Getting the Best Solar Panel Kit for Your Shed
Today, solar energy has become a mainstay in the power industry and is increasingly revolutionizing the way we use power.
A lot of Americans and others from around the world have been enjoying the benefits of this green, eco-friendly, and cheaper power supply. Homes, warehouses, offices, and recreational vehicles are just some of the places where you can install one and rest easy from high power bills and outages.
Even if you intend to go completely off-grid or just keep an efficient and reliable back up power source for outages and emergencies; solar power is a great choice to make.
They are generally affordable, depending on your power needs, and require minimal maintenance, unlike regular fuel generators.
Typically, a solar power system harvests energy from the sun, stores it in a battery, and makes the energy available for use as power, also known as wattage. They satisfy your power needs, ranging from basic to advanced power demands, and are generally easy to install.
So, if you have a shed or an RV, and you’re already considering installing a solar power system to augment your daily power needs, then a solar starter kit would be an excellent recommendation; whether you’re new or already familiar with solar.
In this review, I’ll walk you through the details of one of the best solar starter kits out there – the Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit.
The Renogy 200W solar panel kit is ideal for your shed because it comes with all of the necessary components to properly install it onto your shed’s roof. The only additional items needed for a complete solar panel system are a battery and inverter (for AC appliances or tools).
The good thing is that it’s a DIY package. In case you want to install it yourself or engage a professional for the job – either way – you’re good to go.
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit – Overview
Solar panel starter kits are solar panels that are packed with essentials to run your solar energy system. This kit is designed in a way that makes it perfect for new customers looking to get a start in solar.
The Renogy solar kit includes every necessary tool you need for the proper solar panel set up:
- Two Renogy 100W 12V Mono Solar Panels
- One 30A PWM Wanderer Charge Controller
- One 20ft 10AWG MC4 Adaptor Kit
- One 8ft 10AWG Tray Cable
- One pair of MC4 Y Branch Connectors
- Two sets of Z-brackets.
These parts combined with the easy-to-use included guide effectively makes this solar kit a perfect DIY package.
The Renogy Starter Kit is suitable for an off-grid power supply to run with recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, small households, trailers, cabins, and sheds.
With a simple 100Ah battery and inverter, the starter kit provides power for small power needs like fans, bulbs, LED lights, and recharging your phones as well as bigger power demands such as TVs, laptops, and refrigerators.
It is clean and gives quiet power production. Its monocrystalline solar panels, which are black, allow for maximum light absorption from the sun.
The Renogy panels can be used in different kinds of off-grid applications that include 12 and 24-volt set-ups, water pumping systems, signaling systems, and more.
As a side note, an easy way to distinguish a polycrystalline solar panel from a monocrystalline panel is the color of the panel. Monocrystalline panels are black and polycrystalline panels have a blue anti-reflection coating.
Key Features of the Renogy 200 Watt Starter Kit
Below are the essential features of the product:
- Manufacturer: Renogy
- Weight: 37 pounds (16.5 lbs.)
- Dimensions: 47.3 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches
- Size 100W Panel (x2) + 30A PWM Controller
- Controller Model: Wanderer
- Mounting: MTS-ZB
- Solar Panels: 100W Monocrystalline Solar Panel (4.92 X 4.92 in)
- Number of cells: 36 (9 X 4)
- Frame: Anodized aluminum alloy
- Connectors: MC4 connectors
- Maximum System Voltage: 600V DC (UL)
- Optimum Operating Voltage: (Vmp) 17.9V
- Optimum Operating Current: (Imp) 5.72A
- Rated Current: 30A
- Maximum Series Fuse Rating: 15A
- Fire Rating: Class C
- Battery: No battery bank Included
- Date First Released: April 12, 2013
- Warranty: 25 years power output warranty and 5 years material and workmanship warranty
Renogy Wanderer 30A Charge Controller
- Battery Type: Sealed, Gel, and flooded
- Charge Stage: 3
- Grounding Type: Negative
- Nominal System Voltage: 12V DC
- System Capacity: 400W
- Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.3 x 1.8 in
- Nominal Voltage: 12V DC
- Rated Charge Current: 30A
- Max PV Input Voltage: 25V DC
- Max PV Input Power: 400W (12V)
Weight & Dimensions
Without a battery connected, the kit weighs 35.9 pounds. The panels have a dimension of 47.3 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches each.
