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Old 23-02-2016, 08:26   #16
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

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I will update this post once I test the Genasun in the next month in the rainy-cloudy season of my home in the Pacific NW.
We're very interested in real world experience
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Old 23-02-2016, 08:49   #17
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

Update;
I have tested the Genasun for one day only so far. I expect to do more testing in the next few days. First observations; the Genasun appears to be a real MPPT controller - it has the required copper wire coil in the circuit. (There are many controllers in the $50-100 range that have MPPT in their model number that actually are not MPPT controllers. (Don't you love marketing people.) ) The "marine quality" claim is marginal at best. The build quality is nice, the board is solidly mounted and the enclosure is NOT even close to waterproof. The Genasun's spec's never gave an IP rating so I was half expecting the non-watertight enclosure I found. On one end the board exits the side of the case and there is a significant gap around the board. The remainder of the plastic cover is a reasonably close fit but has no lip, gasket or other means to even try to keep out water. That said, when I installed the unit, it seemed to work perfectly and the instructions were clear and well done. Everything about the unit's build quality and look is well done. The instructions point out that to use the controller outside or wet locations, it must be put into a suitable enclosure. In about a week I will give a summary of my performance findings including details on the 100w panel used as well.
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Old 23-02-2016, 11:04   #18
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

Yandina (the West/Yandina combiner) pop up here from time to time, but they also answer email questions directly usually overnight. Damned good device.


Since it would "combine" your batteries, and a dual-charger "knows" that it is seeing two different batteries...I'd guess any other combiner should be disabled (there are switch connections on the Yandina) if you are using one. Or, the dual charger could be set up for just one battery, and allow the Yandina to keep working as usual. Give then a quick email, they'll know for sure.


The MPPT controller typically will give you a 15% gain over a plain PWM controller, so turning your 100W panel into a 115W panel. Whether that's worth $100+ of controller...I don't know but I always figured it was the best way to get more daylight out of whatever you were going to get, one of the few "more is better" that always applies. Note that some of them can be programmed, or factory programmed, to provide the exact optimum voltage points that your battery maker calls for, rather than just 'close'.
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Old 24-02-2016, 08:32   #19
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

You will not get 115w out of a 100 watt panel. Instead you will get the 100 watts you paid for instead of the 85 watts your 100 watt panel would deliver. The difference is that your panels are rated at their most efficient spot. Call it 18 volts, where they produce 5.55 amps. Without the mppt charger the solar panel voltage will follow the battery voltage say 14.6 volts, while still producing the same 5.55 amps. The difference between the actual voltage and the maximum power point voltage is your increase in power with the mppt controller. This is because the mppt controller runs the solar panels at their maximum power producing voltage then through the miracle of electronics converts some of the excess voltage to amperage. Instead of the 5.55 amps you were charging with, now you are charging at 6.8 amps.
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Old 24-02-2016, 09:46   #20
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

True enough, but for the money you paid for the MPPT you could get another 100 watt solar panel, giving you a total of 170 watts.

In any case, the OP only wanted enough solar power to start his motor, and 85 effective watts is overkill for that.
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Old 24-02-2016, 15:33   #21
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

The MPPT will not increase the wattage out of the panels, true. However, it WILL increase the wattage available to the batteries, compared to a conventional charger controller. IF your panels put out 22v at 5A to make 110W, on paper, then a conventional controller would chop that down to ~14 volts at the same 5A, giving you 70 watts into the batteries.


The MPPT controller will often by taking the same overall wattage, but converting voltage into amperage instead of just throwing it out. So it might give you 14v at 7.8A instead of just 5A, a very healthy bonus.


Things are never quite that simple, but that's the short version of how a real MPPT works and why it almost always is going to do a faster and better job charging the batteries than a conventional charger, PWM or otherwise.


The semiconductor companies all have MPPT controller chips for sale now, so they can be way cheaper than the early custom microprocessor designs. But there are also a host of outface fakes from China on the market as well.
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Old 24-02-2016, 17:30   #22
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post


The MPPT controller will often by taking the same overall wattage, but converting voltage into amperage instead of just throwing it out. So it might give you 14v at 7.8A instead of just 5A, a very healthy bonus.

