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Old 01-07-2012, 20:17   #16
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Not the 10 amp, but they make a 20 amp too. The newer ones I've seen on ebay have a better wire termination strip too (heavier duty)

http://www.amazon.com/HQRP-Controlle...rge+controller.

Btw, there is a lot of junk out there in the solar controller world, on amazon and others. You can spend more for what is a really cheap circuit design under the hood. Lots that say mppt are not really... My experience is that the HQRP units are cheap, but the circuit is complex with a nice controller chip and it does work well. Morningstar is another good one.
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Old 01-07-2012, 20:32   #17
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Does the Sunsaver 20 A have any features that make it worth about $30 more than the HQRP? SOC monitor? Charging volts/amps/watts meter? Anything beside the Morningstar name?

Thanks again!

John
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Old 01-07-2012, 20:53   #18
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

The connections are better and looks likes its encapsulated, which is nice. Overall the other features are the same. well the morning star has a setting for sealed batteries too.
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Old 01-07-2012, 21:02   #19
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

I have an HQRP 10A PWM controller that has dual battery outputs and also has settings for gel, agm, and wet batteries.

Been in service for 12 months now and no complaints. It also has an optional (another $30) monitor that displays input amperage, battery voltage, voltage/amp history, and cabin temp (will show battery temp if optional temp sensor is installed).

The connections to the controller are the same as Morningstars.

This is the one I have

And here is the Morningstar Equivalent

Note the similarities and the price difference Pretty good chance these are all made in the same factory.

(edit) If higher Amps are needed, the price difference would probably work itself out with the Morningstar
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Old 01-07-2012, 21:14   #20
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

I bought the same panel but went for the more costly controller. I went with the SunSaver mppt 15 lil overkill but wanted to get every thing i could. I still have to get the hardware to mount things hope to get to that next week sometime.
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Old 01-07-2012, 22:33   #21
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Quote:
Originally Posted by callmecrazy View Post
I have an HQRP 10A PWM controller that has dual battery outputs and also has settings for gel, agm, and wet batteries.

Been in service for 12 months now and no complaints. It also has an optional (another $30) monitor that displays input amperage, battery voltage, voltage/amp history, and cabin temp (will show battery temp if optional temp sensor is installed).

The connections to the controller are the same as Morningstars.

This is the one I have

And here is the Morningstar Equivalent

Note the similarities and the price difference Pretty good chance these are all made in the same factory.

(edit) If higher Amps are needed, the price difference would probably work itself out with the Morningstar
I had the sunsaver 10 on my boat, but decided to upgrade every thing, as every thing got drowned, and had to be replaced any way, for future usage,

I flicked through the prices on that site, Some of those prices are over the top,
Try Ebay.com, Pricing is a lot lower, for the same items,
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Old 01-07-2012, 22:40   #22
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

I got the Controller on Amazon and the Monitor/Display thing on ebay.

I usually find cheaper prices (for anything) on Amazon, but not always. I generally use Amazon as the base price point, since it's usually cheaper than retail, then go scouting ebay for a better deal.

No matter what, I always shop around until I've fully convinced myself I'm getting the best deal available
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Old 01-07-2012, 22:54   #23
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

A further piccy on my new MPPT Controller,

Check out the heat sink on it, I dont think it is lacking in capacity for a heat sink,

They did have an array of PWM controllers on their site,

But they did list this as an MPPT Controller along with a stack of other MPPT bigger Controllers as well,

But I am not a wizz kid with electrics, so I can only go on the manufacturers claims that it is a MPPT Controller.
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Old 02-07-2012, 05:27   #24
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Quote:
Originally Posted by callmecrazy View Post

This is the one I have

And here is the Morningstar Equivalent

Note the similarities and the price difference Pretty good chance these are all made in the same factory.

(edit) If higher Amps are needed, the price difference would probably work itself out with the Morningstar
The HQRP is 10A and the Morningstar is 25A, probably the biggest source of price differential. Does HQRP make a 20 - 25A dual battery CC? Does the Morningstar have any meters/gauges to monitor condition or performance? Current thinking is to get a second panel now, with a 20A HQRP CC. The start battery rarely needs any attention anyway.

I do love the info and people on this forum!

John
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Old 02-07-2012, 20:06   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorchic34
I have the el cheapy "non-morningstar" model. Paid something like $18 from amazon 2 years ago. As to why 20 amps costs more then 10. Well for a pwm, the control circuits and logic are about the same, though you have more power or higher rated fets, better heat sinks, larger circuit traces and filters, etc. Plus more profit too...

Oddly enough the more or less generic power transistors in the el cheapy have a max amp rating of about 40 amps, but that's intermittent and not continous rating. The poor or lack of a heat sink and the "TO" case design pretty much limit it to about 11-12 amps continuous before the junction temp starts running away.

