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Old 11-18-2014, 08:39 PM   #1
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Power Center Upgrade/Replacement

I think I have found the folly in searching the archives on the forums with respect to upgrading/replacing converters and converter/chargers.

I bought a 2004 22' Safari, and set up in a local Air Force Base family camp to see if everything worked (30 day warranty).

Next I spent 2 days in a BLM run camp with water and electric, and the third use was 10 days in a Boondocking situation in Kenton, Oklahoma where we could pull water from a building and shower in the building, but no electric or sewer or water hookups. I think I enjoyed that one the most.

My wife and I planned for fresh water, gray water and black water savings: paper plates, showers in the camp, porta-potties cleaned every two days on the grounds... pretty well done. We left with our gray water tank and black water tank on green status (less than 1/8 full).

The toughest thing, as it turned out, was battery use. I have since replaced the 1141's with LEDs but am trying to figure out how to make better use of my batteries.

I have read all the postings, and find numerous recommendations to replace the Parallax 7300 with a Progressive Dynamics 4645, etc.

I can understand the benefits to go to a 3 or 4 stage charger, but when I researched the PD4645, I found it had been replaced twice by newer lines.
In short, the recommendations become aged, and if not careful, someone could replace old technology with more old technology.

Here is my problem. Not knowing what I was doing, but trying to be prudent, I bought a 30 amp monitor that finds polarity issues and provides surge protection, but it doesn't detect low voltage and protect or turn off anything. I should have done my homework better and bought the more expensive one...

But these days, I ought to be able to get a power center that does that as well as provide 4 stage charging (including the float and equalization modes AND provides for temperature adjustments to current feeds to the batteries.

I bought a Trimetric meter and a Morningstar Tristar PWM Solar Controller, and I should be able to host at least one panel (ground mounted and portable) to provide battery charging, and I should be able to isolate that part of the system from the rest, but it would be nice to be able to have the system when hooked to utility power or a generator, charge the batteries effectively when I don't put out the solar.

So the question is, "What new technology will provide me all these benefits, replace an older Parallax 7345, and play nice with a solar controller?"
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:54 PM   #2
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Dan, I'm not sure I understand your question.

We have a solar system (270 watts with Blue Sky 2512 MPPT Charge Controller and Blue Sky IPNPro Battery Monitor) and upgraded power converter (PD 4655 Smart Converter) in our Airstream. The solar smart charger, converter smart charger and battery monitor work very well in tandem.
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:05 PM   #3
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You already have a decent, but not great solar controller and a usable basic battery monitor. The next piece of the puzzle for on-grid battery charging is a quality inverter/charger. With a unit like the magnum MMS-1012, you get 4stage charging with full temperature compensation and full charging programmability for type of battery, size of your battery bank, low voltage disconnect for the inverter's operation and other parameters....all easily adjusted by the Magnum ME-RC remote control panel.

Not certain if your TriStar PWM solar controller offers these features, but the Blue Sky units starting with their 3000i controller, all the way up to the 40 amp 3024i controller have full temperature compensation, fully adjustable charging parameters and MPPT solar boost.

What else do you desire???
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Old 11-19-2014, 12:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinTin View Post
Dan, I'm not sure I understand your question.

We have a solar system (270 watts with Blue Sky 2512 MPPT Charge Controller and Blue Sky IPNPro Battery Monitor) and upgraded power converter (PD 4655 Smart Converter) in our Airstream. The solar smart charger, converter smart charger and battery monitor work very well in tandem.
Tin Tin -

The 4655 is, in fact, one of the upgrades I have seen listed, and it seems to be still available. With a 4 stage charger it should also do the job of charging well if it allows 14.8 volt charging with adjustments upward for temperature. (See Handyman Bob's stuff on a Google search and he talks about how some chargers limit charge cycles to 14.4 amps and cutoff completely at over 15 amps... ) which is why the Morningstar Tristar 45 is exactly what I want. I can program it if I don't like the optional programs which look pretty good to begin with. The only thing I am looking for over an above the PD4655 (I see folks saying you shouldn't replace the Parallax 7345 with higher current value, but I have also seen the PD4655 specifically listed as a replacement for the 7645) is what the Surge Guard does... monitors utility or generator supply and shuts down at low voltage, trying to reconnect periodically when (if) the volage returns to the safe range. It would seem that this could be put into a 4655 equivalent... without needing to go out an buy another voltage watchdog when the main supply should be doing that anyway. Any suggestions?
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Old 11-19-2014, 12:51 AM   #5
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Upgrading Parallax 7345 to the most current technology...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinTin View Post
Dan, I'm not sure I understand your question.

