V array. You will also need a solar charge controller to protect your batteries against over charging, depletion at night and terminal reversal (that is when you connect the battery terminal wrongly). The Solar Charge controller does not come with the panels. However, if you choose to purchase the Renogy Solar Panel Starter kit, the Solar Charger is included!
The panel has diodes pre-installed in its junction box that also protect your batteries from being discharged when the sun goes down. This means that even without a solar charge controller, the Renogy Solar panels will never discharge your batteries.
So how long will this 100 Watt Panel take to charge your 100Ah Deep Cycle batteries? Here is how to calculate the duration.
Time to charge = (Battery Voltage x Battery Ah )/ Solar Panel Watts
If you have a 100 AH battery, theoretically with the sun shinning directly on your panels it will take (12x100)/100 hrs = 12hrs.
However because the sun is not always going to be directly shinning on the panels and other losses due to connections, it is safe to multiply the result by 2 or 2.5. This means that it will take about 24 – 30hrs of direct sunlight to fully charge a fully depleted 100Ah battery. If we estimate 5 – 6 hours of sunlight in a day, then we can expect this solar panel to charge your 100Ah battery in about 5 – 6 days. You will need 4 of these panels to be able to charge your 100AH battery within one day.
Installation – Do I have all i need?
If you are installing a new solar charger, it is important that you know that this product only comes with the panel and the connector which is already attached. You will need to purchase the materials for mounting your panels on a roof, extension cables, solar charge controller, and the MC4 removal tool that you will need to unfasten the connectors if you connected them wrongly or you need to unfasten them for any reason.
The Solar Panels come with MC4 connectors. These are the standard connectors that come with the solar panels. They are are designed for easy connection without a tool, but they do not easily come apart. You will need a tool to pull them apart. This is so that they don’t accidentally come apart once they are in place. I suggest that you estimate the distance between your batteries and the solar panel, and purchase an extension cable as needed. I have my panel installed on the roof so I needed about 50 feet of extension connector.
The extension can also be purchased on Amazon (Check Prices here). They usually go for about $20-30 for the 50feet extension!
Here is a short video on installing the 100 watt solar panels! Watch this video before placing your order so you get all the accessories you need at once. Remember for this product, nothing is included. Although the video for the complete kit, it gives you an idea of what you need. Should you decide to get the starter kit. Check the current price here on Amazon!
- Off-Grid Rooftop / Ground Mounted
- Residential / Rural
- RVs, Trailers, Motorhomes, Caravans, Boats, etc.
- 12V / 24V / 48V Battery Charging (depending on the wiring method)
- Part of a Solar Generator
How tough are they?
The panels can withstand high wind (2400Pa) and snow loads (5400Pa). They are designed to withstand the regular weather elements that they would be exposed to if the are mounted on a roof or on a stand outdoors. They are made with resistant aluminum frame which allows the panels last for decades. This makes them light to carry, and they would not get rusted when exposed to moisture.
Most panels in the market are similarly designed so this is not much of an advantage. The Renogy 100 Watt Solar panel is no exception and they guarantee that it will continue to be efficient for as long as 25years. With this in mind, the major consideration when choosing a solar panel will be cost efficiency. It all boils down to your budget and space for installation. Nonetheless the Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panels are selling really well on Amazon these days. Check current sale prices
- 25-year transferable power output warranty – The company guarantees that the solar panels will continue to output a peak power of about 80 watts for the next 25 years (that is at 80% efficiency). For the first 5 years, they guarantee that the Solar Panels will operate at 95% efficiency; The next five years it will operate at at least at 90% efficiency. This means that you really do not need to worry too much about the efficiency of a solar panel. What matters most is cost efficiency.
- 5-year material and workmanship warranty – You can expect that within the next 5 years if any part of the Renogy solar panels becomes faulty for any reason, the company will replace or fix it for you free of charge.
Weight and Dimensions
- Weight of the Solar Panels – 16.5 lbs (7.5 kgs) – According to Amazon the shipping weight is 20lbs – 9.07kg.