Having seen a bluesky mppt unit work in Florida, it did increase output by 10 percent. However I feel that with the price of panels being low now, it makes more sense to just buy another panel and use a pwm controller. Btw, the MPPT controllers are also PWM with an extra dc to dc converter which adds some loss to the system during standby ("Night").

I felt that a low standby power rating was more important then the high priced mppt higher standby usage. The bluesky units use 2 amps in 12 hours just idling. My el cheapy uses 0.75 amps for the same time. With a 100 watt panel being available for $160 ish including shipping, why spend $200 for mppt.

The extra panel proves more power for less money. When panels for $800-$1000 each, mppt made sense. Now a days, it makes somewhat less so. Well from an engineering perspective anyway...
Very interesting about the idle amps. Worth it on a large array but not small.

Many of us are area constrained as well, so just throwing another panel on may not be possible or desired (weight, windage, aesthetics).
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:49   #26
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Awrighty then. I took the plunge and ordered two 145W panels and the HQRP 20A charge controller. Who needs a bimini anyway? I've got a polycrystalline hardtop! Now to get my welding buddy to help fabricate an arch so that I have that sports car "spoiler" look! Any extra advice for a first-time solar install?

Thanks again for all of the information!

John
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:13   #27
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

I agree with Sailorchic34 and Pblais on the Morningstar SunSaver 20. When we had a single 130 watt solar panel on our travel trailer for our first year of full-time RV living, we used a Morningstar SunSaver 10 (10 amp) and it worked great. We lived on solar power about 85% of the time that first year. The 20 amp version of the charge controller would allow you to upgrade and add another panel at a later date...
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Old 03-07-2012, 16:21   #28
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
I felt that a low standby power rating was more important then the high priced mppt higher standby usage. The bluesky units use 2 amps in 12 hours just idling. My el cheapy uses 0.75 amps for the same time. With a 100 watt panel being available for $160 ish including shipping, why spend $200 for mppt.
My Bluesky 2512ix states that it uses only about 30 milliamps in standby and 100 milliamps while charging. That means that at idle the unit only uses about .35 amp hrs during 12 hours of idle, not 2 amp hrs.

I'm beginning to become less and less enamoured with Bluesky though myself. It seems obvious to me that my unit has a problem, but the guy I was working with at tech support has not responded since last week. I suppose he could be on vacation. My guess is there's really no hope of hearing from them tomorrow either.

The argument for buying a panel instead of an mppt controller is a good one, if you have room for another panel. One observation I made while cruising the Bahamas last winter is that a wind generator would often have been more useful than solar panels. Even at relatively low output levels they work at night and on cloudy days. In the 5 months I was there I only had one day without sun of wind. Now if they would only get the price of those down, I'd be set.
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Old 03-07-2012, 18:32   #29
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

Darn blonde moments. Lord knows they can't be senior moments. Your right capt. bill, on the amp hrs. I was a decimal place off. So not a biggy on standby.

For the cost of the mppt controllers your really only getting a boost from the difference between 13-14 volts and panel voltage - voltage drop in the wires to the controller and temperature coefficient voltage drop, so somewhere around 16 volts (with a 12V system) in summer for the typical 130 ish watt 12v panel.

I say 13 volts as even my battery voltage which was at 12.3 at daybreak is up around 13 by 10am when solar really starts to percolate. By 1pm my batteries are happy campers at ~14V

Temperature coefficient is a rating of the panel. Panels are rated at 20C at 68 degrees F. Per degree C rise the voltage drops is about 0.05V. So in the summer that panel with say a 40 degree C (104 F) panel temp could put out about 1V less. On the flip side the cooler panel in winter puts out more voltage. BTW this is one reason 12V panels are nominally rated at 17 volts.

In order to maximize the MPPT you also need to minimize voltage drop so using #4 or #2 wire size for example would be prudent . With a pwm controller, you have more leeway with wire size as voltage drop is less critical.

For small systems and I qualify pretty much all boat systems as small, MPPT is a lot of extra cost for only a little net amp hours gain.
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Old 03-07-2012, 19:31   #30
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Re: Best Low-Cost Charge Controller?

I have no doubt I'm loosing a bit of power due to temperature. We had a cold front a couple of weeks ago and were seeing amps in the high 12's but as I said before we've not seen 13 since I got the new controller. I think there are plenty of reasons to think this thing isn't working right. Today for instance I had to motor a couple of hours so it got charged up really well on solar this after noon. The battery voltage is sitting at 14.4 (the voltage at which this thing is supposed to move from acceptance to float after its been there long enough), I'm making 12.3 amps from the panels and putting out 12.3 from the controller, 4.8 is being used to run the fridge and 7.5 is going into the batteries, unit is reporting the batteries are at 100% and the controller is still indicating it's in bulk mode. Think it's working right?
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