We have a solar system (270 watts with Blue Sky 2512 MPPT Charge Controller and Blue Sky IPNPro Battery Monitor) and upgraded power converter (PD 4655 Smart Converter) in our Airstream. The solar smart charger, converter smart charger and battery monitor work very well in tandem.

Rechecked and found the 4645 listed as the proper upbrade for my 45 Amp Parallax unit, but it does show high and low voltage protection. Unlike Surge Guard which describes things in detail, this doesn't say that it cuts out the circuit, but I can call PD and get a more detailed description. The voltage of 14.4 is a little low for lead acid flooded cell batteries, but is better than the 13.6 of the Parallax 7345, so it would be an improvement. The equalization current and times look ok for the sealed batteries, but again they could be low for flooded lead acid (Interstate) which I have. Do you have a temperature compensation sensor in that?
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:09 AM   #6
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Inverter...

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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
You already have a decent, but not great solar controller and a usable basic battery monitor. The next piece of the puzzle for on-grid battery charging is a quality inverter/charger. With a unit like the magnum MMS-1012, you get 4stage charging with full temperature compensation and full charging programmability for type of battery, size of your battery bank, low voltage disconnect for the inverter's operation and other parameters....all easily adjusted by the Magnum ME-RC remote control panel.

Not certain if your TriStar PWM solar controller offers these features, but the Blue Sky units starting with their 3000i controller, all the way up to the 40 amp 3024i controller have full temperature compensation, fully adjustable charging parameters and MPPT solar boost.

What else do you desire???
The Morningstar Tristar has full programability and temperature compensation. Morningstar offers optional meters, but most folks I have seen in my research prefer the Bogart Engineering Trimetric.

I was looking at the Magnum MS2000 Pure Sine Inverter/Charger but it looked like I would have to feed it from the existing Parallax 7345 and didn't know how to get the DC part of the system out of the hands of the Parallaz 7345 and into the realm of the MS2000, and I didn't want to start pulling AS panels apart to rewire the AC so will probably be happy to use the existing two Interstate Batteries on the tongue and just keep them charged with something like th PD4645 and the solar controller with one 140 watt ground mounted panel... PD 4645 when there is no sun or I can run my Honda 2000i and 2000i companion, and the solar when it is available. With a 600/6000 Equal-i-zer hitch I don't want to double the battery weight, so I think I can be happy with improved charging to keep the charge up so if I have to use the furnace fan, I won't be dead after a couple days use trying to charge with the old Parallax 7345. I saw an estimate of 3 days with that... probably could use the 8.5 amp charge direct from the Honda 2000i faster, but noise is not always appreciated, ever from one of the quiet ones.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Rossbach View Post
The Morningstar Tristar has full programability and temperature compensation. Morningstar offers optional meters, but most folks I have seen in my research prefer the Bogart Engineering Trimetric.

I was looking at the Magnum MS2000 Pure Sine Inverter/Charger but it looked like I would have to feed it from the existing Parallax 7345 and didn't know how to get the DC part of the system out of the hands of the Parallaz 7345 and into the realm of the MS2000, and I didn't want to start pulling AS panels apart to rewire the AC so will probably be happy to use the existing two Interstate Batteries on the tongue and just keep them charged with something like th PD4645 and the solar controller with one 140 watt ground mounted panel... PD 4645 when there is no sun or I can run my Honda 2000i and 2000i companion, and the solar when it is available. With a 600/6000 Equal-i-zer hitch I don't want to double the battery weight, so I think I can be happy with improved charging to keep the charge up so if I have to use the furnace fan, I won't be dead after a couple days use trying to charge with the old Parallax 7345. I saw an estimate of 3 days with that... probably could use the 8.5 amp charge direct from the Honda 2000i faster, but noise is not always appreciated, ever from one of the quiet ones.
Dan,

With all due respect, I think that you need to consult with soneone who knows a bit more than your present sources......like Handy Bob (we call him Angry Bob in the industry!)

Any Magnum inverter/charger is basically a stand alone unit that totally eliminates the need for any type of power converter, like a Parallax or Progressive Dynamics unit. If you look at the installation manual, you will see that it requires a 30 amp 120VAC power source from your breaker box and a direct DC connection thru a class "T" fuse. It has the best 4 stage charging unit available in the RV industry today, and you get the added benefit of being able to run 120VAC loads from your batteries when off-grid.

