Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
Could use some advise on a charge controller. Have used the small Morningstar 6 and 10 amp controllers and while they work fine for a single panel, if I am going to run anything large this just is not going to make it.

Tried a Sunforce 30 amp controller and while it worked fine, out of the box the meter on the outside started showing 13 vdc part of the time, then jumping to 20 vdc after a while, which we all know is too much. VOM showed that it was really pumping 13.7 into the batteries but on a new controller not going to accept that. Its heading back for a refund.

Am now looking at the Morningstar 45 amp charge controller. This is the model TriStar TS-45 12/24/48/ volt charge controller. I have 5 80 watt GE panels (with more to follow) at this one location that I will be hooking up to the new controller, so want something that will handle them.

Suggestions or ideas? Am not flush with funds after being unemployed for almost 4 years but now have a job and want to get this system hooked up and working.

TIA,

Joe
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Comments

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,345 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    From what I know, the Tristar is a good controller. If your system is going to grow in the future I might suggest spending the money now on a good mppt controller like the outback or Xantrex, or even the Rogue mppt that seems to have gotten some good reviews.

    The biggest mistake I have made (more than once in fact) is under buying charge controllers. If your system is going to grow, but the best and the biggest controller you can now.

    Good luck,

    Tony
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    a controller like the tristar or a xantrex c40 is fine too. be sure to get the bts no matter which one you get.
    i also suspect you have room to grow somewhat with either controller for you won't be getting rates of current as high as 40 or 45a with 5 80w pvs.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Joe,

    The TriStar 45 A charge controller is a perfectly good PWM charge controller. However, it's missing desirable features such as DC-DC down-conversion and maximum power point tracking (MPPT) , which respectiely allow for greater configuration flexibility and higher energy harvesting.

    A major challenge with PWM controllers is matching the array's voltage specs to the environment. If the array voltage is too low (a real problem in the summer when high ambient temperture reduces array voltage), then the battery bank may not charge fully. This leads to poor system performance and reduced batetry life.

    An array with a relatively high voltage spec, on the other hand, will "leave power on the table", especially in the winter, when connected to a PWM controller.

    From a system perspective, an MPPT controller can cost less than a PWM controller because it may allow for smaller guage (cheaper) wire between the array and the controller, and, everything else being equal, it usually allows for a smaller (and therefore less costly) PV array along with related installtion hardware.

    Can you tell us morre about your long term plans for your system?

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    I want to run my swimming pool pump with this system, but am also building a system just like it to use on an "off the grid" doublewide trailer that we have on a piece of land in the middle of the desert.

    What I do is "proof test" things at home to make sure that they work fine, then take it out to the land. Friend of mine is living out there with no power hookup and will eventually have 2-3000 watts of solar panels and large size battery bank to power everything.

    We cannot afford to go with the Outback and so on controllers, just too much money for now for us. If we can get a controller that will handle 5-10 panels thats what we need for now. Once funds get better we can ramp up but not at this time.

    Thx!

    Joe
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    With due respect, if you cannot afford a proper mppt controller your plans for solar independence is not a realistic goal .. solar is very expensive with the controller literally being the lowest cost component in the system

    Inverters, Battery's, PV panels, mounts, proper disconnect and over current protection all will cost more than a 499 Mppt controller.

    The Tristar is a good pwm controller, feature wise probably the best pwm on the market but as other have pointed out, compared to a Mppt controller, its not a cost effective unit on a harvest per watt or cost per watt basis.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,698 admin
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Is this intended for an "off grid" swimming pool or just to save costs on power at "home"?

    In general, the recommended steps for almost any project here:
    1. Conservation: Make sure that the equipment is Energy Star Rated (if applicable), the most efficient you can find, the installation/usage of the equipment is done efficiently, and that the device is not oversized for the application. Alternatives--obviously for a pool, solar thermal pool heat is a very good place to invest--usually saves money over buying gas/electricity/etc.
    2. Know your Loads: Peak Watts, peak VA (i.e., power factor for motors), average Watts, Hours per day, Seasonal usage, etc.
    3. Design the solar PV power system: Once you have done 1&2--then you can design the optimum system for your needs (Solar is not cheap).
    In general, solar power is not cheap. Solar Grid Tied solar power (solar panels, GT inverter, utility power) cones the closest to being near the cost of grid power. And that is true if you A) get the government subsidies and B) have a utility that supports some version of Net Metering (and a rate plan that does not hurt the customer using GT Solar).

