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Old 05-11-2014, 20:22   #1
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Batteries, Solar and Wind

Alright.. So I have been pondering a system, but my experience with this stuff is pretty limited (RVs). I thought I would post here and see what everyone thinks.

The plan is (around) 800W of solar and 800W of wind (2 D400s). The battery bank will be 8 T105s (or similar, like costco brand). I'm planning for 2 controllers (400w solar, 400w wind each). The 2 controllers should give some redundancy in the event of a failure (run on 1/2 production).

Another option would be to go with one 1 D400 and keep the second as spare. Then separate the wind and solar to their own controllers. Although its less power, its also less complexity in mounting and maintaining.

So my questions..
1. Is there any problem with 2 controllers, will they interfere with each other in a way I'm not thinking of?
2. What brand of controllers would be recommended?
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Old 05-11-2014, 22:25   #2
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

As long as all 4 controllers are set to charge at the same voltages (bulk, float, etc) then it should all work fine, none of them will cut off before the batteries are fully charged.

Based on what I've read, and the comparative cost of a 400w wind gen (and the fact that they don't usually produce 400 unless near max wind speed) I don't think wind generators are worth the money or the noise. I'd rather find a way to add more solar panels.

WRT 800 watts...

There are a lot of solar controllers that are rated at 20 or 25 amps. A 20A controller will need 300w to produce 20A, so that's a good match. There are also a lot of +/- 300w solar panels to choose from, so one easy option would be to mount 3 or 4 300w panels (dependent on space) and use 1 controller each. This allows each panel to get max power even under partially shaded conditions, without affecting output from another panel, as you would if 2 were in parallel on one controller. Sun power makes a 327w panel, match that up with a 25A controller and you'll get about 20-21A whenever it's not shaded. Since 400w solar panels are rare, I'm figuring you were planning on 4 x 200w panels. A 327w panel isn't much bigger.

I have a Blu-Sky SB2000e 25A controller in one trailer, it was about $190. I have an Eco-worthy 20A controller in my other trailer, it's made in China and only $102 delivered. However, honestly, the eco-worthy appears to be better made - fully conformal coated, nice big inductor for the inverter (same size as the SB2000e) and gold plated terminals. The SB2000e is better known, but doesn't have conformal coating and no gold plated connectors. The only drawback is the eco-worthy doesn't have a remote battery temp sensor, to be fair, the SB2000e remote battery temp sensor is another $50.

For $102 ea, you could have 4 in service and 2 spares and still come out cheaper than just about any other controller setup. So far, of the 3 eco-worthys I've installed, all 3 are working great. I'm not saying they are better than any other brands, especially not the $500 or 600 ones, but for $102, I'm amazed at what you get.

At any rate, with 4 x 327w panels, your total wattage would be 1300, and you'd probably harvest more power per day than an 800w solar setup and a 800w wind setup combined. Sure, you might get a cloudy day or two here or there, but with over 440 ah of usable power in the batteries, you should be able to make it. I'm planning on something with even more solar, and a Honda 2000 as backup just in case.

Just my 2c.
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Old 05-11-2014, 22:46   #3
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

I had a 46ft in Asia for a couple years. A 12V system, fitted with 3 130W Kyocera solar panels and a Superwind 350 wind generator. I needed two separate chargers, one charging parallel, the other series. The charger for the wind generator also needed a shunt load connected…
The system worked very well, BUT: On the next boat I won't install a wind generator again. I didn't mind the light hissing sound of the Superwind, actually I liked it on a breezy day, it was just the complicated setup with two chargers and always being scared of the shunt load not working properly. Also, the wind generator is a moving item, thus needing regular maintenance and attention. Additionally, living in 22deg N latitude, the solar units showed great performance.
Next boat, a project I am currently planning on, shall get as much solar power I can reasonably install on a 45ft catamaran… and maybe an additional hydro generator for long passages. But even with the hydro generator I am struggling, still wonder whether I run into the same problems as with the wind generator. Do I need two charge controllers and a shunt load for the hydro generator?
Anybody experience with that?
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Old 06-11-2014, 00:03   #4
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
So my questions..
1. Is there any problem with 2 controllers, will they interfere with each other in a way I'm not thinking of?
2. What brand of controllers would be recommended?
Can I borrow some power

There are no great problems with 2 controllers. If you can get something with infinitely adjustable settings then reducing the absorption time can be helpful.
The biggest problem is that you end up with 2x the absorption time.
As you will potentially have 4 controllers (two solar and two wind) this becomes a bit more important.