Further, you did not specify which Morningstar unit you were using in your original post. The Tristar 45 IS an MPPT solar charge controller with temperature compensation and voltage sense. We have been using the Blue Sky units rather than the Morningstars for a few of reasons:

The MPPT sampling on the Blue Sky is much faster than that of the Morningstar, which translates to improved solar boost from the MPPT circuits
Blue Sky has their iPN remote which is a full function battery monitor that is much easier to read and program with more detail than than Tri-Metric unit and gives you all functions in one remote panel rather than using a TriMetric and a Morningstar remote
Blue Sky controllers are easily stackable for use in larger solar arrays while Morningstar requires the use of their hub system and complex programming

I would also check with your battery manufacturer about the need for a 14.8VDC charge to your batteries (at 77F) for a bulk/absorption rate. I know Angry Bob suggests this, but I believe that his 'research' is seriously flawed.

Further, with desire for fully programmable 3-stage charging for your batteries, why would you consider using the 8 amp single voltage output from your Honda for battery charging when you have better, controller and higher amperage sources?
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Rossbach View Post
Rechecked and found the 4645 listed as the proper upbrade for my 45 Amp Parallax unit, but it does show high and low voltage protection. Unlike Surge Guard which describes things in detail, this doesn't say that it cuts out the circuit, but I can call PD and get a more detailed description. The voltage of 14.4 is a little low for lead acid flooded cell batteries, but is better than the 13.6 of the Parallax 7345, so it would be an improvement. The equalization current and times look ok for the sealed batteries, but again they could be low for flooded lead acid (Interstate) which I have. Do you have a temperature compensation sensor in that?
Dan, our Blue Sky 2512 Solar Controller does have a temperature compensation sensor. They are an accessory to the solar controller. Regarding high/low voltage protection on the PD converters, I really don't know. I have one of the inexpensive standalone 30 amp surge protectors myself.

Do listen to lewster's advice, he's worked on these systems for years and is very knowledgeable.
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Old 11-19-2014, 05:42 PM   #9
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Dan, for even more information I would suggest going to the Bogart Engineering site( Ralph Heisey) is an electrical engineer who has lived totally off the grid for about 10 years.
He is very willing to answer questions about his " very basic" Trimetric TM 2030 and PWM solar controller SC2030.
He can also shed light on the recommended ( by the manufacturer) bulk charge rates for all the different batteries out there.

It never hurts to have more than one source for information.


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Old 11-19-2014, 09:36 PM   #10
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Dan, for even more information I would suggest going to the Bogart Engineering site( Ralph Heisey) is an electrical engineer who has lived totally off the grid for about 10 years.


George

Thanks. I started with Bogart. It seems like "Angry Bob" is right about a few things. The Morningstar Tristar 45 is a PWM controller so I am not sure why it has been suggested it is an MPPT type. Maybe there are just too many on the market to keep them all straight.

These posts have been helpful. I would likely have gone out and bought a Surge Guard with the high and low voltage protection and wasted my money on that prior to putting in a PD4645 or a MS2000 which apparently both will do the same thing and more.

My comment to lewster regarding my 8.5 amp charge was only to highlight that it appears with my current Parallax 7345 the two stage charger hooked to a 30 amp service takes longer to charge my standard AS Interstate flooded lead acid batteries than using a resource I already have (generators) but would rather use on a more limited basis if I can pull enough solar into the batteries to do the same thing. Solar requires specific weather conditions that I think I should be prepared to have a backup plan for. Certainly I would rather have a 4 stage charger working on the batteries, and if not solar due to conditions, then maybe a Progressive Dynamics or Magnum unit.

As far as the meter is concerned, there are a lot of folks who have documented the preference for the Bogart Trimetric over other options. If I don't like it, I will buy another and try that. The AltEstore is another source for information and their prices are pretty good, it appears. Thanks for the pointer to Bogart.
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Old 11-19-2014, 11:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Rossbach View Post
Thanks. I started with Bogart. It seems like "Angry Bob" is right about a few things. The Morningstar Tristar 45 is a PWM controller so I am not sure why it has been suggested it is an MPPT type. Maybe there are just too many on the market to keep them all straight.

I did find that Morningstar has a Tristar TS MPPT 45. How is that for confusing? The MPPT version is $414.11 at AltE and the Tristar 45 (PWM) is $146. Morningstar provides a chart comparing PWM and MPPT technologies on page 9 of their white paper at

http://support.morningstarcorp.com/w...April-2014.pdf

Among other things, they suggest that if your array is less than 170 watts, you are not likely to benefit as much from the MPPT technology and they concede that the higher cost may make a PWM controller a better choice, especially for low power or higher temperature areas. I am in Albuquerque, and stated that I was planning on using a single Kyocera 12V 140 watt ground mounted panel to get whatever I could get. There is expandability possible, but unlikely I would think unless I someday catch "longer trailer fever" which seems to strike without warning.

I think I have what I need at this point. Thanks to all who helped me focus on some of the fuzziest stuff.
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