decent first charge controller

faussfauss Registered Users Posts: 26 ✭✭
I need some opinions. So for my first set up I'm obviously not going to buy the best of the best but I don't want crap either. I'll probably just power some lights and charge some batteries in a small wood shed and maybe eventually help power my house.
So I think I'm gonna go with a renogy 100 watt panel ($135ish) and I haven't decided on a charge controller yet. I'm thinking a 40 amp mppt tracer 4210 or the 4215. Suggestions?


  • mike74820mike74820 Registered Users Posts: 44 ✭✭
    if only gonna use one panel i would get a cheap pwm charger and learn how things work, like the rest of us once you get started in solar stuff,  you will grow your system to meet your needs as they grow too 
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    if you want to do that you need to determine when you are 'big enough', so that means planning a system out completely and then buy it all in one go, or you will waste your money...
    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
  • faussfauss Registered Users Posts: 26 ✭✭
    Id like to run 24v because of the savings on wire and efficiency. So im at least getting two panels. A 40amp mppt for 200 doesn't sound that bad. I know ill upgrade but it will get me bye while i make a few more mistakes. also been researching morning star and midnight solar but they are almost out of my price range right now. But if its worth it, its worth it. 
  • South AfricaSouth Africa Solar Expert Posts: 295 ✭✭✭
    FWIW - get a decent charge controller from the start, oversize it, MPPT and the right inverter.

    You, as I did, want to start small, good equipment but as cheap as possible. Problem is in a few months, year, 10 to 1 you are going to add another panel and then another and next moment you have to replace the controller. Been there, done that.

    Inverter, another expense you need to be wise on. What is the MAX you ever will want to power, get that inverter. Pure sine wave.

    Panels you can add later, mix and match as long as the amps/volts are as close as damn to the original ones, it is no problem.

    Batteries same story. Get the 1st batch in cheap, find your feet learn to look after them and when you expand, you go for the better ones.

    Believe me, unless you are very disciplined or have no need to grow at all ever, you are going to add to the system.  o:)


    Spec the system for JUST i.e lights. Once you have mastered it all, then when you want to power more in the house, make that system 2. That's what I ended up doing.

  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,626 ✭✭✭✭
    Starting out small and learning how solar works is a great affordable way to go. Buy decent quality equipment which you can later sell or keep for back up. I have a medium sized 24 volt off grid system as you can see in my signature line, below. BUT I also have two small 12 volt systems running 12 volt water pumps, VHF radios and stereo in my main house and separate garage down in Baja.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 540 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,004 admin
    It all starts with your loads... 12 or 24 VDC, 120 VDC, how many Watts and how many hours per day.

    If you are starting with a a small system--12 VDC can be very nice and reasonably affordable. (something like 1,000 WH per day)

    If you want to run your refrigerator off grid--Then you are looking at a medium sized system (larger battery bank, good sized AC inverter, lots of solar panels, backup AC charging and/or AC genset, etc.). This size of system is not cheap. (something like 3,300 WH per day)

    It is all about sizing your system to support your needed loads. It is actually quite difficult and expensive to take a small system and try to enlarge it... Like trying to take a VW Bug and turn it it into a 1 ton pickup. Possible, but not usually practical (most of your equipment and wiring will need to be replaced).

    Solar power works pretty much as designed--Assuming you have a good south facing roof/yard where you can install your solar panels. Any shading will "kill" your solar array output (typically by 50% or more). Even shadows from power lines or a vent stack on your roof can really hurt array output.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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