12 Volt Solar Kit: First Edition

Product-Related Questions

How am I supposed to stand or mount the solar panel(s) in this kit?

For this kit, the Monocrystalline solar panels can be mounted using the four holes found on the rear of each solar panel:

  • Each of the four holes are 3/8″ inches (.9525cm) by 1/2″ inches (1.27cm)

The Polycrystalline solar panels can be mounted using the two holes found on the rear of each solar panel:

  • Each of the two holes are 3/16″ inches (0.47625cm)

Or they can simply being placed against an object (or wall) at an angle. It is okay to stand them on the ground but ensure that there are no objects within a few feet of the front of the solar panel(s) since shadows can obstruct performance.

The kit's design prevents them from being “flush-mounted” (directly against a wall) to allow air to pass around the solar panels. If you use the system on a windowsill and have "shades" or "blinds," pull them down and allow the back of the Solar Kit to lean against them.

Which type of solar kit should I purchase? Polycrystalline or Monocrystalline?

There are two different kinds of panels for aesthetic purposes. Polycrystalline solar cells are slightly inefficient compared to Monocrystalline. Both output the same power; Polycrystalline solar panels:

  • are a little larger to make up for inefficiency (larger surface space for more solar cells per panel) and
  • have two mounting holes on each solar panel instead of four

Where I live is very rainy. I can’t use this kit, right?

Yes, you can but continuous days of inclement weather (or long-term adverse weather) will eventually affect performance. Solar requires an abundant amount of daylight above ground but performs best in sunlight and will work during rain, snow or fog regardless if indoors or outdoors facing the Sun.

Can I put the solar charge controller outside with the solar panel?

Not directly. The charge controller is not weatherproof or water-resistant but can be placed in an outdoor junction box which is. The charge controller must be kept dry at all times and should be installed in an indoors environment if a weatherproof junction box is not possible to use.

Do not place the solar charge controller in a battery box as battery boxes have holes which are required to allow Hydrogen (gas) from the batteries to “escape” while charging. Holes on battery boxes are usually downward-facing, limiting the amount of moisture inside of a box but enough to corrode a solar controller which isn't weatherproof.

If I use this kit outdoors, is it safe to leave the cable exposed to water (or rain/inclement weather)?

Yes. All of the cables on our solar panels are Sun, weather-resistant and burial-grade.

Can the charge controller’s voltage be manually adjusted?

No.

I live in a very cold region which gets lots of snow. Can I use this kit?

The short answer is: I don’t know yet. An ideal temperature range is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 21 degrees Celsius). The reason it may not work would be due to technical limitations of electrical components – they, like any electronic device, work within an operating temperature range.

Some parts may work fine and others are sensitive to the weather in general – you’ll probably never notice this, however, unless you live in a high humidity region or places with extreme temperature differences such as being very hot or cold year-round.

Can I extend the included cables or use my own?

Yes. Unscrew the cable from the pair of yellow “tap” connectors on the rear of the kit. Remember to choose a cable which can handle the total amount of power you want to use the system for and is also weatherproof, should the system be placed outdoors.

Can I use artificial light (flashlights, ceiling lights, lamps) to power the solar panels? How am I supposed to use this indoors?

No, artificial lights will not work with any solar panels; doing so usually produces a “false positive” where, if a solar panel or system has indicators, they may turn on because it senses enough light to produce a small amount of voltage and it appears to work. In hindsight, the amount of Amperes is extremely low and not enough to produce usable energy.

When we say our solar panels can be used indoors, this means they can be placed indoors and face the Sun, not use ambient (room) lighting. Keep in mind, the reason only sunlight can power solar panels is because the Sun emits a very broad amount of light energy, visible and invisible, which allows solar panels to function properly.

Can I use this kit to power a 12 Volt (bilge) pump?

No.

Can I use this kit to charge several 12 Volt Batteries at once?

No. This kit is designed to charge one 12 Volt battery at a time. However, that 12 Volt battery can be any size.

I live in an apartment, how can I use this kit?

Place the panel in a window (on a windowsill or the like), tilt it at an angle and:

  • use the included compass to point the solar panel South if you live above the Equator or
  • use the included compass to point the solar panel North if you live below the Equator

The green compass tip will automatically find “Magnetic North.” The opposing direction of the green tip is “Magnetic South.”

Can I take this on a trip with me?

This kit can work anywhere on Earth (well, most places) and is also 100% compatible with inverters up to 200 Watts available in any country.

I don’t really understand what a power inverter is.

An inverter is a device which converts energy from one form to another. Some have fans and are known as "actively-cooled" inverters; those which do not are called "passively-cooled" - they rely on the surrounding air to cool components.