    Roughly, the power costs are (capital costs spread over 20 years, no interest/property taxes included):

    $0.10-$0.20 per kWhr--typical utility power
    $0.10-$0.35 per kWhr--rough GT system (lower costs with gov rebates)
    $0.35-$0.75 per kWhr--rough Hybrid system (GT/Off-Grid capable system)
    $1.00-$2.00+ per kWhr--rough Off-Grid solar system (inc. Battery Replacement)

    I don't know much about the requirements for swimming pools--but many times a pool installer will over size the pump. Reducing your pumping time, using two speed pumps, and more efficient pumps and filters can help.

    For example, pumps (in general) are more efficient if they have been designed to positive pressure on the inlet (the pump is installed below the water level of the pool). The drawback is you probably have to dig a pit and set the pit up with a drain or backup pump + alarm to prevent flooding if there is a leak.

    Solar Guppy (and probably others here) have experience with pools and solar power (mostly will be Grid Tied) and can tell you the minimum power/flowrate/filtering requirements for an xxxx size pool based on their experience.

    And, if the pool requires heating--obviously solar thermal is a very good investment--almost always will save you money.

    Solar electric--can save you money if Grid Tied + Rebates.

    If off-grid, solar power + heavy conservation just saves you fuel plus wear and tear on your genset (and associated noise+fumes).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Ok, then what about something like a MorningStar SunSaver SS-MPPT-15L controller?

    Price is in the mid-$200's or so and I can afford one of these right now. Its a MPPT controller and good name, not the cheap overseas stuff.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,698 admin
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    The MorningStar is a wonderful small sized MPPT controller (arguably, the best of its class).

    And, while we recommend a remote battery temperature sensor for all battery chargers--the MorningStar MPPT needs a RBTS to charge correctly (otherwise, may not charge battery bank to full capacity).

    There is also a computer interface and software available if you want to play around.

    Morningstar PC Meterbus Adaptor (MSC)

    Its limitations (maximum current of 15 amps at 12v/220watts or 24v/440watts) will prevent you from slapping more panels on it later (you will need another controller to expand).

    If you don't think you will be adding panels--then no problem...

    If you think you will be adding more panels (typically, 400 watts or more) in the foreseeable future--then you should be looking at the Xantrex or Outback 60-80 amp class of MPPT controllers. A 60 amp MPPT controller is a little over 2x the cost of the MorningStar MPPT.

    If you have time... There is supposed to be a new, good quality Mid-Range MPPT controller (MorningStar brand?) coming out in the next few months (who know the release date)--so, waiting may be a good thing for you.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    that's too small as i see you now list 10 80w pvs in your signature. if this is to be at 12v output you may be over the limit even with the controllers already mentioned.
    i am generalizing and if you have specific specs you can correct me if i'm wrong, but 10pvs x 80w = 800w. 800w / 17.4v(vmp) = 46a. the pvs won't output full power all of the time, but at times it could exceed the controller ratings which the controller will just hold it back at its current rating. if you can't go with a high current downconverting mppt controller then you may need to buy 2 tristars or 2 c40s to allow full current output from the pvs without being held back. this is going to cost you one way or another.
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Another limitation of the Morningstar TriStar PWM controller for the OP's application is this statement from page 1 of the product manual:
    To comply with the National Electric Code (NEC), the current rating of the controller for solar charging must be equal or greater than 125% of the solar array’s short circuit current output (Isc). Therefore, the maximum allowable solar array input to the TriStar controller for compliance with the NEC is:

    TS-45: 36 amps Isc
    As a practical matter, this means an array rated at ~550 W STC for a 12 V application, or perhaps seven of the 80 W modules wired in parallel. The NEC limitation (ref Article 690.8 ) applies to any controller installed in a code-compliant system.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Well, its looking like credit card time and the Outback or Xantrex units then.

    Problem is that I have a friend on a ranch "off grid" who needs half of my panels ( and a controller for them) for living purposes, and the other half of the panels will be at the house. We will probably be putting 5 80 watt panels at the house for the pool pump, then 4-5 panels at the ranch for his needs.

