Charge controller suggestions

Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
Hey gang,

Getting ready to put a single Schott 315 watt panel (have on hand from previous experiments) up for my brother. It is rated at 60 vdc and 6.5 amps. Is there an inexpensive charge controller that will handle the voltage and charge a 12 vdc bank. This will be off grid, and will provide power to operate an inverter running several AC lights and a vent fan with thermostat. Two lights will be on either motion sensors/photocells, and two will be inside a container and switch operated for illumination inside. At this point I guess the lights and vent fan could be 12 vdc, and operated on a 12 vdc circuit rather than via an inverter, but I am not sure which would be better in the long run. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks....

Joe

Comments

  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Hi This is my first post on a technical reply and please confirm with other more learned members ! Because of the voltage of your PV panel and the need to recharge a 12 volt battery bank you will need a MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controller which converts the higher PV array voltage in to the correct battery bank voltage. The advantage of MPPT controllers is that they can harvest more power from your array and put more amps ito your battery than a normal cheaper PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) charge controller which needs the array voltage to be set the same as the batterty bank voltage. MPPT charge controllers harvest approximately 30% more power per anum against PWM controllers , They have the added advantage of allowing savings on smaller wire sizing between the array and the charge controller.

    They are more expensive than normal PWM cotrollers but you do not have an option in your case.

    Some of the MPPT manufacturers are

    Outback Power MX60, Solarboost Bluesky several models, and the new Xantrex XW60. I am aware that Morningstar are about to release a MPPT controller soon ! There is also a Hi 80 amp Apollo unit as well. I would recommend you look at the Solar Boost Bluesky range as thes have the smaller controllers and hence cheaper than the Outback and Xantrex units which are rated at 60 amp.

    I think Ive got this right , Im sure the Moderators will zap me if Im wrong , hope this helps Nigel
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    That is a great help, and I suspect you will avoid any zaps too. I have looked at the Outback MX60, and the options and specs look very promising. More than I wanted my brother to spend, but would allow for any future expansion too (although that is not too likely for this particular application). What he has is a sanatainer that is being used for gun and ammo storage for his gunshop in 29 Palms CA. Plenty of sun, plenty of heat, and the real need to keep the container a bit cooler than outside temps and avoid heat buildup inside. So, the thermostat controlled vent fan will do that job nicely. Some inside and some outside lighting, switch and automatic controlled as needed. Not really a lot of load overall, hence my question on a smaller, cheaper CCer. I know the array voltage is one of the limiting factors, and am reluctant though to abandon the panel I currently have (the price was right for it....FREE). So, guess the best bet would be to take that savings and put it into the CCer. One thing not addressed so far though, and that is again would it be better to stay at the 12 vdc, or to place an inverter in the system? Are 12 vdc lights and fans better to operate in this case, or would it be better to use 120 vac to provide final power to the devices? I don't believe there will be a need for any 120 vac outlet devices to be available, but if that need did arise, I guess I could address it locally with individual inverters as needed. All equipment is to be mounted either on top of the container, or inside within only a few feet of the array entrance point. Thanks, and I look forward to more ideas and suggestions....

    Joe
  • SolarJohnSolarJohn Solar Expert Posts: 202 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Hey Joe, are you sure about the 60 volt rating? This Schott 315 Watt panel is for a 12-volt system:

    http://www.affordable-solar.com/ase.300-dgf-17.315.watt.solar.panel.htm

    If the voltage is in fact suitable for a 12-volt system, you could use one of the inexpensive Morningstar PPM controllers, among others.

    John
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    When it comes to sytem voltage and to inverter or stay 12 volt. You need to take a deep look in to your crytal ball of the future and look at the maximum loads you might have want or need ? Then make your decision. I originally tried really hard to see if a 12 volt only off grid home was viable for me and eventually when down the inverter route. I choose 24 volt but after a year on wished Id gone for 48 volts . The difference in gear prices is non existent and if Id gone 48 volt I could have one 60 amp MPPT charge controller for my 2.4 kw array. Because Im 24 volt Ill need 2. I would have saved on wiring costs as well. Im shortly upgrading my C40,s PWM controllers to the new Xantrex unit when it ships.

