Tri star charge controllers

shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
So i currently have 4x100w 12v panels rated at 5.79A each I'm sure I will get another 2 down the road so i I thinking of future proofing my self and get a larger charge controller (rather than an army of small ones)

I'm currently looking at the Tristar 45 which should be able to handle 6 panels no problem. Is it worth spending a bit more and getting the 60 amp for even more (one day) expansion? Is there any disadvantage to having to large of a charge controller?

on the flip side would there be any issue having 6 panels each with their own little 10a charge controller? (these may also be used if i add on the 50w'er or random ones down the road)

Comments

  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    You don't mention what you have for batteries, or may someday look at expanding to, but in my experience and opinion, I would definitely not go with small controllers, one on each panel. Typically, such small controllers are toys compared to the Tristars, and will not properly monitor, or look after your batteries. Since batteries are becoming more expensive all the time, you should be looking at the best you can do for them. Re the TS45/TS60 issue, sort of depends on what you might be looking at for possible expansion down the road. Either one can handle twice the power if you switch to a 24 volt system, but if you're already set up for 12 volts, you'd have to change the inverter/s as well, if you were to make that change. Something else to consider is how long are the cables between where present/future panels are/will be mounted? To save the cost of extra heavy cables and reduce the losses between the panels and batteries, you might want to consider going with one of the TS-MPPT controllers, which would permit you to wire your panels in series, then feed the higher voltage with reduced amps to the MPPT controller, which would then do the down converting of voltage and give you the max power/charging amps possible. I've had the TS-60, and now have a TS-MPPT-60 and find the MPPT a much superior unit, especially as it allows me to run higher voltages to it, and it then searches for the highest power point, thus providing max charging amps. The TS series are EXCELLENT solid units, very reliable, no cooling fans required due to large heat sinks. So far I've never had to replace a bearing on a heat sink :)
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,739 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers
    So far I've never had to replace a bearing on a heat sink :)
    I had to replace mine twice before I realized that thermal grease worked so much better than lithium grease :):) --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    Hahahaha Thanks for that vtMaps! Never thought of that. Will definitely give it a try :D
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,362 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    Another thought on the charge controllers, the MS Tri-star MPPT (looks JUST like the PWM version - make sure you are buying the one you want) 60A has some more interface bells and whistles. (web server...) But the front meter & LCD display is an EXTRA.

    If you are looking at a 12 or 24V system, I believe the ROGUE is a much better controller for price, if 30A will do you.
    http://www.roguepowertech.com/ with meters included, but it's not UL approved (which is OK if you are not putting it in your dwelling.

    Also consider looking at the Midnight Classic line of controllers, with good reviews, UL, bells and such http://www.midnitesolar.com/
    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 ,

  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    For batteries i currently have 2x UPS12-540MR 147AH batteries wired in parallel with 4awg wire. I was planning on using 10awg to connect the panels to the charger. I dont think the run would be more than 15' ish.

    A few months ago i started with 2x30w panels then 2x50w.. now 4x100w it wouldn't surprise me if the 100w'ers slowly creep in.. so a bit of future expansion is probably a good call. On a side note ill probably sell the smaller panels to fund larger if anyone in BC canada is interested.

    The system is most likely overkill for what i'm building but that just means i can add more lighting and run more stuff off it! :D


    I was looking at PWM mainly due to price point. The two main draws about a fancier controller would be the programable battery charging and the web server.Down the road I would probably get more of a smilier type batteries or possibly some telco batteries depending what comes my way.

    - Having the built in webserver is a nice touch (was that just the 60a mppt version or does the pwm as well?)
    - I am running 12v since my main purpose is to run a large array of 12v high power led outdoor lighting.
    - if i wired my 2x12v panels in series to give 24v with a mmppt would i still get the same amount of juice out as it did at 2x12v in parallel on a pwm?

    Should I be using thermal greases do you apply it to all of your electrical connections?
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers
    shift wrote: »

    Should I be using thermal greases do you apply it to all of your electrical connections?

