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.
- 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)
A Power Inverter is not included in the kit!!
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!
Renogy Flexible Solar Panels
Renogy Portable Solar Panels – Foldable Solar Panels
Renogy Solar Panel Certification
The Renogy Solar Panels meet the UL 1703 Standard.
This means that they have been tested by a Nationally Recognized Test Laboratory.
Officially published by Underwriters Laboratories, UL 1703 is the set of standards for safety for flat-plate PV Modules (aka the commonly used solar panels with the glass on the front).
This means that a manufacturer must send their solar panels to a Nationally Recognized Test Laboratory (NRTL) like Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek, TUV or CSA Group to have it tested. If it passes the test, that lab will provide a certification that the solar panel meets the UL 1703 standard. This process is also called UL listing and when the solar panel gets its official certification the manufacturer can say it is UL Listed
Would I buy a Renogy Solar Panel?
Yes I would. There are a few other competitions out there but Renogy is top amongst the affordable bunch. They have a strong presence in the USA and their solar panels produce close to and sometime equal to the rated power ratings.
You may also read my Eco-Worthy Solar Panel Review