REVIEW : Glowtech60 Solar Kit (updated)

Glowtech solar system updateI have updated the system since I did the original review. To understand the modifications I have made to the solar system you might want to read REVIEW – Glowtech60 Solar Kit

< click here to read the review article >

I bought the Glowtech60 system originally because it was a pre-assembled, dual-panel solar system with a built in charge controller…and it was priced right. As I really got into the system later I did find some things in the system that I wanted to improve on. This article covers the modifications I made and why.

Yes, I like the original Glowtech60 kit. But I like it even more now because it meets my more demanding needs. But, let me be clear…this is a great little unit before any of my modifications. It more than did the job that was asked of it, and did so very cost effectively. Be sure to read the two “performance” notes at the end of this article.

Also, there was no need to make the modifications that I did. I just wanted to give myself more flexibility using the system together with my power boxes, etc. But, here are the mods I made…

Modification #1 –

The system wiring was lightweight, too lightweight. I did the load calculations and it would probably work just fine, but I didn’t want to take any chances. This system will have to work reliably in the extreme conditions of the desert southwest. So I up-graded the wiring to 12ga outdoor wire from the original16ga indoor wire.

Glowtech60 solar system with upgraded wiringModification #2 –

I also converted everything over to MC-4 connectors. That is the solar industry standard for wiring connections.

Glowtech-103Modification #3 –

As I studied the system and compared it to how I would be using it I decided to build in a little flexibility. The Glowtech60 system is designed to work as a stand-alone system, it has its own charge controller built into the system. But, I may want to hook it up to provide power to my big power box. And that power box has a Morningstar charge controller built in to it. So I wanted the Glowtech system to be able to operate in “stand-alone mode” but it needed to be able to by-pass its built-in charge controller to connect to the Morningstar controller.

I had MC-4 connectors on the wiring already, so I just added MC-4 “Y” Branch Connectors to the system. I will keep them in a Ziplock bag tucked into the system’s carry bag for use when I need to by-pass the built-in charge controller.

Glowtech60 solar system with Y branch connectorsNow my system has better components, more flexibility, meets industry standard, and can truly meet my solar power needs.

Connection Example #1 –

This set-up uses the Glowtech’s PWM charge controller to directly charge a battery. You can then in-turn run a device off that battery.

Glowtech60 solar system connected with MC-4

Here is a picture showing the Glowtech60 system wired to use its on-board PWM charge controller. It is charging my “mini-me” power box battery.

Glowtech60 charging a power box batteryConnection Example #2 –

This set-up by-passes the Glowtech’s PWM charge controller. All of the voltage coming off the solar panels goes directly to a charge controller built into another device. Example: Large power box that has its own Morningstar charge controller.

Glowtech60 by-passing the on-board PWM charge controller

Addition #1 –

I also added an 25′ 10ga extension cord to the system to move the power from the panel to a remotely located power box .

Glowtech60 system with 25' 10ga extension cordAnd to increase the operational flexibility of the extension cord I also made an MC-4 to Anderson Powerpole adapter for connecting directly into a power box or a portable radio box.

MC-4 to Anderson Powerpole adapter

PowerWerx.com supplier of Anderson PowerpolesThe wire for the heavy cable was purchased from Powerwerx.com. It is really some very high quality wire and easy to work with. Click their logo to the right to go to their wire page for more info.

Optionally –

Yes, if you are thinking outside the box right now you can see where, if you by-passed the Glowtech60’s built-in charge controller, you could run each panel to its own power box. That would require each power box to have its own charge controller but would effectively give you two separate 30w panels charging two separate power boxes. Yeah, I know, I have way too much time on my hands and think about this stuff way too much. But it is a thought.

Performance Info Update #1 –

In the original review article I expressed concerns about the amount of voltage coming off the solar panels before it reached the charge controller. Turns out that it is no issue whatsoever. First off, the charge controller is designed to take up to 30vDC. Second, the charge controller output is regulated to be safe for a 12vDC battery. As soon as the battery is connected, the brains in the charge controller come alive and regulate everything properly. The system works just fine.

Performance Info Update #2 –

I placed the Glowtech60 system outside for a month. It was connected to an auxiliary power box. It was used to charge and maintain a 100Ah AGM rechargeable battery. During that time outside temps ran over 100º, dipping into the mid-sixties, on multiple nights. In addition to the temp variation, the panels were also exposed to rain during that time; 1.5″ over 3 days to be exact. The Glowtech60 system didn’t suffer any damage or performance reduction due to the month long exposure.

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4 thoughts on “REVIEW : Glowtech60 Solar Kit (updated)

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  3. Pingback: REVIEW : Glowtech60 Solar Kit | A.H. Trimble - Emergency preparedness information for disasters and grid-down

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