Somehow we have gone from a 15% gain to a 56% gain--I've seen the 15%, but I think you are blowing smoke with the 56%.
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Old 24-02-2016, 20:21   #23
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

No, Don, no smoke, just observations as to how MPPT actually *converts* power to amperage. Instead of "three stage" charging, you may see a battery that's at 12 volts being charged at only 12.2 volts--and all the rest of the power is applied as amperage. A conventional charger would never do that, but some MPPTs are programmed to simply "lead" the battery by a small voltage, and put the rest into amperage.
That's not going to happen ALL DAY so it won't be 56% in any meaningful way. The potential gain in any one situation, of limited duration, is not very meaningful in a larger context. But it will happen during those hours (i.e. noon) when a conventional charger might take a 17-22V output and throw out everything about 14 volts, which is actually more voltage than the battery needs to see.
I said, and will say again, the overall gain from an MPPT will be maybe 15%. A simple "flat" photocell panel can cost you 30% of the potential output, contrasted to a panel that is re-aligned every hour. The loss is about 10% per hour, as the sun travels 15 degrees per hour and gets out of alignment to the flat panel.
Hell, even the battery makers have said you can gain 10-15% faster charging "simply" by using PWM (which all MPPT uses) and a "lead the voltage" strategy, as opposed to conventional DC 3-stage charging. Now add that to the MPPT charging gain from the panels...and no one is claiming a 30% gain overall but there are now two significant gains in the system. (It won't be 30% since "PWM" is a part of both numbers, and it would have to be factored to accommodate for that.)
Places like Sandia Labs have plenty of information online about how to optimize solar power systems, and their credentials and extensive references will answer your questions. Of course, you'll have to take the time and initiative to wade through a lot of detail in a lot of places.
The expensive systems aren't just "bling" for their owners to wear and brag. There are solid performance gains, documented in repeated scientific measurement, and the only question really is how much you're willing to pay, and how much performance you want to get. (Aside from the perennial "new solar breakthrough! Invest here! schemes.)


BTW, the magic of PWM as compared to plain DC, whether it is PWM or MPPT using PWM, is because PWM causes less micro-bubbling in liquid electrolytes (less gassing, less electrolyte replacement too) and since there are fewer bubbles, there is more liquid electrolyte in contact with the plates and the charging proceeds at a much higher efficiency. And a slightly lower temperature.


Not magic, but something you'll never see or feel with normal tools on a boat.(G)
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Old 26-02-2016, 22:05   #24
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
No, Don, no smoke, just observations as to how MPPT actually *converts* power to amperage. Instead of "three stage" charging, you may see a battery that's at 12 volts being charged at only 12.2 volts--and all the rest of the power is applied as amperage. A conventional charger would never do that, but some MPPTs are programmed to simply "lead" the battery by a small voltage, and put the rest into amperage.
That's not going to happen ALL DAY so it won't be 56% in any meaningful way. The potential gain in any one situation, of limited duration, is not very meaningful in a larger context. But it will happen during those hours (i.e. noon) when a conventional charger might take a 17-22V output and throw out everything about 14 volts, which is actually more voltage than the battery needs to see.
I said, and will say again, the overall gain from an MPPT will be maybe 15%. A simple "flat" photocell panel can cost you 30% of the potential output, contrasted to a panel that is re-aligned every hour. The loss is about 10% per hour, as the sun travels 15 degrees per hour and gets out of alignment to the flat panel.
Hell, even the battery makers have said you can gain 10-15% faster charging "simply" by using PWM (which all MPPT uses) and a "lead the voltage" strategy, as opposed to conventional DC 3-stage charging. Now add that to the MPPT charging gain from the panels...and no one is claiming a 30% gain overall but there are now two significant gains in the system. (It won't be 30% since "PWM" is a part of both numbers, and it would have to be factored to accommodate for that.)
An MPPT controller only switches to PWM when the terminal voltage reaches the set point, typically 14.4 volts for flooded batteries, although this can be adjusted on better controllers. In bulk MPPT has significant gains as long as there is enough voltage from the panels for it to work with. In bright sun a nominal 12 volt panel will have a voltage of around 17 to 19. This extra (above 14.4) voltage is converter into higher amperage for faster charging. In bulk the batteries will accept all the current they get with a typical solar system. Mainesail has compared PWM to MPPT controllers here: MPPT vs. PWM Controllers Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
His accurately measured gain over a one week period was 20.8%. Depending on the speed of the controller - how often the algorithm is designed to check and adjust to conditions - it can be a larger gain.

If you are charging a battery at 12 volts with a voltage of 12.2 volts it will take a very long time to achieve a full charge. The voltage will rise to the set point of the controller of about 14.4 at which point PWM will take over. PWM is pulse width modulation which keeps the voltage constant as the battery acceptance drops due to resistance.

MPPT in bulk for constant current charging.

PWM after for constant voltage finish of charging.
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Old 27-02-2016, 08:44   #25
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MPPT controllers & higher nominal voltage panels

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The semiconductor companies all have MPPT controller chips for sale now, so they can be way cheaper than the early custom microprocessor designs. But there are also a host of outface fakes from China on the market as well.
Just like with computers, the bleeding edge tech at first costs a lot more, then at some point in time adoption of some tech is a no-brainer as costs are lowered. Maybe that's where we are with MPPT controllers, but I'm trying to go in with open eyes about the real issue of fake MPPT controllers out there.