    The trouble with the crystal ball is it never seems to tune in the same channel when you take another look LOL;)
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    If John is right Ive just been zapped.......ouch!:blush:
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    The panel is a Schott ASE-300-DGF/50 and looking at the plate on it the specs show 60.0 Vdc as the Voc, a Vp of 51.50 Vdc, an Isc of 6.6 Adc, and an Ip of 6.10 Adc.

    Wanted to keep the equipment count low, in particular the battery bank to one type 27 120ah deep discharge marine battery if possible.

    Joe
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,503 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    12V or 120V
    12V You loose about 15% going thru an inverter. You can get 12V CFL lamps, 12V fans, etc... The inverter is just another way to add losses into the system.

    Just don't add so much lights and stuff, that the container calls out - Steal Me & my expensive solar system.
    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 ,

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,503 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions
    Hey gang,

    Getting ready to put a single Schott 315 watt panel
    Joe

    http://www.us.schott.com/photovoltaic/english/index.html

    They don't actually list a 315 watt, but a 310, & 320
    http://www.us.schott.com/photovoltaic/english/download/pd-00-009-c_ase_300.pdf

    What does the sticker on the back of the panel read, that will be the real answer.

    Q) how'd ya come by this as a freebie ? Is it working ??
    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 ,

  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    I don't trust the Affordable Solar listing. Clicking on the "Data Sheet" tab takes you to a data sheet with specs different from those listed by AS.

    The only "inexpesnive" MPPT controller of which I'm aware is the BZ Products MPPT500 line. Street price is about $200. It looks like it can do an MPPT DC-to-DC down convert from 60 V to 12 V, but I don't like the factory charge voltage settings, and I don't know if they can be changed.

    Here's a link to more info: http://bzproducts.net/_wsn/page2.html

    HTH, but I don't vouch for these guys.
    Jim / crewzer
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    i believe that is the pv he was trying to rewire if i miss my guess. as to the bluesky controllers be carefull as none of the bluesky can handle your pv's 60v rating. all will have a much bigger cost than standard pwms would so consider acquiring another of the same pv in the future if you wish to expand being you must invest into the controller.
    sidenote here is that bluesky is expanding their horizons it seems.
    http://www.blueskyenergy.com.au/components.htm
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    The panel is a Schott ASE-300-DGF/50 and looking at the plate on it the specs show 60.0 Vdc as the Voc, a Vp of 51.50 Vdc, an Isc of 6.6 Adc, and an Ip of 6.10 Adc.


    All,

    Based on the specs supplied, the module is actually of the “36 V” variety, as 51.50 Vmp = 3 x 17.17 V, roughly the Vmp of a “12 V” module. The Blue Sky 6024 MPPT charge controller’s max Voc is 140 V, and it can be configured for “36 V” in and “12 V” out, at up to 60 A out. Technically, it would work for Joe’s application.

    http://www.blueskyenergyinc.com/pdf/SB6024Hdatasheet.swf

    However, the base 6024 costs almost as much as the MX60, so I’d say it’s a non-starter for Joe’s purposes. I don’t believe any of the other Blue Sky MPPT controllers can be configured for 36 V in and 12 V out.

    http://store.solar-electric.com/rvpowprodsol.html
    http://store.solar-electric.com/outpowmxmp.html

    I don’t believe any of the other Blue Sky controllers can be configured for 36 V in and 12 V out, and I suspect the BZ Products controller I suggested earlier may not be configurable for 36 V / 12 V. For products available today, Joe may be down to the OutBack MX60 or the Blue Sky 6024.

    Finally, I suspect the “Blue Sky Energy” in Australia is not related to the “Blue Sky Energy, Inc.” in California.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions
    mike90045 wrote: »
    http://www.us.schott.com/photovoltaic/english/index.html

    They don't actually list a 315 watt, but a 310, & 320
    http://www.us.schott.com/photovoltaic/english/download/pd-00-009-c_ase_300.pdf

    What does the sticker on the back of the panel read, that will be the real answer.