    I find Rust Check (available in WD-40 type spray can at Home Hardware and CTC) works awesome on all my battery connections. Just give a quick, short shot on each of the battery connections/terminals once a year. My flooded L-16 connections are like new after 10 years. Not one hint of corrosion anywhere. Look like they were just bolted up yesterday.
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    Thanks waynefromnscanada Ill pop into homehardware this week and pick some up :)
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    The Tristar ts-45/60 manual shows the pwm version as having a lighting control function. But it sounds like it can only load control or charge.. not both at once.. Is this correct?

    the MorningStar ProStar PS-30 is rated for 30 solar amps but also says "Parallel for up to 300 amps" What exactly does that mean? So with my 100w 5.79A panels . 6 panels would be the max for this controller (slightly over if there was perfect conditions). Is this correct?

    I'm still slightly confused on mppt input/output vs pwm. If i was to take 2 x12v panels to have 24v - 100w 5.79 amps and output to 12v batteries would it make up the difference in power putting the 10 amps back into the batteries? Would MPPT let me put in more volts (giving more panels/amps) over pwm with parallel?

    Sorry for all the questions but i am all over the place trying to decide which route to go.
  • SlappySlappy Solar Expert Posts: 251 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    I'm still slightly confused on mppt input/output vs pwm.

    take a look at this video from morningstar, it might help ya out. It is 1:20 minutes long but has a lot of info. and it will answer some of your questions, plus more. It has helped me out. hope this helps.

    http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/item.cfm?ItemId=444
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Solar Expert Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    Great link "Slappy", thanks for sharing!
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    I'm still debating between pwm/mppt but i sure did lean alot.. thanks for the link.
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    As much as i love the tracking and web interfaces on the mppt it really is over kill for my landscape lighting project.

    I think i'm going to stick with a cheaper pwm(for now) I currently have a small army of cheaper chinese pwm and nock off mppt controllers. Is there much of a differance in using say 3-4 little guyes versus one bigger pwm (like the xantec c60 or tristar ts-60).

    Mppt has come along aways, but has PWM changed much?


    If the option is the use the little chinese guys then im good to go.. If you think its worth the 200$ for a "good" pwm.. is there any recommendation either way from the xantec c60 or tristar ts-60?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,013 admin
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    For MorningStar, there are Landscape lighting controllers (PWM Landscape lighting Controller). Otherwise, standard PWM and you add timer/dusk-dawn/motion sensor(s).

    I think most of the new stuff is towards the MPPT type controllers.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    well if you have them why not use them , test out how they perform and post the results...unless they are Wellsee brand, lots of comments on those already. Unless they are > 11 amps, from post #1 specs, you may not be able to run more than one panel, definitely not more than 2, per controller.

    hth
     
    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
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    That is a good point. So far i have 3 10A's and a 20A in the mail. (yes 1 is a wellsee) I also ordered a watt meter so ill hook up 1/panel to the same battery bank and do a test to compare all of the cheaper guys. Should be a fun experiment.. and who knows. maybe we will even find a gem in the mix :)
  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    Once the watt/amp meter shows up in the mail ill do a in action comparison write up/video.

    In the mean time if anyone happens to be pro with electronics and can provide some input based on the circuits let me know!

    controllers-600.jpg
    slc-20-charge-controller-circuit-600.jpg
    10a-pwm-light-solar-charge-controller-circuit-600.jpg
    wellsee-ws-mppt15-solar-charge-controller-board-600.jpg
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    FWIW by the look of the pic, I have the middle one on a single 70w panel in my camper. seems to do a good job at charging the marine/deep cycle battery that has been 'showing its age' lately. No hard data to show.
     
    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
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,362 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    None of those pic's looks like it have a suitable inductor for real MPPT, not even the one with a black module marked MPPT. And with all the heatsinking, I'm assuming PWM.. And the heat sink grease on the thermal insulating pads is wasteful !
    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 ,

  • shiftshift Solar Expert Posts: 48
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    They are all PWM's I'm slightly to see how the fake mppt compares to the pwms.. if there is any improvement or just marketing BS... (hurry up postman/meters!)

    I did test the middle black one with the built in light timer and do say it worked well. I had a 1W light that turned on for 7 hours. After about 3.5 hours of working the 7AH battery was down about 10%. I went this morning with the volt meter and the morning indirect sun along with the 50w panel already had that battery full again.. So that was a good sign!
  • nsaspooknsaspook Solar Expert Posts: 396 ✭✭✭
    Re: Tri star charge controllers

    The WELLSEE has some of the worse workmanship, two taps soldered with a wire and very long leads on a filter cap. I would hate to see the backside rework.
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