The Best Solar Panel Kit for Your Shed (Analysis & Comparison)

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I was browsing solar panel kits online to see which one I could easily install on a typical shed without needing to buy a bunch of extra parts.

I came across the Renogy 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit and realized it met my needs while costing less than similar systems.

The Renogy 200W Solar Starter Kit is the best solar panel kit for a shed because it supports multiple battery types and includes the proper cables and brackets for installation. Its charge controller also supports the optional BT-1 module that will display data via Bluetooth to your smartphone.

ProsCons
Tried and tested (4.7/5 stars on Amazon with 4,000+ ratings)Doesn’t come with an inverter or battery
Water-resistant junction box & MC4 cablesPWM charge controller
Z-bracket mounting system includedNot ideal for significant power needs
Can use with 12V or 24V gel, AGM, flooded, and lithium batteriesThe charge controller doesn’t have an LCD screen

The Renogy Starter Kit is best for people who want nearly an all-in-one solar panel system. With a properly sized battery and inverter (if needed), this kit provides a reliable power supply to your shed.

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

Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
Renogy 200W Solar Starter Kit

This kit is designed in a way that makes it easy to install and run your solar energy system. Without a battery connected, the kit weighs 36.6 pounds.

The Renogy solar kit includes every necessary tool you need for the proper solar panel set up:

  • Two Renogy 100W 12V monocrystalline solar panels
  • One 30A PWM Wanderer charge controller
  • One 20ft 10AWG MC4 adaptor kit (to connect the solar panel to the charge controller)
  • One 8ft 10AWG tray cable (to connect the charge controller to the battery)
  • One pair of MC4 branch connectors
  • Two sets of Z-brackets

With a simple 100Ah battery and inverter (not included), the starter kit can provide power to small appliances and devices like fans, bulbs, LED lights, and recharging your phones – as well as bigger power demands such as TVs, laptops, and refrigerators.

The two 100-watt panels have monocrystalline cells, which are more efficient than the similar polycrystalline cell type.

The Renogy panels can be used in different kinds of off-grid applications that include 12 and 24-volt setups.

This means that you can use 12V or 24V batteries depending on your power requirements.

Similar: Monocrystalline Vs. Polycrystalline Solar Panels – What’s the Difference?

Unique Features of the Renogy 200 Watt Starter Kit

  • A corrosion-resistant aluminum frame – Designed for extended outdoor use. This allows the panels to last for decades.
  • TPT solar back sheet – 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 – Provides complete protection against environmental particles, scratches, and low-pressure water jets.
  • IP67 rated MC4 cables – This rating is even higher in water resistance than the junction box.
  • 25-year power output warranty and 5-year material and workmanship warranty

Solar Panel Specs – Renogy 100W Monocrystalline

The package includes two 100W monocrystalline solar panels. Below are the specifications for each solar panel:

Dimensions47.3 x 21.3 x 1.4 in
Weight16.5 lbs
Cell TypeMonocrystalline
Frame MaterialAnodized aluminum alloy
Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp)18.9V
Optimum Operating Current (Imp)5.29A
Open Circuit Voltage (Voc)22.5V
Short Circuit Voltage (Isc)5.75A
Connector TypeMC4
Specifications for the Renogy 100W monocrystalline solar panel (model RNG-100D).

Monocrystalline solar cells are a very popular option on the market due to their efficiency.

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.
  • 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.

Can You Use an Inverter With a Solar Panel?

You can use an inverter with a solar panel but this requires a charge controller, fuse box, and battery to function properly. In the following order, connect the inverter, charge controller, and battery to the fuse box. Then, connect your solar panels to the charge controller to complete the setup.

Later in the article, I’ll show you a video on how to connect each component together in the proper order with the proper wiring.

Renogy Wanderer 30A Charge Controller – Specs & Details

Renogy Wanderer charge controller
Renogy Wanderer solar charge controller

The Wanderer charge controller is versatile as it can connect to several battery types. Below you’ll find its basic specifications.

Battery Type/CompatibilitySealed, gel, flooded, and lithium
Nominal System Voltage12V DC
Battery Compatibility12V, 24V
Max PV Input Power400W
Dimensions6.5 x 4.3 x 1.8 in
Charge Controller TypePWM

The Wanderer charge controller is incorporated into the Renogy Starter Kit to prevent overcharging the battery.

The charge controller also prevents the return of current from the battery to the panels – a phenomenon known as battery drain or leakage of current.

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 Wanderer Charge Controller?