    Q) how'd ya come by this as a freebie ? Is it working ??

    Actually, it really is a 315 watt panel. See my other thread regarding testing of this panel at http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=581 which is my original thread dealing with this same panel. There I have placed photos of the panel as well as the rear plate, and other information obtained during testing. The panel was removed from service due to having been hit by a volleyball after about 1 year in service. The front glass is "crazed", but plastic appears intact, and I can detect no areas of either breakage of cells/connections, or corrosion under plastic. Just looks bad, and had to be removed under warranty by installing company. Panel was written off, and had been scheduled for disposal. I found out about it, and was "convinced" that I should liberate it from the trash bin, which I did with full permission. My testing of the panel under full sun and load indicated that there is little if any degradation of the panels output due to the damage, and for my personal use (or my brothers) it will perform great, especially in a desert environment and under the light loading conditions it will be used for....

    Joe
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    i don't think so jim as that 51 volts is the vp or operating volts as it has been stated. if it is stated wrong then i might agree with you about it.
    we are in agreement that why bother with the sb6024 anyway even if it does work as there are better controllers for about the same price out there.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    niel,

    That's my point. 51.5 V, or 51.5 Vp, is the "operating voltage", or Vmp as we typically call it. The Voc is 60.0 V. These numbers make it roughly equivalent to wiring three "12 V" modules (each ~ 17.0 Vmp, ~21.0 Voc) in series, hence my "36 V" description.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    ok, gotcha now. (banging thick head off wall) lol
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    I will most likely end up getting one of the MX60's as it looks like the best all around for that panel and my use. Since I don't want to scrap the panel and get something at a lower voltage (unless there is someone out that that wants to make a trade of course), I will have to plan on using it for this project. For the intended loads, does seem to be pretty good overkill at the present time, but for the future out there, who can say?
    mike90045 wrote:
    Just don't add so much lights and stuff, that the container calls out - Steal Me & my expensive solar system.

    Remember that this location is also a gun shop, and there are numerous cameras, alarms, and LOTS of guns around. The panel is to be mounted on top of the container (see attached photo), and will be bolted to a frame that is in turn bolted to the container to keep it all from blowing away in the sometimes high winds there. Not too much worry about theft, and little worry either about vandalism. Plus only about 4 miles away are thousands of marines who are friends of my brother, and shop at his place all the time too....

    Joe
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Here is a photo I took before he opened his gun shop. Was able to get all his property into the shot, which was taken from an R/C airplane I designed and built. That is what I do for a living nowadays, Remote Control Aerial Photography. Anyway, just to the right side of the house, and right of the entrance road is where his storage container is currently located. Well away from any obstructions that would shade a panel. Part of the plan is to light the entrance road with lights (2) controlled by a motion detector, as well as provide offset illumination for his business sign (and also his American flag too). I have a program called Lite Pro that will allow me to create a simulation of the area of interest, and experiment with various lighting levels (I used to be an electrical designer) and light fixtures, as well as their orientation and height too. Just need enough illumination to make the entry more easily visible at night, but not so bright as to cause problems on the road in front of the property. In the photo you can even see me near the left middle area where I flew the AP aircraft from that day....

    Joe

    th_Donnell0001.jpg
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Joe, that's a great shot ! I really wanted to do this sort of thing years ago with a R/C
    helicopter. How big is this plane and how much does the extra poundage weight for
    the camera ?
    boB
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    The aircraft is one I call the SSV2. Full build info and many photos can be found over at RCGroups.com for those interested. Just search the aerial photography threads for SSV2. The wing span is 54", all up weight is about 48ozs. total. Attached is a photo. The camera used was a Pentax Optio S4 with 4 megapixels resolution, & camera only weighs in at 4.2oz. alone....

    Joe

    th_SSV2007.jpg
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Gang,

    Here is a short video of the SSV2 launched vertical and then landed....

    Joe

    SSV2 on YouTube
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 970 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Joe, that's great ! Thanks !
    Have you set the camera for video record yet ? I saw another remote controlled
    aircraft youTube video from a guy in Thailand that came up when I viewed
    your video.

