opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

Has anyone tried out any of the cheap MPPT charge controllers from China that are being sold on ebay? These are going for under $100 for a 10 amp controller!

Comments

  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    Seems to me that İ heard some where that 'you get what you pay for'.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    Buy one, wire it up side by side with the notorious BZ (I'll even send you one!) and tell us which is better. After that wire it up next to a Morninstar or Rogue and compare.

    That said, for only ten amps any MPPT advantage is going to very slight in any case.

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,999 admin
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    In the past, the cheap MPPT controllers (private labeled and imports) were not even MPPT type controllers... They were, at best, just PWM controllers (wildly over-rated for power capacity).

    In general, a true MPPT controller will require some sort of (relatively large) inductor(s) to properly down convert (needed for energy storage in the down conversion process)... The "Import MPPT" controllers from a couple years ago did not have one inductor anywhere on the board.

    Anything is possible--If you are interested, you can purchase one and do your own measurements (volts/amps in vs volts/amps out) and see what the results are (and get a few months of operation).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    While it's true that you often get what you pay for, it's also possible to sometimes find a deal (like the LED bulb arrays that I bought from China that have performed flawlessly).

    My goal here is to save some money, so buying one just to try out isn't very appealing. To the guy who offered me the BZ for comparison: I'd be happy to wire it up and compare it's performance to my current ~$50 PWM controller.

    Steve
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,989 ✭✭✭
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    I know MorningStar bought a couple to look at, they were all PWM controllers, none were mppt controller and after correspondence with the sellers they finally admitted that's what they were ( boy were they surprised when they found out they were talking to engineers ), not sure though if they ever refunded the money

    Unless you KNOW the seller, is a horrible place to be electronics, there are some honest sellers ( Like Rogue ) but they are far out numbered by dishonest scammers that will list, print , say any thing to get your $$
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,999 admin
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    Actually it is "Rogue Power".... (not my first time with the Rouge/Rogue typo's--or the Gorilla / Guerrilla mistake either).

    -Bill :cry:
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    gee bill, now you have me wondering if i've misspelled it before.:confused: sorry if i did marc.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    Steve,

    I suspect that you like me are looking for a cheap miracle. When Phil sent me the BZ several years ago, I figured I was than he was. I figured that I was going to get a bargain. What I discovered was, the BZ was a real POS, and that it didn't really work at all, much less work as a MPPT controller. There were times when instead of giving an MPPT boost, it actually LOWERED output,, more than no controller at all.

    So,, I wouldn't give it away if there was any shipping cost involved!

    Tony

    (sorry to admit that publicly after all those years!)
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay?

    İn much of Asia companies change names routinely and have many other cut outs to prevent anyone from making any claims.

    Big name companies can be perfectly good. Small companies - maybe you get lucky sometimes.

    Spent about 20 years in various countries there designing and buying equipment - most of the time you get what you pay for.
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • Iceni JohnIceni John Solar Expert Posts: 103 ✭✭
    MarkC said:

    Yes, according to the eBay blurb, but only to children and incapable persons . . .
    And also keep it away from insects (evidently they can also damage it).
    So, what's worse for it, bugs or incapable persons?   Enquiring minds need to know.

    John


    40' Crown bus with 2kW of tiltable panels on the roof:

    Eight Sharp 255W, two Morningstar TS-MPPT-60, Magnum MS2000, Champion C46540 generator converted to propane, eight golfcart batteries, and maybe a small Exeltech inverter for the fridger.

    Southern California

  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
    Makes you wonder where they test these things - must be at an infested day care - or maybe at the Federal Department of Solar Charge Controllers.
    Seriously - anyone actually used a $10, 20 amp, 600 watt, MPPT charge controller for more than a few minutes?
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,999 admin
    You ask what can go wrong... Many of these controllers fail after weeks to months of operation... And that can leave you with a dead battery or over charged battery.

    However, there are a few folks that have had pretty good luck with inexpensive MPPT controllers ($100 type). A $10 MPPT controller--sounds a bit on the cheap side. There have been quite a few "MPPT" stamped controllers that turned out to be PWM type controllers (which are a lot cheaper to build). And even the cheap PWM controllers have been known to cook their components.

    But--I do not know anything about this controller... Could be a great deal, or not. Without testing/inspecting the unit, I cannot tell anything about it--They do not even have a shot of the interior (if you do not see at least one good sized inductor, then it is probably a PWM type controller).

    Here is a thread with some pictures of inexpensive PWM controllers (one even marked as MPPT). And an attached picture of the Rogue 30 amp MPPT controller with a good sized torrid inside.

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/comment/329885/#Comment_329885

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
    Thanks Bill - the later thread you referenced is very interesting.  Since I'm doing controlled "experiments", I might try one - not much to lose.  Appears you could almost tell from the actual weight - I'll bet the inductor would double the weight of an inexpensive/plastic housed PWM controller (I bought one for testing).  

