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Old 05-29-2015, 12:03 PM   #1
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1996 28' Excella
Mobile , Mississippi
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Solar/ I think I need a new charge controller...

Ok, please follow with me for a minute:

I have a 1996 28 foot excella.

It had the 5W, the pair of 53W factory panels, and another I'd judge 100-150W panel put on it when new either by a OC electrical engineer or someone he trusted to do so (he was getting up there in years.)

2 years ago I replaced the 53W panels with 100W panels and spent 6 months boon docking.

Doing it again, just got new deep cycle batteries (which I had checked before I bought them.) they were 80% charged and before I installed them I hooked jumper cables to them for 2 hours each. (should of been well charged)

It's been overcast, so I've run the generator a bit in the last week or 2, and I can't get the meter to go above about 12.4 (old needle type)

Yesterday the needle was BURRIED when I walked in in the evening. (I've replaced the lights with LED's.... Which were all off. The only thing running all day was the regulator on the propane fridge.
-just went through this 2 weeks ago and thought it was bad batteries.

I hooked up jumper cables last night thinking it might be the battery charger/converter, (I was thinking it was an inverter) and the little Honda EU2000i didn't have enough ass.

It hit 13 briefly and settled down to 12.4 (should of been higher with my alternator running)
Stayed there when I shut it off a couple hours laterand Was at 12 this morning.

Last time I was up here the sun would make it peg 14
It's like the solar isn't even there right now.

Neighbor who lives off grid thinks I put too much solar on the roof and burned up the charge controller.

I've got a Morningstar proStar-30 I bought when I boughten solar and never used...but he told me that's not going to handle the ~300w... It's for 30 amps, (like my plug) but he said I'd get more from the solar...

I'm pretty sure it can't be the converter as I'm running 12V

I got up on the roof and checked the solar wires... Don't see anything amiss.

Ok, thank you for getting through that:
1. Could it be anything else other than the charge controller.?
2. Is the Mornigstar a good replacement?
2. a: if not, please make a recommendation.
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Old 05-29-2015, 01:21 PM   #2
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The morningstar 30 amp controller is more than sufficient for 300 watts if solar. What is more important is the actual voltage output rating of the different panels.

Similar to batteries, you get the best performance from panels with the same specifications. If the panels' output is the same, you might consider an MPPT controller rather than a PWM unit, as the MPPT will actually boost the charging amperage that the batteries see.

You also have to consider the cable size and the length of the run to minimize voltage drop and maximize your solar charge controllers' output.


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Old 05-29-2015, 01:52 PM   #3
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1996 28' Excella
Mobile , Mississippi
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GS100 Solar Panel | Solar Panels

I have 2 of these and one which was already on there.
I HAD bought (and not installed) one of their 150W panels...
(didn't when previously I was getting 14V from what was there.)

I called Morningstar, and they said I needed to check open circuit voltage and short circut current... That looks fine.

Before I go trying to swap it out.... Anything else I should check?
(I've got the truck hooked up, and a generator plugged into my 30A plug.... Got the volts up to 13)
The little light in the stock charge controler to show its charging (like it used to do with solar) isn't on though.
This makes me think I'm right in thinking its a charge controller issue.
Thank you.
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Old 05-30-2015, 11:38 AM   #4
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Where is a good place on the outside to put a charge controller? I have a marine grade waterproof controller and an Airstream with the battery cabinet on the A frame. I want to be able to see the readout but not make it totally conspicuous either. Any ideas? My panels are portable so a front connection makes the most sense with the batteries there.

Lewster, I am setting up two different portable solutions 1) a when-in-storage solar charger with its own mppt and flexible panel and 2) a more powerful camping suitcase style with a PWM controller. I also want to be able to combine them when camping for more solar power. I was told that this is possible. They are all 50 watt panels; however the specs are:

Storage system 1

VMP:17.6 V
IMP: 02.84 A
VOC:21.6 V
ISC: 3.05 A

Camping system 2
VMP: 17.5 V
IMP: 5.71 A
VOC: 21.6 V
ISC: 6.17 V

From what I understand, aside from the two having more panel area versus more output (IMP, ISC) the only real spec difference is the VMP of .1 which is supposedly a minor loss. Am I correct on this? I was also told that as long as the two controllers were of different amperage I would not have issues with two on the same bank. The gentleman stated that while running two of the same controllers on a bank is possible, there are times when same controllers of same amperage will compete. ? I purchased two different ones intentionally AND recently was advised that unless going over 500 watts, there is little reason to worry about PWM versus MPPT.
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Old 05-31-2015, 03:34 PM   #5
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Actually, you will see the added solar boost from MPPT with any array of 200 + watts. Be very careful about using any controller outside that isn't rated for outside use. Most aren't.


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