- Dimensions – 47 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches or 119.38 x 54.10 x 3.56 cm – Please take note that the Renogy Solar Panels do not have exactly the same dimensions as the panels from other manufacturers. The truth is that solar panels are not yet designed to come in standard sizes, each manufacturer has its own dimensions but that are not too far from one another. However, this should not stop you from switching to Renogy as long as the panels are of similar wattage. You may have some little problem with aesthetics though.
There are no accessories included with the Panels. It comes with a short cable already attached to the junction box. You may need to purchase some accessories for installation such as:
- Extra extension cable
- Mounting brackets
- An MPPT solar charge controller
If you do not have any of these accessories and you need them, you are better off purchasing the Starter Kit.
Customer service from renogy
According to reviews on Amazon.com, the customer service at Renogy is excellent. They answer their calls and are very helpful with guiding their customers through installations.
RENOGY SOLAR PANEL REVIEW – Pros
- They are light and easy to install
- They are well built and would last for a long time
- There is adequate support from the manufacturers
- It’s one of the most cost effective solar panels in the market today.
RENOGY SOLAR PANEL REVIEW – Cons
From my research, there are just a few things to look out for with the Renogy Solar Panels. Some customers complained that the MC4 connectors were very difficult to unhook. Most of these users were able to eventually unhook the connectors though. My advice is that you get the tool for unhooking MC4 connectors and be prepared for some resistance if you need to unhook a connection. In my opinion this is not much of a negative since solar panels are known to stay in place for many years without any need to unhook them. I also noticed that just a few of the reviews mention this difficulty, which implies that it is not a prevalent problem.
It is advisable to get the mounting Z brackets for your solar panels. If you get the starter kit, the Renogy Solar Panel Mounting brackets are included. If however you only got the solar panels then make sure you get the mounting brackets from Renogy. These brackets are a little expensive (hence my placing it as a negative) but according to reviews, they are worth the cost.
A few users also mentioned that you should be prepared to make larger holes in the brackets if you want to use larger screws. The screws that come with the brackets are adequate for most situations but a design that can handle larger screws may be better. Check here for the current price of the Mounting Z brackets.
Renogy Solar Panel Review – Consumer Ratings
On Amazon they have an average rating of 4.5 – 5stars. This particular 100 watts solar panel is the company’s best selling product. There are over 500 reviews on Amazon.com for this particular panel. Most of these reviews are positive.
RENOGY SOLAR PANEL REVIEW – price
- The Renogy 100 Watts solar panel is quite reasonably priced on Amazon. Prices have been dropping on solar panels for some years now but recently they have been stable. Check current prices on Amazon here!
If you are ready to plunge into the world of renewable energy and you are ready to by solar panels, then you won’t go wrong with these panels. If you want to use them as a solar charger for your deep cycle batteries they will serve you well. There are not many differences between solar panels manufactured by different companies, so go for this one because it gives you excellent quality and a great price.
Other neat things you may want to know about Renogy solar panels
How often do i need to clean my Renogy Solar Panel?
This depends a lot on the location of your solar panels. What you should be considering is wether the panels are being shaded from sunlight because of dust, snow or other dirt. Most people clean once a year on the average!
Renogy Solar Panel Installation
Renogy Solar Panel Review – 100 Watt Monocrystalline Starter Kit
The Renogy Solar Panel Starter Kit is good for those who are new to the solar energy market. It contains all the components you need to install a 100 Watt solar panel in your home. It does not include the batteries off course. I think it would be a good idea to actually have a a kit that includes a 50Ah deep cycle battery with options for upgrade.
What is in the Kit?
- 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel (same as reviewed above)
- Choice of charge controller
- A 30A PWM Wanderer Charge Controller
- A 20 A MMPT Renogy Charge Controller (appox. $100 more)
- A 40 A MMPT Renogy Charge Controller (approx. $200 more)
- 20ft 10AWG MC4 Adaptor Kit
- An 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable
- A set of Z-brackets (These will help with mounting the panels on the roof)
The Renogy 30A PWM Wanderer Charge Controller
The Solar charge controller is the device that regulates the current and voltage that charges your batteries. It acts as an interface between the solar panels and the batteries.