The majority of people using solar power typically use them to install rooftop solar panels. Still, one crucial factor that must be taken into consideration when installing rooftop solar panels is the weight of the panels.
The weight of the Renogy solar panels is ideal for a typical shed or rooftop. Even though it is crucial to find out if your roof can handle the weight of your solar panels before installation, the majority of sheds and rooftops will be able to support them.
When it comes to lifting them from one point to another, one person can easily get the job done.
If you are always on the move or intend to go camping, take a vacation, or cruise on a road trip with family or friends, the 200 watts of solar power packed in the Renogy starter kit will be perfect for the roof of your RV. The package comes with brackets for easy installation as well.
So, while you are on the move, you can conveniently stay off the grid and enjoy power from the sun.
The Renogy starter kit features an effective PWM charge controller. In case you’re new to solar power systems, this is an essential unit of your solar starter kit that you need to take note of.
As you know, the energy captured from the sun by the photovoltaic cells (the little rectangular black boxes that make up the solar panels) is converted into direct current and stored up in a battery.
After a while, the battery charges to capacity and cannot take any more power. To prevent overcharging, a charge controller is incorporated into the solar panel system.
Also, the charge controller prevents the return of current from the battery to the panels, a phenomenon otherwise known as battery drain or leakage of current. The Renogy solar panels include a Wanderer 30A charge controller which monitors the voltage of the battery.
When the battery voltage reaches a pre-calibrated level, the Wanderer opens the circuit to stop the charging of the battery from the panels. It also blocks the reverse flow of current from the battery system to the solar panels. This improves the efficiency and longevity of the battery.
For comparison, the Renogy Rover 20A Li MPPT charge controller is also found in other Renogy solar kits.
What’s Unique About the Renogy 30A PWM Charge Controller?
- The Wanderer offers you the chance to expand your system up to a maximum of 400W of solar.
- The Wanderer is a negative ground controller, a feature that guarantees its compatibility with any negative ground system. This makes it easy to safely ground any negative connection on the solar module, battery, and load.
- Four-stage PWM charging (Bulk, float, boost, and equalization), which prevents batteries from overcharging and over-discharging, overload, short-circuiting, and reverse polarity.
- It compensates for temperature changes in the battery, automatically corrects charging and discharging parameters, and improves the battery’s longevity.
- It can be used with a 12V battery or battery bank.
- It has LED indicators that keep you updated on the charge controller’s status.
- The Renogy wanderer charge controller is compatible with sealed, gel, or flooded batteries.
- The controller is also equipped with comprehensive self-diagnostics and electronic protection functions to prevent it from damage during installation or system faults.
The noticeable downside to the wanderer charge controller is that it doesn’t have a meter to show voltage or current. Purchasing a meter or upgrading charge controllers is an option for those that would prefer knowing the exact numbers coming from their system.
Renogy has a 200-watt solar kit identical to the one being reviewed today, except it comes with a Rover MPPT charge controller with a monitoring screen. Check it out on Amazon here.
Lastly, the Wanderer controller has LEDs that show when it is charging and when it is in maintenance charge mode. It also tells you when the battery is fully charged.
The Renogy 200-watt monocrystalline starter kit is ideally suited for off-grid use. Batteries are sold separately and can be added to the system in accordance with your power needs to enjoy it fully.
The solar panels can be connected to any 12V battery system. You may also connect two 6V battery tanks to the solar system.
The package includes two Renogy 100 Watt 12-volt monocrystalline solar panels.
Renogy also gives a 25-year warranty on them.
Monocrystalline solar cells are a very popular option on the market. It is a highly efficient solar cell, hence the popularity.
Another beautiful thing about solar panels, in general, is that regardless of the weather situation, they still perform optimally.
With an ideal output of 1000W per day, it can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in just one and a half hours (this, of course, depends on the availability of sunlight).