With 800w of solar the best single controllers are from Outback and Midnite. If you want two the Midnite Kid or Rogue are worth considering (although you may need 3)

Redundancy is important, but if a controller fails you can with some care and careful monitoring connect the solar direct to the batteries. With high voltage panels you will get less power, but with two controllers you would lose half if one failed anyway. Two smaller controllers reduces the consequences of failure but doubles your chance of a failure actually occurring. Give some thought to single large controller.

Wind and solar are great combination. It's usually at least one of windy, or sunny. Two wind units will give your more power, but they are difficult to place where they will not shade the solar panels. In addition a single wind generator tends to give almost no power on many days and heaps of power on other days.
On the no power days two wind units are not much help and on the heaps of power days the batteries will often be regulating, so two high powered wind generators are not as big a step up from a single unit as you would imagine.
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:26   #5
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

Thanks everyone for the information.. Its pure gold...

I had looked into the Eco-Worthy controllers but was gun shy. I own a company that imports products from China so I know it can be a crap shoot. There are tons of great well priced products in China, but also tons of cheap crap. Its good to hear that this one seems to be well built. Its cheap enough that you could carry a spare or 2.

One question about the Eco-Worthy.. Would there be any issues hooking it up to a 327w panel? In theory the panel can product more than the controller can handle, but I'm pretty sure it would never happen. After loses, shading and angles those panels should never get near 20A. Correct?

As to wind... I know the jury is still out on this one (many say yes, some say no). The fact is, like I said earlier I own and import company and was able to pick up 2 D400s from one of my trusted suppliers for an obscenely low price. Even after I buy Silentwind blades, they will still be a fraction of the cost of retail. The only question is whether I mount 1 or 2. I leaning towards only mounting 1 due to the shading issue. Then I will keep the second complete unit as a spare.

I'm planning this much power as there will be 5 people living aboard (2 adults, 3 kids under 10). We plan to run a fridge, freezer and regular navigation equipment (chart, AIS, VHF, sometimes radar). As the kids will be adjusting from land life surrounded by electronics I expect to use more than I'm producing for the first 6 months.

Again, I appreciate the responses.
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:51   #6
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

I ditto the remarks about skipping the wind turbine, and suggest you look for the coleman led adjustable charge controller, its economical and can have modules added to it should you want to increase your load. I dont have the model number off hand, its got blinking leds that you can see from a distance and you can monitor your voltage lying in bed or with a quick glance across the cabin. I picked one up on ebay for around 35 dollars. It also provides and adjustable dump load circuit should you go with wind, you wouldnt need two controllers
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:37   #7
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
After loses, shading and angles those panels should never get near 20A. Correct?

You will get above 20A on occasions.

Most (but not all) solar regulators will limit the current to self protect themselves.

The loss in power is not great, but relying on a protection mechanism is not ideal. Even worse many of the solar controllers will only do their rated current at moderate temperatures. At higher ambient temperatures they are de-rated.

You should install a controller with a reasonable margin above the max current.

The max solar voltage is also an important consideration. It should be strictly adhered to. A google search suggests for the Eco is only 42v you will instantly damage the controller if you exceed this. Many 300+ w panels have a Voc above this so check the specs carefully.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:56   #8
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

I've been doing some digging today and came across a very interesting BRAND NEW controller from BP Solar. I know the older BP Solar stuff was subpar, but this one looks A+. There are a couple of independant youtube videos showing inside and operation. It does appear to have some software bugs, but is field upgradable. The youtubers will be testing the new firmware in a week or so to see if the bugs are addressed..

Definitely some potential, and the price is excellent..

Aliexpress.com : Buy Tracer3215BN MPPT 30A 150V package with MT50 professional design for home system, outdoor lighting, signals, RVs and boats from Reliable Solar Controllers suppliers on Beijing GPX Solar Co., LTD

You can buy it without the monitoring panel so if you are buying multiple, you buy one panel. There is also software for a PC if you have a USB to RS485 adapter.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:37   #9
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Thanks everyone for the information.. Its pure gold...

I had looked into the Eco-Worthy controllers but was gun shy. I own a company that imports products from China so I know it can be a crap shoot. There are tons of great well priced products in China, but also tons of cheap crap. Its good to hear that this one seems to be well built. Its cheap enough that you could carry a spare or 2.