When charging a battery, you initially want to apply as much current as you can. This allows for the battery to charge fast. When the battery is fully charged, you would want to reduce the amount of current applied to it. It is the solar charge controller that ensures that your battery is not overcharged.
There are 2 types of solar charge controllers.
- The PWM ( Pulse Width Modulation) Charge controller and
- MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) Charge Controller
The default choice for the Starter kit on Amazon is the 30 A PWM solar charge controller, but there are options for the 20A MPPT charge controller or 40 A MPPT charge controller. These options cost a few hundred dollars more.
What is the difference between the PWM charge controller and the MPPT charge controller?
For starters, the MPPT charge controller is way more expensive than the PWM charge controller. You could easily buy an extra solar panel for the cost of upgrading to the MPPT controller.
The MMPT charge controller is a more efficient charge controller because it converts higher voltages to current so that you can have more power being applied to your batteries. Let’s say you have a PWM charge controller and a solar panel that is producing 17 volts and about 4A of current. And you want to charge a 12 volts battery. The PWM charge controller will maintain the current it receives and operate at about 13 volts. This gives you an applied power of 13×4 = 52 Watts. On the other hand, the MPPT solar charge controller will maintain the power at 17×4 = 68 watts. It does this by increasing the applied current to maintain the power.
Which Charge Controller is better?
Your choice of charge controller depends on how much expansion you plan on doing in the future as well as how much more voltage your panels will produce compared with your battery and inverter system.
In my own opinion, since this is a starter kit, I suggest you purchase the 30A PWM Wanderer Solar Charge controller. You will not be maximizing the benefits of the MPPT charge controller with just 1 or 2 100 Watt solar panels.
20ft 10AWG MC4 Adaptor Kit
The Renogy Solar panel comes with a short MC4 cable. An extra 20feet cable is included in the starter kit. The included cable is rated at 10 AWG ( American Wire Guage). This simply means that the cable is thick enough to handle the demands of the solar panel. The higher the AWG, the thinner the cable.
8ft 10AWG Tray Cable
An 8 feet tray cable is also included to connect the Solar Charge controller to your battery bank. It is good to know that you would not need to run to the store to pick up an extra cable for the installation.
Renogy Solar Panel Starter Kit Pros
Ease of installation – The fact that all the components you need for installation are included in the kit is a big advantage.
Reduced cost – If you choose to buy the various components separately you will spend $35 – $40 more! Charge controller + 20ft MC4 cable + Z brackets + Renogy Tray Cable + Solar Panel = $35 – $40 more.
30 A PWM Solar Charge Controller is very adequate for the system and it is even possible to upgrade the system using the same solar charge controller.
Renogy Solar Panel Starter Kit Cons
The only negative that the charge controller included in the basic kit does not have any LCD display. I find that most people who are new to the solar market would really enjoy monitoring the readings of the solar panel from the charge controller.
The Renogy Solar Panel Starter kit is a good deal for anyone who is new to the market. If you really plan on expanding your system or you have some extra cash to spend, then go for the MPPT charge controller. Over a long period of time, you will recover the amount that you have invested.
However, if you are like most buyers who simply want to charge a battery that is not heavyly used, the 30A PWM solar charger is more than adequate. I would suggest however that you choose one of the other kits available from Renogy. You can choose a starter kit that comes with a charge controller that has an LCD display. The added satisfaction that comes from the display is worth the extra cash.
Other Renogy solar panel Starter Kits and Bundles
The Renogy team has a bunch of other starter kits and bundles on Amazon. Some of these bundles have more than one solar panel. Some do not have the Z brackets, others have inverters included. Others still have a variation of solar charge controllers. If you are interested in more than one panel, make sure you take a look at the bundles available for savings!
You may also read my Eco-Worthy Solar Panel Review