What's up with altE

bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
I emailed altE Support requesting information on Genasun Controllers. They never bothered to get back to me. So I go to the Genasun site and they don't seem to have a email support address. Are these folks in business? Do they care about customers?

Outback isn't much better.

Who in this business cares?
Bry

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,758 admin
    Even the companies with "good support", generally work better if you call them first. Many seem to "lose" emails as not being very important if the customer does not call first.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,195 ✭✭✭✭
    There are many companies that care. Often Email takes a bit longer than direct questions while talking. Many questions in solar/alternative energy require more information to give a good/correct answer. It can be very time consuming via Email. I use to sell gun parts for a company on eBay, where not replying is not an option since purchasers can ding your feedback. 

    If you can, try to give all pertinent facts. Size of system, if you are adding to it or replacing a part of it. If replacing what needs was the previous not fulfilling. Future aspirations. It's one of the reason's we like to have people describe their systems at the foot of their reply. It helps fill in the gaps.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,195 ✭✭✭✭
    FWIW - Gensun looks like a new player in small MPPT type charge controllers.

    Likely you could get some answers to your questions here!
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    You may want to try techsupport@blueskyenergyinc.com

    It looks like Genasun merged with / was bought by them.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    Thanks everyone. Sorry for the delay but I'm down here on my boat dodging hurricanes. Outback bummed me out with their crummy controller that didn't last a year. They tell me just to return it. Yah, right!

    I got a 50-watt panel and two Trojan 85 amp AGM batteries. I just want a simple MPPT controller that works. If it bums out, I can't return it.

    Again, thanks,
    Bry
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,195 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 23 #7
    bcripps said:
    I got a 50-watt panel and two Trojan 85 amp AGM batteries. I just want a simple MPPT controller that works. If it bums out, I can't return it.

    Is it on a boat? Salt air can play havoc on electronics. MPPT type controller don't add much to correctly sized solar panels, in fact a single 12 volt nominal panel, won't normally 'play nice' with a 12 volt battery. You want a minimum of 30% greater voltage coming into the controller than going out. I'd suggest a sealed PWM charge controller from Specialty Concepts.

    http://www.specialtyconcepts.com/special_home.html 

    or a Midnite Brat;

    https://www.solar-electric.com/midnite-solar-brat-pwm-solar-charge-controller.html
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    +1 on the sealed pwm. Assuming the 2x85ah batteries are 12v in parallel (170ah), 2-3 amps from a 50w 12v panel isn't bringing much to the party to begin with.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    More great information. The controller I have on order is a $20 ALLPOWERS pwm 20A Controller from Amazon, just to see me through until I research this a bit better. Yes batteries wired in parallel. The 50 watt panel has been meeting my needs. You know my situation, What would you recommend from Specialty Concepts? Over the Midnite Brat? If I ever get back to the States, I would upgrade to a 125 watt panel. But down here your work with what you got!

    Again, thanks everyone....
    Bry
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,195 ✭✭✭✭
    I just actually read their web site. Looks like they are just producing the one unit now in it's various configurations. I'd go ahead and get one large enough for a 125 watt panel, likely a 12 amp version and I would get it with the temperature sensor.

    I admit to being a fan of Midnite and have no issue with the Brat. I suspect it might actually be a bit cheaper, I think both have a 10 year warranty. It does allow some adjustment through DIP switches, though anything with contacts will be a concern in salt air. Perhaps boB will chime in here. 

    Specialty concepts has been around for a long time. I have somewhere a Mark IV 30 amp from about 1982(?) I was using it in 2005 and I could likely clean the contacts and use it today. I had another version that I used on my sail boat similar to todays sealed version. I used it for a couple year before it went to my sail boat and then it got used as a battery maintainer on my dad's pontoon boat on the gulf coast. 
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    Thanks once again. A bit surprised that you are recommending the PWM controllers over the MPPT. I thought the latter more efficient, especially on a boat at anchor and swinging back and forth all day, not to mention turning with the tide. I'll look more closely at Midnite. Price is hardly a consideration as long as it is below $170, that's when the import duties kick in around here. I need a quality unit that I can rely on for a good few years.
    Much thanks,
    Bry 
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    PWM can be quite efficient, and may be more so in your application. MPPT like a fair bit of "headroom" in pv voltage over charging voltage. In this case, you'll have 18v or so pv to 14.5ish charging, which is a bit narrower than some of the minimums I've seen recommended.

    Neither type will help if swinging at anchor etc puts the panel in a shadow from rigging etc.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • mcgivormcgivor Registered Users Posts: 1,190 ✭✭✭✭
    In addition, with PWM the panels would be in parallel, if one was shaded, or partially shaded, the other panel, or panels would still provide input. With MPPT in the same situation, some/all production would be lost in that particular string as the panels would be in series, at least they should be to provide the needed head room required.
      1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider 150 60 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 8×T105 GC 24V nominal 

  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,041 ✭✭✭
    I bought some solar panels from AltE a couple months ago and received them in 3 days. I have no complaint about AltE
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,195 ✭✭✭✭
    bcripps said:
    I'll look more closely at Midnite. 
    I wasn't thinking about it, but if you can get another panel that is also a 12 volt nominal panel, you could use them together with the PWM charge controller. Something to think about.

    I have and use Midnite Classic charge controllers in my home system, I ran a pretty good sized array on PWM charge controller in my cabin system. It was a good and reliable system and as far as I know still up and running. I sold it to some friends who I rarely see any more. IN fact that's been about 5 years ago, I'll drop them a note, bet their batteries are losing capacity about now.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • fratermusfratermus Registered Users Posts: 11 ✭✭
    Photowhit said:
    FWIW - Gensun looks like a new player in small MPPT type charge controllers.
    Genasun has been around for years. I'd say they are almost a "boutique" player in tiny, obsessively efficient MPPT controllers.