The recommended inverter with this kit is passively-cooled. These devices were primarily made to use in modes of transportation to provide household-like electricity. A car's accessory socket (or "cigarette socket") outputs 12 Volts. Power inverters can convert that energy to the same type found in a household; it varies for each country. For example, United States power outlets for most devices is approximately 110 to 120 Volts; in the United Kingdom, it is approximately 230 Volts.

What type of inverter should I use?

  • Inverters from any country which are approximately 20 Watts (or as close to it as possible). A good inverter will have a replaceable fuse.
  • Inverters with a car adapter or hard-wired are compatible.
  • Inverters which have active (fan) or passive (no fan) cooling are compatible.

Can I use solar panel(s) from this kit to power an attic (or gable/exhaust) fan?

No.

Can I use this kit without a battery?

This kit requires a 12 Volt gel, lead or sealed lead acid battery to power or recharge devices. It will not function at all without a battery.

Is the ratio of solar to power inverters 1:1?

No. A 20 Watt power inverter is the closest to our specifications.

Why is the solar panel’s voltage so high when not connected to the solar charge controller?

Solar panels have to accommodate for a lot of external factors, such as overcast, clouds in general, rain, snow, sleet, and where you live (in a mountainous region higher in atmosphere or below sea level).

I want to use this kit to recharge a lithium or other type of battery. Can I do that?

No. This kit can only charge gel, lead acid and sealed lead acid 12 Volt Batteries. Do not attempt to charge any other type of battery with this or any solar panel/kit, whether purchased from us or elsewhere.

I am a little intimidated by the warnings associated with handling the batteries required of this kit.

Which is understandable. Many electronics have warnings regarding lead content but may not be easily noticeable.

  • For electronics of any kind, these warnings will appear on a label or power cord.
  • For household appliances, these warnings will also appear on a label or power cord.
  • For batteries, there may be a sticker or inscription on the battery itself about lead content.

Though, many people only notice such warnings on decorative lights, these warnings appear on many products sold in or to the state of California in the United States because the state requires that any item, regardless of nature, which has any content of lead to display such a warning. This is why you will also see such warnings on topical treatments, such as ointments and creams - not just electronics.

Can’t I use my car battery with this kit if all I want to do is power electronics?

The maximum battery size for use with this Kit is 12 Volt 7 Ampere; technically you can use a larger battery but it will have undesirable effects. Using a larger battery will make you "feel" that it is capable of powering more than it actually can.

We use specific criteria when determining what a system can do; this means for whatever we suggest using the system to power, it can fully recover the next day, every day, as long as they are used for their intended purposes. Larger batteries will be exhausted faster than the Solar Kit can charge and will subsequently result in a dead battery taking several days to recover.

Can this kit charge my laptop/netbook/internet tablet?

It will not charge laptops or netbooks and while not tested, it should be able to charge internet tablets.

Do I need a battery desulfator?

No.

How am I supposed to charge my wheelchair with this kit?

The design of the First Edition requires charging each battery separately; it is better to charge spare batteries to understand how it works.

Usually, wheelchairs use two 12 Volt batteries. Follow the instructions in the manual using the included battery clamps to charge each one.

How many mobile phones can I charge and for how long?

  • Up to two devices simultaneously or consecutively during the evening for 2 hours every day if the system is in good condition.
  • With a good amount of Daylight or Sunlight, up to two devices simultaneously or consecutively for at least 2 hours.

The charging time for a mobile device is the same as it normally is. There are no restrictions on its use (i.e., it can be used while charging). The system can be used any time of the day (i.e., fully charge mobile devices during the day and evening).

While you will have the freedom of using your mobile devices as if using conventional electricity, the more frequently it is used, the hotter it will become while simultaneously charging and discharging (browsing, talking, etc.) - just as it would when plugged into an ordinary electrical socket.

How long does it take to recover?

A few hours of good sunlight each morning is all that's necessary. If the system is completely discharged (dead), up to 2 days.

If my solar system achieves full power but now it's raining or cloudy, how long can I use it?

As long as it achieves maximum power, regardless of the time of day, it can be used up to its recommended duration in the evening for normal operation. If it is notably cloudy or rainy, disallowing the system to fully charge, then adhere to the recommendations for using the system on cloudy days.

Service-Related Questions

I dropped my solar panel(s) or they fell from where I mounted them. Are these incidents covered by your warranty?

Yes.

Does this kit quality for tax incentives or rebates?

No. Certain countries offer tax incentives and rebates for purchasing solar technology. Tax incentives are only given to those who energy which is “shared” with others or “on-grid,” not power systems which operate independently of conventional electricity distribution systems.

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