How does a buyer determine pre-purchase, if an MPPT charger is legit, that it's pricing and efficiency follow from its use of newer generation chips ASICs? I don't want to assume than an MPPT charger is legit just because it is high priced, or sold by as US reseller.

Also, solar panels today are listing charging voltages (Vmpp) of 36 volts and higher. Maybe this is a very new development. Also, people are putting multiple panels in series in order to use thinner (or existing) wires -> higher wattage (and higher voltages) at lower amperage. I don't see how you could consider one of these with anything other than an MPPT controller.

Perhaps some negative views of MPPT controllers are based on the older generation models, or falsely advertised models. Would love to hear more feedback about specific models.
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Old 27-02-2016, 12:30   #26
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Re: MPPT controllers & higher nominal voltage panels

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How does a buyer determine pre-purchase, if an MPPT charger is legit, that it's pricing and efficiency follow from its use of newer generation chips ASICs? I don't want to assume than an MPPT charger is legit just because it is high priced, or sold by a US reseller.
Easy really - buy a major brand. Genasun, Victron, Morningstar, Outback, Midnite, and Bluesky are all quality products. Why take a chance on a no-name product?

Any good controller in my opinion has full adjustment on voltage parameters. The above all produce controllers with these adjustments with the exception of Genasun which is factory programmed for the battery technology.

I favor the Victron, particularly their 75/15 which is very reasonably priced and fully adjustable.
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Old 15-03-2016, 14:39   #27
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Re: MPPT controllers & higher nominal voltage panels

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Easy really - buy a major brand. Genasun, Victron, Morningstar, Outback, Midnite, and Bluesky are all quality products.
Have you (or anyone else) heard of EPsolar, in particular their Tracer line of MPPT controllers?

Renogy resells Midnite which you mentioned with their larger systems. But they also resell the Tracer line which is much smaller, as for a boat.
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Old 15-03-2016, 21:09   #28
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Re: MPPT controllers & higher nominal voltage panels

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Have you (or anyone else) heard of EPsolar, in particular their Tracer line of MPPT controllers?

Renogy resells Midnite which you mentioned with their larger systems. But they also resell the Tracer line which is much smaller, as for a boat.
I can't find out who makes the Tracer. Could be a re-branded offshore product.

Nowhere on the specs does it state charging voltages, which cannot be changed whatever they are. It's not particularly inexpensive though.

Which model are you looking at? How many watts are your panels?

If you are looking at the 20 amp model it will accept 200 watts of panels. The Victron 75/15, although rated lower at 15 amps, will accept the same 200 watts of panels. Every parameter is adjustable with an optional cable (under $30). Backed up by an international company that is respected throughout the industry.
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Old 20-03-2016, 14:25   #29
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Re: MPPT controllers & higher nominal voltage panels

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I can't find out who makes the Tracer.
Painfully slow site but they have an english version plus manuals etc epsolarpv dot com/en

FTWIW, a US solar retailer that reselles Midnite products also sells the earlier Tracer line.

I'm looking at the BN series which according to a youtube review has improved
software, and the coils are embedded. The heat sink is more substantial too.

The Tracer 2215BN can handle 260W for 12v nominal system, double for 24v charging. It supports user defined voltages for equalize, boost, float, low voltage reconnect, and low voltage disconnect ranging from 9 to 17Volts, or you can just choose from Gel, Sealed or flooded.

It has a remote battery temp sensor, and you can view / control from their remote (rs422) panel or on a PC via USB with the proper cable. I've seen the inside of this model, and the improvements from the prior model, on either blogs or youtube.

Don't know how many watts I'll be getting, still haven't decided between a home version aluminum framed, or a flexible panel. Considering at the moment a single or double 100W to 140w panel.

The problem with the flexible panels I've seen is the junction box is above the panel, and it defeats the whole purpose of having a thin panel. I'd be mounting on the hard bimini above the cockpit which is HDPE. Gluing not likely an option.

My thoughts are the panels will be obsolete much earlier than the controller. And the flex panels are not supposed to last that long anyway. The home models are vulnerable to breaking.

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Backed up by an international company that is respected throughout the industry.
Every named brand seems to be failing me from GM to Maytag & GE. Much of it isn't made here anyway, I have no idea if "ACME Solar" isn't made by one of the same far east outfits. For my installation, the controller would be out of the elements which helps, but still on a boat.
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Old 20-03-2016, 17:13   #30
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Re: 100W Panel with PWM or MPPT & ACR to start motor

Here's the manufacturer:
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