    So, wouldn't be neat if a remote controlled helicopter could be used to
    service ones wind turbine ?? Or a flock of them...

    boB
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Have taken a number of videos from the SSV2. A number of other people have also constructed their own SSV2's from the build thread and information I have made available too. It really is a great AP aircraft with very desirable flying traits.

    Some people have flown near various turbine fields, and there is the potential to be able to visually inspect them with and AP aircraft (and that would include too inspections of large solar arrays as well). Who knows what the future might bring as far as maintenance and observation though. I guess most anything might be possible....

    Joe
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Gang,

    I also use my MastCAM system to do lower level (up to about 40') photographs. I plan on taking it up to 29 Palms to do some photos of the container once the panel is mounted on top, and of the surrounding area for video security planning too. The cart uses a type 27 120ah deep discharge marine battery feeding a 750w inverter to provide small loads such as an LCD monitor, video receiver, and such for video downlink viewing of the mast top camera position. I can also provide lighting if needed, or a small fan as required to keep the human part of the system within temperature tolerances. The cart has four switches to control the electric system. One turns on the inverter, one turns on the internal vent fans, and the remaining two each control one of the outlets that provide power to external loads. There is also a 12vdc power outlet for dc loads too. When not in the field I provide charging current through external binding plugs from a regulated power supply that feeds power to the charge controller which is Specialty Concepts, Inc. Mark/15 PV controller. To date it has provided excellent service and maintained the battery very nicely too....

    Joe

    th_Cart026.jpg
    My custom built mounting cart. Contains a charge controller, inverter, battery
    and other electric/electronic goodies. I have a small array I also
    use for topping off the charge while in the field too that mounts
    on top of the cart when all is setup in the field. It feeds internally
    to the charge controller and provides 350mah to the system in full
    sun at ~12vdc. Not much, but anything helps when in the field.

    th_CL0003.jpg
    System set up for use at a local golf course.

    th_CL0015.jpg
    Shot of a green at the golf course. Height on this
    shot was about 35' AGL.

    th_DSC02167.jpg
    Here is the custom built (by me) pan & tilt mount
    for use with the system. Set for Canon EOS 20D
    and also has a small video camera/transmitter that
    provides the ground view of what the camera sees.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,503 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions
    Have taken a number of videos from the SSV2. A number of other people have also constructed their own SSV2's from the build thread and information I have made available too. It really is a great AP aircraft with very desirable flying traits.
    Joe

    So - what's the link to the build thread & info? I won't get to it this year, but maybe next year.
    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 ,

  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    You can find the build thread at http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=339060 if interested....

    Joe
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Here are a couple of photos of the system on a photo shoot showing the solar panel installed and providing power to help top off the charge. The cart was providing power to an CRT video monitor/DVD player unit, as well as the video downlink receiver during this shoot. Duration has been great, and have never had a problem, even after hours of use in the field....

    Joe
  • Joe BennettJoe Bennett Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Charge controller suggestions

    Just did a recent shoot using the MastCAM system. Ran an LCD monitor, internal vent fans, and 750 watt inverter for approximately 3 hours. Voltage showing on the charge controller was 12.1vdc at the start of the shoot, and at the end it was again 12.1vdc. Did not seem to draw the system down enough to register any change during the period of operation. Did not take the solar panel with me as I suspected it would not be needed at all. Did leave the doors to my 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan open during the whole shoot so that equipment cases would be for the most part accessible, yet out of the direct sun. Found out that my van battery would not take the strain itself though. Had to have the client help with a jump start after we had loaded all equipment back into the van. Took the van to the dealership the next morning and they determined that the van battery had a shorted cell and a cracked negative terminal (age and heat was the opinion). At least it was fully under warranty, and they replaced it at no cost, thank goodness. Now the van is good to go for another 3 years :D. I do think that next time I will also take a fan to cool the camera operator during the shoot though, had to have been over a hundred degree's out there and in full sun too. Maybe a nice cooler (for water of course) too, heck, got the capacity to run all of it for many hours so might as well....

    Joe
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