The kit now includes an 8ft 10AWG tray cable that allows you to connect your charge controller to the battery.
Here are some other reasons why monocrystalline solar panels stand out among the others:
Monocrystalline solar cells are made from a very pure form of silicon. This enhances their efficiency in the conversion of sunlight into energy. Efficiency is rated at 18.4% and can also rise to 21%.
They are not large yet powerful. These panels are the most space-efficient form of silicon solar cells.
Their surfaces are optimized for high efficiency which makes them useful even on cloudy days.
Unlike polycrystalline solar panels, monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient solar panel cells.
However, it is important to note that they are high-priced, and their efficiency suffers a decline when the temperature is really high. This is especially important for people living in Arizona and other states in desert climates. However, they are still perfect for your home or shed when compared to other options.
Another downside is that if there’s a slight blockage of any portion of the solar panels, the efficiency of the solar panels could be affected greatly depending on the blockage. Make sure the panels get the most sun throughout the day and try to avoid any shaded areas.
However, the introduction of bypass diodes serves to minimize any power drop caused by shades and ensures excellent performance even in low-light environments.
The entire set-up is pretty much a DIY package. A guide is included, along with all the needed hardware. The pre-drilled holes on the back of the panels make for easy, fast, and secure mounting of the panels.
There are mounting Z brackets to help in holding the panels on the surface where they are to be mounted. Even though installation will take time, it will save you installation costs from a third party. Ideally, with little to average knowledge of electronics and connectivity, you can sort it out effectively.
There are several videos on YouTube on how to install solar, but this video shows how to install the exact Renogy kit I am reviewing now on an RV. Although it’s not installed on a shed, it will give you a good idea of the tasks involved to put it together.
On the other hand, you could hire professionals to do the installation if you’d like as well.
Kit Expansion – Customizing the Solar Panel Setup for Your Shed
In any solar system, there will be some (or a lot) of room for customization to taste. In essence, you could add batteries as you deem necessary or increase the amount of power you store by adding more solar panels to what you have originally packed in the Renogy starter kit.
For example, you could extend the solar panels up to 400 watts from the original 200 watts, i.e. by adding two extra 100-watt panels.
With this, you must be sure that your roof is capable of bearing the weight of the extra panels before mounting them. In total, four Renogy monocrystalline panels will weigh about 70 pounds. The Renogy 100W Monocrystalline expansion kit provides a perfect solution for future expansion.
The Renogy 200W solar starter kit is one of the most trusted solar panel systems since its introduction in 2013. While it is not a high-wattage solar system, you can be sure that it will serve you efficiently well within the limits of its capacity.
Whether you intend to mount it over a shed or on top of your RV, you’ll have all you need to complete the project besides the battery.
The unit features:
- Electroluminescence (EL) tested solar modules (to check for defects, cracks, etc.), though hot-spot heating isn’t guaranteed.
- A corrosion-resistant aluminum frame that’s designed for extended outdoor use. This allows the panels to last for decades.
- A TPT solar back sheet, which ensures smooth performance over a long period. A solar back sheet is the last layer at the bottom of a solar panel. It prevents degradation, ultraviolet radiation, and penetration of humidity or vapor.
- IP65 rated junction box which provides complete protection against environmental particles, scratches, and low-pressure water jets.
Unlike regular gasoline generators, solar installations are quite easy to take care of and require little maintenance.
Still, periodic cleaning of the surface of the solar panels will keep off dirt and dust, which might affect performance. This could be done once or twice a month.
Price and Reviews
The Renogy 200 watt 12-volt monocrystalline solar starter kit is currently available for $259.99 on Renogy’s website and $263.64 on Amazon. Generally, the product’s review is fair, and it has over a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.
Customer Service and Warranty
As always, the Renogy staff is ready to provide answers to your questions. There are many cases where they’ll walk you through the installation process and even help you calculate your power need.
They also have their own YouTube channel to help with installation and troubleshooting.
The Renogy 200 watt 12-volt monocrystalline solar starter kit is a simple, powerful system making it a worthwhile investment of your money. While it is not a big installation, it is great for off-grid power needs or a periodic substitute for high power bills.