backchannel: panels with built-in controllers

from this thread on the Vanliving forum (nee CRVL):

All the suitcase panels I’ve looked at come with charge controllers attached.

Digression: panels with built-in solar charge controllers are niche products for niche use cases, and may be a good fit for people who mainly need to run real-time loads or recharge small power packs for later use. They are also used in Zamp-style “solar ready” RVs so the user doesn’t have to wire in a controller.

They aren’t used for General Purpose because:

  • charge controllers are typically installed as close as practical to the battery banks they charge, due to voltage sag. Sag can cause both slow charging and chronic undercharging.
  • charge controllers don’t like heat, and solar panels typically run ambient +50F in full sunlight
  • they typically aren’t great charge controllers, and none are configurable AFAIK
  • they can prevent multipanel arrangements
  • solar generator thingies are expecting to do their own charge controlling
  • perhaps other reasons I can’t think of mid-coffee


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