Notes on using two 5W solar panels


The Chi-qoo has two DC input ports to support up to 2 solar panels. While the increased wattage can be beneficial in many cases, in some conditions, it can actually generate more power than the battery pack can handle, which may lead to overheating. When the battery pack overheats, it stops charging, so you may end up getting less power than if you used only one panel!

Using two 5W panels is best suited for:

  • Cloudy conditions. Solar panels generate a fraction of the rated power when it's cloudy, so double the solar panels means double the amount of power you get.
  • Avoiding shadows. Place two panels a few feet apart. That way, when one panel is obscured by a shadow (cast by a tree, for example) the other may still receive direct light and generate ample power.
  • Solar "tracking". The solar panels work best when they are pointed directly at the sun. But you probably don't want to babysit the panel the whole time and move it to constantly point at the sun. If you have two panels, one pointed south-east and the other south-west, one will capture the morning rays, both will get some mid-day sun, and the other will catch the afternoon sun. This way you get a nice strong charge throughout the day.

Avoid using both panels when:
  • The battery pack is completely depleted. When the battery pack is completely empty, it first goes into what's called a "pre-conditioning" mode, where the battery charges very slowly. If the solar panels are pumping in a lot of power, all that excess energy has to be dissipated... as heat. This can cause the battery pack to overheat. 
  • When it's super sunny. On a nice sunny day, one 5W panel will generate plenty of power. Plugging in both panels may generate more power than the battery pack can handle.
  • When the battery pack is overheating. If you notice that all 3 lights are on, it means the battery pack is overheating. Disconnect everything and let it cool for at least 10 minutes, then resume charging with one solar panel.

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