    How do I figure out how many batteries 5 80 watt panels will charge and keep topped up? We have sun 350 days a year and I am planning on drawing power for the pool pump for 3-4 hours only per day, during the middle of the day when the sun is out. Would love to be "off grid" full time but just cannot afford what it costs right now do go all the way. Cutting the pool pump off of the grid cuts my monthly utility bill in half, as well its a "proof of concept" project for a newby like me.

    Yes, later on more panels will be added to make more power so agree that its worth looking to the future.

    Bill, how far out in the future is the new controller? Couple of months or so? We can wait that long, but much longer and we will need to be setting up and going.

    Thx,

    Joe
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,698 admin
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    I have no connection to anyone in the solar power industry (other than through the public posts on this forum)...

    In reality, if you are at 400 watts or more--probably just go with the Xantrex or Outback family of MPPT charge controllers (60-80 amps--and don't forget the Remote Battery Temperature Sensor). You are already in their sweet zone of operation.

    Also--think about what your final bank voltage will be... 1,000 watts of load or under, 12 volts is fine. Under ~2,000 watts 24 volts is fine. Over that (especially over 4,000 watts), a 48 volt is bank is the only way to go (keeps battery bank currents and cabling reasonable sizes). So--picking your inverter (which is usually fixed input voltage) will help you decided if you can move it to the next larger system, or it is left behind.

    The Xantrex and Outback MPPT Charge controllers can be set for any 12-48 volt battery bank... And on a 48 volt battery bank, you can handle 4x as many solar panels as can be managed on a 12 volt bank.

    And, as long as I am prying open your wallet--I would highly recommend a Battery Monitor... With out one, it is like running your gar without a gas gauge on your tank. Even a less expensive unit like the Trimetric is going to give you just about all of the information you will need to monitor your battery bank.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    There is a new TriStar MPPT controller that will be available in the stores next month: TriStar MPPT

    Ole
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Ole,

    Thanks and that looks very interesting. 45 and 60 watt versions, so would fit the area that I am looking for. Could not find a price for them but then it says they will be out in Sept and thats not that far out.

    Bill,

    Thanks for the info. Yes in the end we will end up with more and more panels, but also 1/2 of them will be at the house and the other half at the ranch. Depending on the price a couple of the Morningstar 60 MPPT controllers might just be what we need. If the price is too high would try to find a deal on a Outback or Xantrex.

    Agree on the battery monitor. They are the heart of the system.

    Thx,

    Joe
  • _OS__OS_ Solar Expert Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    I inquired a dealer a few weeks ago and the price I got was $180 for the 45A version and $225 for the 60A version. I do not know if the price includes the meter.

    Ole
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Will give Northern Ariz a call when they get open today and find out.

    Thx,

    Joe
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    DM Solar has the MPPT version of this controller for $225.

    http://www.dmsolar.com/mo60amtrmp.html

    Just off of the phone with Dan at NAWS and he really pushed the Outback version of the MPPT controller. I agree with his ideas that the new one coming out is a good idea but lets let it sit on the market for a while and make sure that everything is a good one. Kinda like Windoz OS and you never use them before the first service pack comes out, and I agree.

    The Outback version is tried and tested and we know it works fine. Oh well, have to break out the credit card now.
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    The TSMPPT has not been released its still in development ... so take what ever you find on the web skeptically pricing wise. The link looks to me like a TS-45 pwm model without a meter display

    Pricing for the new TriStar Mppt I have been told is to compete with the Xantrex XW-Mppt-60 and the Outback FM60, but offer more features and better performance

    I'm been working with MorningStar for the last 2 years, attached is a pair of Units being put thru their paces in my Lab in Lakeland. When they do become available they will have a rich feature set and best in class efficiency and mppt harvest performance, which is being validated extensively.

    I have a pair of 4k arrays, tweaked to with 3-5 watts of each other and have extensive data running all the major brands, so I know exactly what all the controllers do ( or don't ). If today you must purchase a 60 amp Mppt unit, The Xantrex is a better proven unit than the Outback, search here from others that know there are issues.
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452 ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    SG,

    Thanks for the lab pic. Now we can see just how you accomplish your extensive tests.... You got a EASY button! :D
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,466 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    attached is a pair of Units being put thru their paces in my Lab .

    That lab makes me feel right at home. Does the EASY button help?
    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 ,

  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    mike90045 wrote: »
    That lab makes me feel right at home. Does the EASY button help?

