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Old 01-31-2013, 02:19 PM   #1
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Need A Solar Charge Controller

I have a couple of Siemens high-end solar panels that I would like to use to maintain/charge my two 6-volt batteries. Problem is, I don't have a decent charge controller. Anyone have suggestions where I can purchase a good one? I've tried WeGo Solar in Chemainus, BC but they never answer their phone or respond to emails.

Doug
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:19 PM   #2
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One of the highest rated controllers:
Morningstar Corporation TriStar
This information will help:
AA Solar - MPPT VS PWM
Rather long but very good series:
WanderMan: A Better Solar Charging Mouse Trap.PART 1
Jubal
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:53 PM   #3
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MPPT controllers are more efficient than PWM controllers but not all MPPTs are equal. When I was setting up my solar system. I was wondering why Morningstar charged much more that cheap Chinese controllers; this video was enlighten for me. Following the old addage 'you get what you pay for', I bought the Morningstar Sunsaver.

Ben
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:46 PM   #4
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I use a Morning Star Sunsaver with two 70W panels hooked in series to produce 24V. It keeps a 212 amp hour bank charged easily. It is a very compact unit.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:13 PM   #5
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Jubal, Ben and Strawberry, yes, Morningstar seems to be the best. Doug, that's probably what we are getting. I understand though that controllers are the most frequently replaced item in a set-up. I will suppose that that is due to insufficient amps when adding panels. Strawberry, how many amps are you using for your two 70s?
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:04 AM   #6
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Amps X Volts = Watts
Watts divided by Volts = Amps
If you are using a 98 Watt solar panel whose output is 18 Volts
98W divided by 18V = 5.44A
Controllers regulate the charging rate (voltage and amps) of the battery. Low amperage output from the solar panels to the controller (as in shaded conditions) does not necessarily cause controller failure. Size the controller so it can handle the maximum number of amps that you would expect your system to provide..
Overview of a Solar Power System
Here a lengthy and comprehensive blog
http://www.solar-facts.com/overview/
Probably more than you need to know?
http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:33 PM   #7
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I know I didn't put the question well. I was asking out of curiosity as to whether he had a 15-amp controller, for instance. The fact that people get a controller that only handles the number of amps for the present panels is apparently the main reason that they then have to buy another controller --- they want to add another panel but the controller cannot handle it. So it might be a good idea to have a controller that handles more amps than you have at first even though that costs more.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:47 PM   #8
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While I'll agree that it doesn't make sense to go with the smallest controller possible, there is a limit to how much real estate we have on our small trailers. Even with improving solar panel technology, I doubt it will ever be possible to put more than 200-300 watts of panels on the roof of a fiberglass trailer (well, maybe a Bigfoot 25').

Unless you are planning to wire a couple of 12V panels in series or have a high voltage panel, I'd even question the additional expense of a good MPPT controller over a PWM controller. They make sense for multi panel installations on the roof of a larger RV, but don't offer much additional current when used with a single 12V panel.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:15 PM   #9
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That's the question I was wondering about. If you go portable and might have two or three panels, then is the MPPT worth it. No question it is if you are doing a house with scads of panels. I can't tell for a trailer set-up, especially if starting with one panel but expecting to have two or three later. It looks a little difficult to justify the MPPT cost but that is what they tell you to use sometimes. Maybe that is because they want you to think that the panel is better, not the controller. Then again, they may just be recommending what is most efficient without regard to cost.


[QUOTE=Vermilye;22283

Unless you are planning to wire a couple of 12V panels in series or have a high voltage panel, I'd even question the additional expense of a good MPPT controller over a PWM controller. They make sense for multi panel installations on the roof of a larger RV, but don't offer much additional current when used with a single 12V panel.[/QUOTE]
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:17 AM   #10
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I guess I am not sure of the advantage of a portable unit. Having it mounted to the roof and wired in means its one less thing to have to pack or deal with . The weight is minimal. With it mounted to the trailer it's always there when needed. No need to find a spot to store it.
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