    BTW, Merry Christmas
    Mark
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,673 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2015 #16
    I use that cheap Ebay controller to keep my forklift battery charged. Been working for about 3 months now. Starts off each day charging at almost 31 volts. I made a thread here wondering if this could damage my 1652 pound forklift battery.

     It is strange to hear a 10 amp charge "simmering" my huge forklift battery while a 40+ amp charge is silent on my main 48 volt array. My understanding is that a 10 amp charge is too small to damage the forklift battery....which makes sense.

    The forklift battery has recovered from a year long deep discharge from sitting around. The SG was 1.10 and the voltage was 22.2 volts. Now the SG is 1.27 and the resting voltage hovers around 26.5. The forklift battery is a back-up system. I economized on the controller and inverter.

    BTW....I am 99.9% sure this is not an MPPT controller.

     I did buy an affordable Morningstar controller for the day that this battery actually performs some real service.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,673 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2015 #17
    Update: Finally got my Cotek 24 volt "pure sine wave" 1500 watt inverter hooked up this morning. It is flashing about the input level. But it does put out 120 volts of power despite its apparent unhappiness.

    This Chinese controller charges at 30.7 volts according to my cheap Chinese meter. So.....a possible problem I would think unless your battery bank is quite large.

    A word to those looking at relatively inexpensive Cotek "pure sine wave" inverters. They are at least OK...the reviews on them have been alright. They have been cited for buzzing when equipped with a GFCI outlet. My modified sine wave inverter makes most GFCI outlets buzz. So I have doubts about the quality of the sine wave emitted. Still....for the price....seem to be a pretty good deal for many. No idea about longevity. They are made in Korea by the way.

    A problem that I had with my Cotek 1500 watt inverter: The lugs are housed inside of plastic enclosures that are far too small for 2/0 wire lugs. I had to cut off some of the plastic enclosure and I had to do a lot of grinding on the 2/0 lugs. This inverters lug housing will not even accept #2 lugs without significant grinding. Not sure what they were thinking. However...it is a 1500 watt inverter. Things are likely much different on their larger inverters. I like to use the largest wires that I can...

    I still have a lot to learn but like to share what I have learned.... Not sure the learning curve ever stops in the wild, wild world of off grid solar power. So many subjects rolled into one.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 245 ✭✭✭
    If you go to Amazon's  website you may see your controller, but they may not claim at Amazon that it is a MPPT. If Amazon does not claim that is a MPPT then most likely  it is not, even though Ebay let those sellers claim that it is.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,673 ✭✭✭✭
    In the past I had always checked the voltage in the morning and always got a charging voltage a little over 30. Made a thread asking if this was hurting my 1652 pound battery and was told....no....though only one reply was offered I think.

    I recently checked the voltage, this afternoon, expecting a drop to more of a "float" voltage around 28. Still charging at 30.6 volts at ~3pm.

    So I disconnected this ornery little charge controller. I think it was BB who recently said that constant over-voltage charging eventually kills the battery. Hoping that a couple months didn't do too much damage. Didn't think that a 10 amp charge could do much to a 1652 pound battery.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • Mountain DonMountain Don Solar Expert Posts: 494 ✭✭✭
    softdown said:


    I recently checked the voltage, this afternoon, expecting a drop to more of a "float" voltage around 28. Still charging at 30.6 volts at ~3pm.

    But what is the sp gr of the cells?    Of course if your batteries are sealed.... never mind.
    Northern NM, 624 watts PV, The Kid CC, GC-2 batteries @ 24 VDC, Outback VFX3524M
  • basewindowbasewindow Solar Expert Posts: 63 ✭✭

    I actually have used one of these cheap units.  If fact I think it is the exact one in the link to E-bay.  I think off the top of my head it's the 10amp.

    I use it to charge my Generator battery, well in reality just to keep it topped up if the genny doesn't get used in a month or two, because the 40w panel isn't going to do to much in the way of really charging the 50ah AGM.

    It's lasted probably close to 3 years and touch wood it's still working ok.  Is it MPPT? No idea, but I suspect not, but with 40w of panel it's not going to do much if it was anyway.

    So far it works for what I use it for and for the $10 or $15 I paid for it, delivered, I suppose I can't complain.

    From what I remember it doesn't have much in the way or user adjustments either and the instruction manual (actually 1 piece of paper about the size of a small note pad in quasi English) was pretty useless.

    Do I expect it to last? Nope, not really, but at the price I'll just buy another or two. 

    Would I rely on it for something critical? Probably not, I'd rather pay a bit for something else.

    To be honest I had my doubts that it would even work, but hey, so far so good.

    Off Grid shack - Victoria Australia. 480W array, 500Ah AGM at 12V. 30A PWM Manison CC. Trimetric 2030. 300W Pure Sine Inverter. 120lt Dometic Gas Fridge. Composting Toilet. 5000lt water tank with 12v 35psi pump. Bosch Hydropower 16 for nice hot water. 4kw Fuji Micro Generator (dead after 7 years) 5kva Subaru Generator.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,673 ✭✭✭✭
    SG is 1.027. I feel like an East German being asked for papers whenever I mention voltage instead of SG. Voltage is also very useful.