    Does look nice, especially with flatscreen up top keeping an eye on everything.

    The "easy" button might look nice but does not always work. At least for my copilot its worthless! :)
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    mike90045 wrote: »
    That lab makes me feel right at home. Does the EASY button help?

    The Easy button works GREAT, the most important inventory of tools I own. When ever a client has some impossible request, I just run to the red button, press and presto, their wish is instantly filled :roll: ... well with humor anyways!
  • RVoutreachRVoutreach Registered Users Posts: 7
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Morningstar is starting production of new 45a and 60a MPPT charge controllers. They state they should be getting to distributors by the end of the month. Specs can be found by clicking http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/library/TSMPPT%20data%20sheet%207. 14.091.pdf
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    RVoutreach wrote: »
    Morningstar is starting production of new 45a and 60a MPPT charge controllers. They state they should be getting to distributors by the end of the month. Specs can be found by clicking http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/support/library/TSMPPT%20data%20sheet%207. 14.091.pdf

    Not sure what month they were referring to, but we have been told not to expect it until mid or late November 2009.

    Price is expected to be in the same range as the Outback FM60 and the Xantrex XW-SCC. I don't know much about DM Solar, but I do know they are dead wrong on their price.
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    I'm been working with MorningStar for the last 2 years, attached is a pair of Units being put thru their paces in my Lab in Lakeland. When they do become available they will have a rich feature set and best in class efficiency and mppt harvest performance, which is being validated extensively.

    I have a pair of 4k arrays, tweaked to with 3-5 watts of each other and have extensive data running all the major brands, so I know exactly what all the controllers do ( or don't ). If today you must purchase a 60 amp Mppt unit, The Xantrex is a better proven unit than the Outback, search here from others that know there are issues.

    Question. The past few days have been talking with several sellers and everyone of them says that they would buy the Outback over the Xantrex hands down.

    Can you pls tell me why you feel that the Xantrex is better than the Outback? It seems that the Outback is the industry standard but then what do I know!

    Thx,

    Joe A
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Outback vs. Xantrex - the battle continues! (think 'C' grade 1950's sci-fi flics) :p

    I've had equipment from both companies, so here's my opinion:

    We hear that Outback has better customer service. I don't know; never had the slightest bit of trouble with the FX or the MX. My Xantrex inverter did develop issues, and the company didn't want to know about it. That's when I switched to Outback.

    That said, the Xantrex is often a better $ value. If I were to do this place over again (fourth system so far), I'd pick the XW 6048 because it offers more Watts per $ and out-of-the-box 240 VAC. Likewise, there are some glitches reported with the new Outback FM 80 CC's. Otherwise, Outback equipment is 'bulletproof', but tends to be "pricey" (you need an inverter, charge controller, Mate programmer, and hub to tie it all together).

    I'm not going to say "buy this one"; you have to accumulate information regarding quality from several users to evaluate the goods, then see which product(s) best fit your budget.
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Well gents, the decision was just made a lot easier.

    Was laid off from my job yesterday, so buying a Outback or Xantrex is a moot point now. Paying the house payment is a bit more important now.

    Opinions on something under $150 that keeps the system working until I find a new job?
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,466 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    joeaksa wrote: »
    Opinions on something under $150 that keeps the system working

    How many amps solar, what's battery voltage ?

    Sorry about the job.


    400W PV 12V battery [36A @ 11V]
    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 ,

  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,962 ✭✭✭
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller

    Xantrex C60 or Morningstar TriStar 60 without meters is your only real option
  • joeaksajoeaksa Solar Expert Posts: 39
    Re: Morningstar 45 amp charge controller
    mike90045 wrote: »
    How many amps solar, what's battery voltage ?

    Sorry about the job.

    Right now 5 80 watt panels with 20 6 volt golf cart batteries wired in a 12v bank.

    Was going to get the Outback or Xantrex MPPT unit but just had a "funny feeling" that now was not a good time to spend so much so put everything on hold for a couple of weeks. Turns out that my "gut feeling" was right and now plans are adjusted.

    Was unemployed for 3 years from June 2005 and forced to work overseas sometimes 2-3 months at a time. Sure hope this economy situation gets better and soon!

    Thx,

    Joe
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