    I have one of their controllers that almost timed out the 10yr warranty;  they answered email quickly and took care of the problem.



    2017 Promaster 159" DIY camper
    570W mono / 220AH GC
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭

    Thanks for all this. I only have the one 50-watt panel and would love to upgrade to 125 or add another 50-watt panel. But unfortunately I can't buy either one here. I might get lucky and find another boater willing to sell a panel he doesn't need but that's a real long shot.

    And to Solarvic: I asked for information from AltE over a week ago and still waiting. How long would I have to wait if I had a problem with one of their products? Sorry, unacceptable.

    Thanks again, probably order the Midnite Brat this week.

    Bry

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,195 ✭✭✭✭
    Out of curiosity where are you? I think SunElec.com has some warehouses in the Caribbean.  Puerto Rico and Barbados (if they are still up right) They can be hard to deal with at time, pretty much a wholesaler. Main office is in Miami.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    I'm in Luperon, a small village on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Luckily I can get stuff shipped to Puerto Plata but if it's over $170 the import duties kick in and double the price.
    Bry
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭

    Okay. My ALLPOWERS, twenty-buck solar charger arrived yesterday. I wired it up this morning, but being a boat, I have a couple of questions.


    There are three sets of connections on the controller: Two for the leads from the solar panel. Two for the battery. And two for the “consumer.”


    For a land-based installation, the solar leads make sense, the battery leads would go to the bank of batteries being charged, and the “consumer” leads, I'm guessing, would go the distribution panel/fuse box/breaker panel.


    On a boat there is an additional component: the Selector Switch. A typical small boat has a couple of batteries. The switch allows choosing Battery 1, Battery 2, Both Batteries, or turning everything OFF. The neg battery posts are connected together. And the positive battery leads go to separate posts on the switch. There is also a common post on the switch which is connected to the engine starter. The breaker panel is also connected to the common post.


    So this is how I was told to wire up the controller (which I think is incorrect).


    Solar Panel leads to controller. No problem.


    Positive lead from Controller (Battery) Terminal to Common Post on the Selector Switch. The negative Controller (Battery) Terminal grounded.


    The two “Consumer” Terminals on the controller left empty.


    This seems to work, charging both batteries, except for one thing: When I turn the Selector Switch to Off, the solar panel is wired directly to the breaker panel feeding 20V to the panel, in direct sunlight. Can't turn it off!


    Love some comments here... if you can understand my description. :)


    Thanks,

    Bry

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    Personally, I would put a fuse, or preferably a breaker, on the pv positive to controller. It isn't strictly needed, but I really don't like the idea of circuits I can't turn off. I would *definitely* put a fuse or breaker between the controller and battery. When that 20 buck controller fails, it's quite likely to fail in a way that creates a dead short in the battery(s), which could really ruin your day.

    For wiring, I'd be inclined to put the controller output + on the house bank post. The starting battery should charge off the engine alternator, and if you want to charge it from solar for some reason, setting the switch to both should essentially parallel the two. Presumably, the solar is mainly for charging the house bank though.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    Thanks, Estiragon: Yes, I forgot to mention I have a 15 amp fuse between the controller and the battery. No starter battery. Just the two 85 amp AGM batteries installed.
    Bry
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm curious, what is the rationale behind having two separate batteries on a 1-2-both-none switch?

    On my boat, the idea is to run house loads off a house bank only, so there's no risk the starting battery gets run down running the fridge.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭

    No rational that I know of. Just the reassurance that using one battery at a time with the other fully charged means you won't get stuck. But I admit, like most folks, my selector switch is pretty much always on “BOTH” unless I'm traveling.

    Bry

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    That works, but a couple of things to be aware of:

    1. Charging and discharging separately will eventually get the batteries to where they have distinct charge/discharge profiles. This can happen anyway, but it's likely to happen faster used separately.

    2. With low draw loads, using a single battery doesn't make much difference, but higher current loads (eg. inverter) can sag voltage, which increases current for a given wattage, which increases wire losses, which sags voltage more, and so on.

    To the original question, in light of the way you use the batteries, I'm not entirely sure of the best solution. Normally, a pv panel (or array) would feed a charge controller, which would be connected to a single battery (or bank). There could be multiple controllers charging a single bank, but a single controller charging multiple banks could be problematic. The controller may undercharge the weaker one, which would make it weaker still, and ultimately kill it.

    The controller would normally connect directly to the battery (via breaker/fuse), not though the switch. Generally, controllers should be powered initially by battery, and by pv only after booted. You wouldn't want to change the wiring such that the controller could see pv, but be disconnected from battery via the switch.

    If it was my boat, I think I'd wire the two batteries in parallel as a single bank, connect the controller directly to the bank, and be able to turn the bank/panel connection off with the switch. I'd address the two dead battery issue with one of those lithium booster things, and by keeping a careful watch on battery state of charge (turn off the fridge if instruments are going to go dark).
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    Thanks again, Estragon. I'm going to have to think carefully about this. I think I'm one up here, though.... no fridge!
    Bry
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    Thanks once again, Estragon.
    I understand what you're saying but the best solution might be adding a third battery (start battery), and as you suggest, charge it off the alternator.
    When I was in the boat yard, I carried around a little maintenance-free 35 amp battery for testing circuits. It started my little diesel no problem.. I bet that would work just fine.
    All best,
    Bry 
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 1,416 ✭✭✭✭
    The 3rd battery for starting sounds like a good solution.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • bcrippsbcripps Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 12 ✭✭
    Thanks again...
    Bry
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