  • The Wanderer offers you the chance to expand your system up to a maximum of 400W of solar
  • It compensates for temperature changes in the battery, automatically corrects charging and discharging parameters, and improves the battery’s longevity
  • It has LED indicators that keep you updated on the charge controller’s status
  • The Renogy wanderer charge controller is compatible with sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries
  • The controller is also equipped with comprehensive self-diagnostics and electronic protection functions to prevent it from damage during installation or system faults
  • You can get an optional BT-1 Bluetooth Module (Amazon) to manage and monitor power consumption and output

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 nearly 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.

The Rover is a higher-quality charge controller than the Wanderer, but the price of the Rover solar kit is over $100 higher than the Wanderer version.

In my opinion, the price point doesn’t justify the included products because the items in both kits are identical except for the controller.

Installing the Renogy 200W Solar Starter Kit

Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer

The entire setup 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.

There are Z brackets to help hold 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 the following video shows how to install a Renogy kit that is almost identical to the one 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.

Similar: Solar Panel Installation – Step-By-Step for Home and RV

What Do You Need for Solar Power in Your Shed?

Renogy Solar Starter Kit Connection Diagram
Renogy Solar Starter Kit connection diagram

The main components you’ll need for solar power in your shed include solar panels, a charge controller, a fuse box (for DC appliances), an inverter (for AC appliances), and a battery. Once these are connected in the right order with properly gauged wiring, the system is complete.

The following video shows exactly how to connect each of the previously mentioned parts together. I forwarded the video to where the wiring begins:

The charge controller used in the video is different from the one that comes with the 200W Renogy kit, but it shares the same basic connections.

The Renogy kit does not come with a fuse box, battery, or inverter. These items are essential for off-grid power.

One of the benefits of the kit not including these components is the power to choose which inverter, battery, and fuse box that best suits the power needs of your shed.

Another way to gather all of these components is through a solar generator or portable power station.

A solar generator has a charge controller, inverter, and battery already within it.

It has DC and AC ports and only requires solar panels to function properly.

I have an article that compares a DIY solar power system to solar generators to give you an idea of which may be better for you.

Find the article here: Solar Generator vs Battery – Which Is Ideal?.

Kit Expansion– Customizing the Solar Panel Setup for Your Shed

Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer
Renogy 400W Solar Starter Kit With Wanderer

In any DIY solar-powered system, there will be some (or a lot) of room for customization.

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 by adding two extra 100-watt panels.

Renogy sells a kit like this and it is essentially the same as the 200W starter kit but with two additional solar panels. You can find it here on Amazon (affiliate link).

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.

There are also complete solar panel systems available with all necessary components including:

  • Solar panels
  • Fuse box
  • Inverter
  • Battery or batteries
  • Proper wires/cables
  • Mounting brackets

Shop Solar Kits has several of these off-grid systems available on their website. You can browse the complete kits here (affiliate link).

These kits are for high-power needs and can be used for sheds as well as for a partial home backup system.

An example of one of their kits (pictured below) is the Complete All-In-One Off-Grid Solar Kit – MPP LV2424 (affiliate link).

Complete All-In-One Off-Grid Solar Kit - MPP LV2424
Complete All-In-One Off-Grid Solar Kit – MPP LV2424

Overall, whether you’re looking for a small, medium-powered, or large solar panel kit, you will be able to find it.

Renogy alone has dozens of kits to choose from. You can browse all of their kits on Amazon here.

Similar: Titan Solar Generator Review – The Best Large Solar Generator?

How Many Watts of Solar Do You Need for a Shed?

A shed typically needs anywhere from 200-1,000 watts of solar panels to effectively charge a battery or batteries for consistent use. The amount of solar panels needed for a shed is dependent on average sunlight conditions as well as daily power consumption needs.

200W Solar Panel Kit Comparison

Solar Panel KitRenogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter KitRICH SOLAR 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar KitHQST 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel KitSUNGOLDPOWER 200 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit
ImageRenogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer smallRICH SOLAR 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Kit Small HQST 200W 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel Kit w/ 30A PWM LCD Solar Charge ControllerSUNGOLDPOWER 200 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panel Module Kit
Price (via Amazon)$297$250$250$250
Amazon Rating4.7/5 (4,000+ ratings)4.4/5 (200+ ratings)4.4/5 (50+ ratings)4.3/5 (40+ ratings)
Charge Controller Features- PWM
- 30A
- Compatible w/ 12V or 24V batteries
- Compatible w/ bluetooth module
- PWM
- 30A
- LCD screen
- Compatible w/ 12V or 24V batteries
- PWM
- 30A
- LCD screen
- Compatible w/ 12V or 24V batteries
- PWM
- 20A
- Compatible w/ 12V or 24V batteries
Comes With- 2x 100W solar panels
- 1x Charge controller
- 1x 20ft 10AWG solar panel and controller connector cables
- 1x 8ft 10AWG tray cable
- 2x Sets of Z-brackets
- 1x Pair of branch connectors
- 2x 100W solar panels
- 1x Charge controller with LCD display
- 2x 20ft 10AWG solar panel and controller connector cables
- 2x 10ft 10AWG controller and battery connector cables
- 2x Sets of Z-brackets
- 1x Pair of branch connectors
- 2x 100W solar panels
- 1x Charge controller with LCD display
- 1x 20ft 10AWG solar panel and controller connector cables
- 1x 8ft 10AWG controller and battery connector cables
- 2x Sets of Z-brackets
- 1x Pair of branch connectors
- 2x 100W solar panels
- 1x Charge controller
- 1x Pair of solar panel connector extension cables
- 2x Sets of Z-brackets
- 1x Pair of branch connectors

