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Thread: 12v / solar and serious stuff

  1. #1

    Question 12v / solar and serious stuff

    I'm confused. Wondering if anyone here can unravel the 12v / solar / charging conundrum ? If you're guessing, please don't respond, if you " think " you know please don't respond, if you have a " vested " interest, please don't respond. Question is.... what is the deal with 12v chargers, inverters and batteries ? You can by a 2000W inverter for $2,000 or $400..... 100 a/h lithium battery for $1,600 or $600 and BC/ DC chargers are similar. The obvious answer is where they are manufactured, but I found 2 Aussie made inverters that are miles apart in pricing. Don't want to know the best / worst, just why the price difference ? Having said that, I get reviews of equal value from cheap-ass devices to top of the range... why ? Anyone have a short answer cheers
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  2. #2

    Re: 12v / solar and serious stuff

    Hey Phil

    Have you heard the saying "You get what you pay for" ? .... That's the answer right there

    Like anything manufactured - you can make it as cheap as possible or you can go belts & braces. You can use cheap labor or not

    Redarc is a good example (if that is one of the brands you are talking about ) - Local design , development , manufacturing ..... who don't cut corners when it comes to raw materials . That's why they have an excellent reputation for quality products ........ & you pay for it.

    I work with local manufactures & I see how companies chop & change to save a buck ..... then you have the ones that design their products using specified raw materials (regardless of the cost) & they dont change them.

    Then there is the functionality & features of the product - what tech is used & where it is sourced .

    If you have ever seen inside a cheap LiFePO4 battery & compare it to a high end one - you'll see what I mean .

    A lot of the products on the market are produced in jobbing shops in China etc ...... You can buy from them & they will stick any branding on it you wish . The quality can vary but they are cheap - eg You can pay less than US$200 each for a LiFePO4 100amp battery .

    This applies to solar panels , inverters , chargers etc

    It's not a complicated topic & really boils down to buyer beware , you get what you pay for & what your expectations are.

    Give a man a fish & he will eat for a day !
    Teach him how to fish
    & he will sit in a boat - & drink beer all day!

  3. #3
    Ausfish Silver Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    cooloola cove

    Re: 12v / solar and serious stuff

    I guess it depends on what you want to power. How long and how often.
    In ref to inverters.some have safety switch,overload and overheat cut outs.
    Some aussie brands are the ducks nuts but not all and price can be confusing
    lipo batteries are a mine field for the unwary.but some members here are right on to it.
    If you come ever up to tcb I can show how the boat/car/caravan/o/r trailer are setup.
    Brands are a personal choice thats why none are mentioned

  4. #4

    Re: 12v / solar and serious stuff

    Iím yet to dip my toe into the inverters but have watched a lot of reviews on them. Thereís some good cheap ones and some not so good ones with a solid following.

    the batteries as stated above are a mine field. Thereís some well followed brands that get attention of YouTube influencers that donít stack up under proper testing. I wonít name some here because one brand in particular has recently made threats to people publishing their tests. And when I say threats I donít mean legal action.

    DC/DC chargers are a bit different. There seems to be a big range in the features. For example the RedArc BC/DC is a fully sealed unit that prioritises solar and tops up the amps with alternator current to get the maximum. So both are used at the same time which doesnít waste free solar energy and puts less stress on the alternator. Itís very expensive.

    The Enerdrive unit does both also but only one at a time. So as soon as you start the car, after a short period to top up the start battery it cuts off solar input. Itís also not a sealed unit. Great for inside the back of a sealed canopy that gets no real dust or inside a caravan. A fair whack cheaper than the RedArc though. Itís actually hard to get a side by side comparison of them all and all these differences.
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  5. #5

    Re: 12v / solar and serious stuff

    Phil, what Chris said!! In the last 3 years i did both a 12v system in the cruiser and full electrical system in the new boat. Like you i was blown away by the difference in pricing for mostly the same functionality. The bloke i used to help me wire the boat was dc electrician and i learnt allot, he showed me old bms's etc he had cut up etc, all sorts of stuff. Anyway, long story short the impression i got was that although there is value in some of the mid range stuff you get what you pay for in this gear in both longevity and reliability. Below is main componetary i ended up with. 3 years on, 350 hours on the outboards, a trip to the cape etc in the wagon all this stuff has performed absoluteley 110%, and it bloody well should given the price of some of it! I guess its been good though though that i went for the good stuff on purpose and touch wood it hasnt diassappointed. No experience with inverters so interested to see those comments.

    2 * optima marine strarters
    1 * Invicta lithium 200 ah
    2 * 18 amp victron DC's (one of easch start side feeding the invicta)
    1 * victron solar controller (the little dc's dont have solar input)
    2 * 110 flexi solar pannels as per solarRV (cant remember the brand)

    1 * powertech 120 ah lithium
    1 * enerdrive 40 amp dcdc with solar input

  6. #6

    Re: 12v / solar and serious stuff

    Oh I forgot to add above. One of the reasons the Victron inverters are so expensive, other than the serious features. Is that the standby current t draw is very low. Some can pull like 130w in idle with nothing being used. The Victron are around. 10w or below.
    Democracy: Simply a system that allows the 51% to steal from the other 49%.

  7. #7

    Re: 12v / solar and serious stuff

    There are two absolute killers when it comes to this kind of stuff - one is obvous SALT ..... most of us give that issue some attention.

    The other one is VIBRATION ...... This is where much of the cheaper stuff fails as they are not designed to be bounced around or be subjected to a lot of vibration. It doesn't matter if it is 4WDing or boating . it needs to be considered - I've had a 1000W Supercheap (Calibre) inverter fall apart & short out ..... just being bumped around in the back of my car . - that thing from memory cost a few hundred - so not exactly cheap.

    I've heard of the same kind of thing with batteries ...... BMS becoming loose & rattling around in the battery box ( simply just glued in place)

    Give a man a fish & he will eat for a day !
    Teach him how to fish
    & he will sit in a boat - & drink beer all day!

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