Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

trying to decide between these 2 controllers..Will be located in the Philippines so I need something reliable..solar array is 3360 watts..any reviews/advice appreciated thks

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    i guess you have read up on both so i'm not sure why you ask here.

    imho, i would go with the classic as it is able to have the software updated online rather than send the unit back to the factory. that would be costly from where you are. in general the classic has more features.
  • larrybc1larrybc1 Solar Expert Posts: 44
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    niel wrote: »
    i guess you have read up on both so i'm not sure why you ask here.

    imho, i would go with the classic as it is able to have the software updated online rather than send the unit back to the factory. that would be costly from where you are. in general the classic has more features.

    ok thks..was just trying to get info from anyone that is actually using either controller to check reliability..thks
  • FullpowerFullpower Solar Expert Posts: 69 ✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    Can you give some detail of your system?
    What is the voltage of your battery bank?
    The Outback FM-80 is rated up to 80 Amps output, and strictly limited to 145 volts maximum input voltage.
    I use a pair of FM-80 to charge a 24 volt bank, and I am very happy with mine.
  • larrybc1larrybc1 Solar Expert Posts: 44
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    Fullpower wrote: »
    Can you give some detail of your system?
    What is the voltage of your battery bank?
    The Outback FM-80 is rated up to 80 Amps output, and strictly limited to 145 volts maximum input voltage.
    I use a pair of FM-80 to charge a 24 volt bank, and I am very happy with mine.

    battery bank voltage is 48 volts...array is 3350 watts...16--210 watt evergreen panels..voc is 23 and vmp 18.3..any recommendations..thks
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,340 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    That 3360w is very close to what I have, how are your panels wired? Mine are 3 parallel strings of 5 panels - about 100Voc

    ( following may not be relevant, to you, but an interesting read anyway)
    I'm running a morningstar TS-MPPT 60A, and seldom see over 50A from the array, by the time the sun climbs high enough for full power, the batteries are already partway charged and don't pull full power form the array. When pump kicks in, the array/controller kicks in enough to maintain voltage, and then if conditions degrade, and it drops back to bulk, the MPPT kicks in again. You will seldom see past 60A from the array, if ever.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    mike,
    i don't think it is relevant to inject about using the morningstar as he wasn't asking about it and he will possibly get about 6a more out of his system than yours based on pv wattage alone and he isn't around you as he is in the philippines. in any case he wanted the extra headroom and this may just be to not run at max or to possibly expand upon later. cost wise the tristar wouldn't be justifiable over either the fm80 or classic imho for what you get even though it is a solid controller.
  • FullpowerFullpower Solar Expert Posts: 69 ✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    Given that you are 48 volt nominal, the FM80 will handle your 3600 watt PV.
    Since you are in Phillipines, and expressed reliability as paramount , OUTBACK equipment is highly recommended.
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    I think "reliability" can be one of those "what are you expecting to break?" kinds of things. The FM-80 is an older, more established charge controller. I'd expect it to break less often, based on that. The Classic, on the other hand, has field-upgradeable firmware, so if the problem is a firmware one, you'd be able to go that route. You be out of luck with both for a hardware problem, and if you were concerned about broken hardware, I'd go with the FM-80 because it is more mature.

    The one major plus of the Classic over the FM-80 is hyper-VOC. If he's at higher elevation in the Philippines, where colder temperatures might be a problem, that's a plus for the Classic.

    Net-net: Not enough information, but I did share how I'd make my decision.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    just so fullpower knows, outback was boB and robins' company originally and the bulk of those fm controllers was of their basic design for it was the mx line with modifications to it after they left outback. any new product will have some growing pains, but the fm line is not without problems either as there was one a few years ago that i am not sure if it was resolved or not. i have even forgotten what the problem was, but that is because i'm getting to be an old coot before my time.;):p
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    tallgirl wrote:
    The one major plus of the Classic over the FM-80 is hyper-VOC.

    That is indeed a major plus. Another plus is that the Classic has built in GFP and arc-fault detection. That can greatly simplify the installation.
    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 719 ✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    The FM60 is basically a slightly modified MX60 the core of the unit like the display and casting are the same they used a bigger processor and moved a few things around on the board. So for the sake of age the Classic and FM series are about the same with the FM being Beta tested on the end user they have moved more units.

    Interesting comments in this thread about repairing an MX60
    http://midnitesolar.com/smf_forum/index.php?topic=397.0

    Half
  • Volvo FarmerVolvo Farmer Solar Expert Posts: 209 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    Yah, that's my post.

    Check this out. This is the crap I was running into at Outback while trying to get my MX60 fixed when all the buttons stopped responding
    When a product becomes obsolete and is replaced by a similar, though superior product, a manufacturer will no longer make the parts for the obsolete item. We ran out of MX60 parts about a year ago.