    As for the "Hey....it works" mentality. Well....mine was constantly charging at a voltage >30. It has been 30.6 volts lately. According to BB, who is arguably our sanest poster in my opinion, this damages the battery. In my case, a battery that costs well over $3000 to replace. I can only hope the damage was somewhat minimal.

    The good news? One could likely use this charge controller for periodic Equalization usage.


    Mountain Don said:
    softdown said:


    I recently checked the voltage, this afternoon, expecting a drop to more of a "float" voltage around 28. Still charging at 30.6 volts at ~3pm.

    But what is the sp gr of the cells?    Of course if your batteries are sealed.... never mind.

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,673 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2015 #23
    Installed a Morningstar ProStar charge controller this morning. Initial charging voltage was 27.8...using the lead acid setting. Put a ~4 amp @ 14 volt load on it...to charge a low vehicle battle. Charging voltage shot up to 29.0 volts. 29 volts is safe. Constant 30.6 volts is not.

    Interesting....this forklift battery still makes those same "simmering noises" with a 29 volt charge.

    Analysis...Unless you can get replacement batteries very cheap, I don't think sub-hundred dollar charge controllers are a sound investment.

    Have been searching for a good, affordable (~$200) MPPT charge controller that is rated for at least 30 amps. I think Rogue may be a good choice for 10 and 20 amp MPPT controllers. But they quit making 30 amp charge controllers.....weird. Currently considering Renogy. The elite charge controllers are closer to $400 and up. My 24 volt system is a back-up system. Don't want to spend "$500" on a back up charge controller that will likely last less than ten years.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • ResbumResbum Registered Users Posts: 8
    edited January 2016 #24
    Re: opinions on cheap chinese mppt controllers on ebay? 

    Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anyone state the obvious.

    Just about every one of those Chinese "MPPT" charge controllers aren't.  A true MPPT charge controller has large transformers and requires good sized heatsinks.  If an ebay charge controller is smaller than three decks of cards,... there's your answer.  

    If someone needs further proof they can go to youtube and watch about a dozen videos of people debunking them as such.

    Now, with that said, I bought one of these knowing that it wasn't a true MPPT, and I'm still using it almost two years later. 

    One of the guys on youtube showed that it wasn't a true MPPT, but in his testing he did find that it made a pretty d*** good PWM charge controller on 12v systems.  However, he found a much larger difference in performance when tested in a 24v system.

     I don't stress my 12 volt system very much, so I figured it was worth $30 to give it a try.   Granted, I watched the it like a Hawk for the first month.  Gradually, I came to trust the thing.  To this day I don't hook up anything to the 12 volt load output.  I use it strictly as a charger.

    That is how each one of these Chinese "MPPT" charge controllers should be handled.  Individually.  Just because one of a certain make/style worked for one guy doesn't mean the next one was assembled properly.

    When I finally change charge controllers I'll buy one of known better quality.  I consider two+ years of use a pretty good $30 spent.  However, it wasn't worth the stress I went through until I had faith in it.

    Resbum

    This is the one I bought.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/LCD-10A-20A-30A-MPPT-Solar-Panel-Battery-Regulator-Charge-Controller-12V-24V-KJ-/181361857863

    I think this is the video I watched before deciding to give it a try.  He has some interesting efficiency results at the end of the video to pause and look at
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbmaG4f8f_w
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
    I ending up buying two - 24 volt, 30 amp rated "cheap" CC's.  One was advertised as PWM for $12 shipped from China, the other a "MPPT" for $9 shipped from China.  They are nearly identical.  In fact the "MPPT" (obviously NOT) is better constructed in that the circuit board appears to be soldered by a 12 year old rather than a 5 year old!  Anyway, I'm going to use them to do some testing of small UPS style inverters simply to get some hands on experience with panels, batteries, CC's, and inverters that do data logging for energy calculations.  My grid tied system just sits and runs - not much fun to play with!
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,673 ✭✭✭✭
    I'll bet they produce a steady voltage over 30....which damages batteries. That is what mine did. So I replaced it with a Morningstar Prostar that does what a charge controller is supposed to.

    In theory, these ultra cheap controllers putting out over 30 volts could be used to equalize batteries....I would think.



    MarkC said:
    I ending up buying two - 24 volt, 30 amp rated "cheap" CC's.  One was advertised as PWM for $12 shipped from China, the other a "MPPT" for $9 shipped from China.  They are nearly identical.  In fact the "MPPT" (obviously NOT) is better constructed in that the circuit board appears to be soldered by a 12 year old rather than a 5 year old!  Anyway, I'm going to use them to do some testing of small UPS style inverters simply to get some hands on experience with panels, batteries, CC's, and inverters that do data logging for energy calculations.  My grid tied system just sits and runs - not much fun to play with!

    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
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