One question about the Eco-Worthy.. Would there be any issues hooking it up to a 327w panel? In theory the panel can product more than the controller can handle, but I'm pretty sure it would never happen. After loses, shading and angles those panels should never get near 20A. Correct?

As to wind... I know the jury is still out on this one (many say yes, some say no). The fact is, like I said earlier I own and import company and was able to pick up 2 D400s from one of my trusted suppliers for an obscenely low price. Even after I buy Silentwind blades, they will still be a fraction of the cost of retail. The only question is whether I mount 1 or 2. I leaning towards only mounting 1 due to the shading issue. Then I will keep the second complete unit as a spare.

I'm planning this much power as there will be 5 people living aboard (2 adults, 3 kids under 10). We plan to run a fridge, freezer and regular navigation equipment (chart, AIS, VHF, sometimes radar). As the kids will be adjusting from land life surrounded by electronics I expect to use more than I'm producing for the first 6 months.

Again, I appreciate the responses.

A 327w panel will be no problem, I have mine hooked to 410w of panels and it produces 22A for the better part of the day if the batteries are discharged. I'd say 327w will give you 20-21A, provided there is no shading. Back to quality control, the eco-worthys appear to be very well made, I used to provide modules to the DoN and I was involved in testing and QC, these eco-worthy units are every bit as well built as what we built. They're a mix of mostly surface mount and a few through hole components, with a fairly thick, very smooth conformal coating over everything. The transistor/heat sink interface is some sort of gasket like material (I prefer Arctic Silver for best conduction) but it honestly transfers heat amazingly well to the case (all aluminum) and doesn't suffer from drying and migration like Arctic Silver does, so it really was a better choice.

Here is a youtube video of one partially disassembled and a little testing on it:

http://youtu.be/3Okm50rgAWg

Congrats on the smoking deal on the wind turbines, might as well run those since you have them. As noelex77 said, mounting them without shading the panels might be a bit of an issue. Ideally, I'd mount them on top of a spreader, way off to the side, but that's not practical, so whatever fits your situation.

BTW, if anything I post seems contrary to noelex77's advice, just follow his advice. I think he knows a bit more, and I'm not a boat owner, so while I'm willing to share what I know, some of it is just math, but my opinion is certainly not gospel.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:59   #10
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I've been doing some digging today and came across a very interesting BRAND NEW controller from BP Solar. I know the older BP Solar stuff was subpar, but this one looks A+. There are a couple of independant youtube videos showing inside and operation. It does appear to have some software bugs, but is field upgradable. The youtubers will be testing the new firmware in a week or so to see if the bugs are addressed..

Definitely some potential, and the price is excellent..

Aliexpress.com : Buy Tracer3215BN MPPT 30A 150V package with MT50 professional design for home system, outdoor lighting, signals, RVs and boats from Reliable Solar Controllers suppliers on Beijing GPX Solar Co., LTD

You can buy it without the monitoring panel so if you are buying multiple, you buy one panel. There is also software for a PC if you have a USB to RS485 adapter.
I looked at the link and the specs are impressive, especially for the price, but I didn't see any details about the remote monitor panel. Do you know what it displays? It would be great if it kept track of AH in/out.
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Old 06-11-2014, 13:24   #11
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

I was able to find the software for the controller.. It looks pretty good actually and looks to log all sorts of things.. It gives daily, monthly and annual totals. Its very interesting... I might pull the trigger on one..
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Old 06-11-2014, 13:29   #12
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post

BTW, if anything I post seems contrary to noelex77's advice, just follow his advice. I think he knows a bit more, and I'm not a boat owner, so while I'm willing to share what I know, some of it is just math, but my opinion is certainly not gospel.
Thanks.

I am a firm believer in the strength of forums like this. The opinions of any one member are rarely correct, but the multitude of views and different perspectives provide a means of getting at the truth.

I have 330w of solar. This is the meter showing a peak production of 27.8A. This was a good day, and this high production was short lived, but more than 20A is not unusual. I have checked the meter and while it is optimistic at low currents it is a bit pessimistic at around 25A. So this output was genuine.

I think limiting a 327w panel to 20A will only cost you a small amount of AHrs in some conditions, but operating the controller above its rated maximum, and relying on the protection mechanism to prevent damage, is not a recipe for long term reliability especially in the marine environment.
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Old 06-11-2014, 13:56   #13
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Re: Batteries, Solar and Wind

Thanks guys.. These are great responses...
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