    This is a product they were still selling in 2008, yet it is now "obsolete" and they ran out of parts in 2010. My unit was built 3rd quarter 2004, but according to the guy who designed it, the buttons didn't change throughout the entire production run.

    Despite them saying they don't have parts, they offered to try to fix it for me if I sent it in. I checked on the Outback forum, and there have been several other people with button problems on the MX60. One guy sent it back and had to pay $160 to get it fixed. I begged and pleaded with them to fix it under warranty since they told me I couldn't buy the parts to fix it myself. No dice, no way, it's out of warranty.

    Here's the real mind blower.
    "Also, with our charge controllers, we are no longer allowed to send out parts for field repair. This policy change was implemented about 2 years ago."

    I drive a Ford truck and use a Kenmore washing machine. Neither Ford, nor Sears are running out of parts for products made in 2004 and in production until 2008. Neither Ford nor Sears are refusing to sell me parts so I can fix my own product, yet offering to try and fix my product if I bring it back to them.

    Because of this experience I just had with Outback, I will never buy another product from them. You know who got me the parts to fix my MX60, and sent them for free? Midnite. Now THAT'S customer service.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    Hi VF,

    Have liked Outback over the years, and they have given me, and many others great support over the years.

    I like Midnite even better, also for the great support as well as products that are really pushing the envelope -- The Classic CC, for example.

    In defense of OB, however, there can be a situation where they could disassemble your MX, and rework/rebuild the existing part/s, charge you for labor only, and return your MX to you. Think that the buttons at the very least were custom moulded, and there could be a very large set-up charge to run more of those parts.

    If one was in a pinch and did not want to spend the fee for the repair, one could probably have done a hack with outboard switches, or perhaps just tearing down the MX, and carefully clean the switches. They have felt, to me, like there were a conductive elastomeric moving part that comes into contact with plated pads on a PCB. It is quite possible that the contact areas get dusty, and gummed up from asthmospheric contanimants. It probably will happen to most of us with this type of switch. (If all of my wild assumptions are close). It might also be possible that if there is a conductive rubbery part of the button, that this stuff delamimates or falls off over time etc.

    I dunno, but it is frustrating when things like this happen. It is not uncommon for products to become unrepairable when some integrated circuit becomes obsolete, and the service inventory is exhausted.

    IIRC, there has been leglislation that car MFGs commit to a minimum of five years of parts inventory beyond the model year. If this is the case, this is still far too short a time-span.

    Good Luck, and is'nt Midnite a great group of folks, giving teriffic customer service?
    Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 964 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    Vic wrote: »
    Hi VF,
    Think that the buttons at the very least were custom moulded, and there could be a very large set-up charge to run more of those parts.

    Vic

    Hi Vic and thanks for the good words regarding MNS.

    The buttons on the two series of CC's (MX/FM) use the same buttons.
    They also use the same casting.

    boB
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    boB wrote: »
    Hi Vic and thanks for the good words regarding MNS.

    The buttons on the two series of CC's (MX/FM) use the same buttons.
    They also use the same casting.

    boB

    that makes it simple as all you need do now is buy the buttons for the fm which is a current cc.;)
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,142 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    sounds like a backhanded way of upselling...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • Volvo FarmerVolvo Farmer Solar Expert Posts: 209 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    niel wrote: »
    that makes it simple as all you need do now is buy the buttons for the fm which is a current cc.;)


    Except the person I contacted expressly told me they were no longer shipping parts out for field repair of charge controllers.

    Not so simple anymore huh?
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    For what it's worth, Outback Power was purchased by The Alpha Group in 2010.
    Not to draw any conclusions, but how many times have we seen really good companies bought by corporations with a resulting downturn in quality of service?
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150
    Except the person I contacted expressly told me they were no longer shipping parts out for field repair of charge controllers.

    Not so simple anymore huh?

    guess it isn't.:cry: maybe there's somebody out here reading this that has a malfunctioned mx that has the part you need intact. hmmm. looking back i see midnite got you the parts you need. good deal.:D

    as coot said, it's not always a good thing when companies get taken over and it's almost always the customer that suffers for it.:grr
  • Volvo FarmerVolvo Farmer Solar Expert Posts: 209 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Outback FM80 versus Midnite Classic 150

    Funny thing is, that it's just plain stupid not to take care of the customer. When I contacted them, the first response should have been, let us send you out a button pad and a set of instructions right now and let us know if that doesn't solve your problem. Total cost to the company, maybe fifteen bucks. Fifteen bucks to satisfy a customer with $3000 worth of Outback equipment hanging on a wall. Instead all I got was a CSR who had perfected the art of "cover your *ss".

    I think even if they had fixed it themselves for free, the total cost to the company would be an order of magnitude less than costs of the bad press they are receiving.
Sign In or Register to comment.