Clearly, these four kits are nearly identical. They come with nearly all the same things. The biggest difference between these kits is their charge controllers.

Comparing Charge Controllers

The SUNGOLDPOWER charge controller is rated for 20 amps and the remaining brands all have 30A controllers. Since the 30A controllers are capable of handling more current, the SUNGOLDPOWER kit doesn’t make the cut.

The remaining charge controllers are very similar. I wanted to find more information on each one, so I looked them up.

Renogy and HQST had individual product listings for their controllers but RICH SOLAR did not. Their Amazon store and website did not show the same one that is pictured in the kit.

This, along with several negative Amazon reviews specifically regarding the kit’s charge controller made it obvious that this system could not compete with HQST and Renogy.

RICH SOLAR 200W solar panel kit charge controller Amazon reviews
RICH SOLAR 200W solar panel kit charge controller Amazon reviews

Now, with HQST and Renogy remaining, the biggest visual difference between the two is the HQST controller’s LCD screen. The Renogy Wanderer doesn’t have a screen, so I compared the two systems from Amazon.

The Renogy Wanderer has a rating of 4.4/5 based on over 2,000 ratings. The HQST 30A PWM controller has a 4.3/5 rating from over 500 total ratings.

From the customer comments on Amazon, they both have issues with lithium-ion battery charging.

The HQST controller has an advantage as it can display data through its LCD screen.

With the HQST having a better charge controller than the Renogy package as well as a lower price, there are two things that make me believe that the Renogy kit is the overall better choice.

First off, the Renogy Starter Kit has thousands of Amazon ratings averaging a 4.7/5, whereas the similar HQST kit has far fewer ratings with a 4.4/5 average.

Secondly, the Renogy controller has the ability to connect to an optional BT-1 Bluetooth Module (link to Amazon).

This allows you to use an app on your phone (seen below) that shows you all the data from the charge controller, including the battery, solar panels, voltage, amperage, and much more.

Renogy Bluetooth Communication Port Charge Controllers BT-1
Renogy BT-1 Charge Controller Bluetooth Communication Port

Although this comes at an additional cost, the BT-1 module gives you all of the data you need on your phone.

The HQST charge controller does not have this option, which limits its capabilities.

Verdict – HQST vs. Renogy 200W Solar Panel Kit

Overall, with a higher number of ratings, a higher average Amazon rating, and the option to have all data available via your smartphone from the BT-1 module, the Renogy 200W Starter Kit is the option I would choose for my shed.

The ratings tell me that the Renogy kit can be trusted to work as it says, and the lack of reviews and ratings from the HQST kit doesn’t give me the confidence to fully trust the product at this point in time.

Although the Renogy kit with the BT-1 module will cost about $90 more than the HQST kit, the added value from the BT-1 gives me confidence that I can reliably use and maintain my kit for several years.

Additionally, if I wanted to upgrade my system to a Renogy MPPT charge controller that will take in more solar and charge batteries more efficiently, the BT-1 module will still be able to work with it, as it is compatible with several Renogy controllers.

Renogy BT-1 module compatibility
Renogy BT-1 module compatibility

Is It Worth Putting Solar Panels on Your Shed?

It is worth putting solar panels on a shed because they provide free off-grid energy, are low-maintenance, and last for decades. In addition to solar panels, a complete system includes a battery, charge controller, fuse box, and inverter.

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 a month.

Bottom Line

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.

If you want more power, you can install up to 400W of solar panels to your system.

Renogy also has several charge controllers sold separately as well as inside other kits if you’d like to expand your system.

Max Peters

Hi! I'm Max and I am passionate about off-grid solar technology and adventure! I'm using my knowledge of solar generators, solar panels, and everything in between to provide you with the best tools to keep you powered while off the grid. Read more about me here: About Max Peters."

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