All the solar in the world connected to a rubbish quality regulator is a recipe for disaster. If you want quality gear, Victron is a great place to start. I can say this with complete honesty and integrity; I spent my hard earned on their Victron 100/30 MPPT regulator and Bluetooth dongle, and was using it for about 2 years in our soft floor camper trailer, before we sold it and bought a Reconn R2.
The Victron 100/30 was the heart of our Camper Trailer Electrical Upgrade.
I’ve been nothing but impressed with this unit. It works well, the app and Bluetooth dongle is truly awesome and it works extremely well connected to 400W of panels on the boat loader solar system.
Victron have been making solar regulators for a long time now, and not just the 12 and 24V gear; they make inverters for house panels and much bigger solar systems. They have a hugely respected reputation for quality gear, and have awesome customer service should you require it. The Victron Solar Controller would be one of the most highly recommended one online, and for good reason.
One of the reasons I went with a Victron MPPT regulator was that it will take up to 100 volts, which means that it is compatible with 12V panels wired in series, or house panels if you will. You cannot do this with many normal DCDC battery chargers, as they wont accept the higher voltage.
Panels are in series
I spent a lot of time looking at how its best to wire your panels up. Do you feed the power in at double the volts, and then convert it back to 12V, or wire them in parallel? In the end, I went with the series setup, knowing I can change it fairly easily with a few swaps of the plugs.
This enables the panels to work better in cloudy conditions and they start charging earlier, but to be honest, I’m still not sure either way really matters much.
How much power will it produce
The unit itself is good for up to 30 amps, and they suggest 440W of 12V panels to be attached as the maximum.
The panels on the camper trailer are fixed, and when facing the sun at 65 degrees, and north, it will top out at about 280 – 300 watt hours, or around 20 – 21 amp hours. Perhaps if the panels weren’t fixed you’d get a little more, but it does what I want it to without having to lug big heavy panels around during the day.
The power comes in at about 36 volts, and is converted down to charge the batteries.
The unit is not IP rated
The only complaint I have about the unit is its not very durable in terms of the elements. My initial intention was to mount it outside the camper trailer, and I never even thought to look at whether it was dust and waterproof. Turns out its good for neither, which means you need to mount it in a clean, dry environment. The unit is IP43 and IP22, which is basically useless outside of a clean enclosure.
I solved this by mounting it inside an electrical enclosure, which was a bit of a pain due to space requirements and it ended up costing more, but my fault for not looking into it a bit closer.
Victron MPPT review
My Victron solar controller review scores very well. I would absolutely buy another one, and recommend them to anyone else (and we might end up with another one when we move to Lithium Batteries!).
We sold the camper trailer about a year ago, but it was flawless the whole time we had it, and I know that anything made by Victron is quality gear. If you want a solid MPPT controller, Victron is a fantastic option. If you want to read more 12